My throwing away/sending items to a new home challenge started in my bathroom.  Clearing out my bathroom and all within – such as my decaying make up bag – has been on my permanent ‘things to do when I have done everything else’ list for quite some time.  Naturally as I never actually get to the end of the regular things to do lists I write with regularity (there is one winking at my on my desk as I type this) my bathroom was becoming full of ever increasingly tottering towers of the detritus of life.  I had thought it would ‘last’ the distance, and all of my days of discarding detritus could be spent happily sorting through lotions and potions in the smallest room in the house.  Sadly I am now on day 9 and my bathroom is now a well ordered, streamlined, tidy place with bits and pieces neatly ordered on shelves and in baskets.  It’s great, but it does mean I will now need to attack the ever scarier recesses of the flat such as my kitchen cupboards or the ‘cupboard of doom’.  On reflection, 30 days of discarding in this fashion does result in needing to find 465 items – even my bathroom wasn’t that riddled with junk!

Days 1-9

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There are a lot of sunscreen type products which aren’t repeats, but were dried up and crusty and largely a legacy of living in the tropics (which given that I have actually now been home for over 2 years is just plain gross!)

Next stop the kitchen cleaning products cupboard.

 

A new challenge

Posted: November 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

I was talking to my friend Cakey of Cake of Good Hope the other day and we were talking about clearing out junk. She mentioned something I haven’t been able to get out of my head – throw away one thing on the first of the month, 2 on the second and so on. By throw away obviously I mean, donate, recycle, etc… remove from your house in a sustainable fashion. That is my challenge for November…

In the mind

Posted: September 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

I had figured some time ago that this exercise thing is basically a mind thing.  This summer I had a bit of a shake up of my little grey cells in an effort to stop being a dick about food and exercise after making it almost back to a personal worst, weight wise.  Since then I have been taking a ‘any exercise is a good thing’ approach and not putting pressure on myself to do certain things in certain times but just to get out there and do it.  This girl can and all that.

Too frequently I didn’t go and do things, or attempt things, through a fear of being the slowest, fattest, last etc…  On the bank holiday weekend I took a punt and entered a local triathlon.  I hadn’t trained ‘for’ it, but I had been training.  I wasn’t the fittest I have ever been in my life (that is something that I have to accept is a state that is remaining fixed in the past) but I was confident that I would be able to finish the course and hopefully even have fun doing it.  I did a practice ride around the route and the natural competitive little shit in me started coming out thinking about where I could push it and where I could recover.  Sometimes you just have to let the brain run right?!

The tri was fun.  It was pissing it down with rain so the swim, bike and run were largely indistinguishable, but it was fun, I finished and I wasn’t last.  Most of all it gave me a huge boost of confidence that I could actually do this stuff.  That evening I entered a 10km run in November.  I have a long term goal of running a 10km in under 60 minutes.  I won’t be aiming for that in November, but the next one I do in the spring I will.

Today I realised that it was time to move on from ‘any exercise is fine’ to some sort of slightly more structured training to try and get a bit faster.  I did a run today and adopted the ‘when it hurts run faster’ approach.  I ran my route the fastest I have ever run it.  It felt good.  All in the mind you see, all in the mind.

This ‘most recent attempt at becoming a fitter and healthier version of myself has started well, and differently.  Having had a good long think about why I have failed in the past – or to be kinder to myself, relapsed I have approached this in a different way.  Most importantly I have accepted that I am not some sort of wannabe elite athlete – well, OK, so perhaps I am a wannabe elite athlete but I’m not.  I’m overweight and not as fit as I could be (but not a total disaster).  Given the choice between a comfy sofa and a run in the rain, well – it’s the sofa isn’t it.  Let’s be real!  So in addition to some greater determination on my part (work hard in my late thirties to be active and fit in my forties) I have started to use the following bits and bobs:

APPS:

I have been tracking what I have been eating on myfitnesspal which is a bit of a faff, but now has a barcode scanner so if you are eating anything that has a barcode on it you can scan it and just like magic all the data is there.  It also links to runkeeper which is a GPS based tracking app.  All free on the old smarty phone.  Also free on the smarty phone I have started to use Strava which is a bit like Facebook for exercise – the fact that your buddies can see your exercise (and you can see theirs – for me that is considerable inspiration), there are leaderboards and segments and all good things.  It’s a great app.

Just because I like the graphs I still use my Garmin – I have my phone for music so these things just run in the background.  Sometimes all of them because that is a rocking (and slightly insane) way to live.

Recently I have found another app which is like the dog’s kahuna’s in my opinion.  You link it to these tracking apps, you get points, and those points win prizes – well vouchers to spend in real shops.  Awesome right?  This one is Bounts.  I have honestly gone and done exercise just because I will get the points – perhaps that is a ridiculous thing to admit to!

GADGETS:

My friend decided to buy a Fitbit Charge HR and she was telling me all about it at the gym and got me all excited.  Ages ago I had a cheap version of one which I ditched because it was a) really ugly and b) crap.  Having read the reviews I decided, in for a penny in for a pound and headed to Curry’s to get my new toy.  Charged it up and off I went.  It is AWESOME!  Ever since getting it I have done over 10000 steps a day, have gone on a few walks to up my steps. walked to the shop rather than drove…  Am loving it.  Am a bit obsessed actually.

Back again….

Posted: August 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

It has been so long since I blogged that I couldn’t actually remember my log in details, but I’m on yet another fitness mission with the hope that this time it’ll be the one that sticks.  The prompts?  The usual – standing on the scales and being not quite at a personal best, but not far off.  Feeling sluggish and a bit ‘bleurgh’.  Wanting to be the sort of person that just gets out there whatever else is going on.

So, what has been going on since my last blog?

I got rid of a stinky job and started a lovely one.  This one has far less demands on my time and particularly on my emotional energy.  It has taken me quite some time to get used to this – sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?! – and I continued with some of my BAD habits, something I am trying to resolve.

I have done a lot of thinking about why I’m such a goose and make it so difficult for myself to eat properly and exercise when actually I really feel so much better when I do this.  I have got some of the way there, but there are probably still a few emotional blockades that I need to try and bash down, but I’m getting there.  There have been some big motivational moments in the last year that help and those are the things to focus on:

  • #thisgirlcan – this campaign was just brilliant, and I particularly liked the picture of a cyclist with the slogan ‘I might be slow, but I’m lapping the people on the couch’.  This particularly resonated as one of my big issues is that I’m always worried that I’ll be the slowest, the fattest, the worst, the last and consequently don’t do it.
  • Women’s boat race – 15 years after what is still one of the best days of my life, the 2015 members of OUWBC and CUWBC raced for the first time on the Tideway.  Clare Balding ditched her usual Grand National gig to front the coverage, the column inches were significant and largely were about training and perseverance and the very brilliance of these women and not about mascara or eyeliner.  I’m a fairly part time and slightly crap feminist to be honest but I was so damn proud, standing on the embankment at Putney wearing my grotty and ill fitting blazer and feeling a part of something very special.  I didn’t feel like I was a particularly good advert for ‘what happens 15 years later’ but perhaps can be a better one for 16 years later.
  • Reading Tricurious by my brilliant friend Katie.  There is so much in this book, about triathlon mainly, but it really made me realise that by being worried about being the slowest, the fattest, the worst, the last, all I have done is stay on the couch and that getting out there is sometimes enough.

There’s other stuff, but that’s enough for now.  What I have realised though is that if this is going to be the effort that ‘sticks’ it isn’t something that can be done for a month, or even for 6 months, it has to be something that I do for the rest of my life.  So changes need to be sustainable, enjoyable and life enhancing.

Let’s see how that goes.

New thing 27: gadgetry

Posted: July 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ve always liked gadgets.  My mother laughs at me as she thinks I have a gadget for everything.  This isn’t quite true, but I do like new toys, especially ones that then generate pretty pictures.  Most people would then think of a camera, but I’m actually talking about my Garmin.  I’ve had it for a while now.  We have had a fairly good relationship – it beeps and wobbles every km and tells me that I really am running/cycling that slowly and then I can plug it into my computer and see all sorts of other graphs and so on.  It’s fun.  It feels like it validates my training when I can see the places I have gone, or look at my elevation profile and decide that actually yes, that really was an unpleasant hill and so the fact that my heart rate has spiked and my speed has troughed is perfectly OK.

Anyway, I recently discovered a new function on my Garmin.  Now, I should point out that this isn’t actually a new function.  It has always been there, I just didn’t know about it – and that is courses.  In the comfort of your home you can plot a route, check the elevation and distance and then send it to your device and then bingo, you can navigate for miles and miles without needing to consult a pesky map.  I should point out at this point that I do actually really rather like maps, and in some ways the fact that I hardly ever use one now does actually upset me.  Even though my car has an inbuilt sat nav system I still have a road atlas and an A to Z in the car.  Haven’t ever opened either of them but I like the fact they are there.  I can also read maps, proper maps too – OS ones and everything so I could do all this the ‘traditional’ way.  It’s just that I would need to stuff about 6 OS maps in my pocket for a long ride (where you need to go is ALWAYS on the gap between two maps, that is the rule in life) and that isn’t entirely practical.

I digress.  My lovely friends Zoe and Gareth with whom I had so many exciting adventures in Malaysia have set off on a super exciting adventure of their own to cycle from Lands End to John O Groats.  I asked if I could join them for a bit of it but time resulted in my only being able to do part of one leg.  We decided I would drive 2/3 of the way along their route and then trace it back until I found them and then cycle with them back to my car.  Simples.  Gareth shared his route with me on Garmin, I reversed it and sent it to my watch.  So far, so simple.  As I wanted to spend as much time cycling with them as possible as I figured that would be more fun than ploughing along on my own I decided to try and make a slightly shorter route through the first bit so that I could meet them more quickly.  I did that and sent that to my watch too.  Simples.

Except it never is that simple is it?  Firstly I had managed to route myself onto a dual carriageway flyover which obviously I didn’t much fancy cycling along.  At that point I was quite calm and just followed my little dot and tried to keep it as close to the line as possible (my garmin is very unfancy and does not have maps in it, I follow a grain of sand along a line).  This was working fairly well, I was going in roughly the right direction and I was keeping my grain of sand fairly near my line, but then I hit the middle of Coventry and my Garmin got very confused by all the buildings and so the screen went blank.  This wasn’t overly helpful it has to be said.  At this point I decided to ditch my clearly hopeless route and try and get myself onto Gareth’s which I did, just about manage to do with only a small amount of cycling along a very big and very not supposed to enormous road.  Once I got onto G’s route things improved rather (until a brain malfunction rather than a route malfunction took me off to Leamington Spa – a lovely diversion but not entirely necessary!).

Where I was supposed to ride:

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Where I actually rode:

Actual

 

Despite my inability to use my gadgets correctly, and the frustration caused by the screen black outs I did eventually manage to locate Zoe and Gareth and join them on the return journey.  I was mildly relieved that as we returned through coventry again G’s much more sophisticated device also got confused and found it hard to find the way.  Fortunately with a combination of his GPS, my Garmin and googlemaps on my phone we managed to find out way again.  It was a lovely day riding and I felt very happy that I had been able to have a small part in their LeJoG adventure.  It has certainly made me start to think about whether that is something that I could do one day…

Inspired by the relative success of the courses function I decided to take my cycling around home further afield and plotted some good routes.  The first went well until my Garmin ran out of juice (fortunately I knew where I was) the second was a total disaster as the route just stopped about 5km in and I couldn’t get it back.  This just meant that my friend Charlie and I did a freestyle ride, making a decision at every junction with a vague map in my head.  It was fun, it was also quite long!

So, do I like the ‘courses’ function?  Yes I do.  Will I always make sure I have some sort of a back up for if I don’t know the area.  Yes I will!

My friend Cath posted on Facebook that she was going to do a muddy 5km race for life in memory of our friend Acer. As soon as I saw it I asked if I could join her and that proved to be one of the better decisions I have made this year.

This event is so cool. 5km is, in my opinion, a pretty perfect running distance – long enough to get into your stride and feel like you have done something, but not so long as to be daunting for a reluctant runner like me. I have a lovely loop from home which is just under 5km which take me down to the river and it is so gorgeous that I actually enjoy the running – this is serious progress.

Anyway, the purpose of this event was to cover the distance but also to conquer the obstacles. This was where it got super fun. The run itself was gloriously flat with some great views and punctuated throughout the 5km were 9 obstacles.

The first were giant pink cylinders you had to jump over. Fun but not too tricky and no mud. Then it was a wet splash – basically a big bowl of muddy water to get your feet nice and soggy. I was very glad I had opted for my rubbish trainers at this point! Then we had cylinders to crawl through and encountered soil but not mud as such. Then cargo nets over tarps covered in sticky glorious mud. That was fun. Really fun. Then a spiders web – no mud 😞. Next up was a cargo net. That was good. We enjoyed that. We were now very much into the tail end of the race and we were saying how, on reflection we were a bit sad there hadn’t been more mud. Ha. We rounded the corner and had to jump into another pit and crawl through it whilst volunteers sploshed mud all over us. Then it was the best one of all – a huge inflatable slide into a pit of sloshy mud. Absolutely brilliant! We crossed the line with beaming smiles and arms aloft

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This wasn’t just about the race though, fun though that was, it was a way of us remembering Acer. We didn’t talk about him much on the way round, but he was in our minds all the way (probably laughing his backside off at this latest escapade). It was great to do this with my buddy who misses him too. I still think about him often and I miss him hugely but the impact he made on my life will stay with me forever.

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