Monday, 25 January 2016

5:20...AM?!

Honestly who gets up at that time to exercise? Apparently me...

In my post here on having a break over Christmas I talked about being back to crossfit more in the new year, and also about finding a better schedule and going more when I could use the car. So the first week back to work in January I tried out going in the morning before work.

Sounds a bit counter-intuitive to get up earlier so that I get more rest, I reasoned that if I went to the 6am class I could be home in time for Tom to take the car to leave for work, and enough time for me to then shower and get to work.Then my day goes on as usual but I've already done a solid hour of exercise.

Now I can't say I ever thought I would want to go to the gym in the morning, I love my sleep, I love my bed, and I hate getting up early for work as it is. I never thought I would be volunteering to get up earlier!

So how did it go?
First the obvious drawbacks, I won't lie getting up at 5:20am when it is dark and -5 outside is not high on my list of enjoyable things to do, and it is just as bleak as it sounds. However putting my clothes out on the radiator to warm and having a nice breakfast ready helps. Also I repeat to myself 'If you don't go this morning in the car you'll only have to cycle there this evening' over and over and over...

The only other negative is having to go to bed earlier the night before, but we rarely do a lot on week nights anyway as we both work full time.

The benefits?
Time wise it's a win win trade off for me, I have to get up earlier but it means I have my evenings free, which means my weekends aren't taken up by all the chores I didn't do in the week. Which means I can go and see family and friends, or go on a long run, or even have a nice rest day, maybe even relax and read a book. I actually found the first weekend free a struggle to remember what to do when I have nothing to do!

I can go more often, because I'm not having to sacrifice my after work or weekend time any more I can go as many times a week as I feel like. It's also sometimes like your workouts happen as if by magic, hard to explain but it's like you go so early it's a bit surreal sometimes and you forget you went this morning...but you are still making progress and getting fitter!

I actually go every time I plan to, with going after work there is always the risk that something comes up and I end up having to rearrange my session. I also haven't had a chance yet to have a horrible day and be tired by the time I get there!

I don't have to cycle there every time. This was really the main reason for me!

I find I get to work feeling more awake and motivated, and I don't need to stress about rushing off to get to my evening class on time. You know that high after a great workout? I get to take that into the rest of my day!

There's also a certain sense of satisfaction, or smugness maybe haha, that I've already killed (or erm completed) a hard workout before work, before most people have had breakfast.

If you are thinking about it, give it a try! Preparation is key for an early morning start though, I get my breakfast ready the night before (overnight oats), as well as my lunch for taking to work. I also get all my gym clothes out as well as my work clothes for when I get back. Down to socks and underwear even. I even fill my water bottle and put my car keys, cross fit notebook and protein bites in my coat pockets. This means I can literally roll out of bed into my gym stuff, brush teeth and hair, and go. Then get back and just shower, eat quick breakfast and go back out. No flapping around looking for my keys or trying to find a clean sports bra. All means an extra 10 minutes in bed too!

All in all I'm finding it a lot better, and it is working out for both my training plan and my new years resolution to make life a bit easier for myself.

Anyone else an early morning exercise convert? I'd love to hear any tips x

Monday, 18 January 2016

My Fitness Story

I talk about my fitness on here, but those of you who don't know me in real life (or some who only know me as myself now) will not know my fitness back story. I feel like some context might help you to understand some of my future posts on training...


Over the past 2 years I have practically transformed my lifestyle, body and mindset on fitness. I feel like I want to share how and why this happened…this makes for a long rambling post so please stick with me, I've broken it up into a few different parts to try to make it more easy to read. 
Back story and reasons to get fit
Back story on my fitness is pretty short. I was unfit. I was never a ‘sporty’ person, and didn’t feel at home in the gym or on the running track. I have always been slim (ish) but never really done any regular exercise. However I gave up smoking a few years back and I’m also not getting any younger, so the weight crept up on me a bit. All of a sudden I couldn’t fit into my jeans, and I felt heavy and unfit.
I tried fitness DVDs, running, and various gyms over the years. Nothing seemed to stick. A story I hear over and over again from others too.
With regards to diet…I am not good at ‘dieting’. I was a strict vegetarian (now vegan) so my diet is already pretty limited and limiting it more makes me miserable. That said I think I have a healthy attitude to food, and while we eat out every so often we don’t have lots of takeaways or fast food and our meals at home are quite healthy. I think on balance my diet is ok, room for improvement, 8/10. I did used to eat a lot of cheese and butter and carbs but going vegan has naturally limited that.
So I was a person who ate reasonably well, and I didn’t have any regular exercise that I enjoyed but I wanted to get fitter, and forever not for summer or for the wedding. I don’t really care whether I’m a size 8 or a size 18 but I cared that I felt unhealthy. I believe there is no quick fix or magic formula other than eat better and exercise more. I wasn’t going to take diet pills or do fad diets. I don’t want to be a size zero or have a thigh gap and I have no goal weight or dress size. I just wanted to feel better, and do things I wanted to do without being held back by my lack of fitness.
First steps
Just after we got engaged I asked Tom seriously how to start (he has always been in good shape) and he took me bouldering with him, I enjoyed it and haven’t really looked back. I just needed that opening into exercise. Getting engaged did kick start me back into trying, but I wouldn’t say it was about looking good in the dress at that point. Just the thought of having my wedding at a time where I was probably at the lowest point in my body confidence made me think ‘why the heck have I not done something about this already?’
My advice is to find something you enjoy and value. We’ve not been climbing so much over the last year as Tom sprained his ankle pretty badly bouldering in February 2014 so has been a bit hit and miss with it, he did start back up but found it set his recovery back so didn’t go again until we were back from the Kili climb. When we haven’t been for a while I actually miss it! Missing an exercise is an odd feeling for someone who has never liked fitness before.
The mind set is really what I want to talk about here, I can see now why I never lost weight before. If you don’t really exercise then you won’t get fit or lose weight. Looking back I hear myself saying things like ‘but I do exercise….’ when bemoaning why I couldn’t lose weight but really I didn’t, I took the stairs occasionally or went for the odd jog but I didn’t have any real regular exercise. Now I’m focussing more on being fitter, not thinner, but the weight loss is a very welcome added bonus!
In for a penny…
After having been climbing for a while I let Tom talk me into climbing a mountain, Kilimanjaro, something I never would have agreed to before.  I really looked at my fitness and what I needed to do to be ready and realised I could do it. I was already climbing or bouldering 3 or 4 times a week, I just needed to add in some more cardio and to improve my general fitness.
I bought a groupon deal for some classes at a local gym in January 2014 when we booked the Kili trek, and after that joined on their classes membership. It meant I didn’t actually go to the gym just classes, but it definitely got my confidence up to be in a group of like-minded (and similar fitness level) people.
I even went to the running club, and actually didn’t hate it. I didn’t used to like running but since I’m a bit fitter I feel a little less like a stampeding hippo. Going with a club was good as it gave me motivation to keep up, I reasoned my first few attempts I didn’t need to be first, but I couldn’t be the slowest. I’d definitely recommend a beginners running club to anyone wanting to get started. Sadly the one at my gym never really got off the ground and has stopped now, but I’ve completed the couch to 5K program and can’t recommend it enough. It really is designed for complete beginners and gets you up to running 5k within a couple of months! My aim was to be able to run 5K before we go to Kilimanjaro, and now that’s done I’ve started the 10k version! Before the wedding I was up to 8K, however I’ve not been sticking to it recently due to the honeymoon and wedding and training for other things but I think I’ll restart it sometime. I do still have mixed feelings about running, I can’t say I love it but I don’t hate it as much as I used to, it gives me a good cardio workout and I like to do races and events of which running is a part.
The outcome and the new me
Now 2 years after I started bouldering, and 18 months after I started gym classes and running…I feel great, I have a lot more energy, I feel strong, healthy and fit. I am starting to enjoy exercise in and of itself rather than as a means to an end which has to be tolerated. I like to get out of breath and sweaty and tired, rather than avoiding it at all costs. Seeing what my body can actually do is amazing, all that was holding me back was my lazy brain! I have also branched out into a lot more areas since my first foray into bouldering and the gym, and have changed to a larger gym, then quit that and started crossfit, and even done the lead climbing course (although we still don’t go climbing a lot) which is not something I ever thought I would do.
Having something to train for has really gave me such a boost and helped to keep me motivated, so if you’re struggling to keep on track, then book something in…maybe don’t book a mountain trek and wedding within 6 months of each other though! That was an intense year.
I enjoy being able to do things I couldn’t do before, and I am starting to get motivated to set and achieve goals that have nothing to do with Kili or losing weight. I am a person who needs a plan and a goal otherwise I lose focus, but I am starting to progress to a point where I can set my own goals. This is the mindset you need to develop, take ownership of your body and your mind rather than make excuses.
What’s next?
I’ve done some of the mud run type events and liked them so I’m always up for those, it keeps the motivation ticking over, and I am booked in for the Superhuman games next year. Yikes! Serious! I was a smoker, who couldn’t run for the bus 3 years ago, and ate whatever I felt like and never gave 2 seconds thought to how much I could lift. Now I’m looking at a weight training plan to improve my strength, planning climbing holidays and entering actual competitive events.
If I can do it anyone can!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Giving yourself a break

The 2 weeks before Christmas I did no exercise. None at all. Some of it I was ill so didn't worry about not exercising but once I was better I felt like I should get straight back on the metaphorical horse.

Problem was I didn't want to.

For someone who has been doing something (running, climbing, gym or crossfit) at least 2 or 3 (or 7) days a week for the last 2 years this was a bit scary.

I realised though that I just needed a break, I decided on being back stronger and more often in the new year, and called it a day until after Christmas.

This was hard for me to do though! I felt burnt out, tired, I'd been ill with tonsillitis or a virus, I was feeling pressurised to get everything done before Christmas....and yet I still felt guilty for not going to crossfit for 2 weeks.

Sound familiar to anyone? I'm an all or nothing kind of person, I don't half ass things so I find it hard to give myself a break sometimes. Looking back though I've been full on this year and last with training, wedding planning, work, life, races, mountains, and an attempted social life around that.

So if I want to skip crossfit once to eat a mince pie and wrap some presents while I watch Love Actually is anyone actually going to judge me? Probably not, I'm not a professional, I have nobody to prove anything to other than myself. I'm training for Superhuman next year but am already pretty on track for that, actually better than I thought I would be since starting crossfit.

We're our own harshest judges sometimes, so I decided that for a new years resolution I don't need to lose weight, eat better, give up smoking, drink less or any of the usual ones. I'm already doing the best I can.

This is my new years resolution: CHILL OUT! Help myself to do better and make life easier for myself, instead of pressuring myself to do everything. To do this I will:
Sort a better schedule to include rest days strictly for rest. With some longer breaks of a few days here and there to prevent getting burnt out.
Get myself a foam roller, and get massages regularly.
Get a new bike so that I am not battling up hills on the way back from crossfit while stuck in a high gear. It is not helpful when trying to go more often that I hate getting there and back. Also work out a way to go more often when I can take the car.
Remember my flat is not a show home, and my life is mine only. Nobody cares but me if there is laundry all over the bedroom and the dining table is covered in craft stuff.

So far I have done ok, I've not got a new bike but am taking the car more often and have started going in the morning so I have my evenings to myself after work.

How are you doing with your resolutions?

Monday, 4 January 2016

What will NOT happen when you go vegan?

Following my post here on unexpected benefits of going vegan, I started thinking about the things that people told me would happen and didn't. Those things you hear all the time as a vegetarian or vegan, like protein, B12 blah blah blah.

You'll never get enough protein
Nobody ever cares about how much protein you are getting until they learn you are vegan. I get plenty of protein in my diet, and can supplement it if I need to. Protein is in so many more things than meat and dairy anyway.

Food will be really boring/Doesn't vegan food just consist of lettuce?
There are thousands of plants, spices, carbs and pulses we can eat. Why does cutting out meat and dairy mean that I will not have any variety? My diet the last couple of months has been more varied and interesting in some ways. In other ways I can still eat everything I could before, like pizza, burgers, pasta, cakes, biscuits, sandwiches, chilli, roast dinner etc etc etc.

I could never go vegan/vegan food is gross
Well you could go vegan, you just don't want to. No need to insult my food just because you don't want to eat like me. People often tell me they don't like vegan food, or they could never eat vegan food. What you've never eaten fruit? Or oreos? or a salad?

What about B12?
Yes B12 is hard to get from a plant based diet, but lots of things are fortified with it and I take a vitamin daily. There are lots of vitamins not found in meat too you know.

It'll be so expensive you won't be able to keep it up.
Vegetables are cheaper than beef in my experience, I can buy a whole bag of vegetables for the same price as a few steaks. With that I can feed myself for dinners for a week. Yes some vegan stuff is expensive, but in the same way some meat or dairy foods are expensive, It's all down to taste and budget.

But bacon!
But pigs. Also by this time I usually know the person I'm talking to is either:
A: An idiot.
B: Completely out of valid points so is just bringing up one food that I don't eat.
C: Actually feeling very defensive so just trying to end the conversation.

But chocolate!
I can eat chocolate, just not milk chocolate. I can have oreos and bourbon biscuits, and chocolate almond milk, and hot chocolate, I had an advent calendar and regularly make chocolate cupcakes.

What if you were on a desert island and the only thing there is a pig? Or some cheese?
OK who put the cheese there and why is it not completely gone off? Also what is the pig eating? Also why am I on a desert island? Also WHY do people KEEP asking this GODDAMN question?? If I were to be stranded on a desert island I would eat coconut as they populate most islands, if not yucca, if not then fucking grass or something. I would probably not even have tools with me to kill the pig as I tend not to travel with weapons, and wouldn't have any idea how to even go about hunting and killing it anyway so even IF I tried to I would probably fail miserably. I would be more concerned about how the fuck I ended up on the mystical island with only a pig or a glass of milk for company. Seriously people stop asking this question it makes you look moronic.

NB for those sick of hearing this the best response I ever heard was 'what if you lived in a civilisation with an abundance of plant based food and drinks? Would you still continue to torture and kill animals for no good reason?'

But vegans don't save any animals really, you're just one person.
Actually going vegan saves a lot more than animals, it saves water, pollution, deforestation, my carbon footprint and many many more things. Yes I am just one person, but it was just one person who started a lot of things. Just one wierdo started drinking cows milk in olden times, and now you think it's completely normal.

Milk is good for you!
No it's not. I get plenty of calcuim elsewhere, we were not built to drink breast milk all our lives. ESPECIALLY that of another animal.

But cheese!
But pus, but baby cows taken from their mums, but farmers being forced to sell milk at a loss, but the forest cleared for animal grazing, but PUS.

What do you even eat?
Uh loads. Literally I never stop eating.

Ugh but tofu is so gross.
Me - Really how did you cook it?
Meat eater - Um actually I've never really tried it.

That's the conversation most times, I mean at least I know what I've given up eating. If cooked properly tofu is great, I agree raw it is gross but then so is chicken...

If we stopped eating meat and dairy then cows would go extinct.
omg no. We aren't all going to stop eating dairy and meat as a species overnight, so it's not like there will be billions of cows left in abandoned farms. Cows are not a man made species they used to be wild.

What about if you had kids? Surely that wouldn't be fair to them?
What? Unfair to give these completely hypothetical children a healthy, well thought out diet that is well balanced and nutritious? Yeah poor kids. What about your kids? How many times do they have fatty processed meat a day, a week? None of my business? Yeah, none of yours either.

Vegans only care about animals, what about starving children?
Why can't I care about both? Also I'll just leave these here...


You can find these pictures on my pinterest page with their sources

This is just for a bit of a laugh, so any meat eaters reading please don't be offended. I have truly been asked or told all of these things numerous times, by otherwise intelligent and normal people. I just wanted to make people think about the silly things they say to vegans and vegetarians. Let's all just get along :)