Monday, 7 November 2011

Skinny Bitch 2011!

No, unfortunately that's not me at present - BUT...I am all over it. Its has been ridiculously long since my last blog but I have got back on the horse and the blog bug has hit me again.

I have discovered @SianToalPT and @JayBenedettiPT and the Skinny Bitch Diet. Simply put, a simple, 5-meal per day plan, combined with weights and cardio. initially this will be a six-week trial to see how the plan suits me and my training. I plan to take some before and after photos (6 weeks apart) and post them here when I have finished. Today was day 1, so the photos will be posted on 19th December 2011. Very scary indeed, but no pain, no gain.

I have also got back into (i) weight training with a vengeance and (ii) my beloved Park Run in Bute Park. Unfortunately my 2010 19-minute PB is literally miles off, but I started back with a calm and collected 25 mins. I will hopefully nail that next Saturday by hitting 24mins 30secs and will take it form there. I still love it, though.

Watch this space! Some cool pictures to follow (parkrun and others), my computer and the connection are playing up at the moment. Getting some updates later this week which will help speed things up a bit.

Catch you guys later!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A slump and a grump

Hhhhhhmmmmmmmm. Prepare yourselves for a bit of a groan......

So I had a busy week at work last week. I missed a couple of gym sessions because I had to be in work early and to add insult to injury I didn't really get enough sleep at all over the last 7 days. Lack of sleep hits me *hard* and really affects my moods. So, come Friday night I was really ready for a lovely meal out with my friend Tammi. One drink turned into another and we rolled back home at around 3am Saturday morning. Whoops.

Whilst I had the best time, hangovers hit me hard and pretty much wiped me out all day yesterday. I ate, I moped, I ate, I slept, I ate and then had a couple of snacks. Result? Miserable, crappy, boring Jess. I know full well that a big night out can totally wipe me out. So, I'm cross with myself for having *that last* couple of drinks that I really didn't need.

I'm now having a minor panic about the Liverpool half Mara next Sunday. I know I was never going to be anywhere near my race fit levels, but I'm still happy to run it for the training and for the distance. I just hate the thought that I could have run it faster. However, onwards and upwards. Plus, I have already started putting together a training plan for the amazing Midnight Sun Marathon which I'm running in June. (See my new and funky widget on the right hand side of this page - I'm raising funds for Parkinson's UK. I'll write a full post about it during the week as it merits a proper introduction!).

In summary, then, I've been a grumpy cow-bag all weekend and I HATE not achieving anything during my cherished days off except for the ubiquitous washing, ironing, cooking and shopping. I really missed my long run but neither my head nor my heart was really in it. Plus my housemate is in London on a week off and I've been sat in the house sulking alone! I could easily have got out and about today but I only made it as far as the Co-op for some emergency supplies. Soooooooooooo, back on the training plan tomorrow starting with a 45 min tempo run followed by circuits at 0715h. I'll kick my sorry arse back into touch and start my week as I mean to go on!

Watch this space for a much more upbeat post in the week. Promise. :-)

Saturday, 12 March 2011

What a week!

Blimey. So much can happen in just five days. In short, I have made the following decisions since last Monday:

1. I am 100% staying in Cardiff;
2. I am not moving back to London;
3. I am staying with my fab housemate (and Landlady) when she moves house in June;
4. I am committing to nailing a kick-ass career with my current employer;
5. My Dad is stepping in to help flog my London flat; and
6. I am going to lose at least 7lb of body fat by my 30th birthday (29/3/11).

What prompted these decisions? Well, I booked Monday Tuesday and Wednesday last week off work. I planned a flat-hunting trip in Cardiff with Dad on Monday followed by an appointment with my mortgage lender (ouch!) to see whether I could afford to live on my own. In short, this started a domino-effect in decision-making which made me really focus on selling my London flat which will, in turn, increase my disposable income here in Cardiff. Plus, I am on the cusp of a promotion and I am going to NAIL it in the next few months!

The following day I decided to take some time out and went to Swansea on the train with my friend Matt from work. This was *such* a great day out - we walked from Swansea train station to Mumbles and that took us about 2.5-3 hours! Here's Matt on the beach path playing on some of the installations along the route:
And the views along the beach were absolutely gorgeous. It was a bright day, there was a slight chill in the air and the sun was shining.

And there are even some weird and wonderful sculptures to play around on too. This was my favourite one - an Eagle! But you could only really tell it was an Eagle from a certain angle. You can just about see the Eagle's head behind me here and I am sat on its 'wings':
Then I had a little play on some of the fitness installations on the running trail:
Matt and I had a brilliant day and it was just what I needed to sort out all the thoughts spinning around in my head from the previous days' flat-hunting and bank meetings. When we got to Mumbles we had lunch at Salt and a little walk around the shops. Plus in total we drank about 6 cups of coffee each and Matt was bouncing off the walls by about 3pm! We were both flagging on the train on the way home and by the time I got in I was overwhelmed by natural tiredness and fell asleep on the couch for about 2 hours. Absolutely brilliant.

On Wednesday I did my normal circuits class with Rhys at Laguna Health, Cardiff. He took this picture of the class (me, centre, looking rough as hell):

Can you breathe *and* do press-ups?!
He then took a further 25 mins after class to show me a cool Treadmill interval circuit. He found my "rest" and "sprint" pace on the treadmill (my 'Rest' = level 8, my 'Sprint' = level 16). I did 7 reps of 30 sec sprints with 60 sec rests. On the sprints, you really have to be running as fast as your legs will carry you and you shouldn't be able to run for much longer than the 30 secs. However you *should* push yourself to finish the full 30 secs and if you can't, then decrease the speed slightly. I was totally done in at the end of the 7 sets! Oh, before I forget, Rhys had an article published about his TRX training in the Western Mail this weekend so take a look if you're interested. It is pretty cool! TRX.

This weekend has been great so far too. I started it as I meant it to go on. With an absolutely butt-kicking workout. The fabulous Jo showed me how to really work my glutes, quads and core with a session of squats superset with stiff-leg deadlifts, forward lunges, step-ups and dumbbell swings. Here's Jo showing me how to squat ass to grass:
Pretty impressive form, huh? Whilst I couldn't quite get down as low with my squats, I lifted at the same weight and pushed myself as far as I could.
The difference in the form and depth of our squats is pretty clear from these pictures. It is great for me as I can really set myself clear goals on form just by looking at these photos. (Plus I can also remind myself that I want a firmer ass!) So, that workout was at around 3pm this afternoon. It is now 6.40pm and my legs are JELLY. DOMS have hit after a mere 2 hours - now *that's* a workout. Tomorrow I will be running off the DOMS on a 9-mile run. I'll post some pics as there are some nice views en route. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The hills have eyes

The weekend started as I meant it to go on. Relaxed, and a little self-indulgent. I popped into Pontypridd town on Saturday morning to pick up some bits of food as my Dad is staying tonight so he can come flat-viewing with me on Monday morning. I got a little distracted by a cut looking cafe just off the high street and stopped for a quick coffee. It was lovely to sit having a quiet coffee, watching the world go by.

And to be perfectly honest, that was about as much as I did on Saturday! I walked back home from town and totally chilled out until bedtime. I *should* have gone for a long run yesterday but I didn't. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it - I think sometimes it is ok to miss a run if you really don't feel like it (although I almost always feel better if I get out on the roads, I know that). When my motivation is waining the best thing I can do it get some sleep, get out of bed the next day and really kick my backside into touch. So that's exactly what I did.

So, as per my tweet earlier on, I pulled my finger out this morning and got running! I did my favourite 8 mile route in the Ponty hills and it was gorgeous. I still didn't make the first 2 horrific miles of deathly steep hill without having to walk, but from the top onwards, it was just glorious. With various stops to take photos and at *least* a three minute walk up the last bit of the hill, I was out on the road for 90 mins. And I loved it - the relaxed approach I took and allowing myself to take photographs and really enjoy the surroundings made all the difference. Plus, it turned out I wasn't on my own! The hills really do have eyes...

There were horses, sheep and cows too, but I only had my iPhone camera on me so the only animal photo that came out well was the one I took of the horses. My hill route also takes me down a long and windy road through the middle of rolling countryside and past a beautiful church:

Downhill from here!

It was really quiet up here and so peaceful.

After my run Dad arrived at around 2.30pm today and we headed to the local pub, The Bunch of Grapes, for some lunch. It was delish - I had roast parsnip soup followed by seabass on a bed of beetroot risotto. Dad had roast beef. I totally forgot to take any pictures of our lunch but to be honest I would have had to have been really quick as we were both quite hungry and devoured both courses quite quickly!

Tomorrow I plan to drag Dad to the gym early doors, then meet the estate agents for some viewings at 9am and 10am. Having spoken to my lovely housemate yesterday, I think it may be the case that my staying with her when she moves into her new property is the best course of action for us both. Cheaper for me in the long run and more financially suitable for her when she gets a bigger place. However, I can't rely on her to find me somewhere to live, hence the scheduled viewings for tomorrow. Just in case. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, 28 February 2011

Work hard, play hard...confess, repeat?!

Hello bloggies!

Been a good week or so since I posted last. I've been mega busy at work and when I've not been working, I've been [trying to] sleep. I had a nasty bug last week which not only left me unable to sleep with a really sore chest and snotty nose, but I also lost my voice on Thursday and Friday. It played havoc with my already weird dreaming. I fell asleep one night last week, feeling really dodgy and hot and uncomfortable, listening to one of the spoken word versions of C.S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy. I would find it very difficult to put that particular dream into words, but it was ethereal, very relaxing and oddly serene. Then I woke up with my nose stuck to my pillow and I very quickly felt a lot less peaceful. Plus, I still had to go to work despite my job entailing an awful lot of talking which aggravated my chest. I battled through and - truth be told - ended up having a fairly successful Friday!

                                                                      A nasty bug.

Suffice it to say that the tail end of last week was pretty grim, so come Friday night I was very ready for my friend's birthday party. It was a debauched night out in town and since I don't drink regularly anyway, a night out at a vodka bar hit me pretty hard! It was worth it. We had a really good night. However - and here's the confession - I had a very lazy weekend. Saturday was recovery / being-a-total-hungover-chocolate-pig-dog day [*oh the shame, but I'm all about the honesty!*] and Sunday was spent flat-hunting. Couple that with a mega-busy Monday (had to skip the gym this morning  to prepare a huuuuuuge pile of work for 9.30am sharp) and I currently feel like a medium-sized whale. HOWEVER - I am just typing this up and I'm hitting the treadie for a long run in front of a film. Hit the cardio hard - the only way to regain some sense of human self.

Yup - you heard me right, by the way - I was flat-hunting on Sunday! My housemate has sold her house and I have to move. We're still hoping that I'll be able to piggy-back with her to her next property, but I can't rely on her for everything. So, I've been looking back in Cardiff for somewhere affordable and convenient. And those words have to be my mantra whilst I'm flat-hunting because I know how tempting it would be to get somewhere that little bit more expensive, and then end up regretting it after the first few months when I'm skint and empty of fridge! Its true though - healthy eating is an expensive game and I had to factor that into my flat-hunting budget.

Anyway, to try and make up for the fact that I have eaten horribly this weekend, I cooked up some quinoa and beetroot for dinner yesterday and did enough for my lunch today too. I had tried earlier in the week to cook some quinoa but it was disastrous. I must be the only person I know who messed up quinoa! I thought I could just pour water on it and it would fluff up like cous cous. Wrong. However, when I did it properly, it was truly delish:


Arriva Trains Wales have thoughtfully gone on strike for the next few days so I've had to secure lifts from people from work (some of whom I don't even know!) to and from work. I didn't even know there were strikes until I turned up at the train station today at 5am and there was no train info on the boards. Hmmmmmmmmm. Not the *best* start to the week.

Ah well. *mutters to self* "Glass is half full, glass is half full...."etc.
Catch you soon - with pics from this Wednesday's circuits class, hopefully!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Beneficial butt-moving

I'll start with last night's dinner, which was teeming with foodgasms:

Pitta pizzas topped with:
- tomato puree;
- spinach;
- red onion;
- red pepper;
- mushrooms; and
- goats cheese.

Yes, I had 2. Yes, I'm a pig. But I have an insatiable appetite and have to eat in large quantities (which is why healthy food is a must for me!)

Another night in dreamland last night. This time, I was trying to avoid an old flame who was in my vicinity - which happened to be a campsite last night?! He had come to visit one of my friends who was staying on the same campsite and when he got there, I picked up my orange smoothie (looked vile!) and went to sit somewhere else. A short while later he was running in v tight running tights and went passed me as I was reading a book. Very unexciting. Very non-erotic. Bit disappointing really. Ah well, fingers crossed for improved dreamage this weekend.

I woke up today feeling tired, sluggish and actually not all that well. So, I did what any self-respecting, self-controlled, fitness fanatic would do. I ate like a viking. Assuming that vikings ate loads, of course. Ok, so maybe not *every* fitness fanatic would so the same! Nonetheless I tried protein pancakes for the first time today, using vanilla flavoured whey protein. And I have to say, they were abso-bloody-lutely deeeeeeeeelish. I made them by chucking together the following (see how much of a professional I am in the kitchen?! I *chuck* stuff.):

- 2 eggs and 3 egg whites;
- one scoop vanilla flavoured whey protein; and
- a blob of vanilla extract.

I whisked it all up, stuck it in a pan and did the pancake thing. I topped it with Greek yog and Agave Nectar. *Drool*. Whilst it tasted like heaven, next time instead of making one huge pancake, I'll be making several smaller ones. Here's what it looked like - it looks a bit greasy in this photograph but actually it wasn't greasy at all. I think its just the plate that looks a bit shiny in the light, they were much more appetising in the flesh.

After brekkie and the ubiquitous Saturday chores (washing, cleaning, etc) I was umming and ahhhing about whether to go to the gym. I was still feeling tired and, truth be told, a little bit grumpy. So, I had a shower, stuck on the gym kit, packed a bag and dragged my arse to the train station. I did an hours' work in the office (Monday is going to be a nightmare so I'm trying to soften the blow by doing a bit this weekend) and then went to the 3pm circuits class at the gym.

Circuits well and truly did the trick. It was with a new trainer at the gym who I hadn't done circuits with before and she turned out to be lovely. There was only one other girl who had turned up to the class so I was v stoked - love a gruelling session. We did press-ups, step-ups, lat raises, leg raises, weighted jump-squats, tricep dips and spins on the bike (uphill slogs and then sprints). We did between 1 and 1.5 mins on each station and we did 2 rounds, interspersed with jumping jacks and crunches at various points.

And then, I did a short back workout consisting of the following:

- Deadlifts (3x12 reps @ 45kg)
- Bent over rows (3 x 12 reps @ 30kg)
- Lat pull-downs (3 x 12 reps @ 43kg)

And because I couldn't help it, I had another go at the dreaded barbell squat. And after a little assistance and some massively helpful pointers from one of the Laguna PTs, I smashed up 3 x 12 reps @ 50kg! Get in. Turns out I was bending my knees too much and letting them move forward over my toes. Which is pretty poor form. Instead, I focussed on straight back, bum out, and bending at the knees, from the waist without allowing my knees to drop over my toes. And better form makes such a difference - I honestly think I can lift heavier than that too, so next week I'll be onto 55kg. Onwards and upwards! Its my new favourite workout. For now ;-) Catch up with me tomorrow as I plan to post some fab pictures of the view from my (otherwise pretty lung-wrenching and painful) run in the Ponty hills.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Barbell Mouse

Evening blogland,

Nearly a full week has passed me by in a haze of crazy circuits classes, a million work files, early mornings and weird-ass dreams. Where to start?!

Ok, the gym has been great. I go to Laguna on Greyfriars Road in Cardiff most weekdays before work at 0630h. Its when I workout best and it sets me up for the day: Twice a week I do circuits classes and whilst each of them are excellent, Rhys (on Wednesdays) pushes us to the max. Yesterday I sweated so much in 50 minutes that not only was I dripping onto the floor, but my t-shirt was absolutely drenched and I my face was so red it looked like I had been picked up by the feet and dipped in a tin of fuchsia paint from the neck up. *Massively* attractive. I could kick myself for not taking a photograph of the class set-up but next week I definitely will do and I'll blog it all. I *heart* those classes.

I also tentatively tried out a new mini-HIIT circuit on the treadie. I knew it was going to hurt so I slipped in a taster sesh before my circuits class on Wednesday. I did 5 x 30 sec sprints (@ level 13) on a 9% incline. Yes, you read correctly - 9%! Yes, it was only 5 mins. Yes, the sprints were only 30 seconds. But it was much tougher than I expected. The plan is to increase the sprints but keep the rests at 30 seconds until I can do ten sets of 1 min sprints. Now that's going to hurt! Bring it!

I also had a bit of a run in with the barbell bench press. Normally I do dumbell chest presses and I'm presently lifting 12kg dumbells for 3 x 12 reps. Very soon I'll be onto 14kg. So, I tried out the barbell chest press on Tuesday to change it up a bit. I loaded 10kg weights onto wither side of the barbell, got into position and......couldn't bloody lift it. Well, I got it out of the brackets, but struggled like a nobhead trying to get it back on. I thought perhaps I had hurt my shoulders at Monday's circuits by doing ab roll-outs on a barbell (it felt uncomfortable on my shoulders at the time) so I kind of put it down to that, I mean surely one can't go from lifting 12kg dumbells to not being able to lift 20k on a barbell??

Your thoughts on the above would be much appreciated. Hints or tips, anyone?

                                                      (What *should* have happened.)

                                                         (What *actually* happened).

Work has been crazy mad and as a result the week really has flown by. Only one more day to go and I can turn off my alarm and sleeeeeeeeeeeep until I wake up naturally. The thought is, quite simply, orgasmic. I have been having my usually bizarre dreams, too. They freak me out sometimes because they are so vivid, but I really enjoy the experience of having such lucid images. Last night I slept with a guy I haven't seen for 14 years. Not literally - obviously - just in the dream! Recent dream-fodder contains the following:

- that I have no belly button;
- that I am on a barge being chased by vampires;
- that someone called my name really loudly and woke me up (there was no-one in the house but me);
- that Rhianna was my best friend;
- I was in a bath with 2 fully clothed blokes and a naked girl with a brazilian wax, the naked girl was showing off and I remember thinking that I should have been showing off too (WTF?!); and
- that I was running a 10k race but I was so late packing my bag that I missed the first three start waves and ended up not running at all. Gah! That was my least favourite one - I hate being late. Hate it!

I think I'm going to start blogging more about my dreams and see where that goes - its easy to forget them so I'm going to re-start noting them in my dream diary as soon as I wake up.

So - what's looming on my blogging horizon? I'll be getting some pics of my circuits class, logging my progress on my barbell chest presses, dragging my sorry arse over the hills for 9 miles on Sunday, cooking up a storm for next week's lunches and hopefully having some random dreams I can freak you out with.

Bye for now!