New Year’s Resolutions: January Update

This post was originally intended to be published on 08 January 2018. Due to unforeseen scheduling errors it first appeared on 23 Feb 2018.  

For those of you following along with my New Years Resolutions series. You’ll know that towards the end of 2017 I was flush with excitement and hope for improving my health and fitness in the New Year. For anyone who hasn’t been following me, but wants to catch up, you can read about my goals and my plan here.

So I talked the talk at the New Years Eve party, but in the breaking dawn light of the brand New Year can I actually walk the walk? When push comes to shove will any of my carefully thought out plans actually propel me to achieving my goals? Or will I once again watch them falling by the wayside like I have every other year.

Only time will reveal the truth, but what I can say for now is I’m one week in and “So far so good!”

So lets break it down

1. The Baseline

Well the first admission has to be that I did not, in fact, get up with the dawn. There was no glorious storybook moment of watching the first rays of sunlight stream over the horizon. My reality was more a case of dragging myself out of bed bleary eyed and groggy. I was already wishing longingly for more sleep before my head even left the pillow, but thanks to my promise of getting real about my goals I’d factored this into my plans. I took my time to wake up, enjoyed some time with my family, took a long hot shower to become human, and still showed up on time and on track to my first fitness session with ‘my people’.

Part of wanting to improve means knowing where we are starting from so our first order of the day was measurements. As a group we each recorded our weight, as well as measuring several key areas of our bodies including, chest, waist, hips, legs and arms.

I’m not going to lie. It was confronting to realise just how big some of my numbers have become over the past few years! Ownership however, is part of accountability, so in the interest of committing to my own goals here is the harsh truth for all the world to see. I also personally made a point of taking some before shots so I would have a visual reference of my progress.

Starting Stats: 1st Jan 2018

 
 Weight: 91.9kg
 Height: 167cm
 BMI: 33

 Bicep (R): 38.5cm
 Bicep (L): 37.0cm
 Thigh (R): 74.0cm
 Thigh (L): 76.5cm
 Chest: 104.0cm
 Waist: 89.0cm
 Hips: 124.5cm

So now that the ugly truth has been confronted and put out there in the world. What have I done about it?

2. Exercise

The exercise side of my goals has got off to a good, although not great, start. The plan that our group set out was to try to exercise at least 5 days every week. Whilst the group met up for sessions every morning Monday to Friday, I didn’t quite manage to make them all. Out of the 7 days of the year so far I’ve managed to exercise on only 4 of them, so I’m one day behind already!

In my defense though I did have a pretty good reason. On the 4th of January our entire house came down with gastro! I won’t disgust you with all the gory details, but suffice to say that after a sleepless night cleaning up after my 2nd grader followed by 24 hours fighting back my own nausea I didn’t really feel up for a workout session. I am however committed to meeting the group and getting back onto it this week.

So on the days I did actually make it out to exercise, what did I actually do?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Once again I have to express my immense gratitude to Kylee from Pure Potential Life Coaching. Whilst she would be the first to proclaim that she is not a personal trainer, she does have a wealth of knowledge based on years of pursuing her own health and fitness goals. She’s also one of ‘my people.’ As a result she’s taken on the unofficial role of group leader and has been preparing some awesome interval workouts for us.

Kylee has been careful to change the exercises every day, sometimes being more cardio focused (think burpees and star jumps) and other times being very weights heavy (weighted squats anyone?) Regardless of if we are focused on weights, cardio or a mixture of the two we usually follow a similar pattern. We divide the workout into cycles. Each cycle has 3 – 4 unique exercises and we complete each cycle 2-3 times before moving onto the next. Once we’ve finished all three cycles we head right back to the top and complete it all again for another set.

Here is an example of one of our torture sessions, err I mean workouts.

      Cycle One       Cycle Two       Cycle Three
30 sec Step-ups 30 sec Tricep Dips 30 sec Bicycle
15 sec Rest 15 sec Rest 15 sec Rest
30 sec Plank 30 sec Squat Jumps 30 sec Lower Body Lifts
15 sec Rest 15 sec Rest 15 sec Rest
30 sec Butt Kicks 30 sec Bicep Curls 30 sec Hip Bridges
15 sec Rest 15 sec Rest 15 sec Rest

Each workout lasts between 27 and 40 minutes depending on how many times we repeat each cycle. In an effort to avoid injury we also have a few additional few minutes before and after our workout devoted to a warm up (usually in the form of a jog around the oval) and cool down (stretches). The general consensus is that it’s working, as by the end of the session most of us are totally stuffed and there has been many a complaint about aching muscles. Which brings me onto our second exercise choice.

Yoga

By the morning of day two I could hardly lift my head off the pillow. I’d been expecting some stiffness based on the fact that I’d starting using muscles that had been long neglected, but I was hurting in places I didn’t know I had places! Touching base with the other ladies in the group it appeared I wasn’t the only one so rather than kill ourselves for a second day running we decided to instead meet up in my living room and stretch it out with some yoga.

Now I’ve dabbled in yoga previously, but it’s never really held my interest before. I usually either end up feeling like an abject failure due to my total lack of flexibility, or I find it monotonous and boring. I’ve never really found an instructor I clicked with. That was until I found Yoga with Adriene.

Adriene runs a YouTube channel dedicated to all things yoga and she has literally hundreds of videos to choose from. Ranging from “Yoga for weight loss” to “Yoga on a plane” she has a video for almost every occasion. She’s got lovely easy-going presentation skills and her manner makes it feel almost as if each practice was designed specifically with me in mind. Admittedly I’m currently working through her “Yoga for Beginners”  playlist so I may change my tune as the workouts become more challenging; however, for right now the yoga sessions are a lovely way to stretch out tired and stiff muscles in the days following an intense workout session. And best of all, I can do it from the privacy of my own living room!

3. Diet

With my diet I committed to 2 fast days every week and 7 days into the year I have indeed managed to stick to that. I’m ignoring the fact that one of those days I was so nauseous with gastro that I couldn’t have eaten if I tried since I still consumed less than 500 calories. Hey a fast day is a fast day right?

Given I’ve only completed one true fast day; however, it’s a little hard to judge yet how well I am going to cope with them. I did make it through without giving into my cravings so that’s got to be a good sign and in truth, I wasn’t actually as hungry all day as I’d expected. Sure I did have to pull up short a few times when I found myself heading towards the pantry, but I didn’t spent the entire day obsessing about food like I’d been worried I might.

What I did notice was that I felt incredibly tired all day, particularly in the afternoon where I was so lethargic I struggled to get off the couch. Again it’s hard to judge if that was purely due to the heavily restricted calories though since my toddler hasn’t been sleeping well. It might have been the fasting, but it could equally likely have been a symptom of my pre-existing sleep deprivation. I’m hoping next week will give me a better idea of how I’m tracking.

In regards to the days I wasn’t fasting, I’m feeling positive about my other food choices. Not only have I completely avoided the left over Christmas chocolates, but I’ve got a fridge full of healthy fruits and vegetables and I’ve been doing my best to incorporate more of them into our family meals. I’m also making a conscious effort to cut down on my empty calories, and haven’t had a single soft drink since the start of the New Year. I may however be developing a sparkling water addiction to compensate!

4. Where to next?

So my final grade for week one?

I’m scoring myself a solid 7 out of 10 for effort. I’m no Usain Bolt, but I haven’t dropped out of the race just yet.

I’m feeling positive and with the exception of when I was unwell I’ve even been enjoying the process so far. I’m determined to continue finding ways to enjoy the journey. I have plans afoot to expand my exercise repertoire and I’ve been researching other low-calorie meal options for fast days to stop things getting boring throughout the year.

With only one week down I’ve still got a long way to go towards making a permanent lifestyle change, but every day brings me one step closer to joining that 8% of people who actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions!

New Year’s Resolutions

This post was originally intended to be published on 31 December 2017. Due to unforeseen scheduling errors it first appeared on 20 Feb 2018. 

New Years Resolutions. We all make them, we all break them. Then, before we know it, another 12 months passes. December 31st rolls back around and we all make and break the resolutions all over again.

In fact, a very quick Google on the subject informed me today that only 8% of New Years Resolutions ever succeed.

That means that the other 92% fail!!!

For over a decade now I’ve been consistently making resolutions about getting fitter and losing weight. Clichéd I know. I’ve tried all the usual methods of course. Weight Watchers, joining a gym, calorie counting apps, expensive fitness classes of all varieties… The list goes on. And yet here I am, not only 10 years older, but less fit and weighing more than I was before I started.

So given that I know my own history of failure, why do I bother making new resolutions at all?

Because there is something about the start of a New Year that always leaves me flushed with optimism and hope.

This year I will be better… smarter… stricter… stronger…
This year will be different…
This year will be the year…

So how do I turn all these optimistic feelings into positive results? Well this year I have a few aces up my sleeve.

1. I’m getting real

They say forewarned is forearmed. Well if the last 10 years of failed resolutions have taught me anything, it’s what doesn’t work for me. After ten years of forewarning I’m armed to the teeth! I have a detailed knowledge base of my weak points and that knowledge is gold baby!

I can hand on heart say with confidence that I’m useless at sticking to rigid diet plans. Restrict myself to 1200 calorie a day? Not for more than a few weeks I can’t. Swear off cookies and cake for life? What’s the point in getting skinny if I’m going to spend every coffee date with my girlfriends staring miserably at other people’s food and salivating?

Harsh experience has told me that the longer I force myself to stick to a heavily restricted diet the more likely it becomes I will resort to binge eating my way through a family sized block of chocolate (or three!).

So how to use that knowledge to my advantage? Abandon all restrictions and just hope for the best? Well obviously not. A diet plan with no restrictions at all on what I eat is never going to help me shed the kilograms. What I need to do is build restrictions into my life in a manageable and realistic way.

Enter the 5:2 diet.

For those who haven’t heard of it the 5:2 diet (also known as the fasting diet) is an eating plan based around intermittent fasting. I first heard about it via a documentary by the Medical Journalist Michael Moseley entitled “Eat, Fast & Live Longer.” It was a fascinating program and I’d highly suggest that if you are at all curious about intermittent fasting you watch it. To give a very brief summary the diet essentially involves ‘fasting’ two days out of every seven. For women that means restricting yourself to 500 calories on your fast day and for men 600. The other five days of the week you can eat as you normally would.

Now I know that 500 calories doesn’t seem like a lot of food. It isn’t! In fact it’s around one-quarter of the daily calorie intake recommended by the NHS. I can tell you from experience you will probably spend your first fast day convinced your stomach is going to eat itself from the inside out. The true beauty of the plan though? It’s only ONE day at a time.

Yep that’s right. You get through that single day of starving and the next day you are allowed to eat as you normally would. Craving a piece of cake? No problem. Dreaming about pizza and garlic bread? Go for it. You can still eat all that and more you only have to wait until tomorrow!

Now before it seems like I start to sound like some sort of paid advertisement for the plan I should mention that I’m in no way affiliated with the fast diet and have no monetary incentive to promote it. It’s simply an eating regime that I believe will work for my life and my needs. It’s certainly not a diet plan that will work for everyone. As with anything like this you should be sure to consult with your doctor before making any radical changes to your diet. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer also have a website dedicated to the plan called thefastdiet.co.uk for those of you who wanted some more information.

Yet even presuming my new realistic approach allows me to stick to my new eating regime diet alone is not enough for me to achieve my New Year’s Resolution to reclaim my health and fitness. So what other cards am I holding to keep me on track with my plans and goals?

2. I’m getting help

Over the last year I’ve been lucky enough forge a friendship with a wonderful woman by the name of Kylee from Pure Potential Life Coaching. Just like with the fasting diet I feel obliged to point out I’m not receiving any monetary incentive to promote Kylee, or Life Coaching. In fact, I know Kylee as a friend rather than a client, but I can hand on heart say she is one of the most positive and supportive people I’ve ever met. Kylee’s life passion is to help other people achieve their goals and dreams and being around her makes it impossible not to start believing in my own potential.

On her Facebook page Kylee describes life coaching as taking a person from where they are to where they want to be. When she found out about my New Years Resolutions she was the first to jump on board with encouragement and support for my own journey towards better health. I should be clear here that Kylee is not doing the work for me. Rather, she is helping me find the right tools to do the work for myself. After all being a life coach is about helping others live their best life, not living it for them! Kylee has instead offered me constant positivity and encouragement as well as volunteering her time and experience to help me formulate a specific plan to conquer my fitness goals.

Kylee has helped me in many ways, and I will elaborate on them with you as you join me on my own journey; however, if you are interested in more information about Life Coaching I’d highly encourage you to contact Pure Potential Life Coaching.

3. I’ve found my people.

This year, for the first time in a long time, I’m not trying to go it alone. I have found a group of like-minded women all of who want to achieve similar things. Some want to shed a few kilograms. Some want to improve their overall fitness. Some want to tone up and build strength. A few, like me, want to do it all. Ultimately however we all share one important goal. We want to make fitness a personal priority and part of our everyday life. Together we are taking steps to make that happen. As a group we have agreed to the following parameters to help keep ourselves on track.

Monthly weigh in and measurements

By committing as a group to weigh in and measure key areas of our bodies on the 1st of every month (or the first Monday if the new month falls on a weekend) we are keeping ourselves accountable. Whilst the only true competition is with ourselves seeing those numbers on the tape-measure and the scales will help us reinforce that the results we are achieving are worth the pain we are enduring during our sessions.

Holding workout session 5 days a week.

Obviously not all of us will be able to attend every session, but by committing to hold sessions daily it gives those of us with busier lives ample opportunity to make it to multiple sessions a week. After all with that many sessions available surely we can all make at least one or two!

Sweat-ability!

Not making it to a session isn’t an excuse for not exercising! The workout description for every session is posted on-line allowing anyone who couldn’t make the session in person to complete it on their own time. And to prove to each other, and ourselves, that we are completing sessions outside of the group we have sweat-ability! A red-faced crazy haired accountability selfie taken directly after exercise and posted to the group to show off our achievements in all our sweaty glory.

A fun and social atmosphere

Not every workout is going to be a killer and not every gathering is going to be a workout. Yes we have promised each other to work hard. And yes we want to push ourselves and each other to new heights of exhaustion during our sessions,but our sessions aren’t the only reason we see each other. We will take the time to laugh together, chat together and support each other. We will make time for social outings together outside of workouts. Most importantly we will encourage each other.

4. I’m getting accountable.

The final and possibly most important part of my plan is to hold myself to all the promises I’ve made. That my dear readers is where you come in. By putting myself out there on this blog I intend to prove my progress (or lack there of should I fall off the wagon) to the world. My aim is to update here with my progress at least once a month including photos, weights and measurements. I’ll tell you about when it’s going well, and be honest about when it’s not. Most importantly, fail or succeed I’ll be accountable in all my choices and decisions related to my health and fitness for the next twelve months.

So there you have it. My New Years Resolutions are made, my plan is formulated and now just the hard work lies ahead of me. I’ve just time enough left to slip out the back and have one rather large glass of champagne, possibly with a side serving of cake. After all. Tomorrow is when it all begins!

From small beginnings…

Eeeep so I did it!

I bit the bullet and officially parted with over $100 (AUD) of my hard-earned cash to reserve the domain WhatSheWrote.com for my very own blog. Although one would imagine that if you are reading this you know that already since you’ve already found your way to my little corner of the big bad web!

So who am I and why have I started a blog?

To give you the very short version I’m a 30-something happily married mother of two boys, currently on maternity leave with my youngest.

I’ve always loved writing. As a teenager (many moons ago) I used to write all the time. Yet somewhere between then and now my passion had faded. My writing had dwindled, and eventually over time, I stopped altogether. I let life, and responsibilities get in the way of my passion.

Don’t get me wrong. The life that got in the way has been its own amazing journey and I wouldn’t change a minute of it. I’ve got a wonderful family, a good job and great friends. I truly do sit back and count my blessings on a regular basis. But just because life is amazing right now doesn’t mean it can’t get better. Just because you’ve let your passions fall by the wayside for a little while doesn’t mean you can’t take the time to pick them up again. When a close contact recently revealed to me that not only had she started writing, she’d actually finished her first novel and was ready to publish she gave me a real kick in the backside to do just that. My goal for the second half of 2017 quickly became to write a novel of my very own.

So did I write one you ask? Indeed I did! Or at least I’ve started. Whilst I haven’t yet got anywhere near publishing, I have finished my first draft and along the way I got well and truly bitten by the writing bug. The more I wrote, the more I enjoyed it. The more I enjoyed it the more I started thinking of other excuses I might have to not just write, but share my writing with others. And not just a novel. Yes writing the novel is great fun and incredibly challenging, but it’s also been long, and involved and I’m not even finished yet. I needed something shorter. Something a little more flippant and fun. Something that will keep me writing regularly.

The solution I came up with both excited and terrified me at the same time. What better way to refine my skills and my writing than to start a blog. Not only would it give me the platform to write multiple short pieces, but by publishing to the Internet and (hopefully) building up a following I’d have built-in accountability to ensure I continued to update content regularly.

So that’s my new goal for 2018. Alongside finishing my first novel I aim to grow my writing and my blog. I will be the first to put my hand up and say that I’m new to this whole adventure. As a total newbie I can only assume that I will make many mistakes and wrong turns as I find my way around. In an effort to be honest and upfront about my experience however I aim to try to document both my successes and failures.

I’m hoping that at least a few of you will enjoy coming along on this crazy journey with me. I’m looking forward to interacting with you all as I muddle my way through life’s latest adventure.

For now though…

That’s what she wrote!