A few months of paleo

I guess I’ve officially been a paleo eater for four months now. There has been the odd slip up (some accidental and some that I knew full well as I was stuffing the non-paleo item in my mouth). Slap the hand that feeds me!

cookie monster 2It’s been an interesting experience and I’ve had to rethink my relationship with food. Food is, and I guess, always will have an emotional attachment – I just need to manage it better. If I’m having a bad day I want to eat (even if I’m not hungry), and my will power is weak so I give in. I know it’s wrong, and that it only fuels the bad feelings. Pretty nasty circle isn’t it! Is it a female thing or do males experience this too?

I’ve made a handful of new friends recently, mainly paleo eaters, and those wanting to ask questions about what paleo is, how to do it and most commonly “what do you eat for breakfast?”. That’s an easy answer – bacon and eggs!!

eggs, bacon, spinach, avocado - paleo breakfast

Ok, so not every day but certainly on most mornings. I attend two or three business breakfast meetings a week, and the venues have been very accommodating. If you are cheeky enough to find what you want scattered throughout the menu, then ask for it. Most restaurants or cafés are willing to help with specific food or dietary requirements, as it’s becoming more mainstream.

The type of exercise is changing too. Only 2 or 3 Zumba sessions a week, bootcamps have dropped to 1 a week, and I’ve increased my low impact cardio. A casual bike ride, a walk in the Port Hills and at least once a week I’m going up and over Bridle Path. Even if it’s been torrential rain causing damage to the track, which turn into mini mud runs…

mud run

I’m still not happy with my results (even though I’m still under my new threshold) and my weight seems to fluctuate on a weekly basis. The measurements are variable but slowly trending in the right direction. I honestly thought I would have less fat by now – even though I know it’s a slow journey from here. I need to be a tiny bit more disciplined and perhaps I’ll get there eventually. One snack, one meal, one day at a time.

Attitude change has kicked in

I’m starting to dread Monday mornings and it’s not for the obvious reason. For me it is weigh in and measurements in all of it’s glory and failure and this morning was pretty average results. But that is ok, as I’ve had an attitude change! Last weeks blog post was shared on my facebook page and I asked for feedback and advice. Wow, what a diverse group of friends I have, all with various ideas, tips and suggestions. It was a real eye opener for me as to how my friends see me and how much they are willing to support me.

This week I’ve eased back on the cardio, just 4 Zumba sessions, 2 bootcamps and 2 hill runs (plus incidental exercise) and this will be a standard week for me with all the events I’ve got scheduled. On Sunday morning I was out running with my mate training for A Run To Remember and we had a conversation while running freestyle down one of my favourite pieces of the track (the downhill portion)…

RapakiThe conversation was about how people think we are crazy for attempting all this exercise. I had a ‘light-bulb’ moment and said “nah, we were mentally crazy to let our bodies consume all the crap we used to love” and it was only then that I realised that I’m not crazy or mental. The old overweight fat unhappy me was off the rails and damned if I’m letting that happen. We also joked as the night before I’d had a moment of weakness and had eaten a Perky Nana, which at the time was absolutely lip smackingly good but it was short-lived. My stomach decided that it was poison and gave me horrific tummy ache and totally ruined my Saturday night – although I was only hanging out at home by myself, so it was hardly a tragedy in the first place.

Meanwhile my food intake has been pretty good. A few of my mates are now using myfitnesspal to track their calorie intake and we are comparing notes and encouraging each other. I’ve finally got some yummy chocolate treats that are homemade and look like this! Best flavours in my opinion so far are lime and chilli, and raisin.

Paleo chocolateWhat I’ve realised is I need to do some more strength/resistance training.  So I’ll be speaking to my favourite personal trainer and see what she can suggest for me to do, and it needs to be without joining a gym or heading to crossfit. It has to be activity I can do at home so I can fit it around my already crazy schedule. If I can continue with my current level of cardio plus add some weight resistance in the mix, I think I might see some good results. Let’s see what happens, eh?

A bucket load of exercise!

Bluergh. I can’t think of another word for it. Last week was, well, bluergh.

I’ll keep it factual as I can’t even fathom the words…

  • Monday night – Zumba and boot camp
  • Tuesday morning – Hill walk up and down Bridle Path
  • Tuesday night – Zumba
  • Wednesday morning – 12km hill run
  • Wednesday night – 2.5km bike to Zumba, Zumba, 2.5km bike home
  • Thursday night – Zumba and boot camp
  • Friday morning – 11km bike ride, hill walk up and down Bridle Path, 11km bike ride home
  • Saturday morning – 14km hill run
  • Sunday night – 11km hill run

Total activity: 4 x Zumba sessions, 2 x boot camps, 2 x steep hill walks, 27km on the bike, 37km of hill runs.

Bridle path

Food: 98% Paleo, but mainly because a stray sugar-free V and a coke zero found their way into my diet.

Result when I got out the scales and measuring tape this morning: A fat lost of 70 grams.  Yeap, that’s right, 70 tiny little grams. All my other stats are pretty much the same and it looks like I’ve gained about 200 grams of water and the same for muscle. So my face looks like this little guy…

sad kittyMy current thoughts: REALLY?!? That’s a shit load of exercise for very little reward. I know it’s about the big picture, but come on, that is pathetic. And before you ask, yes I’ve been lighter and smaller that I am at the moment, so no, I haven’t reached my limit.

This coming week: Normal schedule of 4 x Zumba and 2 x boot camp plus at least one hill run (got to keep training for A Run To Remember). I guess I’ll strip all my food back to super simple paleo foods, increase water intake and keep my fingers crossed. Unless you have a better idea? I’m open to suggestions…

Dragging myself up hills

I’ve started training for my next event, a 12km hill run. The course is a local one and as usual, I want to get some of the route under my shoes before race day.

What this means is that I’ve completed six hill walk and runs in seven days. Twice up Bridle Path, once up Bridle down to Lyttleton and back, and then three runs on the actual course I’ll be running in 22nd February for Run To Remember which was started as a practical and healthy way to acknowledge the tragic event that rocked my city (and how it impacted my weight loss journey).

My food has been pretty strict and although I’ve been experimenting with paleo recipes – this gal had got a sweet tooth – I’ve only slipped once. Being out with my teenage nieces, we ended up at one of their absolutely favourite restaurants, Strawberry Fare. They specialise in desserts, so I took the opportunity to relish every last morsel of this lip smacking combination…

Strawberry FareAlso, I’ve also gone out for three meals and have been the annoying one at the table by modifying what was on the menu to be as paleo as possible. Most restaurants can be tweaked to 99% paleo, which is close enough for me. Best food to order is the steak or fish of the day. Normally they come with sauces (which you can request for it to be on the side), and either salad or veges. Nearly all of the dishes come with potato fries of some description, so I’ve been cheeky and asked if I can have salad AND vegetables but no fries. All have complied at no extra charge, which was a pleasant surprise.

So when I jumped on the scales this morning to take my measurements, I felt completely deflated. I’ve put on weight and it wasn’t just muscle. My body fat percentage has gone up and I’m a bit stumped. All my other measurements have remained the same, except my thigh (it’s gone down 1 cm). How is it possible when I’ve been watching everything I’ve eaten or drunk. To say I feel flat is an understatment.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to bury my face in a pile of chocolate and wash it down with a bottle of bubbles. As tempting as it might be for about 5 minutes, I think I’d throw up and feel worse than ever. The only thing I can think of is the quantity of fruit that I’ve been eating, or perhaps it’s something else that I’m not aware of. Zumba starts back tonight and combined with some more hill runs, I’ll reduce my fruit intake and see what happens. Wish me luck!

Injuries, no excuse to stop

Exercising is dangerous. Throwing your arms and legs all over the place is bound to result in hurting yourself. They don’t tell you that when you start. I’m not talking about the niggly muscle ache or when you have worked your abdominals so much it makes you wince in pain when you sneeze. I’m talking about actual injuries when you require treatment.

On my fitness journey I’ve had a few. From lower back pain when I twisted a certain way, my right calf muscle that is permanently in a tight mass, through to my worst where I actually thought I might not walk again.

It was early on, and it was during a seamlessly innocent Zumba class. We had a new-ish routine and I wasn’t fully concentrating. It was a simple tweak of my left calf muscle and I actually heard and felt it ping. I pretty much stopped dead where I was and crawled off to the side. Tears in my eyes and trying not to scream, I managed to quietly grab my stuff and get outside. I swore loudly and I’m sorry if anyone heard me. It was before I really knew many people at Zumba so didn’t really have anyone to ask for support.

I got to my car and then did what I remember as the longest drive in the world home, driving a manual car. Somehow I drove the whole way by using only 2 gears, 2nd and 5th. When I got home I was in extreme agony and wasn’t sure if I’d done permanent damage or if it was something I could self manage. I’m not sure what happened next, but my partner got home and saw me on the sofa with a bag of peas and red puffy eyes and knew that I’d injured myself, badly.

This was my first lesson about exercising when tired and how the simplest lack of concentration can have dire consequences. In the long run, I was lucky as I could treat my injury with a lot of rest and bandages. I wasn’t meant to go back to exercise but anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a determined individual. I went back the following week, strapped up and did what was the slowest and most delicate Zumba sessions for the next few weeks.

The key is knowing what is a real injury and what tricks my mind will play on me to get me to stop. Understanding my body signals and determine if I can actually carry on or not. Twisted ankle – do exercise that doesn’t involve my feet. Shoulder tweak – doesn’t stop me from doing leg exercises. It’s a matter of how badly I wanted to get fit, and I wanted it more than anything.

Love affair with Zumba

It wasn’t until about week 4 of the original challenge where I found an exercise that I loved. Zumba.

Anyone that knows me now, knows that I’ve got an addiction. Like any addiction it started as an occasional thing. I wanted to do some exercise that didn’t involve a gym. It needed to be something that I was likely to want to do. That’s the key, find an exercise I loved and it won’t really feel like exercise.

A bit of internet searching and I found 3 places that did Zumba in my area. I quickly found out that although the concept is the same, the instructors, style and technique is very different. I bravely purchased concession cards for each of them and endeavoured to find the best.

For the first few weeks it was like getting beaten up. I’d take ages to pick up the routines, I’d be bright red and flustered. But I loved it. Especially one instructor. She quickly became my favourite and I picked up her groove immediately. It was initially only one class a week that I could go to – I had to use up these other concession cards – but I had picked up the Zumba vibe.

Eventually I would go to all of her classes that I could afford and fit in with work and other commitments. Over the following months and years she has become a regular influence in my fitness life and I still finish each class with a silent voice of thanks.

Be warned, who ever tells you that if you exercise regularly you will have boundless energy – they are telling lies. I was exhausted, sore and didn’t want to do anything. This feeling would pass, it just took time. There were days were I hurt beyond anything I could imagine, but I made the decision to keep going. It was my fault I got myself into this position, and only I could fix it.

I remember one extremely punishing workout that knackered me so much that by the time I got home, it took me nearly 20 minutes to get into the shower. That’s how much it hurt. The next day I was still sore, and then the day after that was worse. Did it stop me from exercising again, heck no! I went back for more. And I’m still there, 3 to 4 nights per week, smiling away, shaking my booty and having a great time. Does it feel like exercise, yes some days are hard, but I’m hooked for life.

Zumba