Give it a Year – The Battle to Beat Middle Aged Spread Part 2

Give it a Year – The Battle to Beat Middle Aged Spread Part 2

You know that beautiful feeling? The one where you wake up early in the morning and hear rain pounding on the roof. The wind is howling – but who cares? Curled up in bed, you are perfectly warm and snug. It’s Sunday and so, with a contented sigh, you roll over and pull the duvet over your ears. The noise of miserable weather fades as you drift back to sleep.

And then you remember.

You agreed to climb a big fucking hill today.

In two hours actually. Which means you have to get up right now and get ready.

We’ve all woken up with that sense of regret at having to follow through on a plan that we now can’t be bothered with. And that is exactly how I felt on the morning of the great LEGACY Criffel climb.

I’d known about it for long enough because the date had been set weeks ago. As with all event planning, there was plenty of enthusiasm in the beginning. Diaries were free, the weather was great and energy levels were high. Numbers had since dwindled but, at the last count on Friday, there was a hard-core group who were still up for the ascent of Dumfriesshire’s highest point. I was one of them.

Now, cuddled up in my bed, I had to resolve this mental dilemma. Climbing Criffel was the LAST thing I felt like doing on this pissing wet morning, but I knew that if I pulled out I would feel bad. I would torture myself for being such a lazy cow. I would chastise myself for being a pathetic lightweight, refusing to go out in the rain. I would hate myself for letting the team down. Yes – in my heart, I knew that if I didn’t climb Criffel, I would descend into a spiral of self-loathing and a ‘what’s the fucking point’ binge of comfort-eating. Nonetheless, I still could not bring myself to drag my sorry ass out of bed.

Cocooned in the quilt, self-loathing began to creep in – and then, thankfully, a fabulous moment of clarity. If I felt like this about the Criffel climb, then surely everyone else would too! All I needed to do was check my Facebook and see if anyone had had the decency to cancel it. Because if someone cancelled the whole event, I wouldn’t need to feel bad about not going.

Quickly, I brought up the Legacy Facebook page but, with dread, I noticed that some folks were still up for it. All was not lost though. Like me, others were hinting about how nice it would be to climb Criffel in good weather – or to re-arrange to a date when more people were able to attend. I felt hopeful until Kyle, our leader and master, blocked every negative comment and told us to ‘get our head in the game’. A final, bold attempt was made to point out the dangers of climbing in thigh high mud and bogs – but it was hopeless. The climb was ON and I had to go. With heavy heart I grabbed my Nakd bars, pulled on my coat and boots, and made my way to the shitty, waterlogged meeting point. In the gloom, we gathered. Eight brave souls ready to begin a mighty ascent.

As expected, it was muddy and steep with plenty of hidden rocks. It rained the entire time and, at no point did we see anything of the view. It was freezing one minute and then too hot the next. Having not climbed Criffel in 25 years, I had no idea where the summit was – or how long it would take to get there. I simply kept my head down and trudged on steadily. And then – somewhere along the way I started to enjoy myself! Even better was the fact that I did not need to stop every five minutes for a breather! My god – I was actually fit for this!!

To my amazement, the summit appeared far quicker than I thought it would. When a large pile of rocks loomed out of the mist I thought nothing of it until my climbing buddy announced that ‘this was it!’ I was astounded! The last time I climbed Criffel, I arrived at the summit on my hands and knees and spent the next few days in agony. Yes, at aged 23, I recall being crippled by the Criffel climb but here, at twice the age, I felt (and possibly looked) like a mountain goat. This served as further confirmation that hard work in your circuits class will definitely pay off.

Everyone was in the same upbeat mood and, despite being soaking and starving, we made for a cheery bunch. After whooping and lunching on the summit, we made our descent back to the car park. I trundled off home feeling mighty pleased with myself and cockily declared to everyone that it had been ‘a breeze’. The lesson of the day was not a difficult one – simply a reminder that we will always feel better if we just ‘get on with it’ (whatever ‘it’ may be).

If ‘climbing Criffel’ had been my Legacy goal for last month then I would have succeeded. Alas, my goal for last month was to crawl out of the ‘overweight’ section of the NHS ‘height/weight’ chart. This meant reaching a target weight of 11st 4. Having failed to achieve this during the previous month, I was certain that I would be victorious this time round. But I wasn’t! I was 11st 5 at my weigh in. A pound from victory. A ‘half point’ over the normal BMI range. Progress indeed but hugely fucking irritating all the same!

What can I do but declare that this 11st 4 goal be carried over – again – to next month.

I’ll see you then!

The Brilliant Light You Saw

Suicide Prevention Week will touch the hearts of many.  And none more so than my friend Marie who lost her Sister earlier this year.

It is only now that she feels able to talk about it but it is still a painful and difficult concept to express.

She asked if I would help her to write about it and, using her emotions, I wrote this poem “The Brilliant Light You Saw”.  Marie knows she is not alone in dealing with the loss of a loved one in such sad circumstances – and she hopes that others will read this, recognise it and hopefully find some comfort in it.  It helps to share – so please do!

Give it a Year: The Battle to Beat Middle Aged Spread (Part 1)

At last I have found time to publish the first of my monthly fitness blogs. This will chart my progress through the new Legacy Programme – a bold step which I am taking in a bid to beat middle aged spread. My ultimate aim is to look like a stripper by the time I hit fifty. And if that proves unattainable, I will settle for being able to do unsupported handstands the way I could when I was forty.

click for bigger image

The Legacy Programme is a twelve-month commitment, but it comes as a natural progression to my recent, sweaty efforts. You may recall that I ‘graduated’ from the Six Week Body Challenge at the end of June. I was happy to award myself a distinction from this challenge because losing ten pounds in weight, plus 2.5 inches from my waist, certainly made me feel like a prize-winning student. And, to coin a recently acquired phrase, I was ‘pumped’ at the prospect of continuing my good work for another year.

But a year is a long time and, regardless of my long-term aspirations, nothing will happen overnight. These things must be approached in stages and so the Legacy gang have monthly goals to work towards. My first month goal is simple. To crawl out of the ‘overweight’ section of the NHS Height/Weight chart and into the ‘Healthy Weight’ section. To do that I need to drop from 11st 10 down to 11st 4.

So here I am. I have now completed the first month of the Legacy Programme but, despite being ‘pumped when I started, I’m afraid I have nothing but stagnation and excuses to report.

Anyone who has trudged their way through a fitness and diet programme may well recognise the pattern which I have followed.

1. Celebrate initial weight loss success with a night at one’s favourite restaurant. Devour a barrel of red wine, two sacks of potatoes and a cheesecake the size of a satellite dish.

2. Spend the following day popping indigestion tablets and reading over the new meal plan. Take note of food combining rules whereby proteins, carbohydrates and fats are consumed in a controlled fashion.

3. Order food from Tesco and then ignore plan. Eat all of the food in whatever quantities and combination you feel like over the next few days. Add some chocolate digestives into the mix.

4. Mentally scold oneself and declare that you will ‘start again’ and ‘stick to it this time’.

5. Repeat steps 2 – 4 over and over again.

And that, dear reader, formed the basis of my first two weeks on the Legacy programme. Now I did attend most of the fitness classes but there is little redemption to be found there because fighting the flab is 80% reliant on following the right nutrition plan. And I didn’t bother my fat ass with that.

A half inch sneaked back onto my waist. The feel-good factor began to slip away. I clawed it back by reminding myself that there was a whole YEAR to do this. What did two weeks matter in the grand scheme of things!? And with that cheery thought, I headed off to Devon on a family holiday; a week of love, laughter and late nights. A week of kid’s meals, ice lollies and beer. A week of ……. dare I say it ……… Devon Cream Teas!!. Did you know that when you have a Devon Cream Tea – in Devon itself – you get TWO scones and a mug of clotted cream – all to YOURSELF!!

No surprise that, by the end of the week, my jeans were struggling with the Cream Tea obsession. Meanwhile, I was lamenting this spiral of gluttony and sloth which, by then, was into its fourth week.

There was only one thing for it – a return to the Conifer Lodges at Newton Stewart. A self-catering haven where one is in control of one’s nutrition and where hard-core cycling and walking are on the doorstep. That, and an outdoor hot tub.

With only one week remaining of this first Legacy month, I dragged my other half out there and we gave it our all; walking until I fell to my knees and cycling until my knees seized up. It was fat free cottage cheese and grilled fish all the way. Slowly, my waistband relaxed a little and my sense of clean living returned. I was confident that I had made it back to the same condition in which I finished the six-week body challenge.

I was also confident enough to get naked and soak my aching bones in that private outdoor hot tub. Safe behind the wooden screen, I disrobed and climbed in. Stretched out and floating I marvelled at how different my body looked in the water. Everything was light and supported. My boobs looked lovely and full; my hips and stomach seemed to shrink in the rippled view. Oh yes, the warping effect of water was a great confidence booster.

So, when a drone flew overhead shortly afterwards – complete with camera – I was a little less bothered than I might have been before I did the six-week challenge. Part of me was horrified when the drone flew back and forward a few times before coming in for a closer look – but a part of me also felt quite chuffed that my middle-aged baps were worth a second look. Nonetheless, someone out there had ‘a bloody cheek’ (along with a pair of viewing goggles) and I still, I had my decency to think about. On realising that I could not reach my robe without flashing a full moon, I had no option but to make a rude gesture at the drone and that seemed to do the trick. Off it flew complete with aerial footage of my boobs and the opportunity to post them on the internet.

But back to the important stuff – did I meet my first Legacy goal? With holidays getting in the way it was actually 6 weeks before I had my weigh in which meant that I had even longer to achieve the target 11st 4. So, did I make it out of the ‘overweight’ section of the NHS chart?

The answer is NO. I did not even get close. In fact, I was exactly the same weight as I had been at the start. A solid 11st 10. I fondly recalled the Devon Cream Teas and tried not to be too disappointed.

So now we are in the second Legacy month which means new goals. Mine is easy and requires no imagination whatsoever. Having failed to reach my normal weight goal the first time round, I have simply set this as my new month’s goal. Can I make it out of the overweight section of that NHS chart this time? All will be revealed in next month’s blog.

Ps – if you do see my boobs on the internet can you let me know cos I’ll be seeking royalties for them!

The Six Week Body Challenge Part 6! We Did It!

In The Beginning…..

Six weeks ago I was a greedy, hormonal middle-aged maniac. A snorer; a farter and a yawner. A morning fretter; an afternoon snoozer; and a midnight snacker. I was fatter than ever, but I was in limbo. The old me desired the return to my energetic size 12 roots; the new me rather fancied a family sized quiche.

Having not weighed myself in 5 years, it was a shock to realise that I had put on three stone – and a real bugger when I discovered that cutting back on sweets was not going to shift it. For two months I stuck to a junk free diet but I only managed to drop three pounds. So, then I got fed up and began to accept that this was the beginning of a journey towards unavoidable fatness and poor health. My waistline was already more than the maximum recommended for women, and I was officially in the ‘overweight’ section of the NHS charts. Dramatically, I announced to my family that I was on a one-way road to stroke, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

But then, one evening, having just stirred a pint of double cream into my Muller Light Yoghurt, I saw ‘the advert’. The ABS gym in Dumfries was looking for forty ladies who wanted to ‘transform their bodies’ in six weeks. Well, as you can imagine, I fell over myself begging them to ‘take meeeeee’. And they did.

On 15th May, the six-week challenge officially began! Alongside a ‘detox’ one-week meal plan, we attended three evening focus sessions to tone up and burn those calories. During this first week, I also bonded with my fellow group buddies – a fabulous mix of ages and stages and all of us raring to go.

I can tell you though, that there was no easy introduction. We started that first evening in boot camp style and we never let up for the whole six weeks.

The Middle

The ‘middle’ is often the boring bit of a story, but for the six-week body challengers, it was a vital part of transforming our physical routine and our approach to nutrition.

I write, and I run my own business. Like most people I am on the go, non-stop. There is little chance that I will go for a walk, or attend a gym at a time of my choosing. For years I have tried to ‘make time’ to take up physical exercise but it’s been all too easy to let it slip off the priority list. The three focus sessions did exactly what they were meant to! They focused my mind on turning up and working out at 19.10 on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. They got me into the exercise habit, so much so, that I even attended extra classes! Crucially, the focus sessions acted as a constant reminder that this was a two-pronged approach of exercise and nutrition.

Oh yes – and, by the way, I actually LOVED the classes. I like the circuits-based approach, not least because the time flies in and, when I finish, I know that I truly have worked every part of my body! For the first time ever, I looked forward to fitness classes instead of trying to find excuses. In the whole six weeks I only missed two sessions and both of those were for unavoidable reasons.

As for nutrition, this has been a revelation. A lot has changed since the last time I went on a health binge twenty years ago, but I have discovered that it is so much easier to eat healthily these days! I thought it would be a faff, but it was simple to buy and prepare the sort of foods that our bodies appreciate.

I was amazed at the variety of recipes we received from ABS and how tasty most things were. I became a changed woman – saved by egg white pancakes, smoothies and stir fries. And the joy of discovering whey powder! How did I manage to reach this age without knowing that this stuff tastes like an ice cream drink! Why did nobody ever tell me that I can mix it with frozen berries and cottage cheese and kid myself that I am eating a pudding!

I was right to put my faith in this body challenge programme – but I was wrong to assume that it would be torturous. To my amazement, I thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

The End – Or Is It?

And so, the six weeks of fitness and nutrition training have come to an end. It’s been great but, I wasn’t there just for the fun of it. I was there for a reason, hence it is time for me to reflect on who I am, compared to who I was when I started.

I am still a hormonal, middle aged maniac but I am only greedy for the right foods. I am far less of a snorer and a farter than I was, so I put this down to a thinner neck and better digestion! The morning anxiety which has plagued me since I was a teenager, has subsided into something which does not require a daily battle. I have more energy and I do not hit afternoon slumps the way I used to. This counts as serious progress! I won’t lie about the midnight snacking though. Even as I write, I am thinking about the jar of roasted almonds downstairs in the kitchen but at least it is not a tiramisu!

Appearance wise, I have lost 10 lbs, 2.5 inches from my waist and 1.5 inch from my hips (god but those hips are stubborn). I have dropped from size 16 to size 14 and my body fat has decreased by 2%. Apparently, I have cheek bones again too.

No wonder then, that I want to keep hold of these benefits and develop them further! Like most of my group, I have chosen to stay on and do the twelve month LEGACY programme. I am looking forward to it and I am chuffed that I get to stay in the company of all the great people I have met so far.

I am also delighted to be continuing my journey with ABS. Robert, Lou, Kyle and Sion are brilliant coaches and fabulous motivators. They have been incredibly attentive both inside and outside the gym. The group’s facebook page is extremely interactive and is constantly updated with new information, tips and check ins. No matter how many questions are posted, someone from ABS answers with remarkable speed. If the six-week challenge is anything to go by, I have every faith that I will indeed look like Jenifer Aniston in twelve months time. No pressure there then!

That’s all for the six week challenge blog – but the fun doesn’t stop here! A new monthly blog will start in July to chart my progress with the Legacy programme.

The 6 Week Body Challenge Part 5 – What The F*ck?

The Six Week Body Challenge Part Five – What The F*ck?

Treading Water

It is now Week Five of the Six Week Body Challenge and the finishing line should be in sight. I feel like a winner in many ways, but this week has brought a few ‘What the F*ck’ moments. Forgive the somewhat impolite title of this week’s blog – but you will hopefully understand when you read of my plight.

You’ll remember, dear reader, that we parted company last week when I had just completed a 14 mile bike ride and a 10 mile walk. My motivation for this long overdue physical activity was that I wanted to knock myself off the 12 stone plateau that I had been on for two weeks. And before everyone starts shrieking that it’s not about weight; that it’s about body shape, tone and whether our clothes fit, let me share something with you.

Eyes Wide Shut

Until recently, I had not possessed a set of scales in the house for ten years. As a result, I had no idea that I was slowly creeping up from ten stone to thirteen stone. I kinda suspected that I was a tad rounder than I had once been, but three stone rounder? What the F*ck!?

And how did I find out about this slovenly weight gain? I’ll tell you. It was because my Mum moved in with us and brought her bathroom scales. This, on the same day that I purchased new industrial scales for my business. I haven’t been off them since!

I still flinch when I recall the night that my ‘weight problem’ was cruelly revealed to me. With curiosity getting the better of me, I rose from my armchair and stepped onto those new scales. While the figure totalled up on the screen, I declared to everyone in the living room that I would “f*cking die” if I was any more than 70kg.

I was 83kg.

Whilst others snittered (knowingly) at my shocking discovery, I reeled back onto the sofa and wailed. Feebly, I reached for my phone and tapped through to a weight conversion website. At 83kg, I was officially 13 stone. What the F*ck?!

In truth I had secretly suspected that all was not well on my forty-plus body. Bits of cellulite have been sneaking on here and there; I started buying more size 14 instead of size 12 – and then, just before Christmas, I bought a load of size 14 clothes in FatFace (oh the irony) at Glasgow Airport, without trying them on – only to discover that I did not fit into ANY of them once I got to Lanzarote! Oh yes – and what about all those subtle attempts to make sure I only appear in the middle of photographs where my expanding waistline is harder to spot! The signs were there for sure. I should have been acting long before now, but it was the scales that finally screamed ‘What the F*ck!?” right to my face.

So yes, I can’t help but use the scales as an indicator – we all do it, even though we shouldn’t.

Weight For It

Anyway – are you all on tenterhooks about whether my hard-core walking and cycling weekend got me off the 12 stone weight plateau? If you are, then it can be nothing compared to how excited I was. I returned home from my ‘activity weekend’ and, no sooner was I in the door than I leapt onto the scales.

“Tada!” said the screen.  For the fifteenth day running it gave me a reading of  12 stone . I was furious.  Of course, it is madness to think that a bit of weekend activity will affect your weight that quickly but this was at the end of a long two weeks.  I had attended all my classes and more;  I was sticking 95% to the meal plan.  I felt more than entitled to scream “What the F*ck?’”

When my other half asked what I was grumping about, I showed him the scales and wistfully asked if he thought there was something wrong with them (maybe a stuck dial inside?). He said that there was nothing wrong with the scales and, like our coaches Robert and Lou, he rightly suggested that I stop obsessing over my weight and concentrate on my body shape and clothes size instead.

Well he sure did regret saying that, because I got my four ‘once a week’ photographs out and, in smart arse tones, asked him to put them in date order. Now bear in mind that these photographs have been taken on the same day of the week, and at the same time.  I have stood in the same position with the same clothes on. Soooooo – if body shape is more noticeable than weight, surely he would be able to line the pictures up accurately –  with my tubbiest photo appearing first and my svelte ‘Week 4 photo’ appearing last.

Now it was his turn to sweat.  I detected a little bit of back tracking on his part. He said that one week intervals were far too short a timescale to spot changes in a body shape, but I hissed at him again. “Put. Them. In. The. Correct. Date. Order”

So, he stared at them for a long time and then?………… put them in all the wrong order.  He accurately selected my tubbiest photo as ‘week one’ (and believe me, that one was not hard to spot) but he thought I looked at my second most heavy in the photograph we had just taken an hour earlier. The nail in his coffin was when he said I looked slimmest in the week two photograph. What the F*ck!!

Down The Rabbit Hole

Fear not for I continued to be sensible. I have reminded myself that changing our body shape cannot be a regimented event. I am not Alice in Wonderland, supping from the ‘Drink Me’ bottle. I am not going to shrink in my exact proportions and, in fact, if I do not follow the proper plan I may well end up looking like a crushed milk carton.

When all is said and done, I do still have a happy ending to report. For the last few days I have been weighing in at 11st 12. A new low! Since starting the challenge, I have also lost three inches off my waist and one to two 2 inches from my hips. Clothes are looser and I feel good.

In fact, I felt so good, that, for a crazy moment, I wondered how close I was to fitting into this gorgeous dress that I last wore two hundred years ago as a size 10.  I’ve never had the heart to throw it out! But as for fitting into it? I’m afraid there is a long way to go on that front. I pulled it over my head and half got into it – but it got stuck at every junction and trying to prise it back off again was no mean feat. When my other half came into the room and found me on the floor, trying to get out of it, like Houdini, he said …… you’ve guessed it ………

“What the F*ck?”

The 6 Week Body Challenge Part 4 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Well folks, things are heating up in the Six Week Body Challenge. Week Four has just been completed and it has been hot and heavy. It’s great to have such good weather but its torture to be in a full sweat BEFORE starting your workout. I have never used the crushed ice maker in my fridge before, but I have certainly used it this week!

So, did this extra heat help me to burn calories and get in shape a bit quicker? HmmmmI’m not sure! In terms of progress with the challenge, this week has seen ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. Let me share the details with you!

The Good

  • My waist measurement is down from 35 inches to 32.5 inches!
  • I am out of size 16 and back into size 14!
  • I have taken part in all my classes, a 14 mile bike ride and a 10 mile walk!

The Bad

  • I drank some beer (man it was good, but it definitely isn’t on my meal plan!)
  • I put on three irritating pounds for no reason – surely not the beer?!
  • During one class, I pretended to tie my lace instead of doing burpees

The Ugly

  • I tried to catch the bus half way through my ten-mile walk!
  • I flew into a rage when my other half ate a pizza in front of me!
  • I behaved pathetically on the steps into my house after a rough class!

The Reality

Joking aside though, the high point of this last week has been the fact that I went out cycling and did a proper long walk. It is a long time since I did either because I haven’t felt fit or motivated enough to just get out there.

If I’m truthful, it was sheer panic that encouraged me to have this active weekend. The three pounds of weight gain preyed heavily on my mind; it left me wondering if I had reached my limits. I tried to turn to the well-worn comfort excuse that ‘muscle weighs heavier than fat’ – but I still had way more fat than muscle as far as I could see! And so, with my other half in tow, and a Tesco bag full of fat free cottage cheese, spinach and prawns, we booked into a lodge and planned a day of cycling on Saturday and a long walk on the Sunday.

Saturday dawned. The weather was glorious, and my heart sang as we set off from Glentrool on our hired mountain bikes. Unfortunately, within two minutes, my heart was no longer singing. My legs started burning instead. Soon, I was huffing, puffing and pushing the bike beside me. I tried not to feel too pissed off with myself because pushing a mountain bike up a hill is still exercise – and there would be the reward of coming back down.

Once at the top we high fived each other and then leapt back on the bikes. With a grand Woo Hoo, we free wheeled our way all the way to the bottom; legs sticking out, wind in our hair and midges in our eyes. It was exhilarating! Until we realised that we had not come to the end of the seven mile trail – but to a dead end instead. Yes, we had missed the turning for the trail and free wheeled down the other side of the hill. I can assure you that there was no ‘Woo Hooing’ while pushing our bikes all the way back up again. Not to be thwarted, we did the trail a second time and felt much better about it. All in all, it was a great day but we still have very tender butt cheeks to remember it by.

Sunday brought more brilliant weather and so we headed off for a walk to St Ninians Cave and then across the cliffs to Burrow Head and onwards to Isle of Whithorn. It seems that not many people do this walk. How do I know this? Because the grass and shrubs are often up to your eyes and, in places, the path takes you only a couple of feet from a sheer cliff face. It was impossible to walk fast but sheer terror about the prospect of falling made sure my heart rate stayed high.

Within an hour of walking, we spotted a few roof tops and were relieved to think that civilisation was in sight again. Then we realised that this was not Isle of Whithorn ahead, but some eerie buildings close to the spot where they filmed the terrible ending of The Wicker Man film. I swear that even the birds fell silent in this strange part of the land and our pace certainly quickened until we were past it.

It was a LONG five miles and by the time we reached Isle of Whithorn we were roasted by the sun and clueless about how to get back to our vehicle. No way were we walking back across those cliff edges and freaky Wicker Man scene. Cackling in delight we realised that there was a bus due any time that would drop us only a mile from our vehicle. Sadly, the Six Week Body Challenge Gods were having none of that and, while we were faffing over the timetable, the bus drove past us and disappeared out of sight. We finished our weekend, crawling along the road for miles until we found our vehicle.

So, there you have it – another fun filled stage to the Six Week Body Challenge! I’m not sure what the next week will bring but, by the time I write my next blog, I hope to have pushed past this unmoveable goddam 12 stone plateau that I’m sitting at!  

I can do this!!

The 6 Week Body Challenge Part 3 – Half Way Home.

The 6 Week Body Challenge Part Three – Half Way Home.

Well folks, we’re at the half way point on the six-week body challenge.  Yes – its three weeks since I handed my flab to the ABS gym in Dumfries and begged them to take it away.  And so far, they have obliged!  At my official weigh-in on Sunday I was nine pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of the programme.  My starting point was 12 stone 10 and the most recent weigh in flashed up 12 stone 1.   Not bad eh?  My body fat measurement still gives me heart failure (i.e. more than a third of me comprises of pure suet pudding) so there’s a long way to go – but the battle is ON!

The half way assessment was a great chance to discuss successes and failures of the last three weeks and to look ahead to future goals.  I was proud to tell Robert and Lou that I had rarely cheated on the food programme (other than two packets of crisps, two glasses of prosecco, a whole jar of cashew nut butter and…. well let’s just leave it at that.  Don’t forget that these shameful moments have been spread over a whole three weeks, so I am praying that they have been diluted by all my hard work!).   By and large I have stuck to my nutrition plan and I remain amazed at how simple and tasty the dining options are.

As for classes, I am proud to say that I have only missed one class in three weeks.   I have also been to extra classes and even managed a three mile jog the other night.  As someone who was once able to run a marathon, my three miles felt a bit paltry but it’s a start.  The classes are starting to feel easier but I’m not sure whether that is because I am getting fitter or because we are working in pairs and alternating our 30 second circuit reps with 30 second jogging bursts.  Working this way allows more people to fit into the class as there are now way more members than there were when we started.  Every week brings a fresh intake of folks looking to take on the challenge so although it is busy, it is a great atmosphere and it means that we can all spur each other on.

Getting back to the half way assessment though, when Robert and Lou asked me what my goals were for the remainder of the challenge, I said that I would like to get as close to eleven stone as possible.  For me that would be around a stone and a half weight loss which suits me fine.  If I was ten or twenty years younger, I would probably have worked my ass back to the ten stone that I used to be.  But let’s be sensible here – I am in my late forties and a lady must take care not to turn herself into a dried out, stick thin hag.  Mae West, Catherine Deneuve and many other iconic women have warned us that the mature woman must eventually choose to keep her face or her figure.  I’m with them on that!  I’m all for being slim but if that means spending my early pension years with brittle bones and a face like a can of worms, I’ll just keep hold of that extra stone thank you very much.

So, if eleven stone is my short-term goal – what is my longer-term goal?  This was also a question posed to the group in our half way assessment.  We were encouraged to be absolutely honest about what we wanted to achieve.  From nowhere came the image of Jennifer Aniston (who is older than me!!!) starring as a stripper in the 2013 film ‘We’re the Millers’!  Well if it’s good enough for Jen then its good enough for me!   I was sort of joking when I said it, but Robert and Lou wrote down ‘Jennifer Aniston’ in the ‘long term goal’ column next to my name – so now the pressure is on.  Its great timing as I am shortly due to write my bucket list of the things I want to achieve on the run up to my fiftieth birthday.  Whilst others of my age may seek to celebrate their half century by visiting the remaining Wonders of the World, I am starting my bucket list with the desire to ‘look like a stripper’.  Yeah Baby!

In order to achieve this mighty goal, I need to sign up for the 12-month Legacy programme which will start as soon as this six-week plan is complete.  I had to think twice about whether I wanted to commit myself to £57 a month and lots of time –  but doing this shorter plan first has given me the confidence and the enthusiasm to take everything to the next level.  I know that some other folks from the current group are planning on joining the Legacy programme and I am delighted to think that we can continue to support each other and enjoy the banter.

That’s it for now folks – the two-week photo updates will appear in next week’s blog.   Here’s hoping that you’ll be seeing less of me in them!



The 6 Week Body Challenge Part 2 – A Tight Fit!

Six Week Body Challenge Part Two – A Tight Fit!

So here we are at the end of Week Two!  I am now a third of the way through this Six-Week Body Challenge and I am still going strong (with a few weak moments which appear below).

As reported previously, I finished the first week with an estimated four-pound weight loss but with most of my waistline, sadly still intact.  Here, at the end of the second week I reckon I have now waved goodbye to seven pounds (a nice round half stone!).  There’s an inch off my waist and hips, which does feel a bit pathetic, but success comes in many forms.  And for me, the fruits of my labour can be illustrated in this ‘tale of four titties’ which I will share with you here!

I take you back to the first day I started the Challenge – and the realisation that there was no way I would get into my old sports bras from 8 years ago (yes, I do still have them!).  But God loves a trier and, in the absence of anything else, I was forced to squeeze each tit into the tiny cups.  I managed to fasten it – which was great – although I could not breathe.  I was prepared to live without oxygen for an hour’s class but there was a far bigger problem; namely two hideous fleshy overspills from the ‘two sizes too small’ bra.  Yes – with only half of a tit fitting in each bra cup, the remaining flesh formed two extra tits – you’ve maybe seen this fashion faux pas before.  It looked terrible from both front and side, but I still had half a notion that nobody would notice.   I asked my family what they thought, and they fell about laughing at the sight of me.  “Here she is – old Four Tits” said my other half (before pondering whether a woman can ever have too many tits).

Anyway, the bra was discarded in favour of a ‘support vest’ and off I went to do my thing.  Fast forward to two weeks later, and GUESS WHAT!!??  My four tits have become two!! Fourteen days of hard core classes and nutrition have reduced my sweating, heaving flesh sufficiently to fit into my old sports bra with only a smidgeon of overspill.  It is barely noticeable, and I have even saved money on buying new gear! Result!

And it’s not just me!  Amongst my challenge buddies, I hear similar reports of half stone weight loss over the last fortnight.  In fact, everyone seems to be doing really well.   I do hear confessions of weak moments and I love the fact that we are finding it easier to share them.  Public confessions on the facebook board have been rare (never put anything in writing), but shameful mutterings can be heard amongst huddled group members before class.

There’s been whispered talk of a burger here; a prosecco (entire bottle) there; and the ease of mistaking ‘palm’ sized portions for ‘whole hand’ sized portions.  I continue to eat peanut butter from the jar and to be ‘generous’ with my portion size but at least I haven’t eaten a sausage roll – someone else did that!  The truth is that none of us knows what has been going on behind other people’s larder doors, but when I look around the group and see the massive effort everyone is making, I have no doubt that every one of us is giving their best to this challenge.

Speaking of food, we are all off the detox week and onto meal plans which are tailored to our individual bodies.  There was much excitement when these plans came out because they offered much more flexibility than the detox plan.  Delicious recipes were posted up by our coaches, Robert and Lou.  Weeping with delight I leapt into the kitchen on the first day of our new nutrition plan.  Within ten minutes I was sighing with contentment over the protein pancakes I had rustled up (just a simple mix of cottage cheese, egg white and oatmeal).  Chicken and rice stir fry for lunch followed by tuna and avocado for dinner.  Simple, easy cooking and as long as we keep a tonne of leafy greens in the fridge there is no fear of starving!

The classes are also moving up a gear, but I think we all feel like we are moving up at the same time.  I certainly feel like I can manage a bit more than I did last week and I even managed two or three extra press ups before face planting the mat.  Progress, progress, progress!  In addition to the Body Challenge Focus sessions, I have also been to Boxercise and Body Pump.  Five classes in a week!  Jane Fonda eat your heart out (and anyone under thirty, go look her up).

As an extra delight, we have been permitted to have a whey drink twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening (or after our workout).  As long as you whip them up in the blender, they are very tasty.   The vanilla one I purchased tastes exactly like an ice cream drink.  They definitely keep any hunger pangs at bay and, apparently, they will be helping me to build a bit of muscle too – perfect for someone who was otherwise turning to lard.

So there we are – we are into week three now and I will report back on this next time.  In the meantime, I share with you my two-week photos.  I have scrutinised them and I think that my face might look thinner in the latest pics.  Even better is that, from the rear, my T-shirt is not straining quite as much across my arse – and that can only be good!

Best of all though – is that I only have two tits.  Awesome!

See you next week!

The 6 Week Body Challenge Part 1 – If Truth Be Told!

Just Do It

So last Monday, I joined a group of nervous (but determined) looking folks hovering in the foyer of the Absolute Body Systems Gym. Like me, they had reached the point where ‘something had to give’ (other than the buttons on our shirts!). And the ‘Six Week Body Challenge’ promised to be our turning point. An active programme of fitness classes and nutrition plans offered to ‘transform our bodies and lives. Well, who could resist that? Certainly not the fifteen people waiting to get started!

Of course, everyone in the foyer had their own reasons for being there – but what am I, Karen Riddick, hoping to ‘transform’ about my body and life? In other words, who and what am I now? And how do I want this to change?

Well, let me share the honest truth with you.

An Inconvenient Truth

Who am I? A forty-eight year old woman, pushing 13 stone. My arse looks like a pair of curtains that won’t close in the middle and my clothes keep getting caught up in folds of flesh that did NOT used to be there. I have half the energy that I had ten years ago. I wake up, every day, with a crippling grogginess and raging morning anxiety.

I used to be 10 stone so where did the extra three stone come from? The move from age forty towards age fifty has given me the ’10 lbs a decade’ that we are told to expect. But this, combined with the cessation of exercise in favour of hectic self-employment; the slowing down in order to care for my Dad and ….. now what was the other thing again? Oh yes – being a greedy bastard…… have all brought me to this point. And the point is that I do not want any of this to get worse!

In acting now, I don’t actually need much from my transformation. Just to lose a couple of stone, eat a bit more healthily, do some exercise and get my energy levels back. In particular, I would like to wake up in the morning and greet the new day with glee. Instead of lying there in a stupor of poor sleep, worrying that a loved one might die that day, I want to throw back the curtains and shout ‘Yes! Today I will be the best I can be! I am ready and eager to embrace everything’. Given that I sleep naked, the neighbours might be a bit shocked, but it is well known that, to state your intention with force, means you are far more likely to achieve it!

Naked Truth

Anyway – now you have the background to why I started the six-week body challenge. So how did I survive the first week? Well I’m not sure really – but I did survive! On that first day, we were led from our holding position in the foyer and off to the first class – a circuits session that we all assumed would be a gentle introduction to our six-week programme. No chance! Instead we were ‘beasted’ like new army recruits! We were put through our paces until a couple of folk felt sick. But it was good.

The only reprieve to the class was that we were individually taken off to be weighed and monitored for body fat! Like a fine market pig, I weighed in at 12st 10lb which wasn’t a surprise, but I nearly collapsed when the body fat screen churned out my result. I might have read this wrong as it only flashed up for a moment – but I think it said 38.8% body fat! I thought our bodies were supposed to be 55% water? If I’ve got that much fat on me, it could mean that there is only 6.2% of me left if I get a bit dehydrated and lose all my fat! Dear God, I’ll be like Lord Voldermort every time they kill him, and he comes back as some shrunken half creature.

Truth Will Out

But let’s not dwell on that for now. I returned for the rest of the class and it was a tough hour for sure. Then Coach Lou asked if we had ‘achieved more than we expected’ – and we all thought we had. A great start!

We repeated the classes on Wednesday and Thursday (OK, OK, I confess to missing the Thursday class due to another engagement) but the programme fees mean that we can add voluntary classes whenever we want. For me it was Boxercise on Tuesday and Body Pump on Friday. Four classes in one week – didn’t I do well!!

I can also tell you that last Monday was the first day of our detox – a one-week cleansing session to prepare us for the weeks ahead. I found this surprisingly easy given that I am a well-known sugar addict. My frosties gave way to smoothies and my cheese sarnies were replaced with protein salad lunches, varied enough to have every day. The dinners were a mixture of meat, (quorn for veggies) and lots of greens. Sadly, I had to give up my beloved cups of tea, but I slowly got used to the herbal versions instead.

So, I mostly managed to stick to the detox week, although I can confess that, a few times, I lost the plot and spooned peanut butter straight out of the jar into my mouth. Also, I might, on occasion, (though I can’t be sure of course), have been a little over generous with the portion sizes. All in all, though – the detox week was pretty simple and straightforward.

Moment of Truth

Of course, a week isn’t long but, today, I still hoped to see the first signs of ‘transformation’. There is no official re-weighing and fat monitoring until next week but I could not resist a little half way peek on my own scales. And they tell me that I have lost four pounds. I haven’t lost ANYTHING from my body measurements though and so I am still straining at the waistband but, like I say, a week isn’t long enough to count!

Let’s not focus on weight and loose clothing though. More important is the definite sense that my energy levels have climbed a bit! I feel as if I have a little more Oomph! I am not quite as groggy and fretful in the morning and I find it easier to get up early. The other big change is that I have been singing more whilst going about my business. Mostly old classics like ‘Bless your Beautiful Hide’ but I’ve also belted out a couple of chart toppers whilst loading the dishwasher.

And so, after 7 days, I am feeling pretty happy with progress so far. A four-pound weight loss

plus a small spring in my step. The 7 days ahead will involve a personal meal plan in which protein, carbs, fat and veggies are all assigned according to our body shape and weight – and of course, more boot camp classes.

Next Monday we will have the official weigh in and fat monitoring so I’m hoping to have a fist pumping update to give you! Until then – pass the edamame beans will ya!