Changes and achievements

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Wow, long time, no see. It’s been ages since I wrote here, more than two months in fact, and lots of things have changed. My Project Flexibility fell completely flat, for example, but I’ve never had much patience with stretching. I had joined my gym last time I posted, and I do think I had started to realize what a good decision it was, but I didn’t even know half of it.

First off, it surprised me how fun working out can be. It’s a bit frustrating that it took me 32 years to realize it, but better late than never. I have liked working out at home, but never really lasted more than a couple of weeks. Now it’s harder to make sure I don’t overdo it, than to make sure I do enough.

I’ve also started training with a personal trainer. It might not be the cheapest or most financially smart thing I’ve ever done, but it is 100% worth it. Not just because my PT is awesome, creates good and varied workouts and because I’ve started to really see progress, but because there is now a person who asks me “why don’t you try this class? I think you’ll like it. No, don’t worry, you’ll do just fine.” It’s really valuable when I get too self-critical. So far, she’s been right every time, and I’ve discovered some new, fun classes because of it instead of limiting myself to just the easiest beginner classes. There are still many classes I haven’t tried yet, but I don’t have time for more anyway 😛

I’ve also done something that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. My gym is starting up boxing groups, and I’ve really wanted to try it. Now there’s a hefty discount on the first groups, so I talked to my PT whether she thought I might be able to do it. As I said, it’s something I’ve really wanted, but I also find it extremely scary. Not because it’s boxing, but because, well, what is a person like me doing there? So here I sit, the day before the first class, really nervous. But I will do it.

Currently my workout week looks like this:

Monday: 2 hrs dance class

Tuesday: PT before work, boxing after work

Wednesday: Running with my brother’s girlfriend, or strength with a friend of mine

Thursday: 3 hrs dance class

Friday: Restitution! (The only restitution day I’ve been able to squeeze in)

Saturday: Zumba

Sunday: Basisball (basic training with a weighted ball, very fun), sometimes Corebar (my bus is early, so I might as well do something with that time).

So yeah. Lots of stuff. I wish I was able to squeeze in some stretching or a yoga class or a dance aerobics class as well, but this will have to do.

When it comes to results, I haven’t lost weight yet, mostly because I just took another round of medication, and the cravings are intense for the first week. Think PMS plus a lot. It’s getting better though. And I have gained muscle, and feel stronger overall, particularly in my arms and core. I haven’t had back pain in a long time, and I feel stronger. I’m not nearly as stressed as I was either.

So yeah, things are looking good. I am determined to see a difference on the scale soon, though!

 

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Project Flexible week 1 – progress!

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Week 1 was the week full of surprises. Exactly a week ago I started the Front Splits Fast program from The Ballet Blog, but I didn’t expect to see any results so fast. The main reason is that I didn’t have the time to do the full program before today. I have done the head and neck section every day, but not anything else.

So today was self-assessment time. I do these (or plan to) once a week, so that I know what I need to focus on for the next week. The main part is the tests from the program, which is a forward reach test (you sit with your feet flexed and back straight, and reach forward to your toes) and a straight leg raise test, where you lie on your back and raise one leg, and see how far you can get it.

For the forward reach test, I had 10 cm (!) improvement. Just from the head & neck section and consciously relaxing my muscles now and then. I’d say that’s a pretty massive improvement considering I didn’t even stretch the hamstrings before today.

The straight leg raise was more disappointing, as the right leg wouldn’t go past 90 degrees, and the left not even that. It wasn’t because of the hamstrings, though, but because my hip flexors and and quads in the other leg are so tight. The amount of hours I’m in front of a computer every day surely has nothing to do with that whatsoever 😛

Anyway, I am a big fan of the program so far. I have gone through the individual parts of it now (the videos for each section, with explanations). Next time, hopefully on Tuesday, I’ll do the video that’s the whole program to music. I think.

For being a front splits program, what I liked the most is the amount of time it uses on other muscle groups. The head and neck, the upper and lower back, spinal mobility, the feet… I really like that. It works on every single one of my problem areas.

Anyway, that was just a short update. In just a moment I’m heading to the fitness centre to try my first step class, and the following strength class. Not overly enthusiastic, but I never am, immediately before the class. That’s when I’m regretting the whole decision, because going into a strange class is scary. And yet it always goes well, strangely enough…

Training update+neck issues

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Well, hello! Last Saturday I mentioned my Project Flexible, where I’ll work towards becoming more flexible for two months, partially via the Front Splits Fast program that I purchased from The Ballet Blog. I haven’t really done it yet, except that I have done the neck section every day. For one thing, I never realised how much impact a stiff neck has on the rest of the body, and secondly, wow, my neck is bad. I try to relax the muscles as often as I can, but they’re so used to being tense all the time. This will take lots of time and effort, but: it’s time well spent.

As for a training update, I’ve tried new things! At least newish. I didn’t work out during the weekend at all, except some walking, but I noticed that I really needed to just relax after being so busy. I did some stretching, nothing more, and it was just what I needed.

On Monday, I had only a half day at work, so I grabbed a quick lunch at Subway and then went to my fitness centre. I did roughly 90 minutes, I think. 10 minutes’ warm-up on the treadmill, then my strength program, and then the stair thingy. There’s a popular hike here in Bergen called Stoltzen, and it is simply 908 steps. So I like to use the stair machine after my strength training just to work myself up to that – I’ve hiked there, but with a lot of breaks, so I’m seeing how many steps I can do before I need to stop. I’m at 300 now, which isn’t a lot, but an improvement nonetheless.

Yesterday I tried Zumba for the second time, but it was a new teacher and the first time the regular zumba gang was there, apparently (last time was a last-minute substitute for another class whose instructor had fallen ill), and there were hardly any people there. Besides, I only went that time because I had an appointment with that instructor before the class, and since he wasn’t there, the receptionist talked me into trying zumba instead. This time was the first time I planned it in advance (and had enough time to get cold feet). But I did it, I went, and I had fun. It’s pretty far out of my comfort zone, to put it very mildly, but I’ve somehow become a really uptight, constricted person, and this is just what I need to force myself back out of that. I’m used to dancing, of course, but zumba and Irish dancing couldn’t be more different!

Today I had debated trying yoga, but I wasn’t sure if I dared (or had enough time after work). Turns out I forgot to bring workout clothes this morning, so I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I won’t be able to get home and back again before the class starts. I don’t know how this happened, but I really like the workout classes, and I have to remind myself that I cannot work out every day. Not that much, anyway.

Plans for the rest of the week:

Of course I have plans. Tomorrow there’s one hour of dancing (usually there’s three, but summer classes and limited availability of somewhere to train and all that), and maybe I’ll do my strength program again afterwards since it’s so short. Or the full stretching program.

On Saturday and/or Sunday I thought I’d go to a few classes, except there aren’t many offered, so we’ll see. If not I’ll do my strength program again. There’s a beginner’s step class on Sunday that I might try, though. I could of course do something at home, but I really want to spend as much time at the fitness centre as I can now in the beginning, so that my irrational fears won’t stop me from going later on. Besides, it’s nice. I like the fact that I have become a person who trains at a fitness centre. That I dared, even if my friend, who also goes there, only went with me once. It’s not nearly as scary as I thought (but not nearly as un-scary as everyone said either).

Aaaanyway. Saturday is the day I’ll measure my flexibility progress, so I’ll check back in then and tell you whether I’m progressing or not. Until then!

 

Project Flexibility

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Last Thursday I danced again for the first time since before the holidays, and since we for our summer classes rent a room that actually has mirrors on the walls, I realised that, well, my dancing wasn’t good. I had lost quite a bit of flexibility, and it was technically never where it needed to be.

Let’s be honest. There’s more than a couple of things I really need to improve.

However, I feel like my lack of flexibility is holding me more and more back. I constantly have to fight myself when dancing, either because I can’t get my legs high enough, I struggle having a straight enough back, and I feel like my movements don’t flow whatsoever.

I came across The Ballet Blog’s Front Splits Fast Program, and purchased it, so that’s my project for the next two months. I’ll be doing the program three times a week, and doing the neck stretches/massages every day (my neck is really, really, really bad at the moment). I’ll also note my progress every week, which is where this blog comes into play.

My main goal is to have a marked improvement by the time our dance instructor comes back in the middle of September (she comes over from the UK six times a year; the rest of the time we train ourselves). That’s a bit of a vague goal, though, so the first point of my agenda is to be able to put my whole hand flat on the floor when bending forwards, and to improve my stiff and sore neck muscles. I’ve had more days with tension headaches than without this year, so that’s important.

We’ll see how it goes! I’ll write another update in a week 🙂

I did it again

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Wow, I’m really bad at blogging this year… Thought I’d write a little entry since I’m waiting for my train and have the WordPress app on my phone.

Short summary of the past few months: All those things I kept complaining about led to sick leave, which I’m not good at. It’s the end of my third week, and it sucks. Not because I hate being home, but because I can’t stop thinking about work, and now there’s no excuse not to study for my exams… But I’ll keep trying anyway. Hopefully I actually learn from it this time 😛

Last Saturday there was the Bergen City Marathon again. I ran the half marathon for the second time, and it was great! I was 48 seconds away from running in less than three hours, but I’m really happy nonetheless. I broke my previous record pretty thoroughly. Moreover, the weather was nice but not too hot, and we celebrated with tapas and the latest Captain America in the evening. As usual my training plan had collapsed some weeks before the race, but I was far better prepared than last year. (Says a lot about last year…)

Also I splurged on new running shoes and compression socks. Haven’t tried the shoes properly yet, but the socks are great. Might be placebo, but who cares? Besides, they are bright orange knee-high socks. What’s not to love? (No, I have no taste)

I had my first post-half-marathon run last Tuesday. It went surprisingly okay – my feet were somewhat heavy and stiff but nowhere near as bad as I feared. In general I was surprised by how pain free my legs and feet were in the days afterwards. Perhaps I really am in better shape… Still, I did notice very clearly that my body isn’t as used to running as it was, so even if I keep in shape through dancing, I will simply have to run more. Trying out a new program now, so we’ll see!

Got to catch my train now, but hopefully I’ll update again before too long 🙂

Well. I survived?

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As some of you might know, I have a tendency to take on far too much work. I have two jobs that, combined, constitute the equivalent of a full-time position. I study business economics part time, write a book (or two, or three…), dance 6 hours a week, in addition to doing translations. For the latter, I’ve had a gig up on Fiverr since… November, I think?

For the first few months nothing much happened – I sold perhaps one gig per month or so – but then towards the end of January things started to take off. Since then I’ve moved up to Level 1 and then onwards to Level 2 all of a sudden. Level 2 requires a good rating and 50 orders within 2 months, something which seemed utterly impossible in January.

Unfortunately this also means that, well, I’ve worked a lot. It didn’t exactly help that this was the most stressful period at work either, with two work weekends (two different AGMs that I had to help host, since I’m in the administration) in a row and plenty of preparation, in addition to a whole bunch of teaching prep and dancing at an event.

I sort of noticed it was a bit too hectic when I felt physically ill a bit more than a week ago. I can’t even describe it properly, it was as if someone was sticking me with needles or something. My heart was racing a lot more than it should, and I felt really fatigued. I’ve had tension headaches for at least the past week, if not more, and even now that I’ve been able to have some time off, it doesn’t go away.

In other words, not smart. Do not do this. If you find yourself having NO time off whatsoever, apart from the time it takes you to sleep and prepare dinner, and you don’t really have the time to prepare proper meals and exercise… do something about it. You might think you can hold out a bit longer, but you can’t. Not without consequences. For every day you keep pushing forward, it takes longer to recuperate. I said I would never become one of those who always work, work, work and risk their health for it. Well, turned out I was wrong.

For the past two days, “vacation mode” has been activated on my Fiverr account, and it’s been nice. I did get two custom orders, however, since it doesn’t prevent people from messaging me, but still. They’re not extremely big, and I made sure to set a longer deadline just in case. I also found out that, you know, eating proper food instead of snacks and whatever else that doesn’t need to be prepared but also doesn’t fill you up, tends to give you more energy. Who would have thought…

So now I’m in a different kind of “getting back on track” project, in conjunction with my workout plan. It involves learning to say no to work I don’t really have time for. (I’ve had a tendency to take on too large projects with too tight deadlines) Stepping outside the door and merely admiring the few. Stretching a bit now and then, taking some deep breaths. Taking care of my mind, doing as much as I can to let go of the stress that has built up for the past month. Basically getting rid of the tension headache and doing emergency repairs, in other words.

I am definitely not going back to where I was a week and a half ago, when I realised what I was doing to myself. Getting those clear physical symptoms that hey, this isn’t right, was… frightening. I can deal with feeling stressed and tired (perhaps that’s the problem), but realising that this could damage my health seriously was not a good feeling. (Duh…)

On the other hand I’ve earned quite a bit of extra money, so I won’t stop working on Fiverr, but perhaps some moderation is in order. I’ve managed to pay off quite a bit on my credit cards – not nearly enough, of course, but it has helped a lot – so that will make life less stressful in the future.

Well, I have to get back to work. Later today I’ll meet a friend for a cup of coffee, then I’ll exercise a bit, do some work and finally relaaaax. Will be nice 🙂

Wherein plans are made

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I was recently asked to start doing P90 with someone, and considering how much I like that kind of program and how much I’ve missed doing it with someone in the past, I of course said yes. However, considering that I also have dancing and running several times per week, I couldn’t follow the official workout calendars. So I have made my own workout plan, and for once it’s actually quite reasonable. I have not quite worked out when to do the Ab Ripper videos, but as long as I’m able to keep track of how many I’ve done per week, I think I’ll just put them in wherever they seem to fit.

Over to the plan:

  • Mondays: Dance class, 2 hrs
  • Tuesdays: P90 Sculpt
  • Wednesdays: Rest
  • Thursdays: Dance class, 4 hrs (2*2hrs)
  • Fridays: Rest
  • Saturdays: Running
  • Sundays: P90 Sculpt

I feel like there are so little P90 workouts in this one, but I’ve tried being too optimistic before, and it never ends well. I might not actually use both rest days per week, but I thought it would be wise to keep them open just in case. Besides, it’s also an opportunity to do a completely different form of exercise once in a while without feeling like I screwed the plan up. Perhaps a Les Mills Combat workout, perhaps a ballet video, perhaps just a walk… And let’s face it – if I ever want to have a night out on a Friday it’s not like I’ll have time to exercise anyway, since I usually don’t even have time to go home after work.

Time will tell if this will be followed until its end, or if it will run into the sand like my plans usually do. Even if the P90 program normally runs for 3 months, I am not completely sure. I have a half marathon in two months, so I’ll have to see if I get enough running. But the plan is to keep this up until I finish both Block 1, 2 and 3 of the P90 program, then we’ll see.

Well, I’m heading out the door a bit. It’s sunny outside (which is a nice change), and my doctor told me that I have far too little Vitamin D, so I need to get a bit more sun. I barely even see the sun during the winter, so it wasn’t really a surprise… And then I’ll do today’s P90, followed by dinner. I finished a massive translation job very late last night, and after sleeping in this morning I did a mandatory assignment (on company tax calculation, not at all a confusing subject). So now I have absolutely nothing that I need to do, which is veeery great and far too rare.

I wish time worked this way

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We all have periods when we have a little extra time to spare. Perhaps a bit too much to know what we’ll do with it. Would it not be awesome if you could give that time away to someone who has too little? Or that you could get an extra hour in your day from someone who is bored? Let’s not think about how it would work in practice…

Currently I’m debating with myself whether or not I should be happy that I get a lot of extra work and thus extra income (which is sorely needed), or be frustrated that I never have enough time for anything. I haven’t had a proper evening off in nearly two weeks now, having used all free time for translations, and my day jobs are fairly hectic nowadays too. It doesn’t look as if I’ll get one in at least a week either. I could have said no to that big job, but… Just that one job fills my entire monthly quota (yes, I’m budgeting) for next month. Of course, getting another important job in the middle of it kind of makes everything a bit more hectic… It is possible, as long as I am somewhat efficient and sacrifice my time off for the next week. I have scheduled Sundays off, though. Can’t sacrifice my writing/relaxing/long run days.

Still, even if I’m tired, it’s not like there’s no good things. First, I get extra money. After having been completely broke for what feels like (and probably is) years now, I can finally start paying off my credit cards properly. I can set aside some money for dance expenses, of which there are a lot. Provided that I keep getting translations, of course.

Besides, there are personal victories too. I have managed to keep up my running program even if life’s been hectic. I’m not a fast runner, but I’ve been at least a little bit faster than usual. And while I suspected that running was one of the things that kept my depression away, I’ve really noticed it lately. My mood’s been good (as opposed to my usual mood when I’m tired), I don’t really feel stressed, and running has felt far less like a chore and more like a reward lately. (YES! I get to move away from the computer!) Dance classes have also gone well this past week.

Even more of a victory: I’ve managed to stay below my calorie limit for TEN DAYS in a row now. While I managed several months in the past, this is far more of an achievement because:

  • I’ve been tired and busy. I’ve never managed to stick to any kind of calorie limit when tired in the past. And this is the most stressful period of the year for me.
  • I’ve hardly seen the sun, even if I’ve been out running. I really notice the winter, to put it that way – while I generally consider my depression to be gone, it pops up again during the dark months. But even if I’ve noticed it now and then during the past ten days, it hasn’t been allowed to dictate what I eat.
  • I made a plan and stuck to it. Both exercise AND food.
  • My troublesome foot has been really bad this past week. I may have pitied myself and eaten a bit more than I planned, but I haven’t been over the limit. I should perhaps have done less running and other high-impact exercise, but it won’t improve until we get some warmer temperatures anyway.

So with all these good things, I’ll try to ignore the fact that I’m not as far ahead in my studies anymore. Which is mostly due to the fact that, you know, I was so far ahead that I made a new plan. I really must start the next assignment soon, though, but apart from that… Well. I don’t think I should worry. I finally got the evaluation for my first mandatory assignment of the term (after checking the school website several times a day for weeks), and apart from a rather inexplicable error my teacher wrote that it was brilliant.

For the rest of this week, I’ll go running on Friday (my short run of the week, only 40 minutes) and Sunday (the loooong run). Normally I would have had dance class today, but it was cancelled. I would have replaced it by a ballet video or a workout video, but I don’t think I’ll have time due to a meeting. Perhaps I’ll do it on Saturday to keep my sanity… I’ve also been thinking of trying Piyo, so perhaps I’ll do that instead.

How has your week been?

Exceeding expectations

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When I wrote last entry, on Thursday, I was tired, unenthusiastic, tired, slightly pessimistic and did I mention tired? I was heading to dance class, but honestly I would rather have stayed home.

Good thing I didn’t. It turned out to mostly be my head that was tired, in which case exercise is a very good thing. At least most of the time. In any case both dance classes were efficient, my brain cooperated most of the time, I felt good, and I worked hard. Everyone worked hard, actually, so it was very uplifting.

Then on Friday I went running with my former running partner. I say former because we suddenly find ourselves living on opposite sides of town, and since neither of us need to rely on the other to actually get out the door anymore, and we see each other twice a week in dance class plus whenever else we have time to meet anyway, running together has become something we rarely do anymore. But on Friday we went back to where we almost always ran when we started out, a lake near where I used to live some years ago. It’s a lake that’s a bit less than 2 km around, and we only ever managed two and a half rounds there. On Friday we did 3, and they weren’t all that slow either. For the record, I’m a really slow runner (I’ve always focused more on getting my distance up first, but then I tend to be distracted, and, well…) so “not all that slow” is very good.

Yesterday, Sunday, I went running again. It was my long run, according to my running program, but I didn’t have the patience to run it as slow as it was meant to be run. I have a naturally fast heart rate when I work out, and when I need to be in a low heart rate zone… well, it has to be slow. And that’s, frankly, boring. So yesterday I simply found a pace that felt good and which I felt I could keep up for a while. I ended up with 8.8 km, which I’m happy with. My legs felt fine, and while I was exhausted when I returned home, it was less than I had expected. I felt energized, actually.

I guess the conclusion is that finally I’m back on track, running-wise. It feels good again, I am motivated, and my fitness seem to be improving. Certainly my weight has cooperated – I am now down a further 0.5 kg.

This week will be much of the same. There’s dance class today and Thursday, and then I’ll run three days this week. Hopefully I’ll manage to get some stretching or yoga in there too, but I won’t bet on it…

Off to a good start!

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Last post wasn’t a very positive or optimistic post, I think. I was stressed, and I felt like a failure. I had not worked out that week apart from dance class, and I had given up on my running plans for the day due to the wind and the rain. It almost felt as if I had a mental block against running, in a way. Well, guess what?

Not long after I had written that post, I went running. In the wind. And the rain. It was a short and not-very-fast run, only 25 minutes or so, but it felt SO good to have done it. Then I had dance on Monday, which went completely fine (no breakdowns like the past few weeks).

Tuesday was the first day of my running plan. Would you believe it, I actually did it. My legs felt heavy – not nearly as much as on Saturday, though – but not so much that I had any problems finishing. The only issues were syncing that damn program with my heart rate monitor before the run, but I got out the door in the end. It was a 50-minute run that ended up precisely according to plan. Not exactly fast, but definitely not my slowest 5km.

Those are not the only good news I have to share. Yesterday morning I finally dared to go back onto the scale, and that was a good thing. I had lost 1.5 kg since the 31st of January, which I am very happy about. I don’t have any idea exactly how it happened, since I’ve only been paying attention to my diet and exercise for four days now. Probably a bit of water weight, and I think I was pretty bloated during January. In any case that brings me below 85 kg again (yay!) and just 1.6 kg more than what I weighed at my lightest, which was exactly three months ago. (I actually thought I had gained nearly 3 kg, but sometimes it’s good to be wrong!)

Today is dance class again. First the one I help teach, then my own. I don’t feel extremely enthusiastic, mostly because I’m so tired today. I had intended to use Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon and evening to relax, tidy my apartment and do something creative, but got a sudden influx of translation work that just needed to be done. So instead of having those hours off, I ended up working until ten on Tuesday and nine yesterday, immediately after my day jobs. So today I’m really, really, really, really tired. And cold. I always freeze my butt off when I’m tired (especially this type of tired), and these past two days… Not even coffee and a warm lunch helped.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m not exactly rich, and those translation jobs may help keep my head over water for the next month. It’s that time of year when the things that are billed annually (TV licence, travel insurance, the largest electricity bill of the year) tend to pile up, so while it’s tiresome, it’s removed quite a bit of stress too.

At least it’s a good thing that I’m so ahead in my studies (did I mention that I handed in one of my assignments a whole month before it was due? Yeah. I did.) that I had already decided to have a week off from that. Not that I would have had time for it, but still. I usually spend the hour between work and dance class in Starbucks, reading one of my books for class, but today I’ve brought a novel instead. I feel like I really need that hour today!