Monday, May 30, 2011

Weigh-in no. 39

I made a promise at the very beginning that I wouldn't apologize for not posting, but that I would post at least once per week with a weigh-in and post more if/when I had time.  That has definitely been the case for the last three weeks!  

I know it can get quite boring of only seeing weigh-in posts, and don't think I haven't been thinking of things that I need to post about, but as time ticks on and the completion date for my Ph.D dissertation looms ever closer, I am finding that whatever energy I have to write needs to be funneled into that rather than my blog.

I am due to turn in on 30 September.

I have 4 months from today.

4 months!!!!!

*start panic now*

It's do-able.  Between trying to hole myself up away from distractions (including cutting myself off completely from the internet) so I can hammer out the last bits and working out to try to 1) keep losing weight and not regress and 2) manage my stress, I just don't have much time for much else beyond trying to keep some sanity and some semblance of normalcy in my life outside of those two things.

However, I do have some observations that I think I want to share this coming week if I'm able to find a bit of time to just sit and write them out.  In short, despite the occasional panic that I'm trying hard to keep control of and use to motivate rather than consume me, I feel like I'm in a good place.  I'm happy with my weight loss and personal development progress.  I'm happy with what my body is able to do.  On the whole, despite this Ph.D submission malarky, life is good.  And for that I'm very thankful.

Plus, it's my 35th birthday at the end of the week and I'm going on holiday to please-God-let-it-be-sunny-and-warm Cornwall!!  It's the last hurrah before a summer of endless (well, not endless....4 months...eeek!) days in the library glued to my laptop cranking out world-changing Ph.D passable words and ideas.

So, yeah....I have some thoughts and reflections that I want to share but not enough time today.  Today is a belated weigh-in.  I did the weigh-in yesterday, but just didn't get a chance to post it as yesterday was spent with a friend whom I'd not seen in 3 years.

Anyway....on to the weigh-in....
weigh-in no. 39 (-1.6)

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week:           272.4
This week:           270.8    
Loss of                  - 1.6
Total Loss          -  56.2 lbs 

By UK weight measurements, I have now 
lost 4 stone.
 1 stone = 14 lbs.  
No idea why it's still used - I always have to do math in my head to covert it, but oh well.

Also, this past week I met one of my birthday goals: to swim 1 mile.  I went in on Friday for a swim, thinking I'd push myself and do .75 mile (48 lengths) so that I could hopefully complete my 1 mile (64 lengths) goal by Thursday of this week.  So at 9:32am I started swimming.  By 10:00am, I had done 1/2 mile and was feeling good.  By 10:20 I had done .75 mile and started thinking, "If I keep going for an hour, I wonder if I would have done a mile?"  At 10:32, I had 4 more lengths to do to have done a mile, so I kept going.....and so I did a mile in 1:06!!  I couldn't believe it.  I was prepared to take a couple hours to do a mile when I got around to doing it this week.  Not too shabby.

And I have to say I'm enjoying the muscle definition I'm gaining in my upper arms and shoulders as a result of the swimming.  It's kind of hard to take a picture of your own arm/shoulder, but hey....

I'm going to try to post more in the next day or two related to the reflections I have and mentioned above.  I also plan to weigh-in on Friday morning (3 June, my birthday) to see how I've done in achieving the birthday goals I set, although I may not get to post it until I'm back from holiday on Tuesday.  Will do what I can and, in the meantime, on to losing more and seeing more of that beautiful muscle!!

How was your weekend?  
Any reflections you've got percolating you want to share?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weigh-in no. 38

Weigh-in no. 38 (-0.6 lbs)

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week:           273.0
This week:           272.4    
Loss of                  - 0.6
Total Loss          -  54.6 lbs

Well, not as much as I was hoping for, but seeing as how I was seeing 273 all week, I was happy to see that 272 this morning even though I've been eating right and working out 3+ days per week.  Not sure what is going on, but hopefully it's just a blip and not another plateau.  Couldn't really afford a low number this morning if I want to make my 60 lb loss goal by 3 June, but oh well....will keep trying and see how it goes!  One good thing to note though: I'm more than 1/3 of the way toward my goal!

Not much else going on here to report.  I've been wondering with all this rapture talk if when we get new bodies in heaven, we'll all be skinny?  That'd save me (and many of you, I'm sure) a lot of hassle, but then that would also assume I wouldn't be left behind which, due to my heretical ways, is not assured.  ;o)  But alas, we're all still here and so to the gym I must continue to go. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weigh-in no. 37

weigh-in no. 37 (-2.2)
Starting weight:   327.0
Last week:           275.2
This week:           273.0    
Loss of                  - 2.2
Total Loss          -  54.0 lbs
I've marked 2 running goals off my goals list this week:
  * Run 10 minutes without stopping
  * Run 12 minutes without stopping
On Wednesday, I ran my first full mile (1.1 to be exact) and ran it in 12+ (I don't have the exact time) minutes.  After running a while on the treadmill, I stopped, lifted the towel to see what I had done and started laughing/sobbing when I saw I had done a mile.  I had 2 little old ladies beside me (literally - neither of them could have been over 5' and were at least 70+....I love my gym!) who started looking at me full of concern, probably thinking I had injured myself or something.  But I calmed and collected myself, walked a little bit and then started doing 6.4 mph sprints.  Wednesday was a good day.

Couldn't repeat the time, speed or running distance on Friday when I ran, but I wasn't feeling top form (allergies were started to get to me), so I'll give it all another go this coming week.  But now I know I can do it.  And that was an amazing feeling.

And on Saturday, I swam 1/2 mile (800 meters/32 lengths) in 34 minutes.  I was pretty proud of myself!  My next 2 goals for swimming are:
  * swim 1 mile by 3 June
  * do 1/2 mile in 30 minutes or under
It's do-able.  I've signed up for another session of swimming class which starts week after next.  My form and breathing are TONS better, but I really enjoy the class, the coach, and the accountability it gives me to swim.  And I want to start working on other swim styles (backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly) over the course of the next few months, so I want to continue to go.

So that's been my week.......

How's your week been?  Any new goals you've set? 
Any funny moments in your week?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Swimsuit review: Speedo Endurance+ Mindset Legsuit

*I am writing this review on my own without any compensation or encouragement 
from Speedo or Simply Swim.  Everything expressed here are my own opinions about equipment purchased with my own hard-earned money*

I bought a new swimsuit a while back for swimming laps and taking my 'improvers' swim class.  The tankini I had was just too big and generally inappropriate for fitness swimming.  So I've been wanting to review my new suit because I think it's an important piece of kit for fitness, equal to finding a pair of leggings or yoga pants you like!

When looking to buy my new suit, I did some research and shopping around, and I decided to go with the Speedo Endurance+ Mindset Legsuit which is available on Speedo's UK website and at Simply Swim (where I purchased it). 

you'll have to settle for the model picture of the suit

I decided to go with the legsuit option for a couple reasons.
  1. I like the look of them.  Some may think they're granny-ish, but I think they look cool and like you mean business, unlike the suits with skirts that I refuse to wear.
  2. Being my size, I wasn't comfortable with showing tons of skin just yet, even at the pool.
  3. I didn't want to have to always be worried about having shaved and letting that keep me from swimming (gross, I know, but's true).
I've been using the suit for about 8 weeks now and I have to say I'm pretty happy.  I feel good and confident in it.  It keeps me in and none of my bits (bust, belly, hips/thighs) flap about or need to be adjusted when I'm swimming, so that's great.

I bought the suit a size smaller than I normally would have otherwise (I was wearing a size 22 US when I bought it and so I got the 44 size, but would have normally gotten the 46).  But I just didn't want to have to buy another suit halfway through the summer, so I figured I'd take a little tightness at the beginning for a better fit for longer.  I think that method worked for me.

The one thing I was worried about with the suit was if whether or not the legs would ride up.  Alas, they do, but only after the suit has gotten wet and you've been swimming for a little while.  However, this might be because I bought the suit a little small and, in honesty, my thighs and quads are still larger than normal size (for a person my weight, I think).

However, when they do ride up, it's not uncomfortable but can produce some self-conscious moments in the pool when you want to straighten them out (although women are always pulling wedgies out in regular suits too, so I don't see much of a difference).

All in all, I really like this suit and will certainly consider another legsuit like this one when this one gets too big.  I've been really happy with how the suit has been made, Speedo's use of endurance/chlorine-resistant fabrics, and the way it retains its shape without being slick and skimpy or showing any stress in the seams.

So if you're looking for a good swimsuit for fitness swimming, considering a suit like this one might be an option for you.

What pieces of fitness kit do you depend upon?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Music to Sweat By: vol. 3 - Intervals/Sprints Edition

I invested about £15 on new music on iTunes a few weeks ago.  I was getting tired of listening to the same stuff all the time, but also needed some more tunes for the elliptical and other activities for which I need to maintain intensity, if not push the envelope a little further.

As I listened to this list the other day, I found myself doing intervals of sprints on the elliptical in time to the music.  It seemed natural.  With exception to the first one, which is just a good warmup song, the rest overall have good, driving beats to keep you going with choruses or bridges that are more intense, giving you rhythm and tempo to push harder and faster, increasing your intensity and kicking tail in the gym.

However, there's one song that's missing because Grooveshark doesn't have it in their database
that I would add if I could:

Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Weigh-in no. 36: so many things to celebrate!

weigh-in no. 36 (-2.6)
Starting weight:   327.0
Last week:           277.8
This week:           275.2    
Loss of                  - 2.6
Total Loss           -  51.8 lbs

I actually saw 1 lb less on the scale yesterday (I've been weighing a little more during the week than usual trying to pay closer attention to my nutritional/caloric balance) and I know I ate under my caloric limit yesterday, but for some reason, the protein I had has decided to extend its normal length of stay.  Oh well.  A 2.6 lb loss still ain't bad!! 

In addition to the loss this week, there's other things that have made this week amazing and marks the celebration of several things:

1) I've lost 51.8 lbs!! 
(and when I am at 53 lbs lost, I'm 1/3 of the way to my goal weight!)

image by jessie4508
available at

2) I am now wearing a size 20 (US) jeans, down from 26/28 when I started this journey

largest size 28 jeans decreasing to current size 20 jeans
I got the idea for this picture from
Tara at

4) Jim and I booked our flights, car rental and hotel for 4 days in Cornwall for my birthday!  
Our first real vacation together!

I'm most looking forward to spending time in St. Ives (photo from

5) I got a new (to me) car that I love and that gets about 60mpg!

her name is Nina and she's a 2003 Peugeot 307sw

How's your week been? 
Anything worth celebrating?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Saying goodbye to back pain

I'm a little afraid to write this post in the event that I jinx myself.  I'm not superstitious....but hey, why tempt it?  But oh and posts must go on....

Before I started this journey, I had back pain pretty regularly since 2003.  I have no idea what really happened, but one day I bent down to pick up my bag and as I bent down, I felt it.  Pain that took my breath away.  Pain that if I kept moving I could at least attempt to function, but if I stopped, I'd be down for the count and if I attempted to get back up and moving, beads of sweat from the pain would appear.

Since that first encounter, I had 'episodes' about every 6 months to a year, with twinges here and there in between.  Steadily, however, they got worse each time.  The first time was about 2 days.  The second time about 4 days.  The mother of them all in 2007 in had me down about 2 weeks.

Once I moved here to Northern Ireland, I finally saw a doctor with the "mother episode" in 2007.  It twinged when I was at a conference and I bent down in my chair to, once again, pick up my bag.  (And to be clear, it wasn't my bag - I started hurting before I even touched it). And I then proceeded to drive home, stuck in the car for 2 hours, and then decided to go to bed because it hurt to move.  That was a mistake.  When I woke up the next morning, it hurt so bad that I couldn't get out of bed to go to the toilet, couldn't bend to get dressed, and I panicked and asked my friend Emma to take me to the ER because I was in so much pain.  She helped me dress and somehow I got into the car, but I really have no idea how.

X-rays, muscle relaxers, narcotics and a trip to the osteopath later revealed nothing life-threatening, but that the ligaments from my sacral joint (at the base of my spine) had stretched abnormally (or perhaps slightly torn) causing the muscles (the sacrospinalis) to seize/spasm to compensate for the injury.  Skeletally, there was slightly more wear and tear in that area, but nothing really profound.  But the doctor suggested that the stress put on my spine, particularly in the sacral area, was caused by my weight (more particularly, my hanging belly) and the injury to the ligament was a result of that stress.

Back Muscles Chart by ~BadFish81

(isn't it beautiful??  2007 via deviantart)

I continued to have pain after the episode in 2007, with another bad one a few months later in 2008.  I used heating pads, ice packs, and drugs - but it only managed the pain somewhat.  And with each twinge, I lived in fear of the next one.

So, as soon as I felt up to it I started doing yoga in late 2008 and 2009 and noticed an improvement.  I noticed on the days that I started hurting or having twinges, if I stretched properly, it usually kept the more severe pain at bay.  But after talking with a few qualified people, I knew that the main issue was my weight and that I desperately needed to strengthen my core muscles to avoid further bouts.  My back needed the muscles to be stronger and harder in order to shore up the ligament issues that kept causing the problem.

I write this because it occurred to me last week that I haven't had any *real* back pain (like the stuff I described above) since just after I started this journey.  I've half-way expected it to come back, but so far it hasn't.  Occasionally I might ache a little - most of the time from overexertion - but the twinges are gone.  I realized I no longer live in fear of being incapacitated with pain.

I'm amazed at our bodies and the difference exercise and physical movement can make.  There's a woman at my gym who told me the other day, "I hate exercising, but I have to."  So I asked her what she meant and she told me:
"6 years ago, I came in here in a wheelchair.  I have fibromyalgia.  If I want to move and have a life, I have to come here, I have to walk on the treadmill at a certain pace, I have to do the weights, I have to do it all.  I don't want to go back to the life I was living before."
I think that's amazing.  And I feel privileged that she chose to share that with me.

And it reminded me that while I still have my hanging belly and still have another 110 lbs to lose, I know my back thanks me already for the almost-50 lbs that are gone.  We're both happy that it's stronger and been given the chance to heal.  And here's to hoping that I'm back-pain free from now on.

How has your exercise changed your health?  
What improvements have you noted?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blogging with Integrity

So, if you pay attention to other things on this blog other than just my posts, you'll notice a few additions that have been added over the course of the last few months and days.  I want to post about these additions because I think they're important, both for me and the blogging world in general.

I posted a few weeks ago about choosing to be authentic.  I wrote "Authenticity is rooted in the value of integrity and the commitment 'to thine own self be true.'"  But recently I have also made the commitment to blog with integrity not only in relation to myself and my experience, but with integrity to others, their words, contributions, and agendas as well.

Lately, I've been reminded of a few things:
  1. There's nothing new under the sun, but yet humanity is constantly evolving. 
  2. What I as an individual have to contribute is unique, but it is informed and shaped by a myriad of influences, ideas, opinions, people and factors over which I have only some control.
  3. Change and duplication (purposefully or inadvertently) is inevitable.
  4. We are responsible for as much of that which we can be aware, and if unaware at first and then made aware later, responsibility applies with new awareness.
  5. Admitting a mistake is not a sign of weakness, but an indicator of integrity and strength.
  6. Transparency and authenticity are values to be nurtured and used not only for our own benefit, but also for the benefit of others and society as a whole.
Maybe it's the PhD writing talking here, but I have to say I'm bothered by blogs which don't identify or name sources, inspirations, influences, etc.  I think there's an issue with integrity if someone doesn't name (not just provide a "go here" link but actually name it as in "I've been influenced by X. Smith's idea and B. Doe's blog" and so on) where things come from.  It fails to recognize the fact that we are all shaped by others and doesn't show respect for other people's work.  It lacks awareness that we are all inter-connected, our actions affect others, and what we say and do have influence for good or bad.

For that reason, I've signed up to a couple initiatives that are worth taking a look at:

Available at

By signing up with Blog with Integrity:
  • I assert that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is important to me.
  • I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own ideas.
  • I believe in intellectual property rights, providing links, citing sources, and crediting inspiration where appropriate.
  • I disclose my material relationships, policies and business practices. My readers will know the difference between editorial, advertorial, and advertising, should I choose to have it. If I do sponsored or paid posts, they are clearly marked.
  • When collaborating with marketers and PR professionals, I handle myself professionally and abide by basic journalistic standards.
  • I always present my honest opinions to the best of my ability.
  • I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.

And Brene Brown's Free Range Social Media movement holds to the following:

Available at

News flash: I'm not perfect.  

In recent days, I've gone back through and made a few changes in this here blog where I haven't attributed things correctly and I think I found them all.  But as a result, I've made the commitment to join these initiatives in order to keep myself accountable, and remind myself to be aware of other people's influences in my journey and give them proper respect and credit, whether it's for an earth-shattering idea or a simple recipe.  Folks in this world, including you and me, work too hard to not be given credit where it's due.

So, if you see anything on this blog that has inspired you or you want to use, respect my voice and give me credit.  And if you find anything in this blog that looks as if it's come from somewhere else and hasn't been properly attributed, please let me know.

Here's to contributing to building a better world, 
one blog post at a time!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weigh-in no. 35 & NSV

Time for weigh-in this week...

Weigh-in no. 35 (-0.6)
Starting weight:   327.0
Last week:           278.4
This week:           277.8      
Loss of                  - 0.6
Total Loss           - 49.2 lbs

I think I'm retaining a bit of water today which is showing up on the scale.  And I would have liked to have seen a 50lb loss this week, but oh well.  No big deal.  It'll come and I've got bigger fish to fry anyway.

Next week I'll be able to go to the gym more than I did this week.  The bank holidays here in UK have wreaked havoc on my normal schedule with the gym being closed for Easter holidays earlier in the week and then on Friday for the royal wedding.

But it's all still a loss and I'm happy!

And a non-scale victory and goal met this week as well that I thought I'd share.

hello clavicle!!

I've felt them for the last couple months or so, but I still couldn't see them.  But I had a look the other day and was like, "Hey, there you are!"  Yay!  I have collarbones!  I can tick that off of my goals list!

What non-scale victories have you had this week?  
Any parts of your body you're seeing for the first time?