6 months of progress pictures

Why exercise isn’t about weight loss…

I know a race report is due but I’m waiting for my times from Celtman before I write it up properly, as is my want, I had nothing more than my watch on so I’ve no real idea of how long it took me to do anything…other than the bike taking 3hours longer than planned, but that’s a sad story for another day. I’m also going to do one reflecting on my training in regards to my performance, but for now I thought I’d better do the final progress shot and a quick (well you know me I’m prone to waffling…just re-read this its a massive ramble) reflection on why I took them in the first place.

So why did I take them? Back in December I spoke to a couple of personal trainers and gyms about possible business link ups (I’m a photographer in the real world). I wanted to do before and after pictures of their clients, but for various reasons this never quite got off the ground. However it did make me think that I needed a guinea pig/model who was prepared to be the first. So when it came to doing the blog I had a thought why not me? Then a friend said that she really liked progress pictures in fitness blogs and that was all the push I needed.

There were also practical reasons for the pictures as when you undertake a training programme it is important to monitor what you are doing to make sure you’re not pushing too hard or putting too much stress on your system. This includes getting enough to eat because it is too easy to not realise when upping the amount of time your spending training, particularly on the bike. I know quite a few folk who seem to constantly be picking up viruses and struggling with injures and ***WARNING OPINION*** I believe that loosing too much weight (not eating enough), not doing enough strength stuff and most of all not listening to your body is a real issue. Therefore the pictures combined with the measurements were to make sure I wasn’t loosing too much weight…turns out I had no reason to worry as what has always been true with me has continued. I don’t really loose weight I just get denser.

Finally, and possibly the most important reason as far as I’m concerned is the ideological argument. I’m sick to death hearing about weight loss. I have been inundated with adverts for this exercise trick, weight loss miracle and that fad diet since I started the blog, Facebook etc and I loathe it with a vengeance. This may sound odd coming from someone posting pictures of themselves in their pants on the internet, but this is and has never been about getting skinny. I know lots of people will say I didn’t start off massive (it has been said already), but that’s my first bug bare. Judging yourself against other people. There is no point. I’m never going to be model skinny I’m just not built that way. I’m athletic, by that I mean fairly solid, I’m never going to be that light. 75kg is the weight I usually sit at. I have bigger hands than most of the guys I know (my lovely little sister refers to them as my mole-mits and makes digging motions…charming I know) and I also remember knocking a good few guys on their arses in my late teens as part of my early rugby career, so delicate and ladylike are not qualities usually associated with me, but I accepted that a long time ago. My build has allowed me to do lots of different things, be fairly good a lots of things and keep me pretty safe traveling the world, often by myself, so maybe I’m lucky or maybe that’s just the way we should all see ourselves. Look for the positive.

Stop comparing ourselves to fictional people in the media and advertising. They are only there to make you feel shit about yourself so you buy the pointless crap in the pursuit of something that has no real value. I can feel myself getting angrier and angrier as this turns into a full out rant, so I’m going to trail off there and come back to my original topic, but if anyone wants to hear my 2000+word rant on the fatuous superficial nature modern society (I’m pretty sure no one does) add a comment at the end LOL…

…now what was I talking about oh yes why I took the progress pictures. 1. Demonstrate the benefit of before and after pictures. Check! 2. To keep healthy. Check! 3. Not everyone is model shaped. Check (sort of)! 4. Oh yes I remember…even with lots of hard f***ing work change is slow, its difficult and weight loss is a piss poor indicator of progress. As I feel is proven by the pictures. Keep in mind that for large parts of the process I was training towards 15 hours a week including 2-3 weights sessions . Did I get massive? Not particularly. Did I loose weight? Not particularly.

So what did I get out of it I hear you ask…I got leaner. I got stronger. I got happier. I got more confident (okay maybe not one of my issues). I got strong enough to stay on my bike for 11hours (though at times during that period I wished I wasn’t). I got the sense that I am physically able to do everything I want to be able to do. And that’s what it’s all about for me. Being able to do stuff. Not looking a certain way. Any physical changes have been a by product.

So take away message is doing stuff is good! Not doing stuff is bad. Weight loss is a shit indicator of fitness. Exercise and fitness makes you happy. Judging yourself against other people is a recipe for making yourself unhappy. Weights don’t make you massive. I have an opinion on everything LOL

And to finish here’s the pictures from the beginning 😉

DISCLAIMER: In no way should anything I’ve done or said or written be taken as good advice. I have no professional experience in the heath and wellbeing sector and an unhealthy disregard for what people regard as good training and competing practices. So anything you do is all on you :D x

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Time for a mid-way review…

Where to start…

Pictures/Data

progress pictures, training, Celtman

Week 12, half-way there, 3 month progress pictures

So after 3 months here is a quick review of the numbers: I’m still the same height…training hasn’t made me shorter; weight, lost 3.1kg, all that muscle is heavy; bust, lost 3cm, no comment; waist, lost 4cm, which combined with, hips, lost 6cm, means none of my jeans fit. No point in buying new ones at the moment, so belts are becoming quite important.

Fundraising

Nothing to report. I will get a Virgin Giving page up ASAP, but I’m currently waiting for them to register the Rock Trust.This is so I can split the money down the middle between SAMH and the Rock Trust. I decided to go with Virgin Giving because of this option and on SAMH‘s recommendation as they felt it was the best option for them. So watch this space I will be asking for money soon, just not yet! 

Sponsorship

I haven’t taken any action on this front as the day job has got in the way and I wanted to have the fundraising bit taken care of first before I set out to look for kit. As I’m sure you are all aware triathlon can be pretty expensive. I have so far got by on kindness of friends and family…lots of borrowed kit. Not because I’m cheap (well okay maybe a bit cheap), but because I set up my business last year and, a year and 3 months in, I just can’t justify spending hundreds (to thousands) of pounds on fancy gear. But don’t worry even if I don’t find anyone to give me lovely kit to promote, I will be fully clad in stuff borrowed from the great and the good. On the other hand if you know any lovely kit suppliers who might want to be connected to me and Celtman send them my way.

Training swim/bike/run

Swim: On target starting to hit 1:40 for my 100s, which I’m happy with. Now I’m twitching to get out in the open water…it’s just too cold at the moment and I would like a wetsuit upgrade as my current one is so loose around the shoulders I end up carrying an extra 5kg in water. Streamlined I ain’t!

Bike: A bit behind. And a bit slow. Thanks to the weather I have only managed to get out in the last couple of weeks. The rollers in the house just aren’t the same. But now the weather is picking up…at least fewer blizzards…it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone and get out more. Show me the hills!

Run: Struggling a bit with tight calves, now that I’m back on the bike for longer periods, so the last two weeks have been a bit of a struggle to get up the hills. Getting enough to eat is also a bit of an issue, but I’ll get there. The focus over the next few weeks is going to be on getting faster, so hill sprints and 1km timed reps are on the cards. Such fun!

Strength: Coming along nicely. My core still isn’t strong enough but the difference in my hips, knees and ankles in the bike and run is fantastic. Issues that I had with the longer distance at the end of last year because of strength imbalances seem to be a thing of the past. Now to concentrate on getting faster!

Mental state

My initial connection to SAMH was because I know lots of people associated with triathlon who have suffered from mental health problems, most commonly depression, but when I sat down and thought about it I started to think about my own mental health. I’m going to talk more about this in more detail in a future post, but sufficed to say I think at the beginning of the year I was struggling a bit. Whether it was the time of year, weather, business or just life in general, not really sure. What I do know is that I feel 100x better 3 months into my training. I’ve fixed my diet. I’m getting out in the fresh air regularly. And I’m back to getting high on those wonderful endorphins…drug of choice. If you haven’t discovered them come and join me. You’ll love it (eventually)! I swear!

Pictures of the story so far…

The usual disclaimer applies I know everything and nothing, so take nothing as truth…well apart from the maps. They’re awesome!

When testimonials get out of hand…Combat Ready.

I came to Combat Ready because I needed to work on strengthening mostly my core and joints, but really everything. I have fairly lax ligaments around my knees that result in joint instability. They are most likely the result of old rugby injuries and now what I find is that they are aggravated by my current pursuit, triathlon.

My goal this year is to complete Celtman, which is an Ironman distance adventure triathlon… July 6th 2013 5am, 3.8K Swim, 202K Bike, 42K run over two Munros near Torridon and Achnasheen in the Highlands…so I need my knees and the rest of me working.

I’m a big believer in cross training. In the past I’ve used both rowing and squash to work on different aspects of my game (rugby reference). I find that triathlon is much better for me than rugby in a lot of respects. However, I don’t feel just swim, bike, run training helps me develop the muscular control needed to compensate for the laxity of my knee ligaments. In fact I often feel that when I up my distances I compensate, over relying on the more developed muscles, and as a result make my knees worse.

This is where Marcus at Combat Ready steps in. His approach is to use functional weights to develop strength and power (1). For me, and I would argue everyone, strength is really important and I don’t mean massive muscles. I’m talking about basic health (for women in particular in the case of osteoporosis, fractures, arthritis), good posture, being able to lift shopping into the car or pick up your kids without hurting yourself. If you don’t believe me check out the following article (2). Being stronger helps me avoid injuries, improves my balance and coordination (well up to a point…I’ve never quite out grown my gangly-ness), gives me more confidence and best of all makes me faster (both mentally and physically).

Initially I was a little apprehensive about training with Marcus at Combat Ready as all my previous gym experience has been being left by myself to get on with it and I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was going to be with someone watching me and telling me what to do. I also had reservations about the whole concept of a personal trainer…my previous opinion was that PTs were only for people who weren’t motivated enough to train by themselves and that PTs themselves were gym bunnies that only took qualifications so that they could spend more time working out and looking at themselves in mirrors. The mirrors also leads me to my dislike of ‘gyms’ in general with their colour coordinated corporate images and rows of pointless fixed-weight machines. Haha rant over and now for the remedy…Combat Ready.

This is not the case at Combat Ready. It is described as a bare bones gym and that is exactly what it is. No TVs and tasteful art work here. It is for people who want to work hard and get results, not those who want to have a chat with a friend while walking on a running machine and then go for a smoothie. I love it!

My other reservations proved equally unfounded as Marcus immediately inspired confidence. His knowledgeable and intelligent style gave me complete faith in his judgment and as the session progressed his mixture of chat and encouragement really motivated me to see what I was capable of, as well as helping me get over my initial self-consciousness.

Marcus has a great approach that sets high expectations and pushes you to achieve, tempered by an awareness (probably from his martial arts background) of what your limits are, so you are never pushed too far. You never feel that you are just doing repetitions for the sake of it but as part of a greater scheme. There is no redundant, obligatory number of reps just because that was what the original plan was. It is all tailored to you, whether you want to lose weight or recover from an injury (3).

In short, I cannot recommend Marcus and Combat Ready highly enough…this blog actually started off as a standard testimonial… “I really enjoy doing functional weight training with Marcus at Combat Ready…” but it has morphed into a bit of a monster. The standard phrases just didn’t seem to convey what I wanted to say. So the take away points of my rant are as follows:

  • Strength training is important for girls (you wont get big muscles but you might avoid broken bones).
  • Not all PTs are muscle bound muppets (to paraphrase).
  • I am not always right (most of the time I am though).
  • Combat Ready is unlike almost any gym you have been to and if you want to work hard and get results it is likely the place for you.
  • Marcus is a knowledgeable and motivating trainer that will help you reach your goals, if you listen and do what you’re told (I’m still working on that last one).

The usual disclaimer applies: I have an opinion on everything but am an expert in nothing so don’t take my word on it. Look into it for yourselves.

  1. http://syattfitness.com/athletic-performance/developing-explosive-strength-and-power-for-athletic-performance/
  2. http://style.uk.msn.com/health/are-women-becoming-weedy
  3. http://kravmagaedinburgh.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/training-injuries.html