How I kept my New Year’s resolution part 2

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The thing about setting a resolution to lose weight is that it requires a change in lifestyle, which as I mentioned in my last post is harder than giving up smoking.

The 5:2 diet worked for me though, but after about 4/5 months I reached a plateau. At this point I had already lost about 6-7 Kgs, but I knew that I had to do something.

I didn’t want to throw away another gym membership and I needed an activity that I could do any time and any where.

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My super sister Sarah inspired me to go back and give running a try. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this but like me she also wasn’t very active but she turned that around by following a training program on her mobile phone app called C25K, which stands for from the Couch to 5 kilometers. Her transformation was incredible and incredibly inspiring.

It is designed for people  just like me, (and perhaps you?), people who have done no / very little exercise for a very long time. I had been inactive for over 10 years, unless you count lifting pints at the pub as activity… I knew that getting back in shape was going to be an effort.

I downloaded an app called Runkeeper and embarked on the beginner 5Km course, because it started with a 2.4km walk. Yup, a walk, and very gradually over the course of 8 weeks it escalated into a 5km run. Not every activity is a straight forward run though, some are what the call fartlek runs / tabatha runs/ which are basically interval training runs.

But what on earth does that mean? Well it starts with a brisk walk for 90 seconds, and then you jog for 60 seconds and repeat that 8 times or about 20 minutes. As the course progress the rest periods shorten and the run intervals lengthen and speed moves from a steady jog to a fast run. This builds your strength. The program also has some runs labelled purely as 45 minutes. In which the goal is to run/walk for 45 minutes, just so that you get used to moving and being active for that duration.

I like Runkeeper because it has great integration with my withings wifi scale and I have a real soft spot for convergence so I want my gadgets/ tech to work nicely together, which thankfully the fitbit / withings / Myfitnesspal / runkeeper and my Pebble smart watch all do!

I can not say that my return to running has been easy or painless, it has not. I have had a few overuse injuries trying to push myself too far or too fast too quickly, and to top it all I had terrible running form, which resulted in black toenails and some patellar tendonitis (aka sore knees)

After a bit of research i learned that my running shoes were likely a size too small, and were not designed for someone weighing close to 100kgs but it was not until I visited Frank Elford Sports in Plymouth, England who carried out a gait analysis that I learned just how poor my posture was and that I had a case of over-pronation , which means that my ankles roll outwards when I run. The good news is that the right type of footwear with a lot of support can help to correct this.

I learned a good rule of thumb during this process which I think is worth sharing, which is the quieter you tread the better you run. Your feet shouldn’t be slamming hard into the ground, you should be looking to glide over the terrain as silently as possible.

Long story short I took their advice, took things more slowly, brought a new pair of running shoes, and have been injury free ever since. I joined the excellent guys and girls over at http://www.meetup.com/Bangkok-Runners/ and even participated in a few fun 5km runs, and recommend anyone interested in joining some fun races to check them out, or, if you want to go it alone, websites like http://www.jogandjoy.com list most of the upcoming runs throughout Thailand.

This year I have resolved to make more progress in my running and general fitness. My weekly schedule will be Sunday run, Monday gym (upper body, eg arms, shoulders, back, chest and core), Tuesday run, Wednesday Gym (lower body i.e. legs and core), Thursday run, Friday beer (because to be sustainable I only have to adapt not totally change!), and finally Saturday run, now the following week I may switch it and go Monday, Wednesday, Friday run and have a rest on a Saturday, because you know sometimes I have stuff to do.

The important thing is I am able to keep a  fitness schedule because its flexible enough to live with for a sustained period. The big excuse was that I never had time. But I made time, I went to bed earlier and went running early in the morning, before work.

Sounds awful I know, I get it, but with enough repetition any activity can become a habit, even exercise. it doesn’t take long, for me it was perhaps a month or so (a bit like giving up smoking) and then I found that it made me feel better throughout the day. I regretted any run that I missed, but most of all was the impact it had on my weight-loss, which was significant, and to be frank the compliments that I started to hear again were pretty welcome too!

Running helped me. It may, or may not be right for you, perhaps you prefer walking, cycling, or swimming. But it doesn’t matter what you do, so long as its cheap and readily accessible because those two conditions, for me at least, eliminated any excuses that I had not to do it. Then making a schedule, in my calendar, meant that I kept to it.

My advice, if you are looking to get fit for 2014, the first point of call should be to examine your excuses for not exercising as objectively as possible, write them down, and determine a solution for each.

Good luck with whatever your resolutions are and I wish you all the very best for a happy, healthy and safe 2014!

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