Session 4 … pull buoys and swim paddles …!?

So I didn’t manage two training sessions this week as I was chained to my work desk! I won’t bore you with the details except to say that I more well-aquainted with Brazilian import prodedures than our Post Room (and more than should be) and yet I still have four packages stuck in Sao Paolo that should be somewhere else. Just a tiny example of the week’s trials and tribulations.

So swam I did this evening at least – session 4 of the Swimathon training and it was tough. And apparently I needed a swim paddles (for my hands) help with the training. And a pull buoy (just a funny shaped float). So no swim paddles unfortunately – I had never even heard of then so I’ll have to acquire some! So I did 30 lengths without swim paddles – just arms only – but it took me ages. I guess the paddles would have made me faster, right? If anyone knows, please do tell!

I haven’t signed up for the 5K yet (200 lengths of a 25m pool) and I’m slightly concerned that I’ll be the slowest one there and run out of time to do it!  I guess I still have time as it’s in April…!

Swimathon training session 3 completed … just!

So today I managed to do session 3 of the 5K Swimathon (which is 200 lengths of a 25m pool) … (eek!)

It was okay except “15 minutes of front crawl with no break” in the middle. Tough!!!!!  But got the old heart pounding!!

Again, a 60 min interval training session – but with increased intensity. And I have to confirm that it’s nice to be ‘bodily tired’ if you know what I mean.

Good news: lost a couple of lbs even without addressing my diet (unless perhaps I did sub-conciously!)

So I guess I’d better sign up for the swimathon, then!!

Until next time!

The day on which the swimming got more tricky!

… and I have to actually read the instructions for the training!

I managed to get in my mid-week swim in! Yay! And this, despite working in the office and not from home today. But I did find it tougher this time. Maybe because I did it in the evening. Maybe because I’ve had 3 very long work days. Maybe it’s because I’m just not fit enough! Maybe it’s because I did the second training session for the 5K smimathon and there was no breastroke at all – in over 60 laps – which is my normal swinming stroke of choice!

I was amazed how hard it was doing backstroke; legs only (edit: not for all 60+ lengths; just for 12!) and I realised the importance of taking the rest breaks during the session – well, it is on the training plan, after all, which is what I’m supposed to be following!

I think I’m going to sleep well tonight! How are you all doing?


PS: This was what I did – copied text from the training plan, link below!

Session 2: For this session you’ll need: approx 1 hour, a hat (if required), goggles, kick board, drinks bottle (pre, during, post), energy bar (post training), heart rate monitor (optional)

Session target – 1800m (72 lengths) Main session target heart rate: 50-60 beats below max heart rate (BBMHR)

 Warm up: Swim for 8 minutes alternating 4 lengths front crawl and 4 lengths backstroke – without resting. Rest: Up to 1 minute after the 8 minutes. Effort level: Easy

Main session: 

  1. Swim 16 lengths front crawl. Rest: 45 seconds every 2 lengths.
  2. Lying on your back hold a float above your head or to your chest and kick for 12 lengths using backstroke. If you don’t have a float your arms can be by your sides or straight above you in a streamlined position. Rest: 1 minute after each length
  3. Swim 16 lengths front crawl: aim to get faster from lengths 1 to 8 and then again from lengths 9 to 16.  Rest: 30 seconds every 2 lengths.

Effort level: Moderate

Swim down: Swim for 6 minutes using a stroke of your choice – without resting.  Effort level: Easy

Here are the training plans and swimathon links respectively:


The day on which I start swimathon training …

Just a quick post tonight – and to say I’m trying my best to establish a habit – and planning when I do my exercise!

I haven’t quite yet decided if I’m going to do a swimathon or not, but I even if I don’t, I can train as if I’m doing it – which means I have a structure and am increasing my training.

I looked at the 5K training plans and tonight I did the first session plan. It took me just over 60 minutes – and it says it should have taken around an hour, so that’s ok I guess 🙂 I swam about 1600 metres.  

You can find the training plans here, if you’d like:

If you fancy doing the swimathon, just take a look here:

PS: By the way, I’m loving your comments and discussions on Facebook, Twitter or G+, but don’t forget you can comment here, too, and you can sign in with your usual profile eg facebook… It’s just over on the left of the page!

Can a leopard really change its spots? And if so, how?

I’ve read so much over the years about healthy eating and fitness. Logically, I know that more energy in means weight gain if energy out is also not increased. Emotionally I don’t always find it so easy to make the right choices.

We’ve all read that a high percentage of dieters go back to their pre-diet weight – or more – after their diets. I’ve done it myself, not usually higher than before, but back to exactly the same weight to the lb (or half KG). This is the 3rd time I’ve got to my maximum “time to trigger action” weight.  That’s 3 times in 12 years.  I reckon it takes a minimum of 6 months to get the weight down again.  Then slowly…. very slowly it goes back on – over a period of between 2-5 years.

So how can I stop it? I guess my ‘leopard spots’ are lack of exercise and a bit too much food per day – and so the weight goes on so slowly that I don’t even notice it.

So I’ve been thinking about how to fix this. My first problem is that I’m not that fond of routine. I like the excitement of an always changing schedule; the adrenaline of a last minute problem to solve. And the nature of my work is very much like this. Perhaps too much like this!   I’ll usually put this (work) above (me) going for some organised exericise.  So, the healthy habits get broken down, I don’t get anough sleep, I eat at erratic times and so on … and weight begin starts to increase and the fitness declines. 

So which healthy habit goes first? I think that it’s the exercise that is the first casualty, and then it’s downhill from there. The good thing about exercise, for me, is that it makes me more aware of my body. Not in an obsessive way – but just how it moves and how it looks. It’s all too easy in the cold, British weather to cover up – in boots, in a suit, in long cardigans – and not be aware of carrying a few extra pounds. But you can’t ignore the mirrors in the gym though (unless you are very determined!)  in your gym gear or worse… in a swimsuit!!!  And of course you can’t avoid how you feel doing exercise. There’s no escape there!

So if that’s the start of the decline for me, I need to make sure that I make a habit – a habit with some built in flexibility, too – for my life – so this is what I’m going to do. I think it’s realistic:

My exercise pledge: Some kind of formal exercise twice a week to be taken: once during the week and once at the weekend. 

So, dear friends and fitness buddies, I’ll be reporting in!  Your comments and tips, as ever, are sought and welcomed – it feels good to support each other.

This leopard is trying to change its spots. Thinking positive thoughts and feeling better for having written it down.

An average day; resisting (or not) the leftover Christmas choccies & getting enough sleep

Today went like this: A 5.15 am alarm call; another busy, long work day and neverending ‘to do’ list. Just normal life really!

Gym gear in car but no chance to use it today and I might have to wait until Saturday to do something formallly exercise-wise. So it’s damage limitation, then today.

Eaten a few chocs left over from Christmas but resisted a glass of wine. And I’m off to bed soon to try to get at least 7 hours of sleep. That doesn’t sound much of a health tip, does it? But our bodies (and minds) work much better when we get enough sleep and it can slow weight loss if you don’t get enough.

So good night, all … see you again soon!

Oops, is it wrong to take my vitamins with a glass of wine?

Yes, yes, I know the answer to that!  I do normally take my supplements (not too many, just enough) with water. But tonight I decided to have a large glass of wine while I wrote my blog – and realised I hadn’t taken my vitamins!

So dear friends, the initial enthusiasm has worn off. It didn’t take long, did it? 5 days to be precise.  But I am persisting anyway. I absolutelty did not want to get out of bed this morning for my swim. But I did it anyway. And predictably, I enjoyed it. As I was swimming, pre-work, I thought this: Our bodies are not pre-disposed for sitting on our (increasing sizeable – and not in a good way) bottoms and looking at a computer or sitting in a car. We’ve made them behave like that. What do we get in return? RSI? Shoulder and back ache? Our bodies are designed to be moving – for hunting and foraging.  So swimming (albeit not very fast) this morning – with a only a few people in the pool – just felt right. In my mind and in my body  – in an almost primordial way. Like it was just ‘so’ and like it should be since time began until forever. Well, it felt that way until someone cut into my swimming lane! 

It’s the thought of the exercise that always worse than doing it (unless perhaps I had to do a 6am spin class – then that would be pretty tough!) so now I just need to do it. Get that habit formed so it’s second nature.

A tip from my friend Jooles – and now my fitness/health buddy – to finish on today. She says  “A useful nugget to add… Paul McKenna said yesterday that they have discovered that a thin person walks 500 more steps a day than a large person. So increase your steps by: Parking further away in the car park so you have further to walk, taking the stairs etc.”

Great advice. We can all do that, can’t we?

PS Loving the tips, keep them coming!

Laugh, feel better, get a fitness buddy, just keep going …


Laugh, feel better, get a fitness buddy, just keep going ...

I had to smile today. And yesterday. In fact, every day. In truth I am a bit of a giggler – but today at work was a little challenging and I could have done with padded, sound-proofed room in which to bash my fists on the wall and have a good scream. But just the action of telling someone else that’s what I needed was enough to make us both laugh and release the tension. Well, it’s that time of year. Financial Year Start. Time of new projects and resolutions. Well, I’m not making any resolutions as that’s a recipe for disaster for me. I’ll make some habit changes though.

Well-known diet/fitness advice often says that one of the keys to successful diets/fitness plans is to find a buddy so you can help each other with your new habits. Well, dear readers, I’ve decided that YOU are my fitness buddies! I’m going to check in with you from time, to see how you are doing, say how I am doing and also pass on any of your advice.

First off, this is from my old Schoolmate, Graham – who says “I will give you three tips, Andrea.

1. That first time is the most important. The first swim, run, trip to gym. No matter how long the journey you have to take the first step.
2. The only target you should set yourself is to do a bit better… each time. But ignore the first 2 or 3 attempts – initial enthusiasm is the main killer of all keep fit attempts.
3. Most important. A missed swim, run whatever is not a failure. Nor is 2 missed swims. A failure is no more swims. Have a timetable. I go Wednesday and Friday before work. It changes all the time depending on circumstances”

Thanks, Graham for your sound advice. I suppose I had better add those swims to my calendar!

That is all for today, but if you have any tips to share, please do add a comment here on the blog.

Not a good day but not a bad one, either

I managed to get a swim in last night, so that’s pleasing! Now I know that 2 x 30 minutes swimming sessions will not counteract 5 (or even, ahem, 12) months of ‘bad’ behaviour but it’s a start. I’m already more conscious of what I’m eating and doing (or not).

Today I had a 12-hour workday and was pretty busy all day. No chance, then, of a swim today. My small personal win today was have a cup of tea not a large glass of wine when I got home. It’s a small start. But a start nevertheless.

They say it takes 3 weeks to form a habit and 3 days to break one.  Got a while to go, then!

Triggers for change … or should that be time to change to be Tigger?

I woke up this morning knowing I had a lot to do. It’s Sunday but I still have a little bit of work to do (work work not house work) as well as needing to do a round trip of about 200 miles for reasons of family and friends.

My favourite kind of Sunday is usually getting up late, reading the papers, tea and toast, maybe watchig a film … nothing too strenuous! Definitely more Winnie-the-Pooh than Tigger! Today, though, I was feeling a bit more bouncy and Tigger-like … my brain and body wanted to spring out of bed for another swim! I didn’t have time but maybe with a bit of planning ahead, I’m hoping I’ll be able to do so later.

It got me thinking about what helps us make the decision to make a change – what’s the trigger to change our behaviour? For me, it’s mix of physical and emotional combined with some kind of realistic target in mind and some of reward for changing.

I mused about some of my triggers in my previous post, but I realised it was the combined total of lots of little things that have been rolling round my head that made me act. One of which was that I managed to get some London Olympic tickets in the public ballot. I really don’t want to be feeling unfit (and large!) sitting at an elite sporting event – especially at the height of summer!  And also the realisation that I do not want to buy the next size of clothes up, when it’s down-sizing I want to do! 

I guess eventually all these thoughts combined enough for me to decide to act and do it now. Hopefully I’ve some motivation to achieve my goals  – feels like I’ve got the intention – so now I just need to make it happen … one day, one step, at a time!