Slow but sure progress, sort of

And Monday dawns. Week 3 of my quest to shed the flab and regain the fit. I have dropped a few pounds, according to the scales, my tight jeans are a bit looser and I can see the shadowy hint of arm, thigh and shoulder muscles sliding beneath the blob. But it seems there can’t ever be a step forward without at least half a step back, so …

Stupid left elbow is being stupid. I strained it earlier in the year, got some physio, used the Voltaren gel, eased off using it, and by the time I got home from Europe things seemed good again. But the first 2 weeks of the Jillian Michaels Body Revolution program involve pushups, so I did them. Not even proper ones, mind you, just on the knee pushups, and now the elbow is grumbling again. Plus this morning I moved from the easier first 2 weeks to the more challenging second 2 weeks in the first phase of the program and it’s just not doable! Far too much strain on the elbow and on the lower back. Normal people will have no trouble with it, but if I was a horse I’d have been put down years ago, so …

Back to the drawing board.

Confession time. I sorta kinda collect workout dvds. I have enough to keep me going doing different programs for more than a year. Which is maybe sorta nuts but I’m really glad now because the most recent acquisition was Jillian Michaels Shred for Beginners. I also have her regular Shred program and ha ha ha ha! Not a snowball’s hope in hell do I have of completing that one right now. Tried it once, nearly died.  But this morning, half way through the BR dvd, realising it just wasn’t the right fit at the moment, I switched over to level 1 of Beginner’s Shred and it’s perfect. Similar to the first 2 weeks of BR, with a bit of mixing up. Still some pushups, but I’ve modified the move to a combo of chest press/tricep push (both moves while lying on my back), which uses the same muscles without the strain on the elbow ligament. All good!

And so the slow march continues. Diet-wise, I’ve shifted back to a cautiously low-carb approach. That means I’m still drinking a bit of milk, which allows for my protein shake and potato starch (because lack of resistant starch in my diet is what did for my thyroid a couple of years ago) but otherwise focusing on heaping amounts of green veg, sweet potato a couple of times a week, good clean proteins like lamb and beef and chicken, all grass fed/free range, plus eggs and some fish. Butter, macadamia nuts and healthy oils in small amounts. Berries a couple of times a week. And we will see how things progress! It’s a weird balancing act. At the end of the day, it’s still about calories in vs calories out, but our bodies have distinct biochemical/hormonal responses to food – and those responses decide whether we gain fat, lose fat, or maintain fat, as well as muscle.

Bottom line? (Ha, no pun intended!) Each of us is an experiment of 1. We can be guided by the experts and inspired by other people’s success stories but ultimately it has to be about what works for us. That’s where we must trust our bodies to tell us our truths – and then listen to them.

Finally, in other news, Parkrun! This is an amazing concept that’s spread around the world. Basically, people gather at a local park once a week – very often a Saturday morning – and run, or run/walk, or just walk, a 5 km course. Every runner is timed, and the aim is to compete against yourself as you get fitter and faster. Fun is had, sunshine is enjoyed, laughter is shared, and sweat, and it’s a nice morning’s entertaining exercise.

Now it goes without saying that I am nowhere near to running 5 km yet. I’m not really ready to race walk it, either. But in the spirit of shaking up my life a bit (which it really needs) I put up my hand to volunteer at the Parkrun nearest to me – Parramatta Parkrun. The whole shebang survives on volunteers, so I thought that was a good way to start. I’ll keep on volunteering until I’m ready to walk/run, then join in. My first volunteer job was timekeeper – pressing the stop watch as each person crossed the finish line, for the recording of finishing times. Next week I’m the official photographer!

The range on Saturday was a handful of guys in training for something, I guess. They were deadly serious and ran the 5 ks in about 15 minutes. Yeah. Okay. At the other end of the spectrum we had the woman in her sixties who’s lost 100 lbs, did a half marathon recently, and keeps on keeping on. Also the mum with her kid in a buggy, who walked/jogged the course while piggy-backing another kid for most of the way. And speaking of kids, we had dads and young sons, dads and teenage daughters – it was awesome.

But here’s something gleaned from my first volunteering gig: Dear Parkrun people — please don’t rush up to the timekeeper as soon as you’ve finished, demanding to know what your time was. Because a) it’ll be emailed to you soon, as you know and b) the timekeeping volunteer must keep absolute focus, because he or she is monitoring over 200 participants, many of whom are crossing the finishing line within steps of each other. In what universe do you think you matter more than they do?

Parkrun is wonderful. You can find out more here, if you think you’d enjoy it.

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