Running in the Rain with Chafe

Running in the rain for my last run in Japan until August!

Soaked but still smiling!

I am not in great shape!  I have chafing on my left arm where my armband for my iPhone goes.  I alternate using the armband with a bumbag and that has given me stomach chafe.  I’m still using the same sports bras I bought 18 months ago on my last visit to Australia and now that I’ve lost a bunch of weight, they move around a lot whilst I’m running so to top it all off, my chest is covered in bandaids!

It is time to upgrade some gear!  New sports bras, new stick of body glide, new shoes, may be even some new running pants too.  It is a good thing the yen is doing well against the Aussie dollar!

6 x 800m fast with 30 s of walking in between

6 x 800m fast with 30 s of walking in between

Today was my last run in Japan until August.  It has not stopped raining since I got up at 5:30am and the forecast is for rain all day.  So, I ran in the rain!  With the half marathon looming at the end of August, I don’t feel I can miss a single training run.  I did an interval run today and I was happy with my splits as I was aiming to keep the 800m intervals under a 5:30 pace and I did.

My next run will be an easy 5 km run in Perth tomorrow evening.  Hopefully, despite being winter, it won’t be so wet!

67.90 kg

Yesterday I finally reached my weight loss goal that Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 1.10.09 PMI set nearly 12 months earlier.  Today, I confirmed that I had met that target by being able to purchase a pair of shorts in Japan, that looked good, were not the largest size on the rack and when I removed them after trying them on, my knickers didn’t come off with them!

My goal was to weigh less than 68 kg so that my BMI fell into the normal range.  Now, I know that the BMI is a flawed index developed in the 19th century and doesn’t take into account how much muscle you have opposed to fat.   However, I’m not exceptionally tall or short and I’m not an athlete with crazy amounts of muscle so I feel that it can be used for me as a rough approximation of what I can aim for.

Every Wednesday morning my support group meet for our weekly weigh and shame!  Yesterday was our last one for the year.  School is finished so we weighed ourselves at home when we got up (before eating breakfast and after doing a wee) and then met at Starbucks to discuss the results and our goals for the summer holidays.

I weighed 67.90 kg.

I have lost the majority of the weight in the last 12 months but this has been a process that has spanned a couple of years.  A colleague of mine recently asked me to share the diet plan that I was on but I couldn’t because I’m not really on one.  It has been an incredibly slow process that has required making many small and manageable changes to my lifestyle to find what I can sustain long term and what actually works for me.  In this post, I want to try and summarise what I did in case someone else might find it useful.  The following things worked for me but every one is different so this post comes with no guarantees!

Have a support group

My support group in action!

My support group in action!

My support group started with Kim and Elaine who had begun running together about a year earlier before I joined in with them.  We were already colleagues but we became good friends also as we had a common goal which was to lose weight and improve our over all health and fitness.  Later Leah joined us after Kim left to live in Bangkok.

For me it has been really important to have like-minded people that I can feel free to talk to about everything and who are going through the same ups and downs as me.  We bounced off ideas with each other, shared success stories and setbacks and supported each other.  We meet weekly for our weigh and shame (which isn’t as awful as it sounds) and keep in touch through the week at odd times too.

Set achievable short term goals

My over all goal was to lose more than twelve kilos but that takes a long time and you only see minute progress in relation to that goal especially at the beginning.  In our group we would set short term goals like losing 2 kgs before the October break or running a 10 km race in November.  Sometimes we achieved the goal, sometimes we only got part way but we were always moving forward in the long run.

Accountability

For larger goals, I went as public as I could with what I was trying to do.  When you make it public, you feel more pressure to actually do it and any motivation is better than none!  I recently decided that in order to maintain the changes I’ve made in my life I needed a big goal to work towards and that is to run a marathon.  So I told everyone about it!  Now I get advice from friends of mine who are experienced runners, people ask me about it, I continue to blog about it and post on Facebook about it.  If I don’t actually do it now, I’m going to look a right turkey!  That’s motivation!

Keep making changes

I needed to find what works for me.  There are lot of diets and plans out there all supported by ‘experts’ but really it all boils down to one thing.  If you want to lose weight you have to consume less calories than you burn.  Doing more exercise alone is not that useful because you overeat your exercise very easily.  The important thing is to eat less.  It sounds simple but that is terrifically difficult for me to do.  I love food and I love drinking.  But I have made changes to my lifestyle continually over the past three years to find the right balance that works for me.  And I’m still adjusting and changing things as my circumstances demand it.

I’ve tried lots of things that I couldn’t sustain.  Here are a few:

going vegan, vegetarianism, no alcohol, exercising every day, counting calories…

But every time something didn’t work for me, I just made a small change to try and find a compromise that I could sustain and would help me continue to achieve my health goals.  Here is a summary of what I’m trying right now.

My diet

  • I eat a plant based diet with seafood, eggs and limited dairy added in.
  • I only eat meat if there is no other option or if a friend has made it for me.
  • I don’t deny myself something if I really want it but am aware of portion size and only having one!  (This doesn’t always work!)
  • I’ve substituted milk with soy or almond milk for everything except in my tea.
  • I fast (meaning I consume approximately only 500 calories) two days a week.
  • I drink alcohol one weekend/occasion per month only which I decide on beforehand.

My exercise plan

  • I concentrate on running because it is free and I like it
  • I set myself race goals and follow a training plan that tells me when to run and how far to go on what days of the week – it also allows me to have days off!
  • I don’t exercise on fasting days

These changes are working for me right now but they wouldn’t work for everyone and they won’t work for me forever.  The important thing is to keep trying different things until you do find something you can do for a longer period of time and that works.

Final tips

Don’t expect to lose weight every week.  As long at the overall trend is downward it doesn’t matter if you stay the same or go up some weeks.  Graph the trend.

Use technology to make some of the record keeping easier and to increase contact with your support network.  I use RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal amongst others.

The next challenge

I’ve lost weight plenty of times before.  Sometimes because I was trying to and others because I had amoebic dysentery or malaria.  I’ve never been able to keep it off more than a couple of years so now, I hope to be able to maintain the changes I’ve made and to continue tweaking my plan as necessary, to stay healthy long term.  Following my own advice on accountability, I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

 

 

Getting Faster Despite Stitches and Insects

Two weeks ago, I went out to brunch, ate enough food to choke a small horse and then came home and ran my fastest 5 km ever!  This was despite having a murderous stitch for half of the run.  Yesterday, I had a better preparation before my run and despite inhaling a swarm of midgies with 2 km to go, I managed to run my fastest average pace yet again!

Imagine how fast I would be without eating a community of insects during the run!

Imagine how fast I would be without eating a community of insects during the run!

Marathon Preparation Update

I have signed up for a half marathon at the end of August which takes place up around Mt Fuji.  I’ve selected a 16 week training plan from the RunKeeper that will commence in early May.  Once I’ve completed this race, I will start a training plan for the full marathon in preparation for 2017!

The half marathon I’ve signed up for is going to be hot and hilly so I’m just aiming to finish and not really worried about the time.  Luckily I will be able to practice some hills around mum’s place when I’m home in July!

 

10 km Down, 30 To Go!

Just made my goal!

Just made my goal as seen on my RunKeeper!

Yesterday I completed the first step on my long road to running a long run.  The Paracup was a fun race with plenty of people in amusing costumes to distract me from the fact that I was wearing long, winter pants, despite the balmy conditions, and that I had my iphone tucked into my bra because I had misplaced my armband.

My goal was to do it in under an hour and I just managed to sneak it in under the bar at 59 minutes flat.  The best part was that my foot injury seems to be on the mend after a couple of weeks of physio because I was able to walk normally, even after resting for a bit at lunch.

I’m on my way!

 

42 Years 42 Kilometers

I am worried I’m getting old.

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Proof that I’m aging!

Last week I went to the doctors to have my ears syringed, my minimum font size is now up to 10 point and I’ve started to enjoy gardening.  All the signs are there.

So I’ve decided to give myself a challenge that an old person would be mad to attempt to prove that I’m not quite over the hill yet.  I’m going to run the Tokyo marathon in 2017.

Now, this is the plan but there is no guarantee that I will be able to get in as entry is on a lottery.  If I don’t get in, I’ll have to run something else, but I’m going to attempt a marathon some how.

This is going to require a lot of preparation.  For the last couple of years, I’ve been slowly trying to make changes to my lifestyle in order to live longer.  I’ve been pescatarian now for two years and I’ve cut down on dairy except milk in my tea and cheese because a life without cheese is no life at all.

Then in September, I decided to get really serious and stopped drinking.  My goal at the time was to make it until Christmas but I managed to keep on going right through the holiday and into January.  After five months of not drinking, I felt absolutely miserable.  I decided this was not sustainable and decided to tweak my plan a bit.  I now pick one drinking occasion a month.  January was a trip to the robot restaurant in Tokyo, February was a ski weekend in Hakuba and March was the St Patrick’s Day weekend.  This month I have a date to share a bottle of Cloudy Bay with the fabulous Mrs Rossing.

Also in September I decided to start the 5/2 fasting plan.  My friend Kim has been doing this for a couple of years now and when I was visiting with him last summer, I thought he was insane.  Then I saw the Horizon program What’s the Right Diet for You which discussed this plan and I decided to give it a go.  So I now only eat 500 calories on Monday and Tuesday and just try to eat sensibly every other day.  On the sensible days, I don’t deny myself anything but I try to not overeat.  It is so much simpler than counting calories.

Since this time last year, I have lost almost 12 kg.  I’ve just got four more kilos to lose to make my goal marathon weight!

Now I’m concentrating on starting my training plan.  The 2017 Tokyo marathon will happen in March so I have plenty of time to prepare.  I’ve had a foot injury for almost a year that just isn’t going away and a crunchy knee that I decided to see a physio about.  I made an appointment for the first week of the Spring break and I left Tokyo Physio armed with a collection of exercises to do and a tonne of bruises from the sports massage.  It was agony but the physio assured me it was necessary.  I had a session again last week and the massage hurt a lot less this time.  Apparently that’s progress!

Work starts again on Monday and my plan is to run 3 times a week and go to the gym twice a week for the rest of the semester (ten weeks) to try and get back into a regular training pattern.  After that, I’ll reassess and look at working on increasing speed and distance.

So that’s the plan in a nutshell.  Now I need advice especially from anyone who has run a marathon before.  Recommendations for training plans and any other tips and pointers would be appreciated.  I’m going to keep blogging about my progress to try and keep motivated and for accountability and I’m tracking all my training on my RunKeeper too.

My next step is the Paracup 10km race tomorrow.  I want to finish in under an hour and be able to walk on my sore foot later on that afternoon.  If I can run 10 km successfully tomorrow, surely 42 km won’t be a problem in 12 months time!

The Importance of Planning

Day eight – Still in Seasalter

Woops!

Whoops!

Note to self – when in a foreign country, look up a map before going on a forty minute run!

Today I headed out thinking for my run that I’ll just keep the sea to the right for twenty minutes and then keep it to my left for the next twenty minutes.  So I started off running along the sea wall.  I don’t like looking at my phone all the time so I decided to judge the time by counting the number of songs that had played.  I estimated that each song was roughly three minutes long so I decided to run for seven songs along the wall.  It was a bit slow going along the wall and so I thought I should go a bit longer than half way and when it came time to turn back, run along the road a bit faster.

After seven songs, I came a long a gravel track heading back to the road so I took it.  It didn’t lead back to the road.  I went up a hill, down a hill, along a bit, around a corner and two kilometres later, finally hit the road and the way back to Seasalter.  I had only run along the road for a few minutes when my phone told me my forty minutes was up.  I thought about keeping on going but I was really tired.  I had walked into Whitstable and back earlier in the day.

I checked the route on my phone and I was about five kilometres away from my starting point!  I began walking along the narrow road and I decided to hitch a ride back.  I stuck my thumb out but car after car passed me by.  I’ve hitchhiked in New Zealand, the US and even Botswana before and I never had trouble getting a lift in those places.  Did I look particularly threatening in my running gear?  Lots of bikes passed me by too but they were the flimsy racing type and there was no way I was scoring a dink on those!

In the end I had to resort to putting on a limp to get a lift and finally a nice lady stopped to pick me up.  She drove me back to Smuggler’s Cove.  As I alighted from her car, some of the cyclists that had overtaken me earlier went passed.  They yelled out at me that I had cheated.  I agreed with them!

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At least I had time to snap a few selfies!

Image Credits

Photos taken by me and shared on Flickr.

Back on the Wagon

Over the last month or so, I’ve totally undone all the good work I’d done in the lead up to my half marathon the other weekend.  I should mention that this is a half marathon that I ended up withdrawing from.

I withdrew because my training had been interrupted by several trips where I couldn’t train.  Two ski trips, one trip to a snow festival and another to tropical Cambodia.  All of these interrupted my long run training plan.  In the end, I just hadn’t done enough long runs to be ready.  That, and it was raining on the day.

Again my clothes are feeling a little too tight.  I threw out a pair of jeans last week after I noticed that I had a blow-out where my thighs were rubbing together.  I’m now forced to wear a pair of corduroy pants that at this weight, is definitely a fire hazard.

I’ve been so busy with work, I haven’t been shopping.  So I’ve been eating out and ordering pizza online.  My weight has ballooned.

New Year's Eve 2015

A taste of what’s to come!

But today is a new day.  Today I went to the gym.  Today I recorded my food diary in MyFitnessPal and I was under my calorie limit.  Today I weighed myself at the gym and I was less than expected. Today I resisted apple tea cake from a colleague.

Tomorrow is what I’m worried about.  Over the next few months, I will have some challenges to deal with.  A busy time at work, my first assignment for my masters degree due, a presentation at a conference and a bunch of house guests that I like to drink wine with.  How to juggle all of this, make healthy choices, sleep enough and exercise.  Advice please!

Eating the Evidence

I’m not losing weight because I eat too much.  Let me share with you an example of this.  Here is what happened today!

The day started out well with a breakfast of steamed spinach, a whole wheat english muffin and 2 poached eggs.  I probably should have had only one poached egg but I figured that this should see me through to lunch.  I had prepared some dahl and a small naan bread to take to school which I put in the fridge of the staff room.

It is now about 8:30am.  This is where my good behaviour finished and my diet blowout for the day began.

It looked nice in the picture!

It looked nice in the picture!

I had made a lemon sour cream cake for a colleague’s birthday which I put in the staff room.  A bunch of other people had brought snacks too (most of them chocolate themed) and they were all laid out on the staff room table.  At 9:10am I went down to the staff room to do some marking.  I moved all the treats and the cake and spread them out on the various other small tables around the room as I wanted to use the big table to work at.

As I was distributing the treats, I sampled each one.  Other people dropped by the staff room and all of them asked about the treats.  Each time they tried one, I got them to throw me a sample too.  By 10:30am I was feeling a bit sick.

At 10:40am it was recess time and my colleague with the birthday arrived for her cake.  I cut a slice and decided immediately that it wasn’t my best effort.  It really needed another five to ten minutes in the oven but the top had begun to catch so I had removed it prematurely.  The result was a stodgier than perfect cake.  I had a second piece to confirm my original observations.

Lots of people tried the cake and some said it was nice and some told the truth.  Recess finished and there was still a lot of cake left.  I didn’t like it sitting there for everyone to see my imperfect cake.  The only way to solve the problem was to consume the evidence.  So I ate a lot more cake.

By half-way through lunch, I had finished the entire thing.  I felt happier that the evidence of my botched baking effort was gone, but I also felt quite a bit sicker.

I didn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day until dinner.  Normally on Tuesday, I stop at a little Indonesian place for tea on my way home from the gym, but this week, I realised my purse was empty so I just cycled on home.  I made myself some porridge with soy milk and steel cut oats and cut up two fresh figs on top.  That was tasty.  I then washed that down with a free, one-serving-bottle of sparkling plum sake I had picked up from a school function on the weekend.

No point inputting such terrible numbers into MyFitnessPal (my calorie counter app).  It might explode!  Instead, I have decided the same thing I decided every day for the last month.  I’ll start my diet tomorrow!

Image Credit:  cc licensed by Merilyn Winslade

Going Commando at the Hot Stone Spa

I’m a fully paid up member of the gym since the 1st September and I’ve been going at least three times a week.  The challenge now is to keep this up and get my money’s worth from all the facilities.  This includes using the hot stone spa.

Apparently, undies are also a part of the jinbei outfit.

Yesterday, @mscofino decided to try it out for the first time after our weekly long run.  Unlike the onsen facilities at the gym, the hot stone spa has a real advantage for us, which is that people keep their clothes on.  Even after two years in Japan, I’m still not comfortable getting naked with people I know.  I have improved however, as I can shower and change at the gym with people I don’t know.

I didn’t know what was appropriate to wear so I hired the Japanese pyjama-like jinbei and a towel to use for ¥250 as advised by one of the gym personnel.  I’ve never worn jinbei before and it did take me a little while to work out how to tie the straps whilst I changed out of my sweaty running clothes in the toilet.   Then there was the other question – undies or no undies?  The pants did resemble the type I was given to use during my colonoscopy minus one small feature, so I decided to go with no undies.  I later inquired about the appropriate use of jinbei and this turned out to be the incorrect choice.

The hot stone spa itself is indeed hot.  You can book it for up to 90 minutes but we had decided to just try it out for 30 on our first go.  Ten minutes in and I was worried that my brain was starting to cook.  I have no idea how people use if for such a long time even though they are going in and out during the 90 minutes to cool off every so often.  It was great though and we both came out feeling relaxed and about a kilo lighter.  This looks like becoming a regular Sunday thing!

Photo credit: cc licensed image shared by Phokin

Wardrobe Malfuntions

I’ve got a new plan.  I decided that in the end, doing two running training plans simultaneously was not sustainable.  Who knew?  So now I’m just following the 10 km in under 55 minutes plan.  As a bonus, I now have more time for alternative exercises, so after putting on weight again last week because of an increase in my number of social outings, I decided I should try some strength training to compliment my running.

To this end and after much cajoling from @mscofino among others, I have joined Gold’s Gym for a trial week.  On Thursday I went for my first workout.  One of the trainers showed me around a few of the machines and helped me out.  This all went well.  Afterwards, I decided it would be nice to do some swimming, so I went to the pool which is in an entirely different building down the street.

I wasn’t well prepared and so I had to ask at the front desk to hire a towel, goggles and a swimming cap as it is against the rules to swim ‘hair out’.  He then offered to rent me a shirt and shorts which I thought was an odd thing to offer as I was obviously going swimming.  I declined and went to the change rooms.

Being Japan, I naturally had to change out in the open but luckily I’m a master at getting into bathers using just a towel for modesty thanks to being the fat girl at swimming for PE in high school.  I walked through the shower area and noticed with a huge sigh of relief, that the showers were in cubicles (western style) and then continued out to the pool.

Nobody was wearing bathers like mine that would be the type you wear to the beach.  I was wearing a lovely tankini specially designed for easy toilet use but at the same time, flattering for the fuller figure.  Everyone else was wearing much more modest and tight-fitting swimming apparel.  They looked a lot more professional than me.

I did a few laps of over arm and then rolled on my back to do some backstroke.  Half way up the lane, my boob popped out of my tankini and I realised I was going to have to get a new suit!

With this in mind and wanting to save money on swimming cap rentals, I went to Sports Authority to check out their bathers collection.  Having a look at their selection, I realised why the man at the front desk had offered me a shirt and shorts.  He was referring to the types of bathers for lap swimming here.  There was very little on offer in the one-piece speedo that I was expecting.  Instead I got a two piece shorts and shirt made from bathers material in the largest size they had.  It is probably the most unflattering pair of bathers I’ve ever owned but what the hell.  Hopefully in a couple of months I’ll look less like the Michelan man and I’ll fit more comfortably into my LLL size suit!

They don't look that much better without my body in them!

They don’t look that much better without my body in them!