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!

Accident Etiquette

velooooooo-vi

I forgot to charge the battery of my electric bike last night.  This resulted in an accident on the way to school this morning as I was riding up a very steep hill.   As I compensated for the lack of battery power by shifting down gears, the bike slowed down so much, it tipped over!

This hurt me physically but that was nothing compared to the emotional hurt I was about to experience as I laid there on the side of the road.

First, a car went by me.  It slowed down to avoid me but didn’t stop.  I didn’t think too much of it as it is a narrow road and I reasoned that may be there wasn’t enough room for the car to pull over which explained why they kept going.

But then a number of people, all by themselves, walked by me too.

I thought this very strange and not a little bit hurtful!  Did they think that I was casually taking a rest on the side of the road with a heavy bike on top of me?  Did they think this was normal?

Were they worried that if they asked me if I needed help that I wouldn’t understand the Japanese?  This is definitely not the case.  My Japanese may consist solely of sushi ordering vocab and taxi instructions but lying there, prostrate, bleeding and in not an insignificant amount of pain, you could of asked me in Swahili if I was ok and it would have been clear to me.  You could have used one of the rarer Inuit languages to ask if I needed help and I would have understood you like it was my mother tongue!

Come on people!  When you stumble across a woman on her arse under a bike, help her up.  The bike is heavy and her day has not begun the way she planned.  Don’t ignore her and make it worse.  Lift the bike off her!

Image Credit
Shared on Flickr by Jhane (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In Niseko…

Near enough is good enough in Niseko

When my name gets put into katakana is looks like this - ウィンスラド  メリリン!
When it gets translated back from katakana to romanji it looks like this:

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ウィンスラド/メリリン

Naked bath time in Niseko

One thing about travelling in Japan I’m always a little apprehensive about is the shared bath situation otherwise known as the onsen.

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Vegemite is in demand in Niseko!

Today I arrived in Niseko.  The town is teaming with Aussies and foreigners in general, just as I expected.  I went to book lessons at the English ski school only to discover they were almost booked out.  The queue at the local shop to pay for your vegemite was around the block.

But at my little, no-frills, Japanese style guesthouse – I am the only guest!  Private bathing guaranteed!

 

No-frills and no worries in Niseko

My accommodation takes basic to a new level.  The room is an empty tatami room.  I have two wafer thin futons that I have double stacked but I can still feel my hip bones grind on the floor every time I turn over.  They have supplied me with an abundance of pillows however, most of which I have fashioned into a chair so I can watch a movie on my computer in the evening.

On my first night, I discovered that I wasn’t supplied a towel in the room and I didn’t pack one either.  (I can feel my mother’s groan as she reads this!)  I contemplated the drip dry but it is way too cold here for that.  I had to beg a towel from the owner and he said that because I was staying so long he would let me have one!  Phew!

 

Nearly private lessons in Niseko

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Great weather so far. Hoping for some powder on my last day!

Yesterday I had a half day lesson and it was great.  The instructor said I should try the level up the next day so when I went to my lesson today, I explained this to the instructor for level 6 but he didn’t seem too keen in taking me.  In the end I stayed with the level 5 group but I pushed for the instructor to take us off piste and to do a couple of blacks as well.  The two other students weren’t that keen with this and after lunch they decided not to come back.

That meant I had a private lesson that afternoon for no extra money and it was great.  The instructor took me to do more off piste and a big long black too.  It was so much fun!  Can’t wait to scare some people off my lesson tomorrow!  😛

Update – another private lesson in the afternoon today with more off piste tree runs.  Super cool!

 

No wine in Niseko

I’m still on my alcohol free kick that I’ve managed to sustain since September.  Originally, I had decided to stay on the wagon until Christmas when I would re-evaluate the situation.  I was explaining this to the bar tender last night over my glass of water (straight up, no ice) and some edamame.  He turned out to be a Perth boy and he was both shocked an appalled at my sobriety.  He said if I came back at Christmas he would buy me my wine!

Now I’m really torn because I had almost decided not to break my sobriety after all and push on through to January when I’ve booked the Robot Restaurant for Jazz and co.  But it is free wine we are talking about here!

Update – I’m hanging on until 23rd January!  🙂

 

Notable quotes in Niseko

After attempting to ski off a ridge amongst the trees and stacking it at the base, I struggled to my feet and my instructor began to laugh.  He said, “If you want to know how hard you fell, take a look at the size of the hole you made!”

I turned and looked at the ginormous, arse-shaped dent in the snow.  I laughed with him but I died a little inside!

No more Niseko

It is time to head back to Yokohama and start recovering ready for my next ski trip in a week’s time.  This time I will be skiing closer to home in Shigakogen with team ‘Over-the-Hilbournes’!  This is a Japanese resort so it will be goodbye to Perth bar tenders and flat whites in the the cafes and hello eating in the hotel because there are no other options, anywhere!  I may get a onesie to blend in better amongst the locals as well!  Goodbye Niseko!

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These outfits are for all occasions – skiing by day and sleeping at night.

 

Image Credits

All images are by merilynw and shared on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A Week in Myanmar with Madrid

What a week!

October break is only a short holiday and normally I can’t be bothered organising anything for such a brief period of time.  Luckily, I know Madrid.  She’s a wonderful organiser and problem solver and was in top form in the lead up to this holiday.  She had a lot of great ideas of places to go and things to see and I was happy to agree to everything she planned as long as it meant I didn’t have to do anything in preparation for the trip.

We worked in perfect harmony together.  Or in actual fact, Madrid worked and I went along with it.

So here are my top ten moments, in no particular order, from Myanmar (with a bit of Bangkok thrown in).

#1  Brunch at the Sheraton in Bangkok

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Post lunch tummies on display!

Delicious although I did have a funny tummy from some suspect guava juice I drank at the market earlier in the day.  The facilities at the Sheraton however, were a pleasure to use and abuse.  Three visits and four courses later, I was ready to spend the afternoon having a manicure and a massage.

#2  Finding out we were going to Bagan.

I thought we were going to InLe Lake.    This turned out to be incorrect.  This is also the point when I realised that if I ever got separated from Madrid, I was going to be in real trouble as I had no idea of our flights, hotels or basically any of the plans whatsoever.

#3  Fruit Loops for breakfast

My all time favourite breakie and Kim let me buy a box from the supermarket.  I hope Alex enjoyed the left overs!

#4  Myanmar fashion

I got a bit carried away with ‘longhi’ purchasing.  I bought four in the end and they are all beautiful.  I’ve worn them all to work already!

#5  Burmese food is not my favourite

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I don’t know what this is. I just know it is greasy!

We tried a number of items at a number of places but I still have nothing nice to say about the local Myanmar cuisine.  Our best meal was at a Thai restaurant.  Our second best meal was a shared box of sesame and peanut brittle.

#6  Getting a bit too comfortable

On about day 3, I realised Madrid and I had swapped toothbrushes without noticing.  We didn’t speak of this again but continued to use each other’s brushes in total denial.  I threw ‘mine’ out the moment I got home.

#7  Getting Madrid on a scooter

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Now that is concentration!

Turns out, she’s a natural!

#8  Massages and manicures

My disco toes were a hit and the shellac on my finger nails stayed on for a month!  The massages were mostly awkward for me but I liked the foot ones.

#9  Sightseeing in Yangon and Bagan

What a cool country.  I can’t wait to go back!

#10  Getting home and still having a whole day of hols left.

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Pots on fire!

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Sunset in Yangon

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Temple in Yangon

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Girl selling souvenirs

 

Home James!

Day twenty-nine – Yokohama

Today I learnt this little gem.  Don’t pack 3 kg of self-raising flour in your hand luggage when travelling through Heathrow Airport.  I was held up in security for almost an hour.

There are no photos for this post.  You can use your imagination instead …

 

Last Days in London

Day twenty-six – London

Today I travelled back to London and the hospitality of Karen and Kieren.  We attempted to watch Dumb and Dumber 2 but failed to see it through to the end because it was truly that bad.  The Thai takeaway food though was great and so was the company!

Day twenty-seven – Second last day in London

I love the Facebook.  Through the FB, my cousin that I hadn’t seen for years found out that I was in London, contacted me and today we had a really wonderful time catching up and looking at art at the Wallace Collection.

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Lunch and chat at the Wallace Collection

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Demonstrating the selfie-stick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day twenty-eight – Last full day in London

Today I did my final shop (toothpaste, underarm deodorant and self-raising flour plus a couple of impulse buys I couldn’t resist) and met Heather for lunch at the Bear and Staff in Leicester Square.  I then dragged her along to the National Gallery for a free tour.

There was a big crowd for the tour so I told Heather we may need to use our elbows because it was important to stay at the front of the group.  A crotchety old lady carrying her own chair, complained to the guide about me but he seemed to realise I was just joking.

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Heather and I soaking up the culture!

After the tour, I sped down to New Eltham for my final go on Disney Infinity.  That is a really fun game and I like playing it with vastly younger than me people!  I had my final dinner and a movie with Kim and Vicky before getting back to London Bridge for my last night’s sleep in the UK.

Finally a big THANK YOU to all the people who kindly put me up over the last month.  You are welcome any time to Yokohama!  They were:

Kim, Vicky and Zac
Simone, Chris and Ella
Mako and Kiyo
Karen and Kieren

Onigiri on a Mountain

Day twenty-five – Still Swansea

Today I learnt how to make another Japanese dish!  I made onigiri, which is the world best food to take on a picnic, with Mako.  Who knew that there was such a culture of Japanese cuisine in Wales!

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The finished onigiri – yum!

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The onigiri sensei (arms only) and her student!

Later we took the picnic up a very large hill where we asked an older gentlemen to take a photo of us on my iPhone.  I showed him the button to press and he seemed to take it all in quite well.  Mako, Kiyo and I all posed around this stone on the top of the hill.  After a few seconds, I noticed a click-click-click sound being repeated.  Eighty-nine photos later, I realised he didn’t know to take his finger off the button.  Here are a sample of the shots we got.

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Thanks again to Mako and Kiyo for a great weekend in Wales!