There are varying opinions on the internet as to how many times you have to repeat something before it becomes a habit – some say 21 days (personally I don’t think that’s long enough) to 66 days. I’m now on day 72 of living a more healthy life which I am sure is long enough to qualify. Running, watching what I eat and generally making better choices is now a habit and I feel that this has taken a bit of the pressure away. It’s just something I do now. My daughters no longer really comment when I arrive home, sweaty and stinky and my Mum has taken to getting me a drink ready for when I get home. It’s no longer a big deal in our house.
So now it is a habit, I felt it was time to get serious. In our family we have a history of high cholesterol and I was last tested 6 years ago with the promise to re-test every 5 years. Needless to say, I did not get tested last year. However, with my new resolve and determination to be healthier, I now needed to know how my insides are bearing up.
The appointment was called a “Well Woman” check-up. It was the Full Monty – weight, height, dreaded BMI, how much alcohol, how much exercise, diet and then the results of my cholesterol (which I had had a blood test for the previous week).The appointment was with a friendly nurse who was very jolly and seemed to almost apologise when she asked me to get on the scales. She suggested that I take off my belt (which I need these days otherwise my trousers fall down), trainers, empty my pockets – at one point I genuinely thought she was going to suggest I stripped to my underwear – and then she weighed me. As I am now a fully paid up member of the “scales club” there were no surprises there and she confirmed that my BMI makes me obese, but not morbidly obese.
I told her about my new lifestyle and she seemed impressed and was visibly gobsmacked when I told her how much weight I had lost. We had a really good chat about the ease of the Fitbit and how it works and by the end of the conversation, she had pledged to buy one for herself. (I’m beginning to think I should start charging Fitbit commission.) My blood pressure is very low (normal but low) and my cholesterol is 5.9 which is apparently higher than is ideal but still within the normal zone. Importantly it means that there is no need to have a conversation about “Statins”.
Finally, according to the statistical information gathered, I have a 1.67% chance of dying from a heart attack in the next 10 years. I have literally no idea how they can possibly know that from asking me how many gin and tonics I drink in a week but there we have it. Of course, what we will never know is what these numbers were if I had had the tests at the end of last year…but best not to dwell on that.
I have now lost 2 stone in total. Literally half of my clothes don’t fit and the suit I mentioned a few weeks ago, (that I last wore the day I found out I was pregnant with Sporty Daughter) was slightly loose when I wore it yesterday. Now this is obviously brilliant news in that I am getting smaller and fitter, but from a work perspective is proving problematic. For years I have pressed my nose up at the window of Hobbs Clothing and have yearned to be able to fit into one of their suits. They only go up to a size 18 so this has never really felt achievable previously, but today, Husband bought me 2 new tops (from Sainsbury’s) and these were both a size 18 and they fit….so maybe I will have a suit from Hobbs? This is another goal I have set myself.
One of things that I love about writing this blog is how interactive it has become. You lovely people “tag” me in on funky running leggings that you see on Facebook, private message me to find out when I’m going to post the next blog (sorry for the lateness but work is REALLY busy at the moment), and also brilliantly, message me suggestions for any questions that I pose. Thank you. Please keep doing this. I adore it. A couple of ladies I know have started the couch to 5k because, well let’s face it, if I can do it, literally anyone can. I have the beginnings of an idea about a party at some point later in the year to celebrate this……..I’ll keep you posted.
This week out of the blue, “Unofficial Trainer” messaged to ask some questions to see if she could assist with my trouble running the first kilometre. Now it’s a work in progress, but we seem to have established that it is indeed due to my lack of warm up and stretching before I set off. She is working out a warm up for me (as I hope this blog confirms, I don’t really know what I’m doing!) but in the meantime, I decided to allow myself a longer walk to warm up (another 250m) and I also spent a good 5 minutes before I set up performing the (3) stretches I know over and over. I also decided that I should just man up and run through the pain. My runs usually start with me having this sort of conversation with myself but sadly I am not usually able to keep my promise to myself.
On Sunday last week, I decided to test the theory. Stretching and warming up definitely helped (I suspect that there may be a few seasoned athletes out there banging their hands on their foreheads #facepalm style as they read that – er…obvious – but it’s only obvious if you know.) I managed 6k and some splits were fast and some were very slow. I am now doing my absolute best to run up hills as and when I encounter them and if I can’t manage them in one go, l only allow myself 20 walking recovery steps in between running again. As is usual on my runs, most was run but some was walked. It was mainly good but did take me just under an hour and then I was annoyed that I couldn’t recreate the 7k from the week before.
I decided to try a different tact on my next run. Rather than try and go for distance, I would try for a faster time. So on Tuesday I ran home from work. It’s a 3.5k route that I did repeatedly in January and I hadn’t run it for a while so felt this would be an interesting experiment. Again I allowed myself lots of stretching time before I set off. I was pleased that I was able to run most of it without walking (although still did have to put a couple of 20 steppers in to catch my breath) but I was still horribly slow. I walked home from work tonight and was disappointed to discover that tonight I walked at roughly the same speed that I had run one of the kilometres on Tuesday. Is it better to be quicker but have to walk some or slower and walk less? Perhaps I should try and do some intervals? It’s very annoying. I don’t really seem to be improving but I am still going. That’s all I can say really.
On Sunday, I was in Sunny Gloucestershire and was off to do a run with Fitbit Sister (who had done a run the day before and was really only coming to keep me company). The day was glorious and it was definitely the warmest day I have run in so far. Therefore it was a horrible mistake to forget to take any water with us. For the first time, I went running without a high viz jacket and wore a T-shirt over my running skin (I didn’t need the skin either – it was boiling). I was pleased with the first part of the run – I was able to even have short conversations as we trotted along in the gorgeous sunshine and the first 3 kilometres were good. They felt comfortable and were very fast which again further confirms my theory that I run faster when I am with others. On Sunday I ran my fastest ever kilometre split at 9 minutes per kilometre. In the interests of honesty, it’s only fair that I tell you that I was going downhill for part of it, but still! The first 3 kilometres were all under 9 minutes 20 seconds. Things were going well, despite the (what felt like) unseasonably near tropical Gloucestershire heat until we came to the bottom of Cam Pitch. This is a BIG hill. It’s the sort of hill where you might consider having a sit down half way up it if you were walking. It DESTROYED me. My legs were burning, I felt light-headed, sweat was running in my eyes and down my back, I would have paid £20 for a bottle of water if it had been possible but Fitbit Sister was great – we used the lamp posts and ran between the first 2 and then walked between the next 2 and so on. This lasted for the longest kilometre of my life, but we did get up to the top. I was wrecked. We had to run/walk for another 500 metres even after the hill was finished before we finally managed to run the last bit.
I’ve entered one of the Sport Relief events which is taking place next weekend. Husband and I are running 3 miles and Youngest and Sporty Daughter are running one mile. They were very keen to get involved and they haven’t seen me run since those early allotment days and I am feeling quite nervous. I want them to see that I have improved but I also am excited by the prospect of them seeing me cross the finish line. If you are able to, and haven’t yet, please consider sponsoring my daughters as they are raising money for this brilliant cause.
I think I will wear the T-Shirt that Marathon Sister 3 bought be back in January – if only to manage the spectators’ expectations……