Yet Another Fitness Plan…

So as you may be able to tell from my outrageous number of posts on the variety of different meal and work-out plans I have embarked on but not completed, I’m a bit obsessed with first, the idea of being fit, and second, new and shiny things / promises.

I have only stuck out a challenge once – back in February of this year, when I stuck to a hectic high protein / no carb meal plan. While the results weren’t mind-boggling, I did lose 2% body fat, and stuck with it for the full four weeks. My face thinned out, my hair was shiny, my eyes were bright, my skin was clear, I felt comfortable in my clothes. And then the four weeks ended, and I was back on a block of Cadbury on the weekends.

It was depressing.

After returning from the United States in July, I’d once again overdone the treat yo’self mentality, and pushed up to my heaviest weight in quite a while. I began eating healthy and making salads to get a grip, since summer is creeping its way back into my peripherals, and I’m realising that this bod is not bikini ready. It’s barely muu-muu ready.

And then I downloaded My Fitness Pal, and realised just how badly I’d been kidding myself. All these ‘healthy options’ and good choices were being blown out of the water by the sheer amount I was eating, and the absolutely insane weekend binges. I could inhale a Dominoes pizza in about 5 minutes, and roll around on the floor drinking Coke and regretting my choices, only to do it over and over again. It was awful. I hate to think what My Fitness Pal would tell me about those weekends. Probably nothing kind.

In any case, I’m in my second week of logging meals, and it has just been like holding up a very honest mirror to my face that tells me you just can’t out-exercise bad foods, and that you cannot eat enough vegetables. They’re basically free nutrient stomach filling bombs, with almost zero kilojoules (yes, I’m using kilojoules as my stats because it results in a higher looking allowable number per day, which tricks me in to thinking I’m eating a whole tonne of food). I compulsively log my meals, and I’ve synced my various other fitness apps (Garmin, FitBit, Sweat with Kayla…okay I seriously have a problem) to get a picture of what I’m consuming and outputting, and recognising just how long a game it is to get rid of these damn winter wobbles.

Once you’ve finished logging your foods and meals for the day, it also kindly tells you, if you lived every day exactly as you did this one, what you’d weigh in 5 weeks. This is some serious reality check time, since you realise how much your food affects your body and (on a good day) how well your body responds to being fuelled properly or (on a bad day) how much that tequila affects your ass.

Obviously the app is far from perfect – to a large degree you’re estimating many foods. I did pre-prep my lunches and dinners for the week and perfectly weighed everything (I made 5 of the exact same lunches and dinners to simplify this process!) to get a good insight into how I’d be going.

In the last 10 days I’m down 2.2kg – including two hectic nights out with a lot of booze and extraneous calories. I’m not kidding myself that this is a perfect reflection of how I’ll continue to progress, since it can definitely take more than calories in / calories out to change your weight and body. But I just cannot overemphasise how much of a reality check it is to actually use it.

I’m feeling particularly inspired by a woman who has logged in her food for 400 days straight that I saw on instagram (I wish I could remember who she is!). I’m not even going to begin to pretend that is something I’m capable of – the longest I’ve stuck something out like that is my 118 day Duolingo streak (which has now transformed into a 118-day not using Duolingo streak). However, with summer, a weekend trip away, a big work event and a wedding coming up over the next two months, every little bit of accountability and motivation helps to get me focussed.

Thanks for being my pal, My Fitness Pal.

Sweat with Kayla

Fitness fads are my hobby. Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge; Soul Cycle (I actually did this as a tourist attraction in DC); barre; bikram yoga; any yoga; boxing classes; fancy gyms… I spend a scary amount of money on fitness and associated athleisure wear, and I never regret a cent.

My favourite fitness group was recently disbanded, and despite the heartbreak associated with losing my routine for circumstances that were for once out of my control, it was a good opportunity to trial something new. Like every millenial with an instagram obsession, I’ve been following Kayla Itsines for several years, and purchased her Bikini Body Guides. She had released a super want-able app last year, Sweat with Kayla:

sweat-with-kayla-android

The pink! The teardrop! It’s everything a fit feminist like myself could want to instagram.

And I finally caved to that want. I’d done some of Kayla’s circuits before, and was looking for a way to keep up with the circuit style workout of my previous group, while not financially committing myself to something new. In a low moment (read as hours of scrolling through the @kaylatransformations instagram and feeling bad about myself), I subscribed and did the week 1 arms and abs workout in front of Grey’s Anatomy in my tiny living room.

The app is beautifully designed. Of course, beautiful things only provide motivation for so long – to which my hundreds of purchases from lululemon, Lorna Jane and Victoria Secret stand as a testament. But I’m looking forward to seeing how it integrates with my newly adrift fitness life. Hopefully in 12 weeks I’m checking in with a 12-pack and legs that actually could be mistaken for toothpicks.

Health Challenge: Week 1 Review

So it’s probably time to share that I started a four week health challenge on 1 February 2016. It felt more appropriate to begin something nightmarish in February when the fun of starting a new year has worn right off.

The health challenge involves a pretty hectic food regime, based on the high protein low carb approach to eating, and working out nine times a week. This week one update serves a few purposes: 1. a reminder that I’ve survived one week, and only have to survive three more; 2. a recap of what worked and what didn’t; and 3. if anyone is thinking of undertaking something similar, some tips on how not to drive yourself insane.

Food

The biggest part of this challenge is the food. You eat often, and you eat a lot. My food day looks like this:

Morning: Nuts, 4-egg omelette with veggies (occasionally subbing in a smoothie), fish oil and protein shake.

Day: morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea consisting of meat and veg (with a little starch added for lunch); two coffees; one serve of magnesium (which I take as a powder mixed in water); as much water as I can reasonably drink.

Night: pre and post workout protein shake; dinner of meat and veg; chai tea (no milk).


Workouts

I attend my workout group four to five mornings a week. To make up the extra workouts, I go to the gym with my boyfriend in the evening where we will lift together, and then play a little tennis or squash (I’m new to both, he’s being very patient). I’m also starting to train for my second Ironman 70.3 race, so I’m incorporating a swim, bike and run a week.


What’s good?

  • Eating clean. I hated that phrase for the longest time, but there’s some credit to advocating for eating unprocessed foods. My skin has become clearer, I’m way more regular (ew, soz), and I feel much more energetic than normal when I rely heavily on Nutella and the $1 fundraiser chocolates at work.
  • Feeling energised. Exercise brings me the kind of positive endorphins I need to get through a rough work week, and feel motivated to only eat the clean food. Once I feel slumpy, all I crave is more slumpy food.

What’s hard?

  • Meal prep. The organisation required to make lasting through this diet is hard, and it can be your sole down fall, if you let it. I’ve found it necessary to shop on Sunday, then dedicate two hours on Sunday afternoon (even if I don’t need the full two hours), to chopping, slicing, dicing and cooking all the veg I need for the week, plus the meat for Monday and Tuesday (I prefer to eat my meat as freshly cooked as possible, and my freezer is too tiny to fit in the frozen peas and berries, as well as frozen meat).
  • 3pm. The dreaded workday hour when chocolate cravings hit you full force, and the fundraiser box on your secretary’s desk screams ‘eat me! it’s for charity!’. I get up, make a coffee or tea, refill my water, remind myself of my goals, and eat a carrot stick. But it’s hard, and it requires some serious will power.

Next week?

  • Week two will consist of upping the intensity of my training sessions, and incorporating more running and biking.
  • Food will remain on point. I have one work lunch where I will need to eat off a menu, but I will skip my afternoon snack, and thankfully we can preorder, so I’m going to order off the light menu for small portion size.
  • I have my first PT session to work towards my most stand-alone goal of the year: complete some pull-ups. I’m excited.

I’m looking forward to sharing my overall progress with you at the end of Fit February. It’s tough, but I’m finding it really empowering to be in charge of my food cravings and to avoid treating food as a reward.

Have you tried something like this before? Any tips, or anything you’d like to know? Let me know in the comments 🙂

E x

 

 

 

 

My approach to exercise

It is impossible to escape exercise and fitness as one of the foundations of 21st century millenial life. Exercising more/losing weight/being fit is goal at the forefront of most people’s minds. The number of people participating in fun runs, half marathons, triathlons and other “fit”events has increased enormously.

I am not immune to this trend – in fact, I love exercise. This is very lucky, as I also love food, and all of the “you can’t out-train a bad diet” truths aside, at the very least I’m committed to moving my body, which usually results in a natural desire to fuel it properly.

Anyway – a sermon on exercise and health is not why I am here. Rather, I wanted to share what I spend on “exercise”. Prepare yourself. It’s kind of mortifying. 

To start, I’ll lay out what exercise I do. I found an amazing group training group last year as a result of a Christmas gift from my parents. It revolutionised my attitude to exercise, and was the first form of fitness I actually stuck with, consistently, for an entire year. I saw changes I never thought possible, and I refuse to give up on that group now, after everything it has given me. 

I also recently joined a country-club style gym with my boyf. It is a 6 minute walk from our apartment, and has a huge gym, an indoor and outdoor pool (unfortunately not full sized, but we can live with that), tennis courts, squash courts, and, hilariously, a bar (in fact – two bars). 

The group training costs me $35.88 a week.

The gym costs me $34.50 a week.

So yes – I spend $70.38 a week on “exercise”. That’s approximately 7% of my weekly take-home pay. I note, for completeness and a better insight to my confessional, that my work provides me access to a free gym. 

 This total also does not include expenditure on the following, which I label “exercise incidentals”:

  • Activewear (maybe my most tragic weakness?)
  • Appropriate footwear
  • Triathlon entry fees (my next half ironman was a breathtaking $400, just to enter)
  • Fuel/nutrition (gels, protein powder, bars etc.)
  • Gear (tennis and squash racquets, tennis balls, gym bag, water bottles, sunnies, bike services, and so on)
  • Washing the never ending pile of sweaty outfits 
  • Pool entry for when I want to swim 50m laps (about $6/entry)
  • Game fees for netball (I won’t be playing this any longer, but last year it was $10/game)

You get where I’m going. I am a sucker for exercise, and affiliated activities. One of the motivations to track my expenses this year is to get an actual figure on what I spend on exercise. I’m convinced it’s a very high number. However, the only thing I could definitively tell you is what I spend a week on entry fees places – the rest disappear into cute amounts I can’t place, and can’t put an exact figure on at this stage.

I do note I labelled this category as “exercise” and not just plain old Exercise. That’s because to a large degree, this category is also Entertainment. Despite not being in a fantastic economic position, signing up to our country club was one of the best things the boyf and I have done for our relationship. The aforementioned shoebox apartment gives rise to strong feelings of claustrophobia sometimes, particularly when you live on top of each other. I always wanted to live somewhere with a pool and gym, but those options were significantly more expensive and more poorly located than our current place. We worked out we could stay at our place, and join the gym, and come out ahead by about $50 – $80 a week, and have access to better facilities than if we’d upgraded our place. 

We also found that this option gave us somewhere to go to get out of each other’s hair when things got a bit too much after long days or just general life stress. Even better, going together has given us a really healthy dimension to our relationship – we have fun conversations while playing squash that aren’t complaining about our day, and when we swim on the rooftop, overlooking the sparkle of the city while the sun sets, we feel grateful for each other and for the little things in the day. 

So at face value – I spend way too much on exercise. But I believe in investing in my health, and in my relationship, and the current set up achieves both of those outcomes. I definitely agree it can be done cheaper – there are thousands of work outs available free online, via apps or Pinterest or ebooks or Instagram – but unless you stick to them, they are useless, simply mental clutter. This category, for me, defines the “personal” of personal finance. I’m excited to share more about it as I transition into the second half of my twenties (nooooooooo!!!) and as I undertake a focussed approach to my finances in 2016.