Sunday, 8 January 2012

Bambi Legs

Credit to ~ownedsince82 for the pic

It's now day three after an intense CrossFit session and I still walk like the giraffe above. My legs are completely killing me. My quads are absolutely killing me, in particular the vastus medialis on both legs. I did perform more squats than I ever have before. I've just had to rest up, lightly mobilise my legs and eat and sleep well so no chance to do any further exercises.

Monday, 2 January 2012

My greatest challenge yet

Melencolia I by Albrecht Dürer.

So I haven't posted in a while and I wish I could say that's because I've been very busy but it's not. I have still been going to CrossFit. I have done one session since the last one I reviewed, and it was horrible. Sprint 400m and then 15 reps overhead squats for five rounds. I hated every second of it and only managed four rounds in 18 minutes before having to quit. But I guess this is how it goes and there's no way I'm quitting. I'm trying to motivate myself in any way possible but it just seems that I can't motivate my self to run. My couch to 5k programme is shot, and my diet is horrendous. I have been blaming it on the festive season to my friends and girlfriend but I think the truth of the matter is, I'm just depressed.

I get these waves of depression that just knock me sideways every 9-18 months, sometimes worse than others. And I don't mean just being unhappy and having a rough time, I'm talking proper 'don't get out of bed all day, shut yourself off from the world, think about death all day' depression. For weeks on end.

I am not writing this post to say that I've quit. Just that I've hit a wall that proves even more insurmountable than when I hit a wall in exercise. Nothing can get me over that wall but time.

I still have CrossFit once a week (I'm booked into it and something tells me those guys will not allow me to just not turn up), and I'm going to try and run this week. If I can't run then I'm going to learn how to stand on my head.

One or the other. Maybe both.

In this round of depression I'm just going to keep my goals very low and then not become discouraged. We'll see how this goes guys.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Define fitness?

I was telling a friend about this blog and they asked of the title "How will you know when you're fit?' to which I simply replied that I'll 'just know'. He thought I'd have difficulty with that due to the nature of a focused fitness enthusiast to always strive to become better. So I have decided to try and define fitness so that I can look back upon this and realise that I have reached and surpassed my first goal.

So to recap I'm going to be doing a combination of Army Fitness training from the Army Fitness Guide book, along with running 3x a week and CrossFit once a week (for now, although aiming for three sessions eventually). I haven't started the Army Fitness yet as my baseline physical level is not good enough, I estimate that I will get going in March, once I've completed the C25K course.

So the way I will define my level to be 'fit' will be when I can complete all of these things:

  • Completed the Army fitness training outlined in the Guardians Army Fitness guide. Which is similar to the Level 3 fitness programme here.
  • Can run  5K in under 27 minutes consistently.
  • Can squat 150% of my bodyweight.
  • Can perform consistent body weight pull ups for 15 reps
  • Have body fat percentage of 17% or under
  • Feel good about myself

I estimate that within a year I will have fulfilled  at least four of these six goals.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Fight or flight?

First let me say that I'm on my mobile phone so if there any oddly placed words (due to the auto detect) then please forgive me. And also thanks to those who have read these posts and to those who have given me some encouraging words.

Okay, now onto my first full CrossFit session. As I have previously mentioned I suffer a mild social anxiety, including some pretty serious body image issues, so you can imagine I was in quite a state by the time I was nearing the door to 'the box' (this is the name that CrossFit Avon give their gym). The usual sweaty palms and racing heart, craving of nicotine, alcohol and any other goddam substance that would make this go away. I was nearing full on 'fight or flight' mode and it was getting worse, I know all too well that worse means 'panic attack' and a panic attack in the middle of your first gym session would mean that there won't be a follow up session.

I decided that I had to do something about it, and right on cue the trainer, who was just rounding up the last session, came up and said these simple words "Good to see you again, how are you?". He remembered me from the intro session. So I suddenly remembered a little piece of advice which was given to me by a great therapist I had when I was receiving CBT, and she would always say that no one will be angry or mock me if I tell the truth, and so I simply told the trainer that I was nervous and instead of laughing in my face, destroying my self confidence, and kicking me out on my arse (which is CLEARLY the normal reaction) he reassured me and made me feel really welcome. He also paired me with a really friendly guy who was well experienced and acted as a good mentor for the session.

So down to the session. We started out with some stretches and skipping to warm up and then jumped into the Workout Of the Day (WOD) which consisted of thrusts and cleans (with the barbell) and then skipping. We had three minutes with each exercise to get in as many reps as possible (AMRAP) with two minutes rest between each round. And my final scores weren't all that bad really. So to finish off we got into pairs and had to complete 60 burpees (who in their right mind would think torture could feel so fulfilling?).

All in all it was painless (apart from all the pain I'm in now), and all of the anxiety was for nothing in the end.

So on a final note, if you suffer like I do or worse, I feel for you and I know that if you just muster all of the confidence you can to jump into an exercise class that suits and appeals to you then you'll see that it's worth going through the fear and panic. Go with 'fight' because 'flight' has had the limelight for way too long.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

"When the hell did my lungs leave my body and why didn't I notice?"

Marathon by Mimizu666
Week 1: Day 1 of Couch to 5K Programme
"When the hell did my lungs leave my body and why didn't I notice?", this is the thought that hit me after my second round of running. Jesus. It started to burn in my chest. 'This isn't normal', was the second thought to go through my head. And then finally some sense hit me and I thought 'This is just what it takes!". So all I did was run for twenty minutes and I was panting like a half dead hyena. No surprise there then seeing as my previous exercise regime consisted of walking to the shops to buy loads of biscuits and then doing 40 reps for time on my jaw muscles, and finally working out my brain  with endless documentaries about deep sea creatures (which are the coolest things on the planet) until my eyelids were so fatigued I had no choice but to sleep. But all that has stopped because I exercise now, and even though I look like that snail whilst I'm out running today, I know that it will get easier each week and in six months time I'm going to be in training for my first 10k run. Although the reality is that the training is starting now.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

How I stared the Spartan down

This little guy sums up how I felt stepping into that gym

The story of this week so far (dating from before the creation of this blog);

As I've previously mentioned, I suffer from some social anxieties, not a crippling anxiety that destroys a life, but I'm afraid of judgement from new people. And so as I walked up to the CrossFit gym where I was about to do my introductory sessions I started to slow down my walking pace, I looked at my clock and was hideously early, my palms were getting clammy and my pulse was increasing steadily. I know this feeling all too well and my heart begins to sink whilst my knees go weak. I'm standing, slightly out of breath, on a cold night looking into a gym where some rugby player is doing this odd sort of pull up (I later recognise it as a 'muscle up' [as if the move wasn't daunting enough to the unfit, they had to give it a name to drive home that only the toned and physical elite can achieve this gargantuan Spartan display of power]) and I feel, as sweat rolls down my temple, like I've already been five rounds in a boxing ring. So I stood there and thought 'I haven't told anyone that I'm coming here, I could just walk home and forget the whole thing. No one will ever know'.....except I would know. And that was enough, because for as long as I can remember I have given everything I've started up. I couldn't play rugby after eight weeks of training when I was 10 years old so I threw my boots into a bush on the way home from school. I never took part in PE at secondary school because I wasn't 'good' at sports (and because I preferred smoking in my friends garage and listening to heavy metal). I tried taking up running years ago and immediately thought I should be able to do it, I did two completely unplanned runs and then quit because it was 'too hard. I still can't swim (something I WILL remedy in 2012) and have never really given learning that much of a shot because I'm completely body conscious and had a childhood fear of drowning.

So as you can see I've done my fair share of quitting so this time shouldn't have been any different, but something inside decided that I should walk into that gym, declare myself a loser, and get the hell on with turning my life around. After all, I have recently started a relationship with my beautiful girlfriend (I have no idea how I pulled this one off, but I did) who has taught me that my studenty ways of drinking and partying too much for the last two years has managed to lead me into a state where I'm hanging on to my degree by a thread, in more debt than I should be, and have really pissed off my mother. Also with my beloved grandfather passing away from lung cancer and, with me being a smoker (soon to be ex), I thought it was time to start losing weight, gaining strength, and increasing my chances of survival.

So, back to the gym, I walked through the door, was greeted with a smile and a form to fill out and then jumped straight in doing the first ever Olympic lifts with a barbell that I've ever done. It was as easy as that, no one turned me away, no one laughed at me, no one decided I wasn't allowed to try. In fact it was the complete opposite, I had great encouragement and reward. An hour later I walked out of there with my head held high. My flexibility was awful, I could hardly lift any weight, and my form was shocking. But I had managed to stare down my own demons. And, for a nice Brucey bonus, at the beginning of the session one of the trainers mentioned that this was the first introduction class where everyone had turned up and the feeling that went through me when I realised that I had been 'that person' so many times in my life was something between shock, shame, and happiness as it wasn't me any more.

Enough of this self-inspirational crap.

So since joining and reading through a lot of the posts there I've decided to withhold using the Army Fitness Guide until I've completed the Couch to 5k course, my reason for doing this is that the Couch to 5K offers a much better progression for the beginner than the Army fitness book and so once my stamina and strength are built through running and CrossFit I will be enduring the heavy duty regimes in the Army book.

An introduction to budget fitness

So I guess I shall introduce myself in case someone actually comes here and reads this blog.

My online moniker is Spax, I am 23 years old, I live in the South West of England and I am a student nurse (a male one). I am also over weight, I weigh:

or 222.7lb
or 15.9 stone

And I have always weighed more than I should. I have previously attempted calorie control to loose weight with little success. I am very shy when it comes to exercise, I've never truly exercised in any consistent way. I cannot swim, I'm unable to life much weight at all. And I suffer from occasional bouts of social anxiety which has always stopped me from stepping foot in a gym.

So what is my point with this blog? Well it's to document my experiment with diet and fitness, and to record the progress weekly. I'll be doing this so that a) I'll have a diary of the exercises and routines I've performed within the week and b) hopefully people will read this who are in a similar situation (both mentally and physically) to me.

The first attempt to loose weight will be using Tim Ferriss' diet outlined in 'The 4-Hour Body' which is an interesting book which I will do a full review on at a later date. Tim has named this diet the 'Slow carb diet' which I view as a variation on most low carb diets I have read up on (ie paleo/primal) which involves a complete void of sugars and fruit, only slow natural carbs (beans), and lots of protein and vegetables. I will be following a budget diet plan that is outlined in his book and consists of four meals per day, six days a week, with one 'blow out' day each week where I can eat all the crap I can fit in my face.

Coupled with this diet I will be working out, but bear in mind I'm new to this so I'm going to be taking it fairly slow. I have joined a CrossFit gym ( which I will strive to attend once per week (a total cost of just under £40 a month), and along with that I aim to do various cardio workouts in my local park using nothing more than a pair of trainers and my handy smart phone with the High Intensity Interval Trainer (HIIT) app which is free to use on android (I'm sure there's an iPhone version as well). I'm going from a couch potato to an endurance runner (hopefully) so I have found and am following an excellent introductory workout plan provided by this book which I bought on eBay for 99p.

I will strive to update this blog once a week with my progress, and measurements.

You may have noticed that I seem a little fixated on price, and you would be right. I am a student and my total budget for living is £600 a month. After all of my living costs this leaves me with £90 a month which is my own to spend and I chose to spend £40 on CrossFit as I believe it's a very complete form of fitness training. So I'm doing this on a serious budget. Thankfully it's Christmas and (even though I hate it with a passion) I will be focusing on fitness for present requests from the family, I have my eyes on a new pair of trainers (or two, but more of that later), and a entry into the 2012 Bristol 10K as a motive to move more.

Hopefully you will be able to make your decisions more informed than I as I will be writing reviews on all of the aspects of my fitness 'regime'.

Thanks for reading, and I will soon post an overview of my first week, and a review of one of the afore mentioned books.