Friday, 19 July 2013

A Month of Insanity

Tanya sees the results of my 3rd Fit Test

I'm now in Month 2 of Insanity, and so far (three days in) I'm finding it even better than Month 1 - and here's why.

During Recovery Week, I had a day over the weekend where I had time to kill, so instead of the Core Cardio and Balance that I was supposed to be doing, I did Jillian Michaels 'Burn Fat, Boost Metabolism' (BFBM) and 'No More Trouble Zones' (NMTZ). That's about 80 minutes of working out, and was the best I could do before doing Insanity. BFBM was a walk in the park. This is the one I always found most challenging, and this time I did it no problem at all, and my plyo moves were noticeably LOADS better - I could actually cross my feet on the scissor jumps, which I'd never been able to do before. I didn't find anything difficult, and so was feeling really good heading into NMTZ, cos that one used to be quite easy for me.

I DIED. It involves weights, and I'd been using 3lb weights before Insanity, but had been considering moving up to 5lbs as I wasn't straining in any way. Well this time the 3lb weights were killing my shoulders so much I couldn't do the leg work at the same time, it was agony! So the results of Month One of Insanity appeared to bear out my initial thoughts - my cardio was vastly improved, but'd lost almost all of my upper body strength. 

So the rest of Recovery Week, I was doing some Jillian Michaels and Cindy Crawford too, to build back some muscle. 

My other problem was weight. When I started, the weight wasn't an issue at all, I was doing it to be fitter and for the challenge. But since Insanity caused me to PUT ON weight, it then became about the weight. I'd go up and down, but considering the effort I was putting in, and the amount I was eating (began logging it in case I was eating an insane number of calories, and I was usually under 1200), I should have been LOSING. I even began to wonder if I was doing something wrong, as all the weight was on my stomach. I look a bit pregnant. I have fibroids (that I choose to ignore), and I worried maybe they were growing into big fibroid babies?

So I was dreading the 3rd Fit Test. As it happened, I decided to start Month 2 a day early, as the suspense was killing me, and I had more free time on Wednesday than Thursday to do the Fit Test and first workout. So here are the results of that fit test. Read 'em and weep, Tanya, read 'em and weep:

Switch Kicks - 2nd Fit Test 68/3rd Fit Test 70 - I'd beat Tanya anyway by Fit Test 2, so happy with this
Power Jacks - 43/65 - Equal with Tanya!
Power Knees - 114/124 - Really annoyed with myself cos I thought I was way ahead of Tanya and slowed at the end to conserve some energy (see, I really have the wrong attitude, it's all about beating her instead of beating me!). I'm still convinced she lied when she claimed 125..... ;-)
Power Jumps - 33/41 - Equalled her again!
Globe Jumps - 9/11 - Equal again
Suicide Jumps - 18/19 - Tanya has 23, I'm still way off on this one
Push-up Jacks - 30/32 -Equal!
Low Plank Obliques - 71/101 I was already ahead of her here, but I got so many this time I'm wondering if I am doing it right, I might have to check before my next fit test, was a bit too not bothered to do it this time!

So I consider myself well-placed to beat her by the end of the programme. She was so annoyed, she didn't turn up for the Max Interval Circuit ;-)

I actually find the new workouts much more suited to me - I really enjoyed the Max Interval Circuit, even though I was doing it after the fit test, and the Max Cardio Conditioning is brilliant (even if I am doing some of the moves so slowly that it could possibly be perceived as having come to a stop). The Max Interval Plyo is vile, vile, VILE, but that is the exception so far. What is a real boost is seeing that I wouldn't look out of place in their gym (workout-wise, not body-wise; no-one wants a so-pale-they-are-practically-transparent hippo in the exercise vid). I am better than lots of them actually. I think because I have more strength, and now the moves need strength rather than cardio, I am coming into my own more. I'm looking forward to getting my triceps back.

Things I dislike: I HATE those side-to-side hops on the warm-ups. I spend each round dreading them and the way they make my legs shake! And I can't do that push-ups to stand thing, just can't get the co-ordination. I think it is because I have deformed calves.

I am also worried. Shanita hasn't appeared since Pure Cardio. I think Shaun T has actually killed her by workout.

But happiest of all, weighed today and am back to usual weight, and the belly is decreasing (this may be my imagination, and I may still be hearing the patter of little fibroid-baby feet in future, but I am an optimist by nature). So I am happy, and looking forward to the next month :-D

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Hazel, Daley, and How Big Brother Got It So Wrong.

They were always going to be a match made in hell: Hazel, the lady whose game plan was more important than her morals; and Daley, a man with a serious girlfriend on the outside. Or maybe she wasn't his girlfriend. Oh, actually, no, they were pretty much broken up by the time he came in the house, in fact, by then, he considered himself single. Except his lovely girlfriend Katie didn't know any of this, apparently.

Even so, somehow viewers voted them into the Safe House, a house of luxury and privacy. The perfect place for Hazel's dastardly plan to worm her way into Daley's pants through sheer, brazen persistence to finally pay off.

And then it all went wrong. There are various places you can see what happened, maybe here in the Daily Mail, which, unlike most YouTube footage, has most of the argument detailed, not just the bum slapping. For me, the whole thing was extremely disturbing, it brought back way too many reminders, especially when he grabbed her around the throat and was threatening her. I've been there too many times.

So Daley was removed from the Big Brother house. And that evening on Big Brother's Bit On The Side (BBBOTS), I sat there slightly incredulously as Rylan kept on going on about how 'there's two sides to every story'. But hey, it's Rylan, and he isn't known for his psychological insight. And he did look like a rabbit in headlights, or like an ex-housemate presenter of fluff suddenly expected to cope with a serious  incident which raised questions about society's view of violence in relationships. Oh.....

Then yesterday along came Emma to interview Daley. It was what, in all honesty, I'd expected to see - I admit that maybe I see what I want to see, the same as anyone else. The pretended regret, the 'tearful' (he couldn't qite get those tears to fall, could he?) explanations, the appeal for understanding. I'd already seen it a million times before, every time Steve 'apologised' for abusing me. Those inverted commas are there for a reason. Just like Daley, it was extremely rare (after the first few times) for him to actually apologise. It was usually my fault for provoking him - for example by arguing, by refusing to do as I was told, or by receiving a text.Or the fault of all the alcohol he had drunk. But he would beg for another chance, promise never to do it again, insist that he wasn't the sort of man who would harm a woman. The only way Daley was any different was in his contempt for Hazel - but I've seen that in Steve so many times before anyway - how he could be a person's best friend but then immediately turn on them if they stepped out of line - and of course, he did that to me, many times.

So far, so expected. Daley wasn't sorry he'd crossed the line with Hazel, he was sorry *if* he had offended anyone by doing so. If this is how his/Big Brother's PR works, it's time they got up off their bellies and grew a backbone. But it is just as likely that this is his genuine feeling on the matter.

And then out comes Emma with the line of the night. 'It takes two..... it takes two to tango.' Well excuse me, Emma, but I only saw one person with their hands around the other person's neck.

Let me say right up that Hazel's actions were those of a bitch on heat and completely cringeworthy to watch. It isn't on to pull down someone's shorts, even if they have showered naked in front of you. But he had already slapped her arse twice, so I suppose she thought it was code green for an anti-wedgie. And you know what? Even if she'd stood there calling his mother all the names under the sun and then shouting 'hit me, you coward' repeatedly, whilst spitting on a photo of his children - IT IS NO EXCUSE OR MITIGATION FOR HIS BEHAVIOUR.

Abuse is abuse, full stop. Provocation? No such thing. If provocation were a valid excuse, we would ALL have treated Hazel that way. But we wouldn't (even Steve might have been put off by the cameras, for a start, so who knows what Daley would do in the privacy of his own home). So it isn't.

It's understandable that all over the internet people are saying Hazel brought it on herself or was partly to blame, or even should have suffered the same punishment. I don't expect the average person to understand the nature and course of domestic violence. But Big Brother has psychologists on tap, they have the means to contact experts in the subject. We could have had a psychologist discussing the nature of violence and other domestic abuse with someone from Women's Aid, or even someone who has suffered an abusive relationship (I'm available for the price of a Travelodge and a couple of Mars bars). The subject of victim-blaming and its dangers could be covered too. But instead, BBBOTS condoned this victim-blaming mentality.

The reason this is so dangerous is because, like we've seen with Hazel, it reinforces what the victim themself is feeling. One of the things about domestic abuse that people don't understand without experiencing it is how insidious it is. It ALWAYS starts with incidents like this - 'playfights' or 'arguments gone wrong'. Low level intimidation that escalates. Situations where you question your own actions - where you convince yourself that it wasn't black and white, that yes, you were to blame too, and you won't act that way again, so it won't happen again. You don't want to believe that this wonderful man you have met can really be an abusive monster. You love him, he seemed so perfect for you. It was surely a one-off, a toxic mix of circumstances, something that you can avoid so it won't happen again. But it will. And worse. And worse and worse and worse, until you are treading on eggshells, afraid that a wrong word will mean he's throttling you and you're gasping for air. Like a frog who is slowly being boiled alive, by the time you realise what's happening, you are too cooked to jump out of the pot.

Victim-blaming is dangerous because women and girls* don't understand this, they don't understand this is how a violent relationship starts. They don't recognise low-level intimidation as abuse. And here is BBBOTS telling them that they've brought it on themselves, by not behaving as a lady should. Which is basically what their abuser tells them too. It's what Daley was telling Hazel.

If I can go all Martin Luther King for a moment - I have a dream that one day schools will educate children and teenagers on the nature of domestic violence and abusive relationships. It will teach them the early warning signs, the tactics abusers use, and give clear signals of what is and isn't acceptable interpersonal behaviour. Until that time, programmes such as Big Brother and BBBOTS have a responsibility to its young (and not-so-young) audience - to educate them in the same way, and to pursue a zero tolerance policy on abuse and its perpetrators; an approach that encourages women to realise that they are not to blame and that they need to walk immediately, not leave it until it is too late. With the Daley and Hazel incident and fallout it failed dismally.

*I do realise that men suffer abuse too, but estimates are that 85 per cent plus of victims are women, so for ease I've referred to women/girls throughout. Not meaning to be sexist - this would have been just as unacceptable if Hazel and Daley's roles were reversed.

Monday, 8 July 2013

More Insanity Thoughts

Last week I blogged about the Insanity Workout, and another week in I am still completely addicted, but thought of a couple of other things I wanted to say.

Things I Hate About Insanity

  1. It makes me so hungry. For some reason, my body seems to convert large amounts of salad into fat way more efficiently than it converts small amounts of chocolate, chips and cheese into fat. So I am eating more normally and healthily than ever before, and I am gaining weight, which is a pain. But I need food to workout, so it is a catch-22, and I am too focussed on fitness to pack it in and go back to teensy food again.
  2. Those couple of minutes about 4 minutes in, in between 'this is easy-peasy and I am better than Tanya' and the adrenalin rush caused by extreme exertion. Usually on about the second run through the warm-up. I feel breathless and fed up. However, I think I have found the way to beat it (apart from Shaun T's excellent breathing suggestion where you take a deep breath and then blow it out hard), and that is to work harder so the adrenalin kicks in sooner. The same when I start the first exercises after the stretch - when the tiredness comes, it really does work to 'power on through'
  3. Nearly the end, especially if I am doing those ski-abs or in and out abs. It makes my legs shake for some reason, and it bugs the hell out of me that I am limited by my legs, cos I feel otherwise ok. But I can push on through cos it is near the end.
  4. I actually worked so hard on Saturday that I wet myself. This was not one of my proudest moments, but was luckily near the end, because to my shame, I didn't even stop, just pulled my leggings off and carried on!
  5. The Sweat. Especially in this heat. I sweat so much that I could probably have got away with wetting myself even in a class situation. :-O
Things I Love About Insanity
  1. Despite how hard it is, I have never had any aching muscles. This may be because I was very physically strong before starting (I shall find out how much strength I've lost next week, cos I intend to do some Jillian Michaels on the 'rest week' as I can't see me doing the same Insanity DVD every day, I will get bored). But I suspect it is more to do with how well and when Shaun T stretches. He doesn't do the usual rubbish thing of doing a half-hearted cardio warm-up where you don't even have to open your mouth to breathe, before jumping into the boring stretching that goes on forever and does bugger all. Or even worse, do stretching with no other warming up. You have a bloody good sweaty hot workout, and then you spend a god 5 minutes stretching nice, warm, elastic muscles. Then you stretch again at the end. Re-doing my 1980s Jane Fonda Workouts recently, I noticed that this is how we used to stretch in those days. The stretching was much more an integral part of the workout, rather than something you do right at the beginning because there's this idea that you are somehow meant to do it, so better get it over with. Insanity is like that - you do the stretch really well and are glad to be doing it because it is a nice breather. I can see how much my flexibility has improved.
  2. That's another thing - you see improvement each time you re-do a DVD. It's really motivating
  3. Shaun T is a brilliant motivator and he also makes me laugh.
  4. When that adrenalin rush hits, it's like I am FLYING. I go to a different place - it's like a meditation state, I don't feel like I exist, I just am 'in it' and doing it and it's bloody brilliant. Yes, a point then comes when I'm about to collapse again, but that's nearly the end, and by the end I am euphoric, however bad my day has been. I love the feeling. I look forward to my workouts, even though they are hard.
  5. I feel like I know the people in the DVDs. It's like going to a class with my (pretend) mates. Yes, I enjoy looking down on them (or envying them), but I am also becoming quite fond of them all, in a funny way. 
  6. Just like when I was doing Jillian Michaels, it now seems like everyone I know is doing Insanity. But you know what? I secretly suspect I am the one who is improving the best ;-) This won't matter to anyone as I will be 20 stone by the time I finish at this rate.
So there we go. If I sound obsessed, it's because I am. Actually cannot wait for the new challenge of the second month - only a week and a bit to go.....

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Carnival Encounter

Saturday just gone was Carnival Day in Shifnal, and it was a brilliant day, warm and sometimes sunny, lots of floats and people dressed up, lots of live music and people happy and smiling. Even the cat weeing on the top I was intending to wear didn't dampen my enthusiasm (though it soaked the top). I didn't wear it, btw...

Off I went for a day of drinking in beer gardens, with Sue and her boyfriend and kids, and Heather, and various people we met on the way.

About 5pm, Heather and me were both hungry, and being as we are veggie and the main food on offer in the pub where we were was a hog roast, we decided to nip to the Kebab Ye for a veggieburger. But as we got in, Heather muttered, 'nothing here for us,' and pushed me out.

So we walked two frontages down to the chippie. 'They've got veggieburgers here,' I said.

'But I like the ones from the Kebab Ye,' moaned Heather.

<puzzled face> 'But you said they didn't have any!'

'That's because STEVE'S IN THERE!'

Oooooooh..... Well that explains it then. Nothing is guaranteed to put a downer on my mood like meeting the abusive stalker ex.....

We decided to go into the Co-Op opposite and wait for him to go. Five minutes of lurking and peeking later, and Heather declared the coast clear. Then as we walked across the road.....

'Yikes!' I whisper-shrieked, followed by, 'walk-on, walk-on, walk-on, he's outside, he's outside'

So we tried to unobtrusively walk away and behind the row of shops, then sneak in from behind, up an alley. Once installed, Heather sat me on a seat facing away from the window, hidden from outside by the advertising banner.

We were waiting for our burgers when a Horrifically Drunk man came in. Slurring his words, stumbling about all sweaty and offensive, and smelling like somebody had sicked in a urinal.

'Hey, love, him outside says he used to go out with you.'

Well, of course, 'him outside' was Steve.

'Nope, never seen him before in my life.'

And off stumbled Horrific Drunk.

Then back he stumbled again, this time sitting down next to a distinctly unimpressed Heather.

'He says he went out with you for five and a half years.'

'Well he's lying then.'

'Why's he lying?'

I have no idea, you'll have to take it up with him.'

At this point Steve appeared in the doorway going, 'why are you saying that Karen? Why are you saying that.'

'My name's not even Karen. I don't know you, you are a stranger.'

'Yes you do'

'No I don't. Do you know him Heather?'

She shook her head and said, 'we're trying to eat, please go away.' By this time the men behind the counter were getting involved too. 'Come on lads, move it on now.' So off they went.

As we sat eating, Heather was giving me a running commentary.

'They're still there. They're looking in, don't look!' (Not that I was likely to look AT ALL) Then, 'oh my god,  Horrific Drunk is kissing Steve - ON THE LIPS... Oh my god, he's SO gay.... Steve's really getting more than he bargained for there.... UGH!'

So of course, we then had the discussion about how I'd heard that Steve has done blow jobs for money in Telford, and how now he's back on heroin properly, without even any methadone to fall back on (unless he's sought help since I last spoke to him, which it didn't look like), there's every possibility he now sells more than blow jobs, and possibly always did.

Eventually they went away, 'in the direction of yours and my houses...' said Heather.

But no damage was done. I did feel a bit wobbly just from having that bit of interaction, but hey, that's what stalkers do and that's what dry white wine is perfect medicine for. We went on to have a brilliant night, watched Fruit Machine at the Railway, danced until I had blisters even UNDER my feet, staggered home and wasn't even too hungover the next day.

Looking back, the only thing that bothered me was WHY he still appeared in my life in the first place? I firmly believe that we get the same things happening to us until we learn, and I for sure have learned I don't want him and he is poison, and yet here he was again. It also bothered me that even KNOWING he would most likely be about, in fact having spoken about this with various people beforehand (and wanting to go to the Railway because of this - he wouldn't pay the £5 to get in), I'd then been taken completely by surprise when he did pop up.

On the good side, this time and last time we've seen him out, I've not been the one who noticed him first. I'm obviously not on the lookout for him or worrying about him, even subconsciously. But on the bad side, did him reappearing mean there's still something I haven't learned that I'm missing out on? Or, even more worryingly, could it be true that we are destined to be together? (Yes, I know, I do sometimes overthink to a ludicrous extent: 'I can't stand the bloke and he gives me the willies, but I'll always love him in a way and maybe we are meant to be together'!!!!!)

Then today, I read this on (which is a really good website if it is the sort of thing you are into, which I am):

When this much love and light manifest all at once, it can really rock us to the core. It can feel very confusing because a lot of past emotions and challenging situations we thought we had taken care of come right back up in front of our beautiful faces seeming more present than ever. This confusion also comes up because the mind is being nudged to expand out of the limitations it had once created for itself. 

This actually happens to give us the opportunity to ‘react’ in a different way than we may have in the past. If we find ourselves still reacting in the same or a similar way as we did before, then it means there’s still quite a bit of healing for us to do especially around strengthening our letting-go muscles. 

On the other side of this downpour of energies, many of us are becoming more mindful by catching ourselves in the act as we realize that past emotions and situations coming back up are just here to show us how far we’ve already come. With this state of non-reactive mind it becomes much easier not to overreact as we once used to, because we are no longer identifying ourselves with whatever it was that caused us so much anger in the first place. 

Now I feel so much better - because I would never have reacted in that way to him before, I would have felt an obligation to treat him with the courtesy I treat everyone else. And then I would have felt bad, because he would have used anything nice I did against me, and at the very least would have tried to use it as an invitation to initiate some further interaction. As it was, he wasn't able to do that. Anything he could have said or done was deflected by the constant, 'I don't know you.'

It's not even a lie. I DO know him, as well as anyone can. But I don't know the real him, because everything about him, even the evil, is a lie. He doesn't have a genuine bone in his body. It's impossible to know him and he will now always be a stranger to me.

He remains a threat to my well-being when I see him. But he's not in my head, he's not in my thoughts, he's not in my heart. He's just in my blog.

THAT'S how far I've come.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Insanity. And the Workout Too.

Ok, so remember when I wasn't going to get obsessive about exercise but was going to fit it in around my life? Well, things have gone a little pear-shaped on that front.

It was the whole Jillian Michaels thing. I found I was surprisingly good at getting fit, and was actually finding her DVDs too easy. [Gratuitous bragging alert!!!] I could do her 40 minute Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism DVD and her 40 min 'No More Trouble Zones' DVD back to back without any problem. I wanted a new challenge.

So I bit the bullet and started Insanity.

I only almost died doing the Fit Test. I know I should have been expecting it, but after Jillian, I was genuinely the fittest I have ever been, so I thought I'd not do too bad. I suppose I didn't do too bad, but I am way too competitive, and that Tanya woman became my nemesis in those 25 minutes. I became DETERMINED to beat her. So much for my plan to just intersperse Insanity into my other DVD workouts. I was going for the full experience - and I WAS going to beat Tanya!

The food thing was never really part of it - but the strange thing is, I suddenly found I was eating healthily. Salads were once more in my menu - and even more bizarrely I began to crave fruit. I don't do fruit. Some fruits (grapes, the horrid little green bastards!) disagree with me violently and faecally. Others bloat me and give me wind (plums, apples, kiwis, figs) but nevertheless I have found myself eating and enjoying them. Not grapes tho. I forgot the effect they had on me with severe and unpleasant consequences last Friday. Never again. Fruits of Satan.

So, Friday was my second Fit Test, cos me being me, I don't follow it religiously - I have my day off on a Tuesday, and often have to have an additional day off too, depending on work (see, I'm TRYING not to be obsessive). And I beat Tanya!!! Ok, only on the first and the last exercise, but hey, that's only two weeks in (ish), and I am 48 and I bet she isn't.

I am, however, increasing in heifferdom by the day. Can't work it out really, but I think my body prefers a diet of small amounts of cheese, chips and chocolate to large amounts of salad and fruit - I am eating more than I have in ages. So after an initial drop of a couple of pounds, I have put back on four - hence 2 pounds up overall, and no loss of inches either.

I also suspect my upper body strength is less, and last week I added in some daily ab work, because I could tell my abs are suffering. But my cardio fitness has improved massively, I see a change every time I workout. I am now the best in 'the class' at the warm-ups (in my opinion, which isn't very humble, it has to be said), and I can hold my own on the rest of it too. Put it this way, I now look down on Shanita's efforts. I can't help myself. It's a very unattractive trait, but I like feeling superior, especially when it comes to fitness cos I was always the fat kid no-one picked for teams at school. Well, BET YOU'D PICK ME NOW, SLOBS!!! Ooops, like I said, REALLY unattractive.....

I'm expecting the muscles to return in month two, which is apparently when most people drop out because it kicks up a notch again. But I am not a quitter, I am determined and I am gonna beat Tanya!

So here are my fit test results for my Insanity compatriots perusal:

Week One/Week Two
Switch Kicks - 112/136 (take THAT, Tanya!)
Power Jacks  -   38/43
Power Knees - 90/114
Power Jumps - 21/33
Globe Jumps -  9/9
Suicide Jumps - 16/18
Push Up Jacks - 26/30
Low Plank Oblique - 50/72 (HA! Beat Tanya again!)

I find myself yelling along with the class, and pushing on through, and for sure it has me digging deeper than any workout EVER. And I LOVE IT!