Tomorrow it’ll be six months since we moved to our new place and according to my blog, just over 5 months since I started trying to reorganise life to be more healthy and fulfilling. It’s amazing what can change in that kind of time and reading back over those first posts, I really did start out from nothing, it was a struggle to get in a swim once a week and I wasn’t doing any other kind of exercise except walking. Since then it’s been a lot of ups and downs (not really any backwards steps with exercise but definitely some major ones with food!) but now I can finally say that I have implemented all the changes I wanted to and my efforts are going into maintaining the routine that I’ve built up.
My Health Plan now consists of the following:
- 5 cardio “workouts” a week. I’m now swimming three times a week! On my Monday off and then two mornings a week (Tuesday and Friday are currently working well). I started by adding the Friday morning and then experimented with different other mornings until I found what felt most comfortable – Tuesday is the start of my work week so even though it means swimming two days in a row, it’s a positive way to start the week, and means my two non-swimming mornings are adjacent which I find a bit easier to cope with mentally! Then one evening a week I do a bike interval workout, and one day at the weekend we’ll do a 3-hour hill walk, or I’ll supplement for more interval training and a mixed workout with some rowing or stepping or whatever I feel like if we can’t get outside for whatever reason.
- 5 strength-training sessions a week. I’m focusing on kettlebell swings (it takes 40 to get me the same kind of worn out that I was from 20 in the beginning) and push-ups for now.
- I estimate that I have about 6 hours of “passive” walking on top of this (walking to work and to the shops, things like that).
- This gives me two days a week “off” where I only have to do strength training and walking. I don’t have any completely sedentary days any more but I don’t miss them – it’s lovely to have a couple of days a week where I don’t have to find time and gear to do a cardio workout, once during the week and once at the weekend.
- We’ve been reducing the obvious starchy carbs in our diet at home and at the weekends our lunches and dinners are all “carb-free”. We’ve been getting creative with replacing our carbs with tasty vegetable side dishes, salads and soups and so far we’ve found some great alternatives. I’m aiming to manage five lunches and five dinners each week without a starchy carb on the side, and that seems like a good compromise – I can still enjoy the odd jacket potato lunch and go out for meals or with colleagues or friends so it’s not an all-or-nothing situation – but I find when I do go “off-plan” my choices are much more sensible than they used to be and I’m eating about the same as other people, so I think I’m finally striking the right balance. This is NEW though and needs several months of sticking with it to see if it’s finally stuck!
- Along with this (and to help control spending as well) I’m aiming to bring lunch to work twice a week. That leaves me two days to eat out but means that five of my lunches each week are home-made and carb-free.
- I’ve dialled it right back on the crappy snacks at work and am eating way more fruit and protein as snacks instead. It’s not perfect but it’s WAY better than it was, I no longer live with a supply of sweets and chocolate in my desk and hope this will continue to get better and easier.
Now that the structure is in place, I’m working towards mini-targets for things within that. I’m still at the stage where just committing to the structure is good enough but I imagine as we go on into next year, the performance targets will become more important and I’ll be competing against myself week-on-week.
- I’m aiming for 4K of swimming a week – that’s 2K on my day off and 1K each on work days, or less and then more to make it up. It should be doable but rarely happens – I need to make more time for it and it would help if I swam faster too 😛
- I feel like I should get back to planks at some point, can’t quite face them at the moment though…
- 5 strength sessions – I only have 4 “guaranteed” because my 5th session has to be done on a swim day and I often forget.
- By the time the spring comes and the mornings are lighter, I’m hoping to have lost enough weight to feel comfortable running again, so that will probably take the place of one of the swims – that’s probably about 4 months away though.
It will be interesting to see how the Health Plan evolves further over the next few months. I feel that for now, I have reached a happy medium that balances activities I love with activities I know I need to do to get stronger and fitter, balancing workout days with actual days off instead of going hell-for-leather and feeling sore all the time and then beating myself up for not getting in that 7th workout a week… man that was crazy! I know when it’s hard to drag myself out of bed to stretch and warm-up, to pack my things up for yet another swim, that soon I will get a guilt-free day off and I’ll be glad I worked out when I could to the best of my ability at the time. The days off and the rolling pattern of different workouts really make it sustainable – and it’s the same for food too. I’m losing weight and best of all I feel AMAZING! I’m so much fitter and have so much more energy than I did five months ago! It just feels like I’ve pitched it at the right level, I’m active enough and getting enough activity for me at this point in time – it suits me down to the ground!