20120808-184551.jpg

This is some initial feedback I’ve had from a fellow writer of a screenplay I’m writing.

Oh, I didn’t tell you I was writing a screenplay. How remiss of me. That’s a story for another blog.

Advertisements

20120701-124543.jpg

The washing-up
Writing in my notebook
Organising my wardrobe
Dicking around on Twitter/Facebook/Path/Whatsapp
Reading a book
Phoning a friend
Looking out of the window
Eating ice cream
Going for a run (to avoid writing)
Writing this list (to avoid running)
Looking at my medals
Watching makeup tutorials, samba videos and Awkward Black Girl on YouTube
Flicking through old copies of Mslexia, Runner’s World and Women’s Running
Descaling the taps
Cleaning the bathroom
Seasoning the chicken
Calling my sister or BFF just to say ‘hey’

20120403-230228.jpg
Training for this race gave me my life back and kept me sane. This is not an exaggeration.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce @ChakaBars, aka Chaka Clarke, aka ‘Wow! Just… wow!’ from men and women alike.

Objectively speaking, let me be frank: dude’s physique is unbelievable. You’d think he spent hours in the gym, sucking down shakes and hefting weights around… nope. He’s sculpted that body from bodyweight exercise and whole foods.

Lucky for me, he’s now down with Run Dem Crew, and as such has a mission to transform bodies everywhere. Starting in February, the ‘Spartan’ classes kicked off, starting at the 1948 Nike store (at 7pm on Friday night) with a run down to Shoreditch Park.

I went along last night (Friday 17th Feb). The 15-ish-strong group of us (including Chaka and his two handsome accomplices) worked out in the no-longer-innocuous playground.

We were in a place of fun but we were not there to play. We huffed and heaved and groaned and grunted through fourteen stations – including climbing, skipping, planks, squats, using the climbing frames for pull-ups and the like – then some decidedly Army-esque ‘drag your partner over the hill’- type exercises, followed by sprints. There were burpees. I swore a lot and nearly cried on doing pull-ups and chin-ups. I did mine assisted. I am weak, but I am now a Spartan. Ahoo!

Side note: this was after doing a Sexy In The City bootcamp class this morning.

Side side note: to self – bring a healthy snack for devouring post-workout. Cheeseburgers are not a healthy snack, even if you give fries the swerve. If you’re prepared you won’t go hungry!

Oh, and will I go back next week? Yeah, of course! I’ll have stopped aching like a muhfuh by then.

Carnival body, here I come. Step Change and Berlin? You are MINE. Ahoo!*

*I have to say that or else he makes us do burpees

http://chakabars.tumblr.com/

 

Trigger Point Grid Roller

Roll it, gyal!

‘Rolling out’  isn’t just something Ludacris does; it’s actually kind of important. Now that I’m in training mode again and still do not have a live-in masseuse, the foam roller has become my friend again.

The whole point of a foam roller is to massage, and ease tension and aches. They help increase flexibility and range of motion. Which is great for me, because during my recent Sexy In The City bootcamp sessions, trainer Phil told me that it didn’t matter how much I stretched; if I didn’t ease out the knots in my muscles, I wouldn’t become more flexible. Let me tell ya: having tight hips is not as sexy as it sounds.

You can use a regular foam roller, but I decided to buy a fancy one. Why? Because that’s just how I roll.  (Don’t look at me like that.)

The Trigger Point Grid Roller isn’t just pretty, though. The fancy flats and nubs are designed to mimic fingertips, fingers and palms. It doesn’t yield much to cuddles, though. Just so you know.

Warning: You’ll look really odd when using one in the gym (although they’re great for getting random guys talking to you – top tip for being cruised, so don’t say I never gave you useful advice!).

It’s worth it, though. When you give your IT (iliotial) band, which runs down the the outside of your thigh, a good going-over, you’ll be glad you did. No, actually, you won’t (but you will).  OK, I’ll be honest – it hurts like a bitch, but ultimately makes your post-run stretch even more effective – this page will give you a lot of useful info detailing the benefits. I can’t remember half of them; I just feel them.

I roll my inner forearms on it, to stretch them out and help stave off repetitive strain injury from the endless writing that I do; a couple of weeks ago, when one of my calf muscles was threatening me with divorce after a run, I rolled it out before giving it a cold blast in the shower.  Job done. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have two very tender thighs from yesterday’s 8-miler to see to…

How to use a foam roller – exercise videos on YouTube

20120209-224610.jpg
*deep breath* Yep, that’s me so far.

Read the rest of this entry »

Back in January I went to visit a personal trainer, Iain Grey, over at Nuffield Health in Paddington. I’d got in touch after he’d appealed on Twitter for someone to help him test out some stretches for use on his regular clients – someone who specifically carried a lot of upper-body tension. Enter moi *points at self*

We went through some stretches to test their efficacy (or not) and here are a few that really worked for me:

Figure 4: Lie on your back, take your right arm out to the side and bend your right leg over your left leg. Use your left hand to pull the knee down. Feel this in your glutes and chest.

Piriformis (um, it’s in the butt area): Lie on your back, put your right heel on to your left outer thigh (very important). Grab that heel with left hand. Use your right hand to grab your knee. Pull heel and knee toward you.
Neck: Sit on a chair, look down and to your right. Use your right hand to apply pressure to the back of your head.

If you’re anything like me and have tight hamstrings and hips, stretching and rolling out will help. I had a chat with Phil after this week’s first SITC bootcamp session and the two really work together: ease out the knots with massage and self-massage (STOP SNIGGERING AT THE BACK! I MEAN WITH A FOAM ROLLER), and stretch before and after a run.

Well, after practising the stretches in my session with Iain, I feel much looser and more relaxed. I learned something quite important, too – it’s easy to run through stretches and not really pay much attention to what they do for your body, but you need to pay attention to areas of tightness and tension, and ask yourself if the stretch is really working for you in that moment. Do you actually feel anything, and if so, is it good, bad or weird?

If you can get a professional to advise you, that’s great. If you can get a friend or partner to help add a little pressure when you’re stretching, that’s great too.

And if you follow Iain on Twitter, you’ll get 10% off… He’s cool, really knows his stuff, and has some wicked tattoos!


This came to me a little while back when I was folding away some newly-washed Lycra. I caught a whiff of something, and it was BO like Selecta.

You shouldn’t have to do the ‘sniff test’ AFTER you’ve done your laundry. You shouldn’t be wondering ‘what smells… like burgers?’ right after a workout. Sure, you get a little extra room on the bus home after a run or gym session, but there’s That Awkward Moment when you realise YOU are what stinks.

YOU smell like burgers fried in onions and ass. In a bin. On a summer’s day.

YOU cannot get the smell out of your clothes for love nor money.

And it isn’t just after a workout, either… it’s all the time. The merest hint of perspiration has you unable to do things you’d previously taken for granted, like leaping in the air, arms aloft, shouting ‘YES!’ You catch yourself sniffing your armpit and asking how exactly things got so tangy.

‘Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies merely glow’, Shakespeare said. Hm. He hadn’t accounted for gentlemen and ladies who sweat like beasts. Glow? I should be so lucky.

I’m told this is down to the body becoming more efficient at cooling you down while you exercise; it’s a common misconception that sweating buckets is only for the unfit.

If you’re also being soundtracked by C+C Music Factory, might I recommend ditching the usual deodorants/anti-perspirants and hitting the hard stuff? If it ain’t 48-hour, it ain’t gonna touch the sides. Get it, and get it NOW.

You’re welcome.

Sugar: a helluva drug

UUURRRRGGGHHHH.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel great. I’ve got more control over my diet (although eliminating sweets is still proving problematic) and after a patchy start I’m getting into the swing of it. Intense exercise early in the day sets you right up for whatever it chooses to throw at you.

So. Diet really is the main issue here. Before I started the SITC bootcamps I was reading up on the Paleo/Primal ways of eating (which the SITC eating plan strongly echoes) and experimented late last year with complete hard-to-the-core sugar elimination – boy, that hurt. I was suddenly aware of how much of the stuff I eat, and between banging headaches, office feeders, and a sudden desire to listen to Ke$ha, it became a physical as well as psychological battle.

The challenge is to not make it seem like one; the trick is to focus more on what I’m gaining (a smokin’ hot – I mean healthy – body) and less on what I’m losing (Kracky Kremes). It basically boils down to eating:

  • Protein – meat! Fish! Seafood! Yes! Lean and fatty cuts, nom nom nom. Barbecues are now my favourite thing.
  • Fat – oh yes. Lots of it. Animal fats and non-processed vegetable and nut oils (sesame, coconut, olive) are everything.
  • Dairy – not very much for me as I’m a little lactose intolerant, but the full-fat stuff beats the skinny variety for flavour and satiety any day.
  • Carbs – vegetables, starches and fruit the latter two reduced in quantity as they are relatively high in sugar. Yes, that thing I’m trying to cut down on, but this is the more healthy type.

…and saying ‘no’ to:

  • Processed fats – you’d be surprised how much work and chemicals go into making sunflower oils, margarines and the like. You’d probably be disgusted, too.
  • Refined carbs – Kracky Kremes, bread, white rice, white pasta. Anything grain-based, basically. That also means, for me, taking the ‘healthier’ brown varieties off the menu too. My stomach (and anyone standing behind me) has never been more grateful for this. Grains cause upset because, the theory goes, they aren’t meant to be eaten, and have evolved to irritate the gut of any animal foolish enough to eat them, never mind turn them into delicious cakes.
  • Low-fat anything – this will normally have had the fat stripped out and sugar added (in all its various ooh-look-I’m-not-called-sugar-but-I’m-as-sweet-by-a-different-name-ha-ha-ha guises). Exceptions? Greek yoghurt and milk. But we all know low-fat dairy just isn’t satisfying compared to its tastier cousin, right?

My Clean Eating Resources

20120122-184702.jpg
The story so far…

I’m 2 weeks in and although life has got in my way, meaning I’ve missed classes this week, I’m aching all over.

So I missed the first day (Tuesday 10th January) due to an epic alarm clock fail. Not so on the Wednesay morning, where I joined Bangs and a Bun and her new Team Bangs girls in a City of London Fitness First for our training session with the Sexy In The City guys.

We went through a quick stretch, then were put through our paces by trainers Phil and Tim. Several circuits of six tough exercises later, everyone was glowing (um, panting and sweating). Fun was had, though. Well, I say ‘fun’, but taking it in turns to shift the heavily-weighted base was far better when it was over!

Having done both the standard SITC classes and the more running-specific classes with Team Bangs, I’m torn over which I prefer…

I like that the running-specific exercises – squats, medicine ball throws, planks, lunges – develop the rawww power GRRR I need in my legs to power me through 13 miles (or any miles), and in my upper body to get me up the Gherkin. However, there’s more heavy lifting in the standard classes, and having told Tim that I did Crossfit back in the summer, I’m encouraged to lift a little heavier. I love it – nothing makes me feel more… how you say… rarrrrr! than pushing some serious weight until I cry a little bit. So going forward, I’ll be mixing the two.

FOOD

I’ve got a ‘Secret, Sexy, Slim’ Nutrition Plan to follow. Nothing too arduous, but as you’ll see from my pic, we can all agree that eliminating sugar and processed food is the way forward. That stuff sticks to my belly. I wish it went on my hips, but that’s a different matter.

As I want to wear a crop top for the Berlin half marathon, my belly has GOT TO GO. There’s also Notting Hill Carnival to think about in August, and frankly my ‘biscuit diet’ left me feeling and looking distinctly under par. People, let me tell you: A diet based around chocolate caramel Digestives is not the lick! (Although I’m pleased to say I’ve been clean for about 2 months now).

I’ve been thinking about food in general recently, and have concluded that I run best on a relatively low-carb/high-protein diet. That means cutting out sugar, which is painnnnnful, but if I keep starches (sweet potatoes, plantain, bananas) to a minimum, and load up on meat, fat (yes!), non-starchy vegetables, salad, and a small amount of fruit (apples, berries etc) then that will accelerate results. And we like when results are accelerated, non?

The SITC plan is doable and flexible, and as an avowed lover of meat this works well for me. However… I’m also an avowed lover of sugar and all things refined/bloaty/processed/bleurgh so it’s also a bit of a challenge. So I’m going to do what I hadn’t anticipated doing and blog about my food intake, too.

Stay tuned for more progress – I’m aiming to see some real changes before these 4 weeks of bootcamp are out! Next week I aim to hit as many sessions as possible and really move some weight.