Category: <span>Health</span>

I stepped out of the shower the other morning, dried myself off, wrapped the towel round my waist and turned to face the sink. I reached up to retrieve my electric toothbrush from it’s charging point and caught my reflection in the mirror.

I don’t really look at myself all that often, I’m not exactly my greatest fan in that respect; I’m all too aware and disapproving of my shape so I don’t tend to dwell on my appearance as all I ever really see is a fat man staring back at me. I know I’m not as fat as I think I am, but there’s one part of my body that I struggle with, all the more now that I’m seeing the difference that a year at the gym has brought to the rest of my body.

So let’s focus on that for a minute, the good stuff, if you’ll excuse the vanity (and believe me, this is more of an effort for me to write than it is for you to skim-read).

For one thing, my arms have definition; my forearms actually have visible muscles, and my neck and shoulders have some new lumps and bumps. I can see the difference in my back and my legs, that walking challenge earlier in the year has definitely helped with the latter (1 million steps in two months, boom!).

Mind you, I’ve always been happy with my legs and still have fond memories of being complimented on them when I was at school (I can’t remember who said it but I’m sure it really did happen). It’s perhaps telling that the last compliment on my physique that I have stored is from when I wasn’t even aware of the term body dysmorphia. No doubt there have been other compliments, but they’ve never ‘landed’ with me which is an issue and part of my problem.

A few years ago I was at a charity burlesque/cabaret show. I knew many of the people there, both performing and attending, and felt comfortable in that company. As it was for charity there was a raffle and I won a prize. A pair of sequinned nipple tassles no less! As I walked up to graciously accept them, someone shouted that I should put them on, specifically that I should take my shirt off and put them on. The terror that gripped me was immediate. The thought of taking my shirt off was too much, I tried my best to laugh it off but it ended up ruining the rest of the evening for me and I left early.

I always knew my weight was an issue, a burden on my mental health, but that was probably the most visceral example of how much it preyed on my mind. And looking back from that point I realised that it’s ALWAYS been ‘a thing’, even as a kid I knew I was fat, or at the very least chubby. Other boys in gym class had flat chests and stomachs, some had definition in the arms and chest. I had neither, I was always a little heavy around the middle. Yet looking back at photos suggest I was pretty average size wise but my (self sabotaging) memory suggests I was, and always have been, fat.

With a father who was a PE teacher I had plenty of resources available to try and understand why my body looked a little different to so many of my friends. In one school of thought my body is a classic Endomorph; “Big, high body fat, often pear-shaped, with a high tendency to store body fat.”

And where does my body store all that fat? Around my belly. No getting away from it, no matter how I try and hide it, I have a classic ‘beer belly’. I am fat. I am fat and no matter what I try and do, how I try and shy away from it, how I try to cover it up, it’s immediately what I think of when anyone asks me to describe my body… right before I change the subject completely.

My self-image has been present so long that I barely even register it as something I can change. It’s who I am, after all, right? I’m fat, always have been, always will be? Yet I go to the gym, I try and eat better, I know that more calories out than in will help me lose weight, I know the benefits of building muscle, the benefits of cardio, the best way to perform exercise x, the proper technique for exercise y (regardless of whether I can actually do it or not), but always, ALWAYS, in the back of my brain I’m just that fat kid that got picked on (ohhh did I not mention that bit?).

Having this as a constant state of thought permeates everything, every single day. From the clothes I wear (shirts that bulge open mean I’m more frequently found in shirts that are a size too big or t-shirts), to what I eat (look at that fat guy eating THAT, no wonder he’s so fat!), to how I hold myself when I walk (if I stand tall maybe people will notice my height first?).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not debilitating, it’s not stopping me living my life but it is always, ALWAYS there.

And believe me, intellectually, I’m aware my entire body image is skewed. Take, as an example, this question Lynsay poses at the end of her post “what is your favourite body part?”. My first answer, the one that popped straight into my head was ‘my legs’. Which is a great answer, until you ask me why.

“Because they aren’t fat”

Ugh.

Walking home through the parks of Glasgow this past summer, I saw plenty of men employing the now popular vernacular ‘taps aff’ approach to the sunshine. I envy them their freedom and ease, their glib disregard of what others think as they are safe in the knowledge (presumably) that they conform, that they are the “right shape”; there is no shame in their smooth hairless stomachs.

That’s another thing, hair. I don’t really care that I’m balding, nor that I have a hairy chest, but a hairy back seems to be a bad thing and whilst it doesn’t bother me day to day, I wonder how much of my dislike of that aspect of myself is borne from hearing and seeing reactions to it on TV or social media.

But hey, I could shave my back, right?

Equally I could just lose some weight, right? It’s not like I don’t know HOW but in the litany of failures that make up my life, it’s the one that has remained for the longest time. I don’t mind that I’ve failed at many things in the past as I’ve learned a lot about myself by doing so, but being fat is a permanent state, a futile exercise (pun intended).

And so it starts to self-perpetuate. I get upset and annoyed that I’m fat and turn to food for solace. What harm is a bar or two of chocolate, or a share bag of Doritos… and is it really bad if I have pizza for a dinner twice a week?

And there you have it, my body confidence is low all the time, not because I’m bald, not because my beard is more grey than any other colour these days, not because I’m getting an inordinate amount of hair growing out of my ears (why!), not because I’m unfit and can’t touch my toes, but because I am and always have been fat.

It doesn’t seem to matter that I go to the gym three times a week and push myself hard, it doesn’t seem to matter that I can see the progress I’ve made there, that I can lift more, do more, push myself further than before.

All I have to do is look down at my stomach. I am fat.

Body positivity is a wonderful WONDERFUL thing, and some days I will say that I don’t care I’m fat and almost mean it, but not quite, not completely. No matter how many calories I burn at the gym, no matter how many compliments are given, none of that will really matter until I’m happy with me. I’d love not to care, but I do.

My body is weird but I’m not quite able to admit that it’s cool.

Not yet.

But that’s changing.

Ultimately I want to learn to be comfortable with my body, I want to get to a place where I can look at myself in the mirror and be happy with what I see and for me, that means losing some weight. I’m never gonna be the type of guy who is ‘ripped’ with a well chiselled 6-pack, but I’m pretty sure I can at least be a guy who isn’t ‘fat’ (for my own interpretation of ‘fat’ obvs).

On the flipside, why is being ripped and toned with hardly any body fat the image I have of a ‘healthy’ me? I know it’s not realistic for me, but that is the image being pushed and peddled by Mens Health and the myriad of health based adverts thrust into my social media feeds – ever seen an exercise app advertised by someone who clearly already spends most of their life working out? Show me a fat man doing the exercises suggested please. ‘Now bend and touch your toes’… I can’t my belly gets in the way, gahhhh!!!

When I first started going to the gym it was to lose weight and to ‘get fit’ (whatever that means), I set out a long-term goal to hit my target weight and a short-term goal to be able to do 10 push ups as I couldn’t even do 1. Pretty good goals, right? Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and loosely time based.

Well perhaps not as, over a year later, that long-term goal is still there I’m still not getting close to it. I’ve gotten close before, just by reducing my calories and I’ll be the first to admit I could be better with my diet but my weight remains roughly where it is despite all that effort at the gym, and generally being way more active this year over last. Mind you, I can now do 10 push ups, so that’s good!

Let’s look at the facts. I currently weigh about 107kgs (16st 8lb). That target was 95kg (just under 15st). The lightest I’ve ever been is 96.6kg for reference. Looking at the trend of my weight over the past two years is pretty much a flat line. So clearly focussing on my weight isn’t working, so maybe it’s time for a new long-term goal.

Ultimately I want to look in a mirror and be happy with what I see. And truth be told, aside from that fat beer belly, I can see that my body is changing. I can see the muscles developing on my arms, shoulders and neck, I can see my face is less chubby, my man boobs are now starting to look more like pectoral muscles than A-cups.

Additionally I know my overall fitness is improving. Sure I still get out of breath climbing the stairs but I recover a LOT faster. 10 push ups? Easy! I can deadlift and squat more than my bodyweight, and my bench press is getting close to that ‘bodyweight’ goal as well.

On top of that I feel healthier, I don’t really get ill too much, I’m more flexible and I’m generally starting to feel a lot more positive about this weird body of mine, starting to accept it a little more, starting to appreciate it.

AND – hold the front page – I’m getting the odd compliment here and there so I guess I must be doing something right.

Yet that fat belly remains but it is going. Slowly, for sure, but it’s going.

I’d love to be able to accept my body as it is today, and I think that time is getting closer but it’s not quite here yet. Somewhere there is a graph that charts my changing physique to my acceptance of my body as part of who I am but I can’t quite see where those points cross so, until they do, I’ll just continue to keep on working on it.

Perhaps it is those little changes and the work I’m putting that is actually what is important, perhaps the fact I’m still going to the gym, and still working on ‘me’ is actually more important than the end result itself. I’d like to be the case but it isn’t yet, not quite. But that’s ultimately the goal, to get to a point where I accept my weird body, to get to a point where the end result isn’t what matters, where I’m looking after myself well, eating well, exercising enough and enjoying life to the fullest.

The good part is that it finally feels like that time is getting closer. I don’t think it’s anywhere near. Realistically that target weight is still in my head so until I get to that I won’t be able to know if it’s enough, or not. Yet the signs are there that things are changing.

I’ve not been at the gym this past couple of weeks as I injured my back, nothing too serious but it needs rest. I’m annoyed and frustrated that I can’t work out. That is not the Gordon of a few years ago. Equally in the past I’d have reverted to my comfort eating habits but that doesn’t seem to be happening this time. I’m far more conscious of eating healthily whilst I recuperate, which is not something that would have happened in the past.

Baby steps perhaps but it makes me believe that one day I won’t see myself as just that fat guy in the mirror. One day I’ll see myself without quite so many flaws.

There is one final thing, one final realisation I’ve had recently, that suggests that my own internal thinking may be changing, that I might be starting to feel more confident about my body, that I might be making my peace with it. It’s something I know has helped me with other things in the past, helped me process them. I do a lot of it, but not all of it is shared here; the simple act of writing down your thoughts and confronting them is one thing, sharing those thoughts with others is quite another. So the fact I feel comfortable doing the latter means, hopefully, things are changing.

Thank you for reading.

Health Life Personal Musings

My first bike was a Boxer. It was royal blue, with chunky tyres and these days would probably be called a mountain bike (for kids, it was tiny). It was the smaller version of the Grifter, which itself was a BMX/off-road kinda thing with the most totally awesomest twist-handle gear shift just like an actual motorbike! My best mate’s big brother had a Grifter and ohhh how I would covet that bike. Not that I’d ever have touched it, he was a bit scary…

I can’t remember learning to ride my bike beyond vague memories of my Dad running along behind me telling me to pedal faster, nor can I recall when the stabilisers first came off and I flew solo for the first time. No doubt there were scraps and cuts and bruises but I didn’t lose any limbs so it can’t have been that traumatic. But that little Boxer was just the stepping stone to my first proper grown-up bike; The Enterprise (note: I am not a Star Trek fan so this wasn’t as big a deal as it may sound).

The Enterprise was a black behemoth with straight handle bars. I desperately wanted a racer (drop handlebars) but no, it was the touring bike stylings for me. I’m still not sure why my parents bought me it, probably because it was cheaper, but I have a sense that I was a bit disappointed by it, such was my desire to NOT have a BMX like all the other kids. I’ve always been contrary that way, and is largely why I have no fashion sense at all because going WITH the crowd is so dull! The Enterprise was the first bike I had that had gears, all three of them, and that opened up an amazing realisation.

Gears mean you can go faster, and going fast is FUN.

The first time I did Pedal for Scotland, some 8 years ago, I had no real idea what I was letting myself in for. I’d done some training, and my friend had done it the year before so I felt that it was at least achievable. And I finished it with tears in my eyes as I rolled through Murrayfield Stadium but my god it was a bit of a slog at times. And that’s before you get to the hill on the way out of Avonbridge; a never ending beast with a sharp incline at the start (8%), which eases off to a mere 6% as you climb to false summit after false summit. But it did not defeat me! and hey, thigh muscles are SUPPOSED to feel like they are on fire, right?

I don’t get out on my bike often enough, and it’s been a few years since I attempted cycling from Glasgow to Edinburgh but a year or so in the gym had me feeling reasonably confident about tackling it this year, despite having only managed to get my bike out for three short training rides.

I was right, being a bit fitter this year definitely helped and made the good bits of the ride, and there are many, all the better. For all the hills you climb, you are rewarded with some stellar views and the best bit of all…

Free-wheeling downhill.

Going fast is fun.

And being a fairly large chunk of human being, with thanks to the laws of gravity and some reasonably slick tyres, I reckon I was easily above 25mph at some points, including one utterly glorious section where I didn’t pedal for about 5 mins, carrying enough momentum to coast up the small crests on the way before gathering speed again on the next downhill section.

It was utterly joyous; out in the fresh air, whizzing down a long straight and when I started absent-mindedly weaving to and fro across the road I realised that this is why I like cycling and I silently admonished myself for not doing it often enough. For all the painful hills, the rattling vibrations through your hands (that no gloves seem able to quell), the accidents, punctures, and aching legs, those moments, when the sun breaks through the clouds as you coast magnificently along are magically carefree and childlike.

As we neared the finish the sun started to break through the day long grey, a last hurrah for a fast fading summer. We crossed the line, collected our medals, then found a quiet spot to rest our weary bones. And what better way to end a day out than collapsing in a sweaty heap on the grass, lying there as the sun shone through the endlessly scrolling clouds. A rare indulgence, and yet another forgotten childhood pleasure.

Health Life

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Gym wanker post alert.

Last year I started going to the gym. I was doing a ‘BootCamp’ which was less ‘being shouted at by angry army types’ and a lot more ‘encouraged to push yourself during HIIT sessions’. There were two sessions at week, including a 9am start on a Saturday, and once I got into the habit, I got used to and, SHOCK HORROR, started to enjoy myself!

This year, they’ve changed the format and the name. Now it’s all about Team Training, which still includes HIIT within each session but with the addition of more ‘lift heavy stuff’ type training. It’s also moved to three sessions a week, and joy of joys we don’t start until 10am on a Saturday morning!

I’ve done a little bit of the ‘lift heavy things’ training in the past and each session is focused on a different discipline; Tuesdays are for deadlifts, Thursdays are for squats, Saturdays are for bench presses. Each coach has taken the time to make sure our technique is right (so we don’t injure ourselves) and the challenge each week is to add a little more weight; around 2.5kg is all they are looking for which is very do-able (so far!).

To keep track of our progress we are logging what weights we are lifting so it’ll be interesting to look back in a few months and see some difference as we start to build more and more muscle tone. We are already a month in and it’s been good to mix things up a bit.

It’s also been interesting over the past year to look back at my original goals and see what matters to me now.

When I signed up for the first BootCamp it was all about losing weight. I was sick of being 17st (almost 18st at one point). In the first couple of months I lost some weight, but since then I’ve plateau’d but importantly, I realised I didn’t care. Whilst my weight has remained about the same, my trouser size has dropped from a ‘tight’ 40″ waist to an ‘almost there’ 36″. Ohhh and I can do press-ups now, like, more than 1.

I still weigh myself, just not every week, and the less I care about that number, the more I seem to be noticing other changes. As new muscles develop and my body slowly changes shape I can start to focus in on the main goal; goodbye beer belly!

I have quieter aspirations for my fitness – get to the gym 4 times a week if I can – and I’ve also signed up for Pedal for Scotland again so I’ll need to juggle getting out on my bike for some training runs (and yes, I’ve no doubt I’ll be cycling to and from the gym at some point too).

As a baseline then, I’m hoping that attending Team Training three times a week should help me break the current plateau I appear to be stuck on. I’m eating better and, as part of the Team Training classes includes help with Nutrition goals then in theory all bases are covered.

And yes, I’m deliberately posting this in February because this is not a New Year resolution, this is a journey that I started last year and which, by this time next year, I’m hoping still to be on.

I wonder what my goals will be then?


If you are interested in attending a gym that is focused on inclusivity, has no mirrors, no grunting muscle men, and supportive, friendly, realistic trainers then I can highly recommend AG Fitness.

Health

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My third (and final) BootCamp is over.

That’s 10 weeks, two sessions a week, of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

DONE.

No longer will I be getting up and going to the gym at 9am on a Saturday morning!

This was my third BootCamp in a row and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people who have inspired me along the way and kept me motivated to turn up. Safe to say that the camaraderie is what kept me going back and that is down to the atmosphere of the gym and the trainers. I WANT to go this gym, even after the very first, nervous, BootCamp session I knew I would be back.

This is not a place full of people pounding treadmills (there aren’t any) or GETTING PUMPED at Spin class (there are no bikes). And despite the fact that the gym is more focused on lifting and mobility, there are no gurning, muscle bound idiots, slamming weights around and staring at themselves in mirrors (because there aren’t any mirrors). I hadn’t fully realised just how much of an intimidating and ‘not nice’ place a lot of gyms can be, and whilst some are now countering these with women-only areas (which is great) it leaves guys like me who also have body confidence issues feeling isolated and awkward.

So whilst there is no more BootCamp, a change of format and name means I’ll be doing three sessions a week as part of the new Team Training sessions. There will be a little more focus on lifting than solely HIIT, and I cannot wait to get started. To prepare I’ve been going to an additional class which is structured a little more that way and there is something oddly satisfying at raising a proper barbell over your head! (and it had 5kg weights on it too!).

I’ve been thinking ahead to 2018, not in a resolution kinda way, more just pondering a few things to try (more on that soon) but, for once, one thing that isn’t part of that thought process is ‘exercise’ because, somewhere in my brain, it’s just part of who I am now. Even typing that sentence still feels a little weird!

And, because I am now ‘one of those’ people who go to the gym regularly, I think I’m allowed to pass on my wisdom in a slightly preachy manner (exercise is a religion after all!). So, to those of you who are ‘resolved’ to exercise more, maybe don’t plan to focus on anything other than finding a place/people that fit what you want. Finding somewhere that isn’t full of the uber-fits or the muscle bound twats clanging weights around has made such a huge difference to my desire to be at the gym, as is the knowledge that when I go I know I will be spending time with some truly lovely, supportive, powerful and uplifting people.

For the record, the gym I go to is AGFitness, they have a variety of sessions, and Personal Trainer options as well.

Health

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With no apologies whatsoever, I’m gonna talk about going the gym. Again.

The next block of ‘boot camp’ sessions starts on 4th October. It’s the third time I’ve signed up and have to admit I’m looking forward to it starting, and it’s got me thinking about how I can make it successful.

The first time I did boot camp I went all in; I tracked my food in MyFitnessPal, tracked my weight, slept better, and was focussed on using the 10 weeks as a way to kick start a healthier lifestyle. As a result I lost weight, and my body changed shape enough that people noticed. I noticed too because my belts all had to be tightened in a new notch, and my shirts didn’t gape open quite as much when I sat down.

The second time I did boot camp I started with similar intentions but then my knee started playing up, then I had a joyous few days with a noro-virus type bug, I missed a few sessions here and there and, well let’s be honest, I used all of that as an excuse to relax my focus. I stopped tracking what I was eating, my sleeping patterns started to fluctuate and whilst, overall, I still went to a lot of the sessions and my eating habits didn’t slip ALL the way back to where they had been, it’s been noticeable that I didn’t make the same type of improvement as I had previously. In fact I put on a little weight this time around.

But this time around I’m back on it and I’ve been quietly making adjustments.

I’m getting physio for my knee, which is definitely helping, and if I can avoid the usual spate of autumn illnesses that flow round the office then bar a couple of calendar clashes, I should make every session. I’ve been attending some other classes at the gym to keep things ticking over and, if I can, I’m planning on being there 3 times a week throughout the 10 week block; two Boot Camp sessions, and a Conditioning class, and there is a possibility that I might end up doing a yoga starter course as well but I’ll decide on that sometime in November.

Which is all well and good but I think the key, for me at least, is to go back to tracking my food again as it’s the one area of accountability that I need. I’m more aware of what I eat these days but I’m still too quick to give myself the ole ‘I’ll do better tomorrow’ pass. Plus, given my goal is to lose weight I really should be more focused on the consumption/expenditure equation!

I’m not quite sure what it is about boot camp that I enjoy so much. I think I physically and mentally respond better to the HIIT style sessions more than anything else I’ve tried recently so it might be the fact that I can feel and see the improvements in my physique and fitness. Or maybe it’s the camaraderie – borne from our common enemy (burpees) – or maybe it’s the format of the sessions and the fact every one is different (in horrible and cruel ways!). Whatever the reason is I’m not questioning it, just going with it.

I think there are still spaces available so why not come along, join the fun, and try it, I mean what else are you gonna be doing at 9am on a cold winter Saturday?

Check out the AG Fitness Facebook page for more details.

Health

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I used to run, for a few years it was my thing and I loved it. I did a few 5Ks and one 10K, but eventually I had to stop as the pain in my left knee was too much. I went to a physio who diagnosed me, gave me exercises, and after doing them for a while (not long enough) I fell away from exercise, life took over (divorce etc) and whilst I managed to run another 5K a few years later, it was slow and ultimately painful. Disheartened I stopped running altogether.

I’m 8 years older than when I wrote this and now that I’m again committed to regular exercise the two aforementioned syndromes which affect my knees – Osgood Schlatters and Sinding–Larsen–Johansson – need dealing with. Both manifest themselves just below the kneecap, and the pain ranges from a dull ache to a sharp needle like spasm. Neither of which are pleasant.

I’m enjoying Bootcamp but I’m recognising the same ‘slipping’ away that the pain in my knees is bringing that could ultimately end in disheartenment and a myriad of excuses that I will convince myself are valid, then I’ll just stop going.

One reason I am still going to Bootcamp – and I’m not gonna lie, it’s brutally hard work at times – is that I made a commitment, both in time and finance. I’ve also been talking about it on social media and using that as a driver as well. know I don’t like to ‘let people down’ or be seen to be failing at things (the benefits of counselling) and I’m using that knowledge to my advantage.

But once again my knees have started to complain and I realised that I needed to take a similar approach. I asked the trainers at the gym for their recommendations and so it came to pass yesterday when I finally had a consultation with a physio and he sent me a short summary of the first stages of my treatment.

“Don’t hate me too much, wall sit 10 secs on 10 secs off x 4 mins, foam roll/quad release as much as possible. DO NOT RUN OR JUMP OR HOP!!”

He also confirmed that rest is NOT what is needed so I can continue doing Bootcamp (with some alterations, and the trainers at AG Fitness have already been ace in helping work around this with me).

The thing is I now have to do these exercise every day for two weeks. Every day. EVERY DAY (I’m talking to myself here, obviously).

Having lived with occasional pain in my knees for a long time, I know it will take a while to get them ‘fixed’ but given how confident Ryan (the physio at OST) was as soon as he diagnosed me, I’m actually starting to believe it myself. Maybe one day, just maybe, I might get back to running again.

OST – http://www.oneillssportstherapy.co.uk/
AG Fitness – https://www.agfitnesstraining.co.uk/

Health Sport

(aka a wee cough)

With 10 weeks of BootCamp behind me, I was looking forward to changing up my exercise routine, trying some of the other classes at the gym, and getting out on my bike ahead of this years Pedal for Scotland.

Mostly though, I was just chuffed that I had stumbled into what I believe is called an ‘exercise routine’ and so it was a pretty easy to just keep going and keep up the same habits I’d had to adopt during BootCamp. I was working on the basis that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and I was feeling great; logging my food, exercising and meditating regularly, and all was good with the world.

For about a week or so.

Then along came the summer lurgy which wiped me out for a couple of weeks and I’ll admit that there was some bigly wagon off falling for me. Exercise routine, food logging, meditation, all (like Keyser Söze) gone.

Go big or go home is a ‘motto’ that I’ve embraced since first hearing it when I was getting a tattoo done. Go big or go home! No point in doing something if you aren’t all in, right?

And boy oh boy was I all in, embracing my now wagon-less state.

I did no exercise, stopped cooking for myself and ordered takeaway food most nights of the week. I also bought and ate my body-weight in crisps and chocolate and, as I was sleeping most of the time when I wasn’t working, did little to no meditation. In no surprise to anyone I put on some weight, which I expected, but only served to re-enforce the feeling that the previous 10 weeks had been for nothing (which I know isn’t true but tell my inner critic that, I daresya).

Equally as the lurgy robbed me of pretty much any energy at all, my flat got messy, dishes piled up, clothes went unwashed. Go big or go home! And boy did I ever, almost revelling in how fully I was embracing slob life.

Who’s that gut lord marching, you should cut down on your porklife mate, get some exercise! SLOB LIFE!

Of course the lurgy passed, and when it did I tidied and cleaned my flat, I washed the Ben Nevis stack of dishes, then emptied my cupboards of crap and bought my body-weight in chicken, tuna, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. And, in an effort to hop back on that exercise bandwagon again, I did what any sane* person would do and promptly signed up for the next session of BootCamp.

I know, I know, I know I said I wasn’t going to but after doing a couple of Conditioning and Strength classes I realised that I actually prefer the HIIT format and missed the camaraderie of being in a large group of nutters all trying not to die whilst exercising muscles that we didn’t even know existed.

Plus my best mate had already signed up so it would be a nice surprise for him…

And lo, because I’m doing BootCamp I’m once again eating better to make sure I have enough fuel to survive each session, and my flat is constantly tidy again because… well, because I’m not ill and tend to be tidy anyway… but that’s by the by. Equally, I now have a ’10 week goal’ which I’ll use to game myself to be healthy and lose a little more weight again, even though that isn’t really the goal at all as I now have enough energy to get on with stuff which, in turn, also makes it easier for me to deal with my aforementioned inner critic.

Admittedly, I am a little worried about my psyche as BootCamp is HARD (Go big or go home, right!) but then I’ve always enjoyed a little pain and suffering so I’m not really all that surprised.

There you have it then, a week or so of being ill, of beating myself up for failing, quickly put behind me this too is a new thing and I’m liking it, onwards band-wagon, ho!

All of the above means I’m back to Wednesday evening and Saturday morning BootCamp sessions, and this time I’m also doing a Conditioning class every Monday evening. Which, as one of the trainers suggested, is “mental” but hey, I’m back in the groove so why the hell not. Go big or… you get the picture.

And finally, because this is important for me and my state of mind (hush up, inner critic!), this was pretty much a spur of the moment decision. I didn’t look ahead at my calendar to see how many Friday nights out I have in the coming weeks, I didn’t look at what else was happening on Wednesday evenings that I might have scheduled, I just booked it knowing I’d sort that stuff out at a later date. And that, for this perfectionist and consistent planner, is very much a win and a further sign that the counselling is paying off.

In short (tl;dr) I’m allowing myself to feel proud of me (it feels weird!) and not letting a few days of being ill set me back.

Now, I just need someone remind me of all of this when I’m struggling to climb four flights of stairs when I get to work…

* yes, this is a new definition of sane. You do have to be a specific kind of lunatic to do BootCamp

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Bootcamp is over.

10 weeks of twice weekly HIIT sessions.

I’ve farmer carried, tyre flipped, pushed up, planked, burpee’d, kettlebell’d, squatted, crunched, bear crawled, lunged in various ways, slammed balls, punched bags, pulled up, rowed, and more. I’ve eaten my body weight in sweet potato and chicken. Cursed, sweated, and pushed myself until I can hardly breathe. I’ve dealt with the two days of muscles aches after each session.

I’ve also laughed, a lot, met some exceptional people who have helped keep me motivated and challenged, and happily admit I have enjoyed the entire experience, even when I’m calling one of the trainers a motherfucker. Pain is temporary though, and I will remember the laughs and giggles, the matching outfits, the jazz hands and cool down dances, and that time Juan broke the TRX bands (or rather, that time he didn’t do them up properly) far longer than any of the aches.

As part of the Bootcamp experience there was a nutrition session, and I finally understand those Macro things I’ve heard about for so long! It means I’m eating better and properly equipping myself prior to each Bootcamp session. We were also asked to write up short term and long term goals, for me the short term was to complete the 10 weeks of Bootcamp but I decide to be more specific and wrote that my goal was to do 10 pushups. That’s full pushups. My previous record was almost 1 – and that was a struggle – and 10 weeks later … 10 pushups. Slowly, steadily, and with a few pauses, but 10 pushups. Holy Frick.

My longer term goal was to get my weight down below 95kg. I started at 113.3kg and post-Bootcamp I’m now 107.2kg, which for the imperialists amongst you means I’ve almost a stone. On the way to 95!!

That said, I’m a lot less focused on my weight now but it’s a reasonable way to measure progress, as is the fact I’m gonna need to buy some smaller shirts and trousers for work soon!

And finally a word for our wonderful trainers. I cannot praise Andy and Juan highly enjoy for keeping things interesting and challenging, for caring about each person, for encouraging us when we needed it and for pushing us when we were slacking. The name ‘bootcamp’ suggests military drills, a screaming Sargeant Major in your face. Sure, we had drills, but in keeping with their ethos, the atmosphere was always friendly and fun, welcoming and positive. It’s up to you to push yourself as everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but knowing that they were always around for guidance, or to gently cajole you into working harder, meant I never felt pressured but I still worked my ass off!

Having said all that, I’ve not signed up for the next Bootcamp, instead I’m going to try some different classes (which has the added benefit of giving me the option of a Saturday lie-in again!) and I’ll also be getting my bike out as I’ve signed up for Pedal for Scotland in September. But once that’s done, I’ll definitely be back to give BootCamp another shot later in the year, it’s oddly addictive!

Are there still spaces?

If none are available for the next BootCamp then check out their other classes, or book a PT session. You won’t regret it!

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