thetrilife Masters Programme – Month 2

It’s been a more intense four weeks and my goal has been to stick firmly to the plan and focus on running cadence, bike cadence (rather than pushing gears) and anything and everything to do with swimming.

SWIMMING: Drills this month have focussed on hand placement. I feel fairly confident that I’m not too far off here. And remember I chickened out of finding ‘gears’ last month? Well, I really REALLY tried this time. Of course, finding 6 gears to swim 6 x 75m progressive meant that I was close to swimming backwards for the first one – but try I did and I did my best. Interestingly, my ‘progression’ in terms of stroke rate was always the same. For 5 of the 6 I simply upped my stroke rate, but for the final one I dropped stroke rate in favour of power. So did this mean my final 75m was the fastest – as it should have been? I DON’T KNOW!!! Lol Since I didn’t pause to press the ‘interval’ button every 75m my watch didn’t record them. Note to self: I need to play around with this a bit and find out!!

BIKE: A couple of these sessions I substituted with a SPIN or RPM session and simply add on the isolated leg sections (usually beforehand). Although I’m good at pushing myself on my own and I do complete every set, I still work harder in a class and get a good mix of climbing and sprinting so I think it’s working well. The longer rides have been fine. I’ve been lucky with the weather because I’m a wimp if it’s raining or cold. I’ve really focussed hard on maintaining cadence and am learning that if I focus on that then my speed creeps up gradually to that magical 14.5 mph whereas if I keep pushing bigger gears my pace fluctuates wildly and in the end I get tired quickly and my final average speed is slower!! It’s hard to get my head around this but I’m going to 100% trust the plan!

RUN: Not getting any faster. In fact, I think I’m still getting slower – but still focussing on cadence and I’ll stick with it. Have to admit, I still do do DO enjoy my running – whatever the pace 

OFF-PLAN ROUND-UP: I juggled a couple of weeks and threw in TWO sprint triathlons this month – Steyning Tri and Uckfield Tri. Both were pool swims – not very fast but steady. Both times I was pleased with the bike – at least reaching the minimum mph I was looking for – and I was chuffed to bits with the runs – both times averaging under 10 min miles. Yes, they were short distances but all boxes ticked and good chance to kick in the competitive spirit and get a great workout.

Finally – my test results this month compared to last month:

Month 1 Swim – 300s: Avg. 6:55 mins/13 spl – and 2.18/100m
Month 2 Swim – 300s: Avg. 6:37 mins/13 spl – and 2.12/100m

RUN TEST: Month 1 – Avg HR over 20 mins @ 90 rpm: 129 bpm/Avg 10.53/mile
Month 2 – Avg HR over 20 mins @ 90 rpm: 135 bpm/Avg 10.41/mile – a little further, a little faster; weather a lot warmer

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Filed in Just running

It’s countdown time, your Facebook page is filled with running posts, injury posts and article upon article about what to do, what not to do, what you should have done, what it’s too late to do now and oh-my-god-you’ve-done-everything-wrong posts. Right? Yeah. ‘S’ok. Anyone who’s run a marathon has been there and heard most of it and I think I’m right in saying that you need to treat the advice in the same way that you treat all the suggestions about how to live your life, how to bring up your child, how to fold your laundry …… blah blah blah! Listen to all of it, nod, respect every viewpoint and then take the bits that are going to be good for YOU and run with them. In this case, literally!

For what it’s worth … here’s my list. Ignore at will or take what’s useful. Whatever you decide will be the right decision for you at this time.

– Whether you’ve done the training or you’re taking the ‘it’ll-be-alright-on-the-night’ approach, too late to dwell on should-haves and could-haves. Focus purely on the day that’s coming and getting yourself from start to finish. Remember – it’s all about the finishing photo!

– Don’t wait till you’re stressed out the day before your race to iron your name on your shirt. Do it a few days before so you have time to resort to Plan B without hysteria!

– You’ve heard it time and again but PLEASE don’t ignore it. NO NEW CLOTHING ON THE DAY! Nothing. Nada. Not even nail varnish!! God forbid – what if you find your new colour clashes with your laces????

– TOE NAILS. Cut them, file them … Brighton marathon is flat so little chance of you losing any – but why take the risk, eh?

– Double check your breakfast ingredients are all ready. Nothing worse than waking up to find Mum’s bought the wrong oats by mistake or forgotten to buy the all-important bananas!

– NO CARB-LOADING! You know that post-Christmas-dinner feeling when you can’t move because you’ve eaten so much? Why on earth would you over-eat the night before a big race – ensuring you arrive at the start line sluggish because your body’s still trying to cope with all that pasta! Stop it! By all means increase the carbs a little in the couple of days leading up to race day – but by ‘increase’ I mean perhaps a baked potato with your usual chicken and salad, maybe extra oats in your smoothie for mid-afternoon snack! Yeah, really! THAT is ‘loading’. No ‘double portions’. Double portions will merely lead to double trouble.

– I would love to know the percentage of marathon households emitting the familiar sound ‘OMG SAFETY PINS WE HAVEN’T GOT ANY SAFETY PINS’ on race morning. They’ll be in your race pack but invariably there’ll be a mishap. Just dig them out of the sewing box NOW so you’re not searching on race day and getting stressed. Besides, you know that if you have loads waiting you won’t need any because that’s just sod’s law!

– Charged your Garmin? #justsayin’

– Couple of wet wipes tucked away somewhere (they fold nicely in a mini sandwich bag) will see you comfortable if you get short-taken!

– Prepare for THE WALL! If (more likely ‘when’) you hit it you will feel that it’s affecting you far worse than any other runner. It isn’t. The wall is about perspective and strategy. Plough through it, leap (mentally) over it, go (figuratively) around it … but it DOES help to have a plan of action. Write a mantra on your hand and start chanting it to the rhythm of your feet (‘Nearly there, I’m nearly there’ or ‘I can do this, I WILL do this’ … or anything positive and ‘rhythmical’). Avoid phrases like ‘Don’t give up’ because they use negative words even though the meaning is positive. When you hit that wall your brain will only hear the ‘don’t’!! Maybe this is the time you can start counting strides? Pick a number, count, look up, take a drink, repeat, etc. I know somebody who wrote a few friends’ names on their hand and as they hit the wall they started having individual conversations with them (in their head). Whatever you do, it’s up to you. It’s never easy. You’re running a marathon, for goodness’ sake! There’s a reason very few people ever accomplish it. This is one of them. Give yourself the BEST advantage. PLAN your assault of that wall and remember … on the other side it’s time to run for home!!

– The expo ……… It’s exciting. It’s full of marathon fever. You can get lost in there. You can spend hours ……………… ON YOUR FEET! GO HOME! Feet need to be UP!

– Finally … marathon week … expect flu symptoms, bronchitis, IT band playing up, that old ankle injury will come back, you’ll feel ill, knees are aching a bit, that cough has returned ….. etc. etc. etc. You are not alone. Even better, for the vast majority of you these symptoms are all in your head. I can hear you right now: ‘Are you kidding? This sore throat/(insert appropriate symptom) isn’t in my head. It’s real.’ Yes, it is. Sorta! But it’s only a ‘temporary real’. I PROMISE YOU – a mile across that start line those symptoms will have disappeared (you’ll have a whole new set of things to think about haha). For now though, this is your body’s way of making you take notice. It’s merely saying ‘Time to compromise! You want me to carry you for 26 miles? Then feed me, give me water and get these legs on the couch!’ The least you can do is listen. It does have a point, after all.

I AM EXCITED FOR EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU. A marathon start line is an incredible achievement all by itself. Look around, feel proud, feel the buzz, ditch the excuses and do what needs to be done. The magic only happens outside your comfort zone. Go chase it.

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thetrilife Masters Programme – Month 1

Four weeks down. My thoughts?

Direction! I’ve got direction. It’s great to be training with purpose. I neeeeeeed direction and purpose. For the last six months I’ve been mostly sitting on the sofa, going for the occasional run and that’s about it. I decided to try and rediscover my triathlon dreams and I entered a couple of sprint tris but the occasional swim and bike is dull, boring and demotivating. Without a plan, everything comes under the umbrella ‘junk’. So here I am, at the end of my first four weeks of training on the TriLife Masters programme and not a junk mile or minute to my name. That feels so good. It gets me up in the morning and it’s ultimately comforting to know that whatever I’m doing is the right thing to do. I’m not worried that I should be doing hill sprints instead of an endurance run – or swim drills instead of 400s. What a great feeling that is.

In terms of training this month has revealed the effects of a few months off. At 50+ you lose fitness like everybody else, but you ALSO lose strength and power and it is very VERY difficult to get those back. To an extent, it’s not possible to get them back, but I can regain some with hard work and determination and I can definitely prevent my body losing any more.

So … RUNNING: The focus has been on stamina and cadence. Fascinating. My stamina is non-existent but this is something I CAN really work on – and love doing. Plenty hard work ahead. I’ve been trying really hard to get this higher cadence sorted – mostly by shortening my stride and concentrating on form. It’s working. It’s harder than it should be, but it’s getting there already. Parkrun after four weeks and I did nothing other than focus on maintaining steady cadence – and I still came in around my previous average. My hopes of a PB have gone out the window – that six months off has put paid to that – but that 5k result is still super-motivating.

SWIMMING: Breathing is better. Body ‘roll’ is better, my stroke is more even and I think my kick is improving. Still struggling with speed. I feel my 100s and 200s should be harder. I’m going for even pace but I think that pace should be consistently faster. That’s my problem … when I increase stroke rate I seem to lose pace so need to figure this out. Drills are paying off, I think – but only just done my first ‘test’ so too soon to know.

BIKING: She has a name: Polly. Not my choice of name; she was sort of named for me – but it’s stuck. Polly she is, then. She’s doing well. Once again, focus has been on cadence. Lighter gears and cadence. Long rides have been easy and enjoyable (lucky with weather) but I’m still – as always – worried about speed. Back to the ‘power’ question again. This is going to be a big battle. As a masters athlete I can’t increase it any more. What’s gone is gone, so the research dictates – so where am I going to find that power? I’m going to trust this programme 100% to show me where! THAT is exciting.

First sprint tri of the season in a couple of weeks. Actually looking forward to it.

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thetrilife Masters Programme Week 1

Oh, I’m such a slave to programmes but find myself completely at a loss without. After my two IM fiascos last summer I ditched my bike for the indoor rower and focussed on a team WR attempt – which proved to be hugely successful and so much fun! (Well – if ‘fun’ and ‘rowing’ can be used in the same sentence??) After that, though (December) I lost the plot and resorted to doing more or less nothing. January came along and for the first time ever I had no goals, no plans, no motivation, no desire to do anything. February came and went in much the same way. It was time to get my act together and take action. After much research, I signed up to the Trilife Master Programme – simply to give me direction, to get reinspired, to get me moving and basically to tell me what to do.

It’s easy to say ‘Oh, but you know what to do already’. Yes, maybe – but much like doctors make the worst patients I find it extremely difficult to set up training plans for myself and stick to them. I need external eyes, experience and knowhow. Besides – since I never crossed the finish line of those two IM I’m not really feeling too confident about doing anything for myself. Committing to a programme is a great motivator.

And so … after a slightly interrupted taster week, I’ve completed Week 1. Loving having a programme to follow and knowing that I’m in professional hands. There are no ‘fluffy’ sessions here. Everything is exact, everything has a purpose. Not a junk mile in sight and it’s fun to be back in the classroom again! One week and lots learned::

Swimming: One of the sessions is VERY heavy on kicking. I’ve always thrown in a couple of token ‘kicking’ drills – thinking this was enough. Doing ‘lots’ of kicking has been fascinating – repeated lengths with nothing to do but discover different effects of kicking technique. Suddenly it clicks and my speed almost doubles, then I lose it again. Actually can’t wait to repeat that session. I’d have lost the will to live had I ever tried that on my own! And as for T-pace? Working on that one. Currently, I have one pace which I’m calling T-pace. If I attempt T-pace + 10 I think I’ll find myself dead in the water. Needs work! As for ‘building’: I can just about find 4 speeds to build on – but definitely not 8. There’s a goal right there! Final Week 1 swimming lesson: Faster stroke rate does not mean faster speed. Looking forward to finding a happy medium here (hopefully in this lifetime). In my case, increasing my stroke rate is resulting in a less-efficient half-executed stroke and therefore less speed.

Biking: Turbo session great. Harder work than it should be. My fitness is at the bottom of a very deep hole somewhere. Going to be interesting hauling it back up. Already ‘natural’ cadence is getting closer to the desired 90 rpm. That’ll do for now. Outdoors – tentative and unsure on my bike so need to find some confidence. As always – slow! Will be working on that a lot.

Running: The hazard of focussing on endurance these last months is that short-and-fast has been left behind. Result? I have ONE gear and one gear only and that gear is slower than it’s ever been. Never thought I’d have to work really hard on my running. That used to be my ‘given’. Not any more. Quite a challenge keeping up cadence of 90 continually so that’s a fun goal for now.

Bring it on Uckfield and Mid-Sussex tris. It’s going to be a FUN and positive confidence-building summer.

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Chi Running – a workshop for beginners

Filed in Just running


Talk to any runner about energy and he/she will happily launch into conversation. Mention ‘chi’ rather than ‘energy’ and odds are a small percentage will nod knowingly, a slightly larger percentage might smile and pretend to be open to ‘whatever works for you, dearest’, some will respond with a derisive snort and others will roll their eyes and turn away. Of course it is a matter of each one to his own, but as a slow ultrarunner – and therefore someone who is out on a course for considerable hours – an opportunity to learn rudimentary techniques affording me forward motion with maximum efficiency and minimal effort could not be missed. It was with some excitement, then, that I found myself stepping through the door of Gray Caws’ Chi Running Workshop for beginners (http://www.n8pt.com/). I would not be disappointed.

The small group (5 in total) was friendly and meant that everyone got ample individual attention and it was easy for everyone’s questions to be answered. Following brief introductions and without further ado, the first order of the day was to film us all running. After that it was back to the classroom but there was no time for sitting down. In fact, there was very little sitting down. A couple of my friends had speculated that we would spend an hour at least listening to the origins and philosophies of all things ‘chi’. Not so (although, having a teenage background in martial arts I am great believer in the power of chi so I wouldn’t have minded this at all!).

The morning was spent learning about correct postural alignment, why it was so important as a runner/walker and what we should be aiming for and how to adjust and correct. In the most basic terms, the better your postural alignment the less work the body has to do to enable forward motion. In other words, the less effort would be needed. We spent a lot of fascinating time learning exercises to correct and ‘discover’ the most ‘functional’ posture – in terms that made such complete and ‘grounded’ (no pun intended) sense.

Having got the general gist of these basics, it was then time to analyse our individual running form (video-ed earlier). Armed with the knowledge of what we were aiming for, these analyses were hugely informative and enlightening. Even after just that couple of hours, we were all able to view movements such as ‘my arms keep crossing my body’ or ‘my feet fly out to the sides’ not merely objectively but with a very comforting and motivating awareness that we now knew ‘why’ we did it, where the movement originated from and how we could begin to correct it.

The afternoon afforded us time to put some of this into practice with drills focussing on maintaining alignment while moving, the effect of cadence and the importance of arm movement.

If ever there was a worthwhile workshop for runners – or walkers (!), this was/is it! Sceptics can stay away. All others should put aside any preconceptions of ‘fluffy’ ideas or images of groups of runners chasing various auras around the park whilst chanting various incantations (don’t tell me some of you haven’t pictured this!). Nothing could be further from the truth. For a runner – and I think (probably mistakenly but definitely subjectively) endurance runners – the word ‘chi’ should be readily available in your vocabulary. It has certainly jumped to the top of mine. Check out upcoming workshops or find out more at Gray Caws or  http://www.chirunning.co.uk/.


Ten Day Turnaround – Why so successful?

Filed in Weight to go

What is it? Who’s it for? Why is it so successful? Read on for the no-nonsense answers.


TenDayTurnaournd LOGO

What is it?

Online no-measuring no-counting weight loss programme (Facebook or via email) with LOTS of frills and strings attached;

The strings? You have to follow the rules! There are ten!

The frills? You will have to put up with more energy, not being hungry, sleeping better and a serious lack of bloating

Ten rules. Ten compulsory workouts for EVERY level of fitness (yes, there are even walking workouts so if you can walk you have NO excuse!). Ten motivational texts or emails. Optional (but highly recommended) secret Facebook group.

Suitable for carnivores, herbivores (?), …. vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians …

Compatible with any other weight loss plan

Who’s it for?

It’s for those who have lots and lots of weight to lose and don’t know where to start …. or who just want to lose a pound and feel less bloated. The workout choices range from tough to easy (for those new to exercise) to purely walking (for those who seriously struggle).

It’s for anyone frustrated at being stuck on a weight loss plateau.

It’s for anyone who’s tried all the diets under the sun, lost the plot, ended up heavier than before and is currently in a ‘Nothing-works’ mindset. Try this. You’ll find out where you’ve gone wrong AND why you’re heavier now than previously.

It’s for those who generally eat healthily already but could do with cleaning things up a bit and maybe getting back into an exercise routine.

Why is it so successful?

Constant measuring and counting leads to food obsessions and takes the joy out of eating. No measuring. No counting.

There is often ‘dread’ at the beginning of a diet – the dread of giving up this and giving up that and having to force down meals with foods you don’t particularly like! There is no ‘dread’ on the Ten Day Turnaround plan. There are some challenges, yes – but within a ‘group’ these can be fun and rewarding, too. You don’t eat anything you don’t like – and anybody can avoid anything ‘just for ten days’, right? (Note use of ‘avoid’, not ‘give up’!!)

Compatible with any other weight loss plan, many success stories have come from the knowledge that comes with the Ten Day Turnaround plan – explaining WHY a certain diet has come to a standstill or why some ‘pounds’ just never seem to shift …

It is ONLY ten days. Not four weeks, not three months, not a lifetime membership. EVERYONE can do ten days – and there’s only ONE WEEKEND to get through!

Last but not least, Ten Day Turnaround success has come from the almost-instant noticeable changes – in energy levels, in weight loss and, most of all, from the consistent clinking of pennies dropping. I’d love to count the number of ‘OMG really?’ and ‘Ahaaaaaa!’ posts as people are suddenly learning the simplest tweaks they can make to their eating and exercise – with life-changing consequences.

And the best sign of success?

Not just the comments and testimonials – but the fact that people keep coming back. Because the Ten Day Turnaround is not about reaching your lifetime goal in ten days! It’s about knowledge – and support. It’s about me being that little voice in your head saying ‘STEP AWAY FROM THE FRIDGE’, it’s about encouragement from group members (optional but recommended), it’s about trying new things. And it’s there for you to come back to again and again – to continue your weight loss journey – or to get you back on track – or to kick those few pounds in time for that party/wedding/holiday.

Every weight loss journey tends to begin because you’re unhappy with how you look, but the journey is really more about how you feel. The Ten Day Turnaround will help you ‘feel’ GREAT!

For more information or to sign up for the next one … email amanda@youchoosefitness.co.uk or find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/youchoosefitness/


Please PLEASE feel free to comment below if you’ve completed a Ten Day Turnaround. Let us know what you thought/how you got on.

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Filed in Weight to go

Hello – and thank you for coming back for more. I hope you found something in Part 1 that might at the very least make you stop and think for a few seconds before reaching for the easiest supermarket option – even if ultimately you choose not to change anything! You always have a choice and there’s no one size that fits all, but we all know the saying ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’ Perhaps I can urge you to ditch the habit of a lifetime – even for a couple of weeks – and see what happens? Outside the supermarket, the biggest ever key to successful weight loss is variety and change – so why not inside, too?

Remember that warning about being a bit blunt? Erm …. a few of the points set out below are particular bugbears of mine – traps that people have been tricked into via clever marketing. Excuse the occasional hint of a rant.

Happy shopping!

Shopping trolley

• If you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the back of a jar or packet, put it back on the shelf.

• The closer the words ‘sugar’ or ‘syrup’ are to the top of the ingredients list, the greater the sugar content. Have you checked where it is on that ‘supposedly’ fabulously healthy, fibre-filled cereal you’ve been breakfasting on for years – like Weetabix, for example? And you wonder why you’re hungry a couple of hours later?

• Diet sodas. Seriously? You want to lose weight but you’re still buying these? Time to reassess your goals. Let’s be honest. You’re obviously not THAT committed to losing weight. Does YOUR weight loss company promote these as acceptable drinks? Calorie-free? Great option with a meal? Hmmm. I wonder why these companies are still in business. Let’s think about THAT for a moment. Moving on to the next aisle …

• Beware celebrity brands. They’re not always best – and certainly not the best for your wallet. More expensive does not mean better – not when you’re in the supermarket. If you’re buying sauce in a jar, for example (because this blog is not about judging cooking skills!), read the ingredients. Some of the celebrity brands are packed with salt and sugar – compared to supermarket brands. Do your research. Your body will thank you.

• There is absolutely no reason – EVER – to walk down the Frozen Meals aisle. If you can’t cook, eat raw food. No problem! Don’t have time to cook? Oh! You work 24/7? You NEVER have time off? Cook up a batch of YOUR meals (including your rice or whatever) and freeze in portions. Frozen meals should only ever be frozen by YOU. End of.

• Remember that fresh food is stacked with the shortest shelf-life items at the front – because naturally these are the ones they want to sell quickly. Delve a little deeper and find the longer shelf-life.

• Speaking of shelf-life … it’s important to know the difference between BEST BEFORE dates and USE BY dates. BEST BEFORE is about quality. The products are perfectly fine to use after these dates. They just won’t be at their absolute best. A USE BY date is not one to be ignored. This date is for safety reasons. Even if a product looks or smells fine, you should not be tempted to eat it after its USE BY date.

• If perchance you’ve left your shopping list at home but absolutely need to get the essentials, enter the supermarket and work your way around the outside. You’ll find the fruits, veggies, meat, fish and dairy generally line the outer areas of most well-stocked supermarkets. The further in you travel, the more junk food you’ll find, so for quick ‘essential’ shops, stick to the edges. Those inner stocks are designed for impulse-buying and will be your downfall.

And there you have it. Be prepared and let your shopping do some of the work for you!!

Do PLEASE comment if any of the above has helped you in any way. Feedback is always welcome (and don’t forget YOUR tips for successful supermarket shopping).

I will say cheerio, good luck with your weight loss journey (and your shopping, of course) – and I’ll leave you with this:

Foods for thought – by Amanda Hyatt

Tomatoes and onions and carrots and yams,
Oysters and artichokes, mussels and clams,
Salmon and spinach and lemons and lime,
Rosemary, pumpkin seeds, sprigs of fresh thyme,
Coconut flour, rye crackers and, best-of-all,
Ripe avocados – to lower cholesterol,
Full-fat Greek yoghurt and almonds galore,
Bananas, nut butters, trail mixes and more,
Such fun, packing trolleys with all that is healthy,
There’s everything here – and not just for the wealthy,
Good food’s changed my life. Now, I must get some fish,
(Did I mention I’ve got a new man? What a dish!)


Fish fingers and nuggets, fried deeply in oil,
With potatoes and peas – turned to mush as they boil,
Served with Camembert (battered) and mountains of chips,
And crisps and roast peanuts and crackers and dips,
And chocolate and chocolate and chocolate and sweets,
And puddings and cream cakes and all sorts of treats,
And packets of soups and tinned this and tinned that,
Well, who the hell cares if I’m going to get fat?
He left me, the weasel, went off with some tart,
So why should I bother with food for my heart?
It’s already broken. I’m not in the mood
To think about healthy, nutrition-packed food!

The message here, Ladies – Have you already guessed?
Do NOT do the shopping when feeling depressed!
It’s bad for the heart and not good for the figure
And worse – ALL your problems will only get BIGGER!

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Filed in Weight to go

Because without a single doubt both weight gain and weight loss start at the supermarket. Forget the baby steps. Get your shopping right and you will already be taking a giant leap towards your goal. This cannot be stressed enough. I struggled with my weight for years (still have my moments!!), did the big-weight-loss-company thing, even became a leader for one of them! I started to delve deeper into the whys and wherefores of losing weight so I could pass on something a little more modern and a little less ‘standardised’ to my class members – and only THEN did the lightbulbs start burning! I resigned as leader (the last straw was when the weekly magazine advertised a fried white bread jam sandwich as a suitable snack!!! Yes! Really!), I made some informed changes and I reached the goal weight I’d been chasing for years! Go figure!

Shopping trolley

This is not the place for the science. That’s a whole other blog. I am simply here to help and I think I can make your weight loss journey a little easier if you keep the following tips in mind the next time you’re browsing around the supermarket aisles (Tip 1: Never ‘browse’ in a supermarket).

Warning: If you’re serious about your weight loss you won’t mind me being VERY blunt in places, will you?

Here we go, then:

• If you can afford the charge to have your shopping delivered you will already be avoiding countless supermarket tricks to lure you in and buy lots of food you might ‘think’ you need – but you don’t! Make a list and shop online.

Online shopping on white background concept

• The key to successful shopping is to have meals planned and to WRITE THAT LIST! After that, all you need to do is put blinkers on and STICK TO YOUR LIST! Nothing more, nothing less.

• Never shop when you’re hungry – or when you’re craving ‘treats’ – and try to avoid your main shop when you’re stressed, sad or grumpy. Mood is crucial to shopping success.

• The more fresh food that’s in your trolley the better your shop. If tins and packets outnumber the proteins, fruit and veg, it’s time to reassess your meal plan.

• More vegetables than fruit (with the exception of berries – feel free to indulge). It’s easy to fall into the trap that you can eat loads of fruit because it’s healthy. Yes, it’s healthier than other options, but in terms of weight loss it is still full of sugar. Less processed, perhaps, but sugar is sugar is sugar.


Selective focus on the blueberries in small trolley

• Put the blinkers on when you see the 2-for-1 offers and/or BOGOFs. If budget comes before health, we’ve got a problem! Remember that the supermarket offers are not there to help you. Really! They’re not! They’re there to help the supermarket! Do NOT be a victim! There are exceptions (naturally) – but beware. If it’s fresh food and you’re sure you’re going to be able to eat it, fine. If it’s a ‘treat’, do you really want two of them in the house? How is that going to help you? And before you put them in the trolley, do the maths. Calculators at the ready (if your mental maths abilities aren’t up to scratch). You might find that buying two of those products separately actually costs less than the ‘offer’. Sad, but true.

• When you’re moving down the aisles, remember to look up and look down! The products that are easiest to reach are the ones they want you to buy – and are often the least desirable in terms of weight loss. Shop from top and bottom shelves.

Fruits and vegetables at a farmers market

• Avoid branded weight loss products and anything that says FAT FREE. There’s a reason these companies are all still in business!!! This is quite possibly the most significant change you could make to your shopping – and the most beneficial in terms of your weight loss. Branded weight loss products are frequently more expensive than other similar products – and are often loaded with hidden ingredients (‘fat’ is what gives these products flavour and has to be replaced with something to make them palatable). Since these products are lacking in vital ingredients that serve a real purpose in our diets, you will also find you eat more of them because they are not nutritionally balanced and don’t fill you up. Time to challenge the brain-washing and start eating food that hasn’t been tampered with!

• Don’t be fooled by seemingly healthy options like ‘Reduced sugar’ or ‘No added sugar’! Reduced from what? 6 teaspoons instead of 7? Is that what you consider healthier? And pause a moment to think what ‘no added sugar’ really means. Not added to what? The original version of this product? The one that already has 7 teaspoons in? Ah! No need to ‘add’ any, then.

That’s all for today. More tomorrow. In all honesty, I hope you’ve read this and have been able to say ‘I do all that already!’ Perfect. You’ve got this shopping-thing sorted and given yourself the greatest chance of success. Weight loss is not just about following rules. It’s about learning – all the time. If there’s anything here that’s new to you then that’s brilliant news, too. I hope it helps. Look out for Part II. Till then, stay focussed, shop smart and keep questioning!

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Royal Parks Half Marathon – 11.10.2015

Filed in Just running

The loveliest and most enjoyable HM I’ve had the pleasure of running. I mean, really!! If I was to recommend a HM to anyone it would be this one. So THANK YOU to the Royal Parks Foundation for super organisation.

Was I well prepared for it? Erm … nope! Most definitely not. Actually, I think I was the least prepared I’ve ever been for ANY race. My plan, therefore, was not to race. In fact, I was ready to implement a walk/run strategy and figured there’d probably be plenty of walking as I’ve done very little running in the last few months.

The day was already made better by running into Kay and Steve McMenamin at the train station, so LOVELY company all the way. Have to admit that I’d probably still be trying to find my way to the start line!!

Royal Parks HM 2015

Not sure what I expected but I DIDN’T expect such a massive field of runners – c. 15,000? Somehow I thought it’d be smaller but for me this is always good news as it increases my chances of not being last (again). It also meant, however, that the trek from Gun Time to start line was almost 20 minutes and you know what that means for us oldies?? 150m past the start line and I had to join the queue for the loos!!! And yes, there was a QUEUE! I thought that was quite funny – although slightly demotivating so early on in the race to see everyone running past and disappearing into the distance. It did give me a mini goal, though. Once I started running (about 6 minutes later – what do people DO in these toilets???) my aim was to try and catch up with the field again!

Cut a long story short, I settled early into a pace that felt good and just enjoyed everything! The route was simply lovely and after the soul-sapping ugliness of Brighton which sucks the life out of me on a daily basis, it was wonderful to breathe in energy and replenish depleted souls surrounded by old, solid, majestic buildings that ooze history and character. I think I enjoyed the run up towards the Houses of Parliament and up and down the Strand as much as I did the parks and all the arches – St James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park … Admiralty Arch, Wellington Arch, past Marble Arch, and with other sites such as the palace, the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Palace. There was always something to look at and it was glorious. Sunday morning and I didn’t have to watch out for blood on the pavement or kick cans out of the way once! Quite a treat!

I had two battles along the way. I won one and lost one. One little voice very frequently whispered ‘What happened to the run/walk strategy? Now’s a good time to walk!’ – to which I consistently answered ‘My lungs are fine, my pace is good, the only thing that’s unpleasant is my legs hurting A LOT but that’s really not a good enough reason to walk, so keep running.’ I was VERY pleased to win that war of whisperings and finished without walking. The other battle was the one with my trainers and that’s the one I lost and the reason my legs hurt so much. I’ve loved running in my Ons and I’ve run up to 10 miles in them but I’d heard rumours that people had had a lot of calf trouble running longer distances in them. This was definitely what happened here. My calves and hams SCREAMED quite early on – they have NEVER been so tight. Not only that, but my feet really hurt towards the end – and my calves were so tight they were causing knee pain and blah blah blah. I definitely lost this battle. The Ons have been relegated to 5k and 10k only.

Those were the personal niggles. Race organisation niggles? Yes, I had one. For crying out loud, people, TOPLESS WATER BOTTLES ARE OF NO USE WHATSOEVER TO RUNNERS!! Jeez, what a waste – and what a nuisance. It was hugely irritating (a) not to be able to take a proper drink at any point because you couldn’t carry the bottles since none of them had tops so you had to take a quick slug and throw them: and (b) what a massive massive waste, seeing 15,000 250-ml water bottles being thrown to the side as runners took a few sips and then abandoned them (again, because the tops were off so they couldn’t be carried)! I just don’t get it! Whose idea was that?

One other niggle: what’s with the closed-off finish line – with no spectators being able to cheer runners across or take photos? It didn’t bother me personally but had I being running my first-ever race or was doing it for an emotional cause, then I think I would have found it hugely disheartening to cross the finish line without my supporters? (just a thought)!

But apart from that … absolutely not a single other complaint. The support was amazing – massive thanks to everyone for lining the route and making LOTS of noise! It was very much a spectator-friendly route, too.

Huge thank you to Kay and Steve for the best race-day company! Xx

Official time: 2:18.30 (including loo stop)

Without loo stop: 2:13 – which I’m perfectly happy with.

Royal Parks HM 2015 after

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This is the tale, the most terrible tale,
Of some salt and the sea and one Suzie McVale;

Now Suzie was pretty and popular, too;
A sweet little girl, always happy and who

Loved to sing in the morning and dance before bed,
Till her poor mother died and her father re-wed;

Now, Stepmother Stephanie hated to cook,
And refused to consult any recipe book,

So Suzie survived on convenience food,
Which paled her complexion and blackened her mood;

Crisps in the morning and bacon for lunch,
Fried eggs for dinner and peanuts for brunch,

Chips from the chippy, the fat of the ham,
Ready-meals, sausages, butter and spam,

And Sue scoffed the lot, and why not? It was yum,
But she started to swell round her neck, round her tum,

Round her legs, round her hips, and round hands and round feet,
But Suzie just laughed and continued to eat;

Her face was all spotty, her hair dull and dry,
And because of her temper her friends said Goodbye,

So poor little, sweet little Suzie McVale,
Became lonely and sulky and shaped like a whale,

And Dad said ‘Och, Suzie, you must eat some fruit,
Your blood pressure’s high and your heart will give oot’,

But Suzie did not make an effort to halt
Any part of her diet of nothing but salt,

And any suggestion to stop made her wild,
And she’d gorge on more crisps like a bad-tempered child,

And outside the world kept on turning around,
And inside Big Suzie was now sofa-bound,

And winter arrived and the storms they got stronger,
The downpours came daily for longer and longer,

The sea it got angry, the waves they got mad,
And Suzie ate everything salty and bad,

A tidal wave formed and the terrors began,
And the villagers panicked and all of them ran,

And they shouted at Suzie “Get up, girl, get out,”
And her dad took a moment to give her a clout

And then head for the hills, saying “God bless, my love,
But your fate’s in the hands of Whoever above;

I told you, I warned you, it’s nobody’s fault
But your own, that you never ceased swallowing salt,”

But Suzie stayed put, couldn’t budge, couldn’t move,
Her bum was too big and too stuck in the groove,

And the waves came and claimed her as part of their sea,
And they took her away on a saltwater spree,

And all that was left was this cautionary tale,
‘To take with a wee pinch of salt’ (S. McVale).

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