I have a confession to make. Last night I fell off the wagon. My best friend and I, on leaving the gym, decided to have a long-overdue catch-up which, inevitably, involved cava, and a fair bit of it at that. I reverted the to meal replacement plan again, and decided to ditch tea in favour of the vino. Needless to say I look and feel like crap this morning. However, what it has done has made me realise the benefits of this clean eating malarkey even more. (I should really start referring to it all seriously, shouldn't I?)
Every morning for the last week, I've noticed that the dark circles under my eyes are not as in need of covering up as much. This morning, the Touche Éclat was slapped on with a trowel! If that's not proof alone that this is working, I don't know what is. Oh, and my weight has dropped again. I just need to make sure the nasty sugar from last night's wine doesn't get to linger too long.
Which brings me onto today's topic of exercise....
Exercise and I, in the past, have had a rather tempestuous relationship. It's been a love-hate relationship. It's only been in the last couple of years that my feelings surrounding exercise have started to change, and I'm guessing that's down the realisation that I'm never going to get skinny without it. I would love to be one of these women who could just jump out of bed in the morning and run seventy three miles before breakfast, never once breaking a sweat, tirelessly bouncing through their days in their size 6 trousers. Yeah. That's never going to be me! Running is a definite no go area. I hate it. Loathe it, even. It's the work of the Devil (that, and sweetcorn...) I used to pretend to be able to run, and I also used to pretend that I even enjoyed it. Those days are gone. I've even completed the Great North Run three times and the Edinburgh Half Marathon once. I say completed, because with times around the three hour mark, it is very obvious that there wasn't a great deal of running going on there! However, due to an incident involving some wet grass and a glow-stick football and gin, my running days are well and truly over. I damaged the ligaments and cartilage in my right knee and, now, whenever I run for prolonged periods (of longer than 30 seconds) I tend to get shooting pains a little like electric shocks in my knee. Yeah, not liking that, so a perfect excuse not to run. So, I have been on a bit of a quest lately to find forms of exercise that I do enjoy because, let's face it, I can cut calories or clean eat or follow whatever diet plan I like, but I'm getting on a bit now and my metabolism just ain't what it used to be (a fact we were lamenting just last night!). Unfortunately, I need to exercise if I am to stand any chance at all of losing the lard for good.
Like my dieting history, my exercise track record has also been varied. Over the years, I've had many gym memberships - most of which resulted in me going a few times and then continuing to pay whilst shuddering every time I had to go near the place. It was almost like I developed an allergy to whichever establishment was taking my money once the first month was out of the way. I'll be honest, I find a lot of forms of exercise boring and, well, hard. Again, like the image of the runner above, I'd love to say that getting off my lazy arse and doing something is simple but it isn't. I'm vain and, as a result, hate the way I look when I work out. Don't tell me sweat is sexy. It isn't. And my face goes a really ridiculous shade of red. And I have bits that wobble - lots! Yes, I know, if I keep exercising then those bits will wobble less, but it takes so bloody long!
Ok, so I could go swimming. No. It isn't that I don't enjoy swimming - I do. The problem is other people. They get in the way, or they complain when I'm not going fast enough. I also don't particularly like any stroke other than breast stroke (remember, I don't like stuff that's hard). You don't get particularly skinny doing breast stroke, It's what old ladies do (I mean older than me!). Oh my lord, and then there's the changing rooms! The smell! Our local swimming pool is actually one of the cleaner centres but they all still smell like wee, don't they? I hate having to walk in bare feet anywhere where there are germs lurking. So, no, swimming isn't going to make it into the list of my favourite activities.
I could cycle. No. Put quite simply, I'm the clumsiest person in the world. I have issues staying on a bike that's nailed to the floor. As a child, I was the last in our street to learn to ride a 'two-wheeler'. My little brother, five years younger than me could do it before I could. That's just embarassing. I was terrified of falling off and used to get off my bike to go up and down kerbs. As a child, I could just about get away with it but as an adult, there's no excuse. Him indoors cycles a lot. He has lads' holidays abroad cycling. I couldn't think of anything worse.
My sister-in-law plays hockey: mud, cold, rain, urgh. I have a friend who coaches netball: clumsiness also comes with a distinct lack of hand-eye co-ordination - I can't catch a ball. I have friends who run religiously: yeah, we've covered that. It isn't looking great, is it?
So what is it that I do enjoy doing? I have a great friend who is a fitness instructor and she's introduced me to a whole range of different exercise classes which, if you'd told me years ago I'd be doing now, I'd have suggested you needed psychiatric help. I met Kelly a few years ago when I started going to British Military Fitness sessions. These were bootcamps run by ex-military people (that's the correct term, honest) in our local park. They were outdoors in all weathers and conditions (I once went in the snow) and they were brutal. But I loved them! Unfortunately, due to dwindling numbers, the sessions ended and I was left trying to find something else. Kelly, by this time, had set up her own business and was offering Kettlebell classes. If you've never tried this, I can highly recommend it, and they were strangely addictive. She then started offering Armageddon. This is a fitness class that is as horrific as it sounds but BMF had awakened a sort of sadistic streak in me and, now, exercise isn't worth doing if it doesn't make me cry or be sick. Armageddon is a 45 minute class with a range of different body-weighted exercises that you perform for 40 seconds followed by a 10 second rest. It is incredibly intense but does deliver results. And my God. You know when you've been 'Kellied'. It is a feeling like no other. As I said, she's a great friend but that woman has an evil streak in her unlike I've ever seen in anyone. I'm sure she was a torturer in a former life. It was through Armageddon that I discovered a love of the plank. It turns out, I'm not bad at it. OK, so I can't actually see any abdominal muscles yet, but I know they're there!
Kelly has since moved to Xercise4Less, and I've followed her there and for once, I have a gym membership that I use religiously. In fact, I spend more time in the gym now than I do anywhere else.
Last night was my first session since Sunday. Unfortunately, my PT decided to inflict a particularly intense legs session on me last weekend and it took four days for my legs to actually recover enough to walk down the stairs without screaming, let alone complete any form of exercise (remember, if it hurts, I'll find an excuse...). I've had to cancel all my classes with Kelly this week (they were on Monday and Tuesday - it was never going to happen!) but last night was Body Attack. I love Body Attack. It's intense, high energy but bloody good fun. It's dancing; it's aerobics; it's burpees; it's jumping jacks (which I have to admit are not my favourite thing ever: I've had two children...); it's totally insane but I love it!
I'm still doing Armageddon, and still loving it. I've also added a Tabata class to the mix. Similar to Armageddon, this is also high intensity interval training where you go flat out for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest. It also incorporates some weights equipment and steps from time to time rather than just relying on body weighted exercised. I also try to work out with my personal trainer a couple of times a week. There, we do a lot of weights and he frequently makes me want to vomit. All good fun!
There are no two ways around it: exercise has to become a part of my life. I'm never ever going to be able to manage to get into the kind of shape I want without it. My best friend and I were discussing last night about the fact that we wish, in our (much) younger days, we knew what we did now. We laugh at how we used to go to 'Step and Slide' on a Thursday evening before hitting the bars in town and drinking our own body weight in Pina Coladas and Singapore Slings. We thought we exercised loads but we were slim so what did it matter? We never had hangovers either - when did they become a harsh reality of life?
Ah, those were the days....
However, they exist no more! So it's on with the diet (and I'm now five days Diet-Coke free!) and the quest to find out if clean eating really is the way to go.
One last thing... Today, all in the name of research of course (the selfless things I do for you!) I tried the new range of clean treats our local butcher has started stocking. I had a Snickers cake:
Oh, yes, the cake! I could tell you what it was like, but then you'd all rush out and buy some, and I'm not sharing it with anyone!