Sunday, 20 December 2009

A year in review

Like most people, at this time of year I'm really assessing 2009 - what I achieved, what I didn't and what I want to do in 2010.

In 2009 I: ran three half-marathons, made some great new friends through CanToo and strengthened friendships made in 2008 in CanToo, did a 40 classes in 60 days Bikram challenge, was made redundant, got a fantastic new job that I love and feel lucky to have landed, and last weekend I swam in my first ocean race!

On a more personal side, I met a married guy who wanted to have an affair with me, I finally broke ties with an ex who - while being a pretty good guy - was bad for me and my self esteem/confidence, gave internet dating a red-hot go, went through a range of good and bad emotions about myself and where I am in life and where I want to be, and turned 31!

I feel like 2009 was a bad year really. A lot of ups and downs emotionally, more than one night crying like an idiot (over men, generally) and doubting myself. I was made redundant from a job that I didn't really like, but worked extremely hard in and was only made redundant due to a personality clash with the boss. From all this, however, I feel like I've really managed to make the best of it, learn and grow. I feel like I am so much stronger for all the sh*t that went on, and in 2010 will use all this experience to drive me.

Naturally, my number one goal for 2010 is to increase AND MAINTAIN fitness. At the beginning of 2009 I went on a huge clean eating and exercise mission, dropped a good dress size/5kg or so and felt fantastic. Around the middle of the year, however, it started slipping. My eating started to slip as I made excuses to eat not so much junk, but the food I just cannot handle - more highly processed stuff basically, and too much sugar/fat and just too much in general. The result was, of course, weight gain, loss of fitness and constantly fighting fatigue.

Of course, you can only do what you can. I was working 10 hour shifts with no break, under a lot of pressure at work and as the company's merger was announced in February but the results/outcome of this weren't known until August I feel like I spent far too many months worrying about the future. I feel like I did the best with the free time I had, but in 2010 with my new job and more civilised hours I can do better.

So, here we are again. Resetting goals. I've been working for the past month or so on rebuilding a fitness base. On Saturday I finally felt like it was working and reminded myself of why I want to get to that higher level of fitness. I went on a 10km run with some of my running group, which has broken up for the swim season. We'd run 9km and I was coming up the last and not insignificant hill, having run up a pretty monstrous hill already without stopping or losing too much speed. About a third of the way up the hill, a break-through, I got a surge of energy! I seriously did, I picked up my pace and powered up that hill feeling fresh and alive. Whoo hoo. I then powered the final km home.

After that, we went off to swim training at Manly beach. We did about 2km, swimming from South Steyne to Shelly, then to Half-Way beach and back. While I was by no means in the front of the pack, I was definitely in the top third of the group. More than that, about 1km into the swim I found myself actually relaxed and enjoying the fact I was swimming well and feeling good. Until Saturday I'd found myself really tense in the water with almost strained breathing, on the verge of panicking or getting upset because I didn't feel good.

So I was stroking along and gave myself a big pat on the back. I've only been swimming again for about five weeks, prior to that it had been about 10 years since I'd done any serious swimming training. As a kid/teen I did a LOT of swimming. Four or five sessions a week, plus surf life saving on the weekends. I had a lot of pressure from my parents to keep doing it and to improve and compete at a higher level. The more pressure they applied, the less I wanted to do it until they finally stopped pushing and I gave up.

But here I am again, almost enjoying swimming training. I still hate the pool sessions, there is nothing to look at but the black line and the chlorine is drying out my skin, hair and irritating my eyes. At the same time, I really like feeling that fitness level come up again. So, I am definitely going to keep swimming while doing my other stuff. I feel like it's really strengthened up my back muscles and is great for all over fitness.

Soooo, that was all a very long winded way of saying that I look forward to regaining that real feeling of fitness. The feeling that your body is just bursting with energy and health and that you can do just about anything. Run, swim, weights, yoga etc etc.

Oh, and I look forward to fitting into my skinny jeans again! Not skinny leg style jeans, that would just be obscene as I have heavily muscled legs and am far too short to pull it off. But obviously I mean my smaller sized jeans that have alluded me since August!

I'm not putting any kg loss target on myself, although secretly if I could lose about 7kg I think I would be at my prime fighting weight and ready to consider the full marathon in September. I know what I need to do to get there. It's not about crazy dieting, for me, it's about much more careful eating and training. And sleep. I must remember to sleep. As I'm not a spring chicken anymore, not that I'm ancient, I need my sleep more than ever before. Gone are the days when I could sleep for four or five hours and expect to feel fantastic. I need at least seven hours to wake up feeling fresh.

More than that, it needs to be good sleep. No eating an hour before bed or sleeping in later to catch up on sleep.

I think it's going to be about routine ... or if not routine, but a rhythm.

While I love my new job, I am still struggling to get myself into that rhythm due to increased travel times and stuff. I can't do a class at 6am, arrive home at 7am and be on the train 20 minutes later. I really need to consider finding a gym closer to work. I am considering getting a personal trainer to show me the right way to do weights. I've done a lot of pump, but I don't think this is really targetted enough for me. The problem, I've seen, with PTs is that there are a lot of them out there and they're not all created equal. While there are some good trainers at Fitness First, a lot of them just don't really care about you or your goals - they just want to get paid.

I've hard a friend of a friend is opening up a very private gym basically half-way between home and work and I think she might be the right fit. I've got a few friends who are PTs, but I really need someone who I have no emotional connection with right now, as I want to be pushed hard and do not want it to affect any of my friendships. I have no problem with working hard, but I don't like the idea of my friends telling me what to do.

Soooo, the goals for 2010. Get fitter, stay happy, stay focussed on my goals, stop doing things I don't want to do because others want me to do it and not feel guilty for making myself my number one priority.

A clear plan of how to do all this is yet to emerge, but it will!

Does anyone have any tips for staying motivated and enthusiastic? When I lost my first amount of weight, four years ago, I took what I called a day by day approach. I didn't think about the next week/month etc, I really broke things down to one day at a time. I would wake up in the morning and make sure every decision I made about food and exercise was "on goal". If I had a bad day, I didn't let if affect the next and, similarly, if I ate something bad I didn't just give in and let it mean I had a bad day or week. I think this is the key for me. Keep the focus really tight, one day at a time. In 2009 I really lost this as I was setting myself big goals for the future and then worrying about how I would get there and panicking about it.

So I think this is what I need to do. Work out a vague plan of attack, and take things one day at a time. Think more about what I'm doing during the day ... so often I just simply forget about what I'm eating and find myself munching away on the stuff I wanted to avoid. Like bread rolls or high sugar yoghurts or big handfuls of nuts.

So, farewell to 2009 a year of ups and downs but ultimately a lot of personal growth. I am acknowledging what I've achieved, but I refuse this time to rest on my laurels and bask in that glory. I know I can do more if I stay focussed.