Fatblog: 5K Potato
Seismic changes have occurred recently chez Foppish, the most momentous of which is that I jog now. Jogging is cool1. I’ve talked before about the massive job change I underwent at the end of last year which utterly stalled and in fact undid my weight loss. Finally I’ve been able to reverse that trend by doing something I should have done ten years ago and actually getting off my arse and doing some exercise. Who even am I any more?
I’m currently following the Couch to 5K programme which takes people, gently, over a period of weeks, from sitting on their backsides to being able to run without stopping for half an hour. Last night I completed the third week of a nine-week programme provided by the NHS through an app, though many running apps and podcasts use a similar approach. Each week involves three jogging sessions of half an hour each, with stints of running split up by recovery time just walking, to get your breath back. The first week involves eight minutes of running overall, the second week nine minutes, and so on. The split between running and walking times changes each week to slowly build up your stamina and bugger me but it actually works!
The first run I went on didn’t kill me nearly as hard as I thought it would, though the day after my legs were really wobbly. By the end of each week I’ve felt perfectly ready to do a little bit more. The app repeatedly encourages you to make sure you have a rest day between runs so on the days in between I’ve generally gone for long walks that burn about as many calories as the jog but over twice the amount of time. I do feel though like I could do more, so next week I might slip in one of the easier sessions from a previous week to try and build my stamina up, as it’s my cardiovascular capacity that’s the limiting factor at present and not my legs. There again, the long walks give me the time to listen to podcasts and generally just unplug my brain a bit which I can’t do if I’m concentrating on my breathing, so we’ll see.
Results thus far have been impressive and gratifying, however. After an initial week or so during which I actually gained weight (which I’m presuming was my legs and core firming up), I’ve now lost three and a half pounds since beginning the jogging, averaging just over a pound a week! Importantly my resting heart rate, which is a general indicator of fitness, has dropped nearly ten beats per minute since I started, as you can see below:
(More on how I track that is below). Over and above all of this though is that I can see a change in my body shape that is disproportionate to how much weight I’ve lost. I’ve been doing as many sit-ups and crunches as I can (which is not many) just before going out for a run, which I’ve found has successfully staved off getting stitch. That, coupled with the light core toning that the running provides means I can see a pronounced flattening of my belly which is one of the most heartening things that could possibly happen over such a short span of time. It’s really spurring me to keep going and obliterate my love handles!
A while ago I decided, in an uncharacteristic piece of self-denial, to avoid getting the upcoming Apple Watch and instead spend less money and get a dedicated fitness tracker. That decision is not etched in stone, however currently it is holding fast. At first I got a Jawbone Up24 but within twenty-four hours it had proved itself a dud as the internal vibration motor failed to vibrate. A last-minute “Abort! Abort!” tweet from @mattcheetham set me toward getting the Fitbit Charge HR as a replacement instead of another Jawbone (see the image above). While I’m not as in love with it as I probably would be with the Apple Watch, and integrating it with other services can sometimes be a bit fiddly (a deeper review of the Fitbit as well as the apps I mention below will be forthcoming now I’ve been living with them for a few weeks), it is certainly affording me deeper insights into what and how I’m doing.
I use a few other gadgets and apps too. My Fitbit Aria scales despite being a little bit flightly, are providing weight tracking. MyFitnessPal I use solely for calorie tracking as it has arguably the best UK food database, though if anyone knows better I would love to hear about it. I get almost all my exercise from running and walking and RunKeeper tracks those for me, though its integration with Fitbit is somewhat circuitous. Finally, I’m considering FitStar for doing workouts at home, although to take full advantage it requires a monthly subscription which I’m a little bit wary of – one of the key goals of this whole fitness thing was to do it at very low cost, but the free workout did do me some good, and it’s one of the few apps to plug into Fitbit seamlessly (which is just as well, considering Fitbit just bought them).
To The Future! points
So what’s next, I ask myself. Well, my current weight is 201lbs2, a drop of about a pound a week on average since I started this current regime. Given that run-rate, as it were, I should hit my previous lowest weight, 193lbs, in about eight weeks. My Couch to 5K programme ends in six weeks however, so I will have to find a replacement for that – RunKeeper does a few free and several paid-for running plans for fat loss, 10K and others so I’ll probably look at those although again, I don’t really want to be spending money on an app that tells me how to run so will probably stick to the free plans.
With the wind behind me I could hit my ultimate weight goal of 182lbs in early August. The more I run and find myself enjoying it, the more it dawns on me that this is a goal which is achievable and not just a pie-in-the-sky, asking-for-a-pony thing. I haven’t felt that way since last summer before I stopped doing my physical job, and it’s really buoying me up!
What I’m going to need to do and sooner rather than later is find better ways to manage my eating at the weekend. I’m fine through the week when I’m at work but from Friday lunchtime when I finish I just tend to pig out. To continue losing weight down the line I’m going to have to do something about that. But that’s a thought for a different day; for now I’m losing weight, feeling quite good about myself and have achieveable goals in front of me.