Monday, 30 March 2015


This last month, I feel like my body changes have come to a standstill. Not in a bad way - but more that it has reached a slight halt. I know this is normal in weight loss. When you up your game, your body loses fat quickly in a short space of time but it can easily become used to your new way of living and decide to stop working to burn the bad stuff. 

If I was to compare my body update to week 20, I don't look much different but I do weight a bit less.  Only a couple of pounds but still it all counts in these final weeks to The Big Day. I'm currently 8st 11lbs (56kg). Since I started this journey six months ago, I weighed 9st 5lbs (60kg). In all, I am pleased with this loss. I cannot remember the last time I shed half a stone. Looking closer at my body shape, I have bulked up since January. My shoulders are broader and defined (thanks to swimming). The legs are a majority of muscle and my arms are slowly but surely still getting a teeny bit slimmer day by day.

In terms of my training, I have introduced brick sessions (where I take on two disciplines back to back). So far it has all been bike/run or run/bike/run and I think this is contributing to my more 'solid' build. My core is getting stronger (up close you can just about to see the start of a two pack!) and my boobs are smaller (which for me I wanted).

However, despite the small changes, when I don't see big changes I have to remind myself how far I have come. Taking pictures of my body has been so beneficial to me - I really would recommend it to anyone looking to shape up! Seeing the progress on screen makes you realise how hard you have worked and what you have achieved and the below pictures have helped me see at my week 28 milestone that in fact, I have done pretty good. 
(L-R week 1, week 4, week 12, week 20, week 28)

I would say week 20 has been my slimmest but week 28 is by far my strongest. My arms are toned, my stomach forming some sort of muscular shape (well at least trying to) and my back is looking pretty tough. For the latter comment, I will share this at my next body reveal which is due to be week 36 (one month before my wedding).

Hoping for another great report at week 32!

Lipstick Runner.

Monday, 23 March 2015

KIT PICKS: Going cycling pro with pedals & cleats...then falling off.

(my new cycling shoes and pedals - along with some lock laces I purchased for my triathlon!)

I've got fancy new pedals and shoes for the bike. They were an early birthday present from my parents. I guess you could say I have had a little voice nagging in my ear to man up and try them out. I cycle every day to work and also go on bike rides at weekends. Whenever I head out, whether on my commute or leisurely route, I am finding myself one of the few without cleats.

Since I got my bike eight months ago, I hadn't planned on getting special shoes. It felt fine with standard pedals and trainers but when I went on my big bike ride back in the New Year (which you can read about here), my friend, who wears cleats, was saying how beneficial she finds them. The motion of pulling and pushing helps to pick up speed and it eases the pressure on the legs which, without them, rely only on pushing the pedals down.

So when my parents came to visit me a couple of weeks back and suggested they get me new pedals and shoes for my birthday, it felt like a good time to delve into it. I opted for Look Keo2 Max pedals. No particular reason behind them other than the guy in the shop told me they were decent and my Dad was happy with the price. My only point was that I wanted pedals that weren't too small and these seemed a decent size. To go with the pedals, we purchased a pair of Louis Garneau's - in particular the women's Carbon LS 100 road shoes. Whilst the look of them put me off (I mean come one, they aren't the most feminine looking...), the dude in the shop did lure me in with the quick attach rail system. So basically, instead of Velcro straps, I have metal string on a loop that I tighten. It just means they are quicker to take on and off, which is great if I am going to use them for the triathlon.

In all, I was sorted. I left the shop with everything I needed and didn't hesitate to fit my new pedals and get going. I opted to head out early one Saturday morning (I went out at 7am to ensure the roads were quiet) and cycle around my neighbourhood to practice getting to grips with the clipping and unclipping of the shoes. It seemed straightforward and an hour later, I plucked up the courage to cycle to the train station where I took the train to Essex to stay with my future in-laws.

By the time Sunday came, I took the opportunity to head out on a 10 mile cycle along the quiet country lanes nearby. Half hour into the ride and I felt brilliant. "This clippy stuff is easy," I scoffed in my head. Ten minutes later, I fell. Not just a light fall onto the soft grassy banks on the outside of the road. I fell off a high curb into the road, hard, in front of a motorbike...

The thoughts that went through my head in that split second when I forgot to unclip and fell sideways into the road were 'I'm going to die!' 'the motorbike is going to hit me' and 'crap this is going to hurt'. Luckily, he swerved onto the other side of the road to dodge me and as soon as I cracked my shoulder on the curb, I sprung up from the fear and pain straight away. My bike chain had come off, my handle bar had bent inwards and I was looking a little worse for wear. Not cool. The man on the bike seemed more shook up than I did. Despite the pain, I felt more embarrassed than anything else.

The adrenalin from the fall made me pedal much faster home and by the time I walked through the front door, head hung in shame, my family had me in a hot bath followed by ice packs for my swelling arm and shoulder. 

Did it hurt the next day? Hell yes. I felt like I had been run over (which I could have almost been!). Every inch of my body ached and I had a nasty bruise on my right hand and shoulder. Have I falled off since though? No. What I've learnt is that no matter how much a fall scares you, you have to get back on the bike and try again. If you retain that fear, you will never find the courage to keep trying. Getting on my bike Monday morning to cycle to work, with the cleats, was terrifying but by saying over and over 'remember to unclip', I managed to get to work in one piece.

Will I fall off again? Probably. I mean, in reality I hope not but who can predict. What I can say for now is that I am not totally in love with my new pedals (yet) but I am hoping that with more and more practise, it will become second nature and I will start to see why this form of cycling is so much better for my speed.

Lipstick Runner.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

TRAINING UPDATE: Countdown to Blenheim Palace Triathlon

My first triathlon is 14 weeks away. Wahh! Where has the time gone from when I entered back in August!? If I look back at my training, I oddly feel like I have progressed a lot but at the same time feel like I am flagging a bit behind schedule.

Truth is, I can't really gage how well I am doing because I have never done a triathlon before. My problem at the moment is that I am looking at each discipline and criticising myself, especially for running. A lot of my fellow club members are all half or marathon training so are clocking up lots of miles whilst little me over here is popping in a couple of short runs each week. It almost feels inferior but at the end of the day, I don't need to be out doing 10 mile training runs at this time. The run of my Sprint distance is 5.8K and I know I can cover this with ease. What I need to do is cover this with ease off the back of a 13 mile bike ride.

So this is where the introduction to brick sessions comes in. To this date, I have attempted mini versions after work on a Tuesday evening - cycling home 4.5 miles and then going straight into a three mile run. It doesn't seem a lot but starting off this small is really important. If I can nail this, I can slowly add on the miles and build up to Sprint distance standard (or near enough). My first brick session was interesting. I battled through rush hour traffic to get home and then I lobbed my bike in the hallway, quickly stripped down to my running gear and heading straight back outside. For the first 200m, my legs felt like jelly as they didn't have a clue what was going on. The first half of the route I take is also all uphill so they really didn't like the situation I was putting them through. However, by the final mile, it was a nice downhill slope, my legs had awakened and pace was on top form!
I felt fantastic when I walked through the door with this time in the bag. Not bad for a first timer and I must say, I slept soundly that night so it must have exhausted my body. The couple of sessions that followed this have been just as successful and slowly my body is learning to cope with back to back multi sport challenges.

To top off the success of my running, I have also been very fortunate to bag a course PB at my local parkrun. I attended not even expecting a new and improved time (at that point my PB was 23.30). I had also spent the night previous to this guzzling gin punch and dining on Indian tapas at Dishoom so my body sure didn't feel on top form. Yet, out of nowhere, I pulled off what is probably my best ever 5K run. Taking on the deadly steep incline of the two lap course, I still managed to hold an average pace of 7.13 per mile and crossed the finish line in a gobsmacking 22.26. 
(Above: Dinner at Dishoom. Below: new 5K time for Finsbury parkrun)
The realisation of this fancy new time didn't hit me at first - my initial thought was that my Garmin must had lost signal at some point. I really couldn't believe I had done it. When the results from the race came through later that day (confirming my time), I was also chuffed to see I placed 3rd lady. I must say I did feel slightly smug and the celebratory Nandos for lunch that day was totally deserved.

As I have been so busy with work lately and travelling to lots of different parts of the country, finding time to fit in speed and hill sessions has been tricky so to bag myself this parkrun time, I really have to thank these mini brick sessions. They have really built up my strength and stamina and when I run, my body does feel stronger and firmer.

Along with my brick sessions, I have also incorporated daily sit-ups and crunches into the mix. I took on the 30 Day Abs Challenge throughout February and whilst I must admit I can't psychically see a huge difference, I can feel it. My core engages with the rest of my body so much better now and I have especially noticed this benefit when cycling uphill or running at quicker paces. I plan to continue with the sit-ups, switching to doing them every other day. Now I know I can bosh out 50 sets, it is a workout that barely takes up any time. I tend to do mine whilst my dinner is cooking in the oven!

So, what's next for me in the final weeks of training? Well, if you read my latest Operation Bridal Bod post (see here), you will notice my rather attractive wetsuit has arrived. This can only mean one thing - time for open water practise! The days are getting lighter and the air is a tad milder so it will soon be an appropriate time to don the suit and get used to swimming in a lake. I have definitely nailed the front crawl technique in the pool, now I need to hold it up in open water without the security of sides to push off every 30m. I hope to carry out a few sessions in my local lido first before moving onto the Serpentine. I'll also be cycling to this location so can attempt a brick session of swim then cycle which will be extremely beneficial!

Along with this next phase in my swimming, I am also taking on my first duathlon in April which I have purposely positioned as intense brick training in the lead up to the big race. This is approaching really fast so I need to stay focussed on my current brick sessions in order to complete the run-bike-run course. Inside, I am hoping to pull it out of the bag come race day - luckily I have never done a duathlon before so whatever time I get will be a huge achievement for me.

Are you training for your first triathlon? What training are you doing to prepare for race day?

Lipstick Runner.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


February has been hard. Since I started this body mission, it was the first time I had been faced with the scenario of being out of routine. You have probably noticed how all over the place I have been by the lack of blog posts and for this, I hang my head in shame.

I recently wrote a post on how I manage training with other duties in life (work, relationships, socialising), which can be read about here. Soon after writing this motivational piece on how you can make it work, my life started to get really hectic. It hit me after Christmas, especially with work. My time spent in the office has increased and instead of sticking to planned training agendas, I have turned to squeezing in what I can, where I can. Throw in the mad panic of planning a wedding and you have got yourself a right mixture of activities.

For my diet in this manic matter, I have tried my best to keep on the healthy path. At the start of the month, I headed up to Glasgow for a work trip and in the space of four days covered three cities throughout the north of England. The long days in meetings followed by lengthy train journeys and crashing in hotels threw my routine up in the air. On the first night in Glasgow, it had occurred to me there wasn't any places near my hotel to go and grab food so I ended up in the Premier Inn's restaurant eating a portion of triple cooked chips and greasy chicken wings. Not ideal...

By the second night, I knew I had to get some exercise in me regardless of how exhausted I was from back-to-back meetings. As soon as I got back to my room, I was in my kit and back outside and took on a four mile run around the city. Man alive Glasgow is hilly! It was however really nice to be somewhere different, weaving in and out of streets seeing where they would take me. By burning these calories, when I got back to the hotel I felt it was slightly more acceptable to endure the restaurant meals without greasy food in-fuelled guilt.

For the third night, I was in Manchester at another Premium Inn and by the time I arrived at 9pm, my enthusiasm to find somewhere decent to eat had waned and I was back in the restaurant eating yet more triple cooked chips and chicken wings. This time I did have a side salad if this makes it more acceptable?

When the weekend had arrived and I was back in London, I was feeling rather groggy. I managed to bosh out some small workout sessions but my relationship with my diet was a bit mish mashed. I'd start the day good and then by evening be binging on sugar. This might be linked to giving up chocolate for lent so my body was trying to source an alternative boost (which tended to be fruit, Angel Delight or Haribo).

After following this for a few days, I started to feel really irritated. Not only in myself but with others, work, exercise, the wedding etc...I decided an overhaul was needed and so I reintroduced VB6 (Vegan Before 6). You can read all about this foody method that I like to take here. I followed this routine a couple of years back to squeeze into a bridesmaid dress and it really worked! At the time I was also a vegetarian, so the idea of avoiding meat and dairy before 6pm was easy peasy. 

Today, I do eat chicken now and again (as you can tell with greasy wings being consumed) but it didn't really top the ease of taking the VB6 step. My diet was simple:

Breakfast: Soya banana smoothie or plain cornflakes with soya milk
Lunch: Soup with rough oatcakes and a soya yoghurt
Dinner: (after 6pm): Anything I bloody well liked! (within reason)
Snacks: Fruit or nuts 

When it got to the end of February, I was feeling much better in myself. My skin was clearer, I felt more alert and my stomach has flattened down a tad. Now we are in March, I am still following VB6 although I have relaxed my policy of 'no crap before 6pm'. For example, there was birthday cake in the office the other day and I didn't deny myself a small slice. Treating yourself on these rare occasions is important. It's something to perk you up and by having these tiny indulgences now and again, you are more likely to stick to a healthy eating routine.

Despite the ups and downs with the body, I have come out on top. So much so, that I thought I would share my triumph in squeezing into my wetsuit that arrived for the triathlon. Bring on week 28!

Lipstick Runner.