What on earth is Operation Skinny Cow?

Operation Skinny Cow was born after a few of us in Blogland decided it might be nice to lose some weight and/or get a bit fitter. We decided it would be even nicer if we encouraged each other along the way.

You can read about how it started in this post.

If you want to be part of the fun and add your own posts to this blog then send an e-mail to Emily Sue at reachingforgreen@gmail.com and she'll set you up as an author.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Not really here (ES)

I've been MIA from this blog lately. The good news is, I've lost a small amount of weight. The bad news (for me) is, I have an eating disorder. Yeah, that sucks. But the truth is, this is in no way a new thing. I've struggled with disordered eating for years. Decades, probably. It's the kind of thing that bubbles under the surface and I keep it just under control, then things happen and it boils over so I rush in with some emergency mopping up. Unfortunately the mopping up is usually just enough of a modification of my behaviour to get things back to 'bubbling under the surface' again, and the whole cycle repeats. Again and again and again.

This time, however, the boiling over happened a bit more vigorously, enough for me to admit what other people have seen and been hinting at for ages - this is not just chronic dieting; this is an eating disorder. Anorexia? No. Bulimia? No. Binge Eating Disorder? No. Compulsive Overeating? No. Various elements of some of those? Yes... which makes it what's called an ED-NOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).

The good news here is that I'm actually willing to do something about it this time, which is a huge, enormous, Grand-Canyon-crossing leap from the stuck place I have been in. So, I'm working on it with my counsellor and with a dietitian. And God. And my prayer partners. All in all, I have a pretty good team behind me! I'm doing okay, really, and I'm sure I'll get there in the end.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know where I've been, and why I probably won't be logging much on here. Unless, of course, you want to hear things like, "Yesterday I ate _______ and didn't have an anxiety attack or feel the need to punish myself." Yeah, maybe not.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What the? (HJ)

I was doing up my belt and then rearranging the denim to not be too puckered.

But it still looked puckered.

Then I realised that I'd done it up to the FOURTH hole.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Worth Weighing (HJ)

I've been really seeing how much more fit I am than I was when I started to get back into the exercise at the end of last semester:

* I feel stronger in anything I do after I've rowed in the morning. I stand straighter can get up and down more easily and simply feel strong and more energetic.

* I sleep better (usually) if I've rowed in the morning.

* For some reason, I'm less likely to be beguiled by bad food choices (or at least major blowouts) if I've rowed that morning.

* During the week I got my 20 stair repetitions under 7 minutes. When I first got to 20 repetitions it was taking over 8 minutes. I decided that I needed to keep the exercise going for at least 7 minutes, so yesterday I switched to "how many times can I have started the stairs before the timer goes off at 7 minutes" The answer was 22. And I didn't die.

* My stroke rate at the rowing machine is getting better, too. I can quite easily sit on 38 strokes a minute for my "normal" rowing speed. My three minutes of fast rowing can get as high as 48 strokes per minute, but try as I might, I couldn't push it up to 50. Next week I'm going to increase the fast minutes to 4 minutes at a time, taking it out of my normal rowing speed time.

So all this exercise has been making a difference to how I feel. It has also started to make a difference to how my clothes are fitting, which is a relief. And this week, finally, the scales have registered a downward blip.

This morning I weighed in at 78.7kg, a drop of 1.4 kilos since before Christmas. That's a lot of work for 1.4 kg, because my weight since the last weigh-in has been ridiculously stable until Wednesday of this week.

I'm hoping that common report that muscle takes more keeping up than fat will start to kick in any time now. My body is welcome to eat as much of itself as it wants to.

I also had to laugh at some myth busting going on in the internet exercise world. Apparently, muscle doesn't weigh more than fat. A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. No Kidding!?! Of course, the same volume of muscle will weigh more than the same volume of fat. So, apparently the myth is wrong, because it typically doesn't include specific mention that we're speaking volumetrically. Would not logic dictate?... never mind.

Friday, February 3, 2012

No progress, LLL

Hi All,
I have some excuses instead of progress. I had a birthday that was celebrated 3 times on 3 different days. One included cheesecake. The weather became doubtful, although we had very little rain, but it was an excuse not to walk. That led to the inevitable, I had an extremely bad leg cramp during one night and that led to no walking, for exercise. I had to get out my stick and take a stroll around the small block to try to get going again. However 2 days with the stick and yesterday I started the usual walk and managed to build up speed as I went and carried my stick all the way. So that is now back to normal.

So I am again around the dreaded 60kg I can't seem to get below it to stay, the scales today couldn't make up their mind so I am either .2 or .3 or .4. However I will keep going getting fit, my man today said he needs more resistance on the rower so I will try that too.

Maybe next week will show some better results.

Not an ounce of difference (HJ)

Nup. Not one. None.

(not even having cut all my hair off!)

But on the other hand, I was doing up my belt yesterday and realised that I could easily do it up one hole tighter.

And despite the fact that I accidentally cooked too much quantity of vegetables last night (the pumpkin needed using up) and I was very full after dinner, I didn't even have to let it out.

Which is pretty good, because a large dinner three months ago would have had me undoing my belt entirely because there were no more holes to use. Now I'm on the third hole which must be about 5 cm difference.

And that makes it all worth it. :)

Oh, that's right, "I'm not losing weight, I'm trying to get fitter"...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Repeat after me... (HJ)

I'm not trying to lose weight, I'm trying to get fit.

I'm not trying to lose weight, I'm trying to get fit.

I'm not trying to lose weight, I'm trying to get fit.

No, it's not working for me either.

I am getting fitter. I'm now at my desired number of minutes of exercise (although the ride my bike to morning prayer count is down for this week due to some beautiful inclement weather we've been having).

And I am not dying as I get up those stairs for the 20th time, although it seems close sometimes.

But I didn't want to fixate on losing weight (which wasn't happening anyway), so I decided to weigh in once a month because there might be a change.

Or not.

80.1kg. I think I was about 80.4 before Christmas.

So it's a pretty good thing that I'm feeling fitter, and not worrying about how much I weigh, isn't it?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Back in Control LLL

Hi All,
Today I feel that I am back in control of things like exercise and diet. I went on a strict 6 day diet to get things going again, and that worked better than I expected which was good. I have been rowing and walking daily and feeling much better for it. Even yesterday when my body said 'no walk' my mind said 'yes walk' so off I went and felt much better for it.

My weight today is back to 59.6kg, so that is about where I left off so the Christmas weight is gone for good this time (I hope). So back on track and 3 kg to go. I suppose I should aim at 1 kg per month which is what was happening. However I had visitors this am and made some bickies that now have to be eaten. Well I did freeze them, so I hope they stay there.

Hopefully I will stay on track for some time now. It is too difficult to get back on track, much easier to stay there.

Onwards and downwards.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I am dumb (but fit!) HJ

Monday. Turn up the exercise!

Now doing 18 times up & down the stairs, added the next two repetitions.

Didn't die.

That was good.

Added an extra single minute of fast time to rowing, making it up to 29 minutes total.

I wasn't dead even yet.

Rode my bike into a headwind to town, only to find that morning prayer wasn't on because all the Anglican clergy are at summer school this week. They had discussed it in my hearing at least twice last week and I failed to connect "Clergy Summer School next week" with "we'll all be away so there will be no morning prayer".

Of course, this means I didn't get my 30 minute sit down for the actual praying part of morning prayer.

So I rode home again, surprisingly against a headwind. Surprising, that is, until I realised that a south easterly wind will be against you for parts of both ways to and from town when town is to the north east of your residence.

I am getting stronger.

But maybe the oxygen deprivation from all this exercise is slowing my brain down.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Intermittently Intolerant (Manda)

Ok, so it's been another couple of months.
I got better, but I still have a lingering intolerance (which may only have noticeable effects when I'm busy or stressed).

Being unable to eat much dairy - my favorite three foodgroups - is helping me curb my slightly silly eating habits. I'm using soymilk for breakfast, which gives me one good (but not excessive) dairy-inclusive dessert during the day, should the opportunity arise.

Meanwhile, I've learned that when I drink water (and noncaffeinated tea), I eat less. So I'm trying this mental thing where I have a glass of water before snacks or dessert. I tend to be satisfied with less of the food after a glass of water, so when I actually remember that I do this, it's working well! (Also, eating veggies helps).

69.5 kilos.
(Oh, by the way - as far as I can tell, that's the lightest I've weighed in on this blog. Hooray!)

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm still around

Hi All,
I am still around, getting rounder. Since holidays I haven't made much progress, actually over the holiday period I gained again. This past weekend we have been away celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. So now all that is past, I am going to get going again. I need to lower carbs to start things working again, so today is the first day of being really good again. My exercise has been slack to non existent so that will improve too. So shortly I hope to be again celebrating 60 kg and then I will continue from where I left off some time back. I also need to improve my fitness level and that did start over the week end we walked a long long way.
So hopefully later in the week I can show some improvement. I have a long way to go.

This exercise might, just might, be making some difference (HJ)

It's Monday. That's the day to up the challenge in the exercise.

So I'm now doing 16 times up and down the stairs. That's 256 individual steps each way (albeit changing between up and down every 16 repetitions). I've decided I'm going to make it to 20 times, then start pushing the time frame required, and maybe add some weight. 2 kg of flour in my back-pack?

I've also upped the rowing by adding 3 mins of as fast as I can: 2 mins fast, then normal 5 mins, then 1 min fast again. This leaves me with 28 mins total. I don't have time to look at more than 30 mins, so once I hit that I'll just have to increase the fast mins and/or resistance. I will only do the longer row (i.e. more than 20 mins) on days when I'm doing a short bike ride. It keeps it interesting to mix it up a bit.

I made 1050 repetitions this morning. That's impressive to me - into 4 figures!

Not riding my bike for a week between Christmas and New Year has really impacted on my bike-fitness. I'm struggling with the normal 2km, and haven't even considered the longer one last week. (Then again, it could be the heat. Or the fact that I'm doing extra other exercise in the mornings before I go, so I'm tired already before I start.)

I've also been walking the dog a few afternoons in the week. It isn't for fitness, more for fresh air and dog-time and mind-relaxing. It also gets my walking muscles going, so that although the pace I go is no-where near fast enough to keep up with my Mum* it will mean I actually can walk when we go overseas.

So I guess I'm doing stairs, at least 20 mins rowing, and 4 km on the bike about 4 mornings a week. It's got to be doing something, right?

*Yes. The same Mum as was attacked by a dog and hasn't yet regained pain-free mobility. The same Mum who is more than 20 years older than I am. Sad, isn't it?

A matter of timing (Emily Sue)

Having spent weeks alternating between doing workout DVDs and walking on my treadmill, I have decided that I would rather walk outside while the weather is still nice. This is Melbourne, after all, and it's going to start getting cold a lot sooner than I would like. Might as well get outside while I still can.

I have mapped out a little 6km walk and have been doing that early every morning. "Early" means I usually start at about 5.50am. Never in my life would I have imagined I'd be doing such a thing. We're on daylight saving time here so the sun's not up some days and it's barely even light. I usually walk out my front door thinking, "Really? This is what I do now?" ;)

It's a walk with a few small hills - two are a short, sharp incline and two are a long, steady incline - and the rest is mostly flat. I usually do the walk in 70 minutes, meaning my average speed is (obviously) just under 6km/h. In the past few days I've been working on getting my time down - goal is to do the walk in 60 minutes or less, so I know my average speed is 6km/h or faster. Yesterday I managed to get it down to 67 minutes, which was the first time I'd been under 70 minutes. Yay! And today... today I did it in 63 minutes. How did I manage such a feat? Partly by walking faster, and partly by jogging bits of it.* Jogging. IN PUBLIC. (My route is mostly along main roads.) Believe me, this is NOT like me at all. I am not what you'd call a natural athlete, and certainly not a natural runner. I look awkward, I'm in constant danger of tripping over, everything wobbles all over the place and I start puffing and turn tomato-red in a matter of seconds. Which might be okay, except that I happen to have a very round face - so I'm not just red; I look like I ACTUALLY have a tomato for a head.

Kind of like this, only with less smiling and more grimacing.

So you see, I don't exercise in public. That's part of the reason I bought a treadmill, so I could turn red and work on my cardiac arrest in the privacy of my own home. And yet, there I was this morning. Huffing, puffing, wobbling and turning red while cars drove by. No one stopped to render medical assistance, so it's possible I didn't look as bad as I thought. And when I got home I felt great. My body is getting stronger and my attitude to helping it get stronger is changing too. That's a win, in my book.

* By "bits of it" I mean I jogged in 30-60 second bursts, 4-5 times. At my current fitness level that's roughly equivalent to a half-marathon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting there (ES)

I'm not sure how to measure what my success has been like lately. I'm mostly sticking to a good routine of getting up early to exercise, eating good food including loads of fruit (still loving those green smoothies for breakfast - check out this video) and lots of salad, because it's been too hot to cook much. I've had some not-so-great days with food and exercise but on balance I think I've mostly had good days.

So have I lost weight? Yes! And... no! My weight has been up and down so I'm not paying too much attention to it as an indicator of where I'm at. I'm trying to pay more attention to my body than to the scales. And my body tells me that the changes to my diet and exercise levels are doing me good. I have more energy and I feel stronger. I'm still a complete weakling, muscle-wise, but I'm finding many exercises are getting easier so something is definitely improving there.

The interesting thing about starting my day with the green smoothie is that my body now craves it. I feel more energised and alert, and when I start the day with the smoothie I find I tend to eat better all day, whereas on the days where I don't have it I am more likely to snack on things that aren't as healthy for me. Interesting and somewhat unexpected benefit. I suppose it's not surprising - I'm now having around 6 serves of fruit per day, compared with about 3 serves per week previously. Of course my body is enjoying the extra nutrients and fibre. I'd like to increase my serves of veges too... so I either need to wait for the weather to cool down, or expand my repertoire of raw vegetable dishes.

Calorie-wise I'm still tracking on My Fitness Pal. In truth I eat the same things most days so I could probably estimate, but at the moment I am still too likely to binge when I'm having a bad day. Tracking calories gives me some accountability, and is also helping me learn to allow for "bad" foods (eg, chocolate, takeaway) within my calorie limit. This is important for me because I struggle with disordered eating and my tendency is to see eating chocolate etc as a failure, and therefore decide I've blown it anyway so I might as well keep bingeing until I feel sick. Not helpful for my physical OR mental health. Being able to CHOOSE to eat less-than-ideal foods, on purpose and within my calories, is a big thing. I'm not particularly good at it yet, but never mind. The path to good mental health is a marathon, not a sprint.

So in summary - I'm not losing much weight but I'm getting healthier and stronger, and feeling good.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Exercise Conundrum (HJ)

So I'm not trying to lose weight, really (although it would be nice). I want to get fit.

The problem being that if your goal is to lose a few kg it is easy to see if you're succeeding or not. If you want to get fitter, how do you really know if you're getting to your goal?

You see, as each thing you've been doing gets easier, the only way to get more fit is to do more. When your goal is to be able to work for some hours on an archaeological dig, or walk up Mt Nebo or whatever, how do you actually know if you're on track?

So all I can do is do more and more exercise and get fitter and fitter, but eventually you run out of time that is able to be devoted to exercise (which, let's face it isn't a whole lot of time because there's heaps of other things that I need to be doing - Biggest Loser this ain't).

So I really need to get some goals for precisely fit do I want to be?

Suggestions (not all at the same time, mind you):
30 mins rowing
30 mins bike ride
20 times up and down the steps.

The thing is, I'm well on the way to these goals. And the additional medium paced 20 min walk with the LBD doesn't really add all that much to my conditioning.

But does being able to do any of these really help me to shovel dirt, be on my hands and knees scraping away at stuff, or walking for miles around ancient sites?

I need to get me some goals. More hills in the bike ride? Up the resistance on the rowing machine? Carry stuff up and down the stairs?

PS. I've decided that I'm not going to weigh-in until the end of the month. There's been no change much since I recommenced this fitness kick a couple of months ago. I think I've lost about 1.2kg in about 3 months. So hopefully a month apart may make any difference a bit more noticeable. We'll see.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Enough? (HJ)

I've been thinking yesterday and the day before that that I really need to add some challenges to my exercise routine. If I'm going to enjoy my time overseas, I need to be fit. And getting fit requires that the degree of difficulty is slowly increasing (time, or weight, etc).

So today...

Today I got up and did the steps 10 times, rather than the 8 that I have been doing. That's 160 steps up and 160 steps down. I WILL be able to get to obscure places overseas that require my body to cope with elevation.

Backed that up with 20mins rowing. Rowing is my core/arms exercise that also gets a little cardio-vascular on the side. It is my standard exercise that I really need to do to discharge my responsibility to myself to try to get/keep fit. I haven't rowed this week, so it was amazing that I managed it well, and I decided that with the extra steps and riding down to morning prayer I'd leave it at that. (Besides, Emily Sue said that 20 mins is her minimum and anything else is bonus. If it's good enough for Emily Sue...)

Then I decided that I'd cycle the long way down to morning prayer. I've been doing that a few times this week instead of rowing. It's about 20 mins instead of under 10. I should work out the distance.* About three blocks into the alternative route the chain fell off my bike, so I had to abort and head for the local Anglican church to be on time.

Then after prayer I thought, "Why the heck can't I do my extra circuit on the way HOME? After all, technically it's a holiday day for me today and I don't need to BE anywhere."

So I did.

On the way home I also did the few extra blocks to get to the little butcher that I patronise to pick up our Christmas ham. Thankfully it's pretty much flattish and downhill from there.

This afternoon I had to make the trip to Mum & Dad's, so being a lovely overcast, cool day I decided to take the bike. After coasting down the lovely hill from our place I had to start going back up the hill to their place and my legs decided that they weren't exactly fresh. I made it, though.

On the way back (which is mostly downhill until you have to go up our killer hill again) I think I nearly died. I think the pump that is my heart was really running out of juice.

I don't think I need to walk the dog this afternoon. Do you?

*The actual distance of my long, loopy way is 6.2km, the short way is 2km home again from there. Of course, the long, loopy way was selected primarily on the basis of the fact that because it follows the river most of the way it is pretty flat. I LIKE flat. But I would have done at least an extra 1 - 1.5 km in my aborted initial attempt and the detour to the butcher. It is not unreasonable to assume I did 10 km on the bike this morning, then another 4km this arvo.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Same same (ES)

I've just had three weeks off work, which meant I had three weeks of no exercise and not caring what I ate. Add some stress to that, for various reasons, and there may have been some binge eating. Ahem. Moving right along...

I started back at work this week, and also started back on my early morning routine of exercise and a decent breakfast (and taking the time to pack a decent lunch). I've decided that when I exercise I'd like to do 20 minutes minimum, because having my heart rate up for that amount of time is about what I need to burn off adrenaline and keep my anxiety at a pretty good level. But anything after that is a bonus - so if I do 45 minutes one day and only 20 minutes the next day, that's totally fine. It's not that I did "only" 20 minutes on day 2; it's that I did an extra 25 minutes on day 1. This way of thinking has helped to stop those conversations with myself. You know the ones... "You did 45 minutes yesterday and today you want to stop at 20. That's pathetic! What's wrong with you? It's less than half what you did yesterday - that's a huge step backwards!" Unhelpful, yes? Yes.

I have to say I'm still loving the early-to-bed, early-to-rise routine. I get so much done in the mornings and it kick-starts my day beautifully. Of course, this hasn't resulted in any weight loss, but I guess that will come eventually. Blobbing around for three weeks didn't help, obviously, although I am back to the weight I was a month ago. Still a way to go to get my fitness and energy levels back up there, but that will come. Right now I have a groin injury - just like a footballer - which I can really feel when I walk so I'm taking a few days off to rest it. It's just a muscle thing and will heal fine. And the lesson here, kids, is (a) warm up first and (b) don't keep up a brisk walk and/or jog when you're obviously tired out and therefore your form is rubbish. Don't be a hero - it leads to injury.

Nothing to see here, people (HJ)

So a few weeks later and I'm doing 20 mins on the rowing machine, and still riding my bike about three times in the week (although the rainy days have pulled that count down this week), and I'm now at the end of my week of doing the steps 8 times.

I did actually have a second bike ride one day last week, and I did not die.

But still no change in the weight stakes. (still wobbling around the horrible round number I don't want to think about)

What do you mean I've got to make some better food choices?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Going Down (HJ)

I made it to just under the horrible number I don't want to think about, much less talk about. (Like 0.1kg under, but hey...)

I've increased my rowing to 15 minutes about 4 times a week because I think it's time for a challenge.

I'm not having to put my bike down to first gear for the long slog up the hill from town anymore, and I've been doing about three trips into town each week. I'm not up to much more distance than that (2km) or for that matter riding to two things in the one day. But it's a start.

But last week my challenge was to go up and down the stairs 5 times 3-4 times a week. Different muscle set and for me going up has always been really hard work. It occurs to me that if I want to get to the monastery at Meteora or to the top of Mt Nebo to see where Moses got to watch the Israelites cross the Jordan in June/July this year I will need to improve my ability to go up. Or at least, I will enjoy the trip more if I do.

So, the plan is to be able to go up & down the internal stairs 20 times in a row. This week I've increased it to 6 times and I'm surprised I'm not dead. Or having weird heart-y things.

So I must be getting fitter, right?