Gulp: couch to 5k

I start 2019 at the highest weight I have ever been.  I do not like this.  I have also been thinking for ages that I need to reduce my alcohol intake.  It's not that I drink a lot at any one time because I don't but I have fallen into the habit over the last two or three years of drinking something every day.  It started when my dad was so ill with Motor Neurone Disease.  We undertook the weekly six hundred mile round trip to see him with all the physical and emotional effort that entailed.  My mother had died suddenly of a heart attack and her loss was and remains huge.  Life was hard.  For the first time in my life I began to have trouble sleeping.  I am generally a great sleeper but I found I couldn't go off to sleep.  My mind would whirr with what I could and should do for Dad and whether I was doing enough to support him through his lonely and terrible journey into silence and total incapacity.  A glass or two of wine at the end of the evening seemed to help to send  me off to sleep.  I think that was probably understandable then but it is now three years since he died and the habit seems to have become ingrained.

As I ate and drank my way cheerily through Christmas and New Year I knew I was going to have to take stock.   On January 1st we were visiting older daughter in South Wales but on January 2nd I woke up at home.  Time to face facts.  I got on the scales.  I looked at myself sideways in a mirror.  Reluctantly I picked up a a tape measure.

Results:
Weight: 10 stone 10 pounds or 150lbs.  I am five foot four.  I should weigh about nine stone five, and indeed I weighed that, give or take a couple of pounds,  for most of my adult life.  This weight has accumulated gently and inexorably over the last ten years or so, post menopausal weight I suppose.
Sideways view: just ever so slightly, for the first time in my life, barrel shaped.
Measurements: 39 inch bust, 37 inch waist, 40 inch hips.  It was the waist measurement that horrified me.  I have always been a straight up and down shape with a similar bust and hip measurement and a not very curvy waist.  Even in my twenties and thirties when I was at my slimmest and fittest my waist was about 28 inches.  But I know that fat around the middle has health implications and it seems that pretty much all of my extra weight has settled firmly around my middle.  It can't be good for me. 

Time to change.

I think that because I have done yoga for years and now do Pilates as well I tend to feel that in fitness terms I am not too bad for my age.  And  indeed as regards flexibility that is probably true.  And because we live in a beautiful place and we like to walk I think we manage to move and keep active reasonably well.  But despite all that here I am, with a waist measurement that suggests I am at risk of problems with heart health and I know that my mother died of a heart attack and both my grandparents did the same.  Never mind vanity (which is undoubtedly a factor.  I hate looking like a barrel), if I don't look after myself who will?

So what to do?
Well I thought I would start off by cutting out alcohol in the week completely.  Simply by cutting out the glass or glasses or wine from Monday to Thursday I would slash my alcohol consumption.  I wondered about doing dry January but I don't do well with prohibitions, the remnants of an awkward streak I suppose.  Tell me I can't do something and my hackles rise, foolish I know.  And I like wine and think it is one of the pleasures of life.  I just need rather less of it and to reinstate it as a part of a meal rather than as a nightcap.

In terms of diet I have been eating gluten free for a few years and find that it helps quite a bit with my IBS.  I try hard to avoid processed food and we pretty much always cook from scratch.  I think our diet is healthy so I have no great desire to change it all that much.  Maybe I should have a go at reducing portion size and resisting the urge to eat cheese and biscuits in the evening!  Other than that I am intending to increase my consumption of protein, which I know makes me feel full, and reduce carbohydrates, which I don't find it too difficult to go without.  Not all carbohydrates are the same so I really mean I will reduce what I would call "white carbohydrates": bread, potatoes, rice, pasta.  The kind that come as part of eating lots of vegetables are fine for me.  And I already try to eat very little sugar but I will have a go at cutting it out completely.

And I am also going to increase exercise.  I have done quite a bit of reading since discovering how much weight I was carrying around my middle and it seems that three things are likely to help with reducing that: the diet and alcohol regime, more aerobic exercise especially running and doing some lifting of light weights.  Running.  Hmmm.  I used to enjoy running about twenty years ago and weights at the gym too.  But I am sixty four now and have done neither since I was in my forties.  Ian has been looking at the "Couch to 5k" website and app and somehow I seem to have suggested that I will do it too.  To be totally honest the idea of running anywhere seems very unlikely.  I like walking.  Walking is fine.  Running seems to belong to another life or to other people.  But apparently I only need to run (or very slow jog) for sixty seconds to begin with before walking for ninety seconds.  Surely I must be able to do that?  How hard can it be?  Gulp.

Comments

  1. Good for you. I love running. I started by running a short distance, then walking whilst I got my breath back and then running again. You will soon build up. I am sure the hardest part is the first few weeks. Thinking of you and this positive journey xx

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    1. Thanks Posie! I am trying to do this by putting in my next run in the diary every time and not looking too far ahead. Can I do this one, this time? If I think about it too much I might get frightened!

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  2. OK, except for the slight age difference, I could have written this post! Also, I had back surgery two years ago which didn't quite work, but that can't continue to be an excuse. Need to find an exercise regime in 2019 that doesn't aggravate my sciatica, cut down on the vino and get rid of the middle-age spread!

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    1. It is the thickened middle which really bugs me as you can tell. Because I still have quite slim arms and legs I was fooling myself that I hadn't really put on too much weight. I am hoping that focussing on my health will help me stick with it. One of the things I have found as I have got older is that vanity is less of a spur than it used to be! Don't care anything like as much as I used to do!!

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  3. What a brilliant idea. I’m 63 and did couch to 5k exactly two years ago. Click on the running tab of my blog to see my journey. I ran my fist 10k charity race last May. It certainly removed a few extra pounds round my middle and I feel better for it. It wasn’t easy as I’d never run in my life. I almost gave up at one point. Now I’m happy to run a 5k regularly round my lanes. Go for it :) B x

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    1. Oh how fabulously encouraging! That is brilliant! I am off to read about your experience. It is great to know others have done it!!

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    2. And having read your story how great to find you are still running and going strong!

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    3. Glad it’s helped to spur you on!

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  4. Good luck - I'm sure you'll do well. I started something similar last year, but a broken wrist and more put paid to my plans for most of the year. I'm a failed jogger, but I'm finding zumba gold and fitsteps are enjoyable alternatives along with pilates and walking. My journey will be a lot longer than yours weight wise, but I'm pleased to be starting 2019 1.5 stones lighter than this time last year :) I've just invested in a resistance strap and some weights so I can do some strength training at home.

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    1. Wow, you have already done marvellously! That's a brilliant weight loss. Good luck for this year too! Xx

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  5. The thickened middle is my bane, too. I've found that no matter how active I am, at my age (62) I must reduce my food intake in order to lose weight. Portion control, minimal carbs. Christmas was a feast of carbs and the scale shows a 5 pound increase, so it's back to meat, veg and more veg.
    Good luck on the running. I follow Barbara (Coastal Ripples) and am so impressed by her disciplined approach. Neck issues prevent me from running (and I can't say that I'm too disappointed about that, haha).

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    1. I very much agree about portion control and carbs. And when I get into it I find it perfectly fine. I just have to stop pretending that I can eat what I like, because I really can't these days, but I can eat most of what I like!

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  6. Snap! Almost exactly. I have so far lost 1 stone in approx 12 weeks with Slimming World and love their natural approach, nothing denied and real food. Never thought I’d like the Group thing but I love it! Working outdoors most days anyway, I haven’t even upped by exercise regime. Good luck lovely. X

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    1. That's interesting! My welsh tutor lost a stone with slimming world before Christmas and was similarly enthusiastic. I'd been wondering about giving it a go but like you wasn't convinced by the group thing. Now I've got two recommendations saying how good it is...

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  7. It's so easy to slip into that extra glass of wine. For me, the late night wine makes me want a late night snack as well. Double jeopardy. I'm trying to lose the 3 lbs I've gained since summer and I think, like you, if I cut back on the alcohol it will be easier. I can't imagine ever running, but more brisk walks are on the agenda. Good luck to us both!

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    1. Oh yes, recognise the urge to accompany the glass of wine with some cheese and biscuits! That's totally me. So far I am finding that cutting the wine out in the week is really quite easy. I've taken to a glass of tomato juice with Worcester sauce instead. It seems as if it is partly simply the ritual of sitting down with a glass of something!

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  8. I did that running/ walking plan a few years ago. It was hard in the beginning but as time passed, I was able to handle it better. However, after I tripped and fell a couple of times I got rid of the running part. The thought of broken bones is scary and it is better to be safe than sorry.

    I have cut down on drinking wine also. I was having one glass, then two glasses of wine in the evening. Now I fill up my wine glass with my favorite non alcoholic drink (iced tea). I found out that it was the holding of glass itself that I liked. I enjoy my wine, but one glass is enough every other day.

    I wish you luck and hope you attain your goal.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, falling is scary. Fingers crossed I'll be ok. I agree about having something nice in a glass and for me it sort of marks the point in the day when I come "off duty"! But doesn't have to be wine!

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  9. Good luck, I'm sure you can do it, though I'm not sure I could run but I'm trying to up the walking and energetic gardening. I was shocked that I was the heaviest I'd ever been, though I've been 10 and a half stone for most of the time since I was 17, I'm 5'3". With the odd year or 2 when stressed by redundancy or family illness when I lost a stone. But a couple of yrs back I went up to 11st, I blame my husband now semi retired and we have larger lunches at home or out together in the week. My trousers were tighter! So from last summer I've cut portions and try to always have a small lunch and cut back on white carbs. And I'm now back to 10st 6 and 38/31/39 (was 10st 4 before Christmas). I'm trying to get down to below 10st, which would be unusual for me but would mean the medics don't tick the 'overweight' box.

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    1. It's fascinating to me how different our bodies are! We are quite similar in height and yet your comfortable weight and mine are quite different and although you are a bit lighter than I am you are much more waisted! In the nicest possible way! I'm really hoping to manage the couch to 5k but it's early days.

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  10. Oh well done you! I started that programme and it was really good - though my knees let me known running sadly. I also have that annoying (and unhealthy) barrel shape. In fact, at the moment, I'm at this spa where they test everything about one's metabolic health. Tomorrow I get the results of my tests and I'm sure it won't be great news. However, the two docs I saw today said that the good news is that it's all our choice - good diet and exercise, decent sleep and stress management can reverse a huge majority of potential problems. xx

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    1. That's encouraging, the stuff about choice! I'm already a big believer in the power of diet because I know it affects me profoundly. Whether it is the IBS or just life but I feel really quite rough if I eat lots of sugar and processed food and my guts go into overdrive. I'm also passionate about yoga so it was a bit of a shock to realise that despite all that I'm still carrying this tummy fat. Hoping that restricting alcohol and doing the running will help - only a week in but so far, so good!

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  11. Very similar here, but I'm top-heavy - always have been! I too think that because my legs and arms are slim that I'm not doing too badly, but, honestly, I need to trim the tummy fat.
    There is no way I would take up running with a bust, and I'm prone to dizzy spells, so I'm going down the portion-control route. I drink very, very little, but I do like a piece of chocolate every day. Perhaps that could be smaller! A lunchtime cheese sarni will be replaced, most of the time, with something lighter, and carb portions made smaller.
    I'll see how I get on!

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    1. Its quite hard to make adjustments to diet if your diet is quite good in the first place ! Portion control is a big deal I think. I'm sure my portions are generous. Good luck with it!

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  12. Running up and down hills?

    My laptop has been overheating ... which has driven the couch potato back to my first love of gardening. Not a runner, but could definitely walk more, and be fitter. Much fitter.

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    1. Well we could all be fitter! I find it interesting how much just a commitment to move every day, whether by walking or gardening or now this running, makes a difference.

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