Sadness leads to belly-fat-busting failure…

I have to admit folks, I fell off the belly-fat-busting wagon. I haven’t increased my weight since the last update, but neither have I lost any. I have continued to attend kickboxing classes 3/4 times a week… but as for diet, carbs have been the order of the day.

The reason (there’s always a reason, isn’t there?): our beloved dog became increasingly weak and poorly, at one point showing sudden improvement only to start dipping again. We were having to carry her upstairs, lift her onto the bed and the couch and into the car, and we knew the inevitable was coming… the thought of which sent a shock wave through my chest, taking my breath away. When it reached the point at which we were having to hover over her every time she needed to move or go out to the garden, we knew it was unfair to keep her hanging on, just because we couldn’t bear to lose her. She was 15, which the vet gently insisted, several times, was ‘old’… and the steroids were no longer having the magical effect they once did.

So, on a grey Wednesday morning, as she lay on the couch, we stroked her as the vet administered the dose that would release her from the stiffness and the reduced sight and hearing that had clearly been depressing her. I had started drinking before the vet arrived (unable to face saying goodbye sober), and continued for the rest of a day that would become nothing more than a blur. She was the friend I had walked with daily throughout the woods and along the beach, season in, season out. Last summer, I video’d one of our walks, and I am so glad that I did. Although those times have now come to an end, and a new chapter has begun, I can revisit whenever I want to.

Anyway, I was back at kickboxing two days later, and it was a welcome distraction. Sensei has announced more than once that I am the fastest in class when it comes to jab/cross, and I am quick on my feet whilst sparring, and I am definitely not the first to be heaving and gasping during fitness routines… not bad for an old bird. But it is time (again) to address this tractor tyre that has taken up residence around my middle; I will feel, and look, so much better without it. And it is time to start writing again, as this is the first thing I have penned in weeks. I buried myself in working with my customers, going to kickboxing and reading; I hit the John Grisham’s with a vengeance until I could no longer stomach another lawyer-mafia-murderer story. Time to let the light in again.

 

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4 lbs lost last week… but I couldn’t stomach a high fat/low carb diet!

I lost 4 lbs last week, starting off on April 1st, following a high-fat, low-carb diet. I published a blog announcing my intentions, and included pics of how I look now, how I used to look, and the scales registering at 10 st 4 lb (144 lbs).

https://fabfit40plus.com/2019/04/01/pounds-of-belly-fat-to-lose-i-am-counting-calories-carbs-protein-and-fat/

However, I couldn’t hack it… which came as no surprise to me! I am a long-term calorie counter and had decided that I wouldn’t change that – but that I would also count carbs, fat, and protein. By the third day, I was struggling and yearned for more carbs. I was tired, my gums were sensitive (from eating more meat, I think), and I felt a bit flat. I understand that perseverance is required with a high-fat way of eating, but I wasn’t committed enough to put up with the discomfort!

So, back it was to straightforward calorie counting and selected carbs… and, as I say, I lost 4 lbs. I also attended 4 kickboxing classes and did some brisk walking (I have to say though, that by the end of the final class – last Friday evening – I was ready to drop!). I also repetitively used 2 x 1 kg weights whilst sitting on the couch watching TV, in an attempt to strengthen my arms and develop ‘muscle memory’ (as my instructor, who also happens to be my eldest daughter, calls it!). Punching outwards as fast as I can is more tiring than it sounds!

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I decided to lose weight steadily rather than trying to do it in a big rush, aiming at 8 st 12 lb (132 lbs) by mid-June for my 4th kickboxing grading, so have been having 1600 calories a day. I will probably have to reduce this periodically, in order to consistently keep losing. It takes effort but I am determined to give it my best shot!

So, what does an average day’s diet consist of?

Breakfast: cottage cheese or natural yoghurt.

Lunch: A large salad and a baked chicken breast, with low-fat mayo

Or low-fat cream cheese (with salmon or sweet chill) with low-calorie crackers.

Dinner: Fish or chicken or a pork chop, with veg.

Supper: Lemon or chocolate mousse, sometimes with a handful of grapes and berries.

I drink tea with a splash of skimmed milk (no change there, this is just how I take my tea), and green tea. I drink water whilst training, and always have some by the bed for during the night.

AND, I drank a bottle of red wine over the weekend (calorie-counted!).

I am not a nutritionist, and I don’t want to get into anything too complex or demanding; I just want to lose the spare tractor tyre that has taken up residence around my middle, have plenty of energy, and feel reasonably full. I am also not seeing this as a diet but as a permanently revised way of eating. It worked for me in the past, keeping the excess weight off for years until I allowed things to get out of hand. Sadly, I have found that the older you get the weirder fat behaves, choosing to hang around in the least desirable areas… and that metabolism stubbornly drags its heels. So be it. I just have to work harder than I used to… damn it! And yes, I know that most of my 4 lbs lost is probably water (I have been up in the night weeing more than usual), but who cares? It’s better off being flushed away than slopping around my belly and bum!

 

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Pounds of belly fat to lose: I am counting calories, carbs, protein and fat!

I am notably fatter than I was, and here is the proof.

This is how I look now:

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And this is how I used to look, not too many years back:

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And this is me today, 1st April, on my aged bathroom scales… 10st 4 lb. I was 10st for the longest time, no matter what I ate, becoming unhappily complacent… until I recently gained another 4 lb. It really is time to get to grips with this, and right now!

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I am 5ft 2” (I used to be 5ft 3”, so have shrunk a little!), am 61, and more than 28 lbs heavier than at my happiest weight.

I do NOT buy into something that I have heard too many times from middle-aged folk: “well, at our age we need a bit more padding”. Why? Have we suddenly started falling over every five minutes? The truth is, NO, we don’t need extra padding! What I do agree with though is that for various biological reasons, our fat settles itself on different parts of our body than it did when we were younger. 75% of my fat has taken up residence around my waist, the rest on my face, upper thighs and bottom. I look as if I am wearing an overstuffed bumbag around my middle. And although I am definitely fitter and stronger than I was, thanks to 3-4 kickboxing classes per week, I am still eating too much of the wrong kind of foods… and indulging in too much alcohol. And again, to those who say, “if you exercise regularly you can eat as much as you like without gaining weight” – NO, you can’t!

So, I have been a long-term calorie counter, and in the past it worked very well for me. I have lost a reasonable amount of weight twice in my life, keeping it off for years, courtesy of calorie counting – but I feel that it is no longer the magic wand it used to be, probably because my body has changed. However, I am struggling to completely let go of it, and having done a fair amount of research, I have decided to pay more attention to the balance between carbs, fat and protein, whilst counting calories. I am not a nutritionist and am not pretending to be any kind of expert – and I don’t want to get into anything too intense or complicated. I have looked into the Keto diet, but I don’t relish going into ketosis (plus, years ago, I tried the Atkins diet more than once and absolutely couldn’t hack it!).

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But I do recognise that I have been eating and drinking far too many carbs than can possibly be good for anyone, and that it isn’t just about the number of calories I consume… it is about the quality of those calories! I know that I HAVE to change… not next week or next month, but NOW!

Unfortunately, I have turned into a wimp, when once I was hardcore. Around 15 years ago I lost 4 stone (56 lb) within a couple of months, by eating only 600 calories a day and going to bed hungry every night. I would absolutely not recommend this to anyone as a good or healthy way to lose weight, because obviously it isn’t (though it didn’t appear to have any detrimental effect). Nowadays I struggle to be hungry for even an hour, which is pathetic given that there are so many genuinely starving people on the planet. I believe that my body has become programmed to react like a growing baby seagull, constantly and persistently demanding to be fed… because it knows for sure that I will comply. Well, now it is up to me to reprogramme my own body for its own good, and also for the sake of my personal pride. I don’t want to look like a 21 year old, but the fact is that I have been heading in a direction that is beginning to frighten me, never mind dishearten me. I have had enough.

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According to a website I looked at this morning, for my height, weight and activity levels, and in order to lose weight steadily, I need to be consuming no more than 1600 calories a day. That may well be almost half of what I have been eating on some days, I am ashamed to admit, but I am giving it a go… whilst being aware of the kinds of foods that are making up those calories. I am aiming for 8 st 12 lb, which will require me to lose 20 lbs, and then I will decide where I go from there!  

Anyway, I have a kickboxing class within the next hour, so I had better sign off. Now that I have made all of this public I am duty bound to put my money where my mouth is (luckily there are no calories in money!), and I will make periodic updates on my progression!     download

I hate the effort and sweat of fitness training (and everything else, come to think of it) – until I have finished!

Last night I put myself through 45 minutes of circuit training, followed by 60 minutes of kick boxing fitness training (it was a killer session). I really wanted to shout at the instructor (who just so happens to be my eldest daughter), “RIGHT, lady – I’ve just about had enough of this! I am 61 you know – don’t you think you are being ridiculously unreasonable in your demands?”, and slop miserably off to the sidelines. In my fantasy world, that’s exactly what I did do; in the real world I gritted my teeth and kept going. And although I can still feel every inch of it in so many muscles, I can also feel the under-lying benefit. I know for sure that I will force myself through several more sessions this coming week, too… and the week after that, etc etc.

Late this morning I sat in front of my laptop, and couldn’t think of a single thing to write about. NCIS was on the TV, in the background, and I suddenly remembered that I wanted to check out my American cousin’s Ebay site, to see how it is doing, and whether or not it is worth giving it another go myself (I decided that it isn’t). I considered going into the kitchen to get something else to eat, and wondered if I needed another cup of tea or not… and all the while, an insistent, uneasy guilt was nagging away at me: “you’re supposed to be writing today, and developing other aspects of your business – remember?”. I did remember, but procrastinating was a whole lot easier than making myself actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Obviously, I did eventually start… by writing about my own resistance, and the desire to avoid effort at all costs!

What is it with us human beings, that we consistently enter into battle with ourselves before setting the things that we say we want to achieve in motion? Or that we prevent ourselves from even genuinely trying? I know a very smart 25 year old who has lately been ranting about people who have an excuse for everything… the ‘yes buts’, as I call them. She has had a bit of an overdose of this recently, from different sides, including an old, once dear friend who has willingly allowed her life to become a horrible mess, without a single intention to aspire to anything better… whilst forcefully telling others what they should be doing with their own lives! My feeling is that she has let things slide for so long, through laziness and a desire to do nothing more than party, that she wouldn’t even know where to begin to create a healthy and productive life. She appears to have become utterly seduced by that miserable twilight world of apathy and inertia… the same one that most of us have to consciously fight against, every single day! If we don’t fight it, it will steal our potential, our hopes and our dreams away from us… and the older we get, the more vigilant we need to be, not less: starting good habits young, and maintaining them, is an incredibly inspirational idea!

We are all self-conscious, and we all doubt ourselves, to one degree or another. I resisted becoming involved with fitness and kick boxing for a long period of time, because I felt fat and unfit, dissatisfied with how I had allowed myself to become, and therefore with the way I looked. That was clearly silly; I still have weight to lose, but I am so much fitter and stronger, and in terms of fitness, I am aware that I am doing a lot better than many of the students who are half my age! I feared making YouTube videos, in case I became a target for haters… but eventually I did make some, and no-one has hated me because I am not interesting enough to the majority! I feared writing books, believing that I wasn’t good enough, and that I would be laughed out of town as a wanna-be. I am aware that my first ‘novella’ requires re-editing, for sure, which is on my to-do list, even though it is still publicly available… but it was my first self-published offering, and I am proud of that. Up to now, the sky hasn’t fallen in, and some people have even said that they love my stories – and to me, that is worth a million pounds! There was a time when those stories were just an idea, a thought, in my mind; they now physically exist, in the concrete world. What do you have within you, that can become ‘real’, something that will really matter to you, or that others will appreciate and benefit from? Are you really willing to reach your death bed, to be taking your very last breath, only to remember a lifetime of hopes and dreams that ended up being sacrificed at the alter of apathy, inertia and fear? Hell no!

 

 

 

 

 

Shiatsu massager – beautifully kneads those knotty muscles, whilst you watch TV!

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I bought this for my partner, for his birthday… and it is a gift that keeps on giving (especially to me, as I use it regularly!)! Okay, it is not light in weight, but it is easy to use, and it attacks those knotted up muscles like the most insistent fingers! I have used it on my neck, shoulders, outer thighs, lower back and hip/groin area (it has genuinely helped to loosen up a tight adducter muscle, but please note that I am NOT offering medical advice – if in doubt, always consult your doctor). It might sound weird, but I have found that by getting myself into a certain position, I can put painful-but-relief-inducing pressure on my right hip, bum cheek and groin ( tightness that apparently is fairly common, especially amongst those who are into fitness training), which loosens it up, whilst reducing pain.

It comes with a power adapter, and includes a power switch, direction button, intensity button and heater button. You can sit and watch television, whilst having muscle tightness and tension kneaded away! At the time of typing this review, it has more than 400 Amazon reviews, with a 4.5 star rating.

It is important to follow the instructions, as over-use can cause bruising. If you purchase this product via one of the links below, I will receive a small payment from Amazon, but you can rest assured that I am recommending it because I genuinely like it.

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  • 8 MASSAGE ROLLER BALLS – This shoulder massager comes with 4 big nodes and 4 small nodes, which provide deep tissue massages on your neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, waist, foot, tights, calves, legs, feet and arms – helping your full body parts to release stress, relieve sore muscles, and help you relax.
  • ADJUSTABLE INTENSITY – This neck massager pad has 3 speed strength levels, which allow you to get the right and appropriate amount of pressure to relieve your muscle pain.
  • 2 MASSAGE DIRECTIONS – built in a Bi-directional movement control to mimic the motion of in-person massage experience. This 3D shiatsu massager will auto-reverse each minute for better distribution of massage effects.
  • HEAT FUNCTION – With infrared heat, our neck and shoulder massager can be used to ease muscle tension, stress and promote blood circulation.
  • PORTABLE AND DURABLE – This neck and back massager includes a wall power adapter and a car charger, so you can have an electric self massage in your Home, office or car when you are travelling. This back massager also comes with a durable carry bag, so you can take it with you anywhere! This Shiatsu Kneading massager pillow is the perfect gift for your loved ones!

 

Shiatsu Back Neck and Shoulder Massager with Heat – Deep Tissue 3D Kneading Pillow Massager for Neck, Back, Shoulders, Foot, Legs – Electric Full Body Massage, Relieve Muscle pain – Office, Home & Car

the-cake-decorating-co-union-jack-heart-edible-image-choose-a-size-p10307-23128_image£49.97 plus postage

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Stretch yourself daily – for long-term flexibility and freedom of movement!

I used to launch myself into an exercise session without a single second of warming up… but that was before I knew better!

Impatience was generally behind my lack of wisdom, but it never really paid off. And if kick boxing has taught me anything, it is that there is definitely no room for impatience where fitness and skill is concerned; it also reminded me of something Anthony Robbins has repeatedly expressed: repetition (and practice) is the key to mastery (which obviously applies to every aspect of life, not just martial arts).

But, what if you are not really interested in investing major time and energy into a fitness programme – can you still benefit from warm up stretches? Absolutely! And even if you have to start in small ways, due to health restrictions, it doesn’t matter; a small, consistently repeated movement will develop into something a little more ambitious… and that will develop into something more ambitious than that!

Why did I decide to begin kick boxing training at the age of 60, and 28 lbs overweight? Well, firstly, because I witnessed the grading sessions, and fell in love with the positive vibes generated by the students and instructors; secondly, it was because I don’t want to slide downhill into old age, physically limited by stiffness, aches and pains (which I was already experiencing) – I intend to be a thoroughly fit and strong 70 year old! But putting technique and belts to one side, the stretching we do at the start of each class has really helped me to feel looser and more flexible, and I began to recognise just how important it is to all of us, to make stretching a daily habit.

And, if we are going to say that we ‘don’t have time to stretch’, we are wrong! Whilst watching television, we can stretch our legs out in front; we can rotate our feet, and then point our toes upwards, pulling them back toward us (as long as we don’t have a health condition that would be exacerbated by such movements; if in doubt, always consult your doctor). Whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, we can stretch in any number of ways, such as: reaching up toward the ceiling for a few seconds; making circles with our arms; going up on tip toes and back down again; balancing on one leg (holding onto the table/worktop if necessary!). Also, when in bed, we can stretch our entire body for a few seconds, and then completely relax it… it can really help us to release tension we might not even realise we are holding on to!

I believe that it is important to vary our movements, as we get older, and not just follow the same routine. I have heard a lot of people say, “I don’t need to do any exercise, because I walk a lot”, and whilst walking is fantastic (I love it, and do it almost every day), we can definitely benefit from a bit of a daily warm up!

I have included two YouTube videos you might find helpful; the first is for general warm up, the second is a martial arts warm up (though certain stretches are demonstrated in both videos). So, stretch your way to greater flexibility and freedom of movement, regardless of current fitness and age!

 

 

You have the power to start feeling better NOW – that HAS to be worth smiling about!

I was looking at some pictures of myself and my partner, taken around 5 years ago, and I was disappointed to see how much my face had aged. I gazed at my straight-faced reflection in the mirror, and it suddenly struck me… what was missing was my smile! I grinned warmly into my own eyes, and then glanced back at the pictures… and was heartened to see that, actually, there wasn’t a huge amount of difference between the younger me, and the current, older me. Some ageing, yes; a plumper face, agreed – but the smile somehow negated enough of that to be reassuring!

Now, I understand, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a smiling face looks more alive and vibrant than one adorned with a serious or vacant expression: however, I suddenly became acutely aware of how my face felt, when I wasn’t smiling… and the word that immediately came to mind was droopy… and who the hell wants to feel droopy? It is hardly high energy!

So, I decided to check up on myself, every now and then, and ask, “what is my resting face saying about me right now?”. I already suspected that smiling wasn’t just about appearance – and my little experiment proved me right. When I recognised that I was sporting a switched-off or frowning expression, and swapped it for a comfortable smile that also reached my eyes (yes, you can feel your eyes smiling!), I actually felt more cheerful. And not only that, my head and shoulders automatically lifted a little – an instant boost that cost nothing more than a bit of self-awareness!

Okay, it is true that there are certain circumstances under which a smile is completely inappropriate (not too many, but some); and there are certain circumstances under which even the most upbeat individual would struggle to muster even the slightest twitch of the lips; I am not talking about those times – I am talking about general, every day life. And I acknowledge that a consistent, manic grin would be more likely to cause ourselves to feel a bit crazy and uncomfortable, and other people to avoid us like the plague. But, a small, relaxed smile, hovering at the corners of our mouth, just waiting to blossom into something wider and warmer, can genuinely do wonders for our state of mind! And when we feel that a smile is maybe not entirely appropriate at a given moment in time, we can still be consciously aware of how our face is sitting, and what message it is imparting. We can appear attentive, or curious, or interested, or fascinated, dependent upon the circumstances; all of these, and more, will actually help us to feel what we are expressing, whilst allowing our face to appear animated and lively. I am not a scientist, but online research appears to confirm that there is a growing belief in the theory that our facial expression and body language are recognised by our brain, which then responds accordingly, communicating that information back to the body.

Which brings me to the subject of how we consistently hold our body… and this cute cartoon that really makes me laugh, every time I see it!

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Posture, like facial expression, speaks volumes to our brain, as does our consistent inner and outer dialogue. I have come across people who habitually slouch, and consistently communicate in a dismissive or cynical way… and none of them have been even remotely happy or satisfied. Circumstance is often blamed, and yes, it is true that it definitely does affect how we feel and behave; however, we have all witnessed individuals who have faced the most dreadful adversity, yet who hold their heads high, whilst approaching the world with dignity and warmth (we are so fortunate, to have amongst us those souls who are living proof of just what we human beings are capable of aspiring to!).

Where my own body is concerned, over a period of two years I put on around 28 lb in weight, most of which settled on my stomach and hips (one of the side effects of reaching a ‘certain age’!). I became discouraged, and for the first time really struggled to motivate myself to do anything about it. That wobble drove me mad, and I began to avoid any mirror that reflected anything below my chest… I felt fat. I managed to lose 7 lbs, but still, not enough to reduce the dreaded spare tyre. As it happens, my eldest daughter is a fitness and kick boxing instructor, who runs her own school; my youngest daughter also trains there, and teaches some of the classes. Several times a week I would drop her off and collect her, calling in to help put the equipment away after the sessions… but I always resisted taking part, because I was ‘too fat’ (yes, really!), which both of my daughters thought was ridiculous!

One evening, I stayed to watch the kick boxing gradings, from the toddlers all the way up to the adults, and I was blown away. The atmosphere was amazing, and I was totally impressed to see how much progress the students had made… and I suddenly really wanted to be a part of it! That evening, I committed to training, and there I was, at the very next session. At first, I felt like a galumphing (I think I just made that word up) elephant, and the idea of roundhouse kicks terrified me. I had a stiff, incredibly painful shoulder, and a dodgy knee, and I feared that they would hold me back… but the physiotherapist told me that actually, I was doing the very best thing for myself – and he was right! Almost three belts on, my shoulder is 90% better, and my knee just aches sometimes, and my roundhouse kick is coming along nicely! I even attend some of the circuit training classes now, in addition (last night I did three 30 minute sessions, one after the other!). I am still ‘fat’, but the weight is coming off, bit by bit. And I am not saying that it is easy, because it isn’t, and I am not saying that things don’t hurt after training, because they do. However, my body feels so much stronger, and I cannot emphasise enough how empowering that is! It has improved the way I hold myself, and more importantly, it has transformed the way I feel about myself… and that makes me smile!

So, if you recognise any of this within yourself, make an immediate commitment to yourself, to lift your spirits, your shoulders, your chin, and the corners of your mouth… until it becomes as natural as breathing!