Born to Run? Why I’m gonna start running again.

One of my major regrets is that I stopped running when I went back to university in 2013. By that point I’d been running for almost two years, and I loved it, not only was I in better shape, but it was a great chance to clear my head, it made me feel good and I just enjoyed doing it.

So, why did I stop?

Well, the first hurdle was trying to adjust to university life again. Unlike Film Studies, Nursing was a pretty intense course and I was in lectures pretty much five days a week, in the evenings I was wiped out and would just hang out with my flatmates and I didn’t fancy waking up super early for a run before lectures I found difficult.

The other issue was that living in halls put me off the idea a little. I didn’t want to come back after a run looking all sweaty, red faced and gross. I know that’s daft, but in 2013, despite being at my lightest for years, I was still massively self conscious, and cared a lot about what other people thought about me. I think moving to a new city and going back into halls had really shaken me, I was around a decade older than my flatmates and I felt a bit of an outsider. I also worried that I looked lame trying to hang out with them and that my running might be judged, which is silly and not something I should have let get under my skin.

As a result in the entire first year I managed about three runs.

It was pretty dumb as the running probably would have given me a release valve for the stresses of the course and with a Park Run a few minutes away I could probably have improved my performances over that time. Unfortunately, I just kinda let it peter out.

Of course, the major impact of this was that my weight started to creep back up, not helped by the fact that I was drinking more and eating crap.

But I think a worse effect was on my mental health and wellbeing.

I was never a super runner, I wasn’t the fastest and I didn’t cover massive distances, usually around the 8-9k mark in around an hour. And I probably looked a total mess, but the thing is, none of these things mattered.

I’ve heard of “runner’s high”, this feeling of being utterly in the zone, exhilarated and even a bit euphoric, and I totally had a version of that. After a few minutes I would find my rhythm and enter what I call the Juggernaut Zone.

juggernaut

This was the feeling of being unstoppable I got when I was in full flow. I’d run straight ahead, feeling that anybody on my path had best get out of my way because I felt unstoppable.

It was a great feeling, especially for someone like me, who usually felt kinda powerless or adrift. When running I had purpose, I had power. I was the Juggernaut, b***h!

I’d love to get that feeling back again. While my life is a lot better in lots of ways than it was in 2013, I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that some stuff has got worse. Not only am I physically worse now, but my body image has taken a real kicking. I’ve always been self conscious and never felt particularly proud or happy with the man in the mirror, but I know that when I was running I felt better about myself.

This wasn’t because my scales were telling me that (in fact, I was only weighing about every six months or so, if that) but because of how I felt about myself. Sure, I was tired after a run, but I’d earned that tiredness, and it was getting easier all the time. That good feeling didn’t end with the run, it carried over into my everyday life. Hell, that newfound confidence was part of what gave me the nerve to gamble with going back to university.

That might not have worked out, but I think if I hadn’t I’d probably still be working my crappy job in Swansea, living in a rented room and never would have met WoM and built the life that I have now.

I’m not saying that running is gonna cure everything, but if it helps with my weight loss and body issues, that alone will be a good thing. But I think having that outlet and doing something constructive and for myself every couple of days will make me feel a lot better in myself. And if I feel better about myself I’m probably more likely to try to better myself further.

So, I’ve downloaded a new Couch to 5k app and I’m going to give it another go. It got me there the first time, so here’s hoping it can do the trick again.

juggernaut return

It’s coming…

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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Fat Boy on a Diet: July Update: Meh

Apologies for this one going out a couple of days late, I’m sure the suspense has been killing you. I was in work on the 31st and too bushed afterwards to write anything down.

I seem to be in work all the time at the moment and I ain’t gonna lie, it’s draining me quite a lot. While my sleep has improved the fact my days off are fewer and more spread out it means I haven’t had the chance to really recharge.

This means I’m crabbier and less motivated, content to spend my evenings on the couch watching The Miss Fisher Mysteries. But I don’t want to go on, we all work and we all know working sucks. I’m sure there are jobs that don’t but these seem to be rare.

This means that while I lost weight in July it wasn’t the big improvement that I was hoping for. I’d built it up that this would be the month where I really got going and turned it around. Lots of healthy eating, more exercise and a big loss at the weigh in.

Unfortunately, the weight didn’t fall off as quickly as planned and I finished July feeling a bit disappointed. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. It was frustratingly average.

Here’s hoping August goes better I guess.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


The Tattoo I Don’t Regret Not Getting

It’s been a long time since I got my first tattoo. I remember it clearly, being nervous as I took my seat, hoping that I wouldn’t be such a wimp that I’d cry or have to stop. I hadn’t made it easy for myself by choosing a big piece to pop my ink cherry. Thankfully, it didn’t hurt that much and I’d go on to get more tattoos over the years.

tattoos

My first four tattoos. More will follow.

My first tattoo wasn’t what I’d originally wanted. While I am still a fan of Motorhead and  their late singer Lemmy, I’d originally wanted something else.

I’d wanted a Welsh dragon. I was a recent convert to Welsh patriotism, and of all the Welsh logos, the red dragon was the coolest. I wasn’t sure I could pull off a daffodil, and I’m not sure anyone could pull off a leek tattoo.

However, in the run up to booking my first tattoo, I started to notice that a lot of people had the dragon tattoo. And many weren’t people I wanted to have more in common with. There was something a little chavvy about it, or so I thought at the time. I’ve changed this opinion and think the traditional red dragon actually looks good. But unfortunately, at the time the only examples I could see were on the flesh of Nessa from Gavin and Stacey and a guy I knew who had his own initials tattooed on his neck. No, I never found out why.

gavin_and_stacey_1

And so, I got the Motorhead tattoo, and while it might be a bit more metal compared to the rest of me, I dig it. In fact, I’m tempted to get some more music related tats around it.

Over the years I’ve added to my tattoos, and occasionally turned back to the idea of having something in honour of my Welsh heritage.

For a while, I was thinking about getting a three feathers tattoo.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when I daydream about wearing a shirt with the badge on, and scoring a World Cup winning try for Wales, but as much as I love our national side, I can’t deny I have issues with the WRU logo.

wru

The problem is it’s based on the emblem of Prince Charles, in his role of Prince of Wales. And frankly, I’m not impressed.

I’m not hugely fussed on the royals, I’m not calling for us to build guillotines or anything, but they do seem like a frightful waste of money and it’s kinda ridiculous to still have such an archaic institution going strong. And I’m not fussed on the fact that the ruling monarch can just make their oldest boy the prince of my country. It’d be like my Dad deciding to name me Duke of Neath, only instead of it being an inside joke he’d demand that other people go along with it all.

The fact the Welsh rugby team wear this emblem is kinda like legitimising Charlie’s nickname. He’s not my prince.

Hell, he didn’t even bother getting a Welsh motto for it. He stuck on “Ich Dien”, it’s German for crying out loud. At least Latin is classic.

Nope, I can’t get behind the three feathers or the idea of someone being made prince of my country. Prince Charles? Well, I didn’t vote for him.

So I’m kinda relieved that I didn’t get the logo tattoed on me. I’d never be able to look at it without a tinge of regret. I love my country, I love our rugby team, even if they don’t always treat me right, but I don’t love what that badge stands for. I just think the WRU should ditch it and get something that’s actually Welsh.

If they don’t want a dragon because the football lads have it, then why not a daffodil? Hell, I’d even take a leek.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 


Fat Boy on a Diet: June Update: Positive Steps

As a fat man I have not been flourishing in this heat, reduced to nothing more than a puddle at times, it’s hit the proposed exercise regime hard as I’ve quickly baked in the sun and required copious amounts of drinks whenever I can. This means that June’s weight loss has been a failure.

To be honest, finding this out at my last weigh in was a major kick in the teeth, and left me feeling properly shit. I decided to write a monthly update to motivate myself, but for the last couple of months it’s basically been an exercise in publicising my failures. And as the weight has crept back up I’ve found myself feeling increasingly fed up.

The warm weather doesn’t help the fat man’s self confidence, as you feel all sweaty and gross, and that’s without throwing in a marked increase in chub rub. Any misgivings you have about your physical form are amplified by the discomfort. Looking at myself in the mirror is never something I particularly enjoy, but I hate it even more when I see a sweaty mess staring back at me.

So, standing on the scales was not a fun experience.

Time for a change.

But isn’t that what I said last month? And the month before? Why, dear reader, should you put any store in this statement?

Well, because I’m putting my money where my seemingly always full mouth is. I have paid out money in my endeavour to shed some pounds (and hopefully stones).

Step one, has been rejoining Chub Club. A previous membership actually helped quite a bit. The twin pillars of a clear eating plan and more regular weigh ins should work to keep me on the right path and remained focus.

healthyliving

Step two is something I’m not looking forward to. Yes, even less than standing on the scales in a crowded room. I’ve joined a gym.

WoM has joined the other day and is taking part in some of the classes they put on there. I’m less keen on doing this, so will be exercising on my own. I’m figuring if I use the bikes and treadmills while WoM is in her class, maybe even start doing some weights, it may not be so bad.

My ideal gym would be made up of several contained pods, with all the gear inside. That way I could exercise without fear of how bad I look doing it. I think I need to buy some new headphones and maybe an MP3 players so I can just tune everything out and stop caring about it.

Previous experience from when I used to run tells me that after a while I’ll stop giving a damn anyway as my confidence and comfort grows. It just sucks until that kicks in and you just feel self conscious and like everyone is laughing at or judging you.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: May Update: There are no calories on your birthday

Little earlier this month as I decided to have my last weigh in for May earlier in the week as I knew that with my birthday on Friday and a couple of celebration meals planned waiting until the end wouldn’t be the best course.

I’d been kinda good in May, or at least I thought I did. I made an effort to exercise more, managing to crack 10,000 steps most days. I could have done better on the eating front, and this turned out to be my undoing.

A pound and a bit.

A bloody pound is all I lost. That is frankly pathetic.

Really need to focus on the food side of the equation now. Pointless burning off all those calories walking if I then cancel it out by scoffing junk in the evenings.

At least I’m moving in the right direction, but I really need to do better.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: April Update: Fail

April has been a pretty shit month, with a lot going on that has been pretty rough. As a result of this I’ve spent a lot of this month stuck in the house, either bored stupid or stressing out.

And like the stereotypical fat man, I respond to both boredom and stress by overeating.

For an extended period I was stuck in the house and so instead of stocking up with proper food was just going to the shop around the corner and gettting quick, easy food.

So, when I finally got back on the scale, I wasn’t confident. Unfortunately it was a lot worse than I’d feared.

I’d put back on pretty much all the weight I’ve lost this year. This is terrible news as it undoes a solid start.

I’m not feeling great about myself right now.

This means that I’ve really got to knuckle down and get back on track. Which means more exercise and less taking the easy option. I’m also going to keep less snack stuff in the house to stop me munching them just because I can’t think of anything else to do.

Gotta sort my head out and not be so dumb in future.

Any thoughts?;You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: March Update: Mountains and Mirrors

I haven’t been able to hop on the scales the last couple of weeks, so I don’t know exactly where I am weight wise.

With no hard data I’m gonna have to guess how the month has gone. I think I’ve lost a fair bit this month thanks in part to all the extra walking I did for Sport Relief (I raised £175 in the end, which is a start on my “raise £1m for charity” bucket list item).

Walking with Oz

I’ve also been swimming a couple more times, and while I still suck, I’ve passed 1000m which is more than I managed between 1999 and 2017. So, that’s something, I guess.

Eating healthy has been hit and miss, with us moving house there have been a few evenings when MWF and I couldn’t be bothered to cook and opted for take aways.

Despite feeling like I’ve lost weight this month, and enjoying the extra exercise, body confidence wise I can’t say I feel great. Our new bedroom has built in wardrobe with a mirrored front.

This means that getting up in the morning, or getting ready for bed I get to see my body as big as life. And twice as ugly.

I saw old photos of myself at university this week, and think I look better now, but back then I don’t remember having the same revulsion at my reflection. Or did I just ignore it then?

For those few moments before or after sleep I am confronted with a body I dislike. I have half baked plans for working on my bucket list and trying new things, but I feel I need to scale it back and for now, just focus on slimming down.

I know I’ll never be one of those insanely ripped guys, and frankly, I don’t want to be. But I definitely want to be smaller and more comfortable and happy with what I see in the mirror.

It might take a while though.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


From Atop Kilimanjaro

So yesterday evening I completed my Sport Relief challenge to walk the equivalent of climbing Kilimanjaro. It went pretty well and taking a greater effort to get out every day has made me feel better and hopefully the exercising has helped with my hopes of losing some weight.

But Sport Relief isn’t until Friday so it feels foolish to stop now. Besides I want to keep the momentum going and give people a reason to sponsor me, so I’m taking on a few more challenges. Starting yesterday I decided to do the 100 Quidditch Pitches challenge.

It’s not as long as the Kilimanjaro one, but it should keep me busy for the next couple of days and I have one more planned for later the week.

Anyway, if you’d like to sponsor me, you still can by going here. It would be greatly appreciated, and remember, every little helps.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: Just Keep Swimming

After posting my February update on Monday I went swimming properly for the first time since the late ’90s.

I’ve never been a particularly strong swimmer and out of my primary school class I was one of the last to move from the kiddie pool to the proper one. I was way behind the curve in earning my 100m swimming badge, getting mine at a point where their prestige had worn out for my classmates.

One of my few athletic achievements

Throw in the whole having to be topless aspect and I wasn’t exactly hammering down the door of my nearest baths.

But things changed last year. Under the Floridian sun and with a pool at our resort it seemed foolish to avoid the pool. And with WoM offering me reassurance and making me feel better about myself I hit the pool.

Nobody laughed. Nobody recoiled in horror. Nobody really cared, they just all went about their business.

As years of body image baggage and self consciousness drifted away, I quite enjoyed myself.

So, looking for a new way to exercise and shift some weight, I joined WoM at the pool today.

It did not begin well as after one length of painfully slow breast stroke my leg cramped up. I’ve had cramp before, but never in this spot, so it wasn’t fun. A bit of stretching and I was good to go.

I set myself a target of 20 lengths, ensuring a decent workout but allowing me time for some breathers.

Swimming is hard. Especially when you can’t completely remember how you do it.

My technique was pretty poor, but improved slightly with tips from WoM. My shoulders hurt from trying to keep my head up and I drank half the pool as I messed up my timing.

Compared to jogging, swimming sucks. There was no music and my mind didn’t wander. When I used to run I would daydream or plan things, but in the pool I was thinking about timing, technique and focused on that.

Also, I lacked the confidence I had on a run. When I got into my running rhythm I felt good, strong and unstoppable. Anyone who got in my way had better move, because I wasn’t stopping. I was the Juggernaut, b***h!

In the pool I felt slow, out of shape and meekly went around two old ladies chatting in my path.

Despite all this, I managed to hit my target and go beyond it, finishing 24 lengths.

Afterwards I felt pretty good. It wasn’t fun, but I felt better.

I’ll be going back. I need the exercise. I want to get better. And I can’t ignore Dory’s advice.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: February Update: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

February has been a mixed bag. It started off pretty good, with me passing the point where I had lost a stone.

Unfortunately there was a bit of a wobble and I put some of the weight back on.

I was worried that given this stumble I would start sliding back, but thanks to some will power and Lent I’ve turned it around and I managed to lose weight in the last week or so.

The problem is that while I lost most of the weight, I’m ending the month slightly heavier than I started. Disappointing.

Anyway, with a house move in March and me deciding to take more exercise, hopefully the downward trend can continue without any more blips. Tune in at the end of March for the next update.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.