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Songs for the road

28 Mar

Here is my walking buddy posing in the valley behind our house.  Isn’t he a cool dude?

We’ve been clocking up the miles together on the school run (well, walk) since I decided to follow in the hairy footsteps of those brave hobbits and walk from Bag End to Rivendell.  It’s been really lovely, especially as the sun has been blazing away beautifully.  We’ve been able to roam around the valley and marvel at the bluebells, primroses and exceedingly fat bumble bees and talk about nature and the seasons while walking home.  (I’d walk in the mornings, too, if I was awake enough.  So not a morning person.)

Today we indulged in a grand hobbit tradition and sang as we walked home.  If anyone was in earshot… sorry.  Here’s our current favourite!

I’m currently on mile 27 of my walk, which puts me almost at the end of a very long road which rolls up and down.  I’m looking forward to reaching the next milestone from the book and ‘seeing’ something more interesting than this road!!  I should probably do more than 1.4 miles a day unless I want to take a year to walk to Rivendell but I’m proud of myself for getting off my arse and walking every day!



Walking to Rivendell

21 Mar

No man (or woman) is an island.  Especially not when losing weight.  For the past six weeks I’ve been joined on my primal adventure by my friend Georgie and I’ve got to say… it’s been absolutely brilliant having someone to talk to who understands all the little things that other people might find banal or bizarre!  We’ve been nudging each other every day via Facebook to eat properly or do some exercise and it definitely works–the proof of that can be found in our smaller sized jeans!

We’ve been talking about getting more consistent with exercising and I happened to remember something I’d stumbled across a few years ago when Lord Of The Rings was at the peak of its fannish craziness: A Walk to Rivendell.  I’ve been enjoying watching my miles add up on Runkeeper and the idea of layering a bit of geeky fun on top pleases me greatly.  I mentioned it to Georgie and ten minutes later found myself with a new FB group and a virtual walking buddy or two.  People have joined us!  I never expected that.  So now we have our own Fellowship!  We probably need a cool name…

I’m so impressed with the Rivendell walk on Eowyn’s Challenge which have been created by the author of the Atlas of Middle Earth.  Those hobbits covered some serious mileage every day!  I knew their journey was long, but the movies compressed it quite nicely to the point that it seemed more like a ramble in the countryside rather than the long and arduous journey it was.  I mean… 18 miles in a day?  And a seven day trip to get to Bree?  Wow.  And days and days of travel after that.  Hobbit feet are obviously incredibly tough as well as being hairy.  I’m not aspiring to cover quite the same distance on a daily basis, in fact, my only goal is to walk for 10 minutes a day.  I figure that if I do that, I probably won’t want to stop after a paltry 10 minutes but for getting out of the door purposes, a 10 minute goal should work nicely.

Today I’ve clocked up 2.9 miles (or 2.1 if you listen to Runkeeper’s craziness) which leaves me at mile 20 (or 458).  I’m left Bag End, and am firmly in Green Hill Country on a long road that rolls up and down.  I haven’t encountered anything scary as yet, but I did walk a couple of bags of old toys up to the charity shop in the village (extra resistance and petrol-saving in one fell swoop!)

Baby got back!

22 Feb

I like big butts and I can not lie…  Oh, Sir Mixalot, how I love thee… You did more for big-bottomed girls than Queen.

Now, I’ve always liked my ass.  It’s huge, yes, but it has a nice shape to it, and for years I’ve gone around thinking that it was, well, in good shape and I didn’t need to do any specific exercises for it because the occasional squat covered everything.  Apparently Not.  It turns out that ‘out of sight’ really is out of mind.

Recently, my doctor referred me for physiotherapy as I have what can be kindly described as a ‘dodgy back’ and would really like to avoid spinal surgery, ever.  I had an MRI in September—OMG, I love MRIs.  Am I weird?  So bizarrely relaxing—after about five years of on and off again back pain, ranging from oh, my back’s a bit sore today to I would be screaming if I could actually figure out how to open my mouth.  It turns out that I have three prolased discs in my lumbar region (L4, L5, SC1), one of which has fallen backwards and is intermittently compressing my sciatic nerve, which has left me with (aside from the back pain), a weird patch of altered sensation on the top of my right foot.  Did you know the sciatic nerve is the longest in the body, running down both legs?  That goes some way toward explaining why sciatica hurts so bloody much.

We don’t know how I prolapsed all these discs (but I’m pretty convinced that it happened during Lucas’s birth which was fast and unmanaged), and we certainly aren’t going to have a surgical intervention unless I start spending a lot of time flopping around on the floor in spasm (I have no plans for this), so the best thing seemed to be some intensive physiotherapy.  Hence the referral.

Enter Janet, my tiny physiotherapist.  I’d imagine that you’ll hear a lot about Janet in the next few months…

I went into the appointment expecting lots of poking and prodding and to them be given loads and loads of ab exercises.  It didn’t quite turn out that way… After ‘gently examining my back’ which felt more like The Mighty Thor was smacking his hammer down my spine, Janet  asked me to do a bridge.  So I dutifully did one and thought that I’d done quite well, until she said, “Now, do it again, but this time don’t brace your arms and really clench your buttocks.  Stop cheating.”  So I tried… and tried… and eventually managed to get my ass about an inch off the bed.  Clenching one’s buttocks shouldn’t be the hardest thing ever, should it?  It would appear that my glutes have gone into hibernation (which is a nicer thought than my muscles atrophying.  They’re just asleep.)  We won’t talk about my pitiful attempt at a one-legged bridge.

I then discovered that my sciatic pain has two sources.  The prolapsed discs and apparently, my sciatic nerve runs through my piriformis muscle instead of alongside it, which has irritated the nerve!  Wonderful.  Wikipedia tells me that 17% of people have thie lovely mutation.  My husband is beginning to wonder if I am still under warranty for returns…

In good news, I am really flexible.  She couldn’t stop talking about it, in tones of absolute astonishment.  I couldn’t quite figure out if I was astonishingly flexible or astonishingly flexible for a fat person.  Either way, Janet the Physio is Astonished.  She also tells me that I have really strong abs which is nice.  I look forward to revealing six-pack abs when I hit goal.  There’s a lot to be said for contracting your abs every so often and isometrically squeezing them.  I do it whenever I remember (guess what I’m doing right now?), while I’m standing in a queue at the supermarket, when I’m waiting at the traffic lights.  Like I said, whenever.  Mark Sisson wrote a post about this a few years ago, here.  I am now trying to do the same for my ass which is really hard as I seem to be clenching the hamstring and outer thigh muscles instead.

The upshot of this appointment is that I need to do lots and lots of bridges, pelvic tilts and clams to start strengthening the glutes and also work on my overall core strength by spending time sitting on a Swiss ball.  (Apparently I get to work up to doing bridges and crunches on the ball.  Yay!)  I dutifully trotted out and bought one last night and after the hilarity of blowing it up (Dave drew some very expressive squeaks and wheezes from the pump) spent a very wobbly ten minutes on it before bedtime, trying to lift one foot off the ground and well, not fall over.  My living room is now accessorised by a large shiny silver ball that makes me simultaneously think of Barbarella and a Sontaran spaceship.  I suspect I resemble a potato-headed alien more than I do Jane Fonda…

Oh!  Oh!  And in a few months, when I’ve got some strength in my glutes, I can join the hospital gym for their “Back to Fitness” group!  Geddit?  Geddit?   Janet told me about this while I was sitting on a Swiss ball.  Nearly broke my neck laughing.  I do love a good pun…

Don’t burn your bras, donate them!

15 Feb

The infamous NZ bra fence, by (nz)dave on flickr

Today I decided to treat myself to a new sports bra, something which was long overdue.  I’ve had my trusty Enell for years.  I think I actually bought it before we got married, as part of my pre-wedding slim down campaign.  Which makes it… (oh dear) 9 years old.  No wonder it wasn’t particularly supportive anymore.

Anyway.  After I got shoehorned into a new super-tight sports bra–zero jiggle!–I thought I’d ask them to check the fit of my regular bra as the underwire wasn’t fitting as closely as it should.  Half an hour later, imagine my surprise to be wearing a bra that was 6″ smaller!!  Considering that I bought some new (and hideously expensive) bras in November, that is pretty good going!  The lady who fitted me said that I had a tiny ribcage; I can’t remember the last time anyone said that anything about me was small, let alone tiny.

I am so pleased.

A few people have commented on my weight loss which always gives me a warm, glowy feeling of accomplishment (coupled with a feeling of shame, at having become so fat in the first place), but it is really hard for me to see the changes in my own body.  Holding up the old bra against the new one has driven it the message home a little.

For the record, I’ve gone from a 42GG to a 36HH.  I fear I may look like Jordan when I’ve lost the rest of my weight!!

So, what to do with my old bras?  Well, I could turn them into fetching hanging baskets and grow tomatoes in them.  I’d be the talk of the street!  Or… I could donate them to charity instead. runs a Bra Appeal, collecting old (but still in decent nick) bras, which are then sold in Third World countries and a little bit of the money from this ends up with a British breast cancer charity.  I’m going to parcel up mine and send them off this week.  (Which means that I have to keep dieting as I’ll have no bigger clothes to wear!)