Archive | October, 2011

HotPants

31 Oct

Today, after more than a week of impatient waiting, my Zaggora HotPants finally arrived, hurrah! I’d been reading some of the reviews (not least on Where are my knees where they’ve been running a giveaway) and thought I’d treat myself. Then, the Friday before last, they pop up on Groupon for just £19 rather than the usual £45 – I had to have some.

I did my first workout in them this evening – day 15 of the 30 day shred. My conclusion: great workout shorts than provide real support and are immensely flattering, holding you in for that all important mirror boost as you get sweaty. As for the much advertised inchloss: we’ll see. Be assured I’ll share the results!

Jillian and me

30 Oct

Trainers and iPod


Tomorrow I reach the halfway point on the 30 Day Shred – day 15. A milestone, of sorts.

I’d never heard of the Shred until the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards nominees list, stumbled upon by accident, tipped me into a whole world of women who write about food, style, weightloss and exercise. Reading someone mention the Shred, I casually googled, and was quite taken by what I found.

The Shred is a Jillian Michaels workout. She’s “America’s toughest trainer”, apparently, and is a cornerstone of a TV game show/reality piece where contestants compete to lose weight. Since starting the Shred I grew curious to see it, so Tivo’d an episode. It was like the US version of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, all crashing music and manufactured conflict, with Jillian obviously cast as the ogre.

But on her exercise films, she motivates rather than barks, and I find her chatter endearing.

The USP for the series is simple: you exercise for 20 minutes per day, guided by Jillian, every day for 30 days. There are three levels which are increasingly exacting. Each workout is three sets of three minutes of strength, two of cardio and one of abs work.

For me, of course, the discipline of a daily short workout is perfect. My gym membership with LA Fitness allows me access to clubs all over the country, so wherever I am there’s usually one nearby. My home gym is SmallCity, obviously, but I can frequently be found in several London clubs too, frantically switching through the routines to Jillian’s pace. I’m completely bemused by home DVD workouts, and wish to retain cordiality with my downstairs neighbour, so exercise to the video on an iPod in the gym.

As I said, I’m on day 14, and the changes are apparent. My flexibility and balance have come on hugely, and there’s definite toning apparent to waist, abdomen, upper arms and thighs. But, infuriatingly, despite transforming what I eat, I’m completely plateau’d at 12st 10-12lb. All the guidance says this is to be expected early on, as you replace fat with muscle, but I am more than a little discouraged to be working so hard (it’s damn tough) with no further progress to that elusive 11st goal.

Still, I have made a deal with myself, and there’s no way I’m giving up now. Tomorrow you’ll find me once again with the jumping jacks, military presses, chair squats and chest flies…

By her tote will you know her

29 Oct

I find commuter style is a particular modification of office style.

Firstly, money: by the time you’ve taken the decision to commute, you’re probably out of the Primark phase. You’re heading mid-market – M&S for basics, plus Next, Wallis and maybe even Reiss, Hobbs and Whistles. But commuting imposes costs (steep ones); so spending money on clothes when annually you write an enormous cheque to the transportation company of your choice, not to mention all the ready meals, feels extravagent. I deal with this dilemma by buying pretty much everything secondhand, from charity shops and the clothes agency at the foot of my road – a wardrobe of British high street classics at Primark prices.

Secondly, preparedness. I leave my house on commuting days at five to six in the morning. At that time, it’s impossible to know how to dress for the day’s weather, so I best guess. As I step out of the house, nervously checking my watch and wishing I’d hurried up in the shower, a cross-section of my capacious tote would show you (variously) sunglasses, flats, an extra cardigan, an extra scarf, a winter hat and gloves, two mobile chargers for the blackberry and iphone/ipod and a necklace or chandelier earrings in case of unexpected drinks after work, plus, always, a gym kit. There are some months when the hat and gloves are left behind, but they are few.

Thirdly, comfort. When I sit down in my place, I wish to snooze from just past six until our arrival in London at half-past seven. I want dresses that will stand up to a day that takes in my early start, smart office meetings, errands, running to the gym and socialising. My weekday wardrobe is thus dresses with some stretch, worn with a rotating set of jackets and jewellery, and patent courts – with patent flats for running.

Fourthly, commuting makes you fat (all that sitting and the temptation of a-little-something-for-the-journey-which-can’t-hurt). Be prepared, like me, to have a number of wardrobes at different size points. This was not a planned undertaking, but a result of my 18-month cycle, faithfully maintained over more than half a decade and several revolutions, of curving up through a 16 peaking at 18/20 and then slowly curving back. Joyfully, I am now on the downwards trajectory, after losing more than a stone since the summer. I took pleasure in looking out from their vacuum bags the dresses there consigned following the last upward curve of the yo-yo. These dresses will hopefully enjoy a brief swansong before being packed away with the 18s and 16s as I move ever closer to that elusive size 12. Then the fight will be on against the uptick as the cycle starts again…

So there we have it: commutershrink’s ruminations on commuter style.

The first post, in numbers

28 Oct

This morning I got on the scales. 12st 12lb. Same as it’s been for two weeks. Static. Plateau’d. Discouraged. Yes.

Is that the only number that matters in my life? No. Here are some other numbers that matter:
18 – the number of pounds I’ve lost since starting to change my life properly on 14 August 2011
56 – the number of miles I commute four times a week
40 – the number of months I’ve been with Londonshrink, my beautiful boy
12 – the number of days I’ve been doing the 30 day shred
1 – the number of posts on this blog, set up to deal with the plateau and discouragement.

If you’re reading this, I’m surprised. You’re very welcome, of course, but I’m not expecting anyone to be interested in the inanities of a commuter girl: working hard, getting up early, watching the scales, fitting in gym time somehow, and trying to cook well and look pretty through it all.

My low down (it’s complicated):
I work in London in a job I adore. I live in SmallCity, which has been home for the best part of a decade and a half. I have commitments here in SmallCity, so I commute.

I’m partnered up with Londonshrink, who’s three months ahead of me in his shrinking journey; seven inches taller; five years younger. The other important number in his life is 1 hour 44 mins – his time in the half marathon earlier this month. Londonshrink is, as his name implies, in London. It wasn’t always this way and, in time, it won’t be again. But for now, we’re living-together-in-two-places.

I work. I commute. I exercise. I watch Deadwood, The Wire and The West Wing. I listen to Freakonomics, This American Life and RadioLab. I cook; I eat out. On holiday I read voraciously. I bookmark articles from Lifehacker and hope to be smart and save money. I love the city I live in. I try to serve others. I don’t call Mum and Dad enough.

If I was at work, I’d make my team write aims and objectives for a new project. I’m not, but discipline is good, even at the weekend. This blog is not, though, the new project in itself; I am. I’m in the game of changing my life, and I find keeping track of the numbers helps. Let’s see how it goes.