Diet progress: Week 2

My second weekly weigh-in.  How exciting. This records my progress from October 16th – October 22nd.

So what does science say I should have lost?

  • TDEE = 14896 calories/week (see how I calculated this here)
  • Deficit needed to lose 1lb/week = 3500
  • Total weekly calories consumed = 12777
  • Total weekly calorie deficit = 2119

This is 61% of the deficit needed for 1lb loss, so science predicts I will lose 0.61lbs this week.

What did I actually lose?

Nothing.  I actually GAINED a pound.  Needless to say, I’m not best pleased.  It does mean, however, that I’m roughly where the science predicts I should be after 2 weeks, because last week I lost much more than I expected and this week I gained:

Weekly progress.  I may not be consistent, but at least I'm on track
Weekly progress. I may not be consistent, but at least I’m on track

Weight loss total = 1.9lbs

So what went wrong?

I’m not sure anything has went wrong, as technically I’m still on track, but gaining weight is disheartening.  There are a few things that may have contributed to this:

  • Last weekend I was in Atlantic City and had a few drinks and meals that I couldn’t 100% accurately track.  I tried as best as I could, but still was over 2000 calories on Friday and Saturday
  • I had a salty meal the day before weigh in, so I might be retaining water.
  • I could be tracking less accurately than I think.  I feel like I am being very conscientious about tracking,  putting all food into myfitnesspal, weighing portions out and prepping lunches in advance at home to avoid outside temptation.  However, there’s always room for error so this week I will be extra vigilant with my tracking efforts
  • The science could be wrong!   It’s widely accepted that 1lb of fat equals 3500 calories, therefore if you eat 3500 fewer in a week than what you need, then you’ll lose 1lb of fat.  I’m sure in reality it’s much more complicated than that, but I’m trying to compare basic trends here.  However, what if it’s wrong?  What if you need to burn more than 3500 to lose weight?  How does your water weight and muscle mass factor into the equation?  What if my TDEE is wrong?  These are all things that I don’t feel ready to answer yet as it’s only been 2 weeks.  At the end of this year, I’ll revisit this as we’ll have much more data to analyse.

This week, I’ve decided to add another metric into my experiment.  I weigh myself every Friday, but is this the best way to track progress?  Maybe last week I was dehydrated and this made me lighter on the scales than I actually was?  Maybe this week I’m retaining water.  Now, there’s not much I can do about fluctuations like these other than watch what I eat and try to weigh myself at the same time every day (first thing in the morning).

However, one thing I will try for the next few weeks is to weigh myself every single day and then take a 7 day average.  I’m curious to see if this tallies up to the predictions better than the Friday weigh-in, as it should offset any daily fluctuations by showing a weekly average.  This will take a few weeks to generate enough data to accurately compare, so let’s pick up on that again on the Week 4 Progress recap.

This week, I’m focusing on sticking to my training plan.  I have a free pass for a gym near my work (which is an AWESOME gym), so I’ll be taking full advantage of that.  I also have a 5 mile race in Central Park tomorrow which should be interesting, my first 5 miler since the end of August!  I’m aiming to fill week three with ticks,  no more crosses next week.

Feeling good this week!  I swapped a few days round, but have met all goals (other than that damn half mile short on Tuesday)
Feeling good this week! I swapped a few days round, but have met all goals (other than that damn half mile short on Tuesday)

Have a great week everyone!  Stay motivated!


Don’t skip a week of running. DEFINITELY don’t skip three…..

Facebook, maybe. WordPress? LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT

I have a confession to make.  Yesterday, I went on my first run for over 3 weeks.  The first 2 weeks of my hiatus were pure laziness, but last week I got myself back on track with the dieting, so the exercise should have gone hand-in-hand.  Last week was due to be the start of my run-up-to-Christmas training plan, but I hurt my back and so didn’t do any exercise at all.

Could I have managed some?  Probably.

Am I using a minor setback as an excuse?  Most likely.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to the run.  The course I ran was relatively flat for the first mile, with some downhills as I approach the 1M point.  The first half of mile 2 is almost all uphill, not the steepest hill I’ve ever run but enough to leave me seriously struggling to breathe as I drag my ass up that damn hill.  The next mile is fairly flat, which brings me back to the start of the loop.  I can add an extra mile onto the loop with another mighty hill and equally steep decline tagged on at the end, but yesterday I opted for the 2.5M loop only as it’s my first foray into running for nearly a month (the shame!).

So the first mile came and went fairly uneventfully, with a 10:54 minute mile.  This is actually a good time for me, usually I’m between 11:30 and 12 minute miles on training runs, so I was pleased!  Despite my hiatus, I was on fire.  I was a svelte, gazelle-like creature gliding along the sidewalk like a champion runner.

(This is where all the actual runners snort at my snail-like 11 minute miles)

Then…. that damn hill at the start of mile 2.  Now, I’ve run this course several times, it’s pretty much the only available course round my workplace.  I knew the hill would be difficult and I usually have to take 1 walking break half way, but yesterday FLOORED me.  I could barely walk, never mind run, by the time I got to the top.  I stopped several times within half a mile.  I even cheated and paused my GPS for 1 minute because I was so ashamed of how long it was taking me to haul myself up this hill.

Not the best practice, I know.  

I finally reached the top of the hill and the rest of my run was fairly flat and uneventful.  However, I found that every 0.3 miles or so I was stopping to walk for a few seconds and catch my breath.  Walking isn’t uncommon during my runs, usually for every mile I will take a short break, but 3 or 4 within a mile is a drastic decline in performance for me.

Pace report shows where the hill started.  Clearly, consistancy is an issue that I need to work on
Pace report shows where the hill started. Clearly, consistancy is an issue that I need to work on

The moral of today’s story?  DON’T SKIP YOUR RUNS!!

A link to my Garmin for a full run breakdown is here

So I’ve missed the first week of my training plan with my back troubles, but I’m on track again.  I’m OK with altering days or combining workouts within the week, but NO MORE SKIPPING DAYS, I’ve definitely learned my lesson!   After all, what’s the point in having a training plan if I’m not following it?!?

Progress so far.  I'm sure it's misleading to tick my rest days last week...
Progress so far. I’m sure it’s misleading to tick my rest days last week…

Happy Thursday everyone!


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Progress: Week 1

It’s here, my first weekly check in.  I’m excited!

First things first, my weekly check ins record progress from each Friday, so this tracks my results from October 9th – October 15th.

Total weight loss: 3.0lbs

3 pounds!!!!

With a 500 calorie deficit per day, I should be losing 1lb per week.  3lb is more than I’d expected!  If I had to guess why I’ve lost more, I would say it’s probably due to eating more home cooked meals which has reduced my salt intake.  If you eat too much salt, it causes your body to retain water which can leave you weighing more and feeling bloated.  Perhaps reducing my salt intake, even if not by conscious effort, has boosted my first week results as I’ve experienced some water loss as well as fat loss.

Let’s see what the graph looks like!

Week 1 - I'm flying off the charts
Week 1 – I’m flying off the charts

The green line shows how much weight I should lose according to the science, and the purple line shows how much I’m actually losing.  You can see there’s quite a difference so far!  The green line is calculated by adding up all my calories for the week, then working out what my calorie deficit is versus my TDEE.  Now, we know that a deficit of 3500 calories a week predicts 1lb weight loss, and this week my total deficit was 3091 calories – 88% of the 3500 needed.  This means science predicts I should have lost 0.88lbs this week.  So 3lbs is significantly higher than our predictions!!

I’ve taken the 1 week results and used these to create a linear extrapolation to show when I’ll hit my 10lb goal if I keep losing weight at the same pace.  Of course, I don’t expect to lose 3lb every week but it’s very motivating to see how quickly I could achieve my goals!  At my current progress I’d lose 10lbs in under 4 weeks!

Week 1 observations:

  • I’m not gonna lie, it’s been quite difficult to stick to my 1600 calorie goal each day.  I found that breakfast and lunch were easy to stick to, but I would be so hungry by the time I got home from work at 5pm that I could have eaten my laptop.  I wonder if I’m actually eating fewer calories than I’m tracking – it would explain why I’ve been so hungry and also managed to lose 3lbs.  Then again, perhaps I’m just feeling this hungry because I’ve spent the past few years stretching my stomach out to fit all the extra calories I’ve been eating…
  • I find that preparing my meals in advance helps a LOT.  Making lunches in bulk and then portioning out throughout the week is a strategy that I’ll be sticking to.  I made a large pot of butternut squash soup which lasted me several lunches, and this week I’m repeating with a nice eggplant moussaka.

This week, I’m working on my race training plan and trying to keep track for another loss.  I had a heavier weekend as I was out with friends on Friday and Saturday, but I tracked absolutely everything as a way to keep accountability for my actions.  Hopefully it won’t set me back and I can have another successful week.

Have a great week everyone!  Happy dieting!


Down & Dirty Obstacle Race NYC – Race Review

TL:DR – Amazing fun and great introductory obstacle race.  Prepare to get very muddy!

October 4th 2015 was a big day for me – it was my FIRST proper obstacle race, the Down & Dirty Obstacle Race in Pelham Bay Park, NYC.   Prior to this race the only thing resembling an obstacle race I’d completed was the Wipeout Run, which was less about challenge and more about slip’n’slides and other fun things.  So I’d consider this to be my first proper experience of a mud run.

The logistical stuff

I bought this race as a Groupon for $50.  I tried to get a group together to race but unfortunately I was not even remotely successful – so I ran the race myself (#PammyNoMates – a common theme in my running posts as you’ll see).   There was ample free parking, and the race start was very easy to find.  Registration took ~20 minutes, it could have been quicker but I was prepared for a longer wait as I was picking up on the day.  Compared to the Wipeout Run last month, this was much more organised – however there were far fewer runners and so it maybe isn’t a fair comparison.  A lovely surprise about this race was the fact that race photos were free to download after the race, I think this is the only race I’ve ever run that’s given free photos!

The obstacles

There was plenty of obstacles crammed into this 5k race (and there was a 10k option available too with even more obstacles).  In total there were 14 obstacles, with a nice mix of road running and trail running thrown into the mix.  From what I remember, the obstacles were (in order)

  • Wall Climb: Starting fairly easy with a wall to climb up and over, with easy footholds throughout
  • Inflatable slide: Easy climb up a large inflatable and a fun slide down the other side
  • Tunnels: Tunnels to crawl though (although they were fairly large so you could make your way through on your hands and knees rather than a full crawl
  • Sack lift: A large metal frame with 40lb and 80lb sacks attached to ropes.  Objective is to hoist the sack to the top of the frame using the rope attached.   40lb for the girls and 80lbs for the boys.
  • Monster Climb: A large climbing frame with room for plenty of people!  Cargo ropes throughout to help you climb up and then back down the other side

This takes us through the first mile, with the first half mile being run along the waterfront.  Obstacles started at around half a mile.  Nothing yet has been overly challenging and I’m still fairly clean.  Thatis, until….

  • Water pit: A large pit full of water, held together in a large tarpaulin (so no mud yet).  A lot of people were crouching through rather than crawling, so only getting their feet wet.  Me?  I think if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it properly – so crawl I did!  I came out soaking wet from head to toe
  • Mud pit: This was essentially the same obstacle again, but with a pit of muddy water rather than clean(ish) water.  Again, people were cheating and I chose not to.  I came out muddy and soaking wet from head to toe!

At this point we entered a trail run of ~ 1 mile.  I probably enjoyed the run here more than the flat boardwalk run, however I did get caught behind some walkers on more than one occasion.  Considering I only run 11-12 minute miles, I can imagine that this would have been frustrating for a faster runner.

  • 20 push ups: Half way through the trail run there were mats laid out on the trail and a “drill sergeant” to shout at you.  DROP AND GIVE ME 20!
  • Hurdles: Technically only ‘hurdle’ as there was only 1, this was a wooden hurdle which reached just over waist height on me (I’m 5 foot 4).  Wasn’t too challenging to hoist myself over.
  • Rock Climbing: Exactly what it says on the tin, this was a rock climbing wall to get across.  There were two heights, larger and smaller.  I tried the larger and reached half way up before bottling it and heading for the smaller wall.  However, I was so annoyed at myself that I rejoined the line for the larger wall and gave it another go – and made it over!
  • Bigger mud pit: This one was HUGE!  If anyone had made it this far without getting too muddy, their luck had run out.  Impossible to work your way through without coming out completely covered in mud!
  • Military walls: For this obstacle, we had a 25lb ball to throw over some larger military walls, similar to the hurdles but closer to my neck than my waist this time.  I’m sad to say that I didn’t have the upper body strength to hoist myself over – but everyone was helping each other through this one and so another runner gave me a boost over the walls
Pull ups are now on every workout plan to avoid this struggle
Pull ups are now on every workout plan to avoid this struggle
  • Water crossing: Basically this was wading into the Atlantic Ocean!  There was a box marked out in the water and you had to wade out and essentially trace the perimeter of the box.  At it’s deepest, I was in the water to my chest.  Then there were some photo opportunities on the way out of the water…
Looking a bit like an overgrown sea otter
Looking a bit like an overgrown sea otter
  • Rope Climb: The last obstacle, this was a slippery wall at an ~45 degree angle, with a large knotted rope to use to hoist yourself up the wall.  I struggled with this one, and couldn’t really hoist myself up using upper body strength.  I had to kind-of squat and walk up the wall rather than push myself up on my stomach.  I was pretty annoyed that I couldn’t do it properly!


Rocking that 'don't take my photo I'm filthy and knackered' look
Rocking that ‘don’t take my photo I’m filthy and knackered’ look

It took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete the race and all obstacles.  There were almost no lines at obstacles which was great, in fact the longest wait was at the rock climbing and the military walls.  For every other obstacle, I literally ran straight to them and got stuck in.  All in all, this was a great race and I’m happy that it was my introduction to obstacle races.  I’ve definitely caught the bug, it’s a shame that it’s the wrong time of the year and the obstacle race calendar is winding down!  However, that gives me all winter to get training for some spring races….

Spartan race next year, anyone?

Pam x

Hi, nice to meet you, can we start over?

So I haven’t been very good at maintaining this blog!

Where have I been for the last month? 

Nowhere, to be honest.  I’ve got no excuse, I’ve had a terrible few weeks and haven’t been sticking to my plan as promised.  It stops now!

I’m hoping that we can start over.  One false start shall lead the way to my next successful attempt.  I’ve used too many excuses this month – I’ve been out for dinner too many times, I’ve used being busy in work as validation for coming home and ordering take out and generally being quite lazy.  Exercise wise, I  haven’t been too bad (I’m never too bad with the exercise), but food-wise I’ve made almost no effort at all.  And unfortunately you can’t out-run a bad diet so the scales are showing the truth.

On week 1, I lost 4lb.  However since then, I’ve gained 2lb.  So that’s my new starting point – 185lb.  I’m TDEEing it up between now and Christmas!

Short term and long term goals

I know my long term goal is to be within my healthy BMI range (so under BMI 25).  However, that’s going to take some time.  With that in mind, I’ve set myself some short term goals to work towards to keep me motivated as I go along.

  1. Lose 5lbs by Thanksgiving
  2. Lose 10lbs by Christmas

That gives me 11 weeks to lose 10lbs, which SHOULD be fairly easy if I can stick to my TDEE each day.  In theory, I should lose 1lb per week if I eat my ~1600 calories.

Why talk about something when you can graph about it instead
Why talk about something when you can graph about it instead

The other thing I’m getting in order is my running goals.  The longest run I’ve signed up for this year is a 15k (~9 miles) on December 12th.   So a training plan is essential!!

I’ve designed myself a training grid to keep on track, using one of the excellent Hal Higdon training programs as a template and amending to add strength:

I do love an opportunity to use Excel
I do love an opportunity to use Excel

The orange are races I’m already signed up for, the purple is when I’m travelling and so will need to work extra hard to fit my training in!

Another milestone I’ve got under my belt this week is my volunteering effort at the Staten Island Half marathon today.  In order to qualify for the 2016 New York marathon next November, I need to complete 9 races plus 1 volunteering spot in 2015, through the NYRR New York Road Runners races.  I’ve completed 6 of 9 and have another 3 in the calendar, so …… drumroll please…… I will get guaranteed entry to the EFFING NEW YORK MARATHON NEXT YEAR!!!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I really like running, but a marathon is more of a bucket list thing for me than a hobby I’m trying to create.  Hey, if you’re going to complete one marathon in your life, why not make it in New York?!?

I’ve got a fire lit under me, I’m back on track!  I’ll also be doing weekly weigh-ins and stat analysis each Friday to compare real life results to those predicted by TDEE.

And now, my blog is like a bus.  You wait forever for one and two come along at once…. stay tuned for my obstace race review later tonight!

Pam x

Cheating but not cheating: eating the right amount of the wrong foods

Yesterday, I had a bad day.  A rubbish, mad-at-the-world, in-a-mood-for-no-reason bad day.  We all have them, and it’s very easy to give up on all your food goals when you’re in a bad mood.

I started well, from a food sense.  I had my normal breakfast (Nature Valley Sweet and Salty cereal bar, if you were wondering).  I filled up with green tea between breakfast and lunch, as I always do.  I had a tuna sandwich on wheat bread for lunch.  All in all, a pretty successful start to my week.

Then I got home.

Now, I don’t know about you, but 4pm is my danger time, the time of the day where all willpower and rational thinking go out the window and I say “F*CK IT, I’M HAVING A CRUNCHIE”.  And have a crunchie I did.  Then I had some pretzel M&Ms.  Then I had a bounty.  Then my husband decided to get a McDs for his dinner and I had a McChicken sandwich (no fries though).

That’s all it took, half an hour of bad food choices to lose my good start to the week.  I felt bloated and uncomfortable afterwards too – and still hungry!  Of course I was still hungry, I hadn’t eaten anything nutritious and now didn’t want to eat a proper dinner because I’d binged away my dinner calories.  Technically, though, technically I didn’t go over my calories!  I just filled up my daily allowance with junk food instead of proper food.

It’s another variable in this experiment – is it as simple as calories in < calories out = weight loss?  Or should I be taking what i’m eating into consideration too?  Should I be tracking protein and carbohydrates and micronutrients and macronutrients and all these other things that people tell you is important to lose weight?  For me, I’ve decided not to.  Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be having another binge any time soon and will be aiming for 3 healthy meals and the odd snack every day.  However I’m not going to make it overly complicated, especially right at the start of this journey.  Perhaps in a few months when I’ve really learned how this weight loss thing works, I will revisit it, but for now – i’m all about the calories, baby.

I think it’s OK to not care occasionally.  To just throw caution to the wind and eat the damn Big Mac.  It’s not doing it every day that’s the important part – and making sure doing it once doesn’t derail you and unravel all previous effort.

Tonight I may be unravelled (but just for a day) – it’s my husband’s birthday and we’re going out for a meal so I’m not sure how accurate my tracking will be.  I’ll try my best though!

We all have days where this is appropriate. For me, yesterday was that day.

Happy dieting!

Pamela x

Big Bouncy Balls! Wipeoutrun race review

Today was the wipeout run in Brooklyn.  What a fun race!!

TL;DR – AMAZING fun day out.  The obstacles were super fun but wish they would have been more challenging

The difficult-for-a-heavy-girl jumping photograph
The difficult-for-a-heavy-girl jumping photograph
Race Review

Wipeoutrun is a themed 5k obstacle race, with inflatable obstacles based on the show Wipeout.  Obstacles included jumping over big inflatable balls, hurling yourself onto big slip’n’slides, throwing yourself over large inflatable water slides and running across balance beams while big red balls try and hit you in the face.  This is my first race review, so I’m going to keep it short and to the point:

Because big inflatable words are my jam
Because big inflatable words are my jam

Race packets were only available on the day of pickup for an additional $5 fee.  I chose this option as picking up the day before would have cost more than $5 in tolls to reach the venue.  We were given a start time of 1:30pm, and arrived at ~1pm ready to pick up our packs.  Now, I expected to wait in a queue (as most day-of packet pickups tend to involve), but I wasn’t expecting the line to be quite so big! All in all, it took around an hour to get through the line and pick up our bibs – meaning we had missed our start time.  This wasn’t a problem though as we started with the 2pm wave and thankfully nobody seemed to notice that we were half an hour late.

The race

At the start gate, they were staggering people’s start times to avoid everyone trying to get on the obstacles at once.  We had a wait at the start line, as they would let ~30 people into the starting corral at a time, do a short warm up and then be sent on your way.  I thought the way this was managed was great, it was a fun, energetic way to start the race and helped manage the flow of people through onto the obstacles.

The obstacles

The obstacles were really fun!  I wouldn’t say any of them were challenging, but I certainly enjoyed trying them out.  Today we had:

  • Big balls – 4 inflatable balls contained in a cage, the challenge was to jump from one to the next without falling off.  This was the only one I struggled with, unfortunately I didn’t have the balance to stand upright on them and jump to the next! I gave it a good try but did end up walking from one ball to the next instead of jumping.  Big queues in this one, the only one that really had any bottleneck.
  • Sweeper – An inflatable platform with a large sweeper circling round trying to push you off as you were running across.  Happy to say I made it across this one without falling off!
  • Foam of fury – Now, this is called Foam of Fury – but there wasn’t any foam that I saw today!! This was basically a big slip’n’slide, you took a run up and threw yourself down the slide and let the momentum carry you through
  • Smash wall – Basically a wall to scale up.  As I was running towards this, I was worried I’d reached an obstacle I wouldn’t be able to do – but it was pretty easy.  There was a little platform on the way up to help you, so I only had to scale it from waist height.
  • Sky’s the limit – A big bouncy castle with varying height walls to jump across.  Again, fun but not particularly challenging
  • Tumble tubes – Sliding down an inflatable slide with a rubber ring.  Really, really fun!
  • Wrecking balls – Probably the best obstacle of the day.  There was a tube to run across, with pools of water on either side and two wrecking balls swinging round.  Avoid the balls and keep your balance to get across without hitting the water.  I hit the water (obviously!)
  • Happy endings – The biggest slide to end on.  Launch yourself down with some force to fly all the way down to the bottom.

Big balls - big failure to jump over them
Big balls – big failure to jump over them
Inflatable slides are my favourite new hobby
Inflatable slides are my favourite new hobby

In a nutshell – the obstacles were awesome, I loved it.  However, nothing was physically challenging, except maybe the first one which was more about balance than physical exertion.

The running part

The 5k was held in the Aviator sports centre in Brooklyn.  I’ve done colour runs here in the past and it’s basically just a big empty road which is a great space for novelty runs.  However, I think most people missed the memo about running!  I would say 80% of the people were walking from one obstacle to the next which I found disappointing as it really took the energy out of the race for me.  My running mate and I did a little sprint to some of the obstacles and then a slow jog between them, but I didn’t see a lot of other runners.

Would I do it again? 

Hell yeah!  But I’d probably do a proper run afterwards too – this one is just for fun.

wipeoutrun survivors 2015
wipeoutrun survivors 2015
Next run is the Down and Dirty obstacle race in 2 weekends time, although I’m contemplating doing the Bronx 5k next weekend too.  I’m hoping to be more challenged in the next obstacle race, I’ve got 2 weeks to get some semblance of training in!!

Pamela x