Let’s Talk About Gym, and Healthy Weight and Especially Sleep…

I am back from a weekend away and back at the gym. If you have been following along, I have been blogging about my journey through the Healthy Weight Program at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa. It has been four weeks of working out, and by the time you read this post I will be nearly halfway through the Program. I don’t even blink at 5:30 am wake ups anymore, in fact I kind of like the associated quiet. Can you believe it? I can’t believe it myself. Just a quick look at me and I don’t think you will notice a massive transformation… it is early days after all. But there have been a number of lifestyle changes that weren’t difficult to implement and that are definitely here to stay…


The Workouts

The first thing is I have rediscovered that I really enjoy working out. It is hard, make no mistake I am constantly surprised at how hard we are pushed and even more surprised when our whole group manages it. The power of peer pressure! There has been a fairly dramatic improvement in the things I can actually do. Remember those crunchies and planks from way back, well now we just do those. In fact I thought, that all those tummy muscles were gone for good… Seriously I have had eight kids. Turns out they haven’t. I can actually feel all those core muscles working, while I walk around in my every day life now… those muscles aren’t gone, they were literally dormant. I have to say the exercises are not for the fainthearted, and I love that we are constantly pushed, though all the while learning how do things correctly… this is all good for folk like me, who have simply forgotten how to do almost everything. So many folk say that the first step is the hardest, they might be right, if you could take away the first five minutes of every gym class that would probably be something of a bonus. Otherwise, I would never work this hard on my own, I am thrilled to have a biokineticist to encourage all the way.


The Eating Plan

My big thing, when I started this program was to make make the decision to only put really healthy food into me from now on, and honestly while I still have a few blapses, it isn’t too hard, I just don’t buy any junk ever. Otherwise, I haven’t changed my “breakfast, lunch and supper” diet radically at all, but I noticed when I kept a food diary for the sleep study that I have my own personal feast every single day when I cook dinner… so I have put a stop to that. I stopped cooking every day and started batch cooking a lot more, that keeps me out of the kitchen at that critical time of day… and makes the kids more able to put dinner on the table too. I also made sure that I had some nice crispy apples on stand by for when I am cooking. Turns out that if I am eating an apple at the same time as I am cooking that I don’t want to spoil the apple by tasting everything that goes into the pots and pans as well. Hopefully little changes like that will make a difference overall.


The Sport Psychologist

Half way through the program there is a choice to visit your dietician for some tips or the sports psychologist… My visit to the sport psychologist during initial the assessment had such a huge impact on our family and how I get things done around here that I was keen and eager to visit him again. Not to mention, I had a disastrous (even for me) Park Run on the Saturday before… disastrous in the sense that I feel like all the gym should help me be better at things but actually after a hard work out and mountain climb the day before I was just physically tired, and it was so so hard. My head went off on a little trip of “I can’t do this and I really should quit.” I didn’t quit, but I wasn’t happy. I really want to do better and not flinch so much when the going gets tough. Anyway twenty minutes of chatting and I now feel a little more amped when I do the hard stuff. This year my gang and I have been hiking almost every week, and for this past week’s hike, which was a long hard hot hike immediately after gym, I put my head down and chose to be there, and chose to stride out and just keep going. No it was not an epic sporting achievement, but I did it and will move on to the next hike next week. Step by step… its a thing.


The Sleep Study

My recent difficulty has not so much been the Workouts… or my head space or even healthy eating… but as I suspected sleep would continue to be my biggest problem. The irony regarding a sleep study and the alarming lack of sleep because of it. You can read about the sleep study at the SSISA website. Meanwhile, the first week I had to get up fairly early to fill in my assessment forms before gym, the following week there was one 4 a.m. start for a metabolism test in which I totally had to stay awake while sitting under a dome, followed by my usual workout and then immediately a body scan (which did involve clambering onto a large X-ray table in a hospital gown with sweat exploding from me in every direction… the glamour of science), and then last week there were two nights of a sleep study that resulted in what felt like absolutely no sleep. Heaps of wires and cables and gadgets all connected to me, not to mention little flashing lights… it took an hour and a half to set up, and then I could in theory move around freely, and in practice not at all. The kids were intrigued and it was great for a spontaneous science lesson. But I sure battled to sleep. The following morning I had to be up and at it at gym… gah!!! That dreadful feeling of having to perform well on what felt like zero sleep was exactly the sleep kick that I needed.


It suffices to say, real live science and a sudden alarming awareness of more than a few of my very bad sleep habits. I have been aiming to sleep a whole lot better for the longest time, to be in bed at a reasonable hour and up early enough to start the day with enthusiasm rather than on the back foot… well a couple of nights of sleep study and I was so very tired that I was forced to head for bed earlier and of course I naturally woke up earlier… honestly I never expected sleep, or the lack thereof, to be the thing that brought everything crumbling down and set all my bad habits straight. Lets just say after another night or two of good sleep I had another late night last week and the resulting dreadful day again was enough to pull me back inline. Turns out I could teach school and blog all night, but I cannot manage a gym workout, then school and then blog late into the night. So I am having to figure out a whole different strategy for when and how to blog. Because the time has come for me to sleep properly.

I am discovering pockets of time in the day to blog… and I am getting my work flow much more streamlined. The mornings I don’t go to gym I still wake up early… and I choose to blog then. And I am a lot more productive first thing in the morning than when I am nodding off to sleep at my desk late into the night. Otherwise, when I have a snippet of time in the afternoon I tend to edit photos and get all the prep done for the pending posts. And at night, now that I am just too tired to write I find myself reading my way through review books, this is a good thing. So everything is changing around here and it is all good. But it isn’t easy… there are a lot of three steps forwards and two steps back moments.


The Challenge for this Week

My previous challenge was to get myself some appropriate footwear and it just so happened that as I was walking past Cape Union Mart there was a shoe sale and I grabbed myself some half price Merrells… yeah!!! They aren’t exactly gym shoes, and not really what I was looking for… But they are fabulous for walking and hiking, which is what I do… so I am happy with that. I am no longer going to gym in my croc loafers and my alternatives that were boots are now shelved for the while, since I have literally stomped my way through the soles of them… and then for today’s workout we actually ran. Yes, I ran for the first time in oh about twenty years and I have to say, they probably aren’t the best running shoes. But they are shoes and they work!!!

My challenge for this week is to work out an actual plan of when and how to blog… it is time to figure out when to get the lion’s share of actual work done during the day… you know during the hours that I am actually awake. This is huge folks, this is literally looking for hours and hours in the day that I just couldn’t find before… those hours just can’t be found during sleep time anymore.

Previous Posts over at the SSISA

Previous Posts in this Series

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I would like to thank SSISA for the free training/mentoring I am getting in exchange for an honest blog post. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

6 Replies to “Let’s Talk About Gym, and Healthy Weight and Especially Sleep…”

  1. Well done!! Gosh, I am glad that you did not feel claustrophopic in that bubble; very intrigued by your plan, and look forward to more updates and info.

  2. Thanks Cassey, this is quite a journey… and requires patience all the way!!! Eight weeks is longer than I thought it was and yet it seems to be flying past so fast as well!!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!!

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