Time to report in on my third week of superhero training. In short, I am fucking loving it. It’s been a hell of a three weeks, with some mean hurdles to overcome. But here I am: lighter, stronger, and far happier than when I started. Here’s what’s been happening…
The best bits of superhero training
The best bits of the first three weeks have been the food and the weight lifting. Matt the nutritionist promised me a diet built on love not deprivation, and he really delivered. I get to eat all my favourite things: meat, fish, potatoes, greens, eggs, chocolate (and not half a bite once a month!). I’m cooking again after existing on takeaways and ready meals for at least a year. It’s been great. This is one of my favourites: turkey meatballs with greens and crispy potatoes:
Historically, I’ve used restrictive diets and coped by using ‘treat days’ or ‘treat meals’ of ever-increasing frequency until I’ve just abandoned the diet altogether. But now I’m not feeling that way, so Matt has found a way to break the cycle. This plan is all about building a diet I love, and a diet for life. No short cuts. No grinning and bearing it for short term results that are unsustainable over the long term. I’m enjoying my food more than I was three weeks ago. This is mostly because I’m cooking it, with great ingredients, and I’m actually hungry for it.
Discovering weightlifting is bringing me all the joy! The rush when the weight goes up. The completeness I feel when several muscle groups are working together to make it happen. The whoosh of endorphins as the iron hits the ground again. It’s delicious. And I’m still on the ground floor of this training. I can only imagine how it will feel when I have some major muscles to work with. And that really is the mindset that is making this easy. I am building something, and the excitement to unwrap it is powering me up every day.
Right in time for my first week of training, the period hits. A year of little exercise and poor nutrition has kicked my polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) into overdrive. Rather than an uncomfortable first day, it’s a week of pain, bloat, PMT and tiredness. But actually, having it come Week 1 meant I could win a victory over it right away. I did not stop. The best bit was weightlifting on the actual first day of my period. This is a day normally spent under a duvet with a hot water bottle. Instead, I was lifting weights, and enjoying it. Once I’d committed to the session, the pain vanished, and stayed vanished until I came home. It felt like there was simply no room for the pain once my mind was set to ‘all systems go’. I crashed later in the day, but I crashed happy and empowered, rather than defeated.
Then my wife picked up a really nasty cold. Despite going days without a kiss to try and avoid it, it got me. This was harder to accommodate than the period. I’m asthmatic and it’s a chest cold, so I needed to adapt the week. I did both weightlifting sessions, but instead of conditioning training (high intensity), I promised to go for two six mile walks instead. Although I missed out on the post-conditioning high (which is insane), I burned a greater number of calories and didn’t lose my momentum.
I came into this game with zero integrity around food and exercise. My word meant nothing, to myself or anyone else. That left me feeling totally powerless. And not just in relation to my health. I’ve been feeling flat and stuck for a good year. So getting to practise committing, then delivering or adapting, has been the biggest power boost. I feel chin-up, chest-out, peaceful, happy and powerful for the majority of every single day. I am totally unstuck.
It was time for my first body composition test on Day 17. I went in knowing that I had been my word every day of the three weeks, and genuinely excited to see the results. I was not disappointed. The highlights:
- My overall weight is down 3kg (6lbs), and I did that while simultaneously gaining 0.5kg (1lb) in lean muscle.
- My metabolic age is down 4 years in 17 days
- I’ve dropped two levels down (the right direction) in visceral fat. That means just one more drop and I’m back in the healthy zone.
- My total body fat is down 3%.
I suspect I will fail at something some point soon and that’s the moment to practise dealing with a breakdown. My promise when that moment comes is to use my support system. My coaches and my friends are extraordinary. I’ve promised to communicate when I’m struggling, be coachable, and let go of any feelings that come to suck the joy from me.
My coaches Mitch and Leigh are about the most encouraging human beings I’ve ever met. They’re just the right combination of cheerleading and ass-kicking. Tom, who designed and manages my programme, is a little magic too. I spend a lot of my time leading. Here, I am the beginner and these are my leaders. I feel so much respect for them that it drives me on. These are not people whose time you waste. These are people who won’t accept anything less than my A-game.
I have my first real dietary challenge coming up. I’m off to cover the Labour Party conference for the best part of a week. On the plus side, this will mean a lot of walking about. Instead of being at a computer for much of the day, I will be standing, sitting and walking about between venues in Liverpool. But it does mean cooking is out. I discussed it with Matt and we have a plan. It’s my job to follow it. I’ll also be sticking to the gin and slimline tonics if I feel like a drink. Again, no abstinence, just accommodation and adaptation.
The game for the next two weeks is to just keep going, and keep enjoying myself. This is only the very first step of a journey that will last one year, and the rest of my life. It was a bloody brilliant step though.
Featured image via Kerry-anne Mendoza