Thursday, 26 January 2012

Reality TV? Who is the biggest loser?

This Tuesday, as I normally do, I came home, did some exercise, had a healthy dinner and then looked forward to turning on the television for The Biggest Loser. Some of you may well attach that label to me for admitting to watching such a show, but I admit it I am hooked.

I actually realised on the train home when starting to feel lazy, that in fact knowing this program was on prompted me to do exercise. Surely this can only be a good thing. Weird as it sounds, if I get lazy and don’t do my exercise on a Tuesday and then settle down to watch people on the screen shifting huge tyres, dragging buses and giving it their all in ‘last chance workout’ I feel awful. I’m trying to blog about my progress to keep me going and my boyfriend and I weigh in each Monday morning together to push each other on and support one another. This program seems to also be helping me in sticking to my plan.

However, this week whilst watching the episode I started to feel a little differently and it made me think about reality shows in general. Most of us will admit to loving a bit of reality TV, the whole sense of voyeurism is pretty addictive. Considering the people on them for a moment too you could argue they agree to go on the show and in most instances know what they’re letting themselves in for. There are shows on people losing weight, people changing gender, people getting jobs, people learning to dance, young people going out getting drunk, celebrity couples, the lot. You name it there has likely been a reality show on it, or if not there soon will be.

Since fitness is high on my agenda at present, I will focus on that area for now. I have been religiously watching The Biggest Loser on ITV and also before it Fat Fighters on Channel Four. Both take very different approaches to losing weight and also deal with participants in their own unique ways. Fat Fighters features trainers and clients at a trendy gym in London, where they try different techniques and showcase two people each week who come to them to get in shape or reach a new fitness goal. Although some of the program seems a bit far-fetched and you have one trainer constantly in high heels and a leotard, it does seem to work. Clients get to try cheerleader training, stiletto workouts and pole dancing to name a few of the more memorable classes on offer. The people are given support and their weight loss is checked for health and not just looking at how much they have shed. There isn’t so much a sense of competition, but praise on individual achievement and progress.

Alternatively on The Biggest Loser, I have noticed something which I just don’t understand. People who are still losing weight – albeit a smaller amount than others – are not congratulated on this progress. Instead they get a disappointed/disapproving look from Davina and are made to shuffle back, shame-faced in their super tight, body-on-show gym gear to their fellow contestants. Now I think the idea of the show is great and I understand these people have significant amounts of weight to lose, but the whole thing seems to be becoming a bit too much of a ‘game’ and competition, and not so much about people’s health and improvement.

This week’s episode summed it up whereby contestants admitted to having a ‘gameplan’ and used the ‘voting off’ session as a chance to get rid of someone who wasn’t their ‘friend’ or in their secret circle. Everyone seems to change their opinion on what is healthy and what isn’t, be it weight loss progress, what to eat, what to drink and so on. However, most advice I’ve seen is that healthy weight loss is around 1-2lbs per week, the longer it takes to come off, the longer it stays off. Yet when somebody loses 2lbs on The Biggest Loser they get downtrodden and looked badly upon or are given pity because they achieved such a meagre amount. This I don’t agree with.

Tasks where they get penalised with weight being added on to their weight loss percentage or ‘games’ where they have to eat lots of calories also defeats the object of the cause in my mind. I for one know when I need to get in shape and get healthy I need to keep pretty rigidly to my plan else I ‘fall off the wagon’ very easily and don’t stick to things.

I also don’t understand these contestants that go on there and are given an opportunity to be professionally trained and achieve unbelievable results, yet spend the time moping and making excuses. Or those that seem to go on these programs to attack others and act like playground bullies. Why go on the show?

Unfortunately as with most ‘reality’ TV the characters, competitors, contestants and stars of the program are the ones who seem to suffer for our enjoyment. Sebastian Faulks points towards this in part in his book A Week in December when referring to a ‘reality’ show where a contestant with mental health issues ends up killing themselves. Obviously this is a dramatised, exaggerated version of what we’re seeing but nonetheless makes you ask where will we stop?

The worst thing in all this? There is just something in our nature as human beings which reality TV seems to be able to use, it somehow flicks a switch inside and gets us well and truly hooked. No matter how much I complain and disagree with the approach of these programs and how the people in them are portrayed or treated, unfortunately I know I will still continue to hit that remote and tune in…

Since writing this and on the night I've realised I'm going to miss Fat Fighters and The Biggest Loser tomorrow (am genuinely upset!) I've noticed some insight onto how people are really trained on The Biggest Loser has been revealed by trainer Charlotte Ord

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The January Blues

The sky is grey, dark and heavy
Litter lies in the street dirty and soggy

Umbrellas hitting one another in the street
Blowing inside out, or water from them dripping on feet

No plans in the diary, nobody has money
Waiting for payday, those numerous bills are a worry

Trying to resist those comfort foods you love and adore
Turning down offers of treats and drinks, feeling like a bore

The gym is packed with new, bigger, sweatier bodies
Classes full up, regular goers not happy

Work colleagues and contacts all noticeably moody
Requests piling up, everything now needed in a hurry

Commuters are ruder, pushing and shoving
Everyone rushing to get home before it starts raining or snowing

The newspapers full of doom and gloom
Waking in the morning, it feels cold and so dark in the room

Your cheeks sting and ache as those cold winds bite
Being woken up as the wind crashes around throughout the night

You feel like your life revolves around the TV
Nothing to watch, you just flick channels endlessly

You start on a book, but it doesn't grip you
Try to clean up your home, but so too does it bore you

Everyone around coughing and sneezing
Soon you catch the germs and end up all heady and wheezy

Hate being so down and moody, oh what to do
It's just simply a case of the January Blues

Monday, 23 January 2012

Weigh in week three

Another week, another weigh in. Today marked my third weigh in after starting my healthy eating and exercise plan. I'm pleased to report that I lost a further two pounds this week.

This gives me a grand total of 7lbs weight loss in three weeks. I'm pleased with this and just hope I can keep it up.

Work is getting much busier again now and I'm starting to get plans in the diary in my personal life. So I'm a bit worried about being able to exercise as much and stick so rigidly to my eating plan.

One thing I just can't understand is how weight loss works. My first week I did five hours of exercise and lost one pound in weight. My second week I managed four and a half hours of exercise and lost four pounds. Then this week I've done four hours and lost two pounds. Each week I've been strict on my healthy eating (bar one day in the first week), so how does this weight loss work out?

I feel like I've fallen at the first hurdle this week as I was planning to do seven days of exercise, but I've not done any tonight.

Granted, the reason I'm not exercising today is because I can just about walk. I spent 70 minutes in the gym on Saturday and then 80 minutes on Sunday. I felt great at the time, but my muscles aren't thanking me today.

This 'cold' I thought I'd caught doesn't seem to be in full force yet either. I woke up at the weekend feeling heavy headed and with a sore throat. Yet after exercising I felt great. Today I have now got a really irritating tickly cough. I'm just hoping this goes away too so I can keep on top of the plan the rest of the week.

Also coming up is a night out with the girls, which should be interesting seeing as I've had just one glass of wine so far this year... I'm part worried about the calorie intake of that weekend approaching, but also how I'm going to handle the booze. We shall see what happens.

I've also taken note of a tip from fitness guru Jillian Michaels, who suggests eating dinner with your less dominant hand (in my case my left). It makes you eat more slowly. I'll let you know how it works out.

In fact tonight sees another emergency service documentary hit our screens - Party Paramedics - which funnily enough is tonight showing Colchester, my old Uni town and people getting drunk and disorderly. Who knows, perhaps I'll get some tips for my night out, maybe I'll try out the left handed approach in my drinking too...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Cleaning up your life

There is something oddly therapeutic about being in a clean environment. Now I have been nicknamed Monica (as in Courtney Cox's neat-freak character in Friends), so perhaps I may find myself in one of those 'on your own' situations here with this one.

However, after a few years now in my own home I'm a lot more laid back about tidiness and keeping everything clean. That is until I get started.

Why is it once you begin to tidy or clean do you seem to constantly keep discovering more dirt? As soon as I've begun a cleaning mission I can't stop myself. I'll aim to start with one room then another gets added, then another, then another chore and so it goes on.

Today I've been quite restricted, only because I feel like I'm coming down with some sort of cold. I'm ashamed to say I haven't really cleaned my flat this year yet - no excuse just pure laziness.

So after the gym, I got home and started. Im currently on my third lot of washing - whites and darks are done. We've done a quick sweep of all the floors and any carpets have been hoovered. I already put new bedding on last night so that's sorted.

The rest is left for tomorrow when the bathroom and kitchen surfaces will be tackled and all the floors will be mopped. What an exciting weekend!!

Now though sitting here in my semi clean flat I feel relaxed. All feels right with the world. When my home and belongings are in order somehow I seem to then feel my life too is in order. Odd, but true.

I've even finally got around to sorting out my makeup and my jewellery, using my new jewellery box I specially asked for at Christmas. Again that's helped contribute to my calmness!

I guess after sharing my exciting cleaning exploits I better leave it there, before I lose all my followers! I'm off for a relaxing evening indoors, well that is until my boyfriend dares drop a crumb or make something untidy. Then all hell's going to break loose...

Friday, 20 January 2012

Feeling full of germs

This week I've been gradually feeling more and more like I'm getting ill and getting some sort of cold. Then this morning I woke up feeling funny headed and full of germs. My throat is a little sore and my nose feels weird like when you've got a cold.

As a result I am in a bad mood. Again. I'm not a good patient when I'm ill and to be honest I'm pretty much like a man gets when he suffers from the well known 'man flu'. I feel sorry for myself and I mope.

However, as I'm not quite in the depths of any sort of illness yet, (it's just sitting there threatening...) I am instead just in a permanent strop.

I'm stroppy because I want to see our friend's new baby, but at the same time am desperately worried about passing any germs on (we've already rescheduled once).

Another big reason is my healthy eating/exercise plan. Having a cold will not fit well with this. I can't push myself and work out until I feel ready to drop if I'm ill, as I'm likely to quite literally drop. I'll crave comfort food and warm, filling dinners, not low fat, small portion meals and cold salads.

I'm already concerned if I'm honest this week that I'm not at the levels I was last week. I have done exercise 3 days out of 4 so far - two lots of workout DVD and 1 session of Boxercise last night. Tonight I planned to do another workout and then hit the gym hard tomorrow and Sunday. So if I get a cold it will be such an inconvenience!

Last week I was much further ahead by now and I want results like Monday's weigh in, not a one pound loss, or even worse a no loss. I won't even consider a weigh in result of putting on weight!!

The other thing is people are going to argue that perhaps I've pushed myself too much recently and hence I'm now run down. I don't want to settle for that though, as I need to push this hard to see good results.

For now I'm going to just try and drink lots of fluids and hope that by the time I get home I feel a little better and want to exercise. I'll do a workout DVD and eat lots of veg and drink plenty of orange juice and hopefully ward off any potential cold.

I never know what the official line is on having a cold and exercising is. Do you stop and rest and get better? Or do you exercise regardless and keep your fitness levels up?

I guess I've been lucky not to get anything so far, as people at work get ill, everyone shares their germs on the train and the new year is typically the time for it.

See? See how sorry I am for myself and moany? I've not even got said cold yet and I'm already into feel-sorry-for-myself mode!! Let's hope I'm not getting ill as goodness knows what I'll be like with an ACTUAL cold!!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Jobunting Joke

I'm angry, actually scrap that, I'm not angry, I'm fuming. I've been feeling like this since yesterday afternoon. The event which prompted this was my boyfriend finding out - via email - that he'd not got the job he'd interviewed for.

Pretty standard situation really when you apply for a job, you could get rejected or get told you haven't passed the interview stage. This I completely agree with, granted it's harder to accept when said person has been looking for work for the last few months, but still, it's life.

The thing that's annoyed me though even more than mentioned rejection is the way companies insist on treating people.

I felt the need to have a little moan as it's becoming a recurring theme amongst people I know and I don't think it's right. So rest assured this isn't just a 'woe is me' post to gather sympathy for me and moreso my man.

A friend of mine found her partner out of work for a long period of time, I can't remember if this was originally prompted by illness or redundancy, but either way it wasn't his fault. Now, he tried day in day out to apply for jobs, provide proof of his efforts and impress at interviews. Lucky for him, some will say, he even got interviews in the first place. This wasn't the problem, it was the false security created by the companies who interviewed him.

Over the last few months I've witnessed a host of selfish behaviour in job-hunting. Thankfully in my search for new employment I found something reasonably quickly, I wasn't out of work at the time and companies I interviewed with treated me fairly.

Well all bar one. On one occasion I met someone for just a talk, not a formal interview, just to go and find out more about what they do. However on meeting said person and talking for about two hours on a Friday night it resulted in him near enough offering me a job there and then, creating a position/drawing up a job spec on the spot and leaving me with reassurances of how good I was and he'd get a formalised spec/offer sent over.

Promises of high salary, responsibility and a generally fantastic opportunity were all on the cards. I was amazed and over the moon - all this from a 'talk' to discuss our industry.

As you can guess it was all too good to be true and the guy then proceeded to avoid contact and when we did speak backtrack on all he said. He was still trying to string me along when I accepted the job I'm at now.

Similarly, I've seen people go for test days on jobs, be given their own uniform, be added to the rota and be fed sentence upon sentence of reassurances on how perfect they are for the job. This is then followed by being hard to get hold of, being told decision dates have been extended and eventually a very much delayed 'sorry you haven't got the job'.

Now we all know companies are full of busy people and sometimes you don't hear back at all. I agree actually getting a response or a 'No' is quite an honour in this day and age.

At a previous job, before they finally hired a recruitment person, I used to be told not to worry about bothering to tell people if they were unsuccessful and to simply ignore that person's calls and emails. Nice.

However, what I think is much much worse is this sudden trend of giving candidates this false sense of hope. Misleading them - for some unknown reason - they have got the job and then after they've invested their time, effort and likely money (travel expenses etc), turning round and telling them No.

Where has this come from? And why are companies doing it?

So if you are involved in recruiting in some way, please do spare a thought for this people trying to get a job. They're not some lazy bum wanting to claim benefits and have an easy life. They have a host of skills and if you think they're over-qualified then surely that's up to them to decide when they originally saw the job ad?

This is people's livelihoods, futures and hopes you're messing with and not just simply a number to tot up your calculations or a name to cross through on your To Do list.

One day it could be you who is out of work and sitting the other side of that table.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Taking things up a level

I'm sitting here with Heston Blumenthal on the TV showing me all the amazing things you can make with chocolate. Now I'm a chocaholic, I'm not afraid to admit it. Why I'm watching this program and torturing myself like this I really do not know.

This is not the only torture I have inflicted on myself tonight. Oh no after finding myself in agony after my experiences with Jillian Michaels workout DVD level one, I decided tonight's the night to take it further.

Tonight I tried level two. Yes tonight after this week I've been feeling a bit rundown and panicking I'm developing a cold. Tonight after I've been fuming with the news of another job rejection for my boyfriend (more on that another time).

You know what? It did me the world of good. My bad mood evaporated, probably along with all that sweat and my body felt good (well once it recovered!)

I was absolutely dripping with sweat and I sounded (and felt) like I was going to have an asthma attack!

Ooh Heston is making flowerpot

Sorry chocolate distracted me there.

I've had a healthy dinner and had some orange juice to help boost my vitamin C and ward off that cold. So fingers crossed I'll have done more harm than good.

Now I'm off to have a low fat chocolate mousse, this program has just taunted me for too long... That's if I can get up off this sofa... I haven't actually tried that yet and if last time is anything to go by, my abs just might not let me...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Fat girl within

Memories of a baby cute as can be
Old photos show a little one, cuddly and chubby

A young child, tall for her age
Seen with a flat tummy, long spindly legs, always wanting to be centre stage

Images of a teen, slim but not comfortable in her own skin
Too shy to reveal what she's really like within

As she ages she starts to come out of her shell
But then in turn her body starts to gradually swell

Uni and a troublesome partner see plenty of booze and takeaways
Soon the weight starts to pile on over those weeks and days

Starting work, too ambitious to notice
Drunken nights out with colleagues, more calories get added to the list

Meeting a new partner, falling in love, this time for real
Getting comfortable with someone new, often out for drinks or a meal

Unhappiness at work, pressures lead her to comfort eat
Embarrassment on trains, being offered a seat

Nasty comments made with a vicious tongue
New friends seem so slim and pretty, each and every one

She starts to feel like the fat friend in the group
Her clothes aren't so small or nice, she feels out of the loop

She compares herself every time she's out
To those beautiful, slim figured girls and her friends, her appearance is without

Photos soon highlight how big those arms are
How rounded the face and those chunky legs stand out in a bar

Those who love her argue she's perfect as she is
But to her she can't believe it, she knows it's just politeness

She decides something really needs to be done
And cherishes the pounds falling off, each and every one

But then life pressures and events lead her to go back to her old ways
She doesn't want to feel like that again and those miserable days

She'll try again and give it all of her effort
To get back in shape and show she can be different

For now she'll take it one day at a time, it's healthy eating not some kind of famine
A mix of exercise too to get healthy, and hope to send back that fat girl within

Monday, 16 January 2012

Whinging and weight loss

Well weigh in arrived this morning and I've managed to lose 4lbs! I truly am so pleased, I really feel that hard work and effort has paid off this week.

So as I've got rid of four unwanted pounds of fat, I thought I'd share four other things in life I'd rather be without...

1. Rude commuters
What is it with people on the way to and from work that makes them think they've got this God-given right to act so selfishly? If it's not coughing or sneezing in your face, it's pushing into you or using your head/shoulders/back as a leaning post for themselves or their luggage! I want to get to work on time too and get home quickly to enjoy my evening, but I don't feel the need to knock people over in my bid to do it. I feel so so sorry for myself when I'm ill and mope around looking sad-faced, but I've never felt the urge to inflict my pain on a carriage-full of passengers.

2. Jobsworths
Why oh why do we have to encounter these people seemingly everyday in life. Whether it's at work or when trying to solve your own personal queries, you always meet Little Miss Inflexible or Mr Must-work-to-rule. As someone who likes to help others and in work make life as easy as possible for my clients it really drives me mad when people can't use common sense and see past their bullet point list of agreed rules/steps. Then you find you do work hard or make an effort for friends and then you become Little Miss Put Apon.

3. London Transport
Why do we have to put up with a service that the majority of the time doesn't run on time, has rude staff (252 drivers I'm referring to you here!) and yet increases in cost every year? We're trapped because we have to use the service to get to work or visit key places in our capital and so nothing changes.

4. Fair-weather friends
You know the ones I mean, only get in touch when they want something, need attention or want to show off how amazing their life is. They get stuck for cash, need someone to go on a night out because others have let them down or always lean on you but never offer their support. Why do we let them do it?

Ah...and breathe. That little rant just helped a bit and also made my train journey home pass a bit quicker. Now just need to deal with these annoying friends and jobsworths and we're sorted!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Weigh-in Worries

Yet again the weekend has sped by and Monday is fast approaching already. This also means something else is in sight. Weigh in day. Yes tomorrow is my second weigh in after my second week of healthy eating and exercise.

I've calculated I've notched up 4 hours 30 minutes worth of exercise over the last seven days, with some form of exercise taking place on each of those said days. There have been four days of workout DVDs, one day of walking and Wii Fit and two days of gyming it.

I've eaten healthy food every day of those seven and consumed zero alcohol (an achievement in itself for me). So I'm hoping the scales might be kind this week and help me out on the weight loss front.

I'm making sure I weigh myself first thing when I get up and continue to do so each Monday morning, since last week I waited until the evening (hey, anything to help my weight loss result when I jump on those scales!)

I'm still feeling pretty motivated and eager to keep going (for now, I've not seen the scales yet...) I have a number of reasons to stick at this too, which I guess helps - general health and fitness, fitting into my Maid of Honour dress, supporting my man in his weight loss and marathon training and so on.

For now my eyes are drooping and I am gradually falling asleep, so before I actually fall asleep and hit myself in the face with my phone, I'm going to go.

Wish me luck for my weigh in tomorrow morning...I'll update you on how it goes.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Treadmill tunes

Something happened to me today. I woke up and then spent an hour reading in bed, before falling back to sleep. As a result I felt quite lethargic when it came to getting up and must admit I was expecting to find today's gym workout pretty hard going.

We didn't get to the gym until midday, which in a way was nice as it wasn't too busy. I'd only had one weetabix and a cup of coffee (I normally have two before the gym, but there was only one left).

So we set out on the treadmill, on day 13 now of this healthy eating/exercise. My boyfriend informed me he was going for 40 minutes or so on there, but I expected to do around 20 minutes or so.

Anyways, as I said something happened to me. After a five minute warm up walk I then went into a run. Around ten minutes into the running I felt my triband starting to hurt and I was tiring (I normally only do about 15 minutes running). However, I decided to push on with it and managed a 20 minute run - thanks to The Saturdays, Maroon 5 and Rihanna!

I then went for a brisk steep hill walk and rather than feeling tired out I actually felt another bit of energy coming back. So I switched on the Foo's Pretender and managed to do more running and at a faster speed. I felt great.

I therefore ended up with a 45 minute session on the treadmill, then moved on to the bike. Again I seemed to get a huge burst of energy return, which increased once I had some garage tunes playing in my ears. After 20 minutes I did a brief 5 minutes on the rower but again managed to push myself harder and faster there too.

The power of music in exercise truly is amazing. I've had this before though and at one point found a couple of new Take That songs made me run faster (odd I know!)

However, I have never had such bursts of energy like I did today. I don't know am I just getting fitter, did that extra bit of sleep help me out or was it just a new selection of music? I'm back in the gym again tomorrow, so we shall see.

The weird thing is that I'm also always starving after a gym session, today though I didn't feel hungry. I've had a low fat soup and ryvitas and don't get me wrong it was nice, but I still didn't feel that hungry or that I needed it.

I really don't know what's come over me. Fingers crossed I'm getting fitter and getting used to eating less. Either that or music is even more powerful than I thought and helps curb your appetite too!!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Weekend workouts

Day 12 and I am pleased to report I can actually walk today and sneeze without groaning in pain!

I gave Ms Michaels and her workout another go last night and thankfully found it a bit easier going than last time, PLUS my abs don't seem too bad today either!

Of course the downside to this is now I'm questioning whether I pushed myself hard enough last night. Taking into account the whole no pain no gain mantra and everything. I guess we'll know come Monday morning...

I'm also pleased to say my mentality is gradually changing. On viewing a big juicy meaty burger on TV last night covered in cheese and bacon I didn't feel tempted by it. My stomach didn't grumble in hunger and I didn't crave junk food. Good progress I feel.

My mood seems better today so perhaps I am adjusting to this lower caffeine intake too.

I've even requested a set low fat 'diet' dinner at my parents for our visit tomorrow and am finding out the meal at the in-laws Sunday so I can plan my points accordingly. Throw in two planned gym sessions and some exercise tonight and I'm hoping I'll show the scales who's boss come weigh in number two!

Me and the boyfriend have been bickering a bit though. I think perhaps a bit of friendly weight loss rivalry might be going on here. Sure that can only help but motivate us though, so shan't complain.

In other positive news, baby number three out of my friends of expectant parents have arrived! A lovely little girl was born yesterday, their first child. Exciting times. And the hen party plans are slowly coming together for my friend's wedding this far so good.

The only downside I have to say is people's negativity so far this year, I've come across it in lots of places and am not impressed. Particularly the train commuters who must of all got 'How to be a complete a******e' books for Christmas! If it's not pushing, coughing over everyone or barging you out the way, it's playing their music without headphones or leaning their bag on your shoulder.

Oh well, back to the office for me now. Just under four hours to go and it's the weekend!!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Ab-solute agony

Day number 11 of my healthy eating and exercise and noticing I've been quite grumpy this week. Trying to work out if it's down to less caffeine and my much loved wine (and of course food), or if in actual fact my annoyance is just quite simply justified!

I couldn't believe it this morning when I woke up to find my abs are still hurting! Let me just rewind for you. On Monday evening after work I decided to try a new workout DVD I'd bought. This was one of the 10 Minute Solutions series and aimed to 'blast' your 'belly fat'. You can do as many or as little of the 5 or 6 ten minute exercise sections. I went for four of them, one of which involved Pilates moves. Bad idea, clearly pilates=pain (well if you're unfit like me!)

I woke the next morning with slightly aching abs, but nothing too noticeable. The fact I couldn't do a lot of the moves may well have been a reason for this...

Tuesday though, Tuesday was when I dared to put on the Jillian Michaels DVD, this one is scaringly called '30 day shred'. Perhaps I should have been warned off by the title.

Anyways this one will make you laugh, each workout is just 20 mins. I know, I know you're thinking exactly how unfit am I at this point?? It works you so hard it is unreal - you don't stop and have to jump from one thing to the next in interval training. In the workout you combine cardio, strength and abs.

I finished my workout (level 1 I should add!) and felt great. I was dripping with sweat, I was shattered, but I knew I'd worked hard and it was good for me.

That is until I went to bed. Now if my neighbours don't think me and my boyfriend aren't weird enough with our fancy dress costumes (we've had to go to a lot of dress up parties), the noises when we were doing Boxercise last week and the sounds I was making being forced to hold planks for that bit longer... Well, then they got treated to a mix of me whining in pain in bed when I found I couldn't sit up as my abs were so sore, combined with me painfully laughing. (Once my boyfriend realised it even hurt when I laughed, there was no stopping trying to make me giggle).

So on Wednesday I woke up and could just about get out of bed. Sneezing and my usual 'a-choo' was followed immediately by 'ow'. I was in agony. I worked through the day and at some point managed to stop whining about my pain. Then I left to go home.

I'd already decided a calm short Wii Fit session was in order with the state I was in. However on missing my bus, I soon had some additional unexpected exercise as I decided to walk home (the bus come every 15 minutes and wasn't even showing on the display, plus it's notoriously late so goodness knows when it would have turned up).

I set off for home, a nice 20 minute walk. So much fun when you miss the bus and end up having to power walk home whilst dying for a wee, having a stomach ache and extremely painful abs!

After learning my lesson and doing Wii Fit when I eventually got in last night I felt a bit better, although cannot believe there is still a dull ache there.

You know what I'm off to do tonight then? Yes you guessed it, the Jillian Michaels workout. No pain no gain eh?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

My 100th post!!

Seven months later and here I am at my 100th blog post!

Since June 2011 I've posted short stories, poems, opinion pieces, random thoughts and entertainment-led items and I have to say I've loved every minute.

I first set up this blog as a way to be able to write. Since a young child I've always loved to write, whether it be pretend newspaper articles or a Mickey Mouse adventure story!

After realising that getting paid to write wasn't going to earn me that much, I soon accepted I'd need to follow a job that didn't involve writing.

I used to write reviews for a website where I used to work, so got to carry on my writing for a bit. This sadly ended and I was left without a chance to write. I then decided last year to try and do something where I could enjoy my interest in writing - hence The Melican was set up.

I've always said I'll just write about anything and everything and say how I feel, which I really have tried to stick to. I didn't want to specialise in a set topic as I know what I'm like and tend to go off on a tangent when I have a conversation normally!

Knowing I wanted to take a rather random approach to my blog and reflect my big mouth in real life in my words the name came naturally.

When I was at Uni, my flatmates would joke how much I talked and how big a mouth I had! One in particular was doodling one day and happened to draw a pelican, adding a few girly features after the huge mouth, they announced "Hey! It's Mel! Melican!!". Much laughter followed and the name stuck.

I'm gradually getting some more comments on posts - please keep them coming! I've had around 5000 page views since I started the blog and I have a set of regular followers, some subscribed, some not.

However in 2012 I want The Melican to be bigger and much better.

So far some of the most popular blogs have been:

'Giving men the red card'

'Is the only way Essex?'

'Random hungover Sunday musings'

'Winter is coming'

'Should it always be fitness first?'

Clearly opinion pieces are more popular than short stories, although there is one poem there. So my audience like me to talk about football, Essex, hangovers and the seasons. From a girl who isn't into footie, the fact my most popular blog post is about that sport does make me giggle a bit.

So for now I'm going to carry on what I'm doing and keep opening my mouth loud and proud to keep those opinions and thoughts flowing!

Thanks to those who've been reading this blog already, please please do spread the word and if you've got a minute I really would appreciate some comments on the posts. I do always make sure I reply back and always read them. I like to know what you think too...

The Melican xx

Monday, 9 January 2012

Scary scales

Today is Monday, if it's not bad enough to think the weekend is over already I also woke up to this - today is my first weigh in day.

(Un)Fortunately I got up too late this morning to have time to weigh myself, check my body fat and BMI. Now when I get home not only does a workout DVD await me, but also the dreaded weigh in.

To make matters worse my boyfriend - who is also trying to sort out his weight - managed to jump on the scales and has achieved a 4lb weight loss in just a week! I am obviously really pleased for him, but like those partners on The Biggest Loser, just know mine will not match it. What worries me even more is that I won't have lost anything.

Over the week I have followed a healthy diet for 6 of the 7 days, I've exercised for those 6 days too (gym x 3, Boxercise, Wii Fit and a run). I've been roughly using Weight Watcher points and my Food Diary and have been under on points everyday (not on purpose), bar the 1 day. All in all I have been trying pretty darn hard!

However, I woke this morning feeling really bloated and my trousers feel so tight today, making me feel like my hard work has made no difference. Don't get me wrong I appreciate I won't see massive results in just a week, but I want/need to see something!

I've tried to mention this weigh in on here and via Twitter, Facebook etc as I think by telling people of my progress it will keep me accountable/on track. We shall see.

I already dealt with one hurdle today, my office always has somebody bringing in some form of sweet treat. Last week was okay as not everyone was back, but this week they are and luxury chocolates were on offer. This was announced via email so I couldn't avoid it and I sit right next to the kitchen. I was strong though and avoided temptation.

Also adding to my issues were of course the dress fitting at the weekend, of course it didn't fit. What didn't help were the two and three sizes too small offerings the assistants kept handing me. Way to shoot down a girl's self esteem!

Our final fitting is now set for early May, not the end of May, so this also means two or three weeks less to get in shape.

One of my friends wasn't feeling too great today either about her weight though, so I guess I should really take my own advice I dished out.

I'm going to eat my fruit snacks this afternoon, get home and weigh myself and then get on with today's exercise.

After all regardless of what digital numbers appear on that screen and flash in front of me later I need them to go down at some point and doing nothing/moping about certainly isn't going to achieve any goals.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Wedding worries

So many shades of ivory and white
The length of the dress is good, but not quite right

Do the flowers, decorations and bridesmaids dresses all match
Why is that provider so much cheaper, there must be a catch

How early do invites need to go out
Once calm, the bride and groom soon start to shout

So many choices, the to do list is endless
The rings, the favours, the meal, the flowers and of course the dress

How many guests should you really invite
So many issues and rows mean the seating plan is no longer right

Fake nails or real, skin tan or pale
Hair up or down, tear-proof make up that just cannot fail

A hen and stag to beat the rest
You just want your wedding to be the best

Personal to you and a meaningful day
Mindful that you don't want it to appear cheesy in any way

Wanting to be individual, you sit for hours and hours
Constantly writing and redrafting those all important vows

Bridesmaids, best man, ushers, flower girls and page boys
Music and songs to choose, a lively party wanted but not too much noise

Honeymoon destinations to consider
When the pressure is on, will you become a bridezilla

Loving words in a tear jerking speech from the father of the bride
Then laughs a plenty from the best man, making sure he still keeps the groom on side

Thank you gifts for the Mums and key people on your big day
It's the little touches that make such a difference and show your caring way

Something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new
Walking down a flower lined aisle, nerves and excitement knowing all eyes are on you

Tearful eyes as you hit the floor for the first dance
Camera flashes going off, trying to capture the moment and between you that romantic glance

Weddings can truly be stressful in every way
Just remember it'll all be worth it for your very special day

Knowing you want to be together for the rest of your life
All those precious memories as you become husband and wife

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Cath Kidston, croissants and Luton

Today is Saturday and day six of my healthy eating/exercise plan. Today is also going to be a 'cheat day', where I won't be doing any exercise or watching what I eat (within reason).

I'll be honest earlier in the week this worried me, I can quite easily get out of the healthy mindset once I start eating 'badly' and this year I'm keen to shed some pounds so want to exercise as much as I can.

However when my alarm went off at silly o'clock this morning I ached so much from the past five day's worth of exercise I am glad of the break. I literally feel like my body has been kicked and beaten - my abs ache when I sit up, my arms ache pretty much constantly and my legs ache, well, every time I walk!

So sitting here on the Met Line (before 9am on a Saturday, mad!) I am rather glad to be taking a break. I'm also quite pleased as although I know it's a free day I'm not wanting to pig out and eat non stop. I've got two croissants with me (not very healthy I know) and I'm going to get a coffee at the station. I know what I've got for dinner - bride-to-be's Mum is very kindly cooking me a meal later and although comfort food it's not the most fattening of meals you can have.

I've now progressed to an East Midlands train, in fact we've just left the station to make our way to Luton. I've been blogging whilst making my way from home to London.

At the station I found myself faced with another of my issues - shopping. I LOVE it. The fun kind that is, when you buy clothes, not when you find yourself standing in a long queue waiting for the checkout girl to find out the price of the woman in front's pack of frozen peas. As I walked along the station trying to ascertain what platform my train was on I noticed Cath Kidston, not just any Cath Kidston shop, but one with big red SALE signs in it.

Thankfully I still needed to get my coffee so I managed to just about walk away, but not before I checked what time they're open until tonight for my journey home. The hope is I'll be really tired later so won't want to shop in Cath Kidston at 830/9 at night, we'll see...

I've always had a thing for shopping since a young age, I seem to have got this habit from my Aunt. When I lived at home I was worse because I didn't have bills to pay, it's just that buzz from bagging a bargain and carrying all those bags after a successful shopping trip.

Hm maybe that's why I've never ventured into drugs, my drugs are wine, chocolate and shopping I think!! That's where I get my buzz.

Thankfully when I had to save up to buy my flat it seemed to flick some sort of switch and I've never been so bad as I used to be at spending and having numerous storecards. Although as I had time off between Christmas and New Years, I did spend two solid days sales shopping and spent more than enough.

Thankfully, with my income, I have a keen eye for a bargain and am not a designer freak so at least I do buy cheap things. Although of course the amount I buy can actually counteract that defence.

I need to go now, it's time to take my blogging hat off and go be the best Maid of Honour I can be. I just hope my friend doesn't kill me once she sees how much weight I've put on...thank goodness this isn't the final fitting!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Facebook Fury

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how Facebook quite often is more trouble than good? I think most of us nowadays would admit we’re pretty much addicted to the social networking site.

Whether you catch yourself checking it on your phone as soon as you wake up, religiously visit the site before you go to sleep at night, or regularly hit share on your phone camera as soon as you’ve taken a picture. I noticed recently – on Facebook funnily enough – that somebody said they’d probably spent most of their year looking at their phone screen.

Worryingly I feel the same, I Tweet, I play ‘Words with Friends’, I go on Facebook, I write my blog, I check my blog stats and I text. I dread to think how often I spend on my phone. In terms of looking at a screen, that involves most of my life – I look at screens all day at work, at my phone on trains etc and before I go to bed and then look at a laptop screen when I’m at home a lot of nights. Scary.

However, in all the time using social media, the one site that I’ve seen cause the most headaches – on a personal, not professional level – is Facebook.

I constantly see people update their statuses complaining about someone or having a dig at someone. Or you get people who constantly announce they are coming off Facebook, they are going to have a clear out of their friends, Facebook rules their life, they’ve rejoined Facebook, their sick of people’s updates, their sick of people’s photos, the list goes on and on…

In fact I have been victim to this Facebook Fury myself, as well as other people I know. As much as I love Facebook I do accept it’s a social networking site and thankfully take most things with a pinch of salt. However, for many the site is such a big part of their lives now things on the screen have a big impact on them and how they feel.

People posting photos of a night out could end up offending a friend because they added an image where someone doesn’t look their best, another could write something in their status which a Facebook ‘friend’ of theirs doesn’t like or your contacts may clash with one another. There are all sorts of complications now to consider it seems.

It seems the line between reality and virtual life/friendship is well and truly crossed for many people now, to the extent people don’t speak face to face and arrange events via the site only. If you’re not on Facebook sorry you can’t go as you won’t hear about it. People have children or get married or engaged and announce it on Facebook, often as their first port of call. Arguments are created and friendships or even relationships ended by what people ‘find out’ on the site.

To me – somewhat of a social media addict – I find it all so sad and disappointing. The whole point of social media is to use it how you want, express how you feel in the way you want, you network with people. People you may not meet, people in other countries, people with the same interests as you. It’s not necessarily all about ‘real life’. Somewhere along the line though for some this has been forgotten.

I'm not going to even share this post on Facebook myself to avoid any Facebook issues too. Mad, I know.

People end up arguing because somebody hasn’t replied to their Facebook message, yet have they tried to call the person, text them or speak to them face to face? No. Facebook should be enough they feel. Your friends you’ve known for years but not seen in ages as you live far apart? Just had a baby, you don’t find out until a few days/weeks later because you didn’t get on Facebook on time.

New features like timelines people find too intrusive and constant updates to layouts and how you carry out simple tasks on the site lead to people getting frustrated too.

So is Facebook becoming a bane in our lives and causing too much hassle in life nowadays? Are social networking sites doing more harm than good? Or do people need to recognise the line between reality and the virtual world. Is this what Jamiroquai were predicting in their hit Virtual Insanity? (Okay I’m getting carried away now!) Or is it simply people need to be a bit more mature and responsible about their usage and reactions and remember – it’s just a website!

Boxing away the blubber

I couldn't grip a pen properly afterwards, my arms were so sore and heavy and I was a sweaty mess.

This was me last night after I decided to do Boxercise as my fourth day of activity. I looked great! After viewing a 'hilarious' video of me and my boyfriend dancing on New Years Eve minutes before, I was determined to shift some fat last night. I looked huge in the video and I had anger to release, Boxercise seemed the perfect option.

Shouts from my boyfriend about how unfit I was didn't help matters, but did help my punches!

We did half an hour of a mix of Boxercise moves, planks, wall squats, press ups and 'Jesus arms' (well that's my boyfriend told me they're called). I ached, I sweated and I swore.

Once I was sat down eating my healthy salmon, vegetables and new potatoes dinner I soon relaxed. Though I had used muscles that had gone untouched for so long I couldn't grip my pen properly to write in my food and exercise diary!!

Only after a few hours at work today did I start to feel human. Now even work's not safe, I'm trying to drink more water and so every five minutes I seem to be rushing off to the toilet! Oh this fitness lark is fun...

Tonight is the gym, for an hour max I think, then an early night ready for my Maid of Honour duties tomorrow - exciting times. Well exciting/depressing when they tell me none of the dresses fit..

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Beat the blip

I admit it, I nearly fell on the third day of this healthy eating/exercise plan…Last night as I sat on the train home all I could think about was getting in to my nice warm flat, eating some dinner and relaxing. I felt tired, the train was taking ages and the weather was horrendous. Again.

After turning into psycho girlfriend from hell (hey I was hungry…) when texts got crossed and I couldn’t find my boyfriend who was picking me up, I was left standing in the cold soaking wet and moody. When we found each other and then got home the last thing I wanted to do was exercise.

Once I’d eaten dinner (healthy meal of white fish, couscous, rocket and mixed bean salad thank you very much), I actually found I was feeling a lot better. After watching a bit of TV I forced myself up off the sofa and actually did some exercise. Now, don’t get me wrong it was nothing major I admit, but I worked out on my Wii Fit and spent half an hour on there. Who knew Step Plus, Jogging and Hula Hoop-ing could be so much fun??

I fear though that my life is starting to take a turn down a rather dull road with this whole health kick. You know what I did after Wii Fit? My treat for actually making myself do some exercise? I had some dry Branflakes to eat, a cup of low fat hot chocolate and watched One Born Every Minute. Try not to get too jealous now…

Today I’ve been trying to decide what to do tonight and am not impressed with this stupid weather we’re having. I wanted to maybe brave another run, but if this rain and wind continues I fear I’ll end up being blown into the road or something and then my weight won’t ever be an issue…Not exactly what I have in mind!

I think if the bad weather continues, the option most likely is Boxercise. One thing I’m trying to do is keep things varied so I don’t bore of following this plan of doing something every day. My boyfriend has Boxercise qualifications and we’ve got the pads and gloves at home, so it usually means I get a good workout. Of late there have been a few things which I think taking a bit of frustration out on some boxing pads will be useful for too!

I’m also conscious I need to work hard this week as on Saturday I’m definitely not going to have a chance to do any exercise and my diet is likely to be pretty bad., so I need to make up for it. My first weigh-in is on Monday…

Speak soon, but be warned, when I next blog I may have broken my ankle running in the dark, got a black eye from Boxercise or thrown my Wii control through the TV…

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Running towards my goal

Day three of my healthy eating/exercise plan and progressing has involved a healthy breakfast and lunch and I've got fruit lined up as snacks again.

Last night I had a healthy dinner too, well I did eventually. Before cooking and eating said dinner, what did I do? I stupidly/wisely (delete as appropriate) offered to join my boyfriend for a run. Yes yesterday when it was freezing cold, raining and blowing a gale outside...

Although I feel like a beached whale right now I was rather pleased to discover on Monday that I managed to run a whole 15 minutes on the treadmill without collapsing (I should add I worked out for 70mins overall and didn't just stay for 15 minutes then leave).

After getting home on the train and being greeted by my boyfriend (better journey home than the morning commute thank goodness), we got home and changed into some running gear. Okay, I admit it the excitement about what to wear to go running was a big appeal and I was considering options on the train to prepare!

After trying on and ditching a third layer more than a few times we left the comfort of my warm comfy flat and headed into the cold.

Now, my partner is running the London and Brighton marathons this year (yes the ones only one week apart!) He is officially starting hardcore training next week, but he was so supportive and kept checking I was okay (I guess clutching my inhaler in my hand the whole time might be slightly worrying!)

We ran on the pavement alongside busy roads, down quiet neighbourhoods and past empty dark parks. In total we managed to do nearly 6km and arrived back to the flat after around 50 minutes or so. Throughout this time we did walk some of the route to catch our breath and because my legs were burning (hey, it was our first one).

I have to say though as much as I ached last night and my legs felt like lead this morning I really did enjoy myself. We were using an app (think it's NikeRun or similar) and it mapped where we ran, gave us encouragement and updated us on how far we'd gone. Afterwards we could also view where we'd gone a bit slow and in what areas. If you're on your own there are cheers of support and music options you can listen to too, not something I'll be trying in the dark on my own though. I already jumped out my skin when a car beeped us as we crossed a turning entrance in front of him...

Have I now got the running bug? Well, after just one night's running I am certainly no expert, but am keen to go again and try and beat our times moving forwards.

I'm also proud I'll admit, that we actually got out there when it was so cold and dark and did something.

That means I've done the gym, I've gone for a run and now I need to find something tonight to try out - candidates at present are Wii Fit or a workout DVD.

I shall let you know what I pick and how it went tomorrow - providing I actually do something and don't just collapse on the sofa when I get in!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Another year another blog post

* sorry for any typos guys typing on a phone and with numb fingers (plus have been sofa-bound stuffing my face and not using my brain for the last couple of weeks!) *

So it's back to work for me today and my first blog of 2012!

This year is set to bring a host of events for close friends and I'm hoping the same will be said for me, we'll see...

So far we have three friends with babies due, numerous 30th birthdays (mine included, argh!!) and at least two weddings to attend (one of which I am maid of honour for. My boyfriend is running two marathons (within a week of each other!) Hopefully he will get a new job shortly and we have some tickets to the Paralympics to look forward to. In fact I'm pleased to say two separate sets of friends have already had their little ones, one around Christmas and one on New Years Day!

I have of course, like most of Britain, had a think about New Years Resolutions. Granted I always wonder why I bother since most of us don't stick to them anyway, but I felt I should at least give it a go.

My number one aim is to lose weight and get healthy again. In 2009 I started a healthy eating and exercise plan and over about a year/18 months I lost around three stone. Good work right? Hm it was until since Xmas 2010 onwards (so around the last year or so) I calculated yesterday I put about two stone of that back on!

So yesterday after we'd consumed near enough all the sweets and treats the days before, I started a healthy eating/exercise plan. I want to lose at least two stone (when I was at my lowest and in my 'ideal' weight range I still was looking to shift another 12lbs or so...)

So I will try and keep you posted on here how I get on. Who knows perhaps it'll help me stick to it. Be warned on weeks I lose nothing be prepared for some pretty stroppy blog posts!!

I did get a book for Christmas full of blogging tips though, so at least my blogs should get better and more frequent... Resolution number 2.

I have some other resolutions too but I'll share another time perhaps to avoid any issues (long story!)

One thing I may well consider for this year is new years eve again just me and my man and my little old flat. We were both set for a pretty boring evening, but had a great laugh - lovely meal, home made cocktails, lots of champagne, dancing, laughing etc etc. I would highly recommend it. Did you notice actually most people seemed to stay in this year?...

After a couple of lazy days, post new year's eve I admit the day didn't start great, in fact neither did the new year thanks to certain events (nothing serious don't worry!) The rain and wind chucking it down this morning and my delayed train weren't the most welcome on my commute back to work.

However, so far so good:

Gym visit yesterday and healthy eating
Healthy food shop yesterday
Healthy breakfast today and healthy lunch (fruit snacks to follow)
Some form of exercise and healthy dinner planned for tonight and watching Biggest Loser for inspiration (cringe, I know my TV taste is bad!)

Anyway I shall keep you posted. How did your New Year turn out? 2012 good for you so far? I'm off as my lunchbreak is nearly over and after - stupidly - sitting outside, I have nearly lost all feeling in my fingers!!