Well, I was a dumbass…

On Friday I thought it would be a great idea to have some chips (fries) from the local fish and chip shop with my steak.

After all, the kids were having them. Plus, I’d been good all week. Diet and exercise had both been great, and I was feeling positive.

But now, Sunday evening, I’m still suffering from that decision. I came out in rashes and my skin has been tight and sore ever since. My digestion feels off, and I’m wishing I’d never eaten them.

I’ve heard that once you clean up your diet, you have less tolerance for junk. I’m starting to think that might be true.

Either way, I don’t want to eat hot chips again. I’ll pass next time.


Can some people just not eat carbs?

Carbs – processed carbs – don’t work for my body.

Foods like rice, potatoes and quinoa are okay – although they’re quite addictive and I really have to be careful with my intake.

Processed carbs are completely different. Pastries, biscuits, bread, pasta – these kinds of foods are hugely addictive for me. I start eating them, and my body has no idea when to stop.

I could quite easily each a couple of loaves of bread and it would only be when my stomach actually hurt because it was so overloaded that I would realise I’d had enough.

Carbs are cheap, plentiful and useful, especially if you’re on a budget with a bunch of kids to feed, but if you’re overweight they can be a huge impediment to losing weight.

These days I see overweight people on the street, and I don’t think “that’s a greedy person”. I think “that’s a carbohydrate addict”.

I’m starting to doubt whether it’s even possible to become overweight without basing your diet on carbs.

I think this is why poor people are fatter in Western society – carbs are cheap, so the poor eat more carbs. Then they get fat. Then they get sicker, fatter and poorer. A vicious cycle.

So these days I avoid carbs and the fat is pouring off me. I’ve upped my protein intake, found cheap veggies I enjoy, and I’m feeling and looking so much healthier.

Avoiding carbs works.

What happens to your body when you get fit and lose weight

Pretty much everyone wants to lose weight to look better. But hardly anyone talks about the changes in your body that can make you feel better when you start to get fit and lose weight after years of, well, sitting on your arse.

So let me talk about a few of the changes I’ve experienced.

I sleep better. I used to suffer from the three a.m. nasties. You know – waking at three in the morning, and not finally falling asleep again until ten minutes before my alarm was due to go off. These days a proper night’s sleep is the default, not the exception.

I’m in a better mood. My family and friends are less likely to catch grumpy me, and far more likely to catch serene, content me. The difference is striking.

My skin and allergies are better. I’ve struggled with asthma, allergies and eczema all my life. These days you wouldn’t know it. Rashes are rare, I don’t need an inhaler (unless I come across a dog or a rabbit), and I barely touch antihistamines. My eyes are no longer puffy and red in the mornings either.

I don’t get earwax buildup any more. An odd change, but really noticeable.

I don’t get tartar build-up on my teeth any more. Another weird improvement. Go figure. I always thought tartar had something to do with water quality and getting old, but apparently it’s bodily wellness. Who knew?

I’m looking okay these days, for an old bird. I’ve more improvement to make, but I’m on my way to wellness.

Change comes from persistence. As does wellness. We don’t become healthier from one meal, or one “good day” but from real transformation repeated daily, over and over again every day of our lives.

We can get better. Those of us who are obese can become fit and well again. The slide into poor health and misery is not inevitable. It takes commitment and support from family, friends and groups such as Overeaters Anonymous, but we can do it. We just need to believe in ourselves, and believe we are worth the effort necessary to change.

Fishing on Lake Monowai, Southland, New Zealand

We’ve had amazing summer weather lately. So on the weekend, my husband and I headed down to Southland, and we went fishing with a good friend who has a boat, on Lake Monowai.

I could talk about how beautiful it was, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Perfect fishing weather.

There was just a tiny bit of chop, but mostly it was smooth with just a hint of wind.

I don’t really know much about fishing, so I was content to let the men take control, and relax and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

Thank goodness for sunblock. Even with the 50+ on, I got a bit red.

We caught some rainbow trout, which are a really delicious fish, but more than anything, we just enjoyed getting out into the sun. Southern New Zealand is very sparsely populated, so you don’t have to worry about crowds of other people or boatloads of tourists. There was just us and a couple of other little boats on the entire lake.

Southern New Zealand is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world.

So that was my weekend. Fresh air, fishing and relaxing.

Not too shabby!

Why can’t summer last all year?

I’m really loving summer right now. I’m getting up at 6 am, going to the gym, showering, then off to work.

Following up with more gym in the evenings, then dinner – which is easy as it’s usually steak and salad, or a barbecue chicken and salad. So nothing much to prepare.

Then evenings I get to relax.

It’s warm, it’s sunny, we don’t need heaters and fireplaces going, and it’s not miserable and cold outside, and nobody is sick.

Any time I want (and I often do) I can go for a walk outside, or just enjoy the sunshine streaming in through our open windows.

These are the best kinds of days.

My bodybuilding program

Below is my current plan at the gym. I lift heavy, and most exercises are 5 sets of 6 repetitions.

Once I find I can do 5 X 6, I increase the load. I have some micro plates which are really useful for this – they fit an Olympic bar and come in .25 and .5 kg increments. Very useful for female lifters and bodybuilders.

Rest days at present are usually Saturday and Sunday. Others days I go for walks, and may occasionally add in some light cardio on the bike or rower.

DAY 1 (upper body):
• Bench
• Rope push down
• Machine seated fly’s
• Machine rear delt flys
• Shoulder press machine
• Hammer strength decline press
• Barbell curls

DAY 2 (lower body):
• Front squats
• Romanian deadlifts
• Leg press
• Seated calf raises
• Leg extensions
• Lying leg curls

DAY 3 (upper body):
• Deadlift
• Dumbbell row
• T bar row
• Lat pulldown
• Front raises
• Side raises
• Barbell row
• Dumbbell fly’s

DAY 4 (lower body):
• Squats
• Leg press
• Leg press calf raises
• Leg extensions
• Lying leg curls
• Hip abductors
• Glute ham raise
• Glute bridges

DAY 5 (upper body):
• Overhead press
• Dumbbell shoulder press
• Dumbbell press
• Dumbbell incline press
• Hammer curls
• Preacher curls
• Kettle bell shrugs

Sometimes you just need to rest

This weekend I rested and did a re-feed.

I knew I was exhausted. I’d been gymming hard, and had reached the point of becoming weak on every exercise.

So this weekend I took a break from weights. I did a re-feed yesterday, being my calories up for the day from my usual 1321 to 2000. I also did no exercise at all, apart from a little bit of gardening and housework.

Then today I’m keeping my calories slightly raised at about 1600, and kept away from the weights again. I went for a lovely walk for a couple of hours out on the peninsula, and followed it up with 15 minutes on the bike at the gym, before a nice long shower to wash all the sunblock and sweat off me.

It was perfect weather for a walk out on the peninsula today. We’ve had over two weeks of sun since Christmas – unusual for Dunedin! I don’t want summer to end!

So now I’m sitting and relaxing. I’m the only one at home, and the peace is blissful. I’m back at work tomorrow, and really wish I had more time at home to enjoy the sunshine and warmth!

Why a re-feed?

Re-feeding can be a useful tool so your body doesn’t get too used to being in calorie deficit and slow your metabolism down.

Plus, it also feels like a quick pick-me-up.

Even one day of re-feeding and already I feel more energised and able to cope with life.

By Friday last week I was feeling drained and exhausted, but now I’m feeling refreshed and positive again, with lots of energy.

The main thing to watch with re-feeding is that it doesn’t turn into craziness or binge eating. Adding 500-700 calories to your normal pattern should be plenty to wake your system up again. It certainly feels right for me.

Why rest days?

Everyone needs time away from the gym. Even gym rats like me 🙂

1-2 days a week of no lifting gives your body a chance to heal, rest and recover, ready for more gains the next time you hit the weights.

I’ve just created a new program for my lifting (I’ll post it in a second), which gives me 5 days of weights plus 2 rest days, which I can either take consecutively or whenever I need them.

As an older female lifter, I definitely need my rest days, but even young teenage guys need to rest and recover. Everyone does.

I’ve enjoyed my rest and re-feed, but I’m looking forward to hitting the weights again on Monday!

Walking around Dunedin

The last few days I’ve been enjoying walking the linear park that loops around Otago harbour in Dunedin, New Zealand, where I live.

Amazing sunshine in southern New Zealand 😁

The weather has been absolutely spectacular – mid 20s and sunny, with a lovely sea breeze. Lots of people have been out and about, and we’ve all been enjoying the sun and the sea.

When you’re off work over Christmas, and the weather is like this, there’s nothing better to do than get outside and enjoy it!

I’ve walked all the way from At Leonard’s on one side of the harbour to Company Bay on the other side, and I’m hoping to make it out to Portobello before the weather changes.

The harbour doesn’t usually look this inviting!

But I’m back to work tomorrow, so my walks will have to be shortened. Or I’ll have to walk in the mornings or in the evenings. I hope that the weather holds. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time walking the harbour.

Planning to compete in physique – at age 52? I must be crazy!!

I think I’ve gone crazy. I’ve decided to compete.

The class?: Women’s physique.

The competition?: Women who are all likely 20 years younger than me.

The reason?: Probable insanity.

I’ve a lot of work ahead of me. From this point on, now I’ve made my decision, I’ll be aiming to shed 1% of my body weight until I’m down closer to competition weight, which for me is probably around 70 kgs. I’m nowhere near that at present.

I’ve also got to put a lot of muscle on, particularly on my legs. Luckily I’m someone who grows muscle easily, but there’s still a lot of work in my future.

Then, because this is women’s bodybuilding, there will be things like hairstyles, manicures, pedicures, hair removal, makeup, tanning and sparkly bikinis to think about (men have it much easier – they just have to prance about in a very small Speedo). Thankfully there are no stripper heels in the physique class, or I’d be sure to trip and break my neck. Thankfully!

I haven’t mentioned this to my OA sponsor yet, but I think she’ll be supportive. She’s a marathon runner, so she understands what goals are – even impossible ones. I think she – and the rest of the OA gang – will absolutely cheer me on and be supportive of me doing this. They’ve seen the changes in me since I started at OA. They know how transformed I am, both inside and out.

My husband and family will support me too. I know they will. My husband was a bodybuilder for a long time – we met through the gym – so he understands the process. He’s thinking of going on stage too, so it’s possible we may even do this together.

Part of me is very scared now I’ve decided to take this leap. Mainly I’m scared I’m simply too old. I’m scared of injury, and of hurting myself.

But I won’t know if I never try. There are older women than me who have done this and succeeded. And I can’t make myself younger, no matter how much I might want to, to make things easier.

It’s not going to be easy. But it will make me a better person. Which is what I want to be.

What’s my goal? Physique bodybuilding? Maybe?

As time is going on, I’m starting to question what my goal is.

When I started this journey, I just wanted to become more healthy and lose weight. I’m doing that, and I’m feeling so much better and healthier than I did.

Then I started gymming, and that has made me happier still. I love spending time at the gym, and now my husband and stepdaughter have joined me with memberships of their own. It’s becoming a family thing.

I’ve been back at the gym since the start of October, and it feels wrong when I miss a day with no good reason.

People are beginning to notice me too. I put on muscle crazy easily, and already I’m starting to look like “someone who works out” rather than “someone who eats out”!

But with all of this, I feel like I want a more solid goal to aim for. I don’t want to do competitive lifting, as I have an old back injury that makes me wary of squats in particular. But competitive bodybuilding… maybe…?

I thought about going on stage a few years ago. I didn’t, because of my stomach. I felt like no matter what I did, I couldn’t get around the loose skin issue from having had kids.

But now I think I’m ready to push past that and go screw it! I’m a mum, I had kids, this is my body and I think it’s okay.

I’m not at that point – yet – but I think I might be able to get there.

So I’m starting to think I’m going to do it. Aim for stage. An old woman, 50+, throwing caution to the wind and giving life a go.

Because why not?

If I do make that decision – and I’m pretty sure I will – I’ll blog it here.

Because I think more old women should challenge ourselves and face our fears instead of sitting at home crocheting booties. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not me.

I’m scared that I really think I’m going to do this. Excited and scared. In a good way 🙂

The thing I’m happiest about, oddly enough, is that at least I know I’d be in Physique class, so I wouldn’t have to wear stripper heels!

Welcome to 2023

Happy New Year and all that. Currently I’m enjoying “me time” with all my kids away on holiday, and the house empty with just my husband and me at home alone. The peace is deafening!

I’ve been going for lots of walks around Dunedin harbour, as the weather has been spectacular, in-between spending lots of time at the gym.

The weather has been perfect, so I’ve been enjoying walks around Dunedin harbour (New Zealand).

I was quite pleased with my improvement on bench press at the gym today – I managed 65 kgs, although my form wasn’t wonderful so I’m not going to count it until I get perfect form as I like doing things properly. Altogether I’m doing a lot of bench. Here’s today’s overview for that exercise:

No wonder I’m getting stronger. When you do a lot of something, you get better at it!

I’m feeling pretty tired now. I was going to go for a walk, but have decided against it, and am going to take it easy for the rest of the day. I’ll go for a good walk tomorrow.

Leg Day in the gym

Today in the gym was leg day.

Legs are really tough for me. I’m really tall and long-legged, and my legs are hard to grow. So I do legs 3x a week. They’re improving, but it’s a slow process.

I started with 5×5 leg press and calf raises in the leg press machine.

I started with the leg press machine

I’m currently doing 160 kgs (352 pounds), and increasing by 2.5 kgs every session, according to the StrongLifts program, which I’ve been following for the last couple of months.

Next was seated calf raises. I do these in sets of 10, and I do them s l o w l y, so they really burn. I don’t do them on a particularly high weight, but instead focus on getting that burn.

Seated calf raises, done slowly for the burn. Then leg extensions, which I’m actually *good* at.

Next are leg extensions. I’m quite strong at these, a leftover from my days as a rower. I also like them.

I finished up with lying leg curls, which are my suckiest leg exercise. I’m really weak at them, and I struggle to get any weight happening there at all. I don’t know if that’s typical, but it’s typical for me.

I managed to get lying leg curls up to 35 kgs (77 pounds), but only with sets of 6 repetitions, which is kind of sad and pathetic.

I absolutely hate lying leg curls, but I know I need to do them, so I do, despite the hate and patheticness.

Why no squats? I don’t do squats, as my lower back is very dodgy, and I don’t want to injure myself. Like I said above, I’m an ex-rower and, like a lot of ex-rowers I have lower back problems. Squats may feature in my future, but for now I’m avoiding them.

So that was Leg Day. My weights are all coming up nicely, and I’m starting to see the difference in my body. I’m definitely feeling the difference! I’m just over two months back in the gym, and I’m very glad I made the decision to return to it. It was the right choice 🙂