Friday, November 28, 2008

shutdown -r

This has been so long since I have written, a period of change would be the best way to put things - its time to reboot.

I liked having this blog and writing on it, and I've missed the ability to go back and reflect on things I had written in the past. In many ways this blog is fairly selfish, as its my way of jotting down thoughts to please only myself, if other people took something from it then great. There are a few blogs I made a year or so again that I want to revisit as my life, and as a person I have changed and learned more over the last year. But to reflect, when I opened this blog back up I was at the start of a journey to change life and become healthy. Nearly a year on I have a attained a level of fitness that I don't think I have ever had, along with strength, for someone who was the skinny little runt at school only good for middle distance running still surprises me looking in the mirror.

Professionally it has been a year of at times confusing change, it seemed for much of the year I was trying to find a balance or a place in the organization(s). A more recent change into more of a project management role found a home where I could contribute to the company which was a nice feeling. More recently I came to understand that I had stagnated professionally, repeating the past and not seeming to be moving forward. Watching Randy Pauch's "Last Lecture" proved motivating, life changing and inspiring. I enjoy the project management as I have done many times in the past, but my last formal training was 12 years ago (in Hamburg and Paris - life is tough sometimes) Since then PMI has become the dominant methodology for IT and Software development. I want our next project to be the best we can possibly do, and the best that I can do in managing it. So its back to school for me, learning from home towards a PMP certification (Project Management Professional). Its not a task to undertake lightly requiring a great deal of commitment in time and learning, but it feels fantastic to be learning something new, that can contribute greatly to the company.

A year ago I thought I ate well, that my diet was good, now I know better. My meals and choice in what I eat has changed drastically, even when I'm not using the meal plans generated by Men's Health's Personal Trainer it has become second nature to buy and continue down that path. Though I do try and build in one 'cheat meal' every week or two weeks, which stops any minor temptations of feeling deprived - so I still like my Shepherd's Pie and occasional Delia excursions ;-)

One of the biggest changes fitness and health wise has been a sense of consistency, I'm paraphrasing Gordo Byrn who says "What you do in a workout is less important than consistency in working out", I've missed very few workouts.

Key to me has been doing weights, from the past weights were a way to supplement the cardio workouts. I believed, as most people do that you lose weight through cardio and build strength with weights. What I have come to understand is that weight sessions burn more calories, both during and for 24 hours after than almost any cardio workout. As such those sessions have become key and I look forward to those sessions. The strength has paid off, from my running, particularly the core workouts, and cycling - last year I could hang with people, this year holding pace on the flats has become easy, once the roads go upwards the increased power and lighter weight (175 versus 195+) allows me to pick people off at will, hey cycling is dog eat dog even on 'friendly' rides.

Taking Tuesday nights through the spring and the summer to leave work a little earlier and get out to ride with others for a change did wonders for my mental state, working from home can sometimes make you one dimensional with very little direct human contact, the rides were refreshing, on roads that I don't normally ride, good company, great weather and soup for the soul.

Moving house last year, at first, even though I still lived on a lake, the 2 mile loop wore fairly quickly, but the discovery of 15 miles of trails, with three trail heads within 2 miles of my front door opened up a whole new playground to run and mountain bike in. More challenging topographically and also technically they kept my motivation levels high throughout the year, getting out of the door regardless of the weather was always motivating.

The progress in running is a wonder, from the beginning of the year finally overcoming the limitations of my old injuries, and never quite being able to break the run/walk circle, through to now being able to click out 6-10 mile runs with ease, when and where I want.

A more recent addition to my training article has been Yoga, which I must confessed I always have sniffed at derisively. iTunes to the rescue with "Yogamazing" and Chas, funny little fellow, but have to love his 20 minute sessions, from relaxation to challenging, they've increased my flexibility but also my balance paying dividends in running and also my form when lifting (the podcasts are free on iTunes)

I've experimented with different weight training plans over the last year, each time gaining strength and each month developing further. I'm just approaching the end of 2 weeks of a 4 week commitment to what I'd describe as a celebrity workout, in this case from getting him in shape for Quantum of Solace. This is pretty ironic, as seeing him in Casino Royale was what inspired me to become committed to getting fit in the first place. This time around he's less bulky, but more ripped, a new target to aim for ! - now if only Aston Martin will let me play with a DBS for a few weeks, heck, I would even slum it in a Vantage ;-). The workout though, oh dear gosh its brutal and can be found , add in some ab/core work Mon/Wed/Fri and you have a week of brutal hell, the first week the body parts I was working on were numb by the end, not hurting, just couldn't feel them - awesome, "That which doesn't kill me only makes me stronger". Once a month I throw in the "300" workout as a test, the first time I did it I truly thought I was going to die...

So I'll sign off for now, and make the promise to myself to update this a little more regularly...picture is from yesterday's Turkey Trot ride, only the three intrepid souls showed up, waking up to a thick frost made me think the ride would be character building, but by the end it was almost balmy, a great way to start off Thanksgiving Day.