Sceptically Fit


Discovering a Weak Point

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 16:42

I finally moved to a new place on the weekend. Moving day is one of those times you really get an idea of your basic functional fitness level.

I moved from a flat on the second floor to a flat on the third floor. Both old Victorian tenements so stairs the whole way

I had two very kind friends who offered both assistance and vehicles. I didn’t have any furniture so just boxes and bags but a lot of them – and my packing Fu meant some of the clothes only bags were surprisingly heavy. In order to speed things up I got everything downstairs prior to their arrival so by the time we got to the new place I really appreciated the two extra bodies.

Being strong and fit enough meant I could keep going without taking a break up and down multiple flights of stairs. I could carry everything I packed rather than needing to leave any heavy boxes for the men folk. I still had energy to finish sorting though several hours later I was starting to fatigue and lifting a book filled packing box above my head to put on top of a cupboard was now beyond me (new place doesn’t have a bookcase).

The next day the muscle aches really started to kick on. To be expected my legs are quite sore – calves like after a half marathon and thighs, well I did an hour of weighted stairs…

Why surprised me a bit was that my upper arms and back feel fine – so seems my upper body training isn’t going to badly. The weak point – forearms! Oh they are aching. Sustained grip on heavy object is taxing!


Primal Challenge / January Round Up

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:45

My 30 day Primal Challenge kind of petered out.  If anything, I really had a primal challenge of  about twenty days with about ten days of testing the 80/20 rule*. My biggest aim in the paleo challenge was to test a bit more of the grains are bad theory than my previous attempts had allowed.  What I wanted to find out is if the type of carbs really made a difference for me – and it does.

Goals Review:

Overall WellBeing

Get eight hours sleep most nights:

  • A complete fail. I have not been getting enough sleep most of the week and barely manage to catch up during the weekend.
  • I have been experimenting with taking vitamin d3 supplements and while its too early to tell I do seem to be sleeping falling asleep more quickly and sleeping better throughout the night

Complete a 30 day Paleo challenge

  • More of a 20 rather than 30 day challenge…
  • Excluding grains makes a difference. Because I’ve started training for a half-marathon, I’ve made sure I’ve been eating more carbs – I’m generally eating more carbohydrates than I did prior to starting this (mostly sweet potato). So its not the macro balance, its the absence of grains especially wheat. Trying rice made me feel more bloated but not as off as wheat. That’s good enough for me to assume I have an intolerance to gluten – although I’m happy to accept further evidence suggesting there’s something more complicated at play
  • I have more energy and despite some personal ups and downs – feel happier.
  • the advantage of failing at the challenge was seeing how well it would fit into my normal life without too much trouble.
  • Did I lose weight? No – I put on half a kilo. However, I did lose 3cm from my waistline and lost approximately 2% of body fat (I average a couple of different calculator results)

Keep my houseplants alive – I solved that one by throwing out my dead houseplants. You can’t fail to keep them alive if you don’t have any…

Fitness Goals

  • be able to do a full pull up – still working on this on. Down to a 7.5kg counterweight on the assisted pullup machine but really feel like I’ve stalled. Will be looking into more exercises to help strengthen up whatever stabilising muscles are underdeveloped.
  • run a half marathon in under two hours in May : This is coming along well. I ran 16.98 km in an 1:50 last weekend. Not fast, but that’s the point. I’m trying to do my long run at a gentle pace well below using up my glycogen reserves. Last year, I was pushing myself faster and was having a lot of trouble with recovery and a crazy appetite. This year, I’m doing pretty well – I’m keeping Friday and Sunday as a rest day (with Wed as a partial rest day), which gives my long run a nice preparation before and recovery after.

Creative/Lifestyle Goals

  • improve my paleo cooking – I’ve made a few things: butternut pumpkin soup and chocolate coconut pudding. More than that though I’ve been inspired by recipes. So that’s a good thing.
  • complete the beginners swing dancing course : three weeks and counting!
  • finish a book a month: do graphic novels count?
  • take the time to indulge my creative side at least once a week: does this count?



*Currently down for maintenance so in case the url’s change I’ll put links to Mark’s Daily Apple guide to the 80/20 principle here. Further 80/20, still further.


Beginning Goals Review

Filed under: Personal — Tags: — Sceptically Me @ 15:41

So I’ve stated my New Years Resolutions. They’re a mix of fitness, health, emotional and lifestyle goals – yep, I’m going holistic in my approach. I plan to start the 30 day paleo challenge tomorrow, yes first day back at work but I think I can manage it. I’m still yet to decide if I’m going to have some completely unhealthy dessert tonight. But I do plan to work on some stretching and mobility exercises rather than a proper workout this afternoon.

Overall WellBeing

  • get eight hours sleep most nights: This is something I’ve really been bad at this year. Probably related to emotional issues and poor diet, but its certainly exacerbated my late night second wind.
  • Complete a 30 day Paleo challenge – I’ve never lasted more than a week without any ‘cheats’ and as the cheats involve gluten, I’ve never tested the theory before. I don’t think I have a problem with dairy if I avoid grains, but I’m going to try without it for the 30 days too. Caffeine and alcohol aren’t going to be cut out but I won’t be drinking as much
  • Continue eating paleo most of the time – the closer I get to following it properly the better I feel. The more wheat I bring into my diet the worse I feel. I want the bad food that I eat to be worth it, not just something I eat because I’m feeling moody
  • Smoke less – special occasions only, not as comfort food.
  • Move into my own apartment: Its about time, and I’ll feel better if I do
  • Keep my home clean and tidy:  There’s a reason a messy house is related to depression. You skip it becasue you’re depressed, the clutter is depressing. Probably related to the one above – but I need to and want to care.
  • Keep my houseplants alive: there is something very comforting about picking food off plants you have grown. How hard is it really to remember to water them every couple of days and re-pot occasionally
  • Email/Call/Skype more often with friends and family:  emotional needs are important, I need to take more time to connect with the people who matter

Fitness Goals

  • be able to do a full pull up
  • do the Survival of the Fittest and be able to get over the 6″ wall without help: last year I needed help from one person on the 6″ walls, and two people (pushed and pulled) on the 8″ walls.
  • run a half marathon in under two hours in May : managed 2hrs 1min last year. I would also not like my appetite to go haywire this year.

Creative/Lifestyle Goals

  • improve my paleo cooking – I can feed myself. I can often make quite tasty things, but I feel like I could expand my creativity and I’d like to move into making things that I can share with others that they won’t feel like I’ve got some weird diet thing going.
  • complete the beginners swing dancing course and finally be able to stay for the intermediate and social dancing
  • finish a book a month: I still think of myself as a reader despite taking months to finish a book
  • take the time to indulge my creative side at least once a week: painting, sewing, drawing, writing


New Years Resolutions

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 19:10

Update – not everything saved when I posted it from the phone…

So it’s that time. I started the year quite well last year but did too much without looking after myself and it kind of fell apart. This year I aim to make more of an effort to look after myself.

  • get eight hours sleep most nights
  • complete the 30 day paleo challenge
  • continue eating paleo most of the time
  • improve my paleo cooking
  • be able to do a full pull up
  • do the Survival of the Fittest and be able to get over the 6″ wall without help
  • move into my own apartment
  • complete the beginners swing dancing course and finally be able to stay for the intermediate and social dancing
  • run a half marathon in under two hours in May
  • finish a book a month
  • take the time to indulge my creative side at least once a week: painting, sewing, drawing, writing
  • Email/Call/Skype more often with friends and family
  • keep my home clean and tidy.
  • keep my house plants alive


Aiming for What?

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 20:28

This article The Aesthetic Goal Conundrum | Everyday Paleo really struck a chord with me.

When I first got into fitness as a driving force in my life, I was not unhappy with the way my body looked. I was overweight, but not terribly so (and in today’s Anglosphere standards, probably quite firmly in the average level), and I embraced attitudes towards beauty as an eye of the beholder type thing. I believed I looked good – if anything I’d been coming to terms with dressing myself better so even if shopping could still be problematic, on the whole – I liked how I looked.

What drove me to get into exercise was a desire to be fit – I wanted to be able to do anything I wanted. I tell people the turning point was watching some serial killer type movie and realising I would not be able to run 20mins to get away from a killer.

So I got into it – I could run 20min, then my goal became 1hr, which I can now also do pretty comfortably. By the time I was able to run 20mins, I’d dropped two dress sizes.

Throughout my career, the biggest changes in physical appearance have more often than not been achieved by those without aesthetic goals.  Furthermore, clients who are the most driven by aesthetic goals alone, sometimes to the point of desperation, are usually those who struggle the most.  It’s a frustrating paradox for both client and trainer alike.  I have some tenuous theories, but no definitive solutions.

If anything – I’m more critical of my body now. And I’m conscious that there’s areas I want to fix. If I could just put a bit more work in, stick to my diet plan a bit better I’d lose the body fat I don’t like and my body would be better. You know what – terrible motivation. I can’t do it.

body loathing probably goes hand in hand with low self esteem in most cases.  Whether the relationship between how you look and how you value yourself is correlated or causal, the outcome is often difficulty with compliance.

I think there is a lot in this. When all I cared about was improving my fitness as an external goal, making the effort seemed worth it. Trying to lose body fat because I’m not good enough feels intrinsically different.

Fortunately I’m gearing up to work on a few more fitness goals. I don’t think I want to care too much more about hitting a certain scale/body fat % point anymore.


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