Looking back at 2013, and my goals for 2014

2012 was the year when I made an important decision to save my life: I had gastric bypass surgery.

2013 was the year when I built the foundations for my new lifestyle. Eat better, exercise more. I started from zero fitness to finishing my first triathlon. Oh, I’m still far from an athlete, but I like to think I made giant leaps of progress to become an awesome version of myself.

I started by hiring a personal trainer to keep me motivated, to keep me in check (nothing like having to answer the question “How often did you train this week and what did you do?” to actually make you go train on your own and keep going!), to teach me how to train, and to get a jump-start towards an active lifestyle. I owe him a lot. Even if we’ve now parted ways, the effect he had on me still hasn’t worn off 😉 I can still hear his voice in my head shouting COME ON!! when I want to give up, and I can still hear him ask me the dreaded question every week! And when I see him at the gym, he actually makes sure to ask how I’ve been doing and how my training is going…

Then, there were my goals. One in particular, a dream, a fantasy of mine for several years already: finishing a triathlon. Looking back, I know I didn’t train sufficiently when it comes to swimming, and I was still not very fit, but I did cross that finish line. I finished dead last, but I finished. Instead of demotivating me, it only encouraged me to get fitter and get better.

So, what did I do in 2013? Let’s see…

  • 8 x 5K races
  • 2 x 10K races
  • 2 x obstacle/mud races
  • 1 x super-sprint triathlon

Not bad for a first year!

And what are my goals for 2014?

  • Finish a half-marathon in May
  • Finish a sprint triathlon in August
  • Focus on 10K races instead of 5K races*
  • Learn how to swim the front crawl

* I choose to focus on 10K races this year rather than 5K’s, mostly as an extra challenge to myself. And not to sound like a snob (because really, I’m not!), but I noticed I’m taking this racing thing way too seriously now to genuinely enjoy doing 5K’s (generally more crowded and family oriented), and I just hate having to slalom around people walking, even though I’m not running much faster than them, and feeling stressed about how this slaloming will affect my end time. I’m not saying I’ll never do 5K’s ever again, but I will choose them carefully, i.e. smaller-scaled events.

Today is Blue Monday, apparently the most depressing day of the year, with our New Year’s resolutions slowly fading away. Apparently. Because I’m happy to report I’ve been going to the swimming pool 2 to 3 times per week since the beginning of the year, I’ve officially started my half-marathon preparation, and I’ve also stepped on my bike a few times already. Things are going smoothly! And do you know what helps? Getting new gear to keep you motivated. Look at what the hubs gave me for my birthday! 😀

5595_10151949104842585_134587233_nYes!! A beautiful Forerunner 910XT. I am SO happy. I’m tracking everything on Garmin Connect and I love seeing my progress! I already owned a Forerunner 305 and I was really happy with it, but I was really missing the swimming training tracking component the 910XT has to offer. My dad is going to inherit of my 305, I know he’ll give it a good home!

I think I’m well on my way to a fantastic 2014. If I can stay injury-free and if I can manage to keep my iron-deficiency anemia under control, I should be able to achieve my goals.

Wish me luck! 😉

Living an active lifestyle

I’ve led a very sporadic ‘active lifestyle’ from my youth to my adult life. I’d be out and about cross-country skiing during the winter, but spend the summer sitting on my behind. I’d play organised sports for a couple of years, but then I’d sit on the couch for the next five. Lack of motivation, teenage rebellion, caught in the whirlwind of studying or working. There was always an excuse.

In 2007 and 2008, when I was actively trying to lose weight by dieting and exercising, I discovered sports I loved and started to actually enjoy exercising. But then weight stall frustration, stress, work and health problems became yet other excuses for not burning calories. And we all know what happened next: I put the weight back on, AND THEN SOME. Which led me to taking the difficult decision to go under the knife for gastric bypass in October 2012.

The weight is definitely coming off now, but I know I’m in this honeymoon period where weight loss almost magically happens without too much efforts. When this honeymoon period is over, I know I’ll have to be more vigilant at managing my caloric intake and the amount of calories I burn through exercise, otherwise I will re-gain. And I really don’t want to go there!

What do I need to do then? I need to live an active lifestyle, I need to make exercising part of my daily life — not for a summer, not for a year, but until the end of my days. But it’s not easy. There’s work, and commuting to and from work, there’s my other hobbies, there’s my wonderful husband, there’s household chores, etc. Making it all fit is really a challenge. I’m sacrificing my other hobbies (I haven’t done any significant sewing for at least a year now), I’m setting clear boundaries in regards to work, and I’m trying to get the hubby to exercise with me, so at least it would count as quality time 😉

Lucky for me, I’m still in love with running, biking and swimming. I’m still enjoying my training sessions with my personal trainer. I’m still enjoying going to the gym. It hasn’t been easy lately because I’m suffering from anemia (happens often after gastric bypass) and my energy level is sub-zero, but I have to push through it. Otherwise, I’m going to find excuses again and I’ll end up on the couch.

The longest distance in any race is the six inches between your ears

I stumbled upon this quote yesterday, and there’s so much truth in it. And not only for marathoners or triathletes! We have to constantly fight this little voice in our heads that is telling us to give up, to stay on the couch, to be lazy, to push that training back to tomorrow, next week, next month, next year… And it’s hard. But it’s worth it.

With my first super-sprint triathlon only 3 months away now (gasp!), there’s no time for pushing back a training. I am going to the pool, I am going for a bike ride, and I am running. I’m not fast, I’m not ‘performing’, but I’m out there having fun doing it, and that’s the most important thing.

In my enthusiasm, I’ve even signed up for a 10K race in now less than 2 weeks! And I have a 5K race in June! And an 8K run in July! And my super-sprint triathlon in August! And today I signed up for a 10K in September! Having goals is what keeps me going. I don’t care if I finish last – I just want to finish 🙂

I’ll finish by inviting you to visit and like my Facebook page to get the latest updates on my workouts and my gear – because one thing I had to sacrifice lately is time for blogging 😉 I hope to see you there!

Pineapple coconut energy bites

I’m not going to turn this blog into a cooking blog, but I had to share today’s kitchen experiment.

I dehydrated a whole pineapple cut in small pieces, but I wasn’t happy with the result. It looked horrible and not appetizing at all. The pieces were still wet on the inside while dried and brittle on the outside, meh. I was about to throw the pineapple pieces in the bin, until I had the genius idea to use them to make energy bites.

And is there any better combination than with coconut? Piña colada in a bite!

The following measurements are quite approximative – I didn’t measure and I just added “a bit of this and a bit of that” as I went. Makes 6-8 bites, depending on size.

Pineapple coconut bites

3/4 cup almond flour

1/2 cup dried coconut (unsweetened)

1 cup dried pineapple (if you can get an unsweetened version, great – but making it yourself is much better!)

1/8 cup coconut for coating

Put all ingredients in a food processor. Mix until the pineapple pieces are chopped in very small pieces and the ingredients are starting to stick together. If your mix is too wet, add coconut or almond flour, 1-2 tablespoon at a time, and mix again. If your mix is too dry, add a bit of water, no more than 1 teaspoon at a time, and mix again.

Put 1/8 cup of coconut in a small plate. Using a spoon, take a bit of the mix and shape it in a ball, or a disk (or a bar!) with your hands. Coat all sides with coconut, pressing gently.

Keep your bites in an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze. They should keep for about a week in the fridge.

I’m convinced they are delicious coming out of the freezer – I’ll have to try them this summer 🙂

On the training front, I haven’t been able to jump in the pool as often as I would have liked. But this week is a new week, and I’ve found interesting courses, where the accent lies on improving swimming techniques and improve fitness level. That sounds perfect for me 🙂 I’ll give them a try this week!

Tri’-ing for a triathlon, again

Four years ago, almost at the same date, I signed up for my first triathlon. Unfortunately, I never managed to get the training and the preparation done, and in the end, I didn’t participate.

But it’s been nagging me ever since.

So I did it again. I signed up for my first super-sprint triathlon, to take place in August. I have 7 months to train and prepare. I should manage, right? I mean, I’m still busy building up my running with the Start to Run program, but in 7 months, I should be able to run 2.5km. I have yet to get on my bike, but I’ve been cycling at the gym and I’ll join spinning classes soon. And as soon as the weather gets better, I’ll hit the road with my bike, for sure. And 10km on the bike ain’t too bad. The biggest challenge, and my biggest weakness, is swimming. I suck at it, and the swimming pools in my area are not open when I would need them to be, so I’ll have to do wonders to make swimming training fit around my schedule. Anyway, if I want it enough, I can make it work, right? Even if that means going for a swim at 7:00 in the morning and get to the office later than usual. Or something.

I’ll have a chat with my personal trainer next Tuesday, to get advice on what muscle groups I should focus on when I’m training on my own at the gym, or at home. ‘Cause yeah, I’ve been assembling a cool mini gym at home. I love my pink stability ball 😉

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I’m still going to check out my triathlon training books, but advice from a pro cannot hurt. And it also gives us a focus for our personal training sessions: working out to get fit for my first triathlon! I’m excited just thinking about it 🙂

I’ll give the swimming pool a try this weekend, wish me luck!

It’s time I do something

Right, so I haven’t been here in a while. I haven’t done any kind of physical activity in a while. It reflects on my weight. I’ve gained quite a bit of isolation material in the past few years.

I took a drastic decision, a life-changing decision. I underwent gastric-bypass precisely one month ago. The recovery period is long and hardeous, but now it’s time to get into action.

But I’m soooo out of shape. It’s not even funny.

So tomorrow, I’ll start with some aquajogging at my neighborhood swimming pool. Let’s see if that helps me get back into shape. And one day, very soon I hope, I’ll step in my running shoes again.

I’ve got a long way to go…

… or “Where did my fitness go??”

Okaaaaay. The road to this first mini-sprint triathlon is trickier than I expected. Last year around the same period, when I was 10kg lighter and most of all much fitter than now, swimming 250m really wouldn’t have been too much of a problem. (I’m talking 250m breaststroke here, because front crawl is way, way out of my reach. I can hold it for one length, but for the rest… pffff!)

So today was a bit of a disappointment. I didn’t count how many lengths I did, but it probably was around 25. All breaststrokes. At a slowpoke tempo (approx. 50 sec/length). With 15 seconds breaks in-between. And I was dead tired after only doing 5 lengths or so. Ugh! Where did my fitness go??

Oh I know where it went. It melted away when I hit my personal wall and couldn’t run, swim, bike or do any kind of physical activity anymore last year. And then struggled to get back on track for months. And here I am, 10kg heavier (which just adds up to my current overweightness), totally unfit, wanting to pick up where I left when I was at my ‘best shape ever’. Of course I’m out for a disappointment…

So for now I’ll concentrate my efforts in getting back on track with the running, as some races are coming up and I really want to do well, i.e. not finish last! And I’ll add one easy swimming training per week, along with some core trainings and weight trainings whenever possible. In a couple of weeks I should be slowly getting back in shape. Then, I’ll look into swimming more seriously, along with some cycling. The weather should be better for that anyway.

I’m not aiming at finishing this triathlon at a specific ranking, I just want to finish it. Even if this means finishing last!