Walking up “a bit of a hill”!

I told my friend Maria that I wanted to get fitter through this summer. She said to me that they were going for a walk today up, and I quote, “a bit of a hill”. She reckoned that we would be up and back in about an hour. So I accepted her offer to go with them, thinking that an hour of hill walking would probably be quite a good way to kick-start my fitness campaign.

And then we got to Abergavenny and I saw this;

Blorenge from Abergavenny

The Blorenge.

At first, I just glanced at it and paid it no attention. Then, Maria said, “there it is!” and the sudden hollow realisation struck me that I was expected to climb, with no fitness level other that the ability to walk to the car and back, the beast of a mountain that dominates the sky over Abergavenny. I think I was probably quite quiet for a while.

It took a long, long time to get up, but I managed to reach the summit (559 metres) and was both extremely proud of myself and extremely hot! I was so glad that we’d not tried to do the walk yesterday, when it was very hot here in South Wales. I undoubtedly would have passed out, and been one of those stupid people that the air ambulance have to rescue because they are foolish enough to attempt a climb far beyond their capabilities. However, I digress.

Once we all got to the top, and I had regulated my heart rate a little, the views were stunning.

Me up the Blorenge

This is the proof that I made it; look how far away the flat ground behind me looks! Don’t look at my t-shirt; it was an incredibly stupid, non-breathing, non-stretching, now shapeless top which I plan to discard at the first opportunity now that I’ve seen photos of it on me. That is Abergavenny in the background. Apparently there is a lovely market there, which I have been told to visit, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I shall have to remember that!

Starting the descent

This is my friend Maria (nearest the camera) beginning the descent. I think that the skyline gives a good indication of just how high we were!

Steep slope on Blorenge

There were sheep all over the Blorenge, and lots of lambs as well. Mainly they ran away from us, seemingly mocking us with their ability to run up the side of the mountain as if they were powered by Duracell batteries, but this mother and lamb sat quite still, as if drinking in the view themselves, as we went closer to them than to any other of the sheep. This photo also gives a good indication as to the steepness of the incline on the side of the Blorenge that we climbed. Apparently (so I learned when we reached the summit), there is a much easier walk to the summit that you can do, from a nearby car park. But we had to come up the hard way!

punchbowl

We visited this pond on the way down the mountain, taking a quick diversion to do so. It was created by a glacier, and is a very peaceful, calm place to be. The water was teeming with tadpoles, near to where we were sitting, and we definitely spotted a couple of fish break the surface of the pond. We stayed here for a few minutes before heading off back down the mountain and thence to Abergavenny where we had a pub lunch to build our energy reserves back up again. Maria on Blorenge

And finally, here is my friend Maria towards the end of the ascent. Yes, I know my pictures are all out of order, but I climbed a bloody mountain today, for crying out loud, and I’m tired! Our other friends who climbed as well can just be seen on the horizon. Maria and I lagged behind somewhat, although I’m sure her lagging was more to keep me company and make sure that there was someone around to perform CPR than because of any lack of fitness on her part.

All in all, I’m really glad I went, even if it seemed like I would never reach the summit whilst I was actually climbing. Oh, and the part where my legs turned to jelly on the way down and nearly gave out was fun, as well as having to walk around in the sweaty clothes for the next few hours! But I can now say that I have climbed that particular mountain, which I’m sure can only be said (truthfully) by a minority of the locak population, so I’m proud of my(very very unfit)self for managing it. I can see why people get addicted and entraced by this, and try to climb as many peaks as possible. I don’t think I’d get that excited about it, but I’d certainly be up for trying a couple of other (preferably gentler) slopes this summer.

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Weight loss progress – end of week 7

I’ve not weighed for two weeks, because I knew that last week wouldn’t be a reassuring time to have a weigh in! And I probably shouldn’t have weighed this morning after a huuuuuge roast dinner last night (roast pork, all the trimmings and also pudding with double cream!) but I did, and I’ve lost 1lb over the past two weeks. However, small and insignificant as this loss seems, I will not become downhearted. It is a loss not a gain, it is all progress in the right direction and next week my loss will be greater!

This week I pledge to drink more water and try to reduce portion sizes, especially if I cook another dinner like yesterday! I also hope to get out and do some exercise this week, although some of my exercise I think will be in the form of housework and decorating. More next Monday.

Back on the bike (at last!)

I managed to persuade myself to get back on my bike yesterday after a very long gap. I can’t remember exactly when my last bike ride was, but I’m fairly sure it was while the kids were still in school. So at least seven weeks then. Anyway, on Friday I decided that yesterday would be the day, as I had to get to work early in the morning and coincidentally I didn’t have the right change for my bus fare! And so, rather than asking my husband to bring home £3 for my day pass, I got out to the shed, checked the tyre pressure and the brakes and sorted out the things which I would want to carry in my pannier bags.

I was so lucky with the weather yesterday. When I woke up it was grey but warm, which were ideal conditions for cycling to work. This meant that I arrived nicely warmed but not soaked through with sweat! I made it to the office in about twenty to twenty five minutes of gentle ambling along the road. During the course of my shift the weather got better and better so that when I left work in the afternoon the sky was blue and the sun was shining brightly – what a shock to the system after a month of grey day after grey day. I was glad that I’d prepared for all eventualities by bringing both my raincoat and sunglasses, as the brightness of the sunshine definitely called for some protective eyewear!

I cycled up the Taff Trail for a while, and then after passing Llandaff phoned my husband to see whether he and the kids would be interested in meeting me somewhere for a while before I went home. He was, and so we arranged to meet at Roath Park Lake. And so, once more in a relaxed and unhurried way I cycled across the north of Cardiff to the Lake, where I was able to sit and relax for ten minutes and people watch before my family caught up with me.

Sitting on that bench on the warm and lovely day was so relaxing, I think I might take myself up there occasionally when the kids are back in school. It’s not too far to cycle from here, and is mainly fairly flat. There are plenty of benches once you get there to sit and watch the world go by. The children always enjoy a visit to the lake, even when we don’t buy them ice cream or let them play in the play area.

I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got home. I surprised myself, actually, with how tired I was. I cycled somewhere around thirteen miles all told, which just shows how much my fitness has decreased since I was last out on my bike. However, I’m sure I’ll feel the benefits by tomorrow – no pain no gain and all of that!

*By the way, I’d like to point out that these photos were taken earlier in the year, not yesterday. Taking photos yesterday would have involved raising my arms above handlebar height, an activity which I just wasn’t able to do! And so I thought I’d share some old favourites from previous visits to the places I went yesterday. You see, if you know where to look, Cardiff is a really pretty city with many oases of calm dotted about the place. And these locations, naturally, are among my favourite places to cycle. Still plenty more places to explore though, so cross your fingers for more fine days for me, or alternatively the will power to get out in the rain!

Update on the diet, end of week 4

I’ve lost a couple more pounds this week, which takes me up to nine pounds overall! I’m very happy with that as I’m still just short of the end of my first month, and as I had a target of losing seven pounds a month I’m two pounds ahead of target. And so I’ll move on to next month’s target – I hope to have lost a stone by the end of September! The children start back to school next week, which I hope will facilitate my being able to do more exercise. I’ve not yet decided whether to try to go back to the gym or just to focus on cycling and walking. I’m leaning more towards the cycling as I can fit it in with other daily tasks like fetching bread and milk from the shop and suchlike. Ah well, time will tell. I just hope that my will power keeps me on track for another couple of months at least so that I can start to see a real difference in myself.

I was very proud of myself yesterday. We went out with two of my husband’s relatives for Sunday lunch to a pub in North Cardiff. They all had roast dinners but I managed to avoid the temptation and had a chicken and bacon salad. It was really nice, and I didn’t miss the roast dinner at all. I think that it tasted nicer because I knew that it was a healthy choice and that I wasn’t damaging my diet by eating it. I’ve noticed that I’m definitely not enjoying things like pizza at the moment, even when I’m actually eating them, because I constantly have on my mind that it is a bad food choice if I want to be slimmer by next year. I’m glad of that though. This is what I’m trying to educate my brain to tell me, rather than accepting the ‘quick happy fix’ that junk food and snacking has to offer.

In other news, visits to my blog went past the 20,000 mark yesterday! This is great, especially as it was only in about March that I reached 10,000 and I thought it would take until about Christmas to get to this target. So thank you to you all for visiting and helping Jennieworld Today reach this target. Roll on 30,000!

Cycling tips

I’ve just found this article on the BBC website with ‘tips’ for bicycle riding commuters, taken from the example set by the medal winning British Olympic cyclists in Beijing. All well and good, and as with the commenters on the article I both agree and disagree with various of the pieces of advice offered. However, my biggest stumbling block which has stopped me getting on my bike for the last month has been the rain – I don’t think we have had a consistently dry period in the last month. And if we did I was either in work or asleep! Roll on September, if the dry weather is returning as promised, so that I can get back to my cycling for fitness and fun.

Desperation strikes again, a.k.a. I’m starting another diet!

I’ve been psyching myself up for some time towards starting another diet. For any of you who have been reading my blog for a while, I apologise for repeating myself, as I seem to start diets about every six months with varying levels of success. Well, at the end of the day they obviously are unsuccessful as I’ve not yet reached my optimum weight and been able to abandon my quest to become lighter!

I’m still mourning the lack of a Rosemary Conley diet and fitness class in Cardiff. I went to one two years ago for six months and lost nearly two stone, which was fantastic. I loved the actual diet, which, with it’s focus on eating fruit and veg and enough milk for calcium, I think is very healthy. I also enjoyed the exercise class every week. I begrudge going to other classes, like Weight Watchers or Slimming World and having to pay £5 just to be weighed. At least with Rosemary Conley classes you do get that exercise to music session which you can tailor to your own ability. However, my nearest one is either in Caerleon or Bridgend, neither of which I feel like rushing to in the evenings. I’m still hoping and praying that the instructor from either Newport or Bridgend will suddenly notice that there is nothing in Cardiff and will start up another class!

Anyway, I have to move on and stop waiting for a non-existent class to help me to lose weight! I’m really hoping that we’ll manage to have a family holiday next year, and the last thing that I want is to be going away, self conscious about the way I look and avoiding family photos because I know that they’re unflattering. I’ve been eating really well this week, avoiding snacks and trying to up the amount of fruit and veg that I consume. I’m also trying to drink more, especially with the warm weather we’ve been enjoying. But it’s obviously not enough, and I need to find opportunities to exercise. It’s not as easy as you might think with two children around all the time. I could go out to the gym or on my bike in the evenings, but by the time the children are in bed I’m usually tired and able for nothing more than a little light internet surfing. I need to try to get out with the kids a bit more, to the park maybe with a couple of balls or something. We do try to get out somewhere every day, weather permitting, but it does get hard when you’re trying to fit so much into your day. I’ve got a lot on at the moment with Relay For Life, and I’ve been helping my mother in law with her garden a couple of times whis week. I’m also in the middle of clearing out my kids’ bedroom. All of that doesn’t leave a lot of leisure time for spending at the park! However, hopefully this coming week will be a little less frantic. I’m hoping to save some of my energy for cycling in the evenings, and maybe I’ll feel better for doing it. I think I’m slightly put off the thought of cycling because it has been so long since I was able to get out on my bike, I think I’ll be back to square one. However, if I’m going to do a Brecon to Cardiff sponsored bike ride next year, it needs to be done!

So, I need to spend this next week focussing on good food, no snacking and plenty of exercise. I know the theory, it’s just putting it into practise and keeping up the will power to keep it going. I’ll keep you posted.

Cycling in Cardiff

I went out on my bike with my Dad for a short trip yesterday morning. We debated whether or not to go, and in the end decided we might as well as, despite the weather being inclement, neither of us would melt in the rain and we really wanted some fresh air and exercise. The rain didn’t bother me. The wind did. I really really don’t like cycling in windy weather. As my dad put it yesterday, with a hill you know what you’re up against and can plan accordingly. When it’s a windy day, you don’t know when you’re going to be buffetted, and you’re not even guaranteed to build up momentum going downhill, let alone on the flat.

However, we saw some nice things on the coast road; the usual array of animals, but as a special treat we were lucky to see an extremely newborn foal, just about tottering on his legs around his mother, while the mother unconcernedly munched on some grass. I obviously made too much of a fuss about childbirth!

I also fitted my cycle computer yesterday, and as a result spent far too much time watching the numbers scan between all the different readings and not enough time studying the road – I’m lucky I didn’t end up in one of the reens!

Somewhere I plan to take my bike soon is the Cardiff Bay Barrage. As of last Friday morning, the public is now allowed to walk and cycle along it, and I’m fairly sure (from reading the website) that I should be able to get to Penarth across it. I’ll let you know! Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to do that ride towards the end of the week. Something else I plan to do soon is to go further afield from Cardiff by taking my bike on the train and then cycling back. I think I should easily be able to cover 15 miles, and so I’ll have to get a large wall map of the area and see how far away I can get! Also, I’m looking forward to going to Bristol or Bath on the train, cycling to whichever one I didn’t travel by train to, and then getting the train back. Eventually I’d like to travel to somewhere just over the other side of the first Severn Bridge and then cycle back, because I’ve been really taken by the idea of cycling over the bridge since I found out that it was possible! I’d love to hear from anyone who has cycled over the Severn Bridge before, and also anyone with any route recommendations in South Wales and the bit of England that South Wales is stuck to!