Sunday, 31 August 2008

Day 17 : 1,500 Skips!!

Just before I went to bed last night, I printed out the two new workout sheets. What a shock!

I hadn't bothered yesterday because Workout 1 was the same exercises with a few extra sets so I had amended last week's sheet by hand. I didn't even look a the number of skips! I had been lulled into a false sense of security by Patrick's comments on Day 5 :

"So, as you get more fit, don't fall into old thinking. Yeah, you'll feel great, and be saying to yourself, "Only 1000 jumpropes? I could do 3000!" But don't do it. Keep it light, keep it consistent, and you'll see results."

So I naively thought that 1,000 skips a day was it. I should have known better!!

Yikes, up to 1,500, without even the option of a gradual build-up - you know, "1,000 to 1,500".

Being Sunday, I slept in and did everything I could think of first before the daunting task ahead of me. Finally stepped into the garden at 12.35 - into, shock, sunshine. The thunderstorms have finally gone away. This, course, also a minor miscalculation as it is still summer and therefore the temperature is UP. But I continue. The first thousand in just over 25 minutes, the next five hundred in another 15 and being bloody-minded, I thought I would see if I could make up for yesterday and reach 2,000. Discretion being the better part of valour, I decided that enough was enough at 1,705 after 50 minutes.

I don't seem to get the same long sequences going that eveyone else does and this really eats up the time.

Then the workout.

Yesterday I did :
Squat 4x20
Incline pull-up 5x6
Push-up 5x8 (from the knee)
Curl 4x8
Side Shoulder Fly 4x10
Sit-up 4x15

Lunge 4x10 (not deep enough, my legs were very stiff after all those skips)
Lawnmower 4x8
Chest Fly 4x10
Ski Jumper 3x8
Shoulder Press 4x10
Leg-up 4x10 (not straight up, maybe up to 45 degrees)

After that, I lay in an exhausted heap for quite along time before a long bath.

No such problems on the dietary front and I clocked in this morning at exactly 87kg (the new scales go to 0.1kg instead of 0.5kg). So I've lost 5kg in 17 days.

I'm going to try to cook some batches of food, weigh them into the right quantities and freeze them to try to ease the time pressure preparing breakfast, snacks and lunch. Not sure about freezing fruit!

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Day 16 : The Hint of a Shadow

We had more thunder and lightning all night and I kept waking up It was very humid all night and still wet when I got outside to do my skipping about 8am. The clouds had lifted a bit though and at times there was even the hint of a shadow on the ground.

I've decided that skipping time like a train journey - it is not actually the running time, it is the gaps in between(changing trains) that decide how long the journey will be. It is the same with my skipping - if I have many breaks, it takes a long time. My 1,015 skips took 30 minutes.

This left me not enough time to do all the workout before I went out but did manage the squats before heading out. I was off for my weekly session with Charlie - a lot of work on my back (some spectacular "cracks") and legs (rather painful). A new twist today. I was connected to a meter measuring my pulse and I had to try to keep my pulse down while the session was going on!!

I mentioned my high acidity last week. I have been drinking the apple cider vinegar and honey mix, sloshing balsamic vinegar on my food and also eating predominantly vegetables and it all has had a dramatic effect. I'm now very alkaline, which is a much better place to be. I'm sure big swings are not good so I hope it will settle down and I will keep checking.

On the way back, I managed to catch "The Dark Knight", impressive, intense but a bit gloomy.

This means I didn't get home until 22.00. I didn't have time to pack a lunch so was rather hungry by this time. All the restaurants looked very tempting on the way home. So a very, very late lunch and then I managed to finished the workout. I actually survived without eating lunch quite well, although I'm sure it should not to be repeated too regularly. I'm going to pass on dinner as I feel full.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Day 15 : TGIF

Well, in bed Thursday night by 21.00, surfaced briefly at 01.00 before being thoroughly shaken at 04.30 by one of the biggest thunderstorms I've ever heard. I was tempted to get out of bed to watch the lightning but felt too tired. When you were a child, did you ever work out how far away the storm was by counting the seconds between the lightning flash and the thunder clap? Well, this one was over my head, NO space between the lightning and thunder and some of the thunder claps seemed like they were rolling on forever.

I managed to get back to sleep but didn't want to get up when the alarm went off at 06.30. So much for a restful night's sleep - I felt exhausted. But, I hadn't taken my rest day!! So no Workout necessary!! I stayed in bed for an extra 30 minutes. I still had to skip, though, and dragged myself out of bed and into the garden. 1,006 skips in about 25 minutes - not up to yesterday's high(er) standard.

It was wet after the storm and one corner of my eye was on mosquito watch. Nate mentioned heightened reaction time. I can't say I feel the same but at one point, with a mozzie closing in, I dropped the rope, bent down and clapped my hands (in a very smooth movement, if I say so myself) and there was one less mosquito in the world.

Since I have nothing to report on the Workout as it is my "rest day" and as Patrick has been encouraging us to focus on our role models, I though I would share with you the ground rules under which the Roadrunner cartoons are supposed to operate.

Copied from Wikipedia :
1. Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going "beep, beep".
2. No outside force can harm the Coyote -- only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products.
3. The Coyote could stop anytime -- IF he was not a fanatic. (Repeat: "A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim." - George Santayana).
4. No dialogue ever, except "beep, beep".
5. Road Runner must stay on the road -- for no other reason than that he's a roadrunner.
6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters -- the southwest American desert.
7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy.
9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
10. The audience's sympathy must remain with the Coyote.

Actually, some of these rules were broken in practice - there is one cartoon with Bugs Bunny where Wile actually talks, for example. So I have broken them too by acquiring my equipment from other sources than Acme.

Please note that Rule 10 is especially important.

Beep, beep.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Day 14 : Progress?

Patrick said "In just one more week the results will start to show." Maybe sooner than that. Maybe Emiko's feeling marvellous helped as well but after a disturbed night's sleep (there is no point in going to bed early (I finally made it by 22.40) if you don't sleep and I was still awake at 23.50 (I checked), awake again at 02.25 and I woke up for good before the alarm set for 06.30), I did well.

A factor could have been thinking about my 08.30 appointment, for which I had to rush but in the end was only a few minutes late, but I stepped out onto the patio (wet again after more overnight rain) and for the FIRST TIME since starting PCP, I actually managed to do a skip at the first attempt. Not only that, the first sequence didn't get tripped out until I had done 51, and that is a long sequence for me. I decided to try to turn the rope faster and managed to get through the skipping (1.006 today) in twenty minutes, easily the fastest yet. Amy managed her skips well yesterday too so maybe we are getting somewhere. My left calf and knee are still stiff but my legs are feeling a bit more balanced.

Workout 2 today. I should probably lunge a bit deeper, I'll work on that (I wobble a bit) but most of the other exercises went well. I did consult Patrick on the leg-ups and he suggested using a cushion to support my back. In fact. the right location for the cushion was under my bottom and while I won't claim I got it completely right, I did manage 4x10.

On food, because I was late last night, my dinner and bed-time snack ran into each other - yes, it was like having a real dessert. The fruit from dinner (half a Japanese pear) got mixed in as well and as I didn't have any boiled eggs ready, I put a raw egg white in the mix and noticed it less than the boiled one!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Day 13 : Doesn't Time Fly

So here I am at my newly-set bedtime, 22.00, hunched over my computer, eating chicken and cabbage, with four pieces of fish on the stove. OK, reset - must be in bed by 22.30.

The massage did help to loosen my legs up but after 1,005 skips, they tightened up again. I'm definitely going to go back and include my back in the massage next time. The clouds had lifted when I got up and no rain. By the time I left for work the sun was shining.

Nothing new from the exercises so given the clicking clock, I'll pass on that one.

Tomorrow I have a meeting at 8.30am (in Yokohama so I don't have to get to Tokyo, at least) and then I'm out in the evening so tomorrow could be a real test of my time-keeping.

One good thought, I haven't taken my "rest" day yet.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Day 12 : Perchance to Dream

In his email today, Patrick told us to get enough sleep "If you don't rest enough, you will actually become weaker, as your torn, messed up muscles try to do the work intended for healthy tissue. You will look stringy and thin. So, no late nights. This is important."

Of all my procrastinating behavior, going to bed is the worst - I bumble around finding things to do until amazingly it is well past a sensible bedtime. Mind you, my lifestyle doesn't help. I have an hour or more's commute each way every day and frequently have activities, both social and work related, in the evening. 21.00 seems early to be saying "Time to go home" but if I'm out in Tokyo, that probably means I don't get home in Yokohama until 22.30. For now, PCP has made this a touch worse - I've been getting up earlier to do the exercises and not necessarily getting to bed any earlier. Even last night when I made an effort to be home early (I left the office at 6.30pm which counts as early), I made it by just after 19.30, did my exercises and had promised myself an early night. I then spent some time on the computer (including the blog) and then an hour or more in the kitchen so somehow didn't get to bed until 23.15. I'm going to have to learn to multitask - steaming vegetables and doing my laundry while I skip.

Mind you, I did sleep like the proverbial log last night.

And I'm feeling there may be a glimmer of progress. Despite all my grumbles, I did manage two sets of exercise within the space of ten hours.

This morning was OK - I was expecting my muscles to complain more. The clouds were still there but no rain and I managed 1,007. I envy Nate's ability to ace the skips and take picture of bees at the same time. My insect onlookers seem to have been washed away. The LCD screen on my skipping rope has made a recovery though and amazingly this morning was correct within a jump or two. I'm taking this as a sign that I'm getting more consistent. Amy's tips of skipping style are helpful, although believe me, I was already trying to jump as low as possible. This accounts for my No1 cause of breaking a skipping sequence. No lift-off or jumping to soon resulting in nowhere for the rope to go - jumping too soon usually means that I step on the rope which is why it gets dropped and broken. The No2 cause of breaking a sequence is getting the arc of the rope wrong and hitting myself in the back of the head. And the No3 cause, kind-of frustrating, is when I'm in a groove and start noticing other things - a beetle crawling across the patio or a bus passing the garden and my rhythm starts to get a bit ragged, resulting in No1 or No2.

But I'm getting there.

Then the exercises. I was on Workout 2 today. For the lunges, I alternated the legs (why didn't I think of that before); I discovered the door anchor works best with my front door and once again, only hit "trouble" with the leg-ups. I only managed 2x10 again. Because of my arthritis, I actually can't lie flat of the floor and I think this is causing the problem as my back keeps trying to "help out", usually with painful consequences. I will consult the Boss offline on this one and see if there is a work-around.

So what kept me so long in the kitchen last night? Steaming pumpkin, potato, celery and spinach. The spinach shrunk down to virtually nothing. And "dry" sauteing (i.e. using the frying pan but relying on the oils to come out of the food) some mackerel and salmon.

I mentioned getting my acidity down and Amy asked what foods are good for making the body more alkaline. Nate mentioned one website and I quite like this one

On my way home tonight I finally succumbed to the Thai massage place at the bottom of the hill. It has been tempting me for a while. Legs only this time. I'll report tomorrow on whether it helped. Feels good at the moment and I wish I had some on my back ..... next time!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Day 11 : A Drowned Rat

As I was trudging up the hill with a couple of bags of fish and vegetables at 7.30pm, I suddenly realised that it had stopped raining. This must be a sign of encouragement from the Universe, I thought, so I quickly got outside with my skipping rope. Hah! I reached about 300 when there must have been a change of shift on high because back came the rain and by the time I had finished, I was soaked. For the record, 1013. I managed the other exercises in my own inimitable style with only the occasionial epithet. I like Workout 1 better than Workout 2. And amazingly, I'm halfway through Week 2.

I'm doing OK on the meal front. I bought a large size lunch box and my brown rice fills half of it and the meat/fish and vegetables fill the other half - just the right size. I think I should be drinking more (water, of course). I'm sure it is not, in fact, but the diet seems very "dry" - the lack of sauces, I guess.

Actually, I'm going to break ranks just a touch. Charlie checked my acidity when I saw him on Sunday and I'm way too acid. So I'll be trying to pick alkaline vegetables but also be driinking a diluted mixture of apple vinegar and honey. Someone (Adrian?) asked about honey earlier - I'm taking it for medicinal purposes.

Just a short post today. I've got some vegetables to steam .............................

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Day 10 : Just in Time

I was going to take today as my day of rest (seemed appropriate on a Sunday) so I did my skips (1,007, I'm still worried about my left leg, the pain in the calf has spread to the knee as well) before heading off for a busy day to Charlie, who I mentioned before, so he could do some bodywork on my slightly twisted frame; then a volunteer project I work on twice a month and finally drop by to see my family, which I usually do on a Sunday evening.

But the rain that was threatening during my skipping set in for the day about lunchtime and so I thought that I wasn't sure how I would organise things during the week since the rain is forecast for a few days. A club I an a member of has a gym where I think I can do my skipping but it will mean a change of routine. So I did the exercises when I got home at 22.30.

Lunge OK 4x10 (I wasn't sure if we were supposed to switch legs so I did 2x10 for each leg)
Incline Pull-Up OK 4x8
Chest Fly OK 4x12 (The anchor I bought on Friday turned out to be useless with the doorframes I have but I was able to find a new sets of tubes, including an anchor, on Saturday).
Triceps Dip OK 3x8
Forward Shoulder Fly OK 4x12
Leg-Up Arrrrgh. After 5, an enforced rest (my abs are not strong enough to lift my legs without twisting my back) then I did 2x10 before deciding that I need to think about this one a bit more.

After all that, dinner and now, with midnight approaching, I need to sleep .........................

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Day 9 : Looking on the Bright Side

OK, I admit it, I've been a tad too focused on the aches and pains.

So, the Day 9 blog will concentrate on the bright side.

Friday was actually one of those "busy" days that Patrick mentioned - doubled booked in the evening. Went to a fun show called "Drumstruck" ("the show where the audience plays the drums") but then had to dash off to a client reception (glad I did, I may have lined up some new business), ending up a little light-headed after four oolong teas on an empty stomach. It was 12.30 by the time I got home and was tempted to go straight to sleep but thought that if I did the exercise in the morning without having eaten, it could be a bit dangerous. So I checked my diet sheet, weighed out 150g of lettuce and tomatoes and found I only had 100g of fish so left it at that. Then 100g of dried fruit. I'm not sure if dried fruit counts in the same way as fresh fruit. My new electronic scale is great.

This is what is on my plate going forward :

Breakfast 150g carb 100g veg 1 egg 150ml yogurt
Morning tea 100g fruit
Lunch 200g carb 150g meat 150g veg
Afternoon tea 100g fruit
Dinner 150g meat 150g veg 100g fruit
Night tea 1 egg white 1 banana 200ml milk

My choice of carb is brown rice and my meat will either be chicken or fish.

I didn't go to bed until after 1.30 so I turned my alarm off. Woke at 7.30 but thought that I needed more sleep so stayed in bed until 10 but got up feeling groggy - must have been the oolong tea (joke, or maybe not).

I procrastinated for an hour before going into the garden. It had rained overnight, was cloudy and COOL. It took some time to get going but I managed to get to 1,021 skips. Not without a major casualty though - I dropped the skipping rope a few times and so much for cool Japanese technology, my skip counter doesn't work anymore.

Then on to the exercises, still a touch in slow motion.

Squats 3x15 OK

Incline Pull-Ups 4x5 : I used the coffee table to start with.

Push-Ups 4x10 (from my knees) : I like the push-up grips. They helped to hold me straighter.

Curl : 3x10 OK

Side Shoulder Fly : 4x12 OK

Sit-ups : 4x15 - Patrick's explanation helped.

So, breakfast not until 12.30pm : 150g of brown rice is a bowlful, and three small tomatoes weighed 100g. I thought I had one egg left but apparently not, so I skipped that. The yogurt was a bonus and I ended up feeling full.

Now a long soak in the bath before heading off to the supermarket to stock up on all the good stuff ...................

Friday, 22 August 2008

Day 8 : Diet Half a Day Late

By yesterday evening, I was decidedly grumpy. A friend had delivered some serious personal news in the afternoon (not about me but worrying nevertheless), an important meeting was cancelled due to a typhoon in HK (the guy I was supposed to meet had to dash to the airport because Cathay Pacific is cancelling the flights to HK today); I was caught out in a thunderstorm and got back to my office to find I'd been locked out (my keys were in my bag inside the office - if you are reading, thank you Mariko and Grace for coming back) and the sports equipment shop I tried first didn't even know what a door anchor is so I was dodging the rain at 8pm trying to find one. And the trouble with using the gel was that when it wore off, my back complained and was feeling quite sore by the time I got home.

Of course, the other factor was I was hungry!! So it was me AND my stomach grumbling.

I guess the evening got better from there - I finally got the anchor and the push-up stands, and an electric kitchen scale, a small blender (that I maybe didn't need) and some new bathroom scales (that I almost certainly didn't need but the old ones have a crack it them).

So all set. But unlike Amy, I don't plan ahead so I didn't try to anticipate what the diet would be - so I'm only starting this evening once I get home and have time to think.

I had already decided that I wouldn't have time to get the new exercises organised either so I thought I'd be sneaky and do the week one set before turning on my computer so I would be able to say that I didn't know. Patrick thought of that, of course, by waiting until tomorrow with the new instructions.

So up at 6.30 (sounding suspiciously like a routine) and out into the garden. Nate, thanks for organising the weather. After saying how much I envied your temperature, here it was, low seventies fahrenheit, blue skies and fluffy clouds (although I guess that last night's thunderstorm might have had something to do with it too). I decided that masking the pain was not actually in my best interest so the deep heat stayed in the cupboard. But I had a really good skipping session anyway - one burst of 137 skips, the best yet, and a total of 1,016 (I continued after 1,000 until I missed one - there is method to my madness, it means that tomorrow I can do LESS than today and still be on track!). My left calf is still stiff and that bothers me.

5x20 squats as before and then 4x5 push-ups (from the knees as before and starting from the "up" position) - I only got the pain in the fourth set once I stopped being able to hold my back straight. Then the crunches. 4x15. The same limited movement and today I felt more of what I began to feel yesterday, some strains in my neck as I tried to roll forward. Hmm, new aches!!

So, for the diet, sorry guys, it only starts when I get home tonight. Breakfast was pretty light (a couple of kiwis topped with some plain yogurt) and the same lunch box (it is actually quite healthy from an organic restaurant with brown rice and lots of vegetables, a small piece of fish but some Thai green curry that probably has too much oil in it).

I will be interested to see the volume that the diet translates into.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Day 7 : The Meaning of Words

In some our comments yesterday, we were kicking around the word "routine". It got me thinking about how we use words, or misuse them. My mentor/friend Charlie (have a look at often picks me up on the way I use some words. He'll say "did you mean that?" and I will say" well, no, but you know what I mean!" and he'll say "no, why should I know!".

So I was thinking, what does "routine" mean? For some it can mean a fixed set of boring, mundane tasks that have to be done; for others it can mean a pattern, like a dance routine, still a fixed way of doing things but with useful or enjoyable overtones.

For me, I have a habit of procrastination and so some sense of routine is good. In the last week, I have been going to bed and waking up earlier, sleeping deeper (I think - I've certainly been waking up in the middle of the night less; on the other hand, I have been feeling really tired) and putting some discipline in my eating habits, not to mention the PCP exercises. And this all has to be "good". I certainly don't want PCP to become mundane but inevitably, I think I will have to have to have a routine.

So this morning, I was up at 6.30, determined to get the whole programme done. Today's secret weapon - some deep heat gel I had in the bathroom cabinet. I rubbed some in my back so by the time I was half way through the skipping, my back was glowing. Not related, but the skipping went really well. A couple of sequences of 70-80 skips and I did 900 in 22 minutes, more skips in less time! And yes, if you've noticed the pattern, I will be up to 1,000 tomorrow.

Then 5x20 squats, not so deep, but having an effect, before the main event. And lo and behold, the warm back did the trick - hardly a twinge. That meant I was more conscious of how weak my upper arms are. Was it Amy who asked whether the push-ups can start "up", lowering first before lifting again? This must the easier option because the lift does not come from a motionless position. So, of course, that's the way I went (still from the knee) but 4x5, only beginning to struggle in the last set. Finally the crunches. 4x15 and feeling it. I only curl until the part of my spine that doesn't bend (yet) (psoriatic arthritis typically affects the extremities, fingers and toes, and both end of the spine).

The downside of the gel - getting in a warm bath after the exercise. The warm water made the gel feel even warmer!!

A very light breakfast (I had some soup I had left in the fridge - shouldn't have had something hot, it started me sweating again) and no mid-morning snack so I'm afraid my attention was focused on lunch instead of what I should have been doing this morning. The same lunch box but I finished it and still felt hungry!

After one week, so far so good, with a few personal idiosyncrasies! Oh, and weight wise? Last Friday I weighed in at 92.0kg. This morning, it was 90.5kg.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Day 6 : Change of Routine

Woke up unprompted at 6.15. I still felt tired but I had slept right through and took it as a sign so I got up.

The humidity was back up, shame the cooler weather couldn't last and I managed 800 skips in 25 minutes. My legs didn't want to cooperate but once I got going it was OK. I noticed a strange thing - I skip backwards i.e. while I'm skipping I slowly edge backwards and eventually worry I'm going to fall off the patio. So I stopped every now and then to reposition myself!

Then I did my squats which were evidently successful because the front of my thighs (does that part have a name?) have been complaining, ever so gently, all day.

At that point, I decided that I would leave the rest until this evening. This was good because it meant that my arms did not have to have the argument about whether they can do push-ups or not, until this evening at least. And it got me out of the front door and into the office early (once I got there, I wondered why, of course). But I've fretted all day about getting home to get things finished and so on balance, I would rather have got things done this morning. If I'm going to split the exercises, I think it would be better to do everything except the skipping in the morning and leave the skipping until I get home.

It also meant that I couldn't write my blog at lunchtime which is what I have been doing.

When I got home, I realised how little I had left to do - 4x5 push-ups (from the knee again, strong start, difficult fourth set) and 4x15 crunches (more difficult with a stiff back after a day's strenuous whatever it is I do).

So, while I was eating my lunch box, I did some internet research on qi gong and found a residential healing retreat in China but it lasts 25 days and I don't think I can spare the time this year.

Eating - more of the same but I'm stretching out my meal this evening to feel fuller as soon as possible and so eat less.. Pretty healthy too - raw fish and rice, and I've substituted balsamic vinegar for the soy sauce so the salt content should be less.

I haven't done my shopping yet so I will have to try to buy a couple of things tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Day 5 : Reflections

I've been thinking about a couple of comments from team members and the words of coaches wherever "listen to your body".

Amy said "any new workout routine results in some DOMS if it works different muscles or works them in a different way". Not only does that account for the slight (sic) discomfort I'm having going up and down slopes and staircases, but it also accounts for at least part of the trouble I'm having with push-ups. The skipping is, at least to a minor degree, exercising the muscles in my upper arms. Just enough that if I do the push-ups after the skipping, those muscles start complaining straight away - "hey, we've already been working so give us a break". The other way round, doing the push-ups first, gets the heavy duty work for them out of the way and then they don't care too much about the skipping action

And Nate said "So I realized today this whole eating half thing can be very deceiving". Me too. It is really difficult to order "half" and the ghost of my mother doesn't like "waste" (sorry Patrick). I really am ordering less when I eat out, but in reality, I think at meals out I'm only at about 2/3 . But I'm probably getting down to half overall by cutting out ALL the on-the-go snacking I was doing - grabbing something on the way to the office (even if I had eaten breakfast) and/or something mid-morning, and almost always something late afternoon and/or on the way home (even if I was eating later) . In fact, almost impossible to judge. But if I am right, this is a conditioning exercise to get us to eat less and I'm certainly doing that - leaving all meals with the feeling that I could eat more, getting hunger pangs when I had previously made sure they wouldn't come by eating too much, and trying hard to chew smaller mouthfuls for longer.

The heat is back today. I surfaced at 6.30 and managed 4x5 push-ups (still from the knee). In the fourth set, I got some twinges in my back and, "listening to my body", think I know what is happening. At the begining, my arms can cope but as they begin to get a bit tired, my brain starts to try and help by getting the rest of my body to make it as easy as possible. Unfortunately, this involves twisting my back a bit, trying to help the upward movement, and my back doesn't like that. The answer, of course, is to get my arms stronger and stop twisting my back. Easier said than done, at the moment, but let's see how things go.

Then out into the garden for the skipping. Two days running, I have had an audience of a small blue butterfly and what looks like a hornet. There are also the mosquitos who are less welcome and who can disrupt my rhythm if I catch sight of one out of the corner of my eye. Towards the end of the skipping, I put in a couple of squat sets when I came to a halt. This also emphasised the different uses the muscles are being put to because I could feel the difference. I ended up with 700 skips today.

Then inside to complete 5x20 not yet low enough squats and 4x15 of my rather limited crunches.

Only then did I log on (maybe, leaving the computer until later is a good thing). The good news from Patrick "keep it light, keep it consistent, and you'll see results" (light being a relative term, of course) but rather more ominously, given the current state of my muscles "strength training".
Hmm, can't wait until Friday lol

All that and out of the house 20 minutes earlier than yesterday so I was in the office more or less on time.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Day 4 : The Start of a new Working Week

The feedback has been great so thanks to Nate for pointing out that I could fool my back by doing the push-ups first and to Amy for explaining about DOMS (I have never taken an exercise physiology class so this was all news to me - I just knew that lactic acid had something to do with the stiffness).

The alarm went off as set at 6.15 so I immediately reset it for 6.30 (I'm not an early morning person although this may be something PCP2 will change). I eased my way downstairs (this was before I knew about DOMS) and checked for Patrick's email (you will note clear avoidance behavior creeping in) before opting for Nate's advice.

And he was right! Caught my back completely unawares and, admittedly doing the push-ups from my knees only, managed the first set so easily, I went up to eight. Bad move because that meant that I felt honour bound to do eight in each set. On the third set I realised that I had already done enough push-ups for 4x5 and I really struggled through the fourth set with my back beginning to work out it had been fooled. This left me feeling a bit dizzy (may be back to sets of five tomorrow).

Then onto the skipping. The weather was still cool this morning after yesterday's rain but I had a bit of a reaction to doing the push-ups, feeling a bit shaky and I had a lot of trouble getting a rhythm started. But I managed to get a few good sequences together and decided to finish off just above yesterday's total, today I did 660.

Both the squats and crunches I do only to the extent I am able - that hopefully will be more and more with time. I managed 5x20 squats and 4x15 crunches. The crunches still don't curl too far but after all was done, I lay on the floor feeling wrecked.

All this took time. After a soak in the bath and a bowl of cereal, I headed off for the office far too late. I think I said that I live on the top of a hill and the DOMS aches were certainly felt on the way down the slope. Fortunately, the trains remained delightfully uncrowded with lots of people still on holiday (unless it was because I was so late).

Eating will be easier to control during the week. It was tough prowling round the house yesterday and not continuously nibbling. Today I had the smaller size bowl of cereal (brown rice flakes with some dried cranberries and soy milk); a banana mid-morning, a lunch box from an organic restaurant 30 seconds from the office (quantity bigger than I expected but still much less than I would normally eat); another banana for mid-afternoon (I was hungry by 2.30); and salad in the fridge for this evening.

I solved the blister mystery - I bought the expensive the skipping rope that is supposed to count how many skips I do (it isn't very accurate, I only have to shake it for it to count one so I'm counting in my head anyway). The handle has some battery instructions on it in raised print and it was these that were rubbing a hole in my finger - now healing well.

I gave my office team the blog address so I now have an audience inside the company.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Day 3 : Skipping in the Rain

I intended to get up early, unheard of on a Sunday morning, to do the exercises before it got too hot again but I managed not to press the "on" button on the alarm function on my radio and so I slept through until 8.30. But something seemed wrong - it was not chokingly hot (I don't like to sleep with the aircon on so my room is often a bit warm by morning in the summer) and it didn't seem too early because it wasn't very light.

The answer - heavy overcast skies and drizzle. A blessing because the temperature must be at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than yesterday but, oops, I have to skip outside (no way I can skip inside with my height) - will the tiled part of my garden be slippery?

Fortunately not slippery so I was able to go outside, do the skipping and stay reasonably cool. I ended up just as wet as yesterday but with rain causing most of it.

So I immediately thought of this although I certainly wasn't raining this hard - Gene Kelly must have been in pretty good condition himself.

I think the most skips I managed in one burst was 70 and I decided that 650 was the number for today. After yesterday, my right leg was complaining about the extra work it had to do, and the left calf is still stiff, but they just about balanced each other out so most of the time I was skipping fairly evenly. Progress!!

Then the squats. No problem because I really am not squatting down too far. Just to the level I feel comfortable with. But as I get used to it, I should be able to start going lower. (5x20)

Hmm, the push-ups. I did try again last night and managed one set of five (from the knee, not full length) before the particular point in my back that is giving me the trouble decided that enough was enough. So, was I going to do it this morning?

Surprisingly yes! The key is getting my back in the right position to avoid causing too much stress. So I start by lowering myself down rather than starting by lying flat, and if I can do that and avoid the twinge going down, I can manage to do a set, still only from the knee, not the feet, but a better try than yesterday. And I managed the required four sets. (4x5)

The crunch doesn't have me rolling too far forward either - basically until the same point in my back complains. But I can feel it in my abdomen so it is having some effect. (4x15)

I've just discovered the spell checker on Blogger so I may have fewer typos in future!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Day 2 : Mad Dogs and Englishmen

For those who have never heard it, this is the name of a song by Noel Coward "Only mad dogs and Englishment go out in the midday sun"(not my generation, but much later the name of an album by Joe Cocker - that's my generation).

This can also be said for going into my garden on a Japanese August morning (yes, I'm a Brit) - I had a couple of hours extra sleep and didn't get outside for my skipping until 9.10. Boy, was it already hot by that time. The skips took half an hour to do 600, with rest and drink breaks squeezed in. My left calf definitely didn't want to cooperate so they were more like 600 hops on my right leg. My style is improving, though. And while I'm being musical, to quote John Lennon, "I'm got a blister on my finger" (at the end of "Helter Skelter" on the "White Album" (yes, I know I'm dating myself further)) - the skipping rope was rubbing away without me noticing it yesterday.

This is what I looked like after the 600 skips!!

The squats were not too much of a problem but I'm not squatting low enough yet.

But the push-ups absolutely defeated me. I have always had trouble with these and I really don't have the upper body strength to lift my own weight. Compounded by the regular aches and pains plus some extra stiffness from yesterday, I just lay on my front in frustration and couldn't move (up). I'll try again this evening.

And the crunches come in the same category as the squats. As long as I don't have to curl too far (and I guess I'm the judge of that), I can manage them (I can certainly feel the effect).

I've had a lot of cold tea so far today but don't even feel like eating after the exercise.

Thanks for all the support so far. I think I'm going to need it!!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Day 1 Continued : Home Late

I got home rather late, about 11.15, with most of the exercises still to go. Argggh!

The final score :

Skips : the extra 450 I needed to reach 500
Squats : the remaining 4x20
Push-ups : ouch! after the skipping, my back doesn't want me to.
Trunk Curls : the remaining three sets and to make up for not doing the push-ups, and a rather restricted curl, 15 per set
Push-ups : try again but no, I really can't do this on a hard wood floor. Then inspiration, I have a tatami room (straw thatched matting) - yes, some success : I manage the remaining 3x5 but only pushing up from the knees. I'll have to work up to proper push-ups.

But I've managed it by 11.53 so I'll count that as a success.

So what's the damage - some not-nice twinges in my back, an aching left calf from the skipping (my back is not straight, that probably accounts for the back pain, and I may be favouring one side causing the ache in my calf), and a sore right knee.

But what really matters is how I will feel in the morning. I'll let you know!! I'm off to the bath .........

Oh, I forgot. Eating half is the least of my worries - a small bowl of cereal instead of a large one for breakfast; a lunch box, definitely smaller than my usual set meal in a restaurant for lunch and another set meal as part of my business meeting this evening but it was labelled light and low calorie (grilled fish, boiled vegetables and "red" rice with miso soup and Japanese pickles) and I finished each meal still feeling hungry. AND zero snacks between meals and no drinks other than water and cold tea. In the summer heat, drinking is important. I weighed in at 92 kg this morning, let's see how that comes off.

Day One

Just for the record, made it to my computer a minute after the email arrived.

First reaction, for me, the ease of the instructions is the wrong way round.

Cutting back on food is a mindgame and I know I can do that. Mind you, I never measure my food so eating half is a judgement. And Patrick is right, I have it in-grained that leaving food on my plate is a waste (and I know my mother is watching) so I will just have to eat less.

But the exercises are more of a challenge. Easy? Ha!! Fine for you folks that can do these things. My back is a bit easier than yesterday so the skipping looks to be "on", squats, OK because I can hold onto something. Push-ups? These will have me struggling - I didn't have the stamina to do these properly in school, let alone 40 years on. And then we get to the crunch (sorry, I couldn't resist that one) , I'll need to anchor my feet and then see how far my stiff and painful back will let me go.

Well, that's it for now, I'll report back later to tell you whether my fears are justified. Wish me luck!!
(one hour later)
OK, instant feedback time :

The key word is stamina

Skipping is possible but I managed fifty (in about five or six tries) and I'm winded. The only place to do it is the garden and the mosquitos were finding it very interesting. I can do something about them, though.

Squats - OK as long as we are not too serious about keeping my heels on the ground. This is a trade-off : heels on the ground, not much squat; heel off the ground, a lot more squat.

Push-ups - surprisingly possible to a point, the point being at what stage my chest leaves the floor. half way through, i.e. a sort of rolling push-up, not too bad; if the chest has to leave the floor immediately, I don't have enough strength in my arms (yes, I know, that's why I'm doing this so you don't kick sand in my face).

Crunch - hmm, I don't roll up very far but if that is not too important to start, then something was achieved.

Mind you, all this was on the basis of only fifty skips and one set each. And the sweat is pouring off me. I'll be catching up with the rest this evening!!!

Patrick - I'll be in touch!!!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Why Me and Wile E

Why Me?

A couple of quotes from Patrick's Blog Day 125

"I have spent my whole life thinking of myself as a "young person" but as 30 approaches I am forced more and more to the realization that yes, age is happening to me too. I'm not saying, oh gosh, I'm 29, I'm so old, poor me. It just hits me in the gut sometimes that I too will lose my youth, get aged, and die, and that's a new feeling that I'm still working with."

and "Anyone can do this. Anyone. You can do this".

Well, substitute "60" for "30" and "58" for "29" and you've got me. Mentally I don't feel nearly 60 but I've been suffering from psoriatic arthritis for about fifteen years (the psoriasis for about 24) and while I was never an exercise freak, the only exercise I take now is walking so if I don't do something soon, it really might be too late.

Patrick has been my yoga teacher for nearly three years but I dropped out about six months ago because my back was giving me a lot of pain and I decided that trying to achieve mental and physical "balance" through a pain barrier was kind-of counter productive.

So I'm here to test out that second statement "Anyone can do this. Anyone. You can do this". And to provide my team mates with the added incentive that "if that old guy is still doing it, then so can I".

I have one slight advantage over them - I've watch Patrick succeed in person and I know that he is literally going to be keeping an eye on me. The disadvantage I have is that I've still got that pain barrier to worry about until my body catches up with my brain on this thing and stops complaining.

Talking about the pain barrier, I got up this morning and I couldn't even jump up and down without shooting pains through the small of my back. Not good, I thought. But by lunchtime it had eased off and I could bounce around a bit so I might have to be selective about what time of day I do my exercises.

Wile E

I know, everyone else has picked a really fit-looking real live role model and Patrick winced at my choice but my hero is Wlie E. Coyote - I've always like him and I have T-shirts to prove it.

OK, so he's not real, just a cartoon character but he epitomises the concept of "never give up". Of course, he never succeeds, but if he did, that would end the story and we all know that life is a journey and the enjoyment is what happens on the way, not reaching the final destination (which I don't want to think about yet, anyway). And he is in the best condition nature (or the Warner Bros cartoonists) will allow - lean and extremely fit, just not quite quick enough to catch the Roadrunner. And he always has a new plan.

Who wants to be quick enough to catch the Road Runner anyway?

The only alternative would have been Superman (the new-fangled light bulb in my bathroom looks like it has the Superman symbol inside it so I figured that the universe was trying to send me a message) but who wants to wear tights and a cape!!

So, counting down in hours now!!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Counting Down

Well, I'm counting down. Clearing my fridge of things that might tempt me next week ... so as a result I'm eating even more than I usually do. But, hey, it doesn't matter because I'll be heading towards peak condition from Friday.