Monday, 25 August 2014

Insanity: Reflections on Month 2

It's Bank Holiday Monday night. I've just got back from a perfect weekend in Whitby where the only exercise I did was walking and I ate everything from fish and chips to pizza to fudge and didn't track my calories once. I haven't done Insanity for three days.
And I've got my foot elevated on a chair with frozen peas resting on top.
Doing Insanity without shoes isn't advisable, and I knew my foot was starting to hurt from being on my tiptoes for everything from planks to push ups to various jumps and squats. I attempted the workouts with shoes one day last week and had to abandon them after a few minutes as they were getting stuck in the thick carpet. Big mistake.
I felt my foot go on Friday morning but struggled through. On Saturday, after a day of walking around York, it was worse. By Sunday my whole foot hurt, even more so because I had started to walk funny to compensate for the pain. And also because we did the longest 6 mile walk of my life, entirely up and downhill (I'm convinced it was more like 9 miles). 
And me being me, my first thought was "I can't have hurt my foot! I only have a week of Insanity left! I can't give up now and I've just signed up for a 10K in 4 weeks!"
Month two of Insanity is something else.
Don't get me wrong, month one is hard. But it's a walk in the part compared to month two.
Squat pushups.
Power pushups.
Full body drills.
Side burpees.
I even struggled through the warm up for the first few days.
It's tough.
I can see how many people told me they gave up after a few days of month two. Add to that the fact that working 8-5pm has meant that I've had to start working out after work instead of my usual early morning.
This also means I've had to move days around a lot more to accommodate after-work plans, and summon the motivation to get straight home from work, straight into my workout gear and straight into my workout.
Sitting down is deadly.
But I do like finishing my workout and diving straight into the shower and then eating dinner in my pajamas. I feel I can push harder when I don't have anything to do afterwards. It also means I have more time, not that mad rush of a morning workout.
And I can't be sure, but I do sometimes think I have more energy in the afternoon than in the morning.
The extra circuit and extra 20 minutes don't bother me. An hour of month two workouts doesn't seem much more than 40 minutes of month one.
And the circuits seem to go:  Circuit One- what am I doing again? Circuit Two- Oh right, got it. Circuit Three- Ah it's my last round!
I've also been modifying some moves. Power pushups are impossible for me, so I just do burpees or press ups, and Level 3 drills are a joke, so I do Level 2 drills instead.
I've got a week to go and I am just about starting to get bored, but I know I only have a week left and I can see the progression of my strength and how much harder I can push each workout. While in month one my calorie burn varied wildly, I've managed to get it more consistent in month two, and I can easily push myself to burn over 10 calories a minute.
Except in my most hated workout, Max Recovery.
I've been a little more flexible this month, but that's mostly necessity rather than choice.
Last week I ended up moving my rest day, which meant I ended up with 9 days of workouts in a row (no wonder I hurt my foot!) and was pretty fatigued by day 7. Muscle fatigue and tiredness has been a bit more of an issue this month. I've been achey and I've been sore, but I've also been glad of this because it feels like it's working.
I moved the fit test last week and had a brutal double-workout day, but I unexpectedly aced the fit test, even if my workout straight after suffered.
I've missed two workouts and a rest day this weekend through being away, so tomorrow I'll be completing those workouts, included my missed rest day. If I stick to the plan and my foot doesn't give me too much trouble (I'm going to modify anything that hurts me), I should be finishing off the programme next Wednesday, after nine brilliant weeks.
And what's next? Well another reason why I was worried about my foot was that I've signed up for this year's Stockport 10K which is only 4 weeks away. I knew I didn't have time to lose any Insanity time because I need time to train for the race, especially after not running properly since June. 
My foot has had more of  rest today, thanks to a three and a half hour car journey, and plenty of elevation and ice, so fingers crossed I can keep going tomorrow and finish next week.
I've loved Insanity and I'm going to miss it, but I've been looking through my Focus T25 DVDs and I'm planning to integrate them into my running routine and it looks intense! I can't wait!
Getting back into running is going to be a challenge but I have to remind myself how much I love to run and that the whole point of Insanity was to make me a faster runner.
I hope it has!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

What's new?

When I first started blogging, I blogged whenever the mood took me. Tiny little posts I used to call "musings". Just a little chat, a little catch up. Over time, I got a little more self conscious. I only posted when I had perfectly constructed photos, taken with my DSLR. The photography became the content, not the commentary. But I hate that. I should be able to blog whenever I want to blog, whether I have a pretty outfit to accompany it or not. 
At the moment, I'm not feeling super inspired fashion-wise. And even if I did, starting work at 8 and getting home at 5.30pm to plunge straight into Insanity doesn't give me much time to photograph outfits. I'm bored yet I don't want to buy more clothes cause I know I don't really need anything. And I've been kind of okay with being uninspired.

But I want to talk to you, I want to catch up with you. I have so much going on right now that I want to share with you! So I thought I'd write a little life update post. With a few Instagram snaps for fun.

What's new work
Friday Cake-day
I touched on this briefly in my last post, but two and a half weeks in and I can honestly say I love my job! Being made redundant was one of the most awful things that has ever happened to me (and I am aware of how fortunate I am to be able to say that) but I try to believe that everything happens for a reason. And I'm starting to believe that is true. I don't know if I really explained what I do, but I work at a content marketing agency (Axonn Media) in their marketing team as a marketing content assistant. Basically my job is to co-ordinate all of the content for Axonn's website and marketing, so I write everything from blog posts to case studies to research papers. It's challenging and fun and incredibly interesting. If you're interested in content marketing, you can read my first blog post- What I've Learned About Content Marketing in Three Days and follow my work-related Twitter handle, @cecrowley30 
On Fridays we have cake at 10am (we have a cake rota so a different person bakes every week) and today we went out for a delicious lunch. Plus it's right in the city centre, which leads me to my next point...

What's new... with my home life
One of the reasons I was extra excited to get a job in the city centre was because... Phil and I are moving in together! Not until next year (our plan is January) but we've been keeping our eyes out for flats in the city centre and we've seen a few that we like. Phil currently lives in the Northern Quarter but he's moving back home at the end of the month (his parents only live a few miles from me so it's not too bad!) so we're looking mainly at the Northern Quarter for somewhere together. I am so excited! I stay at Phil's quite a bit but I'm excited for us to have our own space together. I know it's going to be incredibly stressful over the next few months but I know it's going to be worth it. I'm excited for this new chapter of my life.

What's new... with exercise
7 weeks of Insanity down! Only 2 weeks to go! I've got a post planned this week on my second month of Insanity, but honestly, I love it. I really love it. Nothing gets me pumped and exhausted like it. I've got T25 coming in the next few days (I got a bargain from Gumtree!) but I am going to be starting running again in September. I'm hoping to do the Stockport 10K (which you might remember was my first ever 10K last year)on September 21st if my fitness is up to it, and then I am going to start half marathon training at some point with a plan to do my second half marathon next year (I have my eye on the Liverpool Rock n Roll Half Marathon in June). As I mentioned before, I work 8-5pm now so unfortunately, being a morning exerciser no longer fits my schedule. It's sad because I miss my morning workouts but getting up at 4.30am to do Insanity was never going to happen. I like the lack of time restrictions I have working out after work, but I do have to move things around when I have plans after work.

What's new.. with travel
I'm off to Whitby this weekend with Phil's family and I can't wait. I went to Whitby with school years ago but I had to come home early because I was poorly and I've always wanted to go back. Funny story-on our second date, Phil mentioned to me that his family go to Whitby every year and even after two dates I did think "ooh I wonder if I'll be going with them next year". I can't have been the only one though cause Phil asked me if I wanted to come with them back in January- we'd only been together for 2 months! t's a tradition in Phil's family so I'm really honoured to be invited. And along the same going-away-with-your-partner's-family theme, we've just booked flights to Spain in October with my parents. I went with my parents last year to their apartment and it was just the most relaxing trip. I'm looking forward to that. We're also going to Birmingham for the weekend in September for my friend Becca's birthday. Phil hasn't really been to Birmingham and as I went to Uni there I want to give him a proper tour so I think we're going to make a weekend of it.

What else is new?
I got pretty attached to my inflatable guitar at Ultimate Power
Ready for the wedding
I think that's it really! I'm pretty exhausted this week because we went out on Friday night to Ultimate Power at the Ritz, which is hands-down the best night in Manchester. I'm not a going-out person at all and usually get tired at 12.30pm after two glasses of wine, but this time I didn't want to go home (ahem, got home at 3am)! Then on Saturday we went to the wedding of a colleague of Phil's and the DJ got the 5ive and the Backstreet Boys out at about midnight so I didn't get home til 2! Sunday was spent watching Liverpool and dragging myself through my Insanity workout, and then last night I had to do an hour workout before choir. Tonight I had the Fit Test and then Max Plyo Interval so I am utterly pooped! 

I think the key takeaway from this is that I'm really happy at the moment and it's nice. I thought I had everything fall into place until I was made redundant, but now I think it's starting to fit back in again. So fingers crossed it stays this way!

Thank you for always listening.

Charlotte x

Friday, 8 August 2014

Houndstooth and Mint

Wheee it's been a busy week. First full working week in a while! I absolutely love my new job though and it's so great to be in the city centre! On Monday it was lovely at lunchtime so I got to eat my lunch sat in Piccadilly Gardens. I absolutely love Manchester in the sun, and I'm not sure if the novelty of being able to pop to Topshop on my break is going to wear off any time soon, but my bank balance might take a bit of a hit! The people I work with are lovely and I already feel like I've been working there for ages- in a good way! It's the first time I've had a job where it's not entirely all brand new to me. I've worked in digital before, and worked in marketing before so it's been quite easy to pick up, which is a relief! Getting used to a new routine is a challenge though. For my first few days I worked 9am til 6pm, before realising that absolutely nobody in the office works past 5, so on Wednesday I swiftly asked if I could work 8am til 5pm like everybody else! It means my morning workouts are out of the window, as I would need to get up at 4.30am to do the hour-long month-two Insanity workouts before work, so I'm back to working out after work. I'm a total creature of habit and I love my morning workouts so I resisted for a while, but I have to accept that with a new job comes changes for me to adapt to and I just have to make things work. I'll go into more detail about this in my next Insanity post.
Haha major head tilt here!
trousers- Topshop
blouse- Boohoo
jacket- Topshop
ballet flats- Warehouse
Nearly everything in this outfit is new. Or new-ish. I've been living in both these trousers and this jacket lately, so it only made sense to put them together. This shirt is also my new favourite thing. It's just a white sleeveless shirt and I think it was only about £8, but it goes with everything. I've been a lot more selective about clothes shopping lately. I'm starting to prefer basics and quality pieces and I've send back a lot of cheap, "blah" dresses and boring tops. But boucle jackets and printed trousers are always good. I wore a version of this for my first day at work on Monday, but with my pink boucle jacket instead, which I think I prefer, and different shoes. I'll try to snap a photo of that at some point. Speaking of photos, I'm sorry these are a bit overexposed! Not sure how that happened but there were a proper nightmare to edit.
Well we've just booked our flights to Spain which is pretty exciting! Phil and I are going with my parents to our apartment and even though it's not til October I'm really excited. We're also only two weeks away from our trip to Whitby with Phil's parents! I've got a pretty quiet weekend ahead, which is what I need after my first working week, but I am having lunch tomorrow with my best friend Steph who just got back from 3 months travelling in South America! I talked to her all the time while she was away but I'm glad I've got her back now!
Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Charlotte x

PS. Check out my colleague Natalie's blog too. She does awesome nail art!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Insanity: Reflections on Month 1 and Recovery Week

So I've survived Month 1! It has not been easy but I am so proud of myself for doing Insanity every day, even the days when I have really, really not wanted to do it.
I've learned a lot the last few weeks and the honest truth is, I love it. Of course, I don't always love it when it's the last repeat of a horrible circuit (I'm looking at you, Plyometric Cardio Circuit!), but I feel so good afterwards and not tired and sleepy as I often feel after running.
My favourite thing about Insanity, as you can imagine, is the results. With running I can often go months without noticing a change in my speed or my fitness or endurance. With Insanity it's almost every day.
A few weeks ago I couldn't do full push ups and would do them on my knees. Now I can jump straight into those Level 1 Drills with no worries! The strength and core parts are still difficult, by far the hardest for me, but I can feel myself improving and I'm really pushing myself to keep going. There are still lots of things I can't do or can't do well, but I know Insanity is pushing my endurance and strength to new levels.
Last week was my last week of Month 1, and honestly, I was just about starting to get bored of the workouts, so Recovery Week has been a welcome break. It's great to find I can do the warm up with no breaks now though, and that I can push myself through most of the workouts without stopping. I convinced Phil to do Plyometric Cardio with me once after he had stayed at my house and I don't think he expected it to be so hard. He's desperate to borrow it from me when I've finished it! 
The commitment of doing Insanity every day (bar Sundays) is really tough, and I can see how committing to the schedule is the main reason why people don't complete the programme, but personally, it works for me. Knowing I have a particular workout to do each day pushes me to get it done! And usually getting started is the hardest bit.
The thing with Insanity is that you get out of it what you put it. Because I use my Polar I can tell when I haven't worked as hard, because my workout calories will be much less than last time I did the workout. I try to burn 10 calories a minute and I always keep an eye on my heart rate.
Recovery week has been nice, but definitely not a recovery! I thought I would get bored of doing the same workout every day for 6 days but I've actually really enjoyed it. Core Cardio and Balance is my favourite- probably because it's the easiest!
I don't follow the meal plan because it doesn't work for my lifestyle, but I am super-conscious to ensure I get enough protein. I have a protein shake with milk straight after my workout and aim for at least 100g of protein per day. I've been loading up on yoghurt, eggs, chia seeds, milk, beans, frozen peas and fish. However I've eaten out a lot the last few weeks and I'm also just trying to live my life as normal. Rather than eat back my calories from each workout, I eat about 2000 calories a day. I follow Funeral for my Fat's BMR 101 guide.
I've also recently bought myself a Zaggora Hot Top so I workout now in my Zaggora Hot Top and Hot Pants and yes, it gets very sweaty but I love it!
So how are the results? As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not looking as much to lose weight but more to build muscle. I've lost about 2 pounds so far which is great, and I took my measurements today- 0.75" off my waist, 2.5" off my hips, 1" from each thigh and 0.5" from each arm. However the most noticeable difference is from the before photos! I took before photos the day before I started Insanity, and today at the end of Recovery Week I took 12 more. You don't notice the difference until you see it right in front of you! I can really see the difference in my arms, shoulders and stomach. I might show you the before and after photos when I finish the programme.
I start my new job tomorrow so 5.30am workouts are back on the table. Thankfully my new job is a much shorter commute so I will get a little longer in bed than when I worked at AO when I had to leave the house at 7.15am. However it will coincide with my first day of the Max workouts which is going to be a challenge. I'm determined to push through though. I hear Month 2 is absolutely horrible but I'm ready for Shaun T to bring it!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Otters, Deer and Houndstooth Trousers

Wayyyyy back on New Year's Eve, Phil and I made plans with his friend Tom and his girlfriend, Fi (who weirdly, read my blog for years before I met Phil- small world!) made plans to go to the otter park. Fi and I both love otters (Fi really loves otters!), so we decided as the otter park was only a half an hour drive away, it would be a really nice double date activity. So 7 months later, we finally got around to it! The Chesnut Centre is a lovely little wildlife park with deer, owls, wild cats and of course, otters! It was a bit of a cooler day so I wore my new favourite houndstooth trousers, and convinced Phil to take some photos for me.
trousers- Topshop
shirt- Primark (borrowed from Mum)
ballet flats- H&M
sunglasses- H&M
Phil made me laugh!
Turns out it's been so long since someone other than me took my blog photos that I actually really don't like it any more and felt really awkward and self conscious, so I've just ended up with a few! Don't worry, you'll be seeing these trousers a LOT. After taking some photos, we met up with Tom and Fi and headed off to find some otters. And instead found owls. Lots of owls. And at least half a dozen cages that declared "otters" with no otters to be seen inside! We're not sure if they were hiding under the water, asleep in the shade somewhere or just moved to another cage, but we were started to get pretty disappointed! Finally, in one of the last few areas, we found them! Fi and I spent a good fifteen minutes squealing at them and then we managed to find some more! At 3pm we headed over to the giant otter pool for a feeding, only to find they had been hiding under the water all day, but popped out for their fishy dinner. Unfortunately I couldn't get close enough to get a good photo of the giant ones (my favourites!) but look at these little cuties...
It's definitely worth a trip there if you're in the area and want a fun little afternoon activity. And of course, if you like otters!

Charlotte x

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

I was just getting ready to edit these photos on Friday, when I realised there was something wrong with my laptop. Yep, it was whirring and heating up and getting ready, but the screen was blank. I grabbed my phone to google "laptop turned on screen black" and tried a variety of different options before giving up hope. It was time. My little Toshiba laptop was a desperate purchase on my year abroad after knocking a drink over my previous one, and as a result had a HUGE transformer attached to the charger so I could use it in the UK. It was old, dirty (too many meals eaten while simultaneously writing essays at uni) and slow. So Saturday was spent finding a new laptop and saying goodbye to a big chunk of cash, and after having it all sorted out after it's arrival on Monday, I am happily typing this post from my new giant shiny Toshiba laptop. Everything is backed up to my external drive and after half a day of installing printers and Photoshop actions and faffing around with iTunes, I feel like I'm pretty much back to normal.
dress- Jones and Jones
denim jacket- New Look
converse- c/o Size?
necklace- gift
Last week we got some good news, marred by some really bad news. The good news is that I have a new job. I started on Monday in the internal marketing department of Axonn Media and I'm excited to get started. They're based right in the middle of Manchester too so no more three hour commutes every day. The bad news is that Phil's best friend got some really awful health news last week which has really put everything in perspective. I don't want to go into details because it's not mine to tell, but it's a really difficult time for everyone involved and I'm doing my best to look after Phil and support him. When you get news like that all your little niggles and grievances just seem so ridiculous, so pointless. All the moans and the tears about losing my job and looking for a new one. It's nothing in the grand scheme of things. Life can change forever in an absolute split second and you never know when it will happen. One minute you're celebrating a new job, the next you're feeling utterly helpless because you can't do anything to help the person you love the most. Phil is incredible and is helping everyone and being an wonderful friend, as I knew he would be. So it's my job to be there for him while he's there for everyone else.

Life is short. Don't dwell on the daft little things. Enjoy the little moments. Do what makes you happy. 

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Minty Fresh

Today is the first day so far this week that I haven't had a job interview. So I'm celebrating by... not washing my hair. Okay I washed my fringe. Does anyone else do that? I'd pinned it back for my workout and it was a bit messy so I just washed and styled that. Anyway, job hunting has gotten a little better. I'm starting to finally feel more positive. I've also been told by a lot of people to try to enjoy my time off, which feels a little contradictory, but I am trying to relax and enjoy having time to watch Parks and Recreation while I have lunch. Phil is off next week so I'm hoping to get at least a couple of days with him, but it is hard to get out of the mindset that I should be applying for jobs and researching interviews every hour of the day. Today however I had coffee with an old friend I hadn't seen for years, so that was nice to get me out of the house, and tonight Phil and I are going to Nandos and to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. It might not be super fancy, but that's pretty much my favourite date night with Phil.
jeans- Topshop
top- Boohoo
jacket- Topshop  (this one!)
flats- Dorothy Perkins
necklace- Zalando
I'm struggling with this jacket at the moment. Don't get me wrong, I love it, but I'm struggling for ways to wear it. Except for with trousers and a blouse for job interviews. I'm not sure if it's age or laziness, but I like to keep things simple nowadays. Jeans, tops, ballet flats. I actually need about 25 more tops because except for blouses and graphic tshirts, I don't really have any and I'm really into jeans right now. Anyway, I want to push myself to wear this jacket in new ways, but for now, here it is with jeans and a top. The annoying thing is that I actually bought it with a gorgeous matching skirt, but holy hell is it short. As in, if I sat down in it...well put it this way I wouldn't sit down in it. It looked gorgeous as a suit, but unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be. I love the idea of it with a dress or a pencil skirt but I think I need some inspiration and some time playing with it to find some new ways to wear it. Any ideas?
Hope you're having a great day!

Charlotte x