Friday, 20 March 2015

Insanity: Max30

Insanity Max30 - Month 1

I've loved Insanity since the first workout I did - the adrenalin rush, Shaun T's motivation, the feeling of achievement - there's no other workout programme that has come near to it. The only downside was that when following the programme I lost strength, especially in my upper body, and put on weight, and it has never shifted. TBH, I haven't made any great attempt at shifting it, I've been too focussed on performance, and to that end I had moved on to a programme of my own devising where I mixed up Insanity with P90X, TapouT and Jillian Michaels, with longer workouts at the weekends that were two or three hours of Davina, or power walking or yoga or a mixture. 

The one problem with my own schedule (and any that include the workouts I've mentioned) is that you need to give about an hour to them. This meant I was quite excited when Shaun T's Focus T25 came out. That excitement didn't last long. I didn't like the music, and more importantly the workouts, whilst not too difficult in themselves, were so fast-moving that for some reason they were really hard on my feet. I have arthritis in my feet and hands, and Focus T25 really flared that up, although I don't think it helped that I had just done the Moonwalk. The modifier was too easy, so I really only use the workouts when I don't have time for anything else - or I combine four or five workouts and modify them for weekend longer sessions. And I still don't like the music.

This time around I really tried not to get overly-excited at the prospect of Insanity Max30 - I mean, could Shaun T really get the same effect in 30 minutes? The answer is a resounding OH YES!

I'm just coming to the end of month 1 - and it has been fantastic. I must admit to being kind of smug going into it. I'm used to ripping through most of the Insanity workouts now - I still get puffed, but I can generally do them better than some of the participants on the DVD (I'm talking about Shanita, Akeel(sp?) and Josh at least). Max 30 is only half the time - so surely I could do at least half of that before maxing out?

The idea of the workouts is you go as hard as you can until you can't go any more. That is your max out time, and you note it down. The Cardio Challenge workout is your fit test also. I managed 7 minutes 40. The shame!

So in the last four weeks I have followed the programme and I have improved massively on all the workouts except the Cardio Challenge - I still hover around the the 8.30 mark. In contrast, I can make to 24.30 on the Tabata Strength workout, more than double my starting max on that one. I have definitely improved massively in my cardio ability though, and I'm not so aware of loss of muscle as I was with Insanity. It is CRAZILY difficult though.

However, don't be put off if you haven't exercised before, because there is a modifier to each exercise, and you can choose an option to have them on-screen (split screen) throughout. So this is a programme that can easily grow with you.

The bit I like the best is that it is such a rush to do. I feel euphoric at the end of each workout, and have had emotional releases at the end of every Sweat Interval workout, it is completely amazing. Also, the Abs workout, whilst only being 10 minutes long, is the most challenging to the abs I have ever experienced - I haven't managed without multiple rests at all, and often max at under two minutes!

The weak points - well, the warm up is short (and just as intense as Insanity), and thre is a distinct lack of stretching. Even the Pulse DVD uses mostly dynamic stretching, and I'm just not convinced that dynamic stretching can stretch large muscle groups in the same way that prolonged stretching when you are warm can. To that end, I do half an hour of yoga stretching after a workout at the weekend. I think the programme would have really benefitted from a pure stretch DVD - maybe a 30 minute stretch option in place of the Pulse DVD, and a ten minute stretch to use more regularly, along the same lines as the one after the warm-up in Insanity. But this is a minor quibble, and one I get around easily enough - another option I use is to hold the Pulse stretches for longer and ignore what's going on on the DVD.

Added bonus? I got on the scales today with complete trepidation, really feeling I needed to shock myself into action after a week of binge eating and other extreme cake consumption (it's been an emotionally trying time for various reasons). I've lost weight. I'd thought my jeans had stretched!

So on the whole, I cannot fault this programme - you HAVE to try it. I got mine at a bargain price of £60 off ebay - well worth the money. I know I'm going to do at least one more full round after this, there is so much variety (month 2 is another set of DVDs) that I haven't got used to the workouts at all yet. There's a bit in the Sweat Intervals where Shaun T says, 'how are you feeling?' and every time I just shake my head cos I am so exhausted, and he goes, 'no, seriously, answer me.' I never remember until he says it :-)

It's also making me wonder about how worthwhile it is to give an hour a day to fitness if half an hour can achieve a better result. I wonder if the same would be true for a weight-lifting programme, and I'm thinking I might have to try out P90X3 too. More results in less time - that would be a real win.

Got to get through month 2 first though. I really am a bit feared of what those workouts will be like - how can it get any harder?

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, I love, love, LOVE the music - similar to Insanity, and maybe even more motivating. Hooray!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Deja Viewing

I think I've mentioned before how there's something about Timothy West that reminds me of my Dad. I watch him on his barge programmes, and on Eastenders, because sometimes (more often on the barge than on Eastenders) he'll do a 'Dad' look, or a smile, and it is sort of comforting. In the same way as stalking old men around Tesco's if they remind me of Dad is, but without the potential for freaking out innocent elderly men. 

Unsurprisingly, it was a bit of a shock to find out that Stan Carter, Timothy West's character in Eastenders, had prostate cancer (the cancer Dad died of). That was nothing to Tuesday's episode though. 'Old'Stan was a curmudgeonly character, not like my Dad at all. Of course, in true soap style, he has mellowed, and we have seen a more sensitive and vulnerable side to him of late. Then after all that softening up, what happens? He only suddenly goes off his legs, doesn't he? The exact same thing as happened to my Dad. It was horrific to watch, I went through all the emotions of that night again. Same cause as well - metastases in the spine. 

Now I get to watch my pseudo-Dad die in exactly the same way as my real Dad did. Not so much deja vue as deja view. 

At least if it gets too much I can change channel this time. Real life is a single channel you don't get to turn off.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

My Next-Door Stalker

You know how it is - you are happily headed for your lunch, and then you find out that your ex (the one who was convicted of assaulting you and then sent to prison for breaking the restraining order) is moving in two doors down. Around a corner. So he can look into your garden out of the bedroom windows.

But let me take you back to how this all unfolded. Those of you who are in the dark about Steve could read What It's Like To Be A Punchbag. It doesn't quite capture the horror, but it's enough to understand why yesterday was a bit of a freaky one for me.

I woke up yesterday morning to two texts from a number I didn't know:
Hi Karen has Parker been in touch lately
Sorry to ask 
They were both sent at gone 1am, so I assumed it was one of his druggy mates trying to get in touch. I sent back:
Hi, no, last I heard he was with a lass called S [name redacted], and was living at [the last address I had], but that was over a year ago
I then pootled off to work, and forgot all about it.

As I was going to lunch, one of my colleagues said she had heard my phone making noises - on checking it I found I had another two messages.
I am S
I live round the corner from you no [number redacted] yes Wer still on n of 

I think I forgot to breathe for a bit. In a state of Pure Numb, I texted back:
Oh, sorry, didn't recognise the number. Well, u probs know all he is like by now. Kinda freaks me out the thought he could be so close :-O But hopefully you settling in 2 ur new home
What the fut was I thinking??!! 'Hope you settle into your new home'??? NO!!! Why, even in extremis, is my default mode polite???

Meanwhile, our texts crossed so I got these:
Sorry for txtin u just needed to no only bein a door away from u n to warn u
Ye gettin there he doesn't live with me only comes wk end have u 2 dogs
It may not even be true about him only being there at the weekend, because she probably doesn't trust that I wouldn't report her to the DSS. I wouldn't. It's not her I have a problem with. Anyway, I was still channelling Michael Palin, if he was demented and had no sense of self-preservation, and sent:
Thanx 4 the warning :-) No that's [my next door neighbour]. I am [my house number]
S then sent her final two texts:
I'm on the corner Wer the big tree used to b
He's still injecting heroin did he wen u was with him
I replied:
Yes, even when I didn't know. 
I sat down for a second, and realised I was shaking, properly shaking and I couldn't stop. I was scared out of my wits. The restraining order ran out in February 2013, I felt like I had no protection. I ran downstairs to the office and fell to pieces all over the lassie who was behind the desk. It only lasted 20 minutes though, I was back to work at the end of my break, with the help of everyone I work with. Like the Boss said, I am stronger than this, this isn't me.

Luckily I saw my Little Sister after work, and she was as adamant as everyone else that I needed to tell the Police even though nothing had happened - and I agreed for once. When I got home, I phoned 101, and the woman I spoke to was really sympathetic, took all the details, advising me to report anything, even something as little as a dirty look from him, if it makes me or my Son uncomfortable. That way if there's a record of harrassment I can get another court order without delay. I felt better.

I went outside and saw how the second I step out of my patio doors, he can see me. I felt worse.

Came back inside and facebook pmed my closest friends. Felt better.

Had a panic attack. Felt worse.

Binge-watched Matthew MacFadyen in 'Spooks'. Felt bloody shedloads better. In fact, I could do with a bit of cheering up right now:

Vented on the facebook support group I admin - felt a lot back to normal. And then a friend shared this post by Marianne Williamson - and finally I was back to me and back in my power.
Fear is the thinking that dominates the world, but love is who we really are. Grounding ourselves each day in a deep remembrance of who we really are, we actualize the spiritual power that lies latent within all of us.
I'd rationally been telling myself that nothing had changed that lunchtime, not really. All that had changed had been what I knew - I wasn't actually in any more danger (and possibly less through foreknowledge). All true and all very well, but in my heart, I hadn't felt it. Those texts messages had activated a conditioned reflex fear response: I'd reacted the way I always used to - he'd had the effect he always used to have. I had me temporarily reverted to 'old' me - I'd forgotten who I really am again. I am a perfect expression of one aspect of Source - I have infinite power and infinite love, and Steve is never going to be a match for the power of that love, as expressed by me.

He cannot come back into my life or into my head or heart, even if he camps on my doorstep. I am not the person I was. He is incompatible with me, our energies do not match any longer, I have no inner wounds that react to sociopathy any more. I'm too busy saving myself to be bothered about saving anyone else.

I went to bed and slept really well. I woke about 4.30 from a dream where Steve was pretending to love me and I was watching, studying, feeling both sad and repulsed. I remembered the words of the article:
As you go through the day, anywhere you might be, look at someone's face and silently say to them, "The love in me salutes the love in you." I defy you to do this for two minutes each day and not become happier. 

No one needs to be reminded today that we are in need of a counterforce to the world's despair. All the hatred and unnecessary suffering that have gripped our planet are a challenge to our species to evolve and grow—to become who we are capable of being, so we can rise up with greater power and behave with greater wisdom. When any of us does this individually, our lives transform. And when we do it collectively, our planet will transform. Love will not just heal your life or mine. Love will heal the world.

So I sent love in the direction of the house they live in, until I fell asleep again.

Today has been another blessing, another day of usefulness, fun, trying to stay me. When he did cross my mind, I was able to laugh at the situation. I have no fear, I have the love of Source, and trust in life. He gave me the greatest gift ever - he revealed the wounds that were holding me back. This is just another little bonus gift.

I strongly believe that I can keep him away through pure unadulterated love. And if not, hey, there's always the Police :-)