Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Friday night

We're just about to start the show here. Vicky Pendleton is warming up in the background, Steve Peters is on the phone (in the white shirt) and we're just chilling.

We're on our warm up laps here, the easy bit.

Me, smiling at my mates who were dutifully snapping away. Still warming up.
Our lovely coach, Tim on his bike (with an engine!) about to pace the junior Keirin.
The senior sprint race. These guys were really nice blokes, very supportive.

I'm in a world of my own here. The other women were either doing their thing or just about to and I'm just focussing on my ride in the centre of the track. Felt very cool!


Our coach Shane getting me ready, waiting for the siren to go and it all to begin!

So tired, lungs bursting, can't breath, pain, pain, pain....

My time - proof positive!

It's all over, just the thanks you's now.

Serious helmet hair there!!

Our Olympic moment; Kathryn joked that now she had something to hide her tummy behind!!

Our big finale was very exciting. Unfortunately, the 5 hours before it were not quite so thrilling. Lots of schlepping round the velodrome lugging a bag of gear and hanging around waiting for stuff. We were filming a trailer for the show and getting weighed and measured and being interviewed and just generally hanging around or getting changed from one outfit to another so it was very tiring.

To lift the mood somewhat, while we were filming the trailer on the track, the Olympic team were also training and our coach, the aussie bloke, Shane, called Sir Chris Hoy over to meet us just before he started a session on the track. He was a really genuine bloke, it seemed as though he'd be the same whoever he was talking to and he definitely had the Olympic "aura". I'm not usually starstruck but to see him in his gear on a bike about to set off on some heavy duty training was pretty awesome. And a trulyamazing physique, thighs, thighs, thighs...

He was doing a session of flying 500m's. So, while he was rolling round the track building up speed, we could do our thing on the bottom for the film crew but, when he was about to go into his 500m sprint, we had to quickly move into the centre. The speed he generated and the power was amazing. From 5 feet away it was breathtaking! And that was just a training session; what it must be like in competition.

Anyway, back to our big night. Once we got into the track and started our warm-up it was great. there was a decent crowd and lots of people. British Cycling had arranged a few junior Keirin races and some senior sprints before our kilo time trials so the audience had something else to watch. There was a big scoreboard and compere and the lights were on full and all in all it felt charged. We had a new outfit, some lycra race suits (which didn't fit us very well to be honest, too big!) but that helped change our mindset from training to competition.

Mandy and Lyndsey dropped loads of time, 7 or 8 seconds but I wasn't really watching as I was trundling round the centre concentrating on my own race to come as I was going last. Kathyrn did really well and came in at 1.31.8 which was 3.5 seconds off her last time and then it was my turn.

I had a pretty good start for me. I'm not as explosive off the start as Kathryn but I didn't lose too much time. ThenI got into my stride and was pushing with every fibre of my being. I was actually muttering the words "kill it" as I went round the first half lap, not sure what I wanted to kill!! Anyway, I was pushing and pushing and I thought my lungs were going to burst and I could hardly remember how many laps I'd done and eventually I was emptying it on the last bend and could hear the cheering and pushed onto the line and as I sailed passed the bend after the line Steve (the psych bloke) said - well done, 1.32! So I too had taken 3.5 seconds off my best time. I'm really chuffed about that. I did my absolute best and it felt fantastic.

We had some speeches afterwards where Steve explained to the crowd what we'd achieved and everyone said thank you to everyone else and it felt nice and emotional. And then I went out to see my pals and then got in the car and drove home, totally drained. It's times like that when I really miss having a husband who is at home all the time. Everyone else had someone there but I was just going back to my dogs! To be fair, it didn't upset me as I was shattered and felt just very happy and satisfied with a job well done but it would have been nice to be able to chat away to D and not to have to drive!

So, it was a really great experience but now I'm back on the straight and narrow and trying to live all the lessons I've learned and I have goals to fulfill. That is almost more exciting and than doing it all for the telly. I feel that I'm close to "cracking it" and that could be the most thrilling thing ever.

Friday, 24 July 2009


It was great - I was 3.5 seconds faster than last time and felt brilliant.

Met Chris Hoy. Shared the same track as him! What an athlete - amazing thighs and so fast.

Will tell all with photos when I'm not so tired.

I can't believe it's all over. But in another way nothing has changed.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Carbo-loading bollox!!

Our first bullfinch visitor. I got very excited when I saw him...lovely isn't he with his gorgeous salmonyred/pink chest and glossy black poll?

Greedy guts Mr Siskin...such a messy eater.

They told us to take it easy for the last couple of days and to switch from mainly protein based meals to mainly carbs (not increse the calorie intake just increase the carb content) to give our legs plenty of energy.

So, yesterday I ate: strawberries and raspberries with yoghurt for breakfast; fruit snack; sushi and yoghurt for lunch; fruit snack in the afternoon; and pasta with veggies and a bit of bacon in tomato sauce for supper. Should have been an excellent day and built on my good result yesterday on the scales. But no.

3 lbs on!!

In a day.

Does not compute.

Not happy.

It is difficult because we have 2 competing aims for tomorrow night - firstly to lose weight because that is, if we're honest, what the viewers will "judge" us on and secondly to beat our times on the track over 1km which is what we really care about and what our mates in the audience will see.

So now I'm not sure what to do. I know I'm not going to get derailed and eat badly but I don't think I'm going to pile another bowl of pasta in my gullet for my greedy muscles to gobble up and hold onto for dear life!! Maybe a middle road with a small portion of pasta but also salad and protein. Oooh, a balanced meal, haven't had one of those for a while....
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Not long now

Loads of red Arrows! They were amazing. If you've never seen them I urge you to catch a display somewhere as it is awe inspiring what they can do. Just simple wow factor!

There's only 3 days to go before my big finale on the track at the velodrome. We're told that Sky are going to make a bit of a fuss about it and are filming with 3 crews, one of which is in 3D for some unknown reason! Still, I'm not worried about all that. I'm going to concentrate on my time and just enjoy myself.

We had our last training session last night which was exhausting. It was taken by the aussie fitness coach who set us off on the track all those weeks ago and he is a hard nut. But it was brilliant. We did 4 15 minute sessions: a warm-up; a series of flying 500m's (where you're cruising along and then have to sprint for 2 laps every time the whistle blows - knackering); a hard hard fitness session right at the top of the boards where you have to climb at every bend and can cruise a bit during the straights and finally some sprint start practises. I was very tired but happy last night.

And I'm also very happy this morning to see that I've dropped another 2 lbs so am now 13 stone dead and have only 2lbs to go to meet my "drop a stone before 1 August" challenge (as proposed by Lainey).

I think what had caused the slight stalling was a creeping tendency to sneak extra fruit and the odd cappucino here and there. I hadn't increased my meals or slackened off on the exercise but was having quite a bit of extra fruit and the occasional capp where previously I had not . I wrote them down for a couple of days and realise that this had added several hundred calories to each day for the last few days and had probably contributed towards slowing my weight loss. My sneaky chimp rationalising that "fruit is healthy - right?"

I was talking last night with the psych guy (our last session - booo). We discussed my chimp's habit of acting in a pseudo rational fashion. He says it is common among intellectual types (she preens a bit here...). The chimp is still the same emotionally driven creature but she dresses up her arguments in a cloak of logic to make them more acceptable to me and often fools me this way.

Eg. a plate of biscuits is going round, all plain apart from one chocolate. I think that it would be rude to take the only chocolate biscuit but of course my chimp wants it. She rationalises that someone has to have it and if I take it then everyone else will be spared the choice! I'm satisfied with the skewed logic of the argument and take the biscuit which she wants! It reminds me strongly of "crooked thinking" from Lighter Life days. Although now I understand it as I have an underlying explanation.

Apparently my chimp is VERY adept at this sort of rationalisation so I need to rely on objective markers of sucess only. Have I lost weight? Are my clothes smaller? He also said I should avoid short term weight targets as these would encourage my chimp to start "bargaining" which she will love but which will stress me out. You know the sort of thing "I can eat over this weekend because I'm going to be good all next week". He said I would be better "living the life" and if I have food or drink not on my plan, it's not bargained for but accepted up front as a deviation.

So, basically, every day healthy eating must be my NORM not me being "good".

So that's what I mean when I say I have got to live the life now. And I will.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Rainbow Village

Well, I've been pretty good and managed to lose another paltry lb but am feeling a LOT slimmer. I went shopping today for wedding outfits in the sales and fitted easily into size 14's in several shops so I have actual empirical evidence of shrinkage!

I bought a GORGEOUS dress in Monsoon. Black silk, halter top with pink (and blues and greens and oranges) , vaguely Chinese style embroidered roses splashed across it. It fits brilliantly and looks very flattering on me. You know one of those dresses that you actually look forward to's classic and lovely. I might have to wear pull-in-your-tummy pants so as not to spoil the line across the middle but it'll be a small price to pay!! Not only that but I already have the perfect shawl and bag to go with it. they were both purchased separately and were "not qutie right" so shoved to the back of the wardrobe to await this serendipitous moment!!

I went shopping looking for a totally different item but sod that - this is a find!

Speaking of which - last week I went shopping looking for the same thing I was looking for today (the perfect evening top....which doesn't exist....) and ended up with the lovely outfit pictured below. Our local pub threw a Rainbow Party (no, I'd never heard of one before either) to mark the last night of our village's Carnival Week. I happened to remember on my lunch hour and went to the depressing New Look and found this great new look (geddit)! Everything bar the denim skirt was purchased in one 20 minute stint, even the shoes and fake eyelashes. Nice eh?

BTW, I didn't purchase Vicky - she's a pal from the village who tried in the rainbow stakes but I think came in runner up on this ocassion!
Do you like the lashes??
The band was excellent...lot of cheese and very funny. Tehir version of Flash Gordon was brilliant as was "I live in fear of Ikea" (which I do too)

Vicky's OH Dave - not bad Dave but quite good enough and those are my shades anyway!
They were practising "Go Lesley" moves for Friday night - awww sweeet!

I think I won the prize for the most rainbow-like person. Actually I really enjoyed it. Often I'm a bit half-hearted when there's fancy dress. I wear something but don't go the whole hog. Well, not last Saturday. I know I would not have gone all out like that if I hadn't lost some weight. It's one thing dressing like a fool when you're a size 14 and another when you're an 18. It shouldn't be but that's a bit how I felt/feel. A confidence issue or not wanting to stand out too much.

Whatever, I enjoyed my moment on Saturday and despite being sober as a judge and wearing those ridiculous shoes (at least 4 inches) danced for ages.

It's our big finale on the track on Friday night and I have a few friends coming across to support me. I'm a little nervous but mostly excited. All in all, it's been brilliant. Now I just need to live it for the rest of my life!!!

I can do that. Me and my chimp can do that, I should say...

Friday, 17 July 2009


D and I went up to Slippery Stones for a swim one afternoon last trip. We were hoping to persuade Minty to go out of her depth if I was in the water with her but that didn't really work. Shelagh loved it though, she swam for ages...although she doesn't look very happy here! We had probably just told her we were going...

The old bridge which was moved to this location when they flooded the valley for the reservoirs.

Me and Minty on the way home. Minty is watching her mum below in the river with some ducks...
I think it looks as though Shelagh is walking on water here.

Minty will go in but not swim and she was very suspicious of my attempts to pull her out of her depth. Even though she is fine at swimming. She just doesn't like it and I suppose we'll have to accept that. Shame though when you see how much Shelagh loves it.

There is a brilliant swimming hole further up which is 15/20 foot deep and big enough to have a proper swim in but all the local teenagers hog it when the weather is fine so no good for oldies like me!

I must have stopped supplying her with sticks, hence her grumpy glare.

I have been stellar, stellar I tell you, at sticking to a very strict diet and doing loads of exercise over the last 4 days. And, while I saw a drop on the scales on Sunday and Tuesday, they have been stuck for the last 3 days!! Now that is all very well when you're bumbling along doing your normal routine but when you are pushing yourself hard, you really need to see some actual results!

Not happy.

I did 2 sessions of exercise yesterday - a tough hour of personal training first thing and then, at 9pmwhen I was tired and not in the mood I made myself do a 30 minute session on the bike. That might not sound much but I did a practise 1km at "flatout" speed as well as intervals and a tough 10 minute warmup where you build slowly to maximum intensity. I was sweating and panting and didn't have a lot left in the tank afterwards.

So then, to get on the scales this morning and, at first, to see a 6lb drop only to realise that it's a scale error and then for the exact weight as I was yesterday to flash up. Well, it hurts.

What did I eat yesterday?? Strawberries and yoghurt for breakfast. Mushroom soup for lunch (no bread or crackers of anything). 4 apples as snacks throughout the day and crayfish salad for supper. Just water and a couple of cups of teas to drink. Barely 1000 calories.
I feel cheated.

Anyway.....reset the chimp's thinking here....I didn't cheat and that's great. I doesn't matter what I weigh today; the weigh in that counts is next Friday. I'm doing well and I'll see a big drop soon as long as I stick to it and keep up the exercise.
Silly chimp for getting all worked up....daft tart that she is....

Thursday, 16 July 2009

What have I learned???

This is my friendly neighbourhood camera crew outside the Malmaison Hotel in Manchester last Friday. We went out for a meal so they could film us "in a social setting"!!

For a cameraman, he didn't take a great photo! He cut my foot off and got his own reflection in the building and the angle isn't the most flattering. I think he must have been the sound man!
Me and my fellow participants in the show.

Mucking around on the poncy furniture in a deserte Mal lobby. Like kids we were after the film crew had left...

We had a really hard session on the track on Tuesday night. It was good because we haven't been able to get any time on the track since our last time trial 3 weeks ago. it was good to see that our fitness is still improving and to work on techniques like the sprint start and intervals. We also had a good chat with the psych guy about how we have been getting on. I am kicking myself a little though as I feel that I have not used his expertise much in the last few weeks. I had started to wean myself off the programme and prepare for its finish but now realise that I should have squeezed as much out of him as I can while that resource is available. Doh!

Oh well, I have 10 days left so I'm going to pepper him with emails in that time and hopefully glean some more wisdom.

He set us some homework last night. One thing was to rehearse a piece to camera explaining the 2 (or more) most important things we think we have learned during the programme. This is not to do with the weight or exercise stuff but solely about our mental development. The other thing was personal tasks for each of the 4 of us. Apparently my chimp is intelligent and rational and learns ways to fool me into thinking that everything is okay so that I won't push the diet and exercise stuff. Typical. So my exercise was to work on instances in my day to day life when my chimp fools me and uses rationalising tricks to make me think the status quo is okay. If I spot one, I have to work on stopping it immediately - not letting myself go into the Fog and thinking that that is okay, just putting a stop to it!

The most obvious recent time this happened was when we went to Ireland a couple of months ago when I thought everything was going swimmingly and then realised that actually my weight had stayed the same for 3 weeks!! My chimp had used rationalisation to make me think this was okay even though it clearly wasn't. It was only when the Psych guy pointed out to me that my weight was the same as it had been weeks earlier, that I realised what had happened. But it happens on a smaller scale at other times as well. If I spot it (which I need to practise doing) I must stop it there and then rather than giving in to excuses.

On the things I have learned, I'm not sure what is the most important to me. I thought a good way to start would be just to do a brain dump here and then see which leaps out at me. So, here goes:

What have I learned?

That I have a chimp and that her motivations are not the same as mine.
It makes no sense to feel guilty when I eat too much or don’t exercise. This is my chimp and I just need to learn the skills to control her.

My chimp is motivated by food, insecurity and maternal instinct. Her primary driver is to reproduce and all these are geared towards making her a good mother. These drivers do not fit well with my modern life but I can’t change them. I have to work with her. She is very strong.
My chimp makes me procrastinate. She is physically lazy and wants to eat when it is available (ie. all the time). She is concerned about appearances and her social standing. She may not stand up for herself when it makes sense to do so. I may allow her emotions to cloud my actions.

I can learn skills to work with my chimp and, if I keep practising them, I can be happier and more successful at achieving what I want out of life.
This will result in my living life on a more even keel. Fewer ups and downs and more contentment. But I must work at it and be vigilant against the chimp fooling me.
My chimp is intelligent and rational. She learns ways to fool me using rationalising. Because she is not overtly emotional and volatile she is tricky to identify.
I need to keep working at the mental side of things and set up systems to monitor objectively my progress towards my goals.

"What doesn’t speak doesn’t lie." My chimp responds well to goals and targets but I need to record objectively how well I’m doing in achieving them or she may learn to fool me (see above).
My chimp likes goals and rules. She is less likely to deviate when I have a manageable task to achieve and a reward at the end of it. The danger is taking on too much and scaring her leading towards fight/flight/freeze and procrastination/stress.
"When you have to eat a frog, don’t play with it first." Train yourself to dive in and break the procrastination habit.
My chimp will learn that we can do things and that I am the sort of person who gets on with things as a matter of course.

Reliance on treats and rewards is dangerous. They teach you that the good behaviour is abnormal.
Make healthy eating and exercise and dealing with difficult things part of my everyday routine and I will learn that I am "that person".

I am not a lazy person. I had a belief that if I was relaxing, I was wasting my time and that I was a lazy person. This is objectively not true. I do loads.
Remove guilt and shame and lets me listen to my body and react to what I need.

Everyone has a chimp. Just as with me, they don’t always mean everything they say either. Also, they may not be in control of their chimp so it is pointless to get upset.
Try and work out what the underlying issue is and solve it rather than getting bogged down with emotional reactions.

You can choose your emotions. Just because my chimp offers me a response, I do not have to take it. So, if she is scared and wants to hide, I don’t have to do that. I can choose to deal with the issue and teach her that we can face things.
Less stress, less eating, more success, more happiness.

When my chimp is playing up, there are 3 different ways to deal with her: bananas (ie. a distraction); exercise her (ie. let her out of her box to rant and rave but in a safe environment, to someone safe); box her in (ie. hit her with grade A truths). A grade A truth is confronting her with the reality of what she wants to do. Something that really hits hard. I need to work on the latter. An armoury of weapons to avoid temptation and keeping to my goals.

I should pause before I eat anything and consider whether it is me or the chimp who wants it. I should but I don’t do this enough.
Generally, I could do without whatever it is that is calling to my chimp!

Laughing at your chimp works! She doesn’t like it and often backs down. Eg. if she wants me to snack, recognising the "offer" and responding with a humorous "no chance, what do you take me for, you silly cow!!"
Using humour to deflect potential bad behaviour and reinforce my belief that the good behaviour is my norm.

Peer pressure works! Or outside accountability, call it what you will.
If I tell someone that I’m not eating, it is easier not to eat. Likewise setting a date for exercise.

My God! What a tome. I got a bit carried away but it was useful to organise my thoughts. I’ll have to come back with what is the most important thing. I really feel as though I am making progress though and changing…really changing.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Hi all. Lainey asked how the "Lose a stone before 1 August" Challenge is going. Well, it had a good start, a bad middle and is shaping up nicely again.

I started at 13 stone 12 and as at this morning I'm now 13 stone 3. That leaves me another 5 to go which I should manage as long as I don't have another meltdown!

We had a session on the track last night which was hard work but very useful technically. Trouble is, I'm now more focused on losing weight than on training for the 1km time trial....will have to do some intervals on that damn bike or I'll never bring my time down! It's like spinning plates, you get one under control and something else goes wobbley - a womans' lot I guess.

Right, this was only a quick update as dashing off to work now. Byeee!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Got to keep concentrating

Me and D enjoying the sunshine while we waited for Brucie at the Hard Rock Calling Festival a couple of weekends ago.

Bruce singing with Bryan from Gaslight Anthem on No Surrender.

Bruce with members of the E Street Band

The crowd - quite a few white haired chaps in there...

Bruce and Clarence. I wish I had tried harder with my photos as I haven't got many decent ones but you want to enjoy the show too. Some people seemed to spend the whole time taking photos - I'm not that bad....yet!

Clarence in the spotlight - he was in a bit of a bad way - seemed to be struggling walking. Hope he's okay. His sax playing ws still brilliant though.

As with anything, when you reach the end of a programme, it's very easy to think that this IS the end and get demob happy. Well, I'm nearly there with this TV show and I'm getting that "racing towards the finish" feeling but I must remind myself that just because the TV thing is ending, the diet and exercising it NOT. It's also summertime and my social life is really busy at the moment with loads of events on most of which potentially involving food and drink or reduce my available time for exercise.

I realise that I haven't been putting in the time to work on my relationship with my chimp. And I need to because she is a sneaky, pseudo-rational, intelligent chimp who doesn't just throw a tantrum but goes around fooling me into thinking everything is alright while she works on getting her own way, namely me eating and not exercising.

What I mean by all this is, that I've had a really good weekend and, while I didn't go mad and don't seem to have done any damage on the scales, it was touch and go for a while. I need to rein it back hard now as I don't want to ruin this TV experience by not losing any weight in my final 4 weeks!!

We were recording a dinner with the 4 of us in Manchester on Friday night. That was fun but a bit like hard work as it was for the show rather than for real if you know what I mean. We all get on really well but you're constantly aware that you're being filmed and watched. It was much better once the film crew left and we could have a good old gossip.

Then Saturday I went up to Leeds to join my pals for a hen weekend. It was a real laugh. A bit of an old fashioned night - dressing up in pink boas and tiaras, the whole 9 yards and then out for a nice meal and on to a cheesy club. The club was really tacky but played 80's music on this one floor all night so we had a ball! I haven't danced so much for ages, probably not since last year some time! One of Angela's old school mates was her gay friend from school and it was heartening to note that he fulfilled every one of those gay stereotypes by dancing like a demon all night to the cheesiest choons. It was great to have an ally on the dance floor and along with another girl , the 3 of us got the rest of them up dancing too so we had a great time.

I did have a few drinks too but think all the dancing minimised the damage. Yesterday was the danger time - knackered from little sleep and a bit hungover - it's caaarb time! So I managed to say no a few times but I also said yes a few times too! You win some you lose some eh? Having slept a little in the afternoon once I got home, I hoisted my carcass off the sofa and took the dogs for a walk and ended up at the Rec for the cricket match between our 2 local pubs. It's a somewhat shambolic occasion but really good fun. Loads of people milling around and much beer and cakes on offer.

One friend, Demelza, who is frantically nesting as her baby is due in September, had baked all afternoon (having not previously done any!) and had produced a fabbie picnic so I'm afraid I just sat there and sampled every one of her creations: quiche - tick, gingerbread cricketers (short and fat!) - tick, scones - tick, flapjack - tick; victoria sponge - tick!! Still, I didn't have supper so not too bad and only small samples!

Anyway - I'm working from home today so I'm going to go for a run at lunchtime and I have training this evening so all will be back on track. Hope you're having a good time too.