As I have mentioned in a previous post, PT has helped me tremendously during my weight loss journey. I see a lovely young girl called Alice Jackson at Les Mills in Howick for an hour every week. I was reluctant to retain a trainer as I’ve always preferred to train myself when I used to be in shape, but I was determined to lose a very large amount of weight and desperately needed support. As my weight crept up towards 100 kg, my diabetes was spiralling out of control and I was worried that I’d end up on insulin. I was – and still am – determined to control my condition without meds for the rest of my life which Stephen Farrell, the head coach of the North Harbour Triathlon Club, assured me was possible when he rang me to answer my questions about the Takapuna Beach Swim and Run event which I’d like to enter next week . Returning to the subject of PT, I also wanted to complete the YMCA 10k Summer Series, which started in October and you can read about in my earlier blog post. I was very lucky to do a couple of training sessions with Alice’s brother Dan Jackson, who is also a trainer at the same gym. Dan stepped in to train me while Alice was on holiday for three weeks in August last year. By complete fluke, he competed in the YMCA 10k Series while he was a student at the prestigious Auckland Grammar School, so he knew what was required to get me into shape so I would be ready to start the series at the beginning of October. Les mills isn’t just like a family. As I discovered, some of the staff members actually are family, like Alice and Dan. If you put a foot wrong, you’ll soon have to find yourself another gym.
Over the past six months, I lost a total of 25 kg and completed the first half of the YMCA 10k Series, which I wouldn’t have been able to achieve training on my own. I think of PT as the grease which makes my training flow. You can read the thank you letter I wrote Les Mills Howick here.
Benefits of personal training include:
If you’re thinking about hiring a trainer, here are some of my tips:
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have managed to make a lot of progress during my weight loss journey over the past six months, losing a total of 25 kg. I go to Les Mills in Howick and it’s a great gym. I simply love it there. I wanted to share the letter I recently wrote to the team, thanking them for all their support.
28 October 2018
To the team at Les Mills Howick,
A small gift from our garden – some plants and produce
I wanted to thank you all so much for helping me along my fitness journey. When I (re)joined the gym in July this year, I was 93.3 kg. Over the past four months, I have lost over 20 kg. My goal was to be able to participate in the YMCA 10k summer series in the Auckland Domain every Thursday, which I have achieved thanks to weekly PT sessions with Alice, as well as some training with Dan while Alice was away.
I have Type 2 diabetes, but with the support of this gym, I have been able to get my condition under control through diet and exercise. Losing weight has made it easier to manage my blood sugars. My GP didn’t recognise me when I saw him last Friday and was so happy with my progress.
A lot of people have asked how I managed to lose so much weight in a relatively short time frame. The truth is that there was no fad dieting or excessive exercise involved. I’m also carrying a few injuries, which restricts what I can do. There are a few revelations I have had that I would like to share, which might be useful to pass on to other gym members who are struggling to lose weight.
Everyone – the friendly reception staff, fitness instructors on the gym floor, group fitness instructors and personal trainers – have been absolutely fantastic. In particular, I’d like to say a special thank you to Autumn (who signed me up and continues to check in with me), Laura and Laetitia (who has since moved on) for helping me so much the first time I joined and who made me want to return so I could try again, Alice and Dan for motivating me through PT, Brandon for his support on the gym floor and Maureen, who has given me so much support in her classes and with my running. You’re all doing a wonderful job. Please keep it up! Thank you again. I look forward to getting to know even more of you over time.
Running is an important part of my life. It helps hold me together as a person. I underestimated its power when I developed schizophrenia at the age of 29, as anti-psychotic drugs caused tremendous weight gain, impeding my ability and desire to continue running. As I have previously mentioned, this season I have been competing in the YMCA 10k Summer Series held in the Auckland Domain. The YMCA is Auckland’s premier marathon running club, but runs a series of weekly 10k races between September (when daylight savings begin) until April (when daylight savings ends) every year. There is a 5k option too and walkers are welcome. The entry fee is $5, payable on the day. The course is difficult, much more so than the Sri Chinmoy series also held in the Domain during winter. The series is divided into two parts. Part I took place between 4 October and 20 December 2018. There is a short break over the Christmas and New Year’s period. Part II takes place between 10 January and 4 April 2019 and kicks off again tonight. I can’t wait to get back into it!
I thought this would be a good time to reflect on the series so far and provide a snapshot of my progress throughout the season. The YMCA 10k series has been an important part of my weight loss journey. I need to run in order to lose weight, but I also need to lose weight in order to improve my running. It is all very circular! When I first started competing in the series in early October, I was 76 kg. Half way through, I’m currently sitting at 69.1 kg. My weight is approximately 10 kg heavier than my optimum running weight, so I certainly don’t expect to achieve my best 10k times. A part of me does wish that I was at goal weight at the start of the series and could run a perfect series without any injuries or interruptions, but I don’t know what world I was living in as this is completely unrealistic. The reasons I chose to compete in the events were the same as the reasons that I outlined for entering the swim and run held at Takapuna Beach next week, which I covered in my previous blog post.
The runs are all officially timed by marshalls from the YMCA and runners are ranked, but I like to think that I’m competing against myself, striving to better my PB, rather than out to beat anyone else. For me, the other runners are there for motivation and support. Racing has the added advantage of really pushing you. My times for races are almost always better than those for training runs. It’s a nice little community which unites people with a passion for running. I finally feel that I have found my people. Anyone is welcome, but the majority of participants are marathon runners who have been part of the YMCA for years. The people are so lovely that I would ordinarily be tempted to join the club and run with them on Sunday mornings, but the YMCA is a marathon running club. Their Sunday runs vary in distance, but are typically geared towards long-distance runners. Those days are long over for me. As regular readers of my blog will be aware, I consider myself a 10k runner these days. It’s a shame, as there are some incredibly inspiring people who are part of the YMCA who I might never have the chance to meet. On their Facebook page, I noticed that they were looking for someone to run with a blind man who is training for the New York Marathon, which made me take a hard look at my attitude towards my health issues and life generally. I actually feel quite ashamed for making a mountain of my problems when in fact there are others out there who are worse off than I am. Having completed one marathon myself (London 2008), I know just how difficult they are, even if you can see. Also, he’s going to New York. Most people would probably think “what’s the point of going to New York, it’s not like I can see anything there!”
There were 11 races in the first half of the series. Here is a little summary of my times for each race:
As you can see, over the course of Part I, I have generally improved and gotten faster. My goal is to bring my time below an hour by the end of Part II. I’ll follow up with a further post in April which summarises my progress and thoughts for the second half of the series.
Some people are very forward-thinking. I’m one of them. I’m always thinking ahead to what events I might like to compete in next summer, so I can use the winter more effectively to steer my training in the right direction. As you might be aware from my previous blog posts, I am a keen road runner. I’m currently participating in the YMCA 10k Summer Series, which I am really enjoying. I also swim seasonally, in summer when the 50m local outdoor swimming pool opens. For most of my childhood I was a competitive swimmer and part of the Whangarei Swimming Club. For many years, I’ve been aware of Stroke N’ Stride, a series of events held annually in Auckland, comprising an ocean swim followed by a short run. I didn’t plan to get into multi-sport; my interest evolved organically and I can sort of see how this happened. However, this wasn’t something I was in a place to do in recent years. For most of my 30s, I battled obesity and ill health due to taking the anti-psychotic drugs I was prescribed when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It’s only in the past six months that I have had a breakthrough in both my mental and physical health. As mentioned in a previous post, I came up with the idea of running a course of meds for a fortnight at six monthly intervals, to see if I could pre-empt the onset of psychosis rather than taking meds all the time, which I fortunately don’t have to do as I only suffer from mild schizophrenia. I did this last year in June and again in mid-December. It might be too soon to say whether this works in the long run but it seems promising. I haven’t had a psychotic episode since February last year, which was before I thought of this strategy. Normally they’re spaced together more closely than that. Thanks to my trainer Alice Jackson at Les Mills in Howick, I managed to lose 25 kg. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, including participating in an event like swim and run as I wouldn’t have previously been fit enough to complete the course.
I want a little taster to see if it’s for me or not, so I know whether it’s something I might like to commit to in the future. So, to test the waters (swimming pun intended), I’ve decided to head over to Takapuna Beach next Wednesday 16th January and participate in the North Harbour Triathlon Club’s Swim and Run series event, comprising a 500m ocean swim followed by a 4k beach run. It’s not very far away at all (the date of the event, that is, not Takapuna, which is on the other side of Auckland) so I’ve been flat out over the past week bringing myself up to speed with what the event will entail and organising appropriate gear. To help others who are also considering competing in swim and run events, I thought I’d write a blog post about things to consider before competing in such an event and follow it up with a further post afterwards to report back on my experience.
What is it?
A swim and run is, like the name suggests, a swim immediately followed by a run. Note that “Swim and Run” should not be confused with “Swimrun”, which is quite different. The latter refers to an intrepid event with a mixture of swimming and running intermittently. You run wearing shoes (even during the swimming parts!) and usually compete with a partner as it’s largely an exercise in teamwork. Breca is an example of Swimrun.
Why am I doing this?
What you’ll need
In multi-sport, you need to allow time for the transition. In this case, when you finish the ocean swim you’ll need to remove your wetsuit (if you’re wearing one) and put on your running shoes for the beach run (if you choose to wear them).
Some useful links
Swim T3 (Auckland’s leading swimming retailer, to cover all your gear needs for both pool and ocean swimming): https://www.swimt3.co.nz/
Rick Wells Swimming squad (trains at the Newmarket Olympic Pool): https://www.rickwells.co.nz/
Takapuna beach series (beach run and ocean swim events held at Takapuna Beach): https://beachseries.co.nz/home/
Summer Swim (weekly ocean swims in Kohimarama on Thursdays from November until March): https://www.summerswim.co.nz/
Stroke N’ Stride (a series of swim and run events which take normally place in Mission bay during summer but are not being held this season): http://swimrun.org/
Splash and Dash (Swim and Run events that take place in Wellington): https://splashanddash.co.nz/
Ocean swim squad weekly clinics on Saturdays: https://www.oceanclinics.co.nz/
Ocean swimming guide: https://beachseries.co.nz/ocean-swim-guide/