Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Two Years of The Tracy Anderson Method and counting

This weekend meant I passed the 2 year mark of doing The Tracy Anderson Method and basically 3 years of my weight loss journey. And whispers very quietly I did it. I have kept it off.
Something like 80% of people regain back all of their weight plus a few extra pounds within 2 years of losing it.  Of the people who do maintain for any length of period, over 90% do at least an hour of exercise per day.
To maintain your weight over a significant period is not an easy task but I knew from quite early on that if you want to keep the pounds off, you have to be prepared to sweat. And so I sweat -- about 1 1/2 hours a day at least 6 x a week. Occasionally when I am holiday, I do take time off but I will put the days in before I go and then when I get back... It is also better for my mental health. No matter how I'm feeling, I always feel better when I've done my TAM.

Doing so much exercise also allows me to eat more liberally. I see lots of people who are constantly on a diet or denying themselves things. It does get much easier when you don't have to but instead listen to how your body responds to various foods. This means in general I try to limit my dairy, in particular milk and rich cheese. I limit my intake of processed foods and very rarely have fast food.
On a day to day basis, I have learnt I do better with something in my stomach before I exercise. So when I'm exercising first thing (most mornings), I start with a large glass of water and a banana as bananas are easy for my system to digest. I will then eat a proper breakfast -- generally fresh fruit with flaxseed after I finish. Lunch tends to either a salad or soup and I do try to incorporate healthy whole grains such as quinoa or barley. Supper tends to whatever my husband makes but he cooks from scratch. If I eat bread, I try to make it homemade. If I eat cake or cookies (which I do, possibly too often), they tend to be homemade.
I have significantly decreased the amount of dried fruit I eat as it kept sending my stomach into knots and my blood sugar everywhere. If you want to maintain your weight, it is much easier when your blood sugar is stable.
Drinking lots of water also helps.
I tend to drink green or herbal/fruit tea instead of my old ordinary tea with milk.

BUT the underpinning to everything is TAM. I do 45 min of Muscular Structure work and then 45 min of the Dance cardio. By the end I am drenched in sweat. One thing I love about TAM is that my mind is constantly challenged and the brain to muscle connection is always being worked on. Every ten days, the Muscular structure changes. The challenge for this level 2.3 L7 for me is the hoop on the working knee fire hydrants while balancing both hands on upturn weights. I think I have finally got it -- really seriously invert the supporting knee...but tomorrow will be the proof.
I'm not sure I'm a good dancer. I just enjoy myself. When I first started, the dance cardio was something I had to do but now it is an enjoyable part of the experience.

And I do like wearing my UK size 8s (US size 4). To remind you all I was US size 20 when I started. It was a hugely sobering moment when I realised the LLBean red shorts which fit were a size 20.

Finally TAM  has been hugely empowering for me. I think it is the whole mastering various levels. But it does provide more brain to muscle connections because after all dancing is the one  physical activity that helps ward off dementia. ( you see the research from Stanford here ) I figure the more brain to muscle connection and pathways I have, the greater chance I have of having fewer senior moments as I age.
I have also been surprised at how my over all health has improved. I have far fewer colds, flu and gneral lurgy these days than I did before.

Anyway onwards towards the five year mark...I determined to maintain my size and the most important weapon in my arsenal is TAM.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Do women have to be Kick ass to be strong?

Apparently at the RWA Nationals there was a buzz/discussion about how there are so many kick ass heroines in historical romance these days. By kick ass -- these are the women who are unafriad to go toe to toe with men on the battlefield etc. But is this mecessary? There are other ways to be strong.

There is some evidence -- the tradition of the Valkeries and shield maidens plus a few sagas which mention women warriors. However, no graves have been found where there is clearly women's items such as spindles as well as swords.

Appearing unfeminine was also frowned upon in other periods. However this does not mean that women were weak or pliant or indeed could not influence events.

In England, women lost the right to vote with the advent of universal male sufferage. Prior to that if you were a large enough landowner, you could vote. And some widows did.
Women tended use their power when husbands were absent or dead. Unmarried women also could have power.
From reading Philippa Gregory's Cousin War books as well as watching the White Queen, I was reminded of exactly how much power a woman could exercise and how she was often pilloried for seeming to do it in an overt manner. Another case in point was the excellent Catharine Edwards series on Roman Mistresses, Murderers and Mothers: the Empresses of Rome. You could argue that Livia, Augustus's wife who basically ruled as co-emperor with Augustus and then with her son Tiberius was not a one-off but part of the women who had such influence at the end of the Republic.  there are reasons why their names have come down to us.

As Livia shows the pursuit of feminie virtue can be used as a positive. The person who controls the behind the scenes and grants access to the nominal head may actually have more power than the warrior.

Anyway it bugs me when people equate strength with physical combat. There is more than one way to exercise power and brute force doesn't always cut it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The five most common mistakes Romance authors make

One of my other hats is to edit the Pink Heart Society blog. It is a labour of love but I enjoy it
Anyway, the PHS is very fortunate in that Tessa Shapcott who was a legendary editor at Harlequin Mills & Boon until she left the company earlier this year has agreed to do several posts on writing romance. Tessa is one of the main reasons that Harlequin Presents enjoyed such success over the years.
Her first blog The Five most common mistakes Romance authors make (and how to avoid them) went live on Saturday. If you missed it (and it should be required reading for any Romance author), you can access it here.  Tessa has agreed to do a few more posts for the PHS in the coming months so keep an eye out. I will try to highlight them as well.

And I should be over at Unusual historicals later today/tomorrow with a post on five fascinating facts about Viking controlled Northumbria which is where Paying the Viking's Price is set.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A cake and champagne day

My youngest son will be going to St Andrews to read zoology this September. I am so pleased for him and all he has achieved.

I am also pleased that this is the last time I have to go through the stress of teenagers waiting for their exam results...

Some days are Special Occassion Cake and Champagne days and today is one for my family.

Congrats to everyone else who passed the A levels.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Red Queen and self-belief

Margaret Beaufort, the heroine of Philippa Gregory's The Red Queen is a hard woman to like. But one thing she is not lacking in is self-belief. She truly seems to have believed that her son was destined for the throne and God had ordained it and so it would happen.
It is doubtful that Henry Tudor would have become if not for Margaret Beaufort.
She did go through some pretty dark times but her belief sustained her.
I thought about this, this morning. Sometimes I need to have more faith in myself and my dreams. It is to manufacture hurdles rather than looking at them as stepping stones.

The tv series -- The White Queen is brilliant btw. Good escapist Sunday night viewing. It is the only way to treat the Wars of the Roses -- to look at it from the women's POV. Ther are just too many male protagonists (none of them v nice).

But my God, sometimes I do wish I had Margret Beaufort's self belief.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tracy Anderson Method update (nearly two years in)

As someone asked:

Yes I am still doing TAM. Every morning, 6 days a week.

I make sure I have a banana and a large glass of water before I workout. This has solved several problems including falling asleep in the evening and being ravenously hungry.

I am currently on 2.3 and coming to grips with the hoop. Rather than pay for shipping, I went to the local plumbing store and bought tubing plus connectors. The hoop is 18.5 inches in diameter. There are specific reasons to its size. It works for me.
The hoop requires precision and concentration. The key at times is not to have it swinging wildly on your foot or ankle which means I have to move more slowly. It kills. But I suspect it also kills the remains of saddle bags etc.

I do the MS first and the n the DC as I started to bulk up a bit. Switching it has made the difference. I repeat the arms and abs after I finish the MS and then I do 45 min of the DC.

I am maintaining my size very successfully. I am a solid US 4 as I looked too bony up top when I was 2/4.  As this makes nearly 2 years, I reckon I'm doing better than 95% of the people who lose significant amounts of weight. I eat what I want to but my diet is very heavy in unprocessed food with a huge emphasis on fresh fruit and veg.

Losing it is relatively easy. Keeping it off is the hard part.  It gets harder as you get older as our metabolisms naturally slow down. thankfully TAM has helped. It is all about making a lifestyle change.

In other bits of news:
I am trying to defuse my persistently critical self. It is very easy to take a negative view of things but sometimes you need to realise that things are not personal and that it is better to take a positive approach rather than the negative to define you.