Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Dawn Breakers fitness challenge: week 3

When I last did Dawn Breakers, I definitely struggled during week three, mainly with tiredness, and I remember I had one day off and slept in. I admit that I'm only very loosely keeping to the nutrition plan as I'm not doing the challenge to lose weight, just to work on my fitness level. I weighed myself at the end of this week and I am now 9st 10 which is the heaviest that I've ever been. I tried on a pair of trousers that I haven't worn in a while, and will need to give them away as they're now just too tight to fit my thighs in, but they're looser on the waist. It kinda cracks me up that I'm now closer to 10 stone as I'm only 5ft 6 with a slim build, and am a size 8 normally.

For some reason, I haven't been sleeping that well, which does surprise me as generally I'm pretty tired when I get into bed. I've been making sure I've drunk enough water and got back into daily meditation, so I'm sure that will help with my sleep again. I'm pretty pleased with myself as I can now do a full round of both sphinx pushups and monkey bounces, yay! The monkey bounces will never be easy and I have to close my eyes towards to end to really focus and keep going.

The last day of week three was a toughie in preparation for Phase 2... we'll now be doing 45 seconds rounds with a 10 second rest, and then another 45 second rest after finishing the five exercises in that group. Good grief, 10 seconds for a rest is really not very much! I was really pleased with how I did and got so hot that I started to slip on the mat in my own sweat (nice, I know). I normally get home at 07:45 and then leave at 08:30 to walk into work, but I was so knackered that I contacted them to say that I would be late to give me more time to recover.

It seems that the first three weeks help improve our overall fitness, in readiness for the craziness that is Phase 2! The weekend was my aikido association's annual course and I would normally attend both days, but I decided that I needed the Sunday to rest. Definitely the right decision and I slept like a log at the weekend, phew!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Dawn Breakers fitness challenge: week 2

After completing week one of Dawn Breakers, I definitely needed the weekend off to have a rest. I didn't set an alarm on either day and let myself wake up naturally, as I figured I probably could do with some extra sleep to help me recover. I was looking forward to getting back to day six, but somehow I was a bit disappointed as I felt that I hadn't worked hard enough? I've had something going on with my left knee for a while and really struggled with doing anything on one leg.

Endurance is always a tough day, but I enjoyed day seven so much more in comparison with the day before. Sphinx push ups and monkey bounces, it is ON... I will be able to do a full round of you soon, without a rest... I had another appointment at the chiropractor with the TENS machine for my knee and it'll be great for it to be back to normal. 

On day eight I felt like I could definitely push myself harder, and felt stronger on crocodile push ups and side roll overs. After a little chat about my knee, I'll be avoiding single leg ski squats etc. for the time being to help it recover and not aggravate what's going on. Wednesday seems to be the day when my energy is at its lowest, so I treated myself to another nap and slept very deeply before popping out to the chiropractor again. When I got back home after 18:00, I realised just how hungry I was and admit that I lost the plot slightly, definitely a case of what can be termed 'hangry'. My poor husband will agree that I'm not good company if I go too long without food!


Combat day is my favourite day, but I did struggle to get out of bed on day eight. I didn't feel that I could push myself as much as the previous Thursday, but I'm aware that I've done quite a bit of training since then. I think my kicks are getting a bit better, and I gave myself a stitch due to my enthusiastic elbow strikes!

I didn't sleep very well and think it was due to being hungry, so I'm going to make sure I have some fruit or something later in the evening. With it being the final workout of the week, I had decided to really go for it on day nine, but received some timely advice at the beginning that it's possible to go all out on the first round and consequently struggle to finish the rest. I still managed to work hard, but paced myself a bit better throughout the session.

I've had an awesome second week, and feel that my starting level of fitness is definitely higher due to the first Dawn Breakers that I did last year. One thing that I need to keep an eye out for is managing my expectation of what I'm capable right now, as it could be too easy for me to feel disappointed (like I did on Monday) and consequently be too hard on myself. Generally, I feel better in myself, and I think all this exercise is also good for my digestion and complexion.   

Monday, 5 May 2014

Dawn Breakers (Insanity style) fitness challenge: week 1

Following on from my previous post, I have now finished week one of Dawn Breakers and am absolutely loving it!

What is Dawn Breakers?
'High intensity, interval training, weight loss, body conditioning course. Early morning, 45 minute daily workout, over 6 weeks. DB is suitable for anybody - please get in touch if you're not sure about any aspect of it (contact details on FB page). Cost is £150 for a 6 week course, 5 workouts per week, all a little different, covering: core strength, endurance, strength, combat, agility and functionality. If it sounds a little scary, it really isn't. Anyone can do it, and EVERYONE that does will lose weight! Please look at our pictures for evidence of local people who have made a BIG difference in a SMALL amount of time! Our results speak for themselves. If you're serious about losing weight and getting in shape, there is truly no better, or faster way to do it'.  
The above info is taken from Facebook and I'm not involved in running the course, just a happy customer. 

Why am I doing it? 
I've always been fairly active, and at school was more enthusiastic than talented at sports. As an adult, I've done more swimming, running, cycling and martial arts than anything else, and only set foot in a gym on holiday. However, with all this I suppose I've never felt like I've really pushed myself physically and had the nagging feeling that I'd like to be fitter.  

One day, my husband pointed out the Femme Fatale challenge on Facebook and I found myself seriously considering signing up to it. After much consideration, I realised that I loved the idea of all the training, but I didn't particularly want to get into a ring and fight someone. Despite doing a bit of training over the years in karate, Wing Chun and kickboxing, I've never fancied doing full contact sparring much.

Dawn Breakers number 3 was about to start and it just seemed good timing after my initial interest in the Femme Fatales and I figured it would be a good way to give my seasonal affective disorder a kick up the bum. Best decision ever, toughest thing I've ever done and I've no idea why I didn't write any blog posts about it! I'd never planned to do more than one Dawn Breakers, but I had been missing it and seeing one of the regulars (I blame you, Brett) helped make my mind up to do another one. I was very lucky as there was a cancellation, so we started on Monday.

What does it involve?
My alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. and I get into my work out gear, neck down 500ml of water, make my protein shake and then into the car for the 06:45 a.m. start. After an initial warm up, the rounds in Phase 1 are currently 60 seconds with a 30 second rest in between. In week 3, Phase 2 commences with reduced rest periods and I will find out more when we get there. Last time, Phase 2 involved moving onto more circuit-like workouts where you push a particular muscle group as hard as you can and then won't work them again as you move round the room.

How has my first week been? 
I was a bit apprehensive as I'd injured my right foot at the Ikeda Sensei aikido seminar, but luckily it's recovered enough to be fine (phew). Day one was a gentle introduction (compared with what's to come) and we started off with 35 second rounds with the normal 30 second rest. Great to be back and it's a much larger group than last time, which is testament to how awesome it is. Blimey day two (endurance) was so much harder and back to the normal 60 second rounds. Andy didn't hold back and had us doing exercises like burpees, bastardos (burpee with a push up included)  and we finished on monkey bounces. Day three (strength) was a toughie for me with things like sphinx push ups and these (not sure we call them that). Energy-wise, this was definitely my hardest day and I luckily had the day off work, so had a nap in the afternoon. After my nap, I felt more rested and ready for day four and I flippin' LOVE combat day! Managed to push myself much harder and I was bright pink when I finished. I also walked about 3 miles and my kind husband gave me a lift home as my legs didn't fancy the extra mile home on top of that... Day five (agility and functionality) was the toughest as there's lots of up and down, with balance required which becomes trickier the more tired I become. Andy is evil as the final round was two monkey bounces forward and then two back, very tired at the end.  

I'm aware that this kind of fitness training won't be for everyone, but I find that working out in the morning is such a great way to start the day. £150 might also seem like quite a bit of dosh, but it only works out at £5 per day, which I think is well worth it. Despite a mid-week dip in my energy levels, I'm now feeling more perky and looking forward to working harder during week two. Overall, I think I feel better in myself and I'm looking forward to what's to come!