Friday, 2 May 2014

Day 02: The First Challenge


Looking back, I’m actually amazed I managed the first challenge at all. The following morning, or rather afternoon, I woke up on a beanbag in Nick & Claire’s attic with a massive headache, a lump on my head and no memory of the previous 12 hours. Whilst this will sound to most people like a typical New Year’s Day tale, for me it’s quite unusual. Not the waking up in an attic bit. No, that happens to me all the time. It’s the memory loss.

I never suffer memory loss. I don’t have unaccountable periods of time when I've partied too hard. I don’t get ‘blank periods’ even after being legless drunk. Quite the opposite. I remember every excruciating detail. Normally to my embarrassment.

No, I think I smacked my head on a rafter in a drunken state and actually knocked myself out. Hence the bruise and cut on my head. The party had gravitated to the loft (where Nick’s DJ Boudoir is located). Of course to everyone else it just looked like I had too much and passed out on the floor. Which, to be fair, is fairly close to the truth.

So what about the first challenge? Well, I could have chosen anything really but, as I nursed my head and hazy memory of the night before over a masterful breakfast provided by our fabulous hosts, I decided to go with ‘Gym-level workout every day’, which on the surface seems completely nuts considering:

a) I was in no condition to be doing any exercise
b) I was on the other side of London from my gym
c) I had only 4 hours until the gym’s early New Year’s day closing time

But, hey, what’s the point of a challenge if it’s not challenging?

Remarkably, I made it there in time and I didn't die on the exercise bike. Or in the pool. Or even on the Big Cock Machine*. I returned from the gym very holier-than-the-rest-of-the-wrong-uns.

See, I've done the gym workout challenge before. Back in 2011 when I first rode the challenge train. It’s actually not that hard if you have the time to do the workout. Once you are past the first few days it’s actually quite easy. In fact it’s addictive. And let’s face it, it was never going to be a bigger chore than on Jan 1st**.

I think the wording of the challenge is quite important. ‘A gym-level workout’ means burning around 500 calories/working up a sweat/wearing yourself out. You can do that in a number of ways without going to the gym such as walking 6-8km at a brisk pace or spending a couple of hours on the allotment digging. I have a Fitbit so it’s quite easy to measure my energy burn in any of these cases.

What was hard, and completely unanticipated, was not having time to go to the gym at all. Work was utterly crazy at the end of January due to my unexpected inheritance of someone else’s job. That very nearly broke me. Fortunately I’m quite capable of going to the gym before work.

Oddly, I didn't lose any weight this time round. But I did trim down a fair amount and felt generally great. Did I keep it up after that? Hell no. It’s just too hard if you have to go to work every day. But I've managed to maintain 2-3 times a week, which is better than I was doing before and I feel great for it.

Next: 30 days of gifts.

*I will explain what that is in a different blog piece.
** Not true it turns out, if you have to work a 14 hour day in the West End. That is way harder.