Day 299 – Don’t beat yourself up too much

Day 299 – Jan 11th

Okay, so I have a confession to make… I totally couldn’t find a photo for today… anywhere! I have been through my numerous cameras, memory cards, my phone and even my ipad… but nothing. It is looking increasingly like I totally slacked off that day and came up with absolute nothing, I went to bed blissfully unaware that I hadn’t taken a single snap, a real first for me. Its hugely disappointing considering how many of these projects I have done, how many cameras I own, how close I am not getting to the end, and how I have two beautiful little models growing up right in front of my eyes that could easily have paused in front of the camera for the five seconds it would have taken.

So I am making up for it with this contribution. Lesson learnt. Considering myself told off… by myself!

365 project

Day 298 – Neglect the rest day and you’ll pay for it later

Day 298 – Jan 10th

Time to hit the gym again, yes I am throwing myself into this healthy January thing with some relative enthusiasm, this is twice in one week, on top of all the snacks I’ve given up. I could be giving it a bit more, sure, especially seeing as I have completely slacked off on the cycling to work, opting for the much easier and far more fun motorbike instead, but I don’t want to end up hating January or just giving up. I need to make sure that what I am doing feels sustainable. Giving up is just so easy, and especially when making so many changes all in one go.

Today’s workout didn’t feel quite as easy as Monday, there are some days when you’re absolutely on it, and other days when you’re just not quite feeling it… today was most definitely the latter, but I decided to push on anyway. It all started well, but I was hurting by the end of it. Its full-on cardio stuff, but the running element is key at the moment, I need to persevere and keep increasing the duration if I am going to stand any chance of getting up to any kind of race distance in time for the half marathon. The Stratford half marathon I am aiming for may not be until May, but if I am only running twice a week then I am going to need all the weeks available to me to get the distance and the pace I am aiming for, I want this to be my best race yet. So I think a few days off to recover after todays physical assault on the body should hopefully see me ready for another run at the weekend. People think that training is all about pushing yourself as hard as possible as often as possible, but anyone who trains smart knows that rest days are as important as training days. Muscles need to recover and repair themselves.

365 project, Photography

Day 297 – Don’t push too hard

Day 297 – Jan 9th

With the alcohol/crisps/biscuits/chocolate ban in force, I am depriving myself of a massive amount of calories, which whilst difficult enough as it is, is only worth doing if I am going to tie it in with some proper exercise to make it worthwhile. After two weeks off work and a few extra pounds around the waist I am not feeling quite ready to jump on my bicycle and attempt to keep up with the traffic just yet. The mornings have been dark, damp and miserable, and the thought of cycling does not fill me with joy much.

This is the exact reason I decided to switch leg power for horsepower, and have not regretted it… apart from the obvious temptation to keep using the motorbike and miss out on burning calories while I commute through cycling. Its just nice to have the choice at the moment, but I need to remember the deal I made with myself where I promised I’d ride the motorbike Mondays and Fridays and then cycle the rest of the week. It sounds simple enough, at least until you throw the gym in there! I have been talking to a friend about the prospect of signing up for another half marathon this year, as I have been unable to take part in the previous two Birmingham half marathons due to injuries. We are looking at running the Stratford half marathon in May, and that gives me just enough time to train properly without pushing too hard that I end up injuring myself.

After hitting the gym and beginning the training last night, my legs were just not ready for cycling this morning, and my best intentions of cycling three days a week are not looking good. Still, the gym has to be the focus for now, hopefully my legs will begin to ache a little less when I get back into it and I will be able to hit the treadmill and cycle the next day, like I used to before the girls came along!

365 project

Day 296 – Hair today, gone tomorrow

Day 296 – Jan 8th

Right, its waited long enough… time for the winter coat to be shed. I haven’t been to the barbers for years, I have been cutting my own hair for about 10 years now, and so out come the clippers again. It’s a fairly easy job, although it does require a second pair of hands, not something I’d risk doing on my own, as I literally do not have eyes in the back of my head! The wife will help with the area at the back that I can’t see, and she is becoming quite a dab hand at it now! The whole process can be done in about 20 minutes, then as I am at home I can throw myself through the shower to wash all the loose hair off.

The only problem with taking the clippers to my hair, and also losing all the facial hair at this time of year is that you really feel the cold. It really couldn’t stay though, I have been blessed with a thick head of hair and the curly gene from my mom, so in my college days of long hair I had girls envious of my thick and wavy locks. These days, as it never gets that long, on a bad day the curls and waves can make me look either homeless or like I’ve been in a fight with a tight sweater whilst trying to get it over my head! Still, spring is on the way, and I need to look a bit more human again. There is a certain pleasure with being able jump out of bed and know that regardless of how much time you have to get ready, your hair at least will be exactly the same as when you went to bed.

365 project

Day 295 – If snow won’t come to us, then we go to the snow

Day 295 – Jan 7th

Today was on of those days that Olivia is always counting down to, 4 sleeps to go, 3 sleeps to go… you get the idea, it was a childrens birthday party. It was the son of one of our friends, and in a rather exciting twist to the usual birthday party format, they had decided to have it at the Snowdome, somewhere none of us had been to before.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but we were pretty sure it was going to be cold, and so wrapped up accordingly. It was indeed cold, but a great deal of fun. The girls had a whale of a time, well, at least while they could tolerate the cold. We appear to have overlooked the need for extra pairs of socks to keep the feet warm! Thankfully the snow part was only 30 minutes, which was long enough for the girls to have plenty of fun before they’d had enough and wanted to warm up… and soon enough we were off to the much warmer party room for the kids to enjoy food and drink and some cake. Nothing like a good party to entertain the kids for a few hours, its not quite free childcare, but it is a chance to at least take a bit of a break from worrying about where they are and what they’re doing a little bit less for a couple of hours.

Then that was it… Christmas holiday is suddenly over. Back to work in the morning. I can’t be too disappointed, I’ve had a fantastic couple of weeks off, even if we didn’t go very far or get a whole lot done, at least got to eat well and drink well, enjoy a bit of snow, relax at home and see some friends and family, what more can you ask for?

365 project

Day 294 – Silence is golden

Day 294 – Jan 6th

A quiet Saturday at home, the Christmas holiday has almost come to an end and its time to think about getting ready for my return to work on Monday.

The wife has a morning appointment at the opticians, meaning its just me and the girls for a couple of hours, and with no intention of going anywhere soon we can just relax around the house, we’ll worry about getting dressed later, there’s no rush right now. The girls chose to play upstairs and Olivia’s airbed was proving a popular choice.

After lunch was done for the girls, it was time for Chloe to take a nap, while Olivia went round to visit the grandparents with the wife, to help take their Christmas tree down. This presented a chance for me to put my feet up for a couple of hours, do nothing and try to close my eyes for a bit too.

It was optimistic at best though, my usual plans for napping usually end in me not being able to fall asleep when the opportunity presents itself. Oh well, at least I could put my feet up and relax for a bit, its a rare treat to not have little ones running around demanding attention. For as much as I love them, this little silent spell is bliss!

365 project

Day 293 – Isn’t it about time we had a good argument?!

Day 293 – Jan 5th

Ahh Ikea, the Swedish home of the good old family row! If there is are two things certain about this Scandinavian maze, its that a) you will end up spending WAY more than you intended to and come out with things you never went in for, and b) it will test even the strongest of relationships, often ended up in somebody losing their temper at some point!

We hadn’t been for a while and figured it was about time as we needed some new lamps of quite a specific design for our living room and this was the best place. Its fair to say that the lamps were not cheap, and even with this in mind we still managed to spend 2.5x the amount we intended to. The bill was so high that I even questioned it at the till.

The thing with Ikea purchases is that even if you spend a lot, you rarely regret what you’ve bought, and our new lamps looked fantastic, and fitted into the small space we needed them to. We even came away with a gorgeous wooden toy box for the girls toys, which although we weren’t planning on getting today from Ikea, we were looking at picking from somewhere or other very soon anyway. It added a significant chunk to the bill, especially with all the add-ons that you have to buy to go with it, or it doesn’t look like the display model, but the end result after an hour of putting it all together was one of total satisfaction.

My biggest regret of the day was not stopping in the cafe for delicious Swedish meatballs!!

365 project

Day 292 – Get a haircut, ya hippy!

Day 292 – Jan 4th

Over the last few years I have tended to develop a bit of a winter-look as the days started to get cooler and shorter, the hair starts to get a bit longer and the facial hair starts to appear. I blame the arrival of the Movember trend, men everywhere suddenly sprouting moustaches, and regardless of how much they get mocked, everyone keeps growing because its all for a good cause. Unfortunately the era of the moustache being fashionable and looking acceptable on most men has long since passed, only a few guys can pull this look off these days, but not many, and no matter how much we aim for that Tom Selleck in Magnum PI look, for the most of us we just end up getting the same cruel comments… mostly along the lines of how it makes us look like some kind of sexual deviant usually connected with the inappropriate touching of kids!!

My wife was never a fan and after the first couple of years of Movember insisted that if I absolutely must join in then at the very least I grow a goatee beard to go with it… unfortunately for her, that was her first mistake, as I actually quite like having a goatee, and the last couple of years it has started around the same time but ended up staying until well beyond Christmas!

I was fully intending to do something about my mop top and unruly facial hair over the christmas break while I was off work, but each day we’d either forget about it or not have time. Now the new year has finally landed and I have to address the issue before I find myself walking down the street with a cup of McDonalds tea in hand, and people start tossing money into it!

365 project, Photography

Day 291 – Once is not enough

Day 291 – Jan 3rd

Its gym day, time to burn off some of those christmas calories… but lets not pretend that this isn’t just a few festive mince pies I need to get rid of, these are December calories that need to go in all honesty!

I don’t like to worry too much about what goes into my mouth over Christmas, its a time to enjoy food and drink without feeling too guilty about it, although this year I have been a little more careful and tried not to get too carried away. Either way, the scales do not reflect this and so its time for some serious action!

So far alcohol, biscuits and crisps have been banned, these are calories that do not contribute to my hydration or stop me from being hungry, and whilst I am not counting calories yet, I feel that just cutting out the snacks is going to be a good start. I need to at least keep this up for January until I can see some results.

So I decided to treat myself to some new headphones to help me along, and this very affordable pair of Skullcandy bluetooth wireless headphones has been a complete revelation, the connection to your phone is quick and easy and the sound quality is very impressive. The lack of an annoying wire swinging backwards and forwards as you run on the treadmill has been driving me mental for an eternity, so going wireless has been nothing short of wonderful!

Now I just need to make sure my gym visits are a bit more regular than they have been.

365 project, Photography

Day 290 – The girl wants shoes, the girl gets shoes

Day 290 – Jan 2nd

This is a first for me, usually my 365 projects have ended on December 31st, but this year I am carrying it through well into the new year as I didn’t actually start this one until the middle of March 2017.

The day began with me jumping on the bathroom scales finally, to see what work has to be done over the next few months, and how much I’d neglected this temple of a body over the last 12 months.

The news wasn’t good… 208lbs is the heaviest I have ever been! It wouldn’t be so bad if I was six feet tall, but I picked up some slightly shorter genes from my mothers side of the family, and my height doesn’t carry that weight so well. There is plenty of work to be done here!

After the unsurprising weigh-in, I was able to take my mind of it with a trip out to the shops, time to get Olivia measured for some new shoes. It sounds like such a simple task, but little did we know how frustrated and annoyed we would be by the end of it. The go-to shop for kids shoes has always traditionally been Clarks’ for many years, due to their measuring service, skilled staff, range of shoes and more importantly the lack of competition. Its fair to say that we are in a different era now, kids clothing has come a long way in its price and availability, standards seem to have slipped in Clarks’ and there are many other shops selling lovely shoes for children at a fraction of the price. On this occasion the wife wanted Olivia’s feet measured as it had been a while since they were last done, I personally reckoned we could buy shoes without measuring the feet at this age, but the wife was fairly adamant she wanted them measured. As it happened, the assistant who attempted to help us in Clarks’ first actually measured Olivias feet wrong, then when she gave us a pair to try on we found she’d left the paper stuffed inside, which explained why they were such a bad fit… and then when we gave up on trusting the measurement and just asked her to bring out some in the size we thought we’d want any way there was only a pair of boys blue trainers and some boots… none of which we wanted. So, for each of the previously listed benefits of going to Clarks’ there wasn’t a single tick on this occasion. Pretty poor considering their shoes are some of the most expensive you’ll find for children! I can’t see us hurrying back anytime soon! Ironically the pair we want are online, in stock and on sale… with next day delivery!

Ironically, given my disappointment after stepping off the bathroom scales today, I was simply too tired to hit the gym in the afternoon. I do believe that if the body is not ready, there is no point pushing it. Rest is as important as working out. I’ll try and get a better nights sleep and go tomorrow instead.