Inevitably Agile

somethings are just inevitable …

Category Archives: fitness

Its all gone to hell…

Lying in the bath I pondered what I was going to write here – whether to even bother updating after the last blog post. But this is my blog on my wins and losses – and maybe it will help someone out there…

For the last 8 weeks I have been practising my exercise and diet routine really well. Even when travelling. But in the last week it went to hell. I ate takeout almost every day, have done NO exercise for 7 days. We were losing weight every week. We were loving exercising and making it easily for 4 days and occasionally 5 days a week. And then BANG. Actually there was no bang, nothing catastrophic. No big news. No flu or colds.

So lying in the bath I wondered “What the hell happened?”

Our big race is in 1 weeks time. We were on track to run it. So the short term goal post hadn’t shifted. Every Saturday we have our review. Thats still happening – but not as in depth as it was in the first 5. We were doing a fitness test and weighing in and measuring … the last 3 have just been weigh ins. Our Sprint Planning, which happens on Sundays, still happened but had become more of a “same as last week” than a conscientious planning session. So things like training & being away from home were not thought through enough and caused minor issues.

But in my bath time root cause thinking, it boiled down to one thing. We stopped retrospecting. We had 2 retrospectives and then never again. Not enough time. No immediate added benefit. Seemed like overkill. I know this stuff. blah blah blah.

And that is why we ground to a halt.

Retrospective are like vitamins. You don’t see a need right now, but they prevent flu from knocking you out. If we had been retrospecting we would have noticed the signs sooner. We would have mixed up our routine. Made more time to do activities with friends. Possibly rested more. We would have noticed how not planning properly was derailing us. Instead we noticed the small changes but didnt notice them piling up like dead weight and slowly dragging us to the bottom of the lake. We stopped inspecting and adapting. We didn’t notice the things we were doing well so that we could keep doing them. We didn’t take on small actions to improve over time.

I realised 2 important things tonight.

  • The value of retrospectives in preventing complacency.
  • The value of taking time to get to the root cause of a problem.

Now I need to get my butt back into gear!

(oh – and the value of having a scrum master not in the team, to keep you honest and doing the above! )




Personal Agility

Its been a while since I’ve posted – many reasons, mostly excuses and of course the big one, as always, time.

I have been inspired by Maritza to plan a project in my life using agile techniques and blog about it.


My BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) is to: Be Fit and Slim

See how nice and airy and fairy that is? No clear definition just a fluffy ideal 🙂 And like so many projects out there it has a deadline: February 2013.

I will wear short shorts

Now all projects should be explained using their “WHY?”. I am getting married next year in March, but more importantly the honeymoon is to be on a sun kissed beach somewhere. I want to be feeling fit and energetic and looking good in a bikini by then.

As good agilists know, we should ask “why?” a few times … Currently I am feeling fat and lazy. I weigh the most I ever have. I dont fit into the vast majority of my clothes. Yes I’m exercising: gym with trainer twice a week, running twice a week – but really I use that as an excuse to eat what ever I want. Also, I’m smoking again. I know. Believe me I KNOW.

screming at the scale

The Plan

To try something to help with the diet and exercise for one month, inspect and adapt, and also think about the weather in the next month and its effect on exercise (we are heading into winter here).


We will sprint for 1 week, starting on a Sunday. On the Sunday we will plan in detail for the following week.

This includes:

  • coming up with a menu for the next week – when you pre-plan meals you are less likely to stray
  • take into account socializing with friends, eating out etc.
  • buying all food needed for the menu
  • planning the weeks exercise – take into account business trips, weather impact, races etc


We have no idea of what we can achieve realistically, so for the first sprint we are just going to aim high and use the results to plan better next week.


Every Sunday morning we will have a review. This will include measurements, reflect on progress of week – what did we achieve, what was easy, what was hard, where did we slack off.


Every Sunday after the review we will look at our process and adapt it. What did we learn from the review, what else did we notice, what were our moods like.


Every day in the evening we will discuss and plan for the next day. This might include laying out clothes and setting alarms for early morning gym sessions, preparing breakfast and lunches etc.


On the wall in our passage I have put up:

  • Notes for the diet – this would be similar to best practices for a dev team.
  • Weekly meal plan
  • Weekly exercise plan


We have a burndown chart for our weight, but I think we need a way to measure fitness as well. Thinking of having a fitness test once a month, something like: number of pushups in 1 minute, number of sit-ups in 1 minute, time for a 1.5 km run.

Keep Calm

I would love to hear your thoughts … today is day 1 and I must say I am feeling apprehensive. VERY.

This site makes me smile and feel positive though – I must remember to look at it often!

4 Hour Body Challenge

Friends of mine were reading this book and taking up the challenge so I thought, why not?
fourhourbody book
Tim Ferris doesn’t claim to have all the answers he is simply telling  his story and providing his results. If one of his “experiments” seemed to work then he would try it with a few other people. Most “experiments” in this book are accompanied by lots of scientific data and facts if that interests you :)
The book is structured in an interesting way, you pick the areas you want to experiment in and try for a week, then inspect and adapt.
I decided to do the diet part – which is a slow-carb diet and the exercise part.
I will commit to four weeks and then see how it working out for me ;) 

4 Hour Body Diet
There are a handful of rules – which are super duper easy. And really seem impossible at first. But google some recipes and you can totally make this work for you :)
This diet involves a lot of cooking and preparation. So be ready for that. However many of the meals can be made in advance (to a point) and frozen.
Saturday cheat days are awesome … I look forward to them ALOT.
More details on basics of diet here:

Foods allowed/not allowed: are some of the recipes that I’ve tried:

  • BEATs – awesome breakfast, can be mostly made night before, just heat bacon in morning.
  • Omelet Muffins – can be made night before. Makes 6 – I have 3 for a meal ‘portion’.
  • Omelet Loaf – an adaptation of the muffins and by far my favourite!
  • Shepard Pie – mince mix can be made in advance and frozen, 20min in oven with topping and its ready.
  • Lamb Potjie (Stew)
  • Oxtail Stew
  • Nutty Mash – awesome with most meals to replace “starch”- brown color with nutty flavour.
  • Mash – as above but only use cauliflower & a can of butter beans – very white and fluffy looking.
  • Italian meatballs – can be made in advance and frozen (5 squash ball size per meal)
  • Chicken with beans & steamed veg
  • Med-Rare steak pieces with salad
  • Pork Stirfry
  • Protein Shake – quick and easy for gym mornings
  • Chicken,Brocoli & Almond Frittata – this seems a bit bland to me , is nice with 2 slices of ham added afterwards per slice. Maybe should cook it with ham and chicken.
  • Bolognaise Sauce – I only make the sauce in this recipe (and i switch sausage for bacon bits)
4 Hour Body Exercises
For week 1 and 2 I just did the basics 3 times a week:

Week 3 I upped this a bit – still 3 times a week:

Week 4 I upped this a bit – still 3 times a week:

Insights and Results so far…

  • I’m glad I’m doing this in winter … the bean meals are nice and filling and warm


  • I think a slow cooker would be a good investment
  • I’m no longer tired at work in the afternoon
  • I’m enjoying the time spent cooking and eating
  • Red wine is lovely when enjoyed with a nice meal
  • Its really difficult to eat within 30min of waking up … I like to laze/snooze in bed (but i generally eat within 40min now)
  • The first week I lost 3kg and many cm’s. Thereafter I gained 1 kg and my weight stayed consistent for 3 weeks. I was still losing cm’s though, and my clothes were looser.
  • Drink 2L of water a day – this I only achieved on the first week – then I got lazy


Week 5 – the downfall :) 
I committed to doing this “diet” for 4 weeks. And I did. I saw results. I enjoyed the meals.
But this week – week 5 – I am taking off. I am eating what ever I want, and suprisingly that is not as much “cheating” as I thought it would be.

Week 6 – back on diet & exercise plan from week 4.
The last week of eating anything and lots of take aways was fun but definitely overrated. It was awesome to get back onto the diet. I am a little less strict now, so birthdays etc I share a slice of cake, but otherwise I am 100% back on the diet.

I will do another update with some measurements in about a month :)

Recipe – Omelet Loaf

Note: makes enough for 6 servings


  • 6 eggs
  • 250g cooked bacon bits
  • 1 cup diced vegetables (courgettes, carrots, red pepper, spring onion)
  • some salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp red pesto sauce (or any other spicy sauce for flavour)


  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Lightly grease silicon loaf tray (I use macadamia oil).
  2. In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add meat, vegetables, salt, ground pepper, and any other ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. Bake for around 30-40 minutes until a knife inserted into the center of loaf comes out almost clean.
  4. I usually cool, cut into 6 slices, then wrap in foil and leave in the fridge for easy munching in the morning.

Running Program – The last week

Last week was the final week of the running program. As such we had our assessment and the others ran their goal race “The Landmark 21km” on Sunday.

Here are the previous blogs posts of my assessments: #1, #2, #3


My weight has hardly changed – disappointing, but as I am fitting into a size smaller pants I suppose its all relative. My waist measurement is smaller – yay! MY running time improvement thought not by all that much. The big difference came in at my recovery heart rate. This means I am much fitter!

For more info on VO2 Max and a handy calculator please go to this site:

Tues: 2.5km assesmentAs always this was terrible. 17 times around a small track in a hot and stuffy gym – yuck!

Tues: 8km flattish– Nice run – took it easy and chatted with a friend most of the way. Felt relaxed as I had made my goal of 21km so now the pressure was off and I could just enjoy it 🙂

I didn’t run for the rest of the week as the bursitis in my hip was aching. I think the dual running on Tuesday must have just been too much.

Sun: The Landmark 6km fun run – As my hip was still a bit sore I opted to run the fun run with the programs 10km group. This was their furthest run and they were doing splits (2m walk, 20m run, 2m walk, 15m run, 2m walk, 5m run). It was awesome, it felt so nice to chat and encourage newbie runners. Plus it was SO easy! I remember 6 months ago when that exact distance was so difficult for me 🙂

Week 8 distance: 2.5 + 8 + 6 = 16.5km

Total distance for program: 209.5km (WOW that is far!)

So what is my plan going forward?

It feels odd to not have the program this week – like my whole tempo is out. I am determined not to throw away all the hard work and effort I’ve put in. My hip bursitis is really sore from the run yesterday – so one thing I need to do is back off the distance running and focus on strengthening my legs 😦

So loosely my plan is as follows – thought the runs will be much shorter until my hip is feeling better 🙂

Mon – strength training [AM : pilates & strength exercises]

Tues – 10km [PM : RunJogWalkBuddies trail run]

Wed – strength training [AM : pilates & strength exercises]

Thurs – 6/7km (must have hills) [PM : Constantia Nek with friend?]

Fri – cross train/rest [AM : pilates & strength exercises if not tired]

Sat – 10-21km (depending on races etc) [AM : VOB RunWalk Trail running group]

Sun – cross train/rest [AM : slow and easy dog walk 🙂 ]

Running Program – week 8

More details can be found here:


Tues: 8km flattish– This felt so long on tired legs 🙂

Wed: Strength Training– I was very tired. This session finished me off. Full body torture (workout)!

Thurs: 8km – I was way to tired to attempt this. So I just took a rest day 😦

Sat: 15km Isostar Tokai Forest Trail run – Not part of the running program (they are running a 10km on Sunday) but I couldn’t resist 🙂 I have never been to Tokai forest – its beautiful. The race was fabulous, many people were walking up the hills with me and just enjoying the perfect cool overcast weather. Many hills, and my feet were rather sore by the end – but I was grinning from ear to ear.

Focus for this week – mapping out a plan for my running goals for the next 6 months – training and races etc.

Week 8 distance: 8 + 15 = 23km

Total distance for program: 193km

Running Program – Week7 – Goal Race

More details can be found here:

Mon: Strength Training– I did the pilates session I’ve been trying to do for 2 weeks. It was really great, definetly more me than yoga 🙂

Tues: 10km flattish– Its odd that such a huge distance has just become my mid week training run – when a mere 4 months ago it was my goal distance!

Thurs: 6km – I did this in a rather quick time – felt strong at the end aswell – a definite sign of getting fit!

Sun: 21km Grape Run Half Marathon – My goal race. WOW. What an experience. I was really nervous before the start, so nervous that I forgot to start my watch! Once the gun went off everyone started moving – it was uphill for the first 8km or so – pretty amazing seeing such a huge group of people moving up the road in front of you. Once we hit the vineyards the bunch had spread out and you could see a long snake of people winding their way up through the vineyards. The views were beautiful – many times I wished I had a camera – next year I will buy a waterprrof camera to take with! I was amazed at how many road runners their were – this race is mostly off-road on dirt roads, and VERY up & down – hardly any flat bits. I LOVED it! Everyone was really friendly too. Aparently this race is known for being super difficult so most people just enjoy it instead of trying to set a PB. When we hit the 14km marker I was feeling strong, from there on wards was all new for me. The last 2 to 3 km were difficult – but more because I was running alone for the first time in the race. I finished in 2:55 with a HUGE grin on my face and friends cheering me on at the finish line 🙂

Focus for this week – mapping out a plan for my running goals for the next 6 months – training and races etc.

Week 7 distance: 10 + 6 + 21 = 37km

Total distance for program: 170km

Running Program – Week 6

More details can be found here:


My Account Workouts  dailymile - Google Chrome_2010-10-18_07-08-17

Mon: Strength Training– finally I made it to the gym! I did the same exercises that were given to us 2 weeks ago – nice workout!

Tues: 10km flattish– An ok run in wind.

Wed: 5km VOB time trail– For the first time I enjoyed this run. I ran with a friend and ignored the time trail bit. I finished in a good time considering I wasn’t pushing. Guess I’m fitter! YAY!

Thurs: 8km with hills– This run felt long and hard. I took many walk breaks as my legs felt heavy like lead. I suppose 3 days of running in a row leave you with tired legs 😦

Sun: 11.6km Trail run– What an awesome way to end the week 🙂 We ran as a group so there was a lot of waiting for people to rejoin – I’m proud to say I did a lot of waiting. I ran  with my camel-pak and trail shoes and enjoyed every minute of it. The view was gorgeous, hot summer weather, 3 waterfalls – PERFECT! I also bought a new watch – the Garmin Forerunner 405 – so I have a GPS track of the route.


Focus for this week – Last week was too busy for me to do pilates. I will do it TODAY!

Week 6 distance: 10.19 + 5 + 7.79 +11.59 = 34.6km

Total distance for program: 133km

Running Program – week 4 & 5

More details can be found here:


My Account Workouts  dailymile - Google Chrome_2010-10-12_08-24-17

Week 4 was crazy… it was my birthday week and well – that was more important! Week 5 was very productive – my running felt easier and I enjoyed it more.

Week 4

Mon: 6km run with hills– This went well – I felt strong

Wed: Strength Training– A hectic circuit setup by the Group owner – left me shaky all over!

Thurs: 7km run, mostly flat – This was horrid – my claves were cramping for the whole run (I think from yesterdays Strength Training)

Sat: 16km run– The day after my birthday celebrations – so I didn’t do this 😦

Week 4 distance: 6 + 7 = 13km


Week 5

Mon: Strength Training– I was too lazy, skipped this 😦

Tues: 10km flattish– It had been a while since I had exercised – I was still dehydrated from the weekends festivities but the run felt good.

Thurs: 6km trail run with hills– hectic crazy weather, wind and rain and very cloudy mountain. The run was great, we walked up some of the really steep bits, but after finishing it felt easy and like I could go on forever – AWESOME!

Sat: 12km flattish– The most beautiful day – sunshine, no wind. A lovely run 🙂

Sun: 4km recovery run– I ended up running with a friend and doing a 4km  with many hills 🙂 But we ran slowly and enjoyed it.

Focus for this week – again strength training – but I want to try a Pilates class.

Week 5 distance: 10 + 6 + 12 + 4 = 32km

Total distance for program: 98.4km

Is exercise good for you?


I’m sure everyone will say yes to this. If you can honestly say no – please let me know why?

This is similar to is smoking bad for you? Of course, but that’s not enough to make everyone quit. Smoking is an addiction to nicotine, and it is hard to just quit. It is a chemical addiction and a habit.


But what is the excuse for exercise? An addiction to the couch? Mmm I somehow can’t see this being proved, though I can see how the couch can be a habit 🙂

The vast majority of us will admit that exercise is good for us, that it makes us feel better. Yet – that same vast majority don’t exercise all that often – or at all.


How many times have you heard:

  • My gym membership lapsed… (that means – in most of South Africa – that you didn’t manage to go to gym 24 times in a year)
  • And the many work related excuses – I had to work late – I had a meeting – I’m tired from work.



So exercise can lengthen our lives, make us healthier, release endorphins, reduces stress, makes us feel better – but work is more important?


How many people can honestly say they value their exercise/gym routine as much as their work routine? How many companies can say they encourage their employees to exercise rather than work some overtime? Does it make a difference to the amount of sick days a person takes in a year? I’m not sure. I can only speak for myself and say I am much more productive at work when I’m feeling energised and healthy, and I get that from exercising.


South Africa is 8th in obesity rankings for the world…


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We’re a fat nation, for once I’m glad New Zealand and Australia are beating us.

I’m not immune to this weird phenomenon. I constantly put work ahead of exercise. I also put time with friends and family above exercise. As I get older I realise that I need to value and appreciate and take care of my body and health. I need to value time set aside for exercise as much as I do my work time and my socialising time.


The vast majority of us spend most of the day behind a computer, another hour or so sitting in a car, and then a couple of hours on the couch.

I’m challenging them – and you – to do more. I dare you to make exercise as important as work.


We wont go crazy here …. Yet 🙂

Can you do 30min exercise for every day of work you do?

Any exercise – a walk, bike ride, gym class….


… Wait … Did an excuse just flutter through your head … Already?