Friday, 28 May 2010

Swimming - progress update

In the pool this morning: 32 lengths front crawl = 800m

I started being able to do 3.

Yeehaa. Take that sucker!!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

No I do not want to see my nipples!

Brief rant time.

I've just been to a local designer outlet.

Now why oh why are T shirts made of such thin material that you can see your nipples through them? Isnt that a basic design flaw? I mean, we're not all teenage boys with bony concave chests. Once they're over the age of 30 most men have some padding in that area. And no, I dont want to be able to see my nipples or anyone else's, thank you.

I keep thinking that it wasnt always like that. That it's the result of manafacturers cost cutting and attempting to make T shirts at the lowest cost possible. But maybe it has always been this way. Who knows.

Anyway you would have thought that there was a space for quality T shirts in the market.You know, ones with a high thread count that feel good and dont show what's underneath. But that just doesnt seem to be the case. Even the Tommy Hilfigers of the world get their stuff made in China and Bangladesh. It's probably made in exactly the same factories as the middle-of-the-road suppliers.

*Sigh* Still - it IS kind of fun to see how much you can make your nipples stand out ... ie how perky you can make 'em ...... lol .........

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Maybe I should become an eccentric?

I've been spending time recently finding out about wetsuits and the like. Wetsuits appear to be vital for open water distance swimming. Particularly if it's a) early on in the season (which is late April-Sep) and if b) you havent acclimatised yourself to swimming in cold water.

Triathlon associations mandate their use if the sea temp is 15 degrees or less. In Dover last weekend the water temp was about 11. The temp probably wont get over 15 until late June.

Having said which, there are some who regard wetsuits to be for wimps. The Channel Swimming Association dont believe in them. Indeed, anyone who wants to make an "official" crossing of the English Channel (from England to France) has to do it just in their trusty speedos. And wearing an industrial tub of vaseline :)

Channel swim training started off in Dover harbour a couple of weekends ago and nobody there was wearing anything more than a cossie.

(Of course they didnt stay in the water long!! Apparently the water sessions were 2 * 30/40minutes each day. So I guess it's the principle that counts ;) )

There seems to be something very eccentric about all this. They say that "you have to have a touch of the loony about you to be an open water swimmer". So it could be just the thing for me!!

On which subject, I love the following video : (Old Man in the Sea)

The equivalent for running appears to be the Hash House Harriers movement. Those guys are also loveably eccentric. Maybe I'll try that in the autumn/winter.

(Hashing usually involves meeting up at a pub and then going off for a run. It's a bit like hunting - one guy acts as a hare and the rest of the runners are the "pack" that go after him. There are a lot of rituals and silliness attached to it, and of course a fair amount of drinking :) Hence the motto of my local hash club - which is that they are "A drinking club with a running problem" .... lol ..... )

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Swim challenge

I've always harboured this crazy wish to do distance swimming. I think it started ten years ago when I swam between two islands in Fiji. It wasnt very far (about 750m) but I always remember the beautiful blue skies, the glassy blue ocean, and the wonders of the coral reef about 10ft below where I was swimming.

Of course - I live in England. Where the water temp is a lot cooler than in Fiji! So I have never taken the idea anywhere. Still - it's been niggling me. And recently - doing some research - I've realised that there are many wonderful places to swim in the UK. Once you get past the issue of the water temperature! It also seems like a great focus for me. I want and need to get away from just focussing on weight loss numbers and look at the whole thing more holistically.

Anyway, I've started training in the local pool. I've found a program at which builds you up to a swim distance of 1km. I'm currently on session 18 of 48, so my goal is to do the distance in late July or early August. Wish me luck! After that I'll be looking for an outdoor swim of around that distance.

(I'm going to be a bit late to do the swim challenges that the training program is targetted for. Which is a shame. But not too late to find something juicy to do later in the season)

In other news : I've been working recently on my press ups. You know the real ones - not the girly knees-on-the-floor versions (hehe!).

Todays total : 9. I swear I struggled to do one back last November....

(One day I'd like to do the 100 press up challenge. Man that would be a buzz. But first things first... baby steps and all that....)

Friday, 9 April 2010

Running - it's getting freaky ...

OK I'm sore today. Like dont-want-to-move-off-the-couch sore. But man I still feel gooooddd.

Circuits on Wednesday was hard. Really hard. Usually we all pair up and go round the room doing exercises at each of the different stations. Not this time. This time we did the following :

* Warm up : boxercise. I've done boxercise with blokes before so I tried to find a girl to do this part of the workout with. They a) hit with less force and b) take the sane approach - rather than trying to bust your pads with their punches they realise that you're only warming up and they take it easy. Unfortunately all the girls had similar thoughts, and paired up with each other :) That left me with Ian, who is 6ft 5, has been boxing since he was 16 and hits the pads HARD....

- then we went on to the main course -

* Circuits. This time there were four "stations", each with three different exercises at them. On the first circuit we did Exercise 1 at each station : on the second circuit Exercises 1 and 2 : on the third circuit all three Exercises. To keep things moving , we did it in groups of 3.

To add some spice the PT (Lloyd) made Exercise 1 at each station the hardest! Eg at one station it was :

Exercise 1 : burpees for a minute
Exercise 2 : star jumps for a minute
Exercise 3 : squat thrusts, bringing knees to chest (again for a minute)

Doing it in groups of 3 was interesting too. If you're lucky in a pair you can team up with a mate and then "pace" each other. In a group of 3 (especially if it's guys), there will always be one of them who wants to "go for it" (sometimes it was me!). Harder to cheat. (This of course may well be complete b*shit - it could just have been the weirdoes in my particular group).

* "Cool down" - OK usually when we've done the circuits we just lie down on mats and do some stretches. Not this time. This time it was "You think it's over! Hah!.. "

Instead we had to :

- Squat against the wall for a minute
- Side planks - each side for a minute
- Forward plank for a minute

I was sweating so much that I couldnt get myself set for either of the side planks ... :) Not that I had the strength to do them anyway ... lol ...

Funnily enough when I left the class I still felt really good. There's a good spirit of camaradarie at the class. We realise it's tough and we try and support each other. Lloyd the PT is also fantastic at keeping everyone motivated during the class.

The soreness though started last night. This morning (Friday morning) my legs just ached and I felt like I was about 70 trying to get up from the chair...

But here's how things have changed. Instead of wimping out I went to the gym this morning and decided I would do just some simple stamina building. A long run on the treadmill at whatever speed I could handle.

Now I havent done anything above 30 minutes on the treadmill recently. But I thought "What the hell let's aim for 45". Before I would have considered that crazy talk : " increase your time by 50%. Are you mad??" But now ... well my body is just able to do it. It was tough (and I had to do it a bit slower than usual - at 6.2 mph) but I did it.

I forget sometimes with all the interval training that it's great to do stamina training from time to time. It shows me how far I've come.

Still ... I just hope I can get out of bed tomorrow!! (well heck I have to - I'm organising a dance social tomorrow evening!)

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Biking in the garden shed

So ... there are a couple of girls at my Wednesday circuits class I'm kind of interested in.

Needless to say the first question in my head is - are they single? The second question (given the sort of town I live in) is "do they have 4 kids and an ex who is always coming round to cause you hassle?"

In a bid to find out the answers, I decided to do a second exercise class with one of them. In a garden shed.

It turns out that the personal trainer who organizes the circuits has also built himself a fitness studio at the bottom of his garden. In what probably used to be the garden shed.

I had thought naively there would be just me, the trainer and a couple of others (including this lovely girl) in the shed. Err no. Turned out there were about a dozen of them. All ready to go and pumping.

It was a spin class. Which - even after five months at the gym - I have never done before. Yes it took a woman to get me there :)

Believe me I got HOT. And I dont mean under the collar.Even though I was near to the ceiling fan in the centre of the shed it was still pretty tight in there. I tried pacing myself. But there's something about having driving music, twelve other people cycling as hard as they can and a red faced trainer bellowing out encouragement that ... well taking it easy becomes no longer an option ...

So by the end of the spin session I was whacked. Pouring with sweat. Not exactly what I was expecting - I thought I'd have a light session and then turn on my charm with the gorgeous young lady in question.

Unfortunately I also discovered that she did have a husband - and three kids at home. I should have known *sigh*

Still, it's not every day that you exercise in a garden shed. And at least I had some fun in the process!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Friday update

Weigh In :

Friday 26th March 210 lb (95.5 kg)

Bummer. The first time Ive gained weight on the current "journey".

Still : today I ran 30 mins on the treadmill @ 6.5 mph. After an hour of pilates.

It's great to know I can.


And I'll hold on to that :)

Monday, 22 March 2010

Tough times

Gack. What a week!

I succumbed to my first proper binge on Friday since the New Year. It started when I parked at the local supermarket. I went there just to use the parking, as it was a short walk from there into town. Unfortunately on the way back I felt "obliged" to use the supermarket itself. One of those stupid ideas I have about being "fair". I've used your car park : in return I should do at least some shopping at the store.

Now the store in question is Waitrose. Which is probably the most expensive supermarket chain in the UK. Most essentials there cost at least 25% more than at my usual store. So often when I go there I treat myself to the premium brand of something. If I'm going to spend more, my argument is, then I may as well go for quality, and get a brand that I cant usually get elsewhere.

It's not like I had anything I wanted to buy in the first place. So I was only going in because I felt I "had to".

Stupid stupid. In this case I ended up in the chocolate aisle looking at the posh Easter Eggs. And from there went on to the chocolate bar section. It went downhill from there...

(The binge :

1 posh white chocolate Easter Egg - yes I know - well before Easter..
1 large bar white chocolate with raspberry - obviously I was craving white chocolate
1 family pack cheese and onion crisps
6 chocolate Waitrose chocolate snack bars
-oh and later - 1 bottle of real ale ..


I was thinking yesterday what caused the binge. Apart from my weird mental logic.

I guess I've had a low level of depression going on this week. The joblessness seems to go on and on, and I have been less and less inclined to apply. I need to make decisions about what to do this summer. Mostly - should I sell/rent out the house and move on? So I was getting myself in panic mode and the binge probably became inevitable.

Another thing was that recently my body has been feeling pretty wrecked. Constant exercising since January has taken its toll. Last week I had really sore calves : before that shin splints. I didnt want to skip exercise sessions though. So I've been working on through the pain. Maybe again the bingeing was a way of telling me I do have to take it easier.

Since Friday I've had a few more binges. Hopefully as I become clearer about my future plans, I'll be able to stop them. But for now, all I can do is hold on tight and try to remember what I've achieved so far...

Oh : and my weigh in this week (before the bingeing) was no change. That didnt help ;)

Weigh in : 19 Mar 209 lb

Friday, 12 March 2010


Weighed in today :

Last update : 13 Feb 216lb
Today's weigh in : 12 Mar 209lb

Under the 15st I set myself in Jan! F-A-N-Tastic!

Im going to do weekly updates from now on as that's what I work by anyway.

I also usually rate my performance using the ABC criterion ie

A for Activity (Exercise)
B for Behaviour (Mental outlook etc)
C for Consumption

A - Activity- this has been excellent. Have added a new circuit training session this week so I am now doing 2 circuits a week (Monday and Weds evenings). And though it may be weird to say, I love this type of exercise! Circuits rock!

B - Behaviour - not good. Got really obsessive past couple of weeks about getting to the 210 "target". Havent looked for work hard enough. Have got nervous about doing ANYTHING stressful that'll make me tired and predisposed to binge. I think to be honest Im pushing it too hard and I need to take it easier in the next few weeks.

C - Consumption - excellent. But then I can eat at home and dont have to eat on the hoof. Which goes back to B - Im nervous if I change anything about my current lifestyle I'll go back to binging.


My new weight loss target : Get down to One-Der-Land by May 20th (going to see my cousins that day who live across the country from here)

That's over 2 months away so I think it's more than realistic. It's also a less demanding goal so I dont have to be obsessive about trying to lose "extra" weight through exercise. Hopefully that will help me get away from that mindset.

I do NOT want to binge just because I've reached my initial goal. Hah!

I'm also going to have to create some new goals for the next few months. My Jan ones were really all about the weight. Time to round out things a bit more :)

Friday, 5 March 2010

Workouts Version 2

When I started at the gym I got a brief intro to the CV machines and the weights. My program was to do either 60 minutes cardio or 10 stations on the weight machines. Simple and error free. And that was OK for about the first 3 months.

About 3 weeks ago though I reached the dreaded "plateau". I was still going to the gym 5 or 6 times a week and sweating buckets after a workout. But my weight just wasnt changing. It seemed an insult. I started taking a day or two off between workouts. I could tell that I wanted to make that two days between workouts. And you know where that can lead.

Then last week I was having a chat with Lloyd, our gym's PT. I'd just finished an hour of cardio and was as usual sweating profusely. He said to me , "Well, you've just been on the elliptical for half an hour. After 25 minutes you shouldnt have been able to complete a sentence without gasping. Instead we were having a chat. You're just not working hard enough".

My first reaction : "What do you mean, not working hard enough. I'm sweating buckets here". His response "Just because you're sweating doesnt mean that you're working efficiently. I see this all the time. If you were really giving it your all, then the weight would still be coming off".

I was doing the cardio using each machine's Random or Hill setting. Assuming that would give me the benefit of interval training. "Well yes", Lloyd said, "That's OK for beginners. But what you really need to do now is to put the machine on Manual. And then alternate between moderate intensity and full out sprint."

His three suggestions :
1. Warm up 2 minutes : then do 15 second sprint, 45 rest : 30 sec sprint, 30 rest : 45 sec sprint, 15 sec rest, then a full minute sprint. Repeat as many times as able. If you can do 6 reps, raise level.
2. Warm up : 1 min slow, 1 min moderate, 1 min flat out : then repeat. Same process.
3. Warm up : 1 min slow, 1 flat out : min 20 minutes.

I've now been doing this for the last week and a half. And believe me I'm really feeling the difference. Particularly on option #1 where you transition between the 45 second sprint and the full minute. That is one serious beasting :)

I've now lost another 3 lb in the last week and a half. And I reckon the cardio is the backbone of that success.

I guess what Lloyd is saying is this : that you might think it's better to pace yourself through a long workout, but its not. It is in fact better to thrash yourself , rest and then repeat. You'll make your workouts much more efficient that way.

I'm also applying the same principle to my resistance training/plyo workouts. In circuits on Monday I thrashed myself from the start. After 15 minutes I was dead. It felt like a whole new level of pain. But boy did I feel good the day after ...

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Quick update

Been slack in updating this blog. Things still going well. I've had one blip - a couple of days of overeating last weekend which I couldnt really avoid. Otherwise everything is well. I'll make some new posts soon.

Last update : 29 Jan 223 lbs
Today's weigh in : 13 Feb 216 lbs

Under the 100 kg mark - yeehaa!! (I danced around the scale at the gym when that happened lol )

Monday, 1 February 2010

Working and weight loss

I've recently been thinking about work. I'm not working at the moment, so part of each day is spent in the slog of applying for jobs and trying to make my CV stand out from the crowd. It's tough. And yet ... there's a part of me that fears actually finding a job and going back to work.

This part of me thinks about the previous jobs I've had. For 15 years I've worked in the I.T. industry, so most of the jobs have been office based, sitting in front of a computer screen. Any exercise I've done in that time I've had to do outside of work. So I've joined gyms on and off for those 15 years. And has it made any difference? No. I've been overweight for those last 15 years.

One of my problems at work has been snacking. I've snacked a lot at work over the years. Chocolate, crisps, cake - whatever's been to hand. I'll snack out of boredom (nothing much to do) or from stress (too much to do). Sometimes I'll snack just to give myself some "energy" when I'm faced with a big piece of work ahead.

I also think about lunchtimes. I havent worked in an office with a canteen for a while, so most of the time I will go out and get a sandwich at a local cafe. What is a sandwich? Two slices of carbohydrate. In between meat or fish - usually covered in a high-fat mayo. I have a sweet tooth, so I'd also need "something sweet" (say a piece of cake) to finish off my meal.

Contrast this to now. Now I can eat exactly what I like for lunch. Maybe that's a pork chop , a few small potatoes and lots of green veg. I can also avoid snacking. If I'm stressed (or bored) I can leave the job application to one side and do something more enjoyable for a while. If I need to I can go and lie down on the bed until I'm ready to go again.

The other thing is exercise. When I was working I'd rush off to the gym in the morning before work (I hate exercising in the evenings). I'd get there, hit the machines for half an hour, rush out and then have breakfast in the cafe at the gym. Usually this would be a large helping of toast and jam. I'd then get to work exhausted. Blood sugar would drop because of the breakfast and I'd end up snacking by the time it was 10:30 or 11.

Now I can go to the gym after I've digested my breakfast. I can work out for an hour or more, take my time in the shower and then go home after. Yes I feel tired but it's a good tired. If I need a siesta later in the day I can have it.

Now I know I know - I dont have a choice. I have to work to earn money. But I also know this. If someone said to me "Dont work for six months, and I promise that at the end of that time that I will make you thin", then I would give up work. It would be worth it. Regardless of whether it meant a few personal sacrifices on the way.

The fact is, I've been fat for almost the whole of my adult life. What's a few months in the grand scheme of things?

I also need to think about what type of work it is I do . Is an office job something I should be doing? Is it an environment that makes me overweight? Now I know in the current economic climate - where I cant afford to be too choosy - I may not be able to get anything else. However is continuing to be overweight a price I'm prepared to pay? No it isnt. So finding a different type of work may be something I have to do for myself.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Weigh In

Weighed in today. I forgot to mention that two weeks ago I discovered that my home scales were 4-5 lb light. I thought at the start of the month I was 16st 5 : but in fact I was 16st 10! So my "plateau" weight was more like 16 1/2 - 17 stone.

I'm now using the gym scales instead and weighing in Friday mornings. They're in kilos but that's OK.

Starting weight : (Jan 4th) 106 kg (234)
Weight today : (Jan 29th) 101 kg (223)

Woohoo! I honestly dont think I could have done any better than that. So I'm very pleased with myself.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

A clothes budget?

When I watch videos of people who are 300 lb or more I wonder what I am worrying about. At my worst (last summer) I have only weighed 240 lb - hardly anything by comparison. But I know I have spent most of my adult life unhappy with my weight. It's maybe not been the same physical problem for me but it's still been a huge mental problem.

I think back to my 20s when I was only 25 lb or so "overweight". What was I worrying about then? I wish I could take that person by the scruff of the neck and tell them to get on with their life. Not to keep thinking about how great life would be if "only" I could lose that little bit of extra weight.

One thing I've always found difficult being overweight has been buying clothes. Even at 225 lb it's really tough to find fitting clothes in the shops. I'm in that sort of "no man's land" between the plus sizes and the department store.

My waist at the moment is 45 inches. Usually on a rack of men's trousers that will give me just one or two pairs that I can try on. Most men's trousers go up to 38 inches or 40. The easiest thing I find is to buy the elasticated pairs of 42 inch chinos and wear those. The situation is worse in "trendy" men's shops. There sizes tend to go up to 36 or 38. That usually leaves me heading straight for the exit.

Tough also when you have the dreaded "moobs". Which I have. Even at my current 225 lbs I find I can't wear most T shirts. Department store sizes generally go up to 42 inch chests (XL). With a chest of 46 inches I'm straining the fabric and every T shirt looks wrong. As a result I have to wear either polo shirts or normal shirts. And even then "fashion" shirts look wrong on me.

I've been lucky that I've never had to use plus size shops or wear baggy sportswear. But it's not much comfort. I know that to feel "free" in a clothes shop I actually have to be at or near my goal weight. And I'm fed up with going into the shops and just feeling depressed at the options.

I look forward to that day I can walk into a clothes shop and buy anything in the store. I look forward to actually having a clothes "budget", instead of buying clothes only when and if I have to. And most of all I look forward to actually looking "smart" and well-dressed in casual clothes. It's going to be one helluva high.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Guys blogging about weight loss

In the past I've been against blogging about weight loss. It seemed too personal. After all, the last thing you would want is someone you know in "real life" finding out about it. Or so it seemed. Almost like (I would imagine) being gay and coming out of the closet.

It also seemed - err - well not quite a masculine thing to do. And this feeling was reinforced by the fact I couldnt seem to find any other men who were doing it. I mean, I know that 95% of those losing weight in slimming clubs are women, but -really? - not one other man blogging? When I looked at online discussion forums, it was the same. In the end I gave up and decided to forget about blogging.

This was about a couple of years ago. Fortunately I then discovered some of the weight loss vloggers on YouTube. Particularly those in the Gut2Cut group. I became obsessive for a while about watching some of the guys in the group. It was almost the first time I had listened to any other guy talk about weight loss.

After a while though I got bored. Most of the videos seemed to focus on the details of the weight loss. How many calories they ate, how many times they went to the gym, how much weight they lost. I mean, yes, the numbers are sort of interesting. But what I really wanted to know was - how big a deal is this weight loss for them? And what impact had it had on their life? Particularly with the guys, this was the last thing you got to hear about. Instead, it felt like these people lived entirely in the present. Even after two years of watching Adam (alifelessboring), for instance, I have no idea what made the guy decide to shut himself in an apartment - and scarcely come out of it - for over a year.

So here I am back with the bloggers. And - thank God - there are now loads of guys blogging about weight loss. Many of them - of course - are still skating over their emotional reasons for being fat. But at least they're there. And I'm looking forward to getting to know some of them.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Starting point

This blog is here to record my weight loss journey. However along the way I expect it will become a bit more than that. After all, I'm not overweight just because I eat too much am I? lol. So I will probably talk about the rest of my life too. We'll see how it goes.

I probably should first talk about fundamentals. I'm a 45 year old man, reasonably active, and currently weigh just over 16st. I'd like to lose 3-3 1/2 stone and get under 13 stone. I'm 6 ft tall so that wouldnt be a bad weight to be.

My current goals (next 3 months) are :

1. To get my weight down from my current "plateau" weight range (16 - 16 1/2 stone) and get down to 15st. I know at that weight I'll definitely be able to see changes in my appearance.

2. To increase my stamina and engage with life more.

3. To go on holiday in April and not look like a fat walrus.

No 2 is probably the most important of these. But it's funny how No 1 - the numbers - seems more important.

(No 3 meanwhile is both the carrot and the stick lol )

Let's see how we go.