Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The weight loss paradox

Here's an odd thing. I've gone down roughly 2 trouser sizes since starting - a good indicator that weight loss has been fat, rather than muscle loss. Yet I can now grab bigger handfuls of flab than I ever could previously.

My ever-so-scientific hypothesis is as follows: Visceral fat has accounted for a significant proportion of overall weight loss. This has reduced both girth and outward pressure. Conversely, my body's been holding on to subcutaneous fat for all it's worth. With a significantly reduced visceral outward force, this is now lose and hanging under its own weight like a custard-filled wet suit. Muscle-toning from exercise has only exacerbated the phenomenon.

Hopefully a continued regime will start to whittle down the remainder. Plugging in stats still gives me a bf well over 20%. I estimate 1 stone should get me the right side of 17% - the outer level of fitness. Losing fat from around my neck has had disastrous consequences, pushing up my bf levels (because of the measurements taken). I either need to loose more, or perhaps take up this every other evening.

Monday, 15 November 2010

1st Duathlon – trial by mud.

Don’t worry, this won’t be a blow by blow account. Just to say I did it, lived through it, loved it and am ready for a re-run in Feb.

Blasting GnR on the radio as I left the house was obviously a good omen. Confidence was knocked for six on arrival, surrounded by 7 foot beanpoles with spray-on cycling suits and bikes that clicked together like a black ops sniper rifle. Skimming my eye along the rack of 250-odd bikes in the transition zone, I reckon mine was the only one without any form of suspension. I quickly also regretted not trying harder to adjust the rust-fused saddle.

But the bike did me proud. After a quick(ish) 2 mile run it was a bone-shaker of a ride once away from the gravel paths, and fear took over on a few of the downward slopes. Here’s where I lost much of my time to the mountain bikers. Came off several times in the churned up mud – chain, cogs, gears and breaks caked in the stuff, but it all somehow kept going. Running again after 10m of this was tough, but averaged 8 min miles overall, and passed quite a few of the mtb bastards at the end.

now where did I leave it?

Looking at previous times I was optimistically aiming for 90 mins and completed in 87. A few years ago this would have got me in the top third, but this time had to be happy with 112 out of 260. Not bad. I’m confident I could take a couple of minutes off with a better bike, and a couple more again with a bit more confidence / experience of mountain biking. With the course being re-run in Feb I’m looking to sign up with a goal of 80 mins. It can’t be any muddier, and I should have more than 3 practice runs under my belt by then.

triathlon shorts - can I join the club now?

Meanwhile, back home I’ve tried to keep the momentum going, and paid a visit this evening to the the Hotblack garden gym. Sadly, the wind ripped away the pagoda last week. It’s bloody miserable trying to lift weights that are covered in ice, in the dark, outdoors. I've one pathetic little paraffin lap that's in constant threat of going out. Morale has quickly sunk back to reality. Time for a new plan.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

It's a sinch

Trial run over: 1hr17min - comfortably within the first half of previous Cirencester times. Of course I was on road compared to wood trails and hills, so we'll see. Not too happy about the downpour today, and Sunday's weather is looking equally wet.

Objectives, in order, are:

1. get round without bike falling apart
2. not come last
3. get round without falling off / getting off to push uphill

May even award myself a cheat meal (or two)

Been a bit silly

Inspired by recent conversations with Venables Esq. I’ve had a quick nosey at some running events to aim for. I came across this fun off-road duathlon and before thinking any better, signed up.

It’s on Sunday.

I also ignored the warnings directed towards non-mountain bikers, and plumped for the long one (2m-10m-2m). My own bike was nicked some 5 years ago, and I haven’t ridden since, so I’ve dug out my other half’s lump of rust. This hasn’t seen the light of day for about the same period. I scraped off the green residue from the chain, doused everything within an inch of its life with WD40 and took it out for a spin – getting immediately sprayed with said lubricant in the process. Wheels go round, brakes are good, but gears give way under load – doesn’t bode too well for muddy off-road hills. Don’t dare adjust the saddle as bolt has corroded away. And I need somehow to cut off the huge padlock and chain wrapped around – don’t think I need a handicap.

Will go for a trial run to practice those transitions.

Now feeling a little nervous. What shoes am I going to wear?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Runs

Well, since my last post of any substance (if a balloon-man passes for "substance"), I've been cutting down on excuses, and have been building up the runs - 5.5 miles, through 6 miles, 6.8 and last weekend, a cheeky 7.5 miler.

Seaside 7.5-er. Nice

The "compensation factors" are something of a problem, however - "I've run 7.5 miles - surely I don't need to do any more exercise this week?"... "Another piece of rocky road? Go on then. I ran 7.5 miles last weekend, I can take it".

Compensation Factor #1

I'll hope to keep up the running - this far feels about far enough (not 90 miles over 3 days, to pluck a ridiculous target out of the air), and I am still steadily losing weight (just!) at 1lb/week roughly. So I need to keep cutting out excuses, and I should supplement with one or two shorter mid-week runs as well,... but the clocks have gone back and it's so dark out, the November weather's taken a turn for the worse, there's some telly I want to watch, I don't see the kids enough and my foot hurts if I run too much (I have it on good authority you shouldn't run until you're under 80kg)...

Book now if you're Lard enough


How about this instead for an Oxford challenge?

Monday, 8 November 2010

book now if you're hard enough

Anyone up for this? 90 miles over 3 days along Thames canal path from Oxford.

9 months to train. Marathon des Sables / Himalayan Run and Trek to follow?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

don't despair - there's always the gear

Morale is fading. The impact of Pete’s excuses is growing inversely proportional to their import, while I’ve refused to go near the scales now for two weeks after a 10 day ‘holiday’. So in true reversion to type, here’s an overview of my two essential pieces of fitness gear which I hope will remind us (or not) of what this is all about.

First up is my Kothari fan – a fantastic piece of Indian engineering -purchased a decade ago (blimey) in the Bengal market town of Puruliya to keep me cool through scorching summers. I asked for the most powerful machine they had, and have never, 'till now, summoned the courage to push it beyond its lowest speed, lest the thing takes off. Its brother is currently sitting on the back of a dingy flying across the everglades. Hugely popular with the village kids, although it only really succeeded in pushing hot air around. But now it’s found its true calling as I hammer along on the ergoracer. Also has the advantage of being so noisy it precludes any attempt at conversation, so disguising the fact that I can't breath.
Kothari - it goes all the way up to 11

I remember seeing these guys performing in front of a bank of fans, hair trailing in the breeze. 15 years later and I’m pedalling away to Until my Dying Day with one of my very own. Oh the poetry.

The second piece of essential kit is this pagoda that now dominates the garden. 

outdoor porta-gym: apart from the gym bit

Pushing weights in the rain feels manly in a Gillette kind of way for the first three minutes, after which it gets cold and miserable. Winter weather is closing in and all grunting activity is currently banned from the house. So to avoid another of Pete’s ‘little excuses’ this has been hastily erected. I plan to start charging membership fees to Hotblack Gym shortly.

Unfortunately, ‘NOT WATERPROOF’ is the first warning that accompanies instructions, and an early gust of October wind sent it somersaulting across the lawn. But now securely tied, it’ll have to take the shed and garden fence with it if it's going anywhere.

So it’s onwards, no excuses. Just need to find some floodlighting and mirrors.

Friday, 15 October 2010

So this is how it happens!

It's a funny thing - just the smallest excuse and it feels like I've been searching for an out all along. A couple of times when I couldn't go for a run (Liz away for 3 days, me away for 2); 2 or 3 seemingly tiny decisions not to do exercise on a given day, and I've suddenly not done any running or swimming for a week and a half.

Another small decision or two (e.g. pudding or not with friends round), and oops! chocolate brownie cakes are my friends again. And if there's some left, silly to throw it away...

Looking back to a couple of years ago, after going down to a good weight for my wedding, I'm sure it was just a couple of small decisions which got me back - just over a year later - to my balloony self again. (balloony as in shape, not weight!)

Balloon shape - not quite what I meant

I have to say that related to all that is Dan's blog talking as if we've already met the targets and wanting to set new ones - wow! That had a funny effect on me - and if it was meant to have this effect, it was a master-stroke! Part of me has just gone "already done it, don't need to carry on as hard" - and that combined with a bad week for finding time to swim/run has been critical.

So damn you, circumstances! And you, small decisions? You watch out - I'll be coming for you! And Chocolate Brownie cake? I'm un-friending you on Facebook.

This is how it happens - and I'm not letting it! I'm going for a long run tonight.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Birthday Bender

check list for son's 4th birthday.

In addition to normal daily meals, eat:
full roast - check
blueberry muffin + caramel ice cream - check
posh crisps, half jumbo bag - check
choc biscuits, 3/4 pack - check
choc crossant - check
almonds, copious handfuls - check
prunes, 1 pack - eh?

Postpone target by additional week - check.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Was listening to this at the w/e while bench-pressing. Yeah baby. (although that video really isn't how I remember it).

Pushed out 3 more reps.

I feel a Spotify top 10 play list coming on. Pete?

Monday, 27 September 2010


Ok, so I am a little disappointed by the New York week, as I did eat healthy, a lot of healthy. But it’s the first time the curve has dipped(1lb). I put it down to two factors:
time to cut the mash and honey sandwiches
  • Mash potato. I’ve recently learned this has a higher GI than honey or table sugar. Bugger. 
  • I frequented the hotel gym more than once, so am extremely confident that gross weight gained is lean muscle.


New York salad - just don't ask what's in the blue cheese dressing. Oh, hang on...

Given this new muscle will burn more cals, and given I’m not travelling for the next 2 weeks, the immediate future looks bright.

And it will have to be. I came across an old spreadsheet from a previous ‘push’, some 5 years ago.

See that last entry? Over the last 5 years (4 of which I’ve been a father – not that I’m looking for excuses), almost 20kgs have crept on. I won’t aim quite for that again – although the associated 20% loss in body weight is a nice round number – but recalibration is needed.

74kg seems like a good second target. That means:
  •     6 kg/1 stone beyond the 80kg target
  •     An additional 6.6% off the starting weight (18% in total)
  •     7.5% drop from the 80kg target

Pete, I’ve calculated that an additional 6.6% loss for you would mean a total drop of 40lb, bringing you down to bang on 200lb. With such tidy numbers, it was clearly meant to be. What do you say?

Once reaching 80kg, I'm thinking of take a week off to recharge, then give it 7 weeks. Time to shake off those stragglers at Brothers.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Big in the Big Apple

Visiting the States is always a learning experience. With the regime very much at the front of my mind - and how to possibly maintain it when spending a week in New York – I took particular interest in the country’s relationship with health.

America’s marketing machine is, of course, dominated by food and fitness. It has to be big and it has to be beautiful. Only here can I watch an advertisement for life-size cartwheel pizza (buy one, get the wagon free) followed by the latest pharmaceutical advances in slimming aids – complete with obligatory verbal small print (“side effects may include nausea, irritability...suicidal tendencies and even death. Please consult a physician if you experience any abnormal symptoms”).

The fitness industry is burgeoning. It employs over half a billion people, and its $24 billion in revenues last year surpassed the GDP of 96 nations. Growth in online fitness services is particularly strong, evidenced, for example by John Stone’s exponential rise from personal blog to mega forum. My Manhattan hotel tv was hard-pedalling this package, that comes complete with its own pig-latin by prefixing every noun with ‘insane’: insane workouts to ‘dig deeper’ for that insane body. Digging deep seems to be the mantra here, and the manic adrenalin-glares of the showcase 'winners' do challenge the office platitude ‘you don’t have to be insane to work here...’

I made my contribution to the industry via the hotel gym, a newly refurbished suite of rooms direct from the set of the Starship Enterprise. Each machine was accompanied with a personal tv so I could monitor Congress’ objections to Obama’s health reform bill, punctuated by advertisements for ice cream and Texas burgers, whilst biking up a virtual Mont Blanc. One news feature that particularly caught my interest followed a new salmon breeding technique that claimed to produce fish twice the size in half the time. Asked whether we should be concerned about eating creatures raised in a soup of growth hormones, a biochemist replied, “we all exist in a wash of growth hormones, it’s just the quantities that are different” – how reassuring. This method is yet to be approved by the US regulatory authorities, but if given the green light, producers would not be obligated to indicate how the fish was raised. If it’s big, be concerned.

With big food come big bodies. America’s obesity rates (second, by proportion of population, only to Mexico) are renowned. Some 70% of the population is overweight (defined by BMI), and the prevalence of obesity exceeds 30% across most age and sex groups. Interestingly, smoothed frequency distributions suggest that rapid increases in obesity rates are slowing. But they also show you're more likely to bump into someone with grade 3 obesity (BMI>40) than spy an underweight waif (BMI<18).   

Flagel et al 2010, Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008

But that also partly depends on where you are. Mississippi has topped the state obesity rankings for the last five years, with rates of over 35%. It’s also been the poorest state for the last 5 years. In fact, cross-referencing against per capita state incomes reveals some stark correlations between obesity and poverty: the 8 fattest states are among the 10 poorest, with the remaining two just outside. This all links closely with ethnicity – you’re much more likely to be obese if you’re non-white (particularly non-Hispanic black). Will the economic crisis reverse the observed obesity slow-down? If so, the human and economic consequences may reach far further than is currently being estimated.

These regional differences are perhaps understandable, driven by historical patterns of economic growth and politics of ethnicity. More disturbing is how such patterns are replicated in the microcosm of New York City. Walking around Manhattan everyone seemed in pretty good shape. This reflects recent research that finds the more affluent areas, such as Upper East Side, Chelsea and West Village, with low obesity rates – around 8%. By contrast, several poor neighbourhoods such as East Harlem and the Bronx suffer rates over 30%. Limited health and fitness facilities together with a narrow range of food outlets have been suggested as one reason for the difference – independent of age, race and education levels. But perhaps it’s more of a downward cycle: healthy food comes at a premium in the US, and such companies are going to follow the money. I wonder how the density of M&S food outlets in Glasgow compares with Chelsea?    

Monday, 20 September 2010

Great North Mum

A quick post to laud the achievement of “Runner Mum” (our blogspiration) who yesterday completed the Great North Run a bit over the 2 hour time she was aiming for, but:

1. did it injured (wit
h what medical experts are calling “hurty foot”)

2. had to face the murky moral decision at the start of the race of whether or not to hi-five one of “Ant and Dec”

Ant or Dec

3. was tripped up by a tit with headphones on not looking where he was going (she has not confirmed or denied that it was either Ant or Dec)

4. took a good 10 minutes to work out what they meant by “Won ya maaaaks; get settt; gwoooar!”

5. stopped at mile 12 to first give the Race Support Crew an in-depth prĂ©cis of the race so far (including Ant and Dec update), and then discuss in detail where we’d meet at the end (I think she’d given up the 2 hour thing by then!)

Chatty Mum - no wonder she didn’t beat 2 hours!

6. had to put up with the same Race Support Crew’s complete lack of any real support before and after the race... *sorry*

Well done Runner-Mum! Roll on a race nearer-by, with fewer people, supportive support and a faster time!


It’s the anniversary of the Battle of Britain this week, and lots of TV time has been given over to shots of Spitfires and Hurricanes, RAF folk young and old paying their respects, all of which I’ve found surprisingly moving. (As a complete aside, I was startled to discover, at a museum a couple of months ago, how many of the pilots were actually Polish). But the word “hero” has been used a lot this week on the coverage, and rightly so.

Spitfire. Does what it says on the tin casing.

Hurricane. Not actually a hurricane.

And so to balance that healthy “righly-so-ness” with a healthy dollop of “ah, no - wrongly-so”, I was pleased to find out this week that Dan, you and I are also heroes. Did you know that? Maybe only for a week, maybe only obliquely (and slightly patronisingly!) referred to as “hot, sweaty, [...] unfit overweight people” by podcasters known to literally tens of people, but have a listen at 1:13:38 to Episode 31 of Marathon Talk – we even get our own uplifting theme music! I just hope that later this year or some time next, when all this comes to an end, when the dudes (previously with moobs) soar triumphantly into the blue skies after the thrill of the dogfight with the evil Hun of obesity, old Winston might look down from his secret underground bunker in the sky and in that voice, say “Never... in the field of human weightloss,... has so much... been lost... by so few”.

Winston Churchill - Dude with Moobs

Monday, 13 September 2010

Oh brothers

Following on from the most uplifting post to date, here's another comic cause for celebration. My recent trip to Brussels was not a complete loss. It inspired Rob and his merry band of troglodyte chublings to start up a sister site.

Of course, they clearly reside in the amateur league. Their emphasis on pre-weigh-in excretions displays (i) an understandable absence of long-term vision (unless ever-increasing laxative doses form an integral part of the strategy), and (ii) a far less excusable lack of creativity (fasting the night before is far more effective and dispenses with any bathroom anxiety).

But we wish them well, and who knows, subsequent inter-blog competition may even ensue at a later date (should be a stroll in the park). You can monitor their sorry endeavours here.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Disappointment isn't...

Disclaimer: This post contains scenes of a cheerful and upbeat nature throughout.

A month in, there's a lot of good to count on too, despite contentment-puncturing clothing labels:

1. Firstly - and most importantly - we've both managed to actually get off our lardy arses and do something rather than just talking about it every time we meet up.
2. A month in, and we've both lost a fair amount of weight - the equivalent, between us, of something approaching the weight of this ordinary office shredder or a skinny 2-year-old. If the fat we've lost was converted, by weight, into a turkey, it'd take over 5 hours to cook. Check out what this guy is throwing - that ball-crushing projectile is about the weight we've lost between us! Cause to celebrate!
3. Dan has learnt the use of the "on" button for electronic machinery.
4. After the first few gasping runs, I ran on the Road Bridge today and felt more exhilirated - exercise-wise - than I think I have since games of school rugby. Dan - I'm sure it must be getting easier/more enjoyable for you too?
5. Ah... school rugby...

Spot the Bloggers competition

Now for balance of tone, Dan, please tell me that the "small, strained button" (I've named it "Benny") didn't make it? I'm imagining this...

Thursday, 9 September 2010

disappointment is...

...squeezing into a suit that was previously too small
and later realising it's a size larger than you always thought it was.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

hang on a minute...

8lb in 2 weeks? Bloody hell.

Milestone weigh in - Sept 5th - tense

It's pretty darn close, and is building to have all the tension of an Isle of Wight by-election.

My horrendous last two weeks saw me lose 2.5lb, at least moving in the right direction I suppose. Meanwhile, Pete's been creeping up with Seb Coe stealth, and dispensed with a tidy 8lb over the same period. I can only put it down to surgery - although if I was Pete, my stomach wouldn't be the first thing I'd address (fnar fnar).

Hopefully his new power job will initiate late night comfort eating. It's vital to remember to eat properly when maintaining a busy, stressful lifestyle. No matter how high the in-tray, you've always time for a pie.

Meanwhile, I've 3 days in Manchester this week, 3 days in Somerset the week after, and New York after that. How's a boy meant to maintain routine?

Saturday, 4 September 2010

crawling back onto the wagon

Well for starters, if I had to pick an '80s BBC theme tune to kick things off, it would have to be this funky little number. (Pete - you sure you're not related to David Hemery? There's something in the nose...)

Unfortunately, this doesn't reflect the reality of the last 10 days, which has been a little less intense. In fact, it's been bloody awful. The week lording it in Paris (never made it  past that one jog), was followed by another in Somerset (pasta, creme, chocolate), and rounded off with a 3 day Belgium beer bender in Brussels. I've checked, and unfortunately wheat beer does not require more energy to digest than it yields - I'm confusing beer with Rob's (our host) emaciating humour.

And having been looking at the bike each morning this week as an overly-stuffed vegan eyes a cold kebab, it was only yesterday that I managed to haul myself back into some exercise. Even if the bathroom scales were sprinkled in broken glass I wouldn't be stepping up with more trepidation this coming Sunday.

But as a one legged can crusher once said, with every challenge comes opportunity. In less than 14 days I'm going to be living in a suit for a week. I tried mine on this morning, a dangerously tight fit, with my dignity resting  on the strength of a rather small, strained button. So it's either get a body-shaping vest, or hit the exercise every day until then. That'll hopefully get me back on target, which has started to slip out of reach.

"I want my money back"

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Metabolic Kick Start

...and cue music:

There is a theory that from time to time when you’re dieting you should have a bit of a blow out, as it kick-starts your metabolism (Dan, out of interest, the most recent research shows that for best results, this mega-blow out should be around lunchtime every day, and around 9pm every night). Well, last week I was clinging to this theory in the same way that Dan holds dearly to the “shouldn’t go running when you’re overweight” maxim as an excuse not to go running.

You see, it was my birthday.

My 36th was the most surprise-filled birthday since my 8th where not only was I taken to see the double bill of Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back, but I got a Grifter... which had GEARS! Liz took me and the wairns out in the morning to see Toy Story 3 (when you’re at the cinema, it’s practically unheard of not to have a packet of Maltesers or Minstrels... and I didn’t want to deprive the kids of the grapes Liz had thoughtfully brought along), and then as we were miles away from the house, [well, about 9] we had to have lunch out, and the Chiquitos signs were all colourful and inviting, and the fajitas flavoursome and spitting hot.

Then to tea in the afternoon, and the most delicious home-baked vanilla-icing-ed malteser-on-the-top moist sponge cake ever. Mnyomm!And then in the evening, I was even more surprised by the babysitter coming round, and Liz telling me that we were off out into Edinburgh for 2 events at the Fringe... Alex Horne’s “Odds”

- http://www.alexhorne.com/
- http://www.broadwaybaby.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5576

and Mark Watson’s “Do I know you?”.
- http://markwatsonthecomedian.com/
- http://www.chortle.co.uk/shows/edinburgh_fringe_2010/m/17862/mark_watson%3A_do_i_know_you%3F/review

At the first, I got randomly selected (1/120 – how’s that for odds?) to be Alex Horne’s assistant for the evening – now here I think I may actually have shed a pound or two with the stress of possibly being called on at any moment to perform some fruitless task which the audience would bet on (peeling an orange was admittedly not strictly fruitless, but running to the toilet to grab a sign high above the urinals definitely was – very confused looks from the two blokes in there at the time!).

But then we had only 5 minutes before we had to head to the second show (the not-quite-as-good-possibly-because-the-atmosphere-was-less-intimate Mark Watson) and we hadn’t eaten... the only food on offer at the Pleasance was a burger... oh well. And then it might as well be cheese, right? Sauces? Of courses!

So although the weigh-in didn't show that I'd lost as much as I could have done, I think it was a necesary step. Consider the metabolism kick-started! Should see results really start to show over the next couple of weeks...

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The last laugh

Here is a grand tale of come-uppance. I shall savour every keystroke.

Several months ago I bought an exercise bike. Not any bike. A Lifecycle 9500HR. It was pushing ten years, but in its day, this £2k harmonious fusion of technology and functionality was found in every decent commercial gym in the land.

I got it at a knocked down price of £25 because it was broken; structurally sound, but the monitor didn’t work. This was not an insignificant problem as the monitor is required to control tension, as well as all the programmes. It is self powered, controlled by its own alternator (oh the beauty of it), but pedalling yielded nothing but a bank screen.

I learnt there were a couple of crafty things one could do that solved 95% of these problems. I learned shortly afterwards that the seller had been even craftier. So short of importing electronic components from Mexico at a cost which would have justified a holiday across the Atlantic to collect in person, it was a write-off.

It’s been sitting in the living room, in various states of disrepair, ever since, like a shipwreck. It, and I have been subjected to a barrage of abuse and mockery, Mr Venables included. The boys have made good use as a climbing frame, but otherwise it has not been a popular addition to the household.

This weekend I finally got round to putting it back together to flog on Ebay. Hooking up one of the connectors I thought I heard a beep. Bemused, I tried pedalling. Blank screen. I disconnected, and hooked it up again. Another quiet beep, like the distant call of an earthquake survivor – there is still life here. I pedalled again, and this time hit the start button (I’m sure I’d noticed that there before), and it exploded into life, wishing me a wonderful day, and asking if I might be interested in partaking in one of its many programmes. It even aroused sideways interest in my Other Half.

From inappropriate climbing frame... ...to 'good morning sir, would you like some coffee?

So I bite my thumb at all the doubters. I’m not just ‘buying gear’. With any luck I’ll be fitter and have made a tidy profit. Of course, the challenge is which one to get rid of, the 9500, or the Ergocycle? How does one chose between a Ducati and a Bentley? It will clearly take a few months of thought.

Paris Pt.2 The power of love

Following the somewhat resigned undertones of yesterday, the motivation to get in shape is all around you in Paris. A population of slender waifs makes one feel trim just by opening one’s eyes. 

Took my first jog for 3-4 years yesterday, around Montparnasse. No idea how far I went, but never has there been such a rapid transition from elysian elation ( first 3 minutes) to dogged drudgery (the remaining 32 minutes). Speaking of dogs, having to keep on the lookout for canine IEDs certainly adds to the workout.

Parisian motivation: push and pull factors

Paris Pt 1 - and it was going so well

It’s not really possible to diet in Paris. It madness not to eat out (it’s not my money anyway), and there’s no better way to round off a long day (after a run of course). And then, to order anything less than 2 courses would be both cheap and an affront to the gastronomic kingdom. My compromise has been not to dip into the bread basket. Having said that, I accidentally ordered tartare de boeuf last night – perhaps salads and soups for the rest of the week.

Breakfasts are equally challenging – need to eat something, but pastries are the only option. As a wise Frenchman once said, if you’re going to have a croissant it might as well be an almond.

compromise: I passed on the bread

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Off the mark - despite Caro & Kerry Curry Carryout Shocker!

Well, week 1 was good, despite muffled guffaws at my attire from people who strolled past me as I was jogging along... 3 x 25 minute runs in the gorgeous sunny Scottish countryside...

...and porridge for breakfast every day (from someone who doesn't normally have breakfast), combined with watching what I eat for the rest of the day, has lost me a tidy 3lb.

And that's after a blow-out on Saturday night with big sis Caroline and her mate Kerry visiting, and beers and curry over a game of Ticket to Ride ("Woo-hoo! I'm laying track, baby!").

3lb might only be a small step, but in TTR terms, it's a wee Portland-Seattle on the way to hopefully the longest route (laboured but you get the point).

In other news, Dan - when you're in Paris, I strongly recommend the Bouillon Racine - went there last year for my Dad's surprise 70th lunch, and it was fabulous: large portions of deliciously mouthwatering fare, and the puddings were to die for. Knock yourself out - have one of each! Bon app!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

galactic intimidation won't work

Well I must say I was becoming a little deflated at the prospect of a one horse race. But now I see I'm competing with the fusion of a Fame reject and the darker side of a trekkie convention - and am as motivated as ever.

2 weeks in, 3.5kg down. A cracking start, although I suspect the curve will soon convex as I dehydrate to the state of a preserved neanderthal.

More alarming, I'm away for 2 weeks from Saturday, including a 5 day work trip to Paris. Looks like I may have to dig out the running shoes after all, although diet will be out the window - inconceivable to have a meal unaccompanied by a pichet of rouge.

New York High School of Performing Arts - the focus of Pete's weight loss ambition

All very interesting, Dan... but what people really want is an update on your numb nethers. P.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Ready to play, what's the day?

Pete here: Right! Back from holidays (and cakes, chips and brother John's legendary "Edwardian London Grill" for breakfast) and I'm raring to go! I have decided to take a slightly different tack to Dan, however, choosing to spend my time exercising my body rather than on exercising my credit card on ebay purchases, most of which don't even work properly, or on researching penile dysfunction?!

I therefore went out for a run and - confident that I was looking good, felt like a million pounds after 30 mins or so of jogging round the beautiful Scottish countryside... (a million pounds weight, that is); still, I've now got that "nice ache" feeling you get, and am happily on the way... as you said, Dan... Game on!

Looking good is half the battle

PS - good job losing 4% of your body weight so far, Dan! I've always said it's about time you got a haircut.

Monday, 9 August 2010

cycling or offspring?

 Having delighted in reading over at BeginnerTriathlete that, being overweight, I should refrain from running, I'm now discovering the perils of cycling. 10 minutes on my Kettler Ergoracer (German forerunner of the GT) and I literally cannot feel my nether regions. This seems to be an area of some controversy (cycling, not my undercarriage).

A 2005 NYT article first stirred things up in the general public domain when they covered a special editorial in the Journal of Sexual Medicine on compressed perineums, quoting that 5% of men who cycle intensively developed moderate to severe ED (erectile dysfunction). Counter evidence that this is three times less than statistics on the normal affect of male aging suggests that cycling is actually good for one’s loins – even if this argument was first made by the owner of a cycle company. 

One study focusing on professional cyclists found 71% of male competitors after a race suffered impotence up to 3 hours after, 13% a week after (my other half would be lucky to get any attention 3 days after a triathlon, let alone hours). A recent 2010 meta-study on such research, published again in Sexual Medicine concludes “[T]here a significant relationship between cycling-induced perineal compression leading to vascular, endothelial, and neurogenic dysfunction in men and the development of ED” (Women suffer the same consequences, but there’s considerably less research on this. Sounds familiar.)

Other factors, apparently, are also conspiring against me: I’m overweight, compounding the compression; I have a rather bony backside; I’m using a cheap saddle with no padding in my shorts; and I’m abnormally well-endowed. Ok, so I may have made one of those up.
 So it looks like I’ll soon be seen sporting a rather fetching pair of Pearl Izumi's, and will also be scouring ebay for a new groove-style saddle – something like a Specialized Toupe, although it seems I have to go and get my buttocks measured for the right size (ooh, suits you sir!)

                                            castration contraption

 some temporary remedial action has made a significant difference. I’ve tipped the saddle forward and lower, and flipped the handle bars 180 degrees, creating a much more comfortable ride. I’m starting to love the flexibility of this bike. And future progeny saved.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Weigh in

So we're away.

Pete unfortunately missed the official weigh-in ceremony. He was busy cramming in a few more packs of sausages and lost track of the time.

Game on