Saturday, 28 May 2016

It's Been a Long Time, But ...

Hello, is anybody still there?

So, it's been four years, almost to the day, since I last posted on here.

Why did I stop ?

Good question, it was a number of things to be honest, which can be basically summarised as a bit of apathy, an annoying injury (or two), and concentrating on my life when I should probably have been looking at myself a little harder... sounds a little familiar.

My apathy crept up on me like it does everybody else, without me even notice it. Other things in life taking priority over jumping on the bike, days with the kids more important than days with the hills, a pint more attractive than a bottle of luke warm energy drink, etc, etc.

A couple of very specific incidents led to my total abandonment of firstly the bike, an latterly exercise in general, however.

On the ride after the last one I wrote about on this blog I had a blowout on a downhill on a dual carriageway which totalled my bike and covered me in cuts and bruises.

None more than I'd had on a number of previous occasions, but coupled with the loss of the bike, and the 45mph wobble across two lanes of traffic which definitely got my attention, I certainly had a couple of months of mulling over whether the danger outweighed the potential.

I decided it did and bought another mountain bike for training.

In the mean time however, two other things happened. Firstly, I discovered the delights of military mud runs, specifically The Wolf Run, and secondly, I damaged my back with a slip down a couple of stairs at home which made cycling and walking painful, but bizarrely, not running.

Fast forward to 2015 and I was entering all four Wolf Runs in the year and enjoying my running, weighing in at between 17 and 17 1/2 stones, but not worrying about it as I was active. Well not until November last year when during the Wolf Run I suffered a T.G.A. event (transient global amnesia) which was the strangest and scariest thing that has ever happened to me.

I'll probably try and describe the day as best I remember it in a later post but suffice it to say, it robbed me of a lot of belief in myself and my body, took a lot of confidence, and has, for a few months paralysed me with fear of re-occurance.

Since the TGA my weight has quite rapidly shot up back to the levels it was when I first cracked open this blog, which got me to taking a look at the blog and remembering how much I enjoyed both writing it, and the rides that made it up.

To my surprise, in the four years since I abandoned the blog, it has constantly been receiving over 500 page reads a month, in summer months over a 1000, which is bizarre for a blog that has not been touched for four years.

My motivations for the blog are different this time, as are the reasons for getting back on the bike, but both are back in my life, and, if you are reading this, yours (thank you by the way, to all who do).

I've devised a plan to get up to a century ride by the end of October this year which I'll detail later, I'm putting aside £100 per month until then as my reward if I achieve it, to spend as I wish. I wonder what two wheeled prize I may be thinking of ?

The rides start on Monday which is a bank holiday here, as will my new story, so I'll see you soon I suppose.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

It's Been a Long Time Coming...

This Monday saw me finally dip under 18 stones, and scratch off the first of my achievements on the progress page.

Whilst I'm very pleased, I can't help but think it really is about time. I am however very pleased to finally strike through one of those objectives and with 19lbs lost, the 20lb barrier is my target for this week.

As you can see by the number of miles ridden going up, today we got the bikes out and put in a 16 miler out in the sticks and around our local reservoir.  Fantastic weather for a fantastic ride.

More pleasing than the weight loss is the great power on the hills I am feeling thanks to the Body Revolution workouts throughout the week. On today's ride I felt stronger in the legs than I was when I was really banging in the miles last summer, it was a great feeling.

Speaking of JM's BR, this week saw me progress onto Workouts 3 and 4. Workout 3 is solely front of body and Workout 4 is the rear. My summary for each is:

Workout 3, an absolute killer, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. All planks and abs work, just what you need when your holding up 18 stones of flabby belly.  The first time I did it there were five exercises I didn't do in their entirety, the second time there were three, so at least there is progress.

Workout 4, an absolute killer, I love it, I love it, I love it.  Lots of back, leg and strength work, right up my street. My heart rate hit 180 at one point in this one, but it left me feeling exhilarated, as much as workout 3 left me exhausted.

I can see the fitness coming on now though and the Cardio 1 workout is now too easy and I am starting to do the modified versions of the exercises which is a great feeling. I am very impressed by just how quickly the program gets that fitness up with what in effect is only three hours of exercise a week (excluding the rides I've now started at the weekends).

Tomorrow is a 5:30am weigh in followed swiftly by Workout 3 again, bring on that 20lbs lost, raaaar!

Ride Stats
Distance: 15.76 miles
Time: 1:14.20
Avg. Speed: 9.3mph (taking it easy)
Avg. HR: 116 bpm
Cals Burned: 1208

Sunday, 20 May 2012

On The Road At Last...

Yay! At last I hit the road running today. It was only 10 miles and it took over an hour, but they all count.

I took my other half out for an easy 10 mile an hour meander on the Cathorpe, Lilbourne route I used to use as my 10 mile time trial, it's linked in one of the old posts so I won't go over it again here.

I felt really good to be out on two wheels at last. I fitted my new Cateye Velo bike computer before we left (my Polar CS200 head units LCD went a spanner in January) and even remembered the HRM up before we left. I don't know why I bothered with the Polar unit, it was a nightmare from start to finish. The Cateye was fitted in 5 minutes and worked perfectly straight out of the box with idiot proof instructions. Note to self, stick with what you know is good.

The reason I was joined by the Mrs was that we have both signed up to do the Rugby and Coventry Bikeathon for Leukaemia Research in June and need to get some miles in before the event which is in about four weeks. Whilst taking our time so as not to put her off too early I have to say that I felt really strong on the hills and had no problem with my back which I usually do when starting out again.

I can only put the fitness down to the Body Revolution DVDs I'm doing each morning. Speaking of which I am now finished with Week Two and tomorrow sees the first time I'll do Workout Three. Having given it a preview, it's safe to say they intensity steps up noticeably this week, cue aching and moaning again for a couple of days!

Below are the starting and current measurements from my Body Revolution journey as previously promised. All measurements are at the widest points possible i.e. thighs are right at the top of the leg, waist's right around the belly etc.

Starting Stats:
Neck: 17"
Chest: 50"
Bicep: 14"
Waist: 47"
Hips: 45"
Thigh: 28"
Calf: 17"

Current Stats:

Neck: 16.5"
Chest: 47.5"
Bicep: 13.75"
Waist: 46"
Hips: 43"
Thigh: 27"
Calf: 17"

Whilst still a daunting set of statistics, the progress in only two weeks is great, 2 inches from my hips and 2 1/2 inches off the chest is great, even the old beer belly is starting to look noticeably smaller. I also have noticeably increased flexibility in my back and legs which can only get better, you never know, I'll be doing yoga next!

If I don't crack 18 stone tomorrow then something is seriously amiss which it doesn't feel like it is, so here's hoping.

The ride stats were:

Distance: 10.02 miles
Time: 1hr 3mins
Avg Speed: 9.5 mph
Avg HR: 127
Total Burn: 840 cals

Next week's ride will be 15 miles with a couple of serious hills in it, that'll test the legs.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Nearly There, Again...

Well, this weeks weigh in brought a very welcomed 4lbs loss (which with the aforementioned weight put on was actually pushing 10lb), good old Jillian.

Not only that, there are definite shape changes starting to appear which is great, if only they'd start with the rotund stomach and moobs rather than limbs and shoulders and I'd be laughing. Good things come to those... I suppose.

Today saw my first session of week 2 and I mixed it up a bit with 5 1/2lb weights rather than the rather measly 3lbers I was using last week. As you can probably guess it made a big difference, although it's still the exercises with no weights where it shows.

Press ups into plank remains my nemesis, although it was noticeably less painful today despite the achy muscles from the larger weights. Scissor crunches were as agonising as they ever are,but a little less so. I hope to be running right through the series without a rep failure in the last rotation of this workout on Wednesday, we can but dream.

I wore a HRM for the first time today to see why I'm quite so tired after the sessions and discovered exactly why. My average bpm over the 35 minutes was 140 with my max hitting 178 (during scissor crunches, surprise, surprise). No wonder I've been getting a sweat on.

The diet is going well, I've stuck to 1720 cals per day for the whole week, although I took Jillian's advice and took my calories as a total of  12040 for the week and played around with them a bit to allow two higher calorie days on Thursday and Saturday. That really helped with the cravings I usually get when on calorie constricted diets, and I think I'll stick with the technique from hereon in.

I can't say I've tried any recipes from the Body Revolution book yet, although this week I will. So far I've just stuck with home prepared, whole food dinners as much as possible and have been going with a 400, 500, 600 breakfast, lunch and dinner calorie base with a couple of fruit snacks throughout the day. 

I have to say I haven't felt any pangs of hunger at all so far, so all is good. It's tuna, tomato and wholewheat pasta bake tonight yum.

BTW, I know I said I'd put up measurements in this post, but again, I don't have them to hand so next time it'll have to be.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Achy, achy, achy...

First of all the all important update on weight to date...

Well there's absolutely no change whatsoever. Even though my weight has actually gone up by a number of pounds and is now coming back down (as I'll explain), the overall effect is stasis.  Given the lack of cycling and swimming action over the last few weeks, I'll take that, and as I'm on a downward plain as I write, all the better.

So, on to what I'm up to. Well it certainly isn't cycling, I just cannot get up the enthusiasm at the moment despite my many, many, attempts at refocusing my efforts. Due to this I decided last week to stop trying to kid myself that I'm going to be out before the warmer summer weather arrives, and to get my backside off the sofa and try something a little different.

I thought I'd give something I can do in the house a bit of a crack and came across an advert on someone Else's blog for a product by Jillian Michael's called Body Revolution.

For those of you who do not know who she is, she, along with Bob Harper, was one of the original trainers for the first 11 seasons of The Biggest Loser (US, excluding season 3, incidentally, I'm an addict of the show).

She's my favourite "celebrity" trainer/well-being guru, and having tried a couple of her DVDs in the past, I thought I'd take a look at Body Revolution which is her first foray into a whole system approach to weight loss, i.e. diet + fitness regime.

Body Revolution is a series of 15 DVD workouts that come bundled with an exercise plan, diet plan, recipe book and exercise resistance cable.  The program runs over 90 days at six exercise days a week, 2 strength followed by 1 cardio, twice over. It uses resistance bands, dumbbells and your own body weight for the training with each workout being only a little over 30 minutes, easy I thought...

The plan is split into three phases, and each of these is split into 2 week sections so the first two weeks are: (Workout1, Workout2, Cardio1, Workout1, Workout2, Cardio1, Rest Day) x2.  The next two are: (Workout3, Workout4, Cardio1, Workout3, Workout4, Cardio1, Rest Day) x2. The next phase then kicks in with workouts 5 and 6 and cardio level 2 etc. etc.

Sounds a bit complicated but it's dead easy and you get a wallchart with what to do each day.

The down side of the equation is that you can only buy it from the US and it costs $129 + shipping, a lot of cash for an unproven product for my eyes. The flip side to that however, is that I have got it for nothing, borrowed from a friend. All I had to do was order a resistance band from Amazon US for £10 and off  I went (I already have dumbbells).

So as of Monday I was all set and jumped into Workout1 which was basically upper body and abs, and boy did I get a shock. That woman knows how to stick together a calorie burning training session.

Each exercise is performed for one minute with 5 or so making a set, and three different sets being performed in the workout. She also sticks a cardio interval at the end of each set just to really get that heart rate up. It was Tough with a capital 'T'. I had to pause the DVD twice for "water breaks" and by the end of the day my whole upper body was aching and I slept very well, looking forward to being beaten up again on Tuesday.

Workout2 (back, legs and abs) did exactly that and left my muscles screaming out in agony by Tuesday night to the extent that I genuinely thought I might not make it through the first cardio session on Wednesday.

Thankfully cardio is more my thing, mainly from cycling, and I found Wednesday a lot less painful, although I was sweating like a pig after only 35 minutes, it just shows you how quickly that fitness drops off when you go cold turkey for a few months.

Wednesday lunch time I was so tired from the exercise and drop off in my usually over enthusiastic calorie consumption (I'm on 1720 calories for the program), that I went to the first aid room at work and fell asleep for 45 minutes, oh that was so much better.

Yesterday I repeated Workout1 for the first time and managed to complete the whole thing without pausing the DVD, only for the second rotation of press ups followed by planks and bicycle crunches did I have to pause and then resume. Definite progress already, even if it's just because I knew what to expect.

This morning became the first morning I woke up with only muscle aches rather than muscle pain or cramps, I haven't worked out yet today as I had an early start at work, so I'll be doing it as soon as I finish here. I have to admit, this is the first time in a long time I actually cannot wait to get some exercise in, thank goodness, it's about time.

I started the week at 18st 10lbs and was down to 18st 5lbs by today so all looks good. I did take some initial measurements, so I'll post them in my next post. The official 1st weigh in is Monday so I'll update then, although I can already see changes in muscle tone in my arms and legs which helps with the motivation. 

My initial conclusions of the Body Revolution are very positive, the workouts are challenging but enjoyable with very little exercise repetition which is a particular bug bear of mine, so I am enjoying killing myself every morning of the week, bring on today's workout, and let's hope it continues.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A Successful 1st Week..

Monday's weigh in gave a total of 18st 5lbs, a brilliant 12lbs loss for my first week of the detox.  Whilst this is 90% water I am sure, 12lbs is 12lbs, and I'll take it.
This weekend sees the three months to go until redundancy mark and the "individual consultation" process begins in earnest next week. Time to dust off the old CV methinks.

At least we've been given a finite day to work to so it's not like I won't see it coming when it does.  If only I knew what it was I wanted to do... the application process would be noticeably easier I think.

Rubbish weather for three days has meant no cycling for me yet this week, but I'm getting out at the weekend no matter what the weather, and another swimming session is on the cards for Sunday too.

Here's to the next 12lbs and breaking that 18st barrier...

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Well the long awaited weigh in resulted in an eye watering 19st 3lbs as my starting weight for the new campaign, ouchy. At least my weight can only go in one direction from there I suppose.

Enough of the negatives of the week, now for a few positives.

I got another 1km of swimming in this week, half crawl and half breast stroke and felt a damn site easier whilst doing so, so that was one great thing.

My other half has also got us on a 21 day detox diet and I feel good for having started with it. If that has anything to do with it, tomorrow's weigh in is going to be pretty encouraging I think.

Whilst it's the first week of a pretty restrictive three week regime and I've had many a false dawn in the past, all of the fresh organic food has me feeling, and looking better... or was that just the shaving off of my beard that I've been hiding behind for the last few months, only time and the scales will tell.

Today we had a great day out with the twins at a 5 mile sponsored walk around the perimeter of a new joint site for the town's kids football team and the gymnastics club that the girls started earlier in the year. 

We did the full 5 miles on what was pretty boggy an hilly ground, and the girls took great pride in the mile marker stamps that they were proudly getting all up their arms. 

The two of them made us proud, not bad going for a couple of 4 year olds I thought.

All in all a good day out for a cause that gets kids off their backsides and doing some exercise, always a noble cause, anything that did that. We also managed to raise about £100 towards the costs of planning and building so that's another positive.

As I said earlier, tomorrow, and Mondays thereafter will be weigh in day from now on.

The coming week will bring more swimming and the fitting of my new cycle computer before my first forage onto the roads next weekend.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Where To Start...

Well it has been a long time since I last posted, and as you can imagine, lack of posts equals lack of progress and hiding in mainly shame, mixed with a little frustration and self pity/loathing.

For one reason or another, mainly down to the usual influences of the pressures of real life (daughters diabetes, impending redundancy, constant back niggles, yada, yada, yada...), and partially to my sometimes seemingly never ending addiction to all the wrong things in life, my weight is sky high again.

What it is exactly I don't know until I give myself a weigh in tomorrow, I'm expecting high 18's again, if not low 19's. However, whatever I weigh in at, as you can see by the stunning 1000 metres of swimming I added to the progress pane, I am now at least baby stepping my way back into the right frame of mind to again make a concerted effort to break the aforementioned addiction, or at least offset and outweigh it with exercise.

With the warmer weather on it's way, it would be criminal to let my bikes (yes bikes, plural) just idle in the shed for another six months, and hey, I've got to be in reasonable shape before the inspirations that are the three main tours come around, it would be rude not to.

I also think that a 14 or 15 stone me is far more likely to do well in any new job interviews, controversial maybe, but let's be realistic, a 14 stone man telling you he rides 100 miles a week is much more believable than a 17 or 18 stoner with the same story, true or not.

So tomorrow opens the book on another me once more, as always I'll post the weigh in results, and don't be too hard on my morose tones of the next couple of days, the caffeine withdrawal from all that soda, chocolate and tea nearly kill me in the first week.

Oh I can wait... bring it on!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

So Near But So Far ...

Yesterday's weekly weigh in bought my weight down to a tantalising 18st dead, so close to my first weight loss target but not quite.

Next week I'll definitely be in the 17s god willing.

Other than that there's not much doing this week, still no rides because my pesky back keeps pulling, to the extent that I'm actually considering the doctors if it's not better by the time better weather arrives.

This may sound like common sense to many, but for me it's a big deal, I probably go once every three or four years, and only for "proper" problems that are not going to fix themselves.

The diet continues to improve, I've got the confidence to mix it up a bit now that the hunger craving stage has passed.

As long as I hit my calories then the variety I'm allowing myself is as per normal (excluding takeaways and general junk food of course).

I have to say that over the last couple of days I've started to notice clothes getting looser which is a positive sign.

Bring on the next stone lost I say.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

One Week Down, 51 To Go...

Well, that's the first week of my "I'll give you this year to sort yourself out" plan out of the way and everything to report is good so far. Not that I'm planning to stop after 52 weeks, just to maintain.

After the problems with my back I had towards the end of last year I was expecting a bit of a backlash after the weekends cycling but there's not been even a creak so I'm going to up the rides to two this week, both at the weekend where I have some sensible recovery time during the day.

The first week of eating only home cooked fresh food went well, my calories hit bang on for the first week and the hunger pangs of the first few days are behind me. At this morning's weigh in I was tipping the scale at 18st 7lbs, giving me a whopping 11lbs lost since the New Year's Day weigh in.

For me that's a phenomenal loss, but it just shows how much there is to lose, and how badly I've been abusing the old body over the last few months. Because of my "official" weigh in last year I'm going to chalk this one up as 3lbs loss for the sake of the site, the 11lbs just for me (and any of you who have read this post).

What's not so great however, is the stonking caffine withdrawal headache I've had for the last three days, mustn't cave though, it should be gone by the weekend, he said hopefully.

One last thing to mention before I go is a great free app I found for anyone wanting to track weight loss and has an iPhone (I'm sure you can get it on Android as well), which has helped me no end this first week.  It's called MyFittnessPal and it comes coupled and synced to a website, allowing you to enter information via PC or iPhone.

The App tracks all of your food intake and exercise and offsets one against the other whilst taking into account your lifestyle burn outside of the App.  It works out daily and weekly deficits to predict weight loss over a period you set, I set it to predict a month ahead each week. 

Whilst I know how to do all of this stuff already, it's really handy to see it in a clear visual way.  The food database is excellent, it's got pretty much everything by the three big supermarkets and all of the major brands, I'm yet to find a product it doesn't have. 

You can also build and save specific recipes if they're something you eat regularly. It's got a slick frontend and entry is easy so my verdict is a very impressed five stars, I'll certainly continue to use it for the foreseeable future.

Back to the cycling, Saturday should be a 20 mile pedal to my friends house in Northampton, and Sunday a 10 mile recovery ride weather permitting (I'm not catching a cold this early on for anybody).