Thursday, 30 July 2009

A few setbacks, but still progressing

Didn't do any exercise earlier in the week - had a sore throat, which felt like an infection that might be heading into my ears. Was a bit disappointed not to be able to train (Good sign!) but willingness not to train could have been an indication of a waning in motivation. Fortunately, this program has a longer term goal with a very specific target in mind, so there's no way I could allow it to slip for more than a few days. Went to the gym for a sauna, just to ensure the habit of going there didn't slip back into one of heading into the town centre with my colleagues at lunch time. Think that was a good idea!

Did my cardio class last night and went pretty hard for an hour, but pulled up with what I thought was cramps in my calf towards the end - now regret not icing that as it's still a bit tender.

Used the lower leg inactivity as an excuse to concentrate on upper body in the weights room today and after some chest & back exercises, went all out on the show-pony triceps and biceps (too vain for words!). Still shit-house at the pull-ups but much better performance on the dips (3 sets of 10 no bother! which is great progress).

Food wise I also had a wee slip up, succumbing to the temptations of a Cornish pasty. Beautiful meat filling right enough, but the pastry, the pastry - delicious but full of fat. On the other hand we had roast Chicken on Sunday and I made my own stock (Chicken carcase, an onion and a carrot in the pot for a few hours - skim the fat away in the pot of you can, but I cheat and once it's strained, put it in the fridge to remove the top layer after it has solidified). Made a sublime lentil broth with the stock, using Scotch-broth mix soaked overnight, an onion sauted in butter (I know! I know!) and the stock. Really chuffed with it, even if I do say so myself.

Net result? I know you're waiting for this bit on tenterhooks. Weighed in at 86.5kg, exactly 2kg lighter than 2 weeks and 1 day ago. That's 4.4lb in old money and pretty much what the health professionals would suggest was a healthy amount of weight loss over the period. Just got to keep it going, as I think those first few kgs were really the low hanging fruit, ripe for falling off.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Feeling very good this morning!

Well, that was an entirely alcohol free weekend - Ice cold in Alex was probably a good movie pick too... see a dyspeptic officer let himself and his crew down, then aim for redemption in the form of an Ice cold lager, but only after achieving his goals... I'm a long way from Alex just now, but at least I'm not trying to cross a desert in a dodgy old Ambulance.

Anyway, a fairly decent hour long run, probably just under 10km last night and good grub all round. The wife and others minded like her might suggest that the roast chicken dinner accompanied by roast potatoes done in goose fat was a step backwards. I don't care what these Philistines say - a wee bit of what you fancy is just as important in this lifestyle change that I'm undergoing.

Bit stiff from the run but otherwise elated at getting through the weekend and notching up that 1st entirely alcohol free week.

Friday, 24 July 2009

A good week - need to finish the job though!

Well, it's been a good, nay a great week! Starting off feeling a wee bit down in the dumps about it all, but as the days have gone by I'm starting to feel progress. Been eating better, haven't had a beer for 2 weeks, although did drink too much wine last weekend.

I've been swimming twice at lunchtimes, pushed some weights about once, been for a longish run and done an hours pretty tough cardio-boxing circuits. Today's big luncg being the only negative, but I've allowed myself that anyway - just means there's no more credits in the body bank for other indulgences.

I'm pretty impatient with this sort of project, but the truth is it takes time. You can undo 5 days good work with a binge out at the weekend, but if you don't binge, then next week you've gone 2 weeks and should be feeling the positive effects. It'll be easier to get through next weekend than this for the reason that you've already gone one weekend without sliding off the rails and next weekend you'll have more to lose, ie 2 weeks of good work.

So, a quiet and peaceful weekend to all! Think of me as you order another beer before heading home via the kebab shop. I'm metaphorically running up a freezing burn in the snow to shift some rocks about.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

still working...

Swam 10 lengths of the wee pool yesterday lunchtime then did 1 hour Cardio in the evening, involving lots of movement and circuits. Great class actually.

Weighed in at 87.2kg at lunch today and did a bit of an all round workout with the weights.
Leg Press & Leg Curl; Super sets
Lat Pull-Down, Dumbbell Chest Press, Dumbbell Flies and seated Row
Preacher Curl, triceps extension (rope), upright rows; Super sets

Have discovered Paterson's oat bites Cheese & mild chilli as a replacement snack.

Feeling a wee bit holier than thou, now!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A mixed bag of progress

Well, the good news is that the fancy electronic weighing & height machine is back up and running, so a down to the daks weigh-in measured me at 1.71m & 86.8kg - BMI 29.6.

Ya Beauty! Down to seriously overweight, verging on clinically obese rather than actually obese ;-) of course the extra 2cm helps too, but shows the importance of getting a decent measurement in the first place anyway.

Of course, we need a level of consistency, so the old school machine in the gym - with clothes on - has me at 87.6kg which is still a loss of 0.9kg - Not too bad!

Treadmill score dropped off too though, but that may be more to do with it being a heart rate test and the amazonian goddess working out on the squat rack which was in my line of sight. Pleased with the press-ups, disappointed (and surprised) with the dips scores. Can't complain about the pull-ups and elated with 963m on the O'Neil test taking me up into the scoring zone. Didn't really recover well enough for the 2nd test to have any real relevance, other than it convinces me that I'd score better with the damper set at 3 or 4, but not as much better as I'd probably have thought before trying it. I think it has more of an effect on the technique rather than anything else, but certainly would lead to more distance - might try it when fresh just to see how it actually goes, but this week was about setting a marker for improvement, which I think I've done.

Treadmill test44.143.5
Pressups2325, 20
Rowing test @ 7903m961m
Rowing test @ 3N/A858m

Monday, 20 July 2009

That Rowing test

A wee bit ego probably isn't a bad thing when it comes to trying to get back into shape, but last week mine was taking the rowing test results ver badly indeed. 903m rowed when below average for the 30's was 957m and 938, for the 40's. It's been burning me badly, but chatting with one of my colleagues he put me onto the damper setting. Bit of research on the Concept web site reveals that the damper is normally set to around 3 to emulate real boat conditions... well I feel a wee bit better now, but to measure any improvements I have to stick with the same settings, pah! but I'm not really happy that I can't compare myself with that chart... soooooo! Here's the plan. Do the 4 min test with damper set @7 - Hopefully do more than last week. Recover from the test then repeat with damper set @3. See if I go any further. If the ego is sated, I'll probably stick with a higher setting to give the upper body a better workout anyway, but it'll be good to know, even if I am comparing myself with some arbitrary table on the internet... ego! hmmmph! Will be extremely dissapointed if I don't get into the below average band! You may not hear from me if that happens!

A little bit of resolve...

Well, the weekend started well enough with a very easy jog round pollok park. 40 minutes at a real slow pace and no real problems, other than a slight stiffness in the groin, which is an age old problem.
Alas it all went downhill from there. A wee glass of wine on Saturday night became a couple of glasses of wine. Sunday was a rest day, but the family came around, we had a big buffet dinner and I clambered into a couple of bottles of Red...
Don't feel too bad today, other than a slight pang of regret that I'm not sitting here having completed the 1st weekend without sauce ;-(
Lunchtime will be a spot of stretching a Swim and a sauna. Fitness test tomorrow.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Components of fitness for a 40 year old

What is fitness? Many things to many people I suppose, but for me right now here are the components I'm thinking about.

Cardio-vascular endurance (Sorry for anyone reading this getting terminologies mixed up, but basically I'm talking about longish runs - 5km time trials are pretty good in this respect and I'm fortunate that the Pollok park, parkrun is near the house).

Aerobic endurance - turns out it's the same thing as cardio-vascular endurance, but in the gym I'll use the 4 min rowing test for this anyway, although I reckon I'm never that far from Anaerobic workouts on that bloody ergometer.

Anaerobic fitness - this is really about the ability to recover from working flat out for a short burst. I don't really intend to do anything specific about this just now as I reckon trying anything that intense given my current condition will just lead to injury. Eventually I suppose it'll be like a game of squash or 5 a sides, but I probably still won't measure it.

Strength - Well, I'm probably beyond the stage of shifting weights about the place for posing or looking to make muscular gains, but body weight exercises seem a pretty reasonable guide. I'm thinking that power to weight ratios are probably best tested with the press-ups, dips and pull-ups, especially the pull-ups, unfortunately.

Weight - I'm going to use the BMI thing as a decent guide here and I'm way overweight. Plus I've got too many pairs of trousers that are now not comfortable, so I'll be saving a fortune if I can drop a few cms round the waist.

Flexibility - I've ignored this for my entire life, but it's something that I intend to address in this new regime. But how does it get measured. I'm going to try to find a sit & reach box - maybe I'll ask the gym to provide one.

Friday on my mind

Friday's are going to be a tough challenge in this quest for improvement.
I've been in the habit of enjoying a roll with tattie-scone and lorne sausage on a Friday morning for some years now. Last year I started going for Friday pub lunches with a colleague, and they are magic! Great value too! but normally accompanied by chips. Indeed the menu is Fish & Chips, Gammon Steak and Chip, Beefburger & Chips, Sausage & Mash or a Caesar salad. On a good day we might go for a pint or 2 between work and home.

Clearly the Roll & Lorne have to go ;-(
For lunch, I'm still going to have my pub lunch, but I'll forgo the pint of Best that washes it down. There won't be any stopping off at the pub on the way home, the money saved will go on a Euro-millions ticket instead.

Gammon Steak, runny Egg and chips with Mayo and Tomato Ketchup.
Pint of Soda & Lime!
Very delicious, but a wee bit naughty...

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Race entry

So, the East Neuk 10kEast Neuk 10k race has been entered.

11 weeks and a few days out, so plenty time to get some miles into the legs.
A gentle lunchtime session at the gym beckons with the cross-trainer for 15 mins. It's pretty good exercise and minimal impact, followed by 10mins on the treadmill at an easy 10kmh.
25 mins cardio is a reasonable aim for today I think.

15 mins level 9 Random on the X-trainer - 3km & 221 Cal
10 mins @ 10Kmh incline 0.5% - 1.77km & 175 Cal

396 Calories. Hmm! I always get confused about Calories and KiloCalories.
Apparently there's about 280 Calories in a Mars bar, so I'm going to go with those results being about the same scale.
Interesting though that they think the treadmill is a bigger burner than the X-trainer.
Anyway, good to set a goal and achieve it. Must remember not to reward myself with a biscuit though!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


I remember reading a story about Jim Telfer and his attitude to training. He'd convinced himself if he couldn't be the best number 8 in Scotland, he could certainly be the fittest, so he devised a running plan which involved steep hills, running up burns and humping rocks about when in the burns. What really got me about the story though was that he used to pray for bad weather, because he knew that while he had no compunction about going out to train in the sleet or snow or on Christmas day, he didn't think that his rivals would be out there training and so he felt that was when he benefited most. Quite frightening really! Anyway, I'm not going to pray for bad weather, but I might send some of my mum's shortbread up to Fife!

The other guy who has something of a pedigree in success is Sir Steve Redgrave. He was explaining to a journalist about the monotony of training to reach the levels that he did, but his motivation was that if you didn't train today, then you'd lost that opportunity forever. You can't make it up by training harder tomorrow. Tomorrow you should be doing tomorrow's training.

That reminds me that in my current state I really have to take it easy and build up gently through a period of acclimatisation. The last thing I want is to start getting inflamed tendons or skeletal problems from going to hard too early. This is about a lifestyle change more than anything, but remembering what Steve Redgrave said I'll try to do a little every day and Jim Telfer's words will hopefully keep me from straying from the path, wouldn't want to make life too easy for my rivals ;-)

Food & Drink

So, I'm not a junk food addict, I just happen to love it! but I also love cooking fresh food at home, so it's really shouldn't be that difficult to cut out some of the crap that I eat, simply through plain laziness.

I'm not going to go into this in an utterly over the top manner though, so on the banned list from now are : crisps, chocolate bars, chips especially the Pie beans & Chips variety - which are utterly banned, whilst other chips are restricted to once per week if part of a meal deemed to be acceptable by my own variable standard, lorne sausage (hmm! it hurts to think about that one... maybe I am an addict...) and.... sniff! Haggis pasties :'-(

I generally don't drink fizzy juice anyway, but maybe I take too much coffee, so I'm going to restrict myself to 3 cups per day and replace any others with water or Peppermint tea, which I'm told is good for the digestive system.

Alcohol is off the menu at home and will be restricted to only 1 day per week - possibly reinforcing my already terrible binge drinking habit, so that'll be under review. Hangovers are strictly banned though!

Where are we now? - the weigh-in

So, in order to make improvements, we firstly need an honest assessment of where we stand. In the past I've participated in, or just tried, many sports. Rugby has always been my main passion, but I've boxed, kick-boxed, run for fun, run for charity, played football amongst fairly decent amateur players, held my own in the work squash leagues and enjoyed cricket. I think the fittest I ever got in my 30's though was when I joined a surf life boat team and was training with them. One of the guys had me on the ergometer every other night getting my stroke right and I was either up swimming or rowing pretty early most mornings.
Anyway, I'm claiming a fairly decent knowledge of how the body works and have devised my own wee fitness test for the purposes of this exercise.


At rugby clubs up and down the land overweight, over-opinionated twats (I know! I know! but hey it's my blog!) will tell you that the BMI isn't a very good measure of their physique. That's because they're mainly fat doughnut loving beer monsters who would rather shovel another sausage roll down their gullet than face the truth.
Anyway, I weighed in at 88.85 Kg (I've been worse though!) and measure up at 1.69m (no sniggering at the back!) which gives me a BMI of 30.99, comfortably in the obese category. I need to drop down to 85Kg, just to be only 'overweight'.

Treadmill Fitness test

I've always been a bit sceptical about these, but let's see how it goes with the 5 minute VO2 test.
Estimated V02 - 44.1 above average.
Surprisingly not bad, but perhaps the remnants of what might once have been described as a decent engine in footballing parlance... we'll see!


Back in the day, I wouldn't have considered pulling on my boots unless I was capable of doing 3 sets of 50 press-ups in a minute, with a 30 second break. Now I've decided to use 25 press-up sets and see how many I can do.
23 press-ups - Not even 1 complete set - oh dear! ;-(


Dips are measured in sets of 10 with no time limit, just do them and have a break of no more than 30 sec before the next set.
6 dips - oh dear! ;-(

Pull-ups (Chin ups)

I've always been shithouse at these anyway, but only 2 using the underhand grip.
Very poor ;-(


The 4 minute O'Neil fitness test
4 minutes, Damper @ 7
Way below average ;-(

Warm down

10 mins on the cross trainer but no stretches as the fire alarm went off.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Beginning

Last week the challenge came from Fife. We're both overweight and we know it. We're also both overly competitive for men of our, now becoming considerable, years.

It looks like it's the Anstruther Haddies 10k at the end of September, although there does seem to be some side betting on a weight drop of 5kg... not quite sure how that will be judged fairly, but given that I've had a weekend on the skite and was out at a charity quiz night which involved beer and wine - AGAIN! - I don't think I've made a very good start on that ambition.