Tuesday, 12 February 2008

The story so far.

Not much of a story. I’m overweight, and for years now I have been getting more overweight. Until now - I am now loosing weight. But it’s not just about the weight, it can’t be. It’s about fitness, lifestyle, living longer and living well. But first, in these early days, it’s about loosing weight.

From my starting point in January, I needed to loose about 70 lb. Some questions I asked myself were.

  • How to go about loosing this?
  • How long will it take?
  • How quickly can I do this?
  • How much am I going to suffer?

These are not easy questions to answer, and if you do some reading, impossible to answer in a way that can’t be contradicted by about fifty 'experts', all quoting their own 'facts'.

To do anything, I need a target. My wife (hi Mairi) despairs at some of the goals I come up with. On this occasion it’s not so bad, I think, but still quite a challenge. It just so happens that there is a cycling event called the Etape Caladonia which takes place not too far from here. It’s an 81 mile mass participation event over closed roads, through beautiful scenery in a very pretty part of Scotland. This is happening on the 18th May, and while it’s going to take me longer than that to get to my ideal weight, it should be possible to get a lot done before the middle of May. So I’ve signed up. At the moment I can cycle for about 2 hours at about 16 miles per hour. At my current level I could manage about a quarter of it before toppling over. I need to be thinner, fitter and faster if I'm to avoid humiliation.

How much weight can I loose? My ultimate target is about 13 stone 5, but more sensible would be to work on a weekly target. In January I needed to plan out a steady program, a week by week plan that I could monitor so that I had feedback as to how well I was doing. So I fired up Excel and started banging in some numbers. OK, if I could loose 3lb per week, I could get to about 14 stone before the Cycle event, an ambitious goal. If I settle for 2lb per week, I’m still going to be well over 15 stone by the event. I don’t fancy spending 6 plus hours dragging that much weight over 81 miles of hilly country lanes, but if I have to I will. So those would be my limits, between 2 and 3 lb per week. I would aim for 3lb per week, but would not accept anything less than 2lb per week.

Now for the tricky question: how exactly am I going to do this? First I am ignoring all advice. There is simply too much bullshit out there on the subject of weight loss, and as well as loosing weight, I need to train. I am an intelligent(ish) guy, and the problem seems simple enough: I’m fat. A lot of people have a lot to say on the subject of weight, some of them make a lot of money out of the subject. But where are the results? Most fat people were fat years ago, and despite all the advice and a lot of effort, are just as fat or fatter today (me included). Well, forget your low carb, high protein, low fat, high fibre, no hunger guaranteed, detox, bla, bla BULLSHIT!!!, I’m going it alone.

Here are a few simple FACTS I believe...

  1. Fruit and vegetables are good for me. Eat more of them.
  2. I don’t know what’s in processed foods. Eat less of them.
  3. Pay some attention to calories. 100 calories of chocolate has the same energy as 100 calories of apple. Use calories as a guide only, don’t obsess.
  4. Cut down on portion size. It I’m full and still eating, I’m over-eating.
  5. If I’m loosing weight I should be a little hungry fairly often (but not REALLY HUNGRY)
  6. No big meals before bed. This is really important.
  7. In fact, no big meals at all. Smaller meals, often; stops the REALLY HUNGRY thing.
  8. Don’t go to bed REALLY HUNGRY. If I’m that hungry, admit defeat and eat something, but just enough to take the edge off. A slice of bread and butter/jam/tuna and a small glass of milk does the trick.
  9. Eat lots of soup. This seems silly, but I really like soup and I don’t know of an unhealthy flavour (well, I do, but none that bad). It’s hot, filling (with a slice of wholemeal bread dunked in), and it’s tasty. The perfect food. Yum.

For the first four weeks I planned on weight loss only. Being that heavy was depressing and shocking, and as it was January, I didn’t see the opportunity to get out on my bike anyway.

It is now the 12th February, so how did I do? Yesterday morning I weighed in at 17 stone 3 lb: a loss of 10 lb in 4 weeks or 2.5 lb per week. I did this by overhauling my diet, cutting back on alcohol (but not as much as I would have liked), and doing some walking when the opportunity arose. I think I did OK (which is better than 'ok', by the way)

At this point I will confess to something. I meant to start this blog on the 14th January when I began this journey, as a threat of public humiliation if I didn’t stick to it. I didn’t do it then because I couldn’t cope with the idea of, er, public humiliation. But I also didn’t do it because I had nothing to say. Sort of like releasing a movie after you’ve finished the opening credits. Not much point in that, is there?

Anyway, now that it’s started I’m going to commit to an update at least once a week. That update will be on a Monday, after the big Monday Weigh In.

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