Tag Archives: Health

Flab Battle – Take Two

treadmillWell, not quite, more of a minor reenactment.

The original ‘Flab Battle‘, which commenced in March 2012, saw me go from an outrageous 18’6″ (116kg) to a low of 12’7″ (79.1Kg). In truth, I had lost too much, too quickly. There was very little fat/cushioning left on certain parts of my body i.e. base of spine. To this day I remain convinced that I somehow screwed up my metabolism and as a result even when it’s hot I can still feel cold.

For the best part of three years my weight remained in my defined comfort zone which capped off at 13’7″. However, we then decided to move house. This involved stress. This also involved dismantling our treadmill. These two things allied to me just getting lazy and into some bad eating habits saw my weight begin to rise again. Now that we’ve moved and are settled it’s time to get back on track. The stress is easing and of course the treadmill is now back up and running in the garage. A starting weigh-in last week shocked me to the core. The scales flashed 14’8″ (92.6Kg). This was all the motivation I needed to get back into action.

weight graph

A combination of treadmill sessions, every other day, and calorie counting (with my trusted app/website MyFitnessPal) has borne some early fruit. Not only do I feel physically and mentally better, but I weigh less. Today’s weigh-in showed I had dropped down to 14’4″ (90.7Kg). Yes, I know a good percentage of this will be water weight as my body starts to flush out the sludge, but it still an encouraging first week or so.

Plan is to lose at a slow, steady and sustainable rate until I reach my target of around 13’3″ (84Kg). Hopefully I can achieve that before autumn turns to winter. Regular updates to follow.

Thanks for reading.

The Artist Formerly Known as RedWeb

redweb2.1 For the last 15 years of my life I have been known to many as RedWeb. My name is not RedWeb. Never has been RedWeb and never will be RedWeb. I am Paul. However, the name of my Stirling Albion match reports website and my own seem to have become one over the years. Even in conversations I will still get referred to as “Red”. Well no more. Hour upon hour spent conjuring up 1500 word reports from a handful of my scribbled notes is over. RedWeb is dead. Paul is very much alive. Perhaps I should be sad. I’m not. I am relieved. I’ve done my bit. Now it’s time to move on.

redweb3.1RedWeb, the site NOT me, started in 1998 as a way of introducing myself to the world wide web. The idea that a PC, a dial up modem (remember them) and some basic software could get you seen and heard around the world was too much to resist. Not that this has ever been an ego trip. Some might say it was but it wasn’t. Well not really. Anybody who publishes their work in the public domain is a little bit of a show off. Let’s be honest. Undoubtedly I thought my opinions on Stirling Albion were interesting ones and I now had the vehicle to let others hear them. Before RedWeb there were only mailing lists. Hard to believe but true for those who have only ever known the wonders of the information age. From then to now, well yesterday, I was hooked. It became who and what I was.

redweb1.1Now who I am and what I want to be has changed. Almost a third of me has gone after a year of dieting and the new Paul has different goals. I still want to write. I love writing. I need to write. However, that writing will now take the form of blogging and dabbles in the world of creative fiction.

Over the last day or so I have received many thanks and well wishes from people who have enjoyed reading my reports and looking at our photos over the years. It means a lot to me that these people took the time to say “thanks”. As much as I may have enjoyed the writing process in itself the fact that it was actually being read and appreciated made it mean more. Let’s face it. Every writer wants to be read. I was no different and never will be.

Ah well. That is that. Today is the start of a new chapter. Indeed you could say an entirely new book. The one called “RedWeb” is complete and my new one loosely titled “Paul” has begun. I hope from time to time you may take a moment to view and enjoy some of the chapters from here on in.

(For those who want to read my last ever article on RedWeb i.e. as RedWeb, then you will find it here. Be warned it includes a lot of pictures of me when I was “bigger” than I am now. Shocking but essential viewing, for me at least!)

Do Your Bit To Solve The Obesity Crisis

myfitnesspalLet me start by saying I am not in any way connected to myfitnesspal the company or any of their employees. This is not advertising spam. What follows is simply the views of someone who has successfully used their website and smartphone app to lose almost six stones. This blog has been brewing for a while. It was near the top of my “to blog” list. What has brought it to the top was yet another day of obesity crisis headlines.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has produced a report which suggests “Fizzy” drinks should be heavily taxed and junk food adverts banished until after the watershed. By Fizzy I would assume they mean drinks with excessive amounts of sugar as not all fizzy drinks do contain the dreaded white powder. For those outwith the UK I should perhaps additionally explain that the “watershed” is deemed to be a time when television in theory becomes for adults only, nominally around 9pm. After that you are free to show people kissing, bare bottoms and potentially now feature adverts for fizzy drinks. Now, the point of this piece is not to take a position on this article. I’m not qualified enough in the field to attempt a serious review of their findings. Instead all I am looking to highlight is what we as individuals can do about this apparent fatness epidemic.

Well, for me weight loss really started to make sense when I began to closely watch what I was eating. You can exercise and you can think you are eating less but if you’re not actually keeping an accurate log of what you consume (i.e what’s going in and what’s going out) you are potentially stumbling around in the dark. The solution? Well if you’ve read this far you already know the answer. Myfitnesspal isn’t rocket science. It is just basic nutritional science. Count your calories, know what amounts of sugars, carbohydrates, proteins and the various fats you are taking in. The food database rarely turns up a blank on any searches. As a bonus with the app you can do direct scans of bar-codes. On an average day I may spend five minutes logging food. It isn’t a chore.

Where logging your food works for me is that you have no excuses. You know exactly what you are eating. You know when you are eating too much and you just as importantly when you are eating too little. Since using MFP I have become exponentially more aware of what I should and shouldn’t be eating. This is key for me as I can’t help but feel a huge underlying cause of obesity is a lack of knowledge of how your body works. You don’t have to be a doctor to go on a successful diet. However, it helps if you grasp the fundamentals of why you put on weight and thus how you lose it.

If you think this sounds like the tool to help you with your attempts to shift some unwanted weight then head on over to myfitness pal. If you do join and want a friend to help encourage you then just give me a shout, my membership name is RedWeb!


Cyclists of the World, I Salute You

cyclistsMy main cardio kick when losing weight was running. The younger version of me used to run quite a lot. Nothing competitive. Just the occasional five or six mile run in an attempt to generate and maintain a decent level of fitness. However, a change of jobs and location led to a change in my fitness regime i.e. I didn’t have one. I kept threatening to get out running again. When the light evenings return I’ll be out there losing the flab and getting fit again. Never happened. Well, it did eventually when I declared enough was enough and began the weight loss process which took up most of 2012.

The purchase of a treadmill really kick started the running bug again. Allowed me to get fit enough before I ventured out in public. As an aside if you are thinking about running and can afford to purchase a treadmill then do. Great piece of kit. There is an element of snobbery in the running community which likes to pooh-pooh treadmills but I’m not having that. Fantastic way to begin your path to fitness, especially in countries where it rains a lot! Anyway I digress slightly. Where was I? Yes, the running bug. It returned and along with my strict, almost obsessive, calorie counting I ended up where I am today. So thanks running.

Why am I rattling on about running when the title of this blog is saluting cyclists I hear you ask. Well this is the reason why. When out running I always used to look at passing cyclists and think to myself that they had it easy. They should try getting off the bike and running instead. No free wheeling for me. I had to earn every inch I covered. In December last year I bought myself a bike. I’ve cycled about a 100 miles or so since then. I now think differently about cyclists.

I was sort of right about cycling. You do get to free-wheel at times. However, it is usually required to get over the effects of that hill you just struggled your way up. Distance is another thing I perhaps didn’t take into account. I did 22 miles today. Not a lot to some but a lot for me in my rookie cycling year. That 22 miles included up hills, down hills, into the wind, wind behind, wind across, traffic to negotiate and so on. The very fact that you cover relatively large distances exposes you to all sorts of weather and road conditions. Your body is always having to react and get ready for what is coming next.

When I used to return from a 10K run I would be tired. Bit out of breath but never that stiff or sore. 22 miles in the saddle covering all sorts of terrain and you better believe I am stiff and sore. I have no idea how professional cyclists can knock out 200K in a day over multiple mountains in searing temperatures. Well, we sort of do know how some managed it, but in general it must take an incredible level of fitness and stamina to be able to do it cleanly. Despite what I used to think cycling is a very tough and demanding sport. Whether you cycle to work, are part of a club, like the odd pedal around country lanes or even just take the bike to the shops, I salute you.

ps. I also salute runners and anyone else who gets out and moves their body. Whatever works for you just keep at it. Every little helps.

Headwinds. Not Good for Rookie Cyclists.

Went out on my by bike this morning. Had a 20 mile route planned. Yes, I know that’s nothing for you experienced, big thighed veteran wheelers but for a relative novice it’s not a distance to be sniffed at. My last cycle of note a couple of weeks ago featured a seven mile uphill start which I hadn’t quite bargained for i.e. it nearly had me throwing up ! However, I fought through it as if nothing else I’m stubborn and will keep going until my body really says no more.

For today’s run I made sure there wasn’t going to be a repeat of my climbing struggles. A nice flat route. No real lumps but the ones it did have wouldn’t be a problem. Journey started easily enough. A bit downhill, no real breeze that I could feel. However, after about three miles I turned left and my worst fears were realised. A headwind. Worse than that. As the next five miles showed it wasn’t just a headwind it changed to a full blown crosswind at some points. Didn’t matter which direction I was going the wind was playing havoc with my pedalling. Actually had to stop a couple of times as I just wasn’t getting anywhere. Either that or I felt like I might be blown off the bike.

Eventually at around the ten mile mark I made another left turn and this time the wind dropped. From there to home there were only small stretches where I was fighting the elements. Think in time these winds will be less of an issue for two reasons. One. I will try my best to avoid them. Plan routes where I know that the wind is at my back on the tough sections and into me on the easy, perhaps downhill parts. Secondly I will get better at cycling. Combination of improved bike control and more power in my legs should see me cutting through pesky headwinds as the months and years go by.

Back home. Bike washed and cheese and ham toastie consumed. Blog written. Time for a soak in the bath and a haircut. Hopefully there are no headwinds between here and the bathroom.

Do I Really Look Sick ?

I’ve worked hard to lose the weight I’ve lost. Almost a full year of intense dieting and exercise which I stuck to with with a stubbornness which bordered on fanaticism. I reached my goal and beyond. If anything I could do with putting a little bit back on but for now I am happy maintaining in and around the 80kg mark. I think I look so much healthier and fitter than before. Unfortunately the odd person I meet thinks I need to sit down !

In the bad old days I would have a takeaway every Friday. In itself not that big of a deal but when combined with the rest of my weekend eating and a basic lack of portion control during the week it eventually took it’s toll. These days I allow myself one takeaway a month. I have earned the right to one meal every four or five weeks when I’m not worrying about calories, fats, sodium and all that malarkey. One meal just to enjoy being a little bit bad.

Anyway that’s the background to this blog. What got me typing was the reaction when I returned to my favourite Chinese takeaway after what has been almost a year. The initial reaction by the woman behind the counter was along the “haven’t seen you for a while” lines. Fair enough and it was nice that she recognised me. Then it started to get a bit strange. Out from the kitchen popped the main man, the owner of the establishment. The look of shock on his face was unbelievable. It’s like he’d just seen a ghost. I did my best to reassure him that tales of my death were clearly exaggerated. However, he didn’t seem convinced. At least three or four times he asked if I was all right. He seemed genuinely concerned for my well being and appeared sure that I had a major health issue. No I assured him. I’ve just lost a lot of weight. Eventually he accepted that I wasn’t sick. At least I think he did.

Problem here is one of perception. People get used to what you look like. If you’re overweight, have a bit of a belly and a slightly podgy face then that is you. If you stop looking like that then somehow you’re not you. Well, this is me. What you saw before was an obese version of me. I should never have looked like that and people should never have got used to expecting me to look like that. I accept if you haven’t seen me for a while I do look a lot different. However, this is what I should have looked like all the time. This is what I plan to look like for the rest of my days.

I hope if I see people who have lost large amounts of weight I don’t first of all think that they’re ill. Maybe I do. Maybe we all do. Why is that ? Perhaps it’s human nature to think the worst. I don’t know. Bit confused if I’m being honest. I mean, do I really look sick ?

A Cold Warning To Those Losing Weight.

I used to be around the 18 stones 6 lbs mark, or for those who you who prefer metric, somewhere in the vicinity of 116 kg. I was very rarely cold. I am now 12 stones 8 lbs, just under 80 kg. I have lost over 30% of my bodyweight. I am now almost always freezing cold. You will now struggle to see me without at least two layers on top and sometimes three, even in the house. Strange but true.

As it happens it’s probably not that strange. Compared to where I am now I previously covered my body in the equivalent of several thick jumpers and plenty more besides. Having shed that burden my body is naturally feeling it. Fingers in particular seem to have lost a lot of their covering and when out cycling my hands are regularly in danger of turning into blocks of ice, even when wearing thick gloves.

The solution. Well, I’m not sure there is one. Not planning to put weight back on. In time I think my body and I will adjust. Few more cardigans and base layers already added to my wardrobe. Hoping to put a bit of muscle back on over the year as I get out on my bike more and perhaps do some weights. This might help. Maybe it won’t.

So there you have it. If you need to lose weight then go for it, you can do it. Just be prepared to not feel quite as warm as you once did without additional clothing assistance.