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Monday, June 26, 2017

How to Lose a Belly When You're 42 (part 31)

Blood pressure: 117/67
Resting heart rate: 53
It's still unbelievably hot. Many of classrooms at college were unbearably hot: Some of the Pre-16 Department students were literally walking out of their lessons and going home.
After suffering in a sweltering staffroom, I eventually got out of work at about 5pm and cycled home to cook a healthy dinner for the family.
While waiting for the potatoes to cook, I measured my blood pressure and resting heart rate: If the machine is to be believed, I'm astonishingly healthy for someone who loves cake and beer as much as I do! Maybe I should get a second opinion...?
I also sometimes remember to take my resting heart rate when I wake up using an app on my phone:

Resting heart rate when I wake up

After a bit of TV and some records I decided I had to do some exercise. I added a bit more weight on to my equipment and did a decent lifting session for an hour. I lifted heavier than last week. I was so sweaty in the heat that the bar was slipping down my back during squats!
I felt great afterwards. I had some cornflakes and fell asleep on the couch...
No junkfood, no booze.


Weight: 10st 5lbs
So, I failed to lose any weight last week. This means I really need to increase my efforts for the rest of this week - ideally so I can lose 2lbs before Monday.
Today, I enjoyed my ride to and from work in the heat and then Martha and I went off to dojo. It was monstrously hot and, in my heavy-weight karategi, I was sweating even before the warm-up started! We took part in an informal kata competiton. I was competing against Martha and I'm pleased to report that it was judged to be a draw. Phew!
Back at home, Lucy had prepared a wonderfully healthy meal of fish, rice and vegetables.
A cup of tea before bed.
No junkfood, no booze.


Usually, I have to take the car on Wednesdays. I work at Handsworth once a week and have to haul folders and student work over there. However, today was an exam day and all the exams were online! All I needed to do was turn up. So I jumped on the Specialized this morning instead of clambering into my car. How refreshing! It was a desperately hot day - not sunny or bright, just incredibly warm and muggy at 29 degrees. It was a nicer, fresher ride in the morning and I set a decent average of 14.1mph in rush hour traffic. I was going really well until the last 200 metres or so when a dickhead in a parked car opened his car door as I was going past. I was being overtaken at the time too! With nowhere to go I just shouted at him and he tucked himself in. I swore at him for a while which made me feel better.
In the evening, I had to ride over to Digbeth. This was a slow and sweaty affair in the 5pm rush hour. I was forced over into the gutter by a big estate changing lanes. I decided to give chase and managed to stay close to him until he finally arrived in our staff carpark! He was an older geezer, maybe management, so I just stood and stared at him while he nervously tried to reverse his big car into a parking space. When he looked like he might cry, I carried on up to my classroom. The ride home was awesome. The heat was ridiculous, like riding into a furnace, but once the bike was up to speed it felt like I was riding into a breeze (there was no wind at all today.)
I finally got home at 8:40pm - a lot earlier than I usually do! I rode a total of 22.8 miles at 13.9mph.
No junkfood, no alcohol.

I cycled in to work and back today. At home, we had a barbecue in the backgarden with Jane and Eric. I didn't have anything from the barbecue and I didn't have any beer. I had roast chicken and a cup of Earl Grey tea. Sometimes, making the healthy choices isn't much fun...I even refused the chocolate and sweet stuff on offer after dinner.
After the in-laws had set off home, I got busy with the weights while Lucy had a snooze. I didn't lift any heavier than I did on Monday. The injury in the right arm was quite painful tonight, especially on curls.
No alcohol, no junkfood.

Cycled to work and back.
Martha and I attended the advanced Karate session with Sensei Ronnie Christopher. It was a good session which started with a kata competition and finished with some kumite drills. I lost to Martha in the kata competition! In the kumite, I was singled out by Sensei Jodi and trained with him for the rest of the night. Sensei Jodi taught MMA for ten years and is very strong and fast.
After class, I was approached by Sensei Chris 1st Dan. "Where do you think you're going?" he asked as he was strapping his gloves back on.
We did some sparring and he kept the pressure on while allowing me to practice some of my limited combinations and techniques. I was soon out of breath and sweating profusely. "You should be fitter," he said, as he slapped me in my gut.
When I thought it was over, Sensie Jodi stepped up. His approach was very different to Sensei Chris's: He was very relaxed and waited for me to attack him. Then he would counter strike, hard! I did manage to get a couple of kicks in before he beat me fair and square with an ashi barai that actually spun me 180 degrees! After these two bouts, Sensei Jodi did some pad work with Martha and me. The guy can hit really, really hard!
Back at the house, I scoffed homemade food and drank water.
No junkfood, no booze.

Jonnie had invited Nigel and myself to watch the British Lions play New Zealand this morning. Kick off was at 8:30. Nigel made it but I suffered motivational issues and only turned up for the second half! After watching New Zealand romp to victory, we set off on today's bicycle ride. There was a crosswind for most of the ride but it was still warm. The lads were stripped down to one layer but I still wore my baselayer.
We devised a route made up of the Purity Route but turned left early to cut through Temple Grafton. It was a heads down, serious kind of ride today. Not much talking.
On one downhill section, I was holding Nigel up and he chose to overtake me on a blind bend. Unfortunately, this sent him out on to the wrong side of the road just as a car was coming the other way. Only Nigel's superb bike handling skills kept him upright and prevented him from smashing into the car. If only he had the road sense to match his skills! Nigel didn't seem particularly moved by the event but it did affect me greatly for a few minutes - I could have easily lost a mate today.
We gave it the beans up past the Purity brewery and kept the pressure on right up to Billesley. The very steep climb up Billseley Road caused much merriment as we were all caught in the wrong gear and I had lactic acid explosions in both legs!
At Wilmcote, we relaxed outside with homemade cake and fresh tea. I took the opportunity to strip down to one layer before setting off for the 15 miles home.
We were making good time riding as a team until Little Alne when I had to wait for traffic at a junction. The lads kept the pace high and it took me 5 miles to catch Jonnie on the A4189 towards Ullenhall! Nigel had gone off on one of his famous solo efforts and Jonnie and I were determined to reel him in.
It took me another 3 miles before I finally rode up to Nigel's back wheel in Tanworth. We chatted up Tom Hill until Jonnie came steaming up the climb to join us. The three of us rode along together until we reached the bottom of Jonnie's road. I'm pleased to report that I won the sprint for home today.
We finished the ride with a very good 15.5mph average. (Good for us, anyway!)

Nigel and I looking rather the worse for wear after our efforts today!

Later in the day, the family took Tilly to the airport to see her off on her holiday to Egypt. It was while we were at the airport that I enjoyed my first beer of the week (a very good Purity Longhorn IPA!) When I got home, I did some ironing and then enjoyed a Guinness while playing some old records.

I had a lie in until 8 and then got ready for day of hill walking in Malvern! Mouse is in training for her World Challenge trip to Ecuador. This walk had been organised by a teacher at her school. At 11am, 17 of us set off from the North Quarry car park. It quickly became clear that bringing Freddie was a challenge in itself. Unless he was at the front, he would pull relentlessly on the lead util he was at the front - choking himself in the process - even though he wearing a chest harness, not a collar! He would also cause people to trip over the lead! And so, I had to spend the entire 4 and half hour walk at the front!

My faithful companions on the walk.

It was a very pleasant walk, with only the occasional cloudburst. The rain was sometimes welcome - helping to cool the walkers down a little. The lads from Mouse's school are very fit - two of them choosing to run up the hills!
We stopped off at a cafe were I succumbed to the temptation of Jane's homemade coffee cake which Lucy had packed for me. I had a cup of tea and a healthy sandwich too.
It was a very nice walk in beautiful surroundings, although the soles of my feet were aching in my brother's walking boots which have always been too big for me and which now have a hole in them!

Mouse leading her friends over the hills.

At home, I made a quick and healthy dinner for everyone and enjoyed three ales sipped throughout the course of the evening. What a nice day!

This week:
I exercised every day, drank a total of 5 beers and had two slices of cake and some chocolate biscuits. I hope to have lost a bit of weight...

Monday, June 19, 2017

How to Lose a Belly When You're 42 (part 30)

Weight: 10st 5lbs
Well, I met my target: I managed to lose a pound of flab last week. I feel I let myself down, however. If I'd shown a bit more willpower after the bike ride, not drank all those beers, and gone to the dojo instead, I may have lost a little more flab.
Today, I cycled in to work and back, didn't drink booze, ate healthily and did a weight lifting session. The session was slightly heavier than last week's.

I had to stand in for someone in a meeting at the last minute. That meant that I didn't have chance to have a shower and get changed when I got home. I leapt off the bike and Martha and I jumped in the car and went to the dojo. I was in my cycling gear, complete with dirt and oil stains. Martha had a really gruelling sweaty Karate session led by Sensei Julian Cunningham (5 times British Champion!)
I settled down to watch the session but was immediately recruited by Sensei Gary! He asked me to take 9 students through their grading kata (Bassai Dai.) I had to teach in my bare unwashed feet, filthy cycling shorts and a skin-tight base layer so everyone could see my belly wobbling. Embarrassing wasn't the word... However, before the hour was up, I had forgotten what I was wearing and just concentrated on doing my best for the karateka that were relying on me to guide them through the kata. I really enjoyed it!
Back home, Martha made herself some dinner and I did a weight lifting session. This time, I kept the weight the same as yesterday.
No booze, no junkfood, cycled to work and back.

I have to drive on Wednesdays. After 13 hours at work I get home at 9:30pm. I didn't do any exercise but I did eat healthily and avoided booze.

I cycled to work and back, didn't eat any junkfood , didn't drink alcohol, but I did do a weights session! A good day's training!

We had a meeting at Bordesley Green today. It was a nice day so I decided to cycle there and back. The traffic on a Friday afternoon in Birmingham is awful so my speed was rather tame. I covered just under 17 miles at 12.9mph. At home, I ate healthily and then enjoyed the first beer of the week. Jonnie, Lucy, Sally and I went along to Nigel's 50th birthday party and, needless to say, I got a bit inebriated!

Scorching hot day!
I woke up feeling absolutely awful but still managed to do some jobs: replace a broken microswitch on the car, clean the bathroom, parcel up some stuff for eBay etc.
I didn't manage to do any exercise, however. 
In the evening, we celebrated Eric's 80th birthday with a few beers and Chinese food in Jonnie's backgarden.

Another scorcher!

The boys climbing - note Nigel in the drug-fuelled Armstrong jersey. Retro!

Jonnie, Nigel and I cycled out to Wilmcote via the Honiley Route. We extended the route to include a lot of the Shrewley Route. In total, we cycled almost 38 miles in 29 degrees heat at around 14.8mph.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and managed to get a few PRs on Strava. Jonnie was in fine form and spent a lot of the ride home out in front. Nigel suffered in the heat but, as he pointed out, he always makes it up every climb! I rode with Nigel, Jonnie eventually waited for us and then we cruised back at a comfortable 16mph or so. In the sprint, Jonnie and I were neck and neck over the line! It was the best sprint we've ever done.
Ready to leave the cake stop

Nigel very sensibly drank some pop and then headed home. I stayed longer and spent most of the afternoon drinking Jonnie's beer in his backgarden! So once again, I failed to show any willpower after the bike ride and I didn't go to dojo.

In the lanes on the way home - Jonnie and me enjoying the sunshine.

In the evening, back at home, I manned the barbecue and drank a GnT and an ale. I ate lots of naughty food too.

I think I'm going to look like a bit of a fat bastard on the beach again this year...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How to Lose a Belly When You're 42 (part 29)

10st 6lbs
It's less than 7 weeks before I'll be on the beach.
This is a scary thought because, at the moment, my stomach looks like a pale, hairy blancmange stuck on the front of me. The plan is to lose a pound of flab each week before my toes touch the sand...

I cycled in to work in the drizzle. In the first lesson, I had brought some sweets in for the students to enjoy and I ended up having 5 fruit gums myself! This did not bode well for the rest of my training!
I scoffed my sandwiches at work but they didn't seem to touch the sides. When I got home (by cycling in some sort of hurricane!) I was unbelievably hungry so I raided the fridge.
After my usual healthy Monday night dinner of vegetables, scrambled eggs and spuds, I did a weight training session. I have decided to use lighter weights for a while and gradually bring them back up to my usual weight. I have an injured right arm at the moment (a martial arts, pad work related strain) and I'm trying to gently get it back to fitness.
After my weights session, I found myself on the couch watching cycling while eating not one, but two choc-ices!

2 crumpets with peanut butter
Glass of juice
3 cups of redbush tea
5 fruit gums (from the packet which I was sharing with my students.)
2 chicken and salad sandwiches.
Scotch egg
Cheese and ham
Mexican Scrambled Eggs (with peppers, mushrooms, onions and homemade potato wedges)
2 choc-ices!


10st 5lbs
I lost a pound yesterday! By eating choc ices?
Anyway, I had to drive to work and back today. In the evening, Lucy and I went to the pub to watch England beat New Zealand at cricket (ICC ODI.) I found Timothy Taylor's Landlord on tap!
Lucy made a very healthy fish dinner and then I did another weights session (slightly heavier than yesterday's.)

2 crumpets with peanut butter
Glass of juice
2 cups of redbush tea
1 cup of Earl Grey
Ham and salad wraps
Handful of peanuts
Plaice fillet with green beans, broccoli and rice.

2 pints of real ale

10st 6lbs
Another day of driving instead of cycling.


2 wholemeal toast with peanut butter
Glass of juice
Cup of redbush tea
2 homemade chicken salad sandwiches
2 vegetable burgers with green beans and noodles


After a long day at work, I cycled home and did some more weight lifting but kept the weights the same as on Tuesday.
No booze, no junkfood

The martial arts lesson tonight was a very technical kumite session with Sensei Ronnie Christopher. I was way out of my depth, especially when partnered with Sensei Ronnie, but I'll keep at it and hopefully my confidence will increase.
We did Kata for about 2 minutes (literally) which made me feel good - we did Heian Yondan and I finished first with what felt like good power and technique.
No booze, no junkfood.

I ran a 10K today. I did it in just under 64 minutes but it didn't make me feel good at all -I was bright red and feeling very tight in the chest.
It took a Scotch egg and a glass of milk to set me straight. After that, Lucy, Martha and I went to the open house and Solihull College and then shopping at Morrison's.
In the afternoon, I enjoyed a few beers while watching the cricket and then put my new saddle on my bike.

10K done.

No junkfood.

Jonnie and I headed down to Wilmcote via the Honiley Route. I found myself needing to make some adjustments to my new saddle before we set off (it was a bit wobbly - don't do bike fettling after a few beers!) It was dry but rather windy. We had to ride into a headwind for most of the route down to Wilmcote. However, after 24 miles we arrived at Wilmcote with a very respectable 15.4mph average.
Jonnie was absolutely flying today, even in the wind. He did more on the front than he usually does and he found himself having to wait for me a couple of times. I was quick to use yesterday's 10K run as an excuse for aching in my legs, but the fact remains that Jonnie seems to be getting fitter and I'm not keeping up.
After refuelling with homemade chocolate cake, we headed back out with the wind behind us this time!
Happily, we managed to increase our average speed to 15.5mph for the entire 40 mile ride. There was no hiding the difference in fitness, however. Jonnie was having to slow right down to wait for me at several points during the ride back. At Tom Hill, he even managed to stay in the big ring Contador style until halfway up. I didn't have a hope of catching him.
He destroyed me in the sprint back to his place, too.
After our exertions, we found a few ales were in order and ended up having a mini-session for a couple of hours! I rode the 0.8 miles home very carefully!
Booze and junkfood.

Last thing: according to this website, Cycling at 15mph burns exactly the same amount of calories per hour as my running pace of 6mph. So now you know.