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Monday, January 29, 2018

How to Lose a Belly When You're 43 (part 15)

My shoulder was aching all day. I managed to cycle to work and back but I decided to rest the shoulder this evening so I didn't pick up the weights.
I ate healthily and ignored my beer shelf.
No junkfood, no alcohol, no exercise.


Weight: 10st 5lbs
Blood Pressure: 128/77
Resting Heart Rate: 53
I cycled in to work and back. It was a mild day so I worked up a bit of a sweat on the way home! Unfortunately, I had to work late tonight so I didn't get chance to go to dojo. Also, a student had a birthday today and he brought some sweets in. I couldn't say no to a miniature Twix...
No alcohol, junkfood, no exercise.

Woke up feeling rough. Sore throat and coughing. The shoulder felt better, however. I managed to cycle in to work and back but felt too ropey to go out for a run (snot everywhere!)
I had to work late AGAIN and when I got home I was told that I didn't have time to lift weights because dinner would be ready soon.
After dinner, I went to pick Mouse up from a friend's house and by the time we got back, I couldn't find the motivation to lift. I was still sneezing and coughing.
I decided to watch this week's episode of Star Trek Discovery instead. It was awesome, but I didn't want Lorca to be a baddie...
No alcohol, no junkfood, no exercise

Weight: 10st 4lbs
Woke up feeling worse than yesterday. My sore throat makes it painful to swallow and I'm starting to ache. After a Lemsip, I clambered up on the bike and cycled in. The afternoon sports lesson was a disaster: the sportshall was being used for an exam and it was raining outside. We did some folder work instead.
I cycled home and made dinner for the family and Mouse's mate Hydro. She was a good girl and ate all of her veggies. Mouse let me down and let herself down by picking out the vegetables.
I was meant to do my 10K run today but I'm so snotty there was no point. I couldn't even face a weight training session after dinner.
I went to bed with a Lemsip and Isaac Asimov.
No alcohol, no junkfoodno exercise


Weight: 10st 4lbs
Woke up full of snot. I cycled in to work with my nose dripping all over the A34. I sniffed and sneezed my way through the day and then cycled home again.
Tonight's karate session was run by Sensei Mark. We did some basics, kata and finally some one-step sparring. The problem was the amount of people who had turned up for a Friday night workout. It was IMPOSSIBLE to perform a kata properly because of the sheer volume of bodies. The club is a victim of its own success! As Sensei Mark himself said, we're going to need a bigger room...
The other problem this evening was that someone at my end of the dojo was obviously suffering from flatulence...
Back at home, I enjoyed two top quality ales with my dinner.
No junkfood, karate session, two ales


Weight: 10st 4lbs
I woke up early with a banging headache. I got up at 7 for a Lemsip and to shoot things in GTA5.
It was a busy day: I put five more records up for sale on eBay before I walked the dogs around the park (in the rain!) I did some ironing and then, after lunch, headed off with Martha to the afternoon's karate session. Before it started, Sensei Jody invited me to do some sparring with him. I did what I could to land a punch on him but he's just too fast (and I'm too slow.) He landed a body blow on me, right on the bottom rib, which stopped me in my tracks. I thought I was going to throw up, but somehow I held on to my lunch!
Sensei Sarah took charge of the first half of the lesson with support from Sensei Jody. Sensei Sarah was understandably nervous about taking charge of a class for the first time but I think she did a great job of going through some basics and kata. She faced an extra challenge in the form of eleven children, all under the age of ten and all beginner grades! At times, it was like training in a nursery school!
Sensei Mark arrived halfway through and put us through some kata variations.
Unfortunately, my aching shoulder flared up badly and I couldn't face any of the pad-work that Jody had planned for me after the lesson. I met Lucy and Sally downstairs (we're training at the Village Hotel in Shirley - very posh) but this week they didn't buy me a Guinness. 😢
Back at home, I cleaned the floors, went shopping at Tesco, dropped Tilly off at a friend's house and then did a bit more ironing.
In the evening, Lucy and I watched the Ghost in the Shell remake with Scarlet Johansson . I loved the look of the film and was genuinely excited to see how closely they had recreated the scenes and characters. The fight in the shallow water, The Major's deep sea diving and then the confrontation with the spider tank at the end were very similar to the original. One of my favourite actors, Takeshi Kitano, does a fantastic job of playing Chief Aramaki (it was worth watching the film just to see his few scenes.) They even had Batou's dog turn up! However, all of these familiar settings, scenes and characters were used to tell a rather different story! Anyone remember Kuze in the fight with the spider tank? Me neither! Still, I found it very entertaining and look forward to collecting it on Blu-ray. I think Lucy got rather bored towards the end...
After that, I stayed up too late playing more GTA5.
Junkfood, 3 ales, karate session.

I called for Jonnie at 9:05 and we sped off into the lanes. We headed out on out High Cross route and after about 8 miles we had an average of 15.0mph. It was a mild but windy day with lots of standing water on the roads. We weren't cold at all which was a very nice change!
The wind made things a little difficult at times - the steady climb past the Armouries was hard work as was the dash along Featherbed Lane. We had a splendid homemade walnut cake waiting for us at Wilmcote and after we'd washed that down with tea, we headed north towards Ullenhall. By the time we were cycling past the newly opened Winged Spur, the average was still a very healthy 14.2mph.
I'm pleased to report that we maintained this average over the remaining 7 miles.
Back at Jonnie's, we had a celebratory ale while comparing Strava results. Surprisingly, Jonnie disappeared into his pantry to fetch another round of ales. It was soon clear that we were both in a social mood and were pleased to be joined by Sally. Then some more ales appeared on the table...

This could be why I'm not losing weight as fast as I'd hoped...

I eventually got home at 3:30, in no condition to go to dojo and train.
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying fantastic homemade food and drinking one more ale with my dinner.
34 miles of cycling at 14.2mph, 4 and a half ales, lots of junkfood

Monday, January 22, 2018

How to Lose a Belly When You're 43 (part 14)

I woke up a bit groggy after staying up a tad late last night. The cycle in to work helped and I was okay by the time I was half way through my first lesson.
In the evening, I did a good lifting session. I'd increased the weight a little from last week and I could really tell! I was aching when I finished but I was feeling good too. I cooked a stir fry beef dinner with fried rice for Lucy and myself. Then we watched Man U beat Stoke on the TV with Eric. Bed at 11.
No junkfood, no alcohol, weight training.


Weight: 10st 4lbs
My back was aching when I woke up.
Today was almost a carbon copy of yesterday: I cycled in to work and back, ate healthily all day, did a weight training session and didn't have a drink.
I had intended to go to dojo as I do every Tuesday but I had to work late and couldn't make it.
No junkfood, no alcohol, weight training.

Weight: 10st 5lbs
A different day, same training! I cycled to work and back, ate healthily, didn't drink booze and did some weight lifting!
No junkfood, no alcohol, weight training.

I cycled in to work.
It was a student's birthday in my ICT class this morning. Rachel the learning support assistant and I bought him and his classmates a birthday cake. Healthy eating for the day was over! In the afternoon, I did a martial arts based warm up with the sports lads including some pad work. Then I refereed their frantic games of indoor soccer. I cycled home.
Tonight, I set off strongly on my 10K but found it a real struggle in the last mile when I experienced two of those heart 'flutters' that have been happening for the last 6 months. I still haven't had the results back from my heart monitor. Anyway, I got back home in a time of 63 minutes, 31 seconds which was 37 seconds inside my target time. Cutting it quite close...
My legs were aching terribly tonight and I eased the pain with half a bottle of cava and a bottle of black ale. I went to bed a little unsteady...
...and woke up at 2:50am feeling absolutely awful. I have stomach ache, a sore throat, a cough, chest pains and a blocked nose. I stayed awake until 4:30 when I started to doze on and off.
Junkfood, alcohol, 10k run


I got up at 6:25 and made myself a Lemsip. I felt far too ropey to cycle in so I used the car. I felt progressively better throughout the day. The afternoon was completely wasted by a useless meeting and I was glad to get out of there. In the evening, after dropping Martha at her work, I headed to the advanced karate session run by Sensei Ronnie. It was an entirely kumite-focused session incorporating a bit of pad work for kicks.
After the session, I had a bit of a chat with another karateka who expressed his disappointment in not being able to actually fight during the session. We agreed that, out of all the clubs we'd been a part of over the years, Ruach had the least emphasis on actually sparring. Which is very surprising when you consider that Sensei Ronnie was world champion for kumite! My guess is that the club is very nervous about injuries, insurance and the current claim culture we live in. Maybe, in the coming months and years, when other instructors take charge of sessions, things will lean more towards actual combat.
No junkfood, no booze, karate session


Up early to make breakfast for Lucy and myself. After bacon and eggs and a chocolate biscuit, I dropped Mouse and Lucy off at the train station and then walked the dogs. In the afternoon, I took Martha to work, and went along to the Saturday Karate session. This is my favourite session because it feels more like a workshop than a lesson. People in this group work well together and the atmosphere is more relaxed while still upholding the values of the dojo. After an hour of good basics and kata training, I stayed behind with Sensei Jody to do some work with the heavy bag and the focus pads. He spent some time showing me how to relax while hitting hard - not something I found easy to do! It was a great workout! It left me with an aching left shoulder and a bruised and swollen right hand.
After dropping Mouse off at a friend's house, I went round to have an ale with Uncle Jonnie (while still in my gi!)
In the evening, Lucy served up homemade chicken curry and I opened a couple of lovely ales!
Junkfood, 3 and a half ales, Karate

Up early for the 9am extra kata session. There was a good turn out for that time on a Sunday morning. There were lots of serious karateka present and I was the lowest grade there...apart from a young lad, about 8 years old, wearing a green belt.
I think it's great that young people want to get involved with sport (however, I have my own views about children and adult martial arts classes.) Today, however, Sensei Lloyd had to spend at least 50% of his time nursing this eager young chap through Heian Sandan - the third beginner's kata.
This left the rest of us standing around and waiting. As a result, I didn't break a sweat and didn't learn anything about performance or timing. We just went over some kata to count and then blasted through on our own.
It was great to get up early and do some karate but I do think a separate class for children and/or beginners would help speed things along...
Later on, I walked the dogs in the snow, drank some ale, ate some Toberlone and played GTA5 until midnight!
Freddie in the snow

Unfortunately, my left shoulder has been aching all day and it doesn't seem to be getting better...
Karate, junkfood, 2 ales

Sunday, January 14, 2018

How to Lose a Belly When You're 43 (part 13)

Weight: 10st 8lbs
I've put on another 2lbs! My weight has increased by over half a stone since I hurt my back in the middle of December.
This morning, I was aware of my back twinging again. It was on and off all day causing me a lot of frustration - all I want to do is train and get rid of this belly! I still managed to cycle in to work and back.
By the time I got home I'd worked out that these twinges, like little electric shocks, were only happening on the right side of my lower spine when I was leaning forward and to the right.
In the evening, I decided to risk doing a weight lifting session. I reasoned that in all of the exercises I'm meant to keep my back as upright as possible. No leaning forward or off to one side.
True enough, I did a good session of squats, deadlifts, curls, shrugs, front raises and side raises without a single twinge in the back. All by keeping my back straight.
After the session, I twinged my back again by switching on the TV!
No junkfood, no alcohol, weight training.

I cycled in to work and back.
At the dojo, I was put at the head of a line-up for most of the session. I was slow, unfit and unconvincing. At one point I even had to ask permission to leave the session momentarily so I could have a coughing fit. I've never asked to come out of a martial arts lesson before in 18 years of training.
The back still twinged a little today, mostly when I was putting shoes on. It behaved itself at the dojo.
I went to bed at 10:30 which is rather early for me.
No junkfood, no alcohol, karate session.


Weight: 10st 6lbs
I slept like a log last night. I didn't even get up for a wee.
The back was aching a little when I got out of bed but it didn't stop me cycling to work. I felt full of energy for most of the day.
Back home, I did a quick weights session (50 minutes) and then made dinner for the family. I had a cup of tea while watching the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery.
My bad back made it a little difficult to get off to sleep.
No junkfood, no alcohol, weight training.

Blood Pressure: 129/80
Weight: 10st 5lbs
I woke up feeling strong, had a healthy breakfast of wholemeal toast and peanut butter, leaped on the bike and cycled in to work.
In the afternoon, I led a martial-arts based warm-up with the sports lads and then completed a circuit with them. The circuit consisted of pad work, heavy bag, hurdles, leg raises, press ups, triceps dips, battle rope, medicine ball squats, medicine ball jumps shots, skipping rope and bench step-ups. Phew!
After cycling home, I headed out on this week's 10K run. It was difficult from the start and I set off too slowly.  This week's target time was 64mins 24seconds. I was struggling to achieve the required pace even though I knew I needed to go faster. My chest was okay but my legs were suffering and aching badly. I had to literally sprint the last few hundred metres to get home in a very close time of 64 minutes 15 seconds. Next week my target is 64:08...
I treated myself to two beers with my dinner tonight.
No junkfood, 10K run, two bottles of ale.


Weight: 10st 6lbs
I was very disappointed to learn that I'd actually put weight on yesterday. It must have been the beers.
This morning, I had a bowl of muesli and then cycled in to work. Homemade chicken pasta salad for lunch and then a cycle home.
Martha and I went along to the advanced class tonight. After some kata, it turned into a take-downs lesson. Sensei Mark showed us some take-down techniques and we got to practise them on each other. Unfortunately, there was a lot of talking tonight so I didn't even break a sweat. After the lesson, I stayed behind with Sensei Jody to go through some more take-downs. I spent most of the time on the floor! Happily, my back was fine.
At home, a bit bruised and battered, I had two beers with my dinner of fish cakes, vegetables and noodles.
No junkfood, karate session, two bottles of ale.

Weight: 10st 5lbs
I woke up early at about 6am. I lay around until 7 and then got up to play records and sell stuff on eBay.
Sadly, this winter Nigel has decided not to ride the Mad MArch Hare and has bowed out of winter training. He is developing his fitness at the Arden club with rowing and racquet sports. I'm sure he'll do a great job and look forward to seeing him back on the bike.
I jumped on my bike and called for Jonnie at 9am. We hurled ourselves into the lanes and set off at a good pace. It was hard going at times due to a headwind of 13mph, but we were heading downhill for the first half of the ride. Jonnie hadn't done any exercise (apart from tending his huge garden) for the last 6 weeks and he had enjoyed himself over the festive period. We were both surprised, therefore, to see how well he was doing today! He seemed to have lost none of his fitness and even dashed ahead on Doctor's Hill into Tanworth.
After some lovely cake and a disgusting cup of tea in Wilmcote, we turned north with the wind behind us. We cruised home in a comfortable time and enjoyed a bottle of refreshing lager in Jonnie's kitchen (it was still morning!) The Relive app on my phone made this video about the the ride:

Relive 'Riding without Nigel 😭'

 After walking the dogs, I went along to this afternoon's karate session at the Village Hotel in Shirley. I worked closely with Sensei Jody and Sensei Gary, and continued to develop my basic technique (although it doesn't feel 'basic' anymore!) Happily, Sally and Lucy were also at the hotel enjoying a chat. They were kind enough to buy me a Guinness after training.
This evening, I did some ironing and loaded the car ready for the tabletop sale in the morning. I also sipped two ales and played some top quality heavy metal records.
Junkfood, 30 miles of cycling, Karate session, 1 lager, 1 stout, 2 ales

This morning we sold some stuff at a tabletop sale at the local school. Lucy was running the refreshments so there were lots of chocolate biscuits available to steal...
I got home at lunch time and unloaded the car, scoffed some chili and rice and then headed off to dojo.
Sensei Ronnie ran a fast paced lesson where higher grades were partnered with lower grade kids. Unfortunately, Martha and I failed to work up a sweat so when we got home, we decided to do a weight training session together!
I drank two ales with the family Sunday dinner around the table.
In the evening, I sipped a cider while shooting people in GTA5.
Junkfood, Karate session, light weight training session, 2 ales and a cider.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

How to Lose a Belly When You're 43 (part 12)

I was hopeless in the last two weeks of December. My bad back gradually returned to normal so I managed to take part in a few activities, but mostly I simply indulged in unhealthy food and beer! From the 18th until the 31st, I took part in two karate sessions, went out on two bike rides and completed two weight-training sessions. The rest of my time was given over to debauchery!
As a result, I put 5lbs on over Christmas.
There's a picture of my fat belly in this post - you have been warned!

I intend to continue training towards my three usual short term goals as well as my long term goal to become a black belt (1st Dan) in Shotokan Karate. My three short term goals are, once again, to complete the Mad March Hare cycle sportive, the Birmingham 10K run in under an hour in May, and the Tommy Godwin cycle sportive in September.
I will continue to strive for my weekly targets of faster runs coupled with steady weight loss. Unfortunately, because of my bad back and lack of willpower, my target plan now has some big crosses on it as well as the lovely green ticks:

My training targets are above my desk in the man cave.
The plan is, as always, reasonably simple:

  • Attend at least one Karate lesson each week (preferably 3 or 4.)
  • Run a 10k each week (meeting the targets pictured above.)
  • At least one weight training session each week (preferably 2) gradually increasing the weight to where it was before my bicep injury in March 2017.
  • Cycle to work and back Monday to Friday.
  • Cut down on the junkfood - maybe one treat at the weekend.
  • Cut down on the beers - definitely no binge drinking (if I never have a hangover again I'm doing it right.)
  • A big cycle ride each weekend (especially in the 8 weeks before the March Hare.)

If I stick to this plan, I should once again see the weight start to come off and my fitness will increase. For Karate, I need strength, speed and endurance (as well as confidence and technique) and I think this plan will take me in the right direction.

Okay, so here I go again!

Monday 1st January 2018

Weight: 10st 5lbs
Blood Pressure: 150/75
Resting Heart Rate: 63bpm
I woke up with a headache after staying up too late with a bottle of red wine while playing GTA5. Lucy made a lovely fried breakfast. We have a non-stick Teflon pan so we don't need to add any oil or fat. I had two slices of wholemeal toast, eggs, mushrooms, baked beans and bacon. While I can't pretend that bacon is good for me, I don't count it as junkfood. Junkfood is stuff like ice cream, crisps, white bread, chocolate, biscuits and cake. Basically, all the salty and sugary things I love!
This lunchtime, Lucy and I watched Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It almost scared the life out of us! Highly recommended if you enjoy a clever, realistic sci-fi scare, but it does leave you feeling a bit sad.
I did a bit of housework (cleaning floors) and then set about lifting weights! I managed to increase the weights a little and did a good session including deadlifts, overhead presses and curls (as well as some dumbbell and bodyweight exercises.)
Lucy served up a homemade lamb pie with loads of veggies for dinner!
Bed at 10:30.
No junkfood (yes, bacon!) No alcohol, weight training.


Weight: 10st 6lbs
I was surprised to find that I'd put a pound on yesterday. Maybe I shouldn't have had two helpings of lamb pie? After three Weetabix for breakfast, Lucy dropped me off at the hospital so I could be fitted with my heart rate monitor. This device should help my doctor get to the bottom of the heart 'flutters' I've been experiencing since August.

The heart monitor (and my Christmas gut - currently 6lbs heavier than I was three weeks ago!)
I have to write down all of the sensations in my chest over the next 48 hours and then return it to the hospital. How I'm going to sleep in this thing, I don't know! Also, I can't have a shower.
Back at home, I did a weight lifting session concentrating on the legs. I made sure to include some deadlifts and squats. It seemed to be rather easy today so I might start to increase the weight at a faster rate than I have been.
After tuna, veggies and noodles for lunch, I set about demolishing Mouse's desk. It was a handmade 100% wooden desk built to last by her grandfather. It took me ages to unscrew and bash it apart - I worked harder doing that than I did with my weight lifting session!
In the evening, we watched Wonder Woman. It seemed a bit plodding, only had one superhero in it, and most action shots were done in slow motion which was impressive at first but then became formulaic. I found myself flicking through my phone like a teenager...
In the interests of science, I had three beers tonight. I want to see what affect alcohol has on my heart so I'll be interested to see what the results are on the heart monitor. Honest.
No junkfood, weight training, alcohol.

Storm Eleanor is whipping across the UK at the moment. It did wake me up a couple of times in the night, but only briefly. The heart rate monitor didn't bother me much at all - I'm impressed that the three sticky pads have managed to hang on so far. I hope they'll last another night.
I was hoping to go for a bike ride today but the winds were too strong. I drove on the motorway today and it felt like I was struggling to keep the car in a straight line in the gale!
This evening, I went out for my weekly 10K run. Martha started with me but only lasted a couple of hundred metres - she had hurt her ankle...
I set off a bit fast and covered the first mile in 9 minutes 22 seconds. Which is a bog standard time for most people but a good time for me. I slowed down rather a lot after that and actually completed the course in 64 minutes 6 seconds which is a pace of 10:18 per mile. Immediately after I stopped running, still walking on the pavement, I experienced a large 'flutter' in my chest that made me cough and bend over. I'm glad it happened while I was wearing the heart monitor because now the doctor can see what I'm complaining about.
I went home to cook a healthy dinner for the family - Mexican scrambled eggs with peppers, mushrooms, onion and homemade potato wedges.
While I was cooking, I accidentally opened a bottle of stout. I had a bottle of cider in the evening while relaxing with the PS4.
No junkfood, 10K run, 2 alcoholic drinks

After dropping Mouse off at school, I went along to the hospital to have my heart monitor removed. Then I walked the dogs and helped my mate Deano get Tilly's car started.
Lunch was homemade frittata with no cheese. For dinner, Lucy served up chicken with pasta and kale. Super healthy! In the evening, I did a weights session.
No junkfood, weight training, no alcohol.

Weight: 10st 4lbs
This morning, Lucy and I went shopping. I had vouchers for a record shop burning a hole in my pocket! I bought 4 fantastic albums by Yes, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Opeth and Pink Floyd.
Lucy and I stopped for tea at the Kitchen Garden Cafe. I noted the double layer carrot cake and Lucy inquired whether I'd like a slice. Without thinking about it I said yes and my healthy eating was over for the day...

Suddenly, it's a cheat day.
I did a weight lifting session in the early evening. 
I had two helpings of homemade Chinese chicken with rice along with three beers!
Spicy food and beer made it difficult to get to sleep.

Weight: 10st 6lbs
A bad day. There was a family bereavement which meant that any plans we had for the day went out of the window and we rallied round at Uncle Jonnie's house. We ended up having more than a few drinks and then ordered take away in the evening.
It was hard to sleep.

A waste of a day as far as a healthy lifestyle is concerned. I woke up (although I hadn't really slept, just dozed) with a banging headache. I had a healthy breakfast, drove Lucy up to Jonnie and Sally's place, took Tilly's old bed to the tip and parcelled some stuff for eBay.
I had a few beers and ate some chocolate bazil nuts while crashing cars in GTA5.

Oh well, I'll start again next week!