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Sunday, February 25, 2018

How to Lose a Belly When You're 43 (part 19)

Weight: 10st 5lbs
Blood Pressure: 123/67
Resting Heart Rate: 47
Half term!
I woke up with a bit of a headache after staying up late sipping beers and completing GTA5 on the PS4. Happily, I didn't waste the day: After some aspirin, I walked the dogs, went to the Post Office and then returned to do a weight lifting session. I'm pleased that I increased the weight a little and still managed to complete the exercises with good form.
I ate healthily all day: A tin of tuna with tomatoes and wholeweheat pasta for lunch, followed by scrambled eggs and homemade wedges for dinner (with mushrooms, peppers and more tomatoes!)
I managed to resist a beer in the evening, mainly due to the fact that I don't have any in the house!
No junkfood, no alcohol, weight training.

Martha and I went along to the dojo tonight for an intensive kata session. We must have performed various kata at least 20 times during the hour. After the session, I was taken to one side by Sensei Jody and we worked on Enpi together.
In the evening, I treated myself to two glasses of red wine.
Karate, no junkfood, 2 glasses of red wine.

Today, I decided another long bike ride was necessary to prepare for the Mad March Hare. I wanted to increase the distance a little after Sunday's 60 miles. It was a cold dry day with a bit of wind. I headed south via a bit of the Purity route which brought me out at the top of Binton. After Luddington, I rode straight through Wilmcote and kept going along the High Cross route in reverse until I reached Wolverton. At this point I'd covered 32.5 miles so I turned the bike around and headed back again! By the time I was going up past The Snitterfield Armories I was really beginning to struggle: My breathing had changed to a kind of ragged gasping and my legs felt empty. At this stage in my ride on Sunday, I was still feeling strong. Today, I was suffering...
I got to the cakestop after 38 miles. I was glad to get stuck into hot tea, biscuits, a cheese toastie and a banana. I had a long sit down for almost half an hour and then it was decision time  - the long way home (27 miles) or the direct route (15 miles.) I opted for the longer route even though I knew it was really going to hurt - I had to push myself to get ready for the MMH.
The way home was a real struggle. I pushed desperately hard to keep the average above 13mph but I kept finding myself in smaller and smaller gears! In the last 8 miles, to keep myself distracted from the pain in my legs and back, I made a mental list of as many professional riders as I could name. I was pleased to find that I got through 4 miles like this before the soreness demanded more attention.
I eventually completed 65 miles solo. The bike computer said I made it back at a speed of 13mph. Unfortunately, Strava claims I had an average speed of 12.9mph.
After the ride, I refuelled with a pint of milk and a lunch of rice, chicken and green beans - training food!
In the evening, Lucy and I went out for a posh dinner. We had a lovely time but stayed up far too late drinking. I'm very frustrated with myself for ruining all my hard work by drinking loads of red wine and beer until about 2am!
65 miles on the bike, junkfood, alcohol

My most hated of things: a wasted day. I sat on the couch with a hangover and tried to make myself feel better with junkfood (Lucy calls it comfort food.) In the evening, I had 2 bottles of stout (Mud City by Sadler's) in front of the TV.
Junkfood, no exercise, 2 beers.

I cycled in to work in order to prepare lessons for the coming week. After a couple of hours, I was far too hungry to resist two of the biscuits in the staff room.
I cycled home via Halfords and picked up some new brake pads and a couple of energy drink powders - all in readiness for the Mad March Hare.
The Mad March Hare should be easy now...
In the evening, I attended the dojo earlier than I usually do and joined in with the beginners lesson. Happily, Sensei Jamie was there and we even got to do a bit of sparring. Thankfully, he took it easy on me! I was in a good mind to stay for the advanced class too but my shoulder was starting to ache. After an hour, I headed home for homemade curry and two fine ales!
Karate, junkfood, 2 ales.


I had a lie in until 9am! Feeling very rested, I made bacon and eggs for Lucy and myself before cycling into Solihull centre for some shopping. After cycling home for some of last night's leftover curry, I put some new brake pads on the front of the Specialized ready for the MMH next week. The weather forecast is looking terrible: freezing temperatures with rain moving in at lunchtime.
I dropped Martha off at work and then headed for the dojo. As I've mentioned before, Saturday afternoon is my favourite session of the week. It has a more relaxed, personal vibe compared to the other lessons in the week. I'm also finding the mirrored walls extremely useful when trying to correct my technique.
This week was a bit of a surprise: Sensei Gary revealed that he has read this blog and noted that I'd said I'd prepare a warm-up for the Saturday class in case Sensei Jody asked me to do it again! However, I knew that Sensei Jody couldn't make today's session so I hadn't prepared anything! Sensei Gary asked me to lead the warm up anyway and I was very happy to take the group (mainly beginners) through some dynamic stretches and some structured jumping up and down.
Today's session started with an intense run through of the basics. Sensei was pushing me to get my technique as fast as possible while making sure my feet were in the right position and my weight was where it should be. It's never as simple as just getting the block right.
After lots of this excellent practice, I was asked to help a purple belt learn her kata. The mirrors made this task a lot easier as she could copy my moves as we went through the initial stages of Tekki Shodan.
In the evening, I picked Martha up from work, treated myself to one beer, and scoffed a wonderful homemade pasta dish. Carbtastic!
Karate, no junkfood, 1 ale.


Up early to ride. It was a beautifully sunny but cold morning. The cold wasn't much of a problem, but a 12mph icy cross wind most certainly was. We also had to be aware that, although 99% of the lanes were dry today, what standing water there was had turned to sheets of ice!
We headed off down my original route which takes us through Lowsonford, out to Langley up to Norton Lindsey and then drops into Snitterfield. It was in Snitterfield, when we turned right to head into Wilmcote, that the crosswind became a tailwind and pushed us a long at a comfortable 15.5mph uphill!
We turned left at Wilmcote, ignoring the temptation of tea and cake at this early stage, and headed for Luddington. Again, the wind wafted us along until we reached the climb at Binton. However, turning right at Binton meant we met the wind head on! It was a real battle to get the legs moving. Jonnie described it as riding with the brakes on!
When we got to Wilmcote for the second time, with 35 miles in the legs, we discovered that one of the local ladies had lost her dog. I jumped in the car with her to help her look. We found the missing pooch in a few minutes and order was restored.
I refuelled with tea, a banana, a cheese toastie and some homemade coffee cake. Splendid!
Back on the road, Jonnie and I struggled into the wind through Aston Cantlow but when we turned west towards Shelfield the tailwind pushed us along nicely!
The rest of the ride was the usual tale of two friends pushing hard on the bikes, battling the cold wind, the gradients and our own lack of fitness. When we eventually got back to Jonnie's, the results were as follows:
51 miles at 13.2mph with 2540 feet of climbing.
The very scary fact is that next Sunday we are going to have to ride for a further 23 miles to complete the Mad March Hare, and the weather conditions are forecast to be a lot worse...
Jonnie and I contemplated this over a Purity energy drink.
At home, I drank some milk and did some ironing. There was no need to clean the bike - the lanes had been bone dry.
In the evening, there were 7 of us for dinner. I ended up having some apple pie with ice cream along with another 2 beers!
51 miles of cycling, junkfood, 3 beers

As far as Mad March Hare training goes - it's pretty bad. I did enough exercise but I can't find the willpower/desire to cut down on the beers and treats!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

How to Lose a Belly When You're 43 (part 18)

Lucy woke up in the small hours of the morning feeling terrible. She's obviously suffering from the horrible influenza going around. She had to take the day off work.
I had to use the car today, but when I got home I managed to do a heavy lifting session before making dinner for the family (apart from Lucy who couldn't face much and just wanted soup.)
No alcohol, no junkfood, weight training.

Lucy was no better so I had to drive the car again to take Mouse to school (the lazy sod.)
Back at home, there was no time for dojo so I made dinner and tried to make Lucy feel better. I did some weight training again tonight.
No alcohol, no junkfood, weight training.

I'm still having to drive because Lucy is really suffering with this influenza.
This afternoon at work I made a spur of the moment decision and joined in with a staff-only fitness training session in the sportshall. It was a proper HIIT session led by our ex-military gym instructor Mr Roger and featuring loads of medicine ball exercises over 45 minutes. I was red-faced and gasping by the end of it. A great session.
No alcohol, no junkfood, HIIT fitness training.

Lucy still isn't feeling better so I had to drive yet again.
Back at home, I got myself ready for a 10K run. Unfortunately, I only managed about 100m before I had to give up! My back was aching terribly as soon as I started to run! I'm hoping it's just my body not being used to the intensive workout yesterday (I was doing medicine ball exercises that I'd never even seen before!)
I came home and was tempted to give up and crack a beer.
But I didn't.
So I sipped water and ate healthily like a good boy. I considered lifting some weights but thought it best to let my back rest.
No alcohol, no junkfood, no exercise.


Lucy isn't well. I drove the car to work (and forgot my lunch for the fifth day in a row.)
I was so very hungry at work - I even forgot to bring the bananas that I'd bought last night! One of the nice ladies at work offered me a biscuit  and that was the end of healthy eating for the day.
After work, I did a weights session and then accompanied Mouse on her couch to 5K run. She is determined to succeed and wanted to go out running in the dark tonight. I thought it was better if I went with her.
She walked for 5 minutes, then ran for 20, followed by 5 more of walking. She was very pleased with her progress and I'm very proud of her.
Back at home, I made dinner for all the family and then got stuck in to some beers!
Junkfoodweight trainingalcohol.

I'm glad to report that Lucy is feeling better. Today, she managed to go out to sit in her greenhouse for a bit and even managed to go shopping (we live a few minutes walk from Tesco.) She came back from the shop with some chocolate for me because I've been a good boy!
Today, I took Martha to work, walked the dogs and then headed off to dojo. This afternoon's session was run by Sensei Jodi with help from Tony wearing his brand new black belt. I was asked to lead the warm up and I did a bit of a boring one. I'll have to make sure I have a warm up planned for next week just in case! The session was a series of beginner-focused exercises which I don't mind at all. It's always good to go over the foundations of Karate.
Back at home, I made Chinese stir fry for the family and enjoyed two and half beers.
Junkfood, beersKarate

I triple-checked with Lucy that she was feeling well enough for her trip to London and she assured me that she was. I jumped up on my bike and, with Jonnie away in Iceland and Nigel being a gym bunny, set off into the lanes solo! I was determined to put on a good show today. The 74 miles of the Mad March Hare are looming menacingly on the horizon and, lately, I just don't feel like I'm capable of that kind of distance. I needed to change my own mind about that.
The entire ride was dry with only a 7mph wind. It wasn't too cold either. In fact, conditions were rather good for the time of year. I took advantage of the dry roads and threw myself down the farm on my way out of Tanworth. I tucked in behind a couple of fast guys as we sped along Oldberrow. One of them did not stop talking the entire time I was riding with them, even when climbing hills. In the end, I had to let them go, they were just too fast. I can't imagine ever being that fit...
I was cycling into a bit of a headwind - not much, but enough to keep the speed down. I was glad when I got to Luddington and the headwind became a crosswind. I got to Wilmcote at about 11am but instead of stopping, I kept pushing on, determined to get to 60 miles today. Upon reaching Snitterfield, I turned and headed back to Wilmcote via Bearley. I arrived at the cakestop with 37 miles in the legs.
After a slice of cake that didn't really touch the sides I was offered a toasted cheese sandwich. I found myself saying yes (even though I very rarely eat cheese because it's so bad for you) and was very glad I did. After a handful of nuts and some fizzy apple juice I clambered back on the bike. 
I expected the toastie to weigh heavily on me but it didn't - it seemed to be the right balance of carbs and protein to keep me going. Could this be our new secret weapon? Will they do cheese toasties at the Mad March Hare?
Anyway, I went back via the Temple Purity route in reverse, riding past my favourite brewery and then stopping off at Ullenhall to sit on the bench and eat a banana with 9 miles left to go. 
The War Memorial behind the bench at Ullenhall. Yes, I took my hat off.

I got back, cleaned the bike and then celebrated with a can of Purity's best beer (and probably the best beer I've ever had) - Saddle Black.
So good, so appropriate!

I'd covered 60 miles at 13.6mph. Admittedly, the MMH is 14 miles longer and takes on a major climb in the Cotswolds, but I feel a lot more confident about it after today.

Relive 'Slow and steady 60, solo'

In the evening, I treated myself to some chocolate and some beers. I'd ran out of proper ales so had to settle for lager left over from Christmas!
60 miles of cycling, junkfood, alcohol

Monday, February 12, 2018

How to Lose a Belly When You're 43 (part 17)

I cycled in to work. At some point today I lost my bike lock keys. My Raleigh was locked up in the college bike shed so I had to get a lift home with Lucy!
I did a good, heavy lifting session this evening (but still not as heavy as this time last year.)
No junkfood, no alcohol, weight training

Drove in to work but my keys had been handed in so I was able to ride home. It was a bitterly cold day with very light snow for most of the afternoon.
At the dojo, we did a mix of kata and kumite with Sensei Lloyd. Also this evening, the club applauded Sensei Mark after it was announced that he was awarded his 5th Dan over the weekend.
No junkfood, no alcohol, karate session.

Weight: 10st 5lbs
Cycled in to work and back. Did an hour's weight training. Made stir fry for the family. Ate healthily. Didn't drink beer. Bed before 11.
No junkfood, no alcohol, weight training.

And it was all going so well...
Tonight, I got home from work ready to run my weekly 10K. However, Lucy reminded me that it was Jess's birthday today and we were meeting for drinks in Solihull. So that was the end of any healthy activities for the day. I ended up drinking 4 pints of ale...

We attended a funeral today. The wake consisted of lots and lots of free food and alcohol. It went on for far too long and we ended up back at Jonnie and Sally's place after 10 hours of drinking.

Horribly hungover.
I managed to drink lots of water and make dinner for Eric, Martha and myself.

I woke up fuzzy. 
Today, Jonnie's good friend Dave was coming to ride with us. Dave is a top bloke who helps to organise the Pedal of Honour sportive. He's an enthusiastic rider who enjoys the social aspect of the sport and whose hospitality is second to none.
We set off into the beautifully sunny, crisp, cold morning with a westerly wind whipping round our wheels. We had started with a good pace and after 5 miles the average reached 15.0mph. Jonnie and I took Dave on our Honiley route which is fairly flat on the way out. At Snitterfield, we had to turn west and that was when the wind made itself felt. I charged into the headwind and kept the pace as high as I could with Dave and Jonnie tucked behind my wheel as we struggled past the Armories. After crossing the A34, Jonnie took to the front and cut a hole through an even stronger wind. By the time we got to the cake stop we were all sweating despite the near-freezing temperatures!
After refreshing ourselves with tea and homemade cake, we headed north and started climbing. I realised that, full of cake, with my mates, cycling through the British countryside, this was the happiest I'd been all weekend. Drinking really doesn't make me happy...
Dave let us know that he hadn't been doing much in the way of winter training and unfortunately his legs began to let him down. We slackened off the pace a little and arrived back at Jonnie's place with a 13.8mph average.
Needless to say, we refreshed ourselves with a few bottles of ale before parting ways...
In the evening, Lucy made a huge dinner for family and friends. Hydro was there too.

A disastrous week as far as my healthy lifestyle aspirations are concerned. The good thing about health and fitness is that you can always start again. 
So here goes!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

How to Lose a Belly When You're 43 (part 16)

I had to drive to work today because we needed to put Tilly's car in for its MOT.
A lady at work had brought in homemade carrot cake and was very excited for me to try a piece. That was the end of healthy eating for the day...
Back at home, after I'd made dinner for the family, I set about some weight lifting. I hadn't picked up the weights for over a week but I was determined to not take a step backwards. I set the bar heavier than I had for months and was pleased to discover that I could lift it! I did a successful workout of 6 different exercises with 25 reps (5 sets of 5 reps) on each.
After an hour of that, I was aching all over so I settled back on the couch for some cereal and GTA5.
junkfood, no alcohol, weight training

Weight: 10st 5lbs
I haven't made a dent in my beer gut! Time to get serious: I've got to ride the Mad March Hare in just over a month's time and I need to be as fit and as light as I can for that ride. Some will power is required over the next 4 weekends!
I cycled in to work after a healthy breakfast. I ate cleanly at college and then cycled home to get ready for dojo. Tonight's session was delivered by Sensei Mark. He drilled us hard in basics and then created a kata out of complicated combinations. I did some five-step and one-step sparring with some purple belts.
Still no fighting, but at least I worked up a sweat tonight!
Home for homemade curry and a jacket potato!
Bed at 11.
no junkfood, no alcohol, cycled to work, karate

Cycled in to work in a cold rain - I was glad to get to my desk!
This morning, I did a sports taster session with a visiting school. I did a martial arts warm up followed by circuit training with dodge-ball to finish. One of the lads was obviously a lot fitter and more capable than the rest. I had a chat with him and it turns out that he has had MMA training but gave it up 4 months ago. Happily, at the end of the session he signed up for our sports course starting in September. Hopefully I'll be able to convince him to go back to martial arts.
I cycled home in a drizzle.
Tonight, I did a good, fast weights session before making chicken and mushroom curry for Lucy and myself.
I went to bed early (10:30) and slept like a log.
no junkfood, no alcohol, cycled to work, weight training

I cycled to work and back.
I was meant to go for a 10K run today but I'm still feeling the effects of a cold: my nose is blocked up and starts bleeding every now and then. Instead, I did another good weights session.
Dinner was a very healthy mix of fish, chicken, rice, tomatoes and green beans.
I stayed up too late playing GTA5!
no junkfood, no alcohol, cycled to work, weight training

Weight: 10st 3lbs
Blood Pressure: 126/80
Heart Rate: 56
10st 3lbs is the lightest I've been  this year. According to the plan I put together in August, I should now be 9st 13lbs of lean muscle. Instead, I look like a hairy blancmange.
Today, I had to go to a Project Griffin training session. The session was at our Digbeth campus near the centre of Birmingham so I set off this morning on my weekend bike (the Specialized) instead of the 1974 Raleigh commuting bike. The weekend bike is usually a lot twitchier than the commuter  but today I noticed that the headset seems a little stiff. I'll let a bike mechanic have a look at that.
I rode a total of 16.2 miles but the rush hour traffic and traffic lights lowered my average to a disappointing 12.5mph.
Tonight's advanced class was run by Sensei Mark. We did some higher grade kata such as Empi, Kanku Dai and Hangetsu. The second half of the lesson involved some kumite practice and I was lucky enough to have Sensei Sarah as my training partner. Fast and long-limbed, she did a great job of keeping me on my toes. Martha seemed to have enjoyed the session too, despite being reluctant to actually attend tonight!
At home, I had my first beer of the week (Holden's Black Country Special - superb!) with my huge dinner of gammon, eggs, chips, onion rings, roast tomatoes and salad. It was like a massive pub dinner! Lucy didn't think I could eat all of it. You'd think she'd know me better by now...

Healthy living...

We put Batman vs Superman on the TV, I cracked another beer, and two Jack Russell terriers made a nest on my lap. And relax...
No junkfood (okay I had chips), 16.2 miles of cycling, karate session, 2 bottles of beer.

Weight: 10st 5lbs
Last night I dreamt I was having a pint with my dad in a busy pub. I was completely naked. Everyone else was dressed. Nobody seemed to notice that I was in the nude! In my dream, I went to have a wee in the gents but two blokes were fighting in there. Analyse that!
Today I did some jobs like putting stuff on eBay, moving a piece of furniture, and some ironing. I was meant to go for a run but this cold which everyone is suffering from has given me a blocked nose. I don't think there's much point trying to run for 6 miles with a blocked nose. Instead, I headed off to dojo.
Sensei Gary ran a great session today  - we got to fight! I only sparred once: I went up against a lower grade adult who defeated me with a nidan geri (jumping kick) of all things! It shows how bad I am at fighting and how far I have to go.
After the lesson had finished, I did some extra pad-work with Sensei Jody and a purple belt lady who used to box. Jody pushed me really hard and I was soon struggling with my fitness. However, I kept going, followed instructions and gave it my best. We practised jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts in all sorts of combinations, as fast as we could go. I was drained, aching and very happy by the end of it all. The purple belt looked like she could carry on all afternoon...
Tonight, we went to Wilmcote for a family get together with relatives from London. I had lots of naughty food, one beer and a hilarious game of Monopoly. A fantastic evening.
Bed at 11.
karate with boxing training, junkfood, one beer

Weight: 10st 7lbs
I seem to have put on 4lbs in just 2 days. What's going on?
Last night, I was naked in my dreams again. This time I was in the cinema watching a new Star Wars film. My first karate instructor, Sensei Paul Hexley, came up to me and threw some boxer shorts at me!
Up early and out into the lanes with Jonnie, we set off on the Purity Temple route. It was very cold this morning but the sun was out and the wind was behind us. We took full advantage of the conditions and gave it the beans. We had an average speed of 15.6mph as we approached the Croft Lane climb. Determined to keep as much of our speed as we could, we both hit it hard and we later found out that we'd achieved PRs on our Strava results for this climb. I'd managed to knock 24 seconds off my previous best attempt!
We pushed on and arrived at the cake stop with a decent average of 14.9mph.
In a dramatic turn of events, Jonnie opted for a bacon sandwich instead of homemade cake! Still reeling from this shocking state of affairs, we wandered, confused and fearful, out into the lanes and headed north. The wind that was behind us earlier was now a 12mph headwind. It began to eat into our average...
Jonnie reported that the bacon sandwich was weighing heavily on him but he struggled on, cheered by the thought of a bottle conditioned ale waiting for him at home. We managed to get back with a 14.0mph average which wasn't too bad over 35 miles in February.
I enjoyed an ale with Jonnie, took the dogs for a walk and then headed off to dojo.
It was Sensei Jody's first time in the UK teaching an entire class. He asked me to do the warm up which was a complete surprise. I did a rather uninspiring rush through of basic stretches with a bit of jumping about. Jody's lesson was very good with lots for everyone to do regardless of their ability/grade.
After picking up Mouse, Martha and their friends from the cinema, we had a lovely family dinner with homemade pudding to follow.
I drank a few beers before bed...
35 miles of cycling, karate session, junkfood, 4 beers.