Not so much a wildlife blog today but a quick blow of my own trumpet (matron) if you'll briefly allow.
On January 9th 2020 (exactly 33 weeks ago), I read THIS blog post from an old pal of mine.
And thought... I'm going to have to use this inspiration and do this myself.
33 weeks ago... I looked like this:
Today..... 33 weeks on from that date of 9th January....
I've lost 5.2 stone.
And look like this:
(Apologies for the hammer house of horror mug shots - I don't have many photos of my face for obvious reasons!)
Without going into too much detail (this is meant to be a wildlife blog after all) - I achieved this feat of weight loss by counting calories (not really by eating less) and exercising enough so that I would be in a calorie deficit each day.
Look... I eat like a ravenous horse, so I've had to do some SERIOUS exercise each day.
There are no shortcuts when you're my age.
You need to move more.
If you want to pig out that is.
And you may want to change a few things in your diet too.
I, for example, have stopped taking sugar in my coffees.
Stopped drinking coffee after noon.
Stopped having hunks of cheese as a snack.
Stopped having lots and lots of bread as snacks. (I still eat bread mind, I just limit it to a few slices a day).
That's about all I changed in terms of what I actually eat.
As for exercise and movement...
I tend, at present, for example, to WALK (not run, walk) at least 7 miles EVERY DAY (not just walking around the house and garden - walking at pace - 3.5 miles an hour through the local area and countryside). So I walk (to WALK only) for two hours every day. Often at dawn. But when I can. Each day.
I also cycle for 25 miles each day. You heard me. TWENTY FIVE MILES. Often on a static bike set at uphill resistance (yes... 25 miles UPHILL!) in the garden but also often through the local forests with my eldest boy.
I also started swimming regularly too last year (a mile at a time) which helped with my mental health and sleep I think - this kicked start this whole lifestyle change this year and got me in the right mental place to really start exercising a lot. I haven't kept up the swimming this year but might start again soon.
I often burn 2000kcal on exercising (just walking at pace and cycling) each day.
I often tend to eat between 3500kcal and 4000kcal of food each day.
As long as I'm in deficit, I'm OK.
I weigh myself each Thursday and today, for the first time I've hit my target (below 100KG). Yes... I am a big, tall bloke, but I was SERIOUSLY overweight.
I have no doubt I've lost this weight too quickly. (see the graph below). I originally gave myself about 60 weeks to get to my target weight and have hit target WAAAY too early really.
But I have to admit, I'm rather chuffed with myself.
It's been hard.
The walking has been a pleasure in the main (did a lot in lockdown with my boys) although walking for hours in the driving rain through Bracknell's deserted industrial estates wasn't exactly fun.
I (and my boys) have seen a lot on our walks.
We've seen egrets, herons, kingfishers, peregrines, foxes, deer, toads, terns, orchids, bluebells, ox-eye daisies, barn owls, buzzards, hobbies, cuckoos. And much more. (There... this blog does have some wildlife in it!)
But to be honest, the 80 minute workouts on the bike (static bike especially) haven't been much fun. At all.
Those sessions have been BRUTAL - and only soundtracks from the Prodigy (in particular) and Portishead have kept me going during those heart-pumping hours.
I've lost 33KG or 73lb or 5.2 stone in 33 weeks.
I've lost about 7 inches around my waist and the same sort of mark around my chest.
I've probably lost around 2 inches from around my neck.
I've had to replace most of my wardrobe and also am considering having my wedding ring size reduced as I'm worried it may just fall off my finger these days!
I also, unbelievably.... have a VO2max of 48 and a Garmin Connect measured fitness age of 20! (That can't be right surely!)
Now there may be some people reading this thinking. You're 99KG. And you're celebrating?!!! You're bleeding massive mate - you wanna eat less you know!
Hey... I'm 6 foot 3 and I am built like a brick outhouse - I'm never going to be 70KG. Never am. Never was. I AM one of those people who make the BMI method of ascertaining your healthy weight window to be utterly ridiculous as even when I was 92KG and at "fighting weight" as I used to call it (I was very much in great shape throughout my twenties and early-to-mid thirties) the BMI scale had me down as "overweight". Daft as there was no fat at all on me during those years.
That's stage 1 completed then.
Stage 2 is to not be so obsessive about calories, exercise and weight (it's been pretty strict for these past 8 months) but to try and keep these healthy habits (to a lesser degree admittedly) as much as I can to try and stay below 100KG as best I can.
Stage 3 will run alongside stage 2 and involves a little flexibility work and a little strength work, more than just cardio, which is what I have been pretty-well concentrating on for the past 8 months. 25 mile cycle rides for 6 days (at least) a week aren't sustainable to be honest and nor are 8 mile walks. As long as I stay active though... that will be fine. I'm teaching my eldest how to play golf and tennis at present and of course have, post lockdown, restarted coaching the town's U8s rugby team. All that will help I'm sure.
I feel better.
I think I look better.
My back and hips feel MUCH better.
And despite me being 92KG for most of my adult life (each time I weighed myself in my 20s and early to mid 30s I was 92KG!)... I've not been this light since I left London with my girlfriend at the time (now my wife of course) in 2006. See the photo (on the "about" page of this website) of Anna and myself in 2006 on the island of Kephalonia - that was me at my standard weight of 92KG... 14 years ago as I write this.
Of course I was working physically back then, and smoking... neither of which I'm doing now (I've not worked physically (for a job) since leaving London and I've been cigarette free for 4 years now, almost to the day).
That had better be all the trumpet-blowing I do today.
Stage 1 complete.
Now all I have to do is ensure I don't run out and bury myself in the biggest blackforest gateaux I can and put it all back on.
I didn't feel like I was on a weight-loss diet and exercise regime from the 9th January.
I felt like I was starting a new life, employing a lifestyle change that I could keep up... perhaps for the rest of my life.
Sure, I'll only count calories in my head for now (instead of record them all religiously on an app on the phone) and sure I won't feel the need to cycle 25 miles uphill each day... but I WILL continue the desire to just look after myself and weigh myself regularly to make sure I'm still where I want and need to be.
Stage 1 complete.
Stages 2 and 3 (see above) start today and finish ... well... when I'm finished.
A final message then to my old mate who inspired me back in January.
You gave me all the impetus I needed.
And a final, (final) message to my long-suffering wife, who has weighed (or helped me weigh) much of my food for me each evening so I could record calories consumed each day and who has also given me the space and time (a LOT of it) to disappear and exercise, sometimes for hours each day.
I hope (and think?) you'll agree... the effort was worth it, eh?
I'm back to the size (and shape) when we met in that pub cellar bar in London all those years ago!
Just a little more mileage under the bonnet these days. That's all!