Monday, 30 June 2008

Z is not hungry

Well, for today I seem to have cracked the energy thing. It's not a long-term answer though. I didn't eat. That is, I didn't get around to doing much food shopping last week and I ran out of everything I might have eaten for breakfast, such as bread and yoghurt. There were no rice cakes, no fruit, no vegetables. It was too hot to want to make porridge and I didn't feel like muesli. I wasn't very hungry at all, so I just had a cup of milkless tea. In the course of the morning, I ate a few wine gums and a couple of small pieces of licorice and one breadstick. At about 1.20, I was wondering what to have for lunch when a friend called to look at my car (don't let's talk about it) and he was still there when I had to go out an hour later. As I pedalled busily into town, it occurred to me that I was going very speedily considering the wind was against me, and also that I had not really had anything to eat.

An hour after that, I ate a nectarine and an apricot. Another hour on again, I've just eaten all of a small melon. I have stocked up on proper food though now. I'm wondering if eating mostly fruit, and maybe yoghurt, for a few days, with just one proper meal in the evening, would kick start the weight loss again. After all, it's too hot to want to eat much at the moment (I'm not complaining about this, it's lovely weather).

Anyway, I think the grumbly mood of yesterday has passed.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Z feels bored

I thought I might come to enjoy the cycling, or at least find it less of a burden. I started to, but that was before I became tired because of other matters and I haven't really got into it since. I have been busy and it's been impossible to find time every day, but to be honest, I've found excuses not to bother. On Friday, I even took the car into school, on the pretext that I would be cycling in to town later in the day and there was no need to slog in twice.

I'll persevere, of course. I'm tenacious, if nothing else, and I've got a whole lot of work to do on the computer this week and it'll do me good to get out for some fresh air and exercise. A friend has offered me, Dilly and the children, the use of his (lovely, indoor) swimming pool and I'll see if we can manage to go. We had been going to the local council pool for some time, but we've been too busy for weeks. I won't mind putting my face under water there, something I don't like doing in a pool where, no doubt, lots of little children (and quite possibly bigger ones too) have been peeing.

I've lost a little weight, but I still haven't got below 10 stone, which means I haven't yet lost that first stone, as I was just under 11 when this started. I'm within two pounds of it, but it just won't go. And even when it does, I suppose the second stone will be harder to lose than the first.

Monday, 23 June 2008

I did weigh myself...

...unlike the fabulous Z, and my weight is exactly the same as it was.

I think I'll have a shave tomorrow though. I have about two weeks growth on my face, which has to be good for a couple of pounds.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Virgo does not meet Libra

Well, I don't know. I haven't weighed myself for ages, because I know that, while I've been eating not to put on weight, I haven't been eating to lose weight; also, presumably as a counteraction to the stomach bug that whipped through the rest of the family, I've been visiting the lavatory even less often than usual, and I won't weigh myself under those circumstances as I am not including waste matter in my avoirdupois.

However, at present I'm working my pinchable arse off and not eating much, so it may be (depending on the bowels) that I weigh myself later this week. If I do, I'll tell you the result.

I am beshrunked.

Or something. Really, I am. And I shall explain how I know this, for I have not been on the scale for a week or so.

Well, I've been mixing up the exercise a bit – last week, I got an hour of tennis in, and also an hour of five-a-side football, on top of the usual. That said, I did miss a gym session because of work and stuff, but played football that day instead. So it's been a good week for exercise, and I may yet go to the gym today, because I'm feeling groovy.

I digress.

1: My belt immediately falls to the next hole down when I pull it closed now. That must be a good thing, right? Right. And it's not uncomfortable, or shrouded in lard when I do it; I just need the belt on the next hole down.

2: Zöe, my lovely wife, (when not shouting 'Fiiiiigs!') noticed that my body shape has changed. not hugely, but in a significant spot – the bit of chestliness down the side is, dare I say it, pretty solid and un-lardy. A good start, as it alters the line of the body.

3: The lady that does transcription for me turned up yesterday as her daughter goes horse-riding with ours. First thing she said to me? "Have you lost weight?" I'm pretty sure the answer to that is no, but something must be happening – I suspect the fat is moving...

Watch this space.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Did I mention the figs?

Yeah, figs.

See, my lovely, hilarious and frankly just adorable wife has been ripping the piss out of me recently. Why?

Well, I don't do a lot of weights – I put muscle on very easily, and can't see the point in it. I don't like doing things I find easy, as a rule. But as mentioned, I've been doing lots of dips in the gym. They're hard, and I enjoy it. It's the exercise when you raise and lower your bodyweight on a stand, with your feet off the floor. I've been doing it on a resistance machine which offsets a proportion of your weight. Well, I'm around 105 kilos, and I've been offsetting about 20 of those, so I'm dipping 85 kilos. It's had a noticable effect on my chest, arms and shoulders – they're all tighter and stronger, for example.

But my chest... Well, I had fairly large pectorals when myself and Zöe met, and she loved my chest. It was fun for me, too. A few months without exercise and it went a bit soft, but still…

Anyway, my pecs are rather large again. Probably bigger than before, and a better shape, and certainly stronger.

So what does my darling do to encourage me in the gym? She notices the flabby bits on my ManBoobs (aka 'moobs') appparently look like fig biscuits. Fig fucking biscuits, I ask you. So she grabs at them, shouting 'Fiiiigs!' at the top of her voice which, as annoying as it is, I can't help laughing at. It is bloody hilarious, honestly.

They don't look very figgy from my angle, for the record.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Still groovy, mostly

Except I'm even heavier.

I'm drinking less, eating less, exercising a hell of a lot more, and according to some scales, I'm even heavier. The ones down at my mum's yesterday reckoned I was nearly 17 stone, which is... erm... 238lbs, US Fat Fans. That's a lot.

Anyway, I'm still loving the exercise. I've been focussing on simple things. Weights sometimes, dips almost every trip to the gym (biceps, shoulders and chest have never been in better condition), and always at least 30 minutes of intense cardio. My 'pyramid' routine on the cross trainer is punishing; start out at level 8 (sorry if I told you this already) and up the resistance every 30 seconds until I hit the top level, 25, and then work down in 30-second increments. On a spiky course. It's hard and then some, but because it's in 30 second chunks it feels kind of manageable.

Kind of.

And I've been on the stepper, which is just plain evil. I'm up to 12 minutes on it now, and it's so, so hard. But satisfying, and it burns a lot of calories, so I'm starting the day in deficit and keeping an eye on what I have to eat so I don't go mad and over-eat straight away. Little-ish and often-ish.

Ah, it'll happen. I feel good, and I feel strong, and I have two new pairs of running shoes coming in the post soon. That really will make a change, I think. I'm at the point where I have missed running hugely, and I can't wait to get out there early mornings, from here to... Well, eternity.

And I shall weigh less, dammit.

Monday, 9 June 2008

How not to eat

I have an awful lot of cookery books, though most days I cook without using any of them, as I daresay we all do. Often, I use them for ideas, though I do follow recipes sometimes. What always gets me, though, is the vast amount of fat used in cooking, which is often quite unnecessary. I always have automatically deducted at least half of the butter or oil used - not in baking of course, but in other dishes. Many dishes start by frying onions in olive oil - but you only need a few drops, so why do they so often specify several tablespoons?

When I started this diet, I resigned myself to a life without risotto. I'm very fond of risotto, particularly if I've cooked it myself. It should have just the right amount of sloppiness, tenderness, bite, before we even start on the flavour, and few restaurants get it exactly right for me. But almost every recipe starts with lots of butter, then adds more at the end, and a whole pile of Parmesan is stirred in too.

Then I thought about it, and realised that the rice itself becomes creamy as it cooks, and maybe the butter isn't that necessary. And it's true. If cheese is important for the flavour, add some of that (probably half what the recipe says) but the fat can be quartered or even almost eliminated and no one even notices.

Nigella, in H0w t0 C00k gives a recipe for 'Restrained Mushroom Risotto', where she says 'a low-fat risotto might sound slightly suspect', as if she's trying to put you off taking care about the amount of fat in your diet. Indeed, her pea risotto gives 60g of butter, a drop of oil, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, more for the table...for 2 servings. Never mind if you are watching your weight or not, that's artery-clogging. It's a delicious risotto - I've been making it for years with the butter quartered and the cheese halved - but you might as well open your mouth and shovel in lard and have done with it. Hiding all that butter, for it is completely absorbed by the rice, isn't fair on the person you're cooking for and it's an unhealthy way to eat whether you're overweight or not.

When you see television chefs cook, it makes you cautious about what you order when you eat out. They shove in great dollops of butter, pour the oil and cream with a casual hand, add drifts of sugar and handfuls of salt. At home, I tend to use a spoon. It's easy to let your hand slip and pour in far more than you mean to. And if you've put in the salt at the start and later decide you need a stock cube, that's absolutely loaded with salt. I usually use Mar1g0ld Vegetable Bouillon granules, but even the low salt version is far saltier than other bought dried stock, although the flavour is good.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Z doesn't cycle much.

There hasn't been time. I find that I have to have the best part of an hour spare to go in and do the shopping and it hasn't been possible most days. It's not that it takes so long to ride in; not much longer than in the car, but whilst I used to get all my shopping in one weekly visit, I've been doing it every day, so it takes as long every day as it did in one. I did need extras of course, particularly vegetables, but I'd pop in as I went past in the car on my way home, or else give Al a ring and ask him to bring it with him.

I enjoy it; it's all very pleasant and leisurely. I usually start by going to the furthest place, which might be to the school or the library if I've got more to do than fetch the day's provisions, or to the butcher which is down a side street half a mile from the town centre. Then back to Al, put all the heavy stuff in the panniers, trot into any other shops I need food from, having sociable little exchanges with people - all very Mapp and Lucia it is, though the Royce has been replaced in crowding the street by 4x4s nowadays. Once all is bought and nicely balanced, I set off homewards, stopping to leave my bike outside the post office (the last remaining now; not so long ago there were at least 3 in town and another 2 within another mile or so) while I go into the wholefood shop opposite. I might go into the deli, but everything sold there comes within the definition of 'occasional treat' so I usually pass it by. From there it's a mile home.

However, the past week, I haven't done it. On Sunday, I biked in for the papers. On Monday, I needed a lot of shopping and would have had to go in at least twice, for which I didn't have time, so I took the car. On Tuesday, I hosted a meeting and lunch for 12, so all I did was bike a few hundred yards to the next meeting at 5.30. Wednesday is a blank in my mind, maybe I cycled in then. Yes, I remember chatting to the (other) butcher, so I must have. Thursday, I drove into Norwich to take a coach to Ely and yesterday it rained all day, so I didn't use the bike. Today, it's raining again and I have a wedding to get ready for.

So, no exercise and I've been eating cheese too, as there was some left over from the lunch. The week has been a disaster.

Next week, most things are within three miles, so I should do better. I'm not sure though - blood donor clinic on Monday is 5 miles away and it's uphill on the way back, so I don't think that's very wise. I'll use the bike to go to the hairdresser afterwards though. Tuesday, something in Norwich and then at the high school - all depends when I get back, whether I go straight to school or back here first. Wednesday, a meeting in the village in the morning, then back to the school in the evening - I'll cycle if it isn't raining, Back to school again the next morning (huh? What is this? - I'm only a bloody governor) and (blimey, this is getting worse) things on at the school at 10 on Friday morning and 2 in the afternoon. If I cycle to all these, as well as fetching the papers on Sunday and shopping on Saturday, it'll be about 25 miles in the week. It'll depend on the weather though, I can't turn up to meetings looking awful.