Slimmer and Fitter?

So, ‘Slimmer and Fitter' – it's been just over 2 years since I started this blog and I haven't achieved my aims. I started off making good progress, but then faltered. All the good work has unravelled and I'm basically back where I started from – fat, and relatively unfit. (That is – unfit compared to how fit I was 4 years ago, not compared to the average UK man in his mid-50s – he isn't very fit either!)

So, where did I go wrong?

Well, I didn't really go crazy restricting my food intake. I was never really on ‘a diet' so there wasn't a diet to abandon. Food wasn't the real problem. I could eat the same amount of food spread over more meals, that would probably be a good idea, but I wouldn't want to cut out more than about 10% of what I eat

No, my approach was to get enough exercise to burn off some fat every week and dramatically reduce my beer intake to avoid putting it back on again. But …

  1. I'm a bit of a ‘fair-weather' cyclist and walker. If the sun is shining, I don't find it too difficult to motivate myself to go out. The problem is – we've had 4 successive disappointing summers here in Yorkshire. The times when I would normally be out doing long rides or walks, I found myself indoors, bored and frustrated, and staring out at wet, gloomy conditions. I didn't have a backup plan.
  2. When I'm bored and frustrated, and especially when I'm stressed, I tend to drink beer in the evenings to help me unwind. I'm basically a pretty big man with lots of mental and physical energy and if I don't use it up, I can't relax. I slip into ‘owl' mode. I go to bed later and later at night and then can't get up in the morning. Because I'm working from home, I don't have to be up at a given time. Recently, I've been going to bed at about 04:00 and waking up at 11:00. By the time I've got up and had something to eat it is nearly midday. I go online and check my emails, and a couple of cycling forums; by then, I've missed a big chunk of the available daylight hours!

So, what am I going to do about it?

Well, the first thing I've done is to sign up for the CycleChat group at (member name ColinJ). There's nothing like a bit of peer pressure to give you a kick up the backside when you need it! I've set myself a fairly modest target of 3,650 miles of road cycling for the year. That obviously equates to 10 miles a day. It's a very achievable target – I used to average about 5,000 miles a year – but last year I only managed about 1,000 miles so it would be a big step in the right direction. If the year is going well and I see that I'm going to hit the target early, I'll upgrade it to 5,200 miles, or 100 miles a week and make a big push for that.

My backup exercise plan in case of bad weather is to use my indoor ‘gym' bike when necessary. It won't count towards my cycling target, but it will help me keep fit.

The second thing is that I'm going to cut back on the beer again. Last time, I made my limit 6 cans a week. I can stick to that, but I'd rather have a bit more flexibility so I can have more from time to time without feeling that I've broken the rules. Once the rules no longer apply, then psychologically it becomes a free-for-all. I'd rather aim for 6 but allow 9 a week.

Similarly, I'd like to limit the drinking to 3 or 4 cans on any given night. Over the years, my tolerance for alcohol has followed a natural decline. I thought nothing of 10 drinks in a night when I was young – that would make me extremely poorly now! Even a couple of years ago, 5 or 6 felt okay, now it is 3 or 4. If I carry on like this I'll end up giving up altogether! I have had a year or two away from drinking a few times in the past but I missed occasionally having a glass of wine with a meal, or a night at the pub. I'll try sticking to these new limits and see how I get on.

I'll start weighing myself again and doing a regular report, but maybe not weekly this time. I got sick of seeing pictures of my flabby belly so I might spare you those this time too! (Perhaps I'll wear a t-shirt and measure my waist over the top of that?)

Let's see how I get on this time!

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