Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

25 Jul 2016

Lack of Stability

A few more weeks have passed since I reached my target weight. After my spring holiday when I rapidly gained some weight then lost it again, I've been trying to stick to me target weight.

If I stick strictly to my diet then I continue to lose weight, and my 7-day average falls below where I want it to be. The effect is slow but measurable. If I relax my diet even a little, then my 7-day average quickly starts to rise. Even eating one extra orange per day at lunch, and three pieces of cheese instead of two is enough to shift my weekly average up by 100 g per day over several days.

This means I have to stick more strictly to my diet than I have been doing over the past fortnight and that my body clearly has not reset to my new set point, as even only tiny number of excess calories very quickly turn into body weight.

When you calculate my total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), I'm only looking at around 2000 kcal per day (maximum) and that's not a lot of food. So I'll have to continue to be careful for a few more months at least...

10 Jul 2016


It's now several weeks since I reached my target BMI. In the interim I've been on one short holiday when I did a lot more exercise, ate a lot more and put on a few extra kilos. I've now been back to my target weight for a fortnight, and so far it's fluctuated by no more than 200 g for the 7-day mean and 800 g for the day weight.

Now I'm at or near my target weight I have to stay on my strict diet for an additional 10-12 months until my body "learns" that I'm not starving to death and I really should stay at that weight. This is the hardest part, if I don't stick to my diet my body will just pile the kilos back on as soon as eat them. Only when I've retrained my body's set point to 65 kg will I be able to eat the odd extra without it showing up on the scales the following few days

Once I've been at my set point for a year or so, I can't just eat any old thing, I'll still have to watch what I eat, but I won't have to be so strict. That still means no sweets, booze and pretty much anything processed, but I should be able to have treats infrequently...

28 Jun 2016

Brexit Mess

There are three ways out of the self-imposed Brexit mess than the UK can take...

We can go cap in hand to the EU and say it was all a silly wheeze we played and we want to stay. Not likely if one of the Brexit loonies becomes our next PM, but still possible. We can expect the EU to ask us to surrender some of our special deals that no one else has though. It would be a political climb down on an epic proportion, but the referendum has no legal standing and technically parliament can ignore or it as is, or call a general election and say that trumps it and it's up to the next parliament to decide.

Option two is a bit of slight of hand. We leave the EU officially, so the Brexit loonies can claim something but we actually go straight back in all but name as Norway does in the EEA. On the practical level nothing much would actually change but we would lose all our say in how things get done, would still be subject to most EU rules and probably have to sign up to more rules than we do already. Personally I'd be happy with that, but long term is a stupid position to be in, and we'd be worse off in every way that Brexit camp claimed we'd be better off - which is ironic...

The final option is that we really come out of the EU and the EEA. In that case we can expect to see a weaker pound, slower growth, poor exports and a generally basket case economy for decades to come, Not a nice prospect for anyone...

Of the three, staying in the best option, it maximises our benefit and democratic power and while we will have to pay some kind of penalty for the chaos we've caused it would be the better long term option. The Norway option is tolerable, would minimise the damage of leaving the EU, but reduces our influence and democratic power, and we would have to pay a heavy price for it, even being forced to join Schengen - which I'd like but a lot of Brexiters would have fits over... The final solution is obviously absurd and is the path to economic ruin and I assume most of the Brexiters that can think are trying to avoid this, without having to admit that they were wrong.

What will happen? Who knows, but it isn't going to be nice and I'm not looking forward to the next few years....

24 Jun 2016

Thank you Mr Cameron

Mr Cameron is an idiot. He probably only offered a referendum to placate the swivel-eye-loons on the right of his party because he was a weak leader and he doubted he would win the general election. Once he won the general election he then had to deliver on a referendum he was almost certain to lose.

While the Brexit camp stuck to jingoism, bigotry, xenophobia, nostalgia and every old lie in the fascist handbook, the official Remain campaign didn't cover itself in glory either. The result was sadly a forgone conclusion, a lot of badly educated and poorly paid people, lied to for decades swallowed the even bigger lie and gave Cameron a bloody nose.

I can't say that I am surprised with the result, nor can I say that I am surprised with the result of the result. The UK will now go into recession, how deep and how long is anyone guess - but lots of jobs will be lost as the economy is hardly that strong to start with. The pound will settle to a new low level, and everything we buy being imported will be more expensive. A bunch of privileged Etonians will choose a new PM - so much for democracy, and the NHS will be privatised on the alter of neoconservatism.

Things will get a lot worse before they get better, and if Europe gives us a hard time, and the United Kingdom breaks up, then I won't be surprised either.

05 Jun 2016

Spring Holiday 2016 - Return

This morning we rose late and had a leisurely breakfast in our little B&B. Some nice home made jams - they have often been on this trip and bread. I got my tea but no milk today - it's not common in France and they just don't know how to serve it...

We took our bikes in the garage, I loaded them up while my better half bought some bread. As we had plenty of time to kill before the ferry left and leaving the B&B so we cycled up the coast a bit and found a flea market to wander around to occupy ourselves for a while, then cycled back into town to the ferry port.

As on the way out, Brittany Ferries, were very efficient and we were about the third couple on board, so we got the best seats for the return trip. The sea was like a mirror all the way home, so we had a very easy and quick crossing, but there was a lot of mist and we got to hear the fog horn quite a bit!

We were early for the train in Portsmouth so were able to sit outside in the sun for half an hour watching the world go by. As with our way out, some idiot put a non-bike thing in the bike storage. There isn't a lot of cycle capacity on the local trains - even when they aren't busy, but it doesn't help with people abandon prams or luggage in the cycle racks!

  • Total distance today: 24.6 km
  • Total cumulative distance: 469.58 km
  • Pictures of the day: Spinnaker Tower

04 Jun 2016

Spring Holiday 2016 (Days 05/06)

Our initial plan for today was to take the ferry to Jersey and bike round, so our Little Tour of the Channel would be more or less complete. However we discovered that it was going to be very expensive to do, so instead we just cycled up to coast to Carteret, and went for a walk around the headland.

The town is one the first in France to have a railway line from Paris to bring tourists in. Now it's rather sad and run down, though it's still a nice view.

We may not have cycled on Jersey yet, but we were able to see the island through the mist/haze/pollution and we did cycle on some more sections of this year's Tour de France.

I tried a few pictures using the stitch help feature, which can then be stitched back together using Hugin.

  • Total distance today: 28.82 km
  • Total cumulative distance: 382.31 km
  • Pictures of the day: Not Jersey

Today we left our little B&B for our final day of cycling, from Portbail to Cherbourg. We went past a pretty impressive châteaux on the way. It was pretty dull, cold and cloudy most of the day, but by the time we arrived at our final B&B it has cleared up and was warm and sunny if you were out of the wind.

We put our bikes in the garage, changed and then went for a walk round town. The city was pretty much levelled during the war and the post-war rebuild hasn't been very pretty. We were pretty underwhelmed by the shopping options, but we did find some very nice tinned fish to bring home. Dinner wasn't too bad but not the best I've ever had in France either.

  • Total distance today: 62.67 km
  • Total cumulative distance: 444.98 km
  • Pictures of the day: Dry dock

02 Jun 2016

Spring Holiday 2016 (Days 03/04)

Today we left our very nice B&B under a cloud - a dirty big rain cloud. Breakfast was fantastic, with loads of lovely Normandy rice pudding called Teurgoule. Though the weather threatened all day it didn't actually rain on our cycle ride to Saint-Lô.

Today's cycle ride was very much a mixture, with some more Voie Vert, some regular road and some river path way. The road section was good for a change but it was very up and down, so there was plenty of climbing and decent today!

At Tessy-sur-Vire we stopped to get dinner. Like every where else there is a certain Tour de France fever! We eventually made it to our B&B and though a bit spartan it was clean and functional so everything was okay. There was th first CRT TV I've seen in quite a while, but it worked okay, which is what matters!

  • Total distance today: 92.49 km
  • Total cumulative distance: 265.80 km
  • Pictures of the day: Wrong turn?

Breakfast was a bit more spartan like the B&B, but the jam was still good and there were plenty of carbs to go round in the bread.

After yesterday's rather long and in some places hilly stage today was a fraction shorter and was just undulating rather than hilly. We arrived at our B&B in Portbail, after a mostly cool and windy day but thankfully no rain. Now that we are on the coast and close to Jersey we can get British TV on the TV in the B&B!

  • Total distance today: 87.67 km
  • Total cumulative distance: 353.48 km
  • Pictures of the day: Unlucky for some?

31 May 2016

Spring Holiday 2016 (Days 01/02)

The ferry arrived nice and early in Saint-Malo. Brittany Ferries were also very efficient so we were off and rolling nice and early in the morning - though on the wrong side of the road! Life would be so much better if every one drove on the correct side of the road like we do in the UK...

We first cycled though the sleeping town up to Cancale, where we bough some lunch and dinner. Once provisioned we set out for the long flat trip to our B&B near Mont St-Michel. We had some nice sunshine in the afternoon, but we had mostly head winds and it wasn't so warm for most of the day. For lunch we found a sheltered spot and watched the activity on the beach.

At our B&B we unloaded and then went for a bike ride to have a look at the Mont. We've visited it before on our first cycling holiday in France in 2003, so we didn't bother going in this time, but we had a look at it from the outside.

We then popped into the Les magasins Atelier St Michel that was on our way home and got some Brittany biscuits that are very good and other than the name St Michel, have nothing to do with the Mont. But they are nice, use real butter and sugar and do not contain palm fat or other dodgy stuff...

We then returned to our B&B for a well deserved shower, some dinner and French TV.

  • Total distance today: 87.69 km
  • Total cumulative distance: 101.39 km
  • Pictures of the day: Wrong side of the road

When we planned the trip in the winter we hoped for fine spring weather, when we got closer to departure we realised that it was going to be rather wet. Our second day was predicted to be wet...

Today we cycled from our B&B near the Mont to another one in Sourdeval. As we new it could be wet, so we set of as early as we could and went as fast as possible. Much of the route was on a Voie Vert - literally green way - in most cases they are disused railway lines, so quite straight and very gentle gradients. You could ride most of them on a road bike - but not all - but on a cyclocross, hybrid or mountain bike you are fine. France has a large network of them and they are quite well sign-posted and in many respects have a better surface than many British main roads...

Around midday the predicted rain arrived and we took refuge in a brasserie for lunch - which was very good, and arrived slightly damp at our next B&B later on in the afternoon. This B&B was posh - very nice actually - but didn't offer a kitchen, so we had to forage in the near by town for dinner - which wasn't very successful so we made do with a cold picnic in the room.

  • Total distance today: 71.88 km
  • Total cumulative distance: 173.31 km
  • Pictures of the day: Voie Vert
29 May 2016

Spring Holiday 2016

Today started with at least some good news, I finally hit my target spot weight of 64.1 kg. However I also received an email from Wiggle that the delivery I needed yesterday would arrive today in the middle of the afternoon, which was not a good start as I needed to have the new tyres on the bike and be rolling by the middle of the afternoon...!

In the end the delivery did arrive on time, though one item was missing. Thankfully the two new tyres - one that I really needed were in the delivery and so I was able to fit them to my bike and test ride it just in time.

We then loaded the paniers on the bikes and set off for the station to town. I tried out the iPhone in "airplane mode" (sic), and discovered that while it will geo-log a route, it doesn't track speed, which makes it pretty useless for what I wanted. The train was nice and empty - though some thoughtless people put their luggage in the cycle space. We arrived at Portsmouth ferry terminal in good time and were able to board the ferry early and settle down to have out dinner before we even departed for France.

Pictures for the day: Cap Finistere Sunset.

17 May 2016

Target BMI Reached!

After my weigh-in today and calculating my 7-day average, I now have the target weight I set myself early last year. Now I have to stabilise on it. A little fluctuation is normal, but I want to keep my 7-day average within 0.5 kg of where it is now, indefinitely.

Staying at the weight I want to be at is going to be hard, if I over eat, even a little, then my body will be very keen to store the excess as fat. If I stick to strictly to my diet I'll continue to lose weight.

The mean body mass change for the past three months has been about -12 g per day, with a standard deviation of 462 g. That means that on paper I'm eating 93 kcal short of what I should. So I can now have two apples for lunch instead of one, and an extra cup of tea with milk, and an extra prune each day. It's not a lot extra when you say it like that...

14 May 2016

Recovery Shake

Last weekend we went for two longer bike rides to build endurance and get use to longer rides and on consecutive days. This week I also cycled to work on two consecutive days - which though much shorter rides also contribute to fitness and endurance.

My favourite post ride recovery food is a banana milk shake. Ingredients (* optional/suggestion):

  • Banana - should be reasonably ripe for best result but you can have it any way you like
  • Yoghurt - plain whole milk based, but soya based is an alternative
  • Milk - whole milk is best, but semi-skimmed or soya is an alternative or a blend
  • Whey protein powder* - raises the protein level but is optional
  • Xylitol* - a low GI sugar alcohol, adds sweetness, is safe on your teeth and adds fibre
  • Inulin* - a soluble fibre, adds a little sweetness and is a good way of sneaking soluble fibre into your diet
  • Powdered Psyllium seed husks* - another fibre, adds bulk and fibre to your diet
  • Nutmeg or cinnamon* - adds extra flavour if you find banana a bit bland. I also tried cocoa, but found it didn't make it any better...

Chop the banana up into chunks in a blender jar, add a couple of dollops of yoghurt, a tea spoon of whey, xylitol, inulin - if you want, three tea spoons of powdered Psyllium - if you want, grate the spice on top - if you want, then add about 500 ml of milk. Blend until smooth.

The fibre isn't necessary, but I find it's a good place to hide it if you are trying to add more to your diet. Also you don't really want a lot of extra fibre before you exercise but it's okay to have it afterwards... The physalis husk in particular adds bulk and makes the shake feel more filling.

The added protein from the whey isn't essential but a little protein is a good idea after a ride, and it's well tolerated by the body and it blends into milk very well with no real strange taste - being milk based to start with.

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

Today I made a small batch of rhubarb and ginger jam. Our usual source of rhubarb had only a small batch for processing this year, and we collected it last weekend. It has spent most of the week soaking in sugar and lemon juice in the fridge. I used my classic method. Input was 1.7 kg of rhubarb, 1.7 kg of British sugar from beet, juice of 2 lemons (frozen and defrosted) and 300 g of crystallised ginger (finely chopped). Yield was 11 small 100 g jars for this year's Sheep Fair and 3.5 370 g jars for me.

I'm now rather full of sugar and feeling a bit odd!

10 May 2016

Weight Set-Point

Over the last few weeks my weight has finally come down from the blip of visiting the US. I've also increased my cycling levels now it's dry and light. My weight hasn't continued to fall, but has returned to a stable point of a 7-day average between 65.5 and 66.0 kg, and a daily range of 65.0 to 66.5 kg, where it was before I went to the US. It is possible I have now reached the lowest weight I'll get to without drastic actions.

It's based on the theory of body weight set point. The idea is that at birth your genetic make-up has a planned height and weight for you, which if given the right number of food calories you will get to. Until very recently most people couldn't eat enough so were shorter and lighter than their DNA planned.

The theory continues that once you are an adult the body regulates your weight by two basic methods, hunger and metabolic regulation. You feel full when you have eaten enough so you stop eating and hunger makes you eat when your body needs food. If you temporarily over or under eat for a few days the body can adjust your metabolism to waste or conserve the extra calories as well as changing your hunger levels.

The final elements is that the feedback of all this is plastic. If you overeat every day, even by as little as 100 kcal your body will over time shift the weight set-point up. In evolutionary history being able to over eat every day is so rare that there has never been any selection pressure to prevent it, which is as the theory goes the reason we have problems in the West, with our over abundance of cheap, high calorie foods.

The upshot of this is that if you are over weight and you starve yourself to lose weight two things happen automatically, you feel hungry and your metabolism shifts, so you actually need fewer calories anyway. I noticed hunger pangs on some days, but more noticeable was the fact that over the last winter I was freezing on many days, something I've never experienced as an adult - which probably means my body was in desperate energy conservation mode.

Shifting the set-point up took years, so shifting it down will probably also take years, which means I'll have to rigorously stick to my diet for at least another year, so that I can shift set-point down and my base metabolic rate up to compensate for the occasional something, that I can't deal with in energy conservation mode now.

My current diet on paper should make me lose weight, but as my metabolism is now running slower than you would expect, my energy input and output are probably very closely matched, hence the apparent static weight for the past month.

Basically the upshot is I can't have a treat every now and then, I really must stick to my strict calorie controlled diet for at least another year. After another year on my diet I may have reprogrammed my body so it does the right thing on it's own, rather than me having to think about things for it...

04 May 2016

Voucher Codes

This weekend I bought something on-line from a clicks'n'mortar retailer. I don't normally buy much from them as they usually have rubbish stock and higher than average prices. However for a change they had what I wanted, at the right price and it was even in stock.

Before I completed my purchase I did a quick Google for their name and the word "voucher", and found a 15% on-line discount code, that actually worked. Voucher codes don't always work, but I must always remember to look for them and give them a try when buying stuff.

Now all I have to do is wait for the stuff to be delivered to a shop in town to collect. Their system isn't as smart as Amazon, so no ETA in the confirmation email, no status update, just silence. I just hope it all turns up and is what I actually ordered...

04 Apr 2016

Weight Plateau

As I wrote recently my trip to the US earlier this year rather de-railed my diet plans. It has taken me nearly a month to get a daily weight back down to what it was before I left, but the more important 7-day average is resolutely stuck half a kilo higher than it was before at best. Having easter in the middle didn't help, not that I stuffed myself with chocolate eggs, but I had a little and the wet weather meant I didn't cycle as much as I would have liked over the break.

I'm now stuck back on the diet, and as I wrote previously, even cut out small things just to make sure I'm actually starving, so less energy in than out. Over this weekend I was staving all day, both days, so I had a lot of cups of water and nibbled on cherry tomatoes. I know there is a lag but so far I've had three consecutive daily weigh-ins below 66 kg, so I'm probably back in the right direction now.

This last kilo is proving the hardest to lose, and annoyingly it means once I've got rid of it there isn't much wiggle room to add any thing extra back in, or I will gain weight. At the moment the best estimate for my BMR is 1500 kcal per day and based on that my TDEE comes out at about 2070 kcal. Each 10 kcal over adds about 1 g of body fat - depending upon source - some take more energy to convert to fat, some less so. So if I eat an apple that I don't need that's 5 g of fat my body will make...!

When I started this diet last year I should have hit my target by now but I've moved the date from October to February, and now it looks more like the end of April into May, based on the current mass loss rate. Still I've done a lot better than the time before that, going from 95 kg to under 85 kg, which was good but didn't get anywhere near where I am today.