Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

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.

17 Mar 2016

Weight Gain

Since returning from the US I've failed miserably to shift the mass I acquired, and my seven day average now stands a 1.1 kg more than it was when I left for the US 20 days ago. There is a delay in eating too much and not exercising and actually putting the weight on, but even so it's quite annoying to say the least.

To try to combat this trend I've cut my rations in half, so only one apple at lunch rather than two, halved the nuts I was eating, and cut the number of cups of tea with milk in to one per day. There doesn't seem to be much else I can remove and not starve...! As with gaining weight there is also a delay when you reduce you energy intake and the weight falls off.

Now that it's starting to warm up a little and stay dry I'm also getting out on the bike for longer trips and more often. Soon I hope to be able to cycle to and from work again, which helps with the exercise.

04 Mar 2016

And then home

Tried to start the day in the pool but there was no one about - you need a minimum of two people - though to be honest the pool is only just big enough for two people. Work was another long day, but we had some good meetings with our colleagues. After work we went shopping and for dinner, the outlet mall selected wasn't the one I was expecting but on the up-side it had another REI store in it and I was able to pick up a few bargains! Dinner was also very good and unexpected - they even had lighter sized portions which was a good thing.

The final day started started with a trip to the pool - which we couldn't use as the manager didn't feel like letting anyone in. I packed up and then waited a couple of hours until it was time to go to work. More meetings - again some were productive. Finally we left for the airport where we had several hours to wait for our night flight home. On this Airbus I had dinner as quickly as I could then did my best to fall asleep - which isn't that easy but it's possible. We arrived in Heathrow early but had to wait for a landing slot. It took ages to get through Heathrow but we made it safely home before midday.

02 Mar 2016

New Jersey

Today started at silly o'clock again. After pacing round the hotel room for a few hours I ventured out to reception for the mini-bus to work. We had free breakfast provided, but it wasn't that exciting. The meetings lasted most of the day but there wasn't much in it for me. Dinner at the hotel was pretty feeble and the ciabatta turkey wasn't on ciabatta...

After crashing out I had a fitful sleep, the hotel is very noisy, New York city was an awful lot quieter the room being well above the street level. The morning started well as I managed to get into the teacup sized swimming pool. It was strange swimming in a pool that was so small, but even so it was a good start to the day. After another hours wait, we took the mini-bus to work and went through another day of meetings.

After work we all went out to a local Italian restaurant, which was pretty dire, eventually we made it back to the hotel and I crashed out...

29 Feb 2016

Shopping in NYC

This morning I woke up at silly o'clock and padded around my hotel room like a caged animal until I thought it was late enough to go for breakfast. At breakfast I ran into a colleague and after we'd finished we found our colleagues and went for a walk in Central Park before we had to check out of the hotel.

The weather was glorious and the park was very pretty and busy. Once we returned to the hotel we packed out things, put them into storage and then set out for shopping. I headed off on my own, taking in the USS Intrepid, walking all the way down Broadway to the Brooklyn Bridge, taking in some organic whole food lunch and some retail therapy in the REI Soho store.

In the late afternoon I walked all the way back to the hotel to meet up with my colleagues - I beat them back to the hotel by about 10 minutes - though if their taxi hadn't been smashed into by a Porsche we would have arrived exactly at the same time.

We then nipped out for dinner - which was conveniently close to the hotel but was dreadful. Finally we went back to collect our bags and take the Taxi to Mahwah in New Jersey where we will be for the rest of the visit.

Pictures can be found here: Google.

28 Feb 2016

The Big Apple

This morning (whenever that was) the taxi arrived and I set off for Heathrow collecting my colleagues on the way. After a relatively painless check-in and security clearance we got on board our Airbus and set off for New York. Several films later we arrived at JFK to join the considerable queues to get into the country. It's been over 15 years since I was last in the US and thing have changed for the worse at the border - not helped by the fact I've lost 25 kg and don't look like my passport photo anymore...

After a fairly uneventful taxi ride we arrived at our hotel in Manhattan and checked in. We then set off for food and a drink (though not me). We eventually ended up in a Capital Grill and had steaks that were obscenely gigantic - though I had lamb chops that were just too much. We then went up to the top of the Rockefeller building to have a look at the city skyline at night, and also skirted round Time Square.

Pictures can be found here: Google.

01 Feb 2016


Yesterday I hit my target weight of 65.1 kg, which gives me a BMI of 22.5, which was the target I set for my self last year. I don't really track my daily weight, my main measurement is my 7-day average, which is what I want to get down to that level - and stay at that level.

I'm actually aiming for a target weight of 64.1 kg, at which point I'll add food back to my diet and try to stabilise it. When I add food back to my diet - I want to stop losing weight - I'll probably add on a bit of weight, hence my current target is less than my long term target.

I picked the BMI score out of thin air, being somewhere in the middle of the WHO/NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 25. It's not an exact science, and as I said right at the start I don't really trust the BMI as anything other than a rough guide...

More important measurements are things like waist to height ratio and the similar waist to hip ratio. Both are better indicators of long term health/morbidity than BMI. Though they are both simple to measure in principle, they are actually a pain to measure in practice... Even accepting that they are a pain to accurately measure, my trouser size (which is a good approximation) has shrunk from a 36" to 30" (in UK vanity sizing), which is a decent 6"/15.25 cm reduction...

My next challenge is to get my 7-day average to the right level and then stay there...

14 Jan 2016


Last year I jokingly said my New Year's Resolution was to spend more money. What I really meant was I shouldn't procrastinate as much, and just get on and do things I had to do. In that vein I bought a new TV and Blu-Ray player to replace an aging TV and DVD player, eventually got my better half a decent road bike, and upgraded her desktop computer as well. Overall I managed to get some things done I intended but not everything on the list was done.

I also had an implicit resolution to get my weight down to the correct one for my height - what ever that may be. Starting in February I went on a calorie restricted diet, and by April had managed to shift nearly 7 kg. At that point, on the then daily reduction rate of just over 110 g per day I should have hit my target weight in the autumn of 2015. By September my daily rate had fallen to about 75 g per day, pushing the final weight date out into this year. At the moment the daily rate is more like 50 g per day, giving an end date of mid to late February. Assuming I get to my target date at expected it will have taken 12 months to lose 25 Kg at an average rate of about 480 g per week or 68 g per day.

This year's resolutions are to:

  • Get the roof on the house redone
  • Install solar photo-voltaic panel (yes even at the reduced FIT rate)
  • Get a wooden floor installed on the ground floor
  • Get the living room walls skimmed and then fully decorate the room
  • Get my weight to stay put, once I get to it
  • Get fit again - I've not ridden my bike as much this winter as last.

09 Jan 2016

Xmas and New Year

Even though I ate a little more and exercised a little less there were several days worth of lag before I actually put weight on. In the end I managed to gain nearly 2.3 Kg slowly after returning to a largely normal diet. It's quite amazing how a little extra food and a reduction in excises quickly adds up...

This week I've had a dose of influenza and was forced to spend all of Thursday in bed. I've been pretty rough most of the week and been reduced to eating almost nothing, suffice as to say the kilos melted away and I've lost in no short order all that weight...

Losing weight is easy, even when you don't have a dose of the 'flu, sustaining the weight you are at is harder. I'm now within 1 Kg of the weight I would like to be, based on my height, and my hight:waist ratio. The thing I have to do this year is land my weight on my target and then get it to stay put, I don't want to lose anymore, or put it back on. Both are dangerous to my health and expensive in the clothing department...!

30 Dec 2015

German Clothing Sizes

Earlier this month I was in France and picked up a pair of trousers. As I said previously they do not suffer from vanity sizing.

On Boxing day we went shopping and I bought a pair of German trousers. In store they were were sorted by their inch size and I struggled to find a pair small enough but in the end I did find one that fitted well. When I got home I noticed that the size in centimetres (for the European market) was pretty close to correct, it's only the inch size (for the UK and US) market that is out and is a vanity size. I'm pretty sure that it's not a rounding issue, but a deliberate case of vanity sizing for the UK and US markets...