Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

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...