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Month: June 2019

It doesn’t matter

The size of my usual plate of food when eating out

One problem when on calorie restriction is that you can become a bit of a recluse. At the start you get so focused on your numbers that eating anywhere else except your own home starts to worry you. Coupled with that is the thought that if I eat 810 calories instead of 800 that the 10 calories will result in about 10Kg weight gain overnight. In some ways you go from an addiction to 3000 calories a day to an addiction to 800 calories a day – this is something that does gave me a bit of concern given my overly addictive personality. Eventually you have to face up to the reality that you are going to have to eat out somewhere that is not your home and you won’t be able to control the calorie intake…….. or will you.

Most restaurants these days have menus on line that can be viewed or downloaded before you go to them. For me it serves two purposes, firstly I can see if there is anything that I really want to eat and secondly I can ‘run the numbers’ on what I propose to eat and see how close I can get to 800 calories. OK, so the menu may not have a calorific breakdown of each ingredient, but you can be smart and guess. At this point I want to make a comment, and I think it is really an important one when talking about calorie restriction. You are playing the long game here, it is a journey, and blips will happen, and they don’t matter, they don’t matter one little bit at all. If you go out and eat 1000 calories one night, the pleasure you will get from eating out with friends, eating food you haven’t had to weight out carefully will far outweigh any effect on your weight (which won’t happen anyway).

Now saying all the above, eating clever is the name of the game. Avoid the chips, have a salad. If you really must have chips then don’t eat them all, and if you do it doesn’t matter. High carb really is what you are trying to limit here, so probably best to steer clear of the pasta and rice dishes and a big bowl of spuds, which may be an issue if you have ended up in an Italian restaurant or an Indian. But you know what, if you go for that house special, prawn pilau, it doesn’t matter. Why doesn’t it matter, because tomorrow you will be going back to your 800 calories a day and that will be way less than your body needs, and so you will continue to lose weight, you see, it doesn’t matter.

My first encounter at going out whilst on my FAST800 was to a lovely Asian fusion restaurant. I had been given a voucher by a wonderful group of people for this restaurant and I had been looking for an excuse to use it. For some reason over the past year I had received a lot of vouchers for eating holes, I obviously looked like someone who enjoys food (correct). My excuse to use the voucher was for a friend coming over from Finland to do some work with me and I had been promising him a meal in Galway.

Starters were ordered – wok fried tofu, high protein, minimal carbs, full of taste. Main course, Thai red curry, house specialty. Again, minimal carbs and full of flavour. But there, staring back at me was a bowl of rice, nice steaming jasmine rice. White and fluffy, like a freshly groomed poodle, it entranced me with puppy dog eyes. I knew it was going to be there, had seen it listed on the menu both before I went and on the night and I had a plan – I wasn’t going to eat it. Just one spoon, won’t hurt anyway. I did quick food maths in my head, actually minimal calories. Second spoonful went in, tasted gorgeous, still having minimal impact on my calorie count. Next thing that I knew, it was gone, all eaten. Was I reverting to my addiction, had I just fallen off the wagon, had that fatal renewed hit of illicit substance ? Well, no I hadn’t.

One very subtle difference between this evening and my encounter with the 8 chocolate bars – tonight was a conscious decision to eat the rice, I knew what I was doing, I decided I wanted to eat the rice because I wanted to enjoy the meal, because in my long game of losing weight, in taking control and regaining my health, I knew one very important fact, it just didn’t matter.

Then a very strange thing happened. I have no idea if this was due to eating the rice, or a pure coincidence, but I went very light headed, the room began to spin. I had eaten almost no carbs for a month now and in a single hit have consumed 37g of carb, 75% of what I had eaten tonight was carb and for me it felt like I was having a sugar rush, a big serious sugar rush. It calmed down in 5 minutes and didn’t come back – was probably the food Gods reminding me of the pleasures of sugar. My total intake for the day – 1173 calories.

Waking up the next morning, I was somewhat hesitant to stand on the scales, but I had made a vow to do it. I was up 0.1kg. Could one night out really do that to me, well yes it did, but I had also drank two litres of water with my meal, and I had finished eating at 10pm. Now, without trying to sound like a stuck record, it didn’t matter, and why not, well the following day, after sticking to my 800 calories, I was down 0.5Kg, with my blood sugar normal and my blood ketone levels high in the fat burning range.

Four weeks in – 13kg lost, halfway house. Looking and feeling good.

P.S. A few days later I had to eat out again because of work, lunch was 500 calories, was 200 calories over for the day. Guess what ? IT DIDN’T MATTER

Waisting away

Blue shirt to white shirt – 15 days.

Blue shirt: 114.1Kg, 28.7% body fat, BMI 34

Pink Shirt: 111.1Kg, 27.0% body fat, BMI 33

White shirt: 109.2Kg, 26% body fat, BMI 32.5

Blue shirt: waist size – 40 inches and stretching it. White shirt: wearing 38 inch waist trousers and going to have to go shopping for 36 inch waist trousers.

No need for a long post, a picture says my usual thousand words.


OK, so if you know the link between title and picture then my friend, you can officially class yourself as ‘awesome’ and savor the fact that you have an excellent taste in music.

If you are of that era of above said band, then I have some bad news. You have an over 40% chance of currently being either pre-diabetic or even a fully-certified type-II diabetic and you won’t know about it. If that goes unchecked and you progress further then you will, most likely die earlier than would normally be expected and you will have a very high chance of developing several nasty chronic diseases that will most certainly add to your demise.

As a diversion from the main topic of this blog post I want to scare you, and hopefully scare you into making some changes like I have done. Just some facts from a large group of US studies on the potential health outcomes from untreated type-II diabetes:-

Heart and Blood Vessel Disease – heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure

Nerve Damage – tingling in the fingers that moves up the arm (I had this), digestion problems causing a lot of nausea (I had this, but always thought it was IBS), erectile dysfunction (not making a comment on this one)

Kidney damage, eye damage, slow healing, increased susceptibility to bacterial and fungal diseases.

Sleep apnea and snoring – I have been a bad snorer for years. My snoring has significantly reduced and my sleep quality has improved dramatically since May 7th

Alzheimer’s disease. I really don’t want to end up down this pathway. After watching my father degenerate over 7 years with Alzheimer’s this is one thing I want to avoid.

In 2007 the cost of treating diabetes (type-I and type-II) in the United States was €174 BILLION, in 2012 it was $245 Billion and it is estimated that cost will be nearer to $500 billion in 2035. The majority of spending has now been skewed to treatment of chronic diseases associated with Type II diabetes. Before 2050 this is likely to hit very close to €1 TRILLION dollars. On top of that there is an estimated cost burden of over $30 billion to treat ‘undiagnosed diabetics’. This is completely and totally unsustainable. It is also totally preventable and easily treatable. However, the journey to that treatment is not easy, it will require work, it will require sacrifices and it forces you to face temptation, serious serious temptation.


Late at night, the kids want supper and they want toast. The smell of the toast wafts across the kitchen tempting my nostrils and making my belly crave carbs. I need to hold the hot buttered toast in my hand, stuff it into my mouth and savor the flow of processed fat and sugar into my throat. But I won’t let it happen.

There is a noise coming from the kitchen cupboard, can’t quite make it out. I open the door and the noise gets louder, it’s three packets of biscuits, screaming at me to eat them. Ginger nuts, Oaties and Chocolate Digestives are all ganging up on me and want me to tear into them and devour them. I would normally give into this pleading and not stop until all that is left is crumbs and an empty packet, but not tonight.

Cheese sandwiches, the staple of my late night snacking. I can taste the processed cheese slices, mixed with the creamy Flora on some doughy white bread. I can feel my teeth sinking into the bread, biting a big chunk, the taste, the bland bland cheesy taste, I want it, I need it. But I need to live.

What’s in the box. I have the curiosity of a puppy, need to know, smells good, come to me, come to me my precious. Can it be, yes, yes it is, its a pizza. Oh Lord, it’s a pizza, a big 18 inch pizza, cheese, tomato, ham, pepperoni, spicy beef and there are dips, sweet sweet garlic dip. I want it, I want it all, no one is having any of it, I have to stuff it all in my mouth, make myself feel sick, I need the hit, I have to get this thing inside me. Get away, what are you doing, it’s my pizza, you get your own, I will fight you for it, PUT THAT SLICE DOWN. But I don’t eat it, I walk away

You’re having a take-away tonight, excellent. Beef, black bean sauce and noodles will go down a treat. The portion will be huge, probably enough to feed 4, but I am going to eat it, but I don’t want to be greedy, I won’t eat it all tonight – I will save some. Putting fork down on an empty plate, mmmm that was nice, so nice in fact that I am going to go back and finish the rest now, I just want that nice food-induced, MSG laden hit to send my brain into the clouds. I don’t care if tomorrow my IBS is going to go into overdrive, my gut will spasm so hard that I will have to crawl on my knees to the bathroom because the pain is so bad, i want it all NOW. But I don’t.

Don’t tell my wife, but I am in love with another woman, her name is Krystal. I met Krystal about a year ago, and I see her most days, but my wife doesn’t even suspect. I have never been closer than about 10 feet to Krystal, and it is usually across a counter top with a glass barrier. Krystal makes my lunchtime wrap, always the same thing, made exactly the same way. Krystal deviates from the menu, she doesn’t put on 4 slices of bacon, she has been known to put on 20, along with a handful or two of cheese, jalapenos, olives, onions, lots of thick BBQ sauce. She then toasts it and hands it to me. Our fingers have never accidentally touched as she hands me the sandwich, but the electric feeling as I receive the hot package wrapped in the grease-proof paper makes my heart skip a beat. The over 800 calories will be gone in 2 minutes, but the tin of Pringles I bought at the same time will continue the hit. Krsytal can’t remember my name, to her I am just that slightly quirky guy from that office next door that likes BBQ melt with a shit load of bacon. She doesn’t realise it, she is my enabler. But I don’t see Krystal anymore, the streak has been broken.

Pringles, why the hell did I have to mention Pringles. I can buy a long tube of Pringles at the nearby motorway service station, this is just 12km away from my house and is one junction on the motorway. I will have those Pringles finished before I have even hit the 300m to exit sign on the motorway. If there was a World Championships for eating Pringles, I would rule the world. I am the master at consuming 1000 calories in under 8 minutes. In that same 8 minutes, my body probably exerted 40 or 50 calories in changing gear, and will probably exert about the same when I drag my sorry ass from the car to the sofa. That is 1000 calories that my body doesn’t need, I am not planning on running a marathon later, might see if there is one on TV if I can be bothered to find the TV remote control, but I am not ‘fueling’ for something highly energetic. But now I don’t pop, and now I have stopped.

It isn’t my body that needs the food, it is my brain, and to be honest the brain doesn’t care if I get that hit from 1000 calories of crispy sour cream goodness or a line of cocaine, it wants the chemical hit, that is all it knows, it’s what it needs.

Hello, my name is Iain Shaw, and I am an addict.

That Holy Hiit moment !!!

Exercise, on 800 calories a day, you’re having a laugh right ? No, apparently not, it is key to the success of the programme and also vital for burning off some of that lard. This was going to be tough, fitness was something I had started to struggle with, and one of the flags that had shown me that something needed to be done.

As mentioned in previous posts, I have been a runner, I have been quite a successful runner. Few people will know that in my early 20s I ran a sub-11 second 100m, I was fit, very very fit. Due to an accident that left me with a serious shin issue, running got left behind for a few years (make that 15 years) and fitness levels dropped. I took up running again in 2006 as a way of raising some much needed funds for the neonatal intensive care unit in Galway where my son had spent 11 days. I ran a marathon, a half marathon, numerous 5K and 10K races and even competed in track and field events. In 2009 I even represented my club, Athenry AC, in the national masters track and field, taking a whole bag of medals and a few national titles:

However over the past 4 or 5 years as the weight has gone on, my ability to run, and even my motivation to run has reached rock bottom. Recently in a training session with my younger athletes I tried to run about 50m at speed – I had to lie down and even inquired if their was a defib anywhere close – such was the trough I found myself in.

So, now I find myself looking at the ‘Fast 800’ bible and Dr Mosley is telling me I have to start to exercise again. I did like the part where he said that it could be done in small bursts of high intensity, the so called ‘High Intensity Interval Training – HIIT’. Couple of times a week, on an exercise bike, warm up 5 mins, 20s all out effort, 3 min recovery and then repeat. His warning of, ‘maybe just do it once at first’ sort of passed me by – sure, I am still an athlete at heart, I can do this.

I have an exercise bike, a very nice exercise bike, got it a long time ago, and probably like most exercise bikes up and down the country it makes an excellent hanger for clothes and has a great ability to attract dust. Just like writing this blog, and telling people what I am doing, the bike had to be taken from a place of concealment to a place of prominence, and no better place than in the front room in front of the big front window. So after negotiating it down the narrow attic steps it was set up in the front room, where it promptly sat idle for about 4 or 5 days. The kids liked it, my youngest has taken to it quite nicely, but I still viewed it with suspicion. Then one night I decided I had to do it, I did the first HIIT session, doing three repeats of 20s all out effort. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy – what was all the fuss about. Feeling very proud I uploaded my exercise data from my Garmin to my web account, looked at the effort and the heart rate – barely a flicker on the heart rate trace, I think my granny could of done better, and she has been dead for over 40 years.

Take 2: Seems that I missed out an important instruction. For the 20s effort the resistance on the bike has to be turned up to 11. By 15s into the interval the legs should feel like they have gone numb and you should just about make 20s – wasn’t quite liking the sound of this, but hey, If Dr M says it is good for me, who am I to argue. Here goes. Five minutes gentle pedaling, turn resistance to max (it actually is 11 on the bike) and go for it, 120 rpm and legs going like a fly in its last moments of existence. Fifteen seconds in and my legs appear to have come detached from my body. Twenty seconds, resistance back down to 2. Could feel that alright, but quite manageable, starting to sweat, breathing heavy. Three minutes of gentle pedaling, resistance to 11, 20 seconds of effort. Holy Shit that was hard, not sure this is a good idea. Three minutes rest, don’t feel too bad. Lets go for it one more time – BIG MISTAKE !!!

Resistance to 11, pump hard. Five seconds in, not going to make 20 seconds, hang on in there. Ten seconds in, think I might die here tonight. Fifteen seconds, I can see a bright light and someone beckoning me towards the light, but I only have 5 to go, pedal away from the light. Twenty seconds in, resistance to 1, I didn’t die……. yet. Three minutes of gentle pedaling. I don’t feel too good, kind of light headed, can feel the blood pumping in my fingernails. Think I might need a lie down after this. I stumble off the bike – obviously remembering to hit the stop button on my Garmin though. I lay down on the beanbag in the front room and fell asleep instantly for 30 minutes. Waking up I feel very light headed and just a bit concerned. I manage to stand and get some water, but I now understand how baby Bambi felt on that ice.

Why did I feel so bad, exercise has never done this to me before, even in sprint training where my eyeballs have literally popped out of their sockets, have I felt this bad. Maybe something to do with 800 calories a day and I haven’t eaten anything for about 6 hours and haven’t really eaten any carbs for 3 weeks. However, in the midst of feeling bad, I also feel good, very good. The warm post-exercise glow is on me.

Moral of story: yes, exercise is good, exercise is necessary but when on a calorie-restricted, and time-restricted eating programme you need to be smart how you do this, because if you don’t it’s going to hurt. I am still experimenting with the whens and hows, but seem to be better at this now. High-intensity stuff within an hour or two of eating, weight training pre-eating followed by a nice dose of protein-laden food – I usually take a 200 calorie, 30g protein shake, and bizarrely enough my ‘long cycles’ – sessions of 40 minutes or more at steady pace can be done late at night, pre-bed and I have no issues.

Three weeks in, 10Kg lost, body fat down by 4%, BMI down 3 points, blood pressure 126/92 – significant improvement. Starting to feel good, liking what I am seeing in the mirror.

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