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Month: July 2019

Treat

Following on from yesterday’s posting – this is my treat meal. I think I have earned it today. I have walked nearly 13000 steps and have climbed 57 flights of stairs.

This is not a cheat meal – it has been planned for days. Calorie intake for the day is close on 1800 and I don’t care. I don’t feel guilty and I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful. I don’t consider this ‘falling of the wagon’ I consider this part of the journey.

Bon appetit.

HALT ! Cheat or Treat

Just a quick post to link to a podcast I was listening to today that I thought was worth sharing. Powerlifting for the People is a regular podcast covering all things powerlifting and is a really great listen for anyone with any level of interest in the topic. In this edition Coach Gaglione talks about planned treat meals vs cheat meals for those on any type of weight loss journey.

What he does talk about at one point is learning about the reasons we often cheat on weight loss programmes and that can be summarised with the acronym HALT.

H: Hungry, A: Angry, L: Lonely, T: Tired. I think for myself, all of those ring very true and are always the true tests of weight loss resolve. Have a listen, let me know what you think.

I am away this weekend, staying in a hotel, I am not taking food with me so will be at the mercy of hotel catering, but I have decided that this weekend the meals will be treats, I am 1kg past my target weight, a treat is justified.

https://gaglionestrength.libsyn.com/planning-treat-meals-vs-cheating-on-your-diet

A tale of my Ex’s

yes, yes,yes, errr maybe, hell yes, ?, ?

This is not a story of long-lost love, fond memories and random fumbles in darkened nightclubs. No, we are talking a whole different type of ex here. To be more precise, I need to discuss three of them, XXX.

XXX, with an L at the end was the size of T shirt I bought for myself back in April. It was comfortable, it also came with an optional ground sheet, pegs and poles such was the size of the thing. I remember looking at the label, XXXL and wondering where it had all gone wrong. I had a wardrobe full of T shirts I had picked up at races that were L, or occasionally XL and once they had fit me (once being 10+ years ago). I was lucky if I could even get them over my head now, and considered stitching a few of them together. I remember getting my first XXL item of clothing and was a bit concerned, so XXXL should have set some seriously loud alarms off in my head. In a way I suppose it did because not long after I was on my journey.

Four weeks ago I put on a XL T shirt and it was loose, I put on an L and it was a nice fit, an M was tight, but not splitting the seams. This week I put on all my L T shirts (not at the same time) and they fitted, some were even a bit baggy. As I haven’t been an M for 20+ years I didn’t really have anything to try on, and not sure the kids would be happy me stealing their clothes.

I am very aware that I have lost weight – I can see my toes again – but sometimes it is hard to comprehend what it really means to my physical shape, how have I changed. For me it is only when I put on a pair of 40 inch waist trousers and they instantly fall down, or I put on one of my favourite T shirts and it looks like I am wearing a night dress that it gets to me. All my work shirts look ridiculous on me at the moment. They are all 18 1/2 or even 19 inch collars, and last night I measured my neck at just short of 16 inches. I know weight loss advocates warn you of this, but it is strange when it happens, and it also gets expensive. I am in the process of pretty much replacing all my clothes as I am starting to look like a child forced to wear his older brothers hand-me-downs.

The Adidas tent range

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my waist size was 40 inches, and probably getting close to 41 or 42. This is a red flag warning sign, and acknowledged as being one of the key markers of future poor health prognosis. I have included an article below (it is in PDF format) from the Mayo Clinic on the relationship between waist circumference and mortality. The article is Public Access so not violating any copyrights here, feel free to share it.

Today I went shopping for a new pair of jeans. There was a very good reason as the picture below shows:

Those jeans are, I think 40 inch waist (label had fallen off). I had a guess I was now about a 36 inch waist, so grabbed some jeans off the rack and went to try them on. Wasn’t expecting to find that I could not only get my thumbs in the top of them once they were on, but I could get my whole hand in. Back to the rack, lets go 34 inch. I think my last pair of school trousers were 34 inch waist !!! The 34 inch jeans pretty much slid on very nicely, and to be honest, there was still room on the waist. Had I achieved something I really thought was impossible, got to a 32 inch waist ? Well I wasn’t able to find out today for one very good reason. I have calves, big meaty calves, finely honed from many many hours in the gym lifting some seriously heavy weights. Two weeks ago I leg pressed 250Kg for 10 reps – would have been more but ran out of weights. I then did a calf press and managed to move it. Big calves and regular clothes are completely incompatible I have found. Go into most high street clothes shops and they are full of long-distance track stars, easing themselves into the latest skinny jeans, there is not a thrower to be seen.

Back to the 32 inch waist jeans. I sort of got the top part past the calves, then they started to snag, I pulled, they moved a bit more. I pulled again and then they wedged solid, acting as a pretty good tourniquet for my feet. Another tug and I knew that the seams would give. Once my toes started to turn black I knew I should try and get them off. The waist part of the jeans had got half way up my thighs and they were going no further. They weren’t even skinny fit – they were ‘straight fit’. Peeling the jeans back off my legs I decided to hastily retreat from the changing rooms and purchase the 34 inch waist items instead.

My waist size has gone from nearly 42 inches to something probably just south of 34 inches, IN EIGHT WEEKS. I genuinely was not expecting that much of a change, I will take it, don’t get me wrong, but even for me, that was a bit dramatic.

I am writing this on 26th July, I have been on my journey for 80 days today. I am now thinking of transitioning out of the 800 calories per day and start to get towards 1500 – 1800 calories per day. I have 12 days left on 800 per day, and that then brings me to 3 months on Fast800. I haven’t yet decided what I am going to do afterwards. I think my current option is to work towards 5/2 where I will be on higher calories for 5 days and 2 days per week will be on 800 calories. Will probably transition through 2/5, then 3/4 then finally 4/3 and that will probably take me another 80 days to complete. I have moved my weight targets slightly – 95Kg by end of August, 90Kg by end of year, 85Kg by May 2020, which would be a total loss of 40Kg or 88lbs.

Today I weighed in at 99kg, 15st 8lb a total loss of 4st 3lb since May 7th. BMI is 29.6, body fat is 21.8% (end of year target 17%).

Making The Weight

Heavy metal

I have thought about what I was going to write in this post for the past 2 months. What image should I use, what should the title be. A few ideas sounded good, ‘Achievement Unlocked’ was the working title, but this morning whilst in the gym the title came to me in a flash, well more like a haze of sweat – but more on this later. The image to use has always been unwavering in my mind as it is in some way a symbol of what I have been trying to achieve. That lump of metal weighs in at 56 pounds, 25.4Kg and for a lot of people it is an effort to get it off the ground. It is used for sport, to see how far it can be thrown (or how high) and for one brief year I was the national masters title holder for throwing that thing. That year, 2009, was also probably the last year I was under 16 stone.

When, in May 2019 I decided to embark on my journey to improve my health I weighed in at 125.4Kg, and I set my goal to get to 99.9Kg – pretty much the weight of that big metal beast had to be lost. Today I achieved that goal – today I weighed in at 99.6Kg. Weight lost is 25.8Kg or 56.9lbs. I have lost 21% of my bodyweight since the start of the journey.

For anyone who has ever had picked up one of those throwing weights they will know it is seriously heavy, often the strain on the back can be felt as it is picked up, the knees have an increased load on them (throwers often strap their knees because of this) and the effort to handle it is immense, and you are only too glad to let it go. Well that was my life, a constant throwing weight strapped to my body causing the same strain on my back and knees, forcing my lungs and heart to work overtime just to cope. Well today I put it down, let it go, and now even though there is no medal going back around my neck I am the national champion again as I have not just thrown it into a bit of sand, I have thrown it out of my life – forever.

Symbolic picture of throwing the weight away

Anyway, back to the title of the post and why it came to me in a haze of sweat. Yesterday I woke up and stood on the scales – 100.4Kg, near but not quite there. This morning I stepped onto the scales with I must admit a bit of excitement as I knew I would be close – 100.1Kg. Bollocks.

I had already planned to go to the gym this morning, I had a run down on my training schedule and so headed out before having my breakfast – this is something I have started to do a lot recently, exercise before breakfast and it certainly has helped me shift some weight and it really sets me up for the day. I don’t suffer from low energy in the mornings and there seems to be no ill effects to training on an empty stomach after a 16 hour fast (well for me anyway). I was coming to the end of my run where I had transformed into a big sweaty mess when I thought – this is like a boxer before the weigh-in, trying to shift those last few pounds just so they can make the weight. There it was, this was pretty much what I was doing, trying to find someway to lose that last little bit, seems appropriate then ‘Making the Weight’.

So, achievement unlocked, what next ? What happens to my Fast800 journey ? Well it isn’t quite at an end yet, all the good advice says its not a clever thing to do to go from your 800 calories a day back to normal eating and there should be a gradual reintroduction of a higher calorie diet. I will be continuing as I have been until first week in August, which will be a 13 week Fast800 journey and then start to change my diet. I have been lucky that I chose to have my 800 calories in the form of good wholesome solid found rather than some of the liquid options that are available commercially to achieve the same effect. So for me, it will mean just a slight increase in portion size, increasing the amount of carbohydrate slightly and aiming for about 1500 calories per day. I will probably mix in 3 or 4 days a week on 800 calories, ultimately reducing that to 2 days. I will however continue on the time restricted eating – aim to finish eating by 6pm and breakfast again at 8am (or 10am if I go to gym first thing) as I think this has been one of the biggest changes to my eating lifestyle that has had the biggest impact.

Now that I have achieved my goal weight, is this the end of the blog ? Far far far from it, Fast800 was just the starter, setting in place a few key requirements for the main course. What comes next will be far harder than Fast800, what comes next is Project 50…….

Postscript

Just a recap of the numbers:

Start Date: 7th May 2019

Weight loss: 125.4Kg to 99.6Kg (19st 10lbs to 15st 9lb)

Body fat: 31.8% to 22.1%

BMI: 37.4 to 29.7 – class II obesity (severe) to overweight (never been so happy to be overweight)

Blood glucose: 5.7mmol/l to 4.1mmol/l (pre-diabetic to super healthy blood glucose)

Resting HR: 72bpm to 54/55bpm

Blood Pressure: 146/105 to 127/89 (this was one that was really starting to concern me but seem to be getting it under control)

Cholesterol 4.5mmol/l to 5.7mmol/l – OK, so this is a curious one as it seems to have gone totally the opposite way to expected. Lot of fat changes going on in my body so will keep an eye on it.

Waist: 40-42ish inches to 36 inch.

Big Crash Diet Experiment

In 2018 BBC broadcast a programme entitled ‘The Big Crash Diet Experiment’ which took a group of obese and/or Type-II diabetic volunteers and put them on 800 calories a day. This programme was recently aired on RTE and is currently available on the RTEPlayer for another month or so. You get to see some nice sciencey stuff and the physiological effects of crash dieting. Also answers one of the questions (OK on a small number of volunteers) about sustainability and does the weight go back on as quick as it is lost.

Well worth a watch.

Energy

Two picture – 6 months apart – 19th Jan 2019 & 14th July 2019

Probably the question I have been asked most since I have been on my Fast800 journey is ‘do you have any energy to do anything if you are only eating 800 calories a day’. Well the simple answer is, yes. The slightly longer answer is, I have more energy now than I have had for years. I have the ability to do more, and for longer than I have for years.

The two pictures above are taken 176 days apart, pretty much 6 months. The first picture was taken in January at the National Indoor Combined Events Championships. That day I was officiating on shot put and pretty much sat down for the entire day and at the end was exhausted. I had no energy to do anything, and even sitting down seemed to take effort, I was consuming on average 2500 calories per day. The second picture was taken yesterday at the National Outdoor Championships. I worked outside, on my feet for 7 hours in baking hot sunshine as a track official. I walked up and down the track, ran 40m repeats all day long and not once did I get out of breath. I had one plate of food during that time which I calculate as providing about 290 calories. I had a fairly big breakfast at 7am giving 380 calories. The below is a screen from the Garmin app showing some key stats from yesterday.

How many steps ?

Three numbers from that screen – 19,265 steps. About 1000 of those steps were walking around the house pre- and post-event. Distance covered 16.17Km – over 10 miles. Calories expended- 4804. All this on a diet of 800 calories (on average) per day.

So to add to the answer for the question of having enough energy. Yes, I have enough energy because my body has been storing up energy reserves for way too many years now and they are finally being put to good use. Also imagine having 25 (yes TWENTY FIVE) of these babies strapped to your body and having to function:

1kg in each bottle

Having 25 of those strapped to my body, mostly around my gut, was pretty much how I was living, but now they are gone. It is not a surprise I was struggling on 19th January.

Big post coming this week (hopefully), it will be an important one.

Catnip

catnip/ˈkatnɪp

  1. a plant of the mint family, with downy leaves, purple-spotted white flowers, and a pungent smell attractive to cats.
  2. someone or something that is very attractive or appealing to a particular person or group.

Just looking at the picture above does strange things to me, fires off some chemical messengers in my brain, preparing me for a deeply satisfying experience. I can smell the pizza, I can even feel its warm, greasy weight in my hand, the texture of the bread like a comfort blanket. Pizza is my catnip, always has been, probably always will be. I love pizza. I am quite proud of the fact that I could demolish the above pizza, and then go for a second. I think ‘competitive eating’ (yes, its a thing) is wrong on many levels, morally, physically, nutritionally, but I am safe in the knowledge that if I was to enter a pizza eating competition I would certainly be a ranking athlete.

I haven’t eaten pizza for over 8 weeks since I have been on Fast800 but I probably think about it everyday. The student shop whici is just around the corner from my office does a fantastic pizza and throughout the end of last year and start of this when I was extremely busy at work I was eating a minimum of 3 per week, each with about 1000 calories (I remember eating 2 in one day). Not really surprising I was close on 20 stone at the start of May then. I have deliberately removed myself from situations where pizza would be, the temptation is just too much for me. After Galway United home games when we are all in the office, carrying out the general admin after a soccer game we get pizza delivered form one of our sponsors and I just can’t be there anymore – sorry lads. I thought I was doing well, thought I may have gotten on top of my addiction. And then it happened.

Tuesday evening, I have been in a meeting since 6pm and the clock has now ticked past 11pm, and everyone around the table is getting hungry. I ate 7 hours ago, but I am used to that now, I am half way through my nightly intermittent fast and I can cope. One of the guys has been on the phone and suddenly gets up from the table and walks out. In less than 5 minutes he is back, but he isn’t alone. I knew what he had in his hand before he opened the door, I could smell it. The neurons in my brain had already fired, a sense of excitement. Then there it was, or should I say there THEY were, pizzas are not solitary beasts, much better if they travel in pairs because 1 just isn’t ever enough. I wanted to reach over, grab a slice, satisfy an urge, this was pain. All the guys in the room know of my journey and I would never ask them NOT to order in pizza just because of my desire not to eat them, I am not that selfish. The guys joked with me, and in fairness supported me through this – really did need to call pizzas anonymous at this point, needed my happy place.

I got through it, just, but really was the biggest test I have had to face so far. If I can handle this then I know I can achieve my goals, for me to give up pizza is a sacrifice, but this is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

This morning I tested my blood sugar prior to breakfast and after a 15 hour fast, it was 4.4mmol/l – the danger level is 5.7mmol/l where I had been just 8 weeks ago. My blood sugar hasn’t been this low for many many years. 90 minutes after eating my blood sugar was 4.6mmol/l. Admittedly the meal was low in carbs (3g carbs, 29g fat and 22g protein) but still think that is a great result. Maybe, just maybe I am winning this battle.

A Tiger Calls

Terry the Tiger (Galway United). Photo: Sean Ryan | sportsphoto.ie

When I started my Fast800 journey, it was in some way a very personal journey but also one which I decided to put in the public domain so that it would force me to stick with it. What I didn’t expect was the somewhat overwhelming response I got from people reading this blog and just generally stopping me asking about Fast800 and commented on its obvious success with me. What I really didn’t expect was that I would in some way become an inspiration to other people for them to change their own lives and travel a similar road.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Terry the Tiger (Galway United mascot) aka Francis Kelly, and I don’t think he will mind me sharing part of the email he sent to me:

My girlfriends mother is over weight and she had lost all hope that it would be possible for her to lose weight. She’s following your blog (like I am), and it has given her the boast (sic) she’s needed to try and loss some weight (and me too)!).” 

That was a truly fantastic email to read, and for me somewhat humbling that I have given these two people inspiration to do this. I have had similar emails / texts from a dozen other people saying that they will use Fast800 to try and improve their health, and for that I have to applaud you. Fast800 is not easy, you are going to hate it at times, particularly in the first two weeks, but stick in there, it will make a difference. If you stray for a day, remember the most important thing about straying – it doesn’t matter we are playing the long game.

For those embarking on the journey I offer one big bit of advice, probably the most motivating bit of advice I think I can offer. At the start take photographs of yourself, front on and side on. Take them on your smartphone (assuming you have one) and keep them with you. Every two weeks do the same, keep them with you and flick back and forth between your pre-Fast800 self and your current self. The change happens quickly and at the worst moments when you are staring at that chocolate bar or have the packet of biscuits in your hand, just take a look at your photos and remember where you are going. Also remember, you are doing this for a maximum of 16 weeks, most likely less. Can you remember what you were doing 16 weeks ago ? That was middle of March and I bet it seemed like it was just yesterday. In 16 weeks time you will be saying the same thing, except by then you will be a much slimmer, healthier person reflecting back on 16 weeks.

Maybe one other bit of advice I can give is not to tell people you are ‘on a diet’. This may sound a strange bit of advice to give someone embarking on what is mainly a weight loss programme – but please hear me out. There is a lot of stigma around dieting and you will always have people say ‘Oh I heard that was a fad’, ‘why are you bothering’, ‘you will put it all back on just as quick’, ‘its not good for you’ etc. These are all quite demotivating statements and can quickly make you question yourself. Instead, tell people you are trying to get your blood sugar under control, tell them you are following a temporary calorie restriction programme (remember, 16 weeks max.). If you really get backed into a corner on the ‘diet’ word, mention it is a clinical diet, which it is, used in clinical practice for improving health outcomes in people who really need it. Finally, a very important thing to remember, you are NOT ‘on a diet’ you are on a journey to significantly improve your health. That’s not a fad – that is just a clever thing to do.

As we turn into July I am now 8 weeks into the journey, halfway house. This morning I stepped on the scales, and the figure that stared back at me was 104.6Kg. This is a total weight loss of 20.8Kg, 46 pounds in Imperial measure. At the start I was 19 stone 10, now I am 16 stone 6. My body fat comes in at 24.6%, down from 31.8%. BMI has reduced from 37.4 to 31.2, I have taken myself from deep in the waistlands (sic) of obesity to the precipice of just being ‘overweight’ a place that at the start of May I really didn’t think I would ever see again. Oh yeah, just to leave you with one final comment – my trousers keep falling down as I have gone from a 40+ inch waist to 36 inch.

P.S. To the Tiger: If that Tiger suit gets too lose on you, I will personally pay for it to be altered / replaced.

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