Thursday, 30 September 2010

Just say No!

I am getting used to saying no to dessert. Often in the past I would order something, convincing myself I wouldn't eat it all...and then doing precisely that.
There are very few restaurants where a main course isn't enough to be comfortably full. There are even fewer where a starter AND a main course are not sufficient. By and large, the starters and main courses are better food options too.
So last night, in the very nice restaurant in my hotel, I ate starter (good choice), I ate main course (reasonably healthy, with added green leafy veg as a side), and I said no to bread, and I said no to dessert. It didn't even feel that difficult, unlike in the past.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Why and wherefore?

Working away this week, so a bit more difficult to post. Calf injury progress: saw a Sports Injury specialist on Monday evening and there seems to be some progress on both root cause of my problems (seems to stem from back problems I didn't even know I had) and treatment of the symptoms (painful deep tissue massage).

This reminded me a lot of the general battle with weight loss. The question of how much effort to focus on dealing with the symptoms, and how much on the root causes, is a constant dilemma.

Being overweight is a symptom.
To lose weight you have to tackle the root causes.

If your battle is with the symptom only, you will never achieve long-lasting success.
The battle with the root causes is much deeper and more complicated. Why do I eat too much? Why do I eat the wrong things? Why is it so easy for me to change my plans and go to the supermarket to grab some food instead of going to the gym to work off some calories?
The "what" is pretty straightforward. It's the "why" that makes the difference.

And that's why blogging about weight loss is so important. There's only so much "what" to blog on about until you've run out of things to say. "Another day of eat less and exercise more..."
Blogging forces you to address the "why" questions and tackle the root cause of weight issues.

This is also what frustrates me so much about people who have never been significantly overweight telling those of us that are how easy it is. Just eat less! they say. How often have you heard someone (usually skinny as a beanpole) say "when I put on weight I just stop eating until my jeans fit properly again". Yeah but, no but, yeah but...I bluster in return. For them, weight gain means a pound or two, and not eating until it's gone means a day or two.
Try doing that to lose 20kgs (or 100 pounds or whatever) and there's only 1 result. Death.
And it only talks to the symptoms, not the cause. If you are skinny and put on a pound or two, there's really no need to go into the whys and wherefores of your minor temporary blip. Actually more important is why you are skinny normally and why one or two pounds is a disaster. And that's a whole different ball game from shifting 20% or more of your body weight.

I talked with my Sports Injury guy about "why" a lot. Mostly while he was massaging my calf and I was sweating a serious pig sweat from his efforts.

The proposed solution, is so simple and so far removed, it seems a little strange. But as it also ties in with a conclusion from a previous post, it's got to be done. I am buying a new mattress!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Weigh in update

Disaster. I was obviously wrong about being able to feel my progress.

118.0kg. Another GAIN week.
Have to sort my calf out, cut the "odd" treat (that gets repeated very often), and get back to being serious about this thing.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now.
I do not want my boys to want to be like me now....

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Critical Moments

There are certain moments that stick in your mind, haunting you. I want to use these moments to help inspire me to keep going...

  • One day I arrived at the office and decided to walk up the stairs (inspired by my DirectLife gizmo). On getting to the 3rd floor, I met a colleague who asked if I had cycled into work. I was that out of breath...

  • Earlier this year I came downstairs at home, rushing to get the Mooselets out somewhere (Karate I think). I bent over to put my shoes on, and after tying the laces I was out of breath.

  • A company event in December last year...T-shirts were provided for the morning training sessions. My XL was way too small and it looked so bad I had to wear another shirt underneath to make it more opaque - and give a bit of a "corset" effect

  • Giving a speech in front of 300 people and making a joke about how I could do with losing 5 or 10 kgs. "More like 20!" came the heckle from the audience. And of course, the heckler was right.

  • Being forced/encouraged to do a comparative weigh in with my brothers moose by my aunt...and being the heaviest even though I convinced myself I looked thinner than they did.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Recurring injury

Top of my mind this morning is my recurring injury problem.
I finally made it to the gym last night for my first session this week (apart from a few mobilisation exercises and minimal core stuff late on Tuesday when I arrived back in the hotel). Nursing my torn calf, I went for a good warm-up on the bike, stayed on it for 25 mins with the music cranked up tempo and pushing it hard. Then I stretched and twisted, mobilised and loosened. Then I hit the treadmill to WALK, with incline for 10 mins. Then I hit the rower for 25 mins - stopped in the end as I was wearing the new VibramFF's, and discovered that my heels hurt quite badly strapped into the footrests of the rower in them. And since I hadn't done the 40 mins I was planning, I hit the treadmill again. Started walking, and then the most delicious but dangerous thought occurred. Maybe I could run just a little. One track. After all, my calf always seems to go when running outside, not on the treadmill. So I changed track tempo on the i-pod, cranked up the speed and down the incline, and started jogging slowly, so gently. The VFFs felt good, if slightly unusual. I concentrated on how I was stepping. I consciously tried to relax my lower legs and just run. One and a half full minutes in, I had to hit the speed button to slow down. My calf didn't exactly go ping but it went tight and hurts.
I have always been convinced that the biggest problem was not warming up properly, but I think after last night I have to kick that theory into touch. I thought it might have something to do with my broken toe...but the VFFs correct my toe position very effectively and yet I still did the calf again last night wearing them.
I am lost for ideas about what to do. My PT couldn't seem to help me much either. It's now getting worrying and extremely annoying. I have a small 3k run on Sunday with the Mooselets at their school and I am convinced I will be embarrassed at not being able to actually run it. I have another company event coming up in 6 weeks where I will have to run too.
What I need is a plan.
1. Run this weekend because I have to. Accept I will damage my calf again. Do everything I can to protect it (warm-up, neoprene calf guard, even walk if I have to).
2. Ice afterwards and saunas next week.
3. Complete rest from running for 2 weeks until Sunday 10th October.
4. Find a sports injury specialist doctor...and go and see him!
5. Mobilisations and stretching every day.
6. Lose some more weight (since I am conscious it can't be generally good for my feet, legs and knees having all this weight pounding on them all day every day...)

Weigh-in tomorrow. A mixed week food-wise that I am struggling to estimate how it will impact the scales. I'm getting more used to judging the feel of whether I've lost (2 weeks ago I knew I had...I felt it, and last week I knew I had gained again). This week I feel like I've lost a little. Not as much as I'd like, but a little. Just to reverse off last week's gain will be nice, any more a raging success!!

Thursday, 23 September 2010


I seem to have run out of things to say. Which is a very bad sign and extremely unusual for me.
A number of days travelling and in meetings have meant no blogging. And then when I do get the chance to be sittting in my office, sun shining, cool breeze coming in from the window, I've got nothing.
I've cruised by a few other blogs to see what's up there and see if I get inspired. Nope... (not that other blogs aren't inspiring per se, just that they didn't seem to trigger me into having anything inspiring to write.
Even i'm bored with this post and am seriously considering going to get another coffee...

I'm back. With another coffee. And maybe some inspiration after all.

I have often wondered about the impact of my coffee consumption on my weight. I would decribe myself as a "heavy" coffee drinker. Not "excessive", not "compulsive", nor "occasional". Just heavy.
This can range from 3 to 6 cups a day..although the definition of a cup is clearly very variable...from an espresso in an Italian roadside coffee shop to a Starbucks Venti. My analytical research ends up with a largely inconclusive conclusion - if that's even possible.
Coffee is a stimulant. A stimulant to what? Well, among other things, a stimulant to the metabolism. I feel that I can train longer and harder if I drink a coffee right before exercise. A gym cardio session first thing in the morning without caffeine is a big struggle. Slide a double espresso in right before the session and it becomes a bit easier. Train at 6pm after a coffee-fuelled work day and the workout flies by.
As to calories, this is entirely dependent on exactly how the caffeine is ingested. "Best" has to be an espresso, nothing added. But I like sugar in my espresso...I normally drink filter coffee at work. Well I call it filter coffee as the closest equivalent - it's actually a liquid coffee concentrate watered down with hot water from a machine. Now I like my coffee white, so normally I buy a stock of regular milk from the supermarket. Just at the moment though, I have run out, and instead use the "concentrate" little jiggers (I hope that's not rude for anyone else...) and worry they are bad for me and packed with too much sugar/calories/fat etc. But at least they are not as bad as some choices. In the summer, I do tend to suffer from overheating and sweating quite a lot. Us fat mooses do. So I like the odd "refreshing iced caffeinated beverage" from any one of the coffee chains. This summer just gone, I purchased one of the aforementioned Frappucinnato thingies and, for the first time ever, actually observed closely what was going on. Large blender jug...add ice (good), add semi-skimmed milk (OK, I prefer full fat but I can go with the flow), add a double shot of espresso (excellent) we go for the blender, right? Wrong! Now we add in a very large scoop of "Frappucinato mix". This was before I hit "Giving it Everything" September so I held my tongue, but the question racing through my brain was "what is that mix stuff?" Of course, one of the reasons I didn't actually ask was because I knew the answer...and while some of it is some thickening/foaming agent stuff (better not to ask exactly what it is but I bet it starts with E), I know what the vast nmajority is. It's sugar. You don't get a sweet-tasting frozen caffeinated beverage that both refreshes and brings your customers back begging for more without some nice addictive substances, now do you?
There was a report out some years ago measuring the calorific content of the coffee chain staples. And it is quite horrific. I have to admit that my experience in the summer was the last time I had such a coffee. In my new house I have an ice machine in the freezer and can make my own "normal" iced coffees with just ice, coffee and milk.

The Moose's conclusion on coffee is probably rather dull. Everything in moderation. A moderate amount of coffee is probably neutral at worst and slightly beneficial at best, as long as it is not adulterated by the addition of sugar, syrups, cream (whipped or otherwise), caramel, or other agents (identifiable or unidentifiable).
Cheers. Now my second coffee is gone as well...shall I get another before I get on with work?
Make mine Pure and simple.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Personal Training Addendum

A new twig to the branch of theory on PTs. Training with other people is more fun. Training 121 is the most fun. Once you've trained 121, everything else is boring. This is maybe the reason why a drop-off in training frequency follows PT sessions?

Or maybe it's the lack of personal responsibility. When you "give up" the responsibility to a PT to decide what you do, when you do it, you lose the accountability the rest of the time?

The excuse of excuses

Just read the news today, and what good news it is!
Finally, THE excuse for being fat. I can't help it. It's not my fault.

I had a cold when I was a kid...

Paying for my sins

Weigh in at 117.6kg. Gain of 0.4kg for the week. Total loss 0.7kg.

So much for giving it everything. I'm giving it a lot but thinking back over the last week after a somewhat depressing weigh-in, I realised that, strangely enough, I ate too much and didn't exercise enough. Funny that.
A number of unnecessary calories went down the hatch, not only the Curious Incident of the 3 Big Macs in the Nightime, but so many others too. Only one big cardio session in the week. More injuries and too many excuses. I simply can't rely on all the other stuff on the Giving it Everything list and not obey the two top ones. My body will repay me for the neglect. This week it definitely has.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

I'm in the club...

Yesterday I joined the revolution! I went and bought some Vibram Five the hope that they will help correct my lower leg and foot problems. I wore them for an hour and also trained with the medicine ball with them on. I like the feel of them. They make me feel more in control of my movements and more balanced. I can certainly sense my toes being forced to work more than usual, especially the big toe that is the root cause of most of my problems. I always know my posture is more normal when my toe hurts...when it doesn't I'm protecting it too much, and putting unnatural pressure somewhere else. So I think that's a good thing.

For all the positives, I still pushed too far only 4 days after pulling my calf and aggravated it again right at the end of my training session.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Major blow-out

What a disaster! I had an appointment for dinner with a colleague the other night, that was cancelled at short notice. Being my last night in the hotel for the week, and leaving the office too late for the supermarket (yes, one of the little idiosyncracies of Belgium is that supermarkets 8pm), I decided to go the easy and fast route (mistake #1). The golden arches beckoned. "I'll be good though" I convinced myself. 2 burgers, no fries, no soda (mistake #2). That's what I ordered. I took my bag back to my hotel room to eat (while watching Real Madrid play Ajax in the Champions League and mistake #3), and on opening the bag, discovered that an order for 2 had turned into a delivery of 3. Can you imagine? Well, mistake #4 was I didn't immediately put the 3rd one straight in the bin. I put it to the side, reminded myself to eat slowly and stop when I wasn't hungry any more, regardless of whether that was in the middle of the 1st, the 2nd, at the end (or...mistake #5, even if that was after the 3rd one).
So I ate slowly and deliberately, but then TV eating zapped my brain and stopped the "full" signals from registering. Before I knew it, I had 3 neatly stacked boxes on the table in front of me...all completely empty.
I have just looked up the nutritional information on their website...that made my heart almost pump out of my chest. How many grams of fat? Oh sh*t!
It was a brain f*art. I must remember that. I have not lost all hope, not all the good work is spoiled. It's just a brain f*rt and nothing else. It doesn't need repeating...

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Personal Training

I ended the relationship with my second PT yesterday. He's done nothing wrong but it looks likely I won't be in Belgium for much longer, I was at the end of payment plan and so decided to stop it there and then. The review is not weight was stable for most of the time, but we have explored a lot of reasons for my lack of mobility, injuries, nutrition etc and I am finally on a downward trend. This is of course due to blogging and Giving it Everything rather than anything specific he did.

Last time I had a PT, I put on weight. I got into the habit of only training with him and not otherwise. Plus Christmas was in the middle of it all, for which he was clearly not to blame. I have a theory and concern that many PT clients fall into my habit. There is an element of believing that because you do fantastic workouts with a PT, you have got it covered. But once a week is never enough...and who's got the money to spare to do more than that? Also, I do believe there is an inherent danger of being so reliant on the PT, that when you hit the gym without him or her, you are left wondering what to do.

This is not to say that the functional training that PTs tend to specialise in isn't a good thing. But I'm still searching for the ideal way to get that AND train "normally' and often on top. I will go it alone for the next few months, and will then consider if I get a new PT once settled into my new location.

Talking of which, do I have to change the name of the blog? Nothing else I think it has to stay despite my time in Belgium coming to an end.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Going with the flow...

Sometimes you have one of those exercise moments that defy logic, and leave you wondering what just happened...and wishing for more of the same.

Last night I had that experience on the rowing machine. After 20 mins warm-up on the bike, I hit the rower, planning 20 minutes there as well. Recently I only seem to be able to manage 15 mins on the rower before my back starts hurting and I stop. Not yesterday. Yesterday, I got into the flow of it, and just kept going and going. 40 minutes and 8000 metres later, I stopped. I probably could have done more. I didn't feel like I had sweated all that much, yet had consistently rowed at my usual 30 strokes per minute on level 7 or 27 strokes per minute on level 10 the whole time. Urged on by appropriate tempo music on my i-pod all the way.

This morning I feel like I've done a workout yesterday, but not an excessive one. How I wish for more moments like that in the near future. When exercise is that easy and that rewarding, it's just so much easier to keep going to the gym and keep doing it...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Having some momentum is a wonderful feeling. A couple of days of eating little, not obsessing about food all the time, and, especially, feeling like the trousers are a little bit looser than of late, all adds up to a feeling that I have finally cracked my plateau of the last few months and that Giving it everything really works.
Let's just hope that this momentum keeps up, because I love the feeling of progress towards my goal.

Exercise proving problematic...after a run yesterday morning. Warmed up properly and took it easy to avoid injury, and all was going well until the final 500m...sudden ping in my calf muscle again. I am planning a gym session tonight but will stick to bike and row (doesn't seem to affect my calf).

Monday, 13 September 2010


I identified sleep as maybe one of the more unusual members of my Giving it Everything September weight loss list. Part of this is down to my adrenal gland issues and the recommendations that sleep is vital in coaxing fatigued adrenals back to life. And a part is the observed correlation in weight loss research between sleep and weight loss.

My "usual" sleep pattern has been as follows:
  • Fall asleep on the sofa with the TV and lights on at about 10.30pm
  • Sleep fitfully and badly until somewhere between 2am and 4am (and on rare occasions until 6 or 7 am; I once saw a World Series Baseball game after such a night, the year the RedSox won it - we have friends in Boston and count ourselves as mini-fans)
  • Peel the contact lenses from my eyes and get into bed
  • Lie awake for anything between 30 mins and the rest of the night
  • Sometimes get a few hours until the alarm shakes me back to life

This pattern is years old. And it has to change. I have had some success over the last week or two. Hotel nights I have been pretty good about hitting the TV off button at around 11pm and just going to bed. I've even found myself waking up between 6 and 7am before the alarm. And I do think it's making a difference, energy wise. The problem is I haven't completely cracked it yet.

Weekends are again a problem, it seems. Friday nights after travelling home I am so tired that I often fall back into the bad sleep pattern outlined above; although kicked off by not just going to bed anyway. Saturday I want to stay up and watch the football (soccer) highlights of the Premier League, always fall asleep during them and fall back into the pattern. Sundays I'm better about going to bed, but only because I know I have to get up Monday at 4am to start the weekly journey cycle back to Belgium. So even when I'm great during the week, 3 nights out of 7 I'm terrible.

Last week I came home on Thursday but had to get up at 4.30am on Friday to go to the UK office...folllowed by a similar Friday and Saturday night. Lying awake at 2am last night after just getting to bed, I considered why this was.

  1. I miss the tell-tale signal that my body always gives me, indicating the last chance to go to bed before I fall asleep on the sofa. There's always one - the head-nod, often seen on trains with worn-out commuters succumbing to the movement and sound, the eyes drooping, Mrs Moose saying "why don't you go to bed?". Something is always there. When the trigger is obeyed, no problem; when ignored, hello sore eyes, bad sleep and a another step back on the road to adrenal recovery. I liken this to ignoring the trigger to stop eating when you're full. Sometimes the trigger happens and I remain blissfully unaware, because I don't even stop to think how hungry I am on the 1 to 10 scale during a meal. Sometimes I do stop and think...Saturday night we were out for a meal as a family. We had shared small starters between us, my main was delicious and a reasonably healthy pasta dish. After finishing it, I did pause to consider my hunger level. About a 4. So I will treat myself to dessert. When the lemon torte arrived however, I just marched straight through it all. 3 bites would have been sufficient for me to hit about 2 on the scale, and stop. But I waded right on through...
  2. My mattress is now over 15 years old. Designed for up to 100kgs, it has taken a battering over those years. Much of that time I have exceeded that weight limit. And 15 years is, according to all experts, too long. The impact is that my back nearly always aches in the mornings after a night in my bed. Not in a hotel, but my own bed in my own home. I believe the lack of desire for this ache is a contributory factor in stopping me going to bed. Strangely, my back doesn't hurt after a night on the sofa. So I resolved in the middle of the night to get a new mattress. Another thing to add to the Giving it Everything list.

I am known as someone who likes to sleep. And I do. So I am going to give it everything and sleep my way to weight loss. As long as I blog about it, it's bound to be successful...

Comfort eating or comfort exercise

In many varied ways, people can be over-simplistically divided into two groups. There are the haves and the have-nots. North and South. Blue collar, white collar. Bloggers and others. Blond or bruin (Belgian beer).
And when it comes to weight loss, there are also many distinctions that can be made. Obese or overweight. Weight or fat %. Kg or lbs. Diet or exercise.

My thoughts this morning turned to comfort eating. Something I know I, let me re-phrase, something I positively enjoy. And I know many others do too. But what about comfort exercise? Is there also a comfort eater/exerciser dichotomy?

The first question to myself was: Do people really exist that do comfort exercise? Shocked at my naivety, of course there are. It's entirely possible though, that very few of them are overweight and writing weight loss blogs.

So could I turn myself from a comfort eater into a comfort exerciser? Can I learn to recognise the triggers, pause and accept that I need comfort, embrace the weakness, and then choose to exercise as comfort instead of eat? Think of all the lovely endorphins coursing through my body (instead of calories and fat molecules...)

I'm not entirely sure whether I can or not. After all, there is a reason why comfort eating is so much more prevalent (or at least appears that way...). It's an awful lot quicker and easier to grab and stuff down a doughnut (or a donut if you prefer, or substitute your own comfort food of choice) than it is to change into your running gear and trainers and go for a run. And sugar (as well as salt and fat) is addictive so the brain wants it bad. And the rush is faster too. But it's also more short-lived. And the exercise-induced endorphin rush isn't quickly followed by regret, self-loathing and the desire for even more...I don't think?!?

I imagine a couple of friends seeing me run down the street. Wouldn't it be great if their current reaction: "Poor Moose, he has to run to lose weight because he's so fat from comfort eating," could change into "Poor Moose, he has to run because he's a comfort exerciser."

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Weekend breaks

Last weekend was a bit of an enforced break from blogging, as we had some internet connectivity issues in our new house. I settled with the idea that this blog could be a 5 day a week thing...posts typed up on arrival at work, and just published in time to meet the rest of the day antlers on.

But now I'm having second thoughts. My weekend was bad from a number of different viewpoints. What I ate wasn't great. How I ate definitely could have been improved. How much I ate doesn't even bear thinking about. Exercise was mixed but the drive wasn't there, and I have to admit also continued into the start of the work week. And of course, I didn't post all weekend.

And since I've discovered the magical link between blogging and weight loss, I have now concluded that I simply can't afford not to post on the weekends. The impact on my weight curve is too significant, and even if I have a great rest of the week, I cannot fully recover the damage done at the weekend. and damage limitation doesn't feel good. I'd much rather be making real progress.

I come back to my caption under the "target me" photo at the right. Although written in jest, there is some truth to the fact that I will lose the weight when I have blogged enough...I searched a couple of other blogs yesterday and found that, just like my previous attempts, there are a large number of long-untouched blogs, mostly written by people who are still to be successful in this weight loss journey, and many more that are carefully tended like a bonsai, mostly written by people who have been or are being successful...people who have blogged enough.

Blogging = Success!

Saturday, 11 September 2010


I feel like I’ve got away with something terrible this week. I have a guilty feeling like…like…well, I’m not really sure what it’s like. There was an Olympic Speed Skating race a while ago where the front 4 racers all crashed on the final bend, leaving the guy trailing in 5th place, who had basically given up, to get the gold medal. I imagine I feel a bit like that gold medal winner. I once was driving along a country road through a farm with buildings on either side. Too late to do anything about it, a cat shot out from one side, chased at close quarters by a dog. I couldn’t avoid the cat and it went straight under the wheels. The dog stopped and looked at the cat with the kind of feeling I have.
Weigh In 117.2kg. Weight loss this week 0.7kg. Total weight loss 1.1kg (18.9kg to go). 0.1kg better than target weight at this point.
But you see I didn’t have a great week. I’m supposed to be giving it everything; I didn’t even go to the gym for the entire week, ate well for most of it but with a couple of blowouts and brain farts. I didn’t take all my supplements the whole week. I didn’t drink anywhere near enough water.
So I feel like a winner (or loser!) but somehow that I cheated my way to victory, or at the very least, didn’t deserve it. I have to be careful. Complacency that I don’t have to give it everything to lose weight is a real danger. I have to be aware that I “only” lost 0.7kg this week when the target was 1kg loss. And it only gets harder…the 20th kg is going to be a lot harder than the first. But I must remain upbeat. Hey, I lost 0.7kg despite not giving it everything. Let’s go for it for another week and actually give it everything, and see what happens then.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Obsessed with Food?

I have long known that I am obsessed with food and that is one of the major contributory factors in my weight. I mean, look at the title of my blog! There seems to be trick to learn how not to be obsessed with food. Nobody really tells you how, though, do they?

I am not being critical here, just observational...but quite a number of weight loss blogs are also all about food. Healthy food. Low fat food. Nutritious food. But still all about food. There are some great recipes and ideas out there and while some of us are busy contemplating ridding ourselves of the obsession with food, there are lots of calories to save, lots of good fuel to give your body, that will help along the way.

The other day, in the breakfast room of my hotel, I observed a group of German tourists. I can be particularly sneaky with them, since I usually read an English book as I eat my breakfast on my own (aah!!!) but I speak German (hee hee!). So I could understand everything going on around me but nobody really suspected due to the bad reputation of Brits never speaking foreign languages...

Quick side story. German friends of mine once stayed in a B&B in England, and thoroughly enjoyed their full English breakfast (food, food, it's always about food...) while discussing the other guests, obviously in German so as to not be understood. Towards the end of breakfast, a man rose from the table next to them, walked past them, nodded and said "Ein schonen Tag noch" (Translation: "Have a nice day!"). Embarrassed? Nearly choked on a piece of black pudding.

So, back to my hotel. One particular table was occupied with 4 Germans; 3 women and 1 man. The conversation ebbed and flowed between the people and topics. I was reading - or maybe pretending to read - my book, so I wasn't looking at them. One particular voice always seemed to switch the conversation back to food, no matter what the previous speaker had been talking about. I made a small bet with myself that I would have only soup between breakfast that day and breakfast the next day if she turned out to be fat. I looked up with some trepidation to identify the source of the voice. Clearly it wasn't the man (who was thin and fit). Woman number 1 spoke...not her either (thin). Number 2 woman next (no, thin). Finally, woman number 3 spoke up, changing the subject to a blackberry cake ("with lots of lovely icing sugar on top") that her mother had baked last weekend. Kerching! Jackpot! Fat woman!!!

Soup is great. In fact, I am wondering if I shouldn't have somehow included soup in my list. There was a BBC documentary a few years ago called "The truth about food" and one of the tests they did showed that soup makes you feel fuller for longer, even if it contains exactly the same ingredients. They took a normal meal of chicken, potatoes and veggies and a glass of water and served it to one group. They took exactly the same meal, liquidised it with the water and gave the resulting soup to the other group. They all then had to record their hunger levels over the next hours (simple 1 to 10 scale of how hungry they felt). The soup group lasted much longer!

Other ideas to be considered in the future (only if this one doesn't work, of course):
  • Sprinkling poison over every meal
  • Occasional spot fasts for a day
  • Installing an alarm system on my stomach so that every time I eat something a loudspeaker goes off saying "Fat Moose is eating again" in the voice of Gillian McKeith
  • Taking up smoking
  • Only eating when someone else suggests that it's lunch or dinner time etc
I am sure there are lots of cognitive behavioural therapists, NLP practitioners and hypnotists out there that would also claim to have the answer to this obsession thing, and are making lots of money in the process. Maybe they do have the answers. But for most normal overweight people and moose, including me, the trick lies in recognising that you don't have to act in accordance with your obsession. You can be obsessed with food and yet still only eat (healthy good stuff) when you are hungry. You have a choice. And for one day only, I choose only soup.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Rattling along...

Last week I set out the long list of the things I am doing in September to lose weight.

One of the things I am sure you will have noticed, and may concern you (indeed it concerned me a bit too) is the quite high number of supplements and pills that I am popping.

So, yes, I do rattle when I walk (and run, and row, and cross-train, and cycle, and swim, and lift weights)...

Here's my take on it.
  1. My list is for 4 weeks as a "give it everything" kick-start. It was not designed to be long-term. Over the next 4 weeks I will attempt to do everything, but at the end of September I will sit back and contemplate my progress, my list, my life, my navel (yes, as a Moose I do have a navel to contemplate, but it does hurt my legs when I stick my head and antlers between them to get a good look). There will be a new and improved list for October, probably reduced for some supplements, but who knows?

  2. 2 of the supplements are definitely for a 4 week blitz - the Acai and Colon Cleanse. If it works for Hollywood stars, why not for alces alces ?

  3. 2 others are to support actual or potential medical conditions that have provided countless excuses for years of reasons why I haven't lost weight. Supplements = no more excuses.

  4. 2 others are more general and can't do any harm, can they? Let me know if they can - but a bit of a vitamin boost supports my poor diet (while travelling) and reduced food intake. Besides, some studies say they are not effective anyway as nothing gets absorbed by the body...and if nothing gets absorbed, no harm. Right?

In total it's 8 or 9 pills per day; depending on how high my natural iodine level from food is for the day, I amend the Kelp tablets. But it is spread over the day. I have considered eating 9 meals a day so that I am only taking one supplement with each meal, which sounds less. But I think on balance that 9 meals per day, for a Moose that struggles to say no to the extra muffin, is a disaster waiting to happen.

My biggest battle is to stop eating when I'm not hungry any more. My "clear your plate" and "eat everything on the buffet" compulsion is strong in me and must be resisted! On 3 occasions over the weekend I went well past the full point but kept chowing down anyway... I also have to consciously remember to slow down when eating and sometimes find myself with an empty plate before I remember. Now, if they had pills for that!!!!

Much water drunk, most of it dribbled through ground coffee first with milk added (milk is relatively high in iodine - it's my excuse and I'm sticking to it as I hate black coffee).

Rattling along...

Monday, 6 September 2010

Where am I going?

A new start to the week and Monday is a great day to ask such questions.

And brings me on to the subject of targets. Where am I going with all this weight loss malarkey?

I have always struggled to set a specific weight target, worrying endlessly and needlessly about whether it was the right target or not.
  • I remember weighing 92kg while at University and playing/refereeing football (or soccer if you must...) twice a week. Actually, Mrs Moose remembers that and I remember her telling me, often. Whatever.

  • I remember having a "heaviest player" competition in a football (still soccer...) team I was in while living in Germany in the early 90's, and not "winning" it because I was "only" 93kg.

  • I look at the picture of the guy on the right and try to estimate what my weight would be if I looked like that, fit and healthy, lean but not too thin. I guess 90-95kg.

  • I calculate my non-fat kgs now, and add 15% fat (which is a seriously low target!) and get to 92.8kg...adding 20% would be 98.6kg. And it frightens me to target set below that level.

  • Milestones are important. 20kg loss? 25kg? What about to get under 100kg...back into double figures?

I did say I was better at contemplation than action, didn't I?

Decision time...My target weight is 98.3kg.

Why? It is below 100kg, it's exactly 20kg weight loss from where I started, and it will be approx 20% body fat, depending on what happens with all the rest of my body...I might shed my antlers by then, lose a leg in a bear trap or have my hind quarters shot off by a hunter.

By when? Good question...does it matter? Probably. And as I'm following the full list, I need to set a deadline. 1kg per week always seems like a good trajectory to aim at. That would be 20 weeks from the start, or on 19th January. But I always weigh in on a Saturday and Christmas is in I'm going to be generous to myself and say 29th January 2011.

So that's where I'm going. Phew, I need a lie down...

Progress Update: Weigh in Saturday morning at 117.9kg. 0.3 kg loss. Proof that BLOGGING WORKS!!!

Running on Saturday morning (with mooselets in tow on their bikes) and I ripped a calf muscle (again). I hate all my injuries...this week's cardio now restricted to bike and rowing. Half an hours mountain biking on Sunday and moving some boxes. Food more of a problem. 3 times over the weekend I ate more than I needed and went well past the "full" point. I am getting better at eating slowly though...

Friday, 3 September 2010

Giving it everything...

While writing a weight loss blog is clearly the most important success factor in shedding excess weight, my analysis of weight loss research leads me to conclude that a "few" other things might help too.

During my years of lack of success, I feel I may have been too limited in my approach, switching from one focus to another, back again, something new today and then something else again tomorrow. Always looking for the "silver bullet". Now I've found the silver bullet - blogging - I can stop searching.

As a result, my level of faith in any one of the other single ideas to lose weight has plummetted. It's logical therefore that I need to do all of them at once, rather than rely on any one or two things. For the next 4 weeks I will attempt to do everything on the list below. Everything. Every last idea. I'm throwing the kitchen sink at it. I'm giving it my all. September is a giving month.

I got to the list by a simple browsing of weight loss websites, blogs etc to look for what gives success. While there are a lot of different ideas out there, it's actually quite surprising at the lack of contradiction between them all. This was what led me to conclude that you can do it all. Well, OK, you can't eat both a low-carb and a high-carb diet...both of which are out there. But apart from that, most stuff can be combined. So unless the combination of all of them reduces the effectiveness, I must be onto a winner. Oops, nearly forgot, I AM onto a winner anyway because I'm writing the blog...

The list, in no particular order:
  • Eat less (yeah, yeah, boring!)
  • Exercise more (yawn!)
  • Write a diary: both to log the food I eat AND to explore why I overeat
  • Focus on healthy not thin
  • Eat only when I'm hungry
  • Stop eating when I'm no longer hungry
  • Eat slowly
  • Strictly control bad fats (but not all fat is bad!)
  • Eat breakfast
  • Set a target
  • Go public with friends, family or the web
  • Target small, steady change towards my goal
  • Eat what I want (subject to the other eating restrictions above...actually not very restrictive)
  • Take Acai and Colon Cleanse supplements every day
  • Drink water before each meal
  • Drink water the rest of the time too
  • Sleep well (7 to 8 hours per night)
  • Don't eat while watching TV/sitting on the sofa
  • Up the iodine (I have suspected under-active thyroid, so in the time it takes to get a doctor's appointment to test it, I'm going for diet/supplemental improvement anyway...bring on the sushi!)
  • Adrenal gland supplements (I have already been diagnosed with fatigued adrenal glands...also a potential link to the thyroid???)
  • General vitamin/mineral supplements (Multivitamins and a Vit B complex)

Seems like a lot. doesn't it? I have left one thing off, purposefully. I can not and will not attend a support group. I have nothing against any of them as such. But my travelling lifestyle makes it nearly impossible (I don't speak Dutch so midweek meetings are out), and the eating rules/points etc would almost certainly contradict with many of my other points. So I'm not doing it. That's final. Besides, I am a Moose and I don't think they make scales suitable, or have doorways large enough for me to get my antlers through.

Future posts will cover updates (public accountability) and further exploration of the individual items on the list.

So, instead of here goes goes everything!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Welcome... my new blog.

This is another weight loss blog. Yes, another one. Have you had enough of all the weight loss blogs out there? Fine, go somewhere else...

If not, welcome again.

I was inspired to write this for one reason. When I look at the weight loss blogs out there in cyberspace, the vast majority of them are written by people who have successfully lost a whole lot of weight. I have been trying to lose weight, unsuccessfully, for the better part of my life. I have that in common with most other bloggers too...

I am an analytical kind of Moose, better known for contemplation than action. My simple correlation analysis in this case is as follows:
Write weight loss blog = weight loss success.

So here I am.

As is "normal" I shall start with some explanations...
Belgian = currently working in Belgium.
Moose = an old nickname, far more interesting than my real name.
Chocolate = to encourage visitors (usually works, especially on the theme of weight loss!) AND because it's the only word I know that can come in between "Belgian" and "Moose" and make perfect sense.
And for those already ahead of themselves (see my sign-off if you want to pretend too...), Muffin the Moose refers to a well known children's book "If you give a moose a muffin..." (all credits duly given etc etc...). In the afore-mentioned book, the answer is: he's going to want some jam with it...and then want another. Well, that's me. I always want jam and another muffin (or biscuit, or chocolate mousse...see what I did there?) and that's why I currently stand on my technologically advanced fat % measuring scales at:
118.3 kg
...ok, I'm not actually standing on them right now. that would be both impossible (the scales are in the UK) and freaky (having a computer in the bathroom where I keep my scales). For the purposes of this blog, that shall be called the starting weight.
My latest failed efforts have involved detailed tracking of my weight every week since December 2009. Starting at a high point of 121.3 kg, I have lost the grand total of 3kg in 38 weeks...about the equivalent of a few rather large Sh*ts - and I don't mean Jack. My goal in this epic struggle was to lose 20kg by the beginning of November 2010. And if you do the sums, you can see that it is abject failure. And before anyone comments, OK I lost 3 kg. But look out there...check out Jack Sh*t's League of Extraordinarily Fat Gentlemen if you don't believe me. It's a failure. I'm the one without the X.

And being an analytical kind of Moose, I have spent some time researching the phenomenon of weight loss success. And realised what I was doing wrong. Forget all the crap about eating fewer calories than you burn. Forget low-fat, low-carb diets. Forget de-tox. Forget drinking water before each meal. Forget pills and supplements. Watch as much TV as you like while eating (eat the TV too if you really want to). Force your food down as fast as you want. Don't bother with a food diary. And target setting, pah!
All of the above makes no difference at all. The only thing that makes you successful in losing weight is writing a blog about it. Yep, it's that simple. All the weight loss theory blown out of the water in 1 blog entry.

OK, I admit I might be doing a few of those other things too...more on that at a later stage. For now, I think it's enough welcoming and time to get on with some work.