Friday, 25 May 2018

Clarity (possibly)

The following are some notes tapped out while on the way home from a business trip to the US.  They are as typed on the flight.  The original title was "Clarity", I haven't reviewed them so that may or may not be appropriate, hence the qualifier above...

It’s 4am at home.  Where I set off from, it’s 8pm.  So far as I’m concerned, I’ve no idea what time it is.  The Virgin Upper cabin is darkened, all the blinds are shut and the lights are down.  There is a purple light off to one corner, mood lighting for the bar.  My complimentary headphones are channelling Daft Punk to my ears – Aerodynamic.

I lifted the blind slightly and twisted round on my seat to peek outside.  Greenland was below us, and the sun is either just setting or just rising.  I genuinely have no idea.  I’ll look again later, that should tell me which it was.  If I think about it, I can probably work it out as we’re heading East towards the rising sun, but my head is hurting and I don’t want to.

I push the blind back down and settle into the seat again.  The purple light creates a pattern on the inside wall of the cabin where it ripples in and out between the windows that no-one can look out of without pulling a muscle.  The no-smoking signs are points of light on the roof, creating a regular pattern ruined by the chap to my right with his light on.  His face is lit up white – like me, he’s tapping away on a laptop. 

The cabin crew keep asking me if I want a drink, and there was a nice single malt on the menu.  But I don’t need the warm glow of the Scots coast, I have my own inner glow.  I’m going home.

Harder, Better, Faster Stronger.    
Ever. After. Work Is Over.


My work is international – one of the most international professions that there is.  We deal with many more countries than most professions, probably by an order of magnitude or so.  My bank manager admitted to me that I’m the client who regularly sets off all his compliance alarms thanks to the amount of money I send out and the sheer range of countries that I send it to.  We deal with the highest common factor - all the countries that figure on the plans of any of our clients.  And from time to time, that means going to say hello, shake hands, secure those relationships.

(They’ve turned the purple light off.  Now I just have the no smoking signs – I’m guessing they can never ever go off.  The bar looks as if it has shut, maybe that’s why they kept asking me.  Suddenly I fancy that single malt…)

My hobby is all about movement.  I’ve loved driving cars since my 17th birthday, when an instructor turned up at 10am in a white Mk2 Escort to take me for my first ever lesson – a total surprise.  An hour later I was gliding along the A452 at 40mph and loving it.  I started ordering nice cars the first chance I had, and my present to myself on getting into a paid-up partnership was a 325hp, 177mph, open-top, manual-gearbox example of the finest German engineering.  That took me into track days – I soon realised that its abilities were way beyond mine, and that if I tried to learn to use them on the road then the choice was between hospital and prison.  From there I started racing – not in my precious 911, but in a more (shall we say) disposable repairable car.  And repair it I have, several times.

And yet in that moment of inner warmth, I sense what is most important.  Home.

I’m going home now.

Sunday, 8 April 2018


I was at a black tie dinner last night. 

My DJ fitted - with room to spare.  It wasn't even snug, it was positively roomy.

I've never had that experience before...

Sunday, 4 March 2018


It was the accumulation of lots of little hints that told me I had to try this 5:2 thing and lose some weight.  And it's the little things that are telling me that something fundamental is changing as a result.

OK, the fact that the number on the scales is dropping steadily week by week is fairly significant, but (racing aside) that wasn't the prime reason - my long-term health was.  And so the stuff like not being puffed out all the time, having to run for a flight and it being easier than I expected, noticing that my calves have some definition again, they all mean more than does an abstract number. 

But there's definitely something changing at a deeper level.  We went out for a Sunday lunch as a family today - to Prezzo.  Now, I like Italian food.  Spaghetti with meatballs jumped out at me from the menu.  And today is a non-fast day, so I can have what I want.  So I did.

I really liked it.  But I couldn't finish it.  That's the first time I can recall that happening in, oh, about 47 years...

Monday, 19 February 2018

Progress update...

Well, I'm now 16 weeks into this.  I've gone off boiled eggs for breakfast and now have a small scattering of granola, plus an apple for lunch and a much-reduced portion of whatever everyone else is having for dinner. 

It was useful to calorie count at the start, but after a few weeks that became both tedious and unnecessary - having got a rough idea of the portion size needed, I can now serve out a "fasting" portion accurately enough. That means I'm not limited to things out of a packet which has a nutritional statement on the side, which is both useful and healthier. 

That's not the big news though.  The headlines are:

 - I'm 8kg down on where I started.  This includes Christmas, when I jumped about 2-3kg! In terms of my long-term aim, that's about 1/3 of the way.  I've been waiting for the easy wins to fizzle out and for progress to slow down, but that hasn't happened (yet) and it's a fairly steady 1/2kg per week, plus or minus. 

 - I'm wearing trousers that are a size smaller than I'm used to.  The ones I'm wearing today were an accidental purchase a few years ago that had to be put at the back of the wardrobe as they were so uncomfortable that they were unwearable.  I've now had to order a selection of new trousers, as my old size is itself uncomfortable due to all the material gathering up under the belt. 

 - Talking of my belt, I may have to add a new hole.  At the right end, too. 

 - This morning I had to catch a flight and was running late.  Running was actually easy; I'd forgotten that could be the case.

 - It's so easy to stick to that I've moved to 4:3 instead of 5:2, i.e. fasting Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   That still leaves me with the weekend free, and it means that if my fast day doesn't fit around my work diary then I'm still at 5:2 even if I miss one.  This is closer to the alternate-day fasting that Dr Mosley also described but with a weekend and a steady weekly routine instead. 

This really works.  I'm properly chuffed. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Second fast day nearly done...

Another fast day done!  Same menu of two boiled eggs for breakfast and an apple for lunch.  Supper this time was a tuna & tomato sandwich, chosen because it's a particular favourite that also ticked the right boxes. 

I can tell that I'm hungry, but it's nothing like as distracting as I thought it would be.  Just tapping out this blog is enough to take my mind off it - a day at work is more than enough.  Netflix in the evenings helps, too. I slept well on Monday, so no worries on that score. 

And the big question?  Well, no scores yet for today but Monday's fast took 1kg off - and it stayed off through Tuesday to this morning.  That's probably the low-hanging fruit (as it were), so I don't expect a linear progression at that rate*, but it's really encouraging. 

*partly because if it does, there'll be nothing left of me by the start of March.

Monday, 6 November 2017

First fast day


Oh lordy, am I posting pictures of food now? At least this isn't Instagram, I suppose...
Also had a glass of water, and a coffee when I arrived at work.  Feeling distinctly OK at the moment; my stomach did query whether that was indeed everything after I finished eating, but there are things here to distract me.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A new direction

Politics is boring these days.  So I'm not going to blog about it any more.  Instead of saving the country, I'm going to save my life instead. 

Basically, I'm 47 and despite years of denial, it is becoming very clear that I can't keep on eating like I did when I was a teenager.  I'm impressed by just how long I've been able to look in the mirror and think things are just fine, but some cartoons are too close to the mark...

(They could at least have left the bald spot out!)

I did have a reasonable amount of success a year or so ago with a diet recommended to me by a good friend.  It wasn't a fad diet or one that needs endless abstinence, just a simple shift of intake away from carbohydrates and towards protein instead.  That appealed, because I am notoriously unable to resist temptation, so substitution worked far better than self-denial.  I lost a fair amount that way - of the order of 9-10kg, and felt rather better for it.  But it bottomed out there at a weight of about 100kg, and I found it hard to get any further.  I remember being 85kg as a youngster, in full RAF fast jet flying kit... so to get back to the low 90s would be nice.  But although I haven't weighed myself for some time, I rather suspect that it has all come back.

Recently, I've come to the view I have to do something.  I've been feeling tired and sluggish, and my trousers are definitely a bit tighter around the waist than is comfortable.  Then I found myself walking back to the office at lunchtime and trying to talk on the phone at the same time, and realised I was getting breathless.  That won't do.  The last straw was seeing a candid photo of me from the side, in a Silverstone garage in my race suit; now, my race suit is fairly flattering from the front, but it isn't from the side.  It really isn't...

These are the early warning signs.  I don't want them to get any louder.

Then there is the racing, of course.  We fanatically try to get the weight off our cars, but I'm carrying somewhere up to 20kg that I don't need. And, coincidentally, my car and I (together) are about 20kg over the minimum weight limit for my racing series.  So if I could lose all that, it would translate directly into faster laptimes. 

A random Twitter link last week pointed me at Dr Michael Mosley, the founder of the 5:2 diet.  I'd seen that referenced a few other times, so knew it was a thing.  So I had a look over his website, and liked what I saw.  The idea of his diet is that you (almost) fast for two days a week, which triggers metabolic changes that help in various ways (as well as reducing your overall food intake).  So I bought his book, and his experiences before starting his regime chimed with mine.  

So, from now on, Mondays and Wednesday are my fast days.  I'll be aiming to get to around 600 calories on those days - a quarter the "ideal" male level.  Tomorrow's menu is:

Breakfast - two boiled eggs
Lunch - an apple, if I feel I need it
Supper - tuna, tomatoes, wholemeal bread

I'll be weighing in tonight before I go to sleep.  I hope to be brave enough to post the figure up here. 

If you've read this far, then please stick around, please comment, please keep me honest.  You never, know, you might save a life ;-)