“Man I’m just tired and bored with myself.” – Bruce Springsteen
I’m sure you recognise that line from a song. No prizes for guessing, but you can have a stab at it if you want to!
There have been times in my life when those words float back into my head and torment me.
Right now I’m in the midst of one of those times.
As I write this it’s 9.45 pm on Tuesday 19th July 2016, but let me jump back a little to bring you up to date.
So last Saturday, 16th July 2016, I weighed in at 185 lbs.
I’d been back on the diet for 4 weeks, and to my intense frustration I hadn’t lost even a single pound of weight.
In fact I’d gained weight. And although I’d been doing 300 body weight exercises every day, there’s no way I could have offset the fat loss with muscle gain to that extent.
During the week leading up to the 16th July, I’d pretty much stopped doing the body weight exercise. I felt exhausted through lack of sleep and I had a cold. I’ve still got some niggling injuries, and my resolve and my diet were starting to crumble.
After weighing in on Saturday morning I didn’t even bother taking progress pictures or measurements, and as the day wore on I cheated more and more with my diet. And I didn’t care.
Sunday was the same. I wasn’t reckless, but I really didn’t feel like dieting.
On Sunday evening I knew I had to get back to it, so I decided to start again the very next morning.
I didn’t weigh myself. I’m just assuming I was over 185 lbs.
Monday went well. I stuck to the eating plan. No major issues.
This morning (again, it’s Tuesday 19th July) I decided to start blogging again, with the intention of sharing my progress.
This time instead of setting a weight goal, I’m setting a time goal.
I simply want to see what I can achieve in six weeks.
Starting tomorrow morning I’m going to add to the blog as I go through the day.
That’s it. I’m back.
See you tomorrow.
Wednesday 20th July 2016
183.4 is the lightest I’ve been for weeks. Part of this is due to the fact I’ve been aggressive with the calorie reduction over the previous two days. Part of it is processing the weekend eating (I hope you understand what I mean 🙂 ).
And part of it probably is probably dehydration. Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far and we have no air conditioning in our house. Sweaty.
The first few days nearly always go well because I start with fresh resolve. The trick is to keep that going.
It was 20°c on my morning walk. No idea what that is in °f.
It took me 25 minutes to get around my usual route which is 5 minutes quicker that it usually takes. I must have picked up the pace!
To give myself the best chance of sticking to my eating plan, I use a grid like this one.
I call it my Diet Adherence Tracker.
When my fat loss efforts have faltered, it’s quite often because I’ve failed to use a diet adherence tracker.
What is it? It’s simply a grid divided up into 15 minute intervals over 24 hours. For every 15 minutes that I stick to my eating plan, I get to put a mark in the box.
When I wake up in the morning I fill in the grid for the hours I was asleep. This is great because it gives me an early win.
This morning I marked the boxes from the previous day and then marked today’s grid up to the point I woke up.
This is a great way to start the day and puts me in the right mindset. I’m reminded of what I’m trying to achieve and also how I’m going to do it.
My aim is to make sure there’s a mark in every box. That means I’ve stuck yo my eating plan. That means I’ve stuck to the process. That’s how I gauge success.
I don’t mark it every 15 minutes, that can get tedious and a little obsessive. But when my resolve is wavering, when I felt like I’m going to eat something through boredom or stress, I look at the grid and ask myself whether I want to break the chain.
There may be times when I will, but it would have to be a very good reason. But at least it will be a concious decision.
On the occasions when I have gone off track, I don’t have to wait until the next day to start again, because every fifteen minutes is an opportunity for a fresh start.
Because the results of dieting are much more about sticking to the process than the results shown on the scale, I get a reward every time I can mark a box, as opposed to relying on what the scale says every morning.
It’s lunch time and I can’t deny that I’m hungry and that I’d like to eat a big fat tuna mayo sandwich made with fresh crusty bread.
But I’m not that hungry. Part of what drives me to want to eat is habit. Years of eating at lunchtime makes me want to eat lunch.
I can hold out though, because I know I’m having curry for dinner, and it will be all the more awesome because I’ve waited all day to eat it.
Now might be a good time to mention the eating plan I mentioned earlier.
The aim is to leave the vast proportion of my daily calorie intake until my evening meal. The meal will be substantial and will probably include a dessert.
I’ll try to avoid eating anything else unless I am genuinely hungry. If I am genuinely hungry I’ll eat something. Usually an apple, or some other fruit or veg. If I feel weak or dizzy, I’ll eat something. That’s rare though.
Perhaps it’s rare because I tend to drink tea and coffee with full fat milk and one sugar throughout the day.
So on weekday I eat based around one meal a day, usually in the evening. At the weekend I skip one meal a day and eat lunch and dinner.
This isn’t about starvation, it never has been. It’s about delayed gratification and concious eating. By telling myself I can eat something, like an apple, if I’m really hungry, I still get stick to my eating plan and still get a mark in the box.
So far, so good. But… there’s a change of plan. I won’t be having curry this evening because we’re going to the beach instead. Two of the kids are going to ride ponies, and the other two are going swimming.
The new plan is to grab some fish and chips afterwards, but that pushes dinner back later than I’d like.
Walking on the beach.
Forget I mentioned the fish and chips. I bought what I thought was enough to feed my family. Usually the kids leave so much food, I just assumed they would this time. They didn’t. They ate the lot!
It’s very late in the day but the dogs hadn’t yet been walked. I did another fast 25 minute walk around the woods. I loved seeing the reflection of the trees on the pond.
I finally got to eat something!!
But I felt it would be stupid to eat a big meal so close to going to bed. I had breaded ham on a white bap with cucumber.
The ham has butter on it because I reopened the sandwich to take a photo.
This was followed by a bowl of caramel ice cream. The spoon shows that I’d already had a taste. Can you blame me?
What a long day!
I’ve only just finished my chores for the evening but in between making school lunches and cleaning I managed to do 100 body weight exercises. 25 press ups, 50 tricep (chair) dips and 25 squats.
And finally, to round the day off, here’s my adherence tracker as complete as it’s going to get today, because in 3 minutes my head will hit the pillow and I’ll be asleep. 🙂
It was a busy day, up early, then work, then beach. In between times I had three walks and did 100 body weight exercises. Not bad.
Thursday 21st July 2016
Woke up at 5.50 am having silenced the alarm a few times.
I need more sleeeep!
This morning’s walk was only 20 minutes, I had to do a smaller circuit because I got up late.
I’ve been at work for a couple of hours so I’m taking a quick break. It’s turning out to be another busy day, and sometimes that’s great for diet adherence.
I haven’t thought about eating at all until I sat down to rest for a few minutes. It is also my first opportunity to fill out my Diet Adherence Tracker, and as I said yesterday, it helps me stay focussed on achieving my goal.
Having been able to mark off all the boxes until 0900, I feel like I have done well, but also that I have something to protect. OK, back to work now.
I’m hungry now and it will be at least another hour until I eat. I ate a carrot to keep me going.
I had the opportunity to walk a little longer this evening. I got 40 minutes in at a good quick pace.
It might not look like it, but this was a big plate of food. I was full after eating two thirds of it.
I had intended to eat plain old chicken curry but at the last minute I decided to add some carrots. I haven’t eaten any fruit today and figured it would be good to get at least one of my so called ‘five a day’.
This is one of the absolute best things about this way of eating, I appreciate my food so much more.
I decided not to be greedy and only have a small portion of ice cream for dessert. It was caramel with fudge pieces.
I’ve just finished an evening of collecting children from clubs, running errands, making sandwiches for the school lunches and I’ve only just finished the rest of my chores.
I so desperately want to be in bed by ten which leaves me just 20 minutes to do my body weight exercises, so I’d better get on with it.
OK so I won’t make the 10 pm bed time, but I have done 25 press ups and 75 dips. I met my target, I just wish I hadn’t left it so late.
That was another great day for sticking to the eating plan. I’m really pleased.
Friday 22nd July 2016
Last night I made a deliberate decision to catch up on some sleep and set the alarm for 7.00 am. I knew that meant I’d miss my morning walk but I felt like I needed to slept more than I needed the exercise.
My work trousers are noticeably more comfortable around the waist this morning and that’s something to feel good about.
This is the first time I’ve been properly hungry since I started back on this diet.
I was taking my daughter to a Pony Club event and while we waited for my wife to arrive I very nearly caved in to the temptation of Belvita. These were the strawberry jam variety. I did eat but I chose an apple instead. Good choice. It meant I stuck to my eating plan.
While my wife stayed at the pony rally I went to prepare the hay barn for a delivery. It meant moving the existing hay to another part of the barn, moving the wooden palettes and sweeping out.
After that I helped unload and stack 130 bales of hay. I won’t be doing ANY bodyweight exercises this evening! Not even one.
Dinner. And not a moment too soon.
Meatballs, pasta, crusty buttered bread and salad, made up this very filing meal.
For dessert I ate ice cream. I didn’t take a picture, but I ate twice as much as I did yesterday.
I let my dinner settle for a while before taking a 40 minute walk in the countryside.
I’m going to leave the updates there for today. See you tomorrow.
Saturday 23rd July 2016
After moving 130 blades of hey yesterday I expected to feel sore this morning, but actually I feel ok. I’m a little tender around the base of my spine but I’ve been suffering with lower back pain for a few months.
I slept in until 7am but I had very little sleep during the week so I wanted to make sure I caught up on my sleep. The restorative benefits of sleep are not to be underestimated, especially on a diet.
I have a feeling I’m going to be heavily reliant on the ‘adherence tracker’ today. Being a Saturday it’s a ‘skip one meal a day’ day. Stated in a less awkward way, my eating plan allows for two meals today.
This is good for me because I get to eat with the family and there’s a feeling of normality. Other than the portion size it doesn’t even seem like I’m on a diet.
But the weekends can be tricky because I’m always tempted to ease off and cheat a little. This is especially true when I’ve done well with the diet over the previous week (as I have done this week).
So I’m going to keep the adherence tracker close at hand to help me get through any tough times.
The first picture is me at 185 lbs. This on was taken on the 16th July. This is what I looked like at the start of this six week diet.
The next picture was taken earlier this morning at 181.2 lbs.
Honestly, I’m hard pushed to see any significant difference but I do see a few subtle changes.
Lunch: Cheese on toast with a little salad. For the record I added a dollop of mayonnaise to the salad.
I can’t tell you how happy I felt eating that thick crusty bread with the melted cheddar cheese.
Mostly because I waited for it, so I felt I deserved it. Cheese on toast isn’t typical diet food so normally there might be some guilt associated with eating it. Not today though. I’ve stuck to my eating plan all week, so I get to eat this guilt free.
I remember at times like this, that my first diet success happened largely because I didn’t deny myself foods I love to eat.
The trick now is to mark my adherence tracker for this 15 minute period and then pull out all the stops to make sure I get to mark the next fifteen minute period.
I don’t want to break that chain!
Earlier I took some measurements:
As I mentioned at the top of the post, I didn’t take any measurements last Saturday. The most recent measurements I have were from the day I took the start weight picture above (2 weeks ago).
Despite the fact that I ate lunch today, I’m hungry right now. I was hungry immediately after eating lunch for at least half an hour. And I’ve been hungry for the last hour.
Feeling hungry is part of being on a diet and learning how and when to respond to hunger is key.
I haven’t always got it right. In fact it’s fair to say that I’ve got it wrong more often. This blog stands testament to that.
But when I do get it right, it’s usually because I’ve accepted that I’ll feel hungry during the day for the trade off of a big meal later. That way I get to spend the evening feeling satisfied and full. I never (rarely) go to bed feeling hungry.
Going to bed feeling hungry is a miserable sensation. To avoid it, I accept that I feel hungry at various points in the day.
Again, I’ll just point out that I quite often feel hungry even if I eat breakfast and/or lunch. Eating lunch is more of a way to keep my brain and mouth happy.
It’s going to be another hour before I eat. I’m going to sit with the hunger until then.
Dinner: Meatball lasagne with potato wedges and salad. This is basically yesterday’s leftovers transformed into another meal. There are 4 children and 3 adults in our household, so leftovers are often part of the diet. I can’t afford to throw food away and I make no apologies for that.
This slightly blurry dessert is Vienetta ice cream.
That was a big meal. Sometimes I end up second guessing whether I could have eaten less to speed my results, but I think that mentality can lead to poor diet habits. Maybe even eating disorders?
Having completed five days of a fairly aggressive diet, it will do my body and mind good to eat a little more for 2 out of 7 days.
What a great meal. There was plenty of veg in the lasagne and a big serving of salad. I’m happy with that.
It’s a beautiful evening in my part of the UK and when it’s warm and light like it is this evening, getting out for a 40 minute walk is no problem at all. It’s a great time to think and reflect, and enjoy a little peace of mind.
Sometimes it’s our personal family circumstances that trigger us to self medicate the pain of stress through eating. Time away from the chaos is good for the diet.
To round off today’s updates I’ve just completed a set of 25 tricep dips to meet my minimum of 100 body weight exercises a day. The total comprised 50 press ups and 50 dips.
Sunday 24th July 2016
I set my alarm for 6.00 am but slept through until 6.45. I’m either tired or lazy.
One on the routes into the forest has a small lake. It’s nice just to stop for a minute and take it all in.
This walk took 30 minutes at a moderate pace.
I feel like I need to talk about the difference in weight between Saturday’s 181.2 lbs and today’s 183.6 lbs – but only because this might be the first time you’ve been to this site and you’re wondering how someone can put on 2.5 lbs overnight.
I’ve talked about this numerous times before, but it’s worth mentioning again, and again… and again.
Why? Because scale weight doesn’t reflect only body fat. It reflects water balance and waste material and glocogen stores and muscle mass and etc.
These factors can produce wildly variable readings on the scale and they can freak you out.
Trying to pin down the variables and control them is a waste of time and energy. It will drive you crazy. Unless of course you’re an elite athlete.
I’m not, so I just accept the wild ride of fluctuating scale weight.
To be cont…
My weight over the last few days has doubtless been influenced by the summer weather and the sweat that has been pouring off me. More so on Friday when I spent 40 minutes shifting hay.
As my calorie intake was low throughout the week my body will have depleted my glycogen reserves and when I increased my food intake the reserves were replenished.
Water loss is accelerated at the beginning of a diet because the body sheds excess stored water, for example, in glycogen. Glycogen is a carbohydrate in the liver and muscles. When the body needs a quick infusion of energy, it turns to these stores. The human body can store about 400 grams of glycogen, but for each gram of glycogen, there are three additional grams of water stored with it. This represents 1,600 combined grams of glycogen and water, which equates 3.5 pounds.
Some of the food I ate, like the potato wedges were salty, and this would also promote water retention.
At times I have been dehydrated and glycogen depleted, at other times I have promoted water retention and taken on big meals.
Scale weight varies. It doesn’t mean success or failure and I try not to view it that way.
Very late lunch!
I didn’t prepare lunch, so the timing was out of my hands. I’m not complaining. Honest.
Tomato soup and crusty bread. And then some more crusty bread. So basically double the quantity in the photo.
I followed that up with a satsuma but it was bitter as a witches t**. I threw it away.
Instead I had a cookie. I didn’t take a picture because I ate the cookie too fast. It was a Millie’s cookie just like one of these:
I had to fight to get a mark in 1415 box on the tracker. The cookies were calling but I wanted the mark more than the cookie. It was a close call though.
I’m having a rough day with the cravings and urges. I’m holding out though. It will be dinner time in around a hour. Just got to hold out until then and I get to eat roast beef!
Dinner: Roast beef, roast potatoes, sweetcorn, broccoli, curly kale and gravy. It’s traditional!
Dessert: Strawberries, cream and meringue.
It’s still warm out, but there’s full cloud cover making it quite dark. I had some kne pain and became aware of some lower back pain towards the end of the walk. When I got back home I hit the pain killers / anti inflamatories.
Earlier on in the day I did 50 press ups. I’ll see how the medication works before I make a decision about doing the rest of the body weight exercises.
In the last ten minutes I did 50 dips to make sure I hit my goal for today. The resistance work lets my body know that it needs to keep the muscle, which is metabolically expense for the body to hang on to during a diet. If you don’t use the muscle, you’ll lose it.
It’s been a great week. I feel like I’m back in the swing of things and I’m looking forward to Week 2. Thanks for reading and participating in the discussion.
Next: Week 2