Here’s something you should not do when dieting.

You should not, under any circumstances, leave the house without eating breakfast of any kind. That’s just asking for trouble, dealing with that grumbling tum.

What’s worse is driving past a wonderful greasy spoon diner and contemplating, just for a second, eating breakfast there. That’s a seed that doesn’t need to be planted. When it is, it grows. And grows. Until you have no choice but to drive back there and order a big breakfast.

Of course, I could have ordered an egg white omelette.


Instead, I went for the sampler platter. 2 over medium eggs, two sausage links, a slice of ham, hash browns, 2 bacon rashers and a side of pancakes and syrup.

Yeah, good move right?

I figured out the calories were about 1180! My daily total, without exercise, is 1600! So I did what I had to do. I hit the gym, hard, and after 45 minutes of intense elliptical work and stairclimbing, I had clawed back 730 calories. 

Oh, and I didn’t eat any lunch, except for a banana and an apple.

This is not ideal, and not balanced. I only hope I don’t pile on a bunch of weight from one massive slip up. Again. Gah!

So I asked my goodly wife to take my measurements this evening. I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting really. After hitting the gym for over an hour a day, five days a week, and eating very sensibly 95% of the time, I figured I was in much better shape than before. Nope. Still a fatty. Actually, fat in all the wrong areas, and skinny in all the other wrong areas.

My measurements are as follows:

  • Weight: 207lbs
  • Height: 71″
  • Chest: 41.5″
  • Waist: 39.5″
  • Biceps: 15.25″
  • Shoulders (circumf): 50.25″
  • Forearms: 12.5″
  • Neck: 16.5″
  • Hips: 38.5″
  • Thighs: 24.5″
  • Calves: 15.75″

And after a bit of research, and inputting my wrist size, this is what I should be aiming for:

  • Weight: 180lbs
  • Height: 71″
  • Chest: 48.75″
  • Waist: 34″
  • Biceps: 17.5″
  • Shoulders (circumf): 54″
  • Forearms: 14″
  • Neck: 18″
  • Hips: 41″
  • Thighs: 26″
  • Calves: 16.5″

This is all nicely compared in a little illustration I quickly banged out here.

So, if you do the math, I need to add, or subtract, the following from my less than stellar physique:

  • Weight: LOSE 27lbs
  • Height: NO CHANGE
  • Chest: GAIN 7.25″
  • Waist: LOSE 5.5″
  • Biceps: GAIN 2.25″
  • Shoulders (circumf): GAIN 3.75″
  • Forearms: GAIN 1.5″
  • Neck: GAIN 1.5″
  • Hips: GAIN 3″
  • Thighs: GAIN 1.5″
  • Calves: GAIN 0.75″

All in all, I have a whole lot of work ahead. Oh yeah, and I just had a creme brûlée. Yes, it was within my calorie limit for the day, but what am I doing?! Still, salad for lunch and a pounding workout at the gym today helped with that detour from my fitness regime. Now, off to bed. Sleep, I miss thee.

Image courtesy of The Stock Exchange

OK, so the last 3 weeks have been tough. I restarted our family gym membership to LifeTime Fitness after a long hiatus. I’ve always loved it, unlike most gyms it has a really good family atmosphere, a severe lack of those muscle-bound meatheads, and an awesome child care facility which is included in our dues. Plus, the steam room and sauna are the icing on the cake after a workout.

We had to put a hold on our account while my wife was pregnant with our son. But during the first week of April (just before my 38th birthday…coincidence, or mid-life crisis?) I drove down to the gym with the grit and determination of something very gritty and determined.

However, before my first workout in a long, long time (maybe a year or more) I wanted to be more prepared for the road ahead. In the past, my time at the gym has been sporadic and “all over the place.” No plan, no idea which weights to use, which muscles to work, I just chose machines randomly and put on an amount of weight on that made me feel like I was doing something.

And diet, it was always a guess too. As I have found out, calories hide in the most unexpected places. I recently discovered the dressing on a Chipotle salad is over 250 calories! That’s more than an extra helping of grilled chicken, and I know I’d rather be full on good food than less full on tasty, but empty, calories.

To combat these two former issues, I downloaded the MyFitnessPal and  JeFit apps for my Android phone and iPad. MyFitnessPal is a fantastic free app that helps you set goals, track calories and chart your progress. It’s often as simple as scanning a barcode of a product, or searching the vast database, to input the exact caloric and nutritional info for your meals.

JeFit is the same kind of thing, but for exercise. It helped me create a daily exercise routine for different parts of my body. Chest and triceps on Mondays, other muscle groups on others. It also records the weight and reps for each exercise, so you can see what you’re lifting, and when to up the weight or reps.

My First Workout Sucked!

Big time. Awful. I went on the Elliptical and did 20 minutes on a moderate setting, a 7. I was sweating, breathing heavy, legs were like jelly, it was pathetic. And then I did 20 mins in the weight room, on my chest and triceps. The weights were very small, the reps between 10-12, and I was just as pathetic there. When it was all over, I wobbled, almost drunk, to the locker room, collapsed and took a 10 minute shower to recover.

The next day, I was sore. Really sore. Like “beaten with clubs” sore. And I was stiff as a board. This made me think I did soemthing right, but maybe I did it all wrong! I have no idea.

I didn’t go back to the gym until after my birthday. It would have been impossible, I was walking like I’d had a pole inserted into my arse. So I left it for about four days, and returned. This time, I was determined to do a full week at the gym. It was tough, but I did it. And the plan was as follows:

  • Monday – 30 mins cardio, workout chest and triceps
  • Tuesday – 35 mins cardio, work on abs
  • Wednesday – 30 mins cardio, workout biceps, back and forearms
  • Thursday – 35 mins cardio, work on abs
  • Friday – 30 mins cardio, workout shoulders and legs
  • Eat 1600 calories a day, plus whatever calories I burn at the gym (optional)

That was the plan, and is the plan to this day. I take the weekends off, usually because I’m too busy with home life and freelance work. But what’s great is that I’m seeing great progress in several areas. I am down 13 pounds from 3 weeks ago, but that’s easy enough to do. Everyone loses weight when they first start dieting.

With the weights, in just 3 weeks I have seen great improvements. My machine fly has gone from 70lbs to 120lbs. My barbell shrug has gone from 60 to 90 lbs. And my cardio, I ca now do 35 minutes on the hardest level on the elliptical, level 20, without dying on the machine. In fact, I’m at a strange place where I feel elevated after.

I stopped losing weight about a week ago. So I’m stuck at 207, but I am looking leaner and fitter I think. I know, at some point, I will need to change up my routines and do some kind of muscle confusion. But right now, I think I’m doing ok. Of course, if anyone out there reads this and has advice, please chime in. I am a beginner surrounded by fitness experts.

More to come.

Another blog about fitness and weight loss and blah blah blah. To be honest, it’s hard for me to believe I’m even writing one of these. But I find myself in the odd position of possibly being an inspiration to someone out there. Someone who, like me, has been in varying degrees of unfitness for most of their adult life.

So, a bit about me. I was born in 1974 in the north of England. And I lived in England until the grand old age of 26, at which time I moved to the states to marry the love of my life. I’m 5’11” (and a little bit more…but not enough to be 6ft, arghh!) and I have never really had a huge problem with food. I was as skinny as a rake for the longest time. So much so, the sight of me in my underwear caused my dad to put a red beanie hat on my head and parade me around as “a match” in front of my family. Yes…still have issues with that one.

I started packing on the pounds in college. Ahh, beer. So good, so cheap, so full of bad calories. I went from a stealthy 5’11” and 155lbs to a much more robust 175lbs in just 3 years. Roughly 7 pounds a year of pure fat, brought on by a steady diet of crappy food, too much beer, and no exercise at all. Hey, I had studying to do. And sleeping. And sometimes, more of one than the other.

Then I went to London to become an advertising man. The ad business in London is everything you’ve heard and more. A steady diet of bad food, late nights, weekends, endless free booze and no limits. Luckily, my metabolism was kind to me, and I managed to pack on just 10 more pound over the course of five years.

When I moved to America, bad cheap food became even more accessible. That, plus the stresses of being in a new marriage, and a little depression, helped me pack on even more weight. I kept it at 185-190 lbs for a few years, then it all went to pot. And in February of 2012, when my third child, a boy, was born, I weighed in at 220lbs. My heaviest ever. Sure, it had been 20 years since I last weighed 155lbs, and that was underweight, but now I was lugging around a big gut, losing my breath after one flight of stairs, and keeping myself happy with big bags of chips and imported British chocolate. Mmmm, Cadbury’s.

So, Last month, I decided enough was enough. A change was needed. My wife deserves a husband who stays active and healthy. My kids deserve a dad who can play with them and is around when they grow older. And I deserve to hit 40 with a feeling of hope, not one of “it’s all downhill from here.”

This is a blog that will be read by me for most of the time. And maybe my beautiful and supportive wife. But if you find it, and find that my progress helps yours, then more power to you.

A fitter Brit stars here. Finally.