Gyms, How to start exercising, Losing Weight, Walking

Hugely helpful if you’re knees are playing up

Hi, and welcome back.  This is a very quick blog.

If you read my last article you might have been expecting a comparison of weight loss diary apps but I’m afraid I haven’t had time to do this yet, so maybe another day soon.

I,m pleased to say that I have light at the end of the tunnel.  If you’re a regular reader or at least a now and again browser you’ll know that I had knee pain from embarking on an ambitious fitness regime at what some people call a silly age (to care about or start exercise).

If I’d known at the start what my physio (brilliant guy) told me on my first session a couple of weeks it may have all been different.  It turns out that I have Patello femoral Pain Syndrome (explained in more detail here for those that would like to know more).

He explained that the knee joint and its surrounding muscle and cartilage were just not up to the job (largely because I hadn’t worked on my quads enough) of keeping up with the exercise programme I had surprised them with.

The solution is specific types of exercise – leg press and leg extensions, combined with warming up properly (which I hadn’t been doing very well), anti inflammatory Ibuprofen and gym exercises that don’t antagonise the condition – cycling, walking and rowing, which all helps to strengthen the knees and surrounding musculature/cartilage.

These are starting to make a difference, and the exercises help with walking.  I have to say they were bloody murder when I started!


I was concerned that I had an injury which was going to be permanent and exercise disabling but it looks (at least so far) like this isn’t the case, which is a relief.

If you’re taking up exercise late in life, I’d invest some time looking at the article above, particularly with regard their advice on preventing the condition developing.  You want to avoid it if you can.

I am also pleased to say that MyNetDiary is managing to be very helpful keeping me on track with regard losing weight, and I’ve now dropped off 5lbs to get myself back to 12 stone, which is seven pounds away from my goal of being 11 stone 7 lbs.  So I’m getting somewhere, and it shows that using phone based assistance can be valuable, particularly when its to do with maintaining enthusiasm for the weight loss regime during and following injury.

Anyway, like I said this is a short blog this time (or at least shorter than my normal ramblings), so … if you’d like to share you experience of this condition, and particularly if you have marvellous tips for battling it, it would be great to hear from you.

By the way, I’m not being paid to see how many times I can get ‘particularly’ in this article, but if you’re counting its now five.

Lastly have a great Easter!




Losing Weight, Slimming Apps

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie

Hi and welcome back.

Even the best laid plans of mice and men are thrown aside sometimes.  My dieting regime had gone a little off balance recently.  Nothing alarming but enough to make me think that my own advice wasn’t working terribly well.

It came about from me just feeling hungrier than normal, and rather than stoically keeping to the calorie count, I gave in to the craving whilst saying “back to good behaviour tomorrow”.   Sometimes you simply can’t resist your body saying “feed me” like raving mad super pot plant Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.

I avoided the pull of the dark side thanks to my phone.

I had previously written about apps that assist you with dieting, and had briefly mentioned MyNetDiary.  Despite singing its praises, I’ve been diligently writing down my calories in a notebook because I just found it easy.    Why I decided to give MyNetDiary a second chance is anyone’s guess but I figure that it was something that could calm my stroll to larger waist jeans.

I think my biggest objection, (and this may be down to my Scottish ancestry) was that it was free on Android and $4 on the AppStore, but I remembered it had been the best of the apps I’d tried before I returned to simple pencil and paper and downloaded it anyway.

I was surprised to find that it was the push I needed.

For those of you who’ve never heard of it, its a simple app (it can do a lot more if you start paying for premium services) that shows you your net calorie consumption and remaining balance based on its calculation of a few parameters you supply.

Android Diet Utility 1


Basically you give it your current weight, height and age and your target weight.  It then establishes the reasonable calorie limit it has computed you need to stick to to get to your target in, in my case a month.   It was 15 calories off of the 1800 value I’ve always successfully used in times I’ve been over the BMI which was was inspiring.

You then select a meal group from Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks and then add what you eat.  It handily has a scanner so you can use barcodes to short cut the process, though it can sometimes give you values that are less than a standard serving because of whatever database tables it establishes its version of a serving.  To get around this there’s a custom mode where you can enter anything you want, along with its calorie count.  It also allows you to add detailed data for the food if you have it, while seeming to miss the point that you’re using custom mode because you don’t have these figures to hand, or need to butcher them significantly were you of a mind to supply what for me is way too much information.

The app provides useful feedback about the food / drink you add.  If you click on the > to the right of the Analysis summary on it’s lead screen you get a summary of progress to date (called Bottom line) which explains how far under standard calorie consumption you’re having to manage and the rate it predicts you’re losing weight at.  (All positive news).  Below this there’s a Day highlights section which enthusiastically lists the good points of your performance while not playing up too significantly minor bad points (like including 5 grams of ‘fiber’ – it’s misspelling not mine.

I’ve only been using it a few days, and it has coerced me back towards target, which I definitely wasn’t on a few days and several chocolate bars ago.

I’ve found so far that it’s marvellous if you eat a lot of pre packaged food, where its scanner can (with a few excursions into silliness re servings) and background logic can confidently establish your calorie count.  Where I’ve found its not so easy is when you prepare your own food, for example by making your own sandwiches.

Before the app, I’d reasonably guess the calories dependent on portion size, e.g. 50 grams of Tuna.  With the app, you feel passively persuaded to get this right and enter the right information, which leads to the weighing scales coming out and extra effort (probably using uncounted calories in their own right) has to be expended to obtain the proper figure.   I say passively because the 1 and 0 counting phone app has no idea of anything else aside from its quite clever AI assisted logic.  You could be a pink pelican for all it cares.  That would almost be an advantage because you never see them fussing around with weighing scales.

I also found that the initial enthusiasm of patiently scanning and correcting the program began to give way to a little bit of indifference, when I realised that MyNetApp (as far as I’m aware) is not at all concerned about regular use.  It positively gushes if you enter your weight readings, but doesn’t castigate you, or broadcast your failure to utilise its clever interface to all and sundry on the web if you just ignore it.   I find myself just being lazy with it – it needs you to be diligent and painstaking, and sometimes that’s just not part of my day (unless it comes to my job where I’m being paid to be painstaking).

Despite the fact that at present I feel that I will inexorably be drawn back to pencil and paper, I am sticking with it because without being melodramatic I feel it’s a temporary guiding light to get me back on the path, and when I’m still recovering from injury it’s a help.

It isn’t too heavy on paid services reminders but you find that after a while a little reluctance creeps in to using its links because half of them inevitably lead to billed premium services.  This is fine once you can differentiate between them, but the more you explore the more you encounter these and you do begin to wonder why you had to pay for the app (on iphone at least) when so much of it is only unlocked by an £84 a year subscription (£7 per month).  I don’t pay that to Netflix so the chances I’ll succumb and press the purchase buttons is remote.

Saying this it has enough on board to keep you exploring, including a food check function you can use when buying food which allows you to compare it with similar offerings, the ability to link activity trackers and access to forums used by other people  using the app.

I’m going to use the app for another two weeks and see if my grumblings were excessive or bang on, and compare two other apps with it to see which looks the best value.

If you have observations on your use of this or any other weight loss app I’m sure those looking for help with their slimming regime would be interested, particularly if you’ve found any apps to become erstwhile electronic companions that you’d now be reluctant to part company with.

Bearing in mind this is only part 1 of a two parter, if you think this has been useful please click the like button so more people can see the article.   There may be other useful stuff in my previous blogs that will assist with your diet.

If you’re wondering where the reference to ‘best laid plans of mice and men’ came from, it wasn’t from me, but originates from Robert Burn’s poem ‘To a Mouse’ about a farmer apologising to a mouse for wrecking his home while ploughing, and is the origin of the also much quoted ‘Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie’.  Of Mice and Men is also of course the title of the famous novel by Ernest Hemingway.


Here’s one for reference.

Last and not least, keep up your dieting – you will make it!

See you in a couple of weeks and hopefully not too many choccy bars.



How to start exercising, Learning Power Kiting, Losing Weight, Power Kiting

And again with the wind

Hi and welcome back.

Last week I introduced the idea that you could lose weight and have fun at the same time (no not that) by flying stunt kites, and there was a promise at the end to show you something that took more energy still.

You can expect a stunt kite to become much more challenging to fly when it reaches its performance threshold in gusty weather.  It will then react very sharply to every manoeuvre that you try to do and there’s a good chance that one of the lines will snap which then heralds a very rapid crash.

Strong winds are therefore to be avoided.  Not so with their larger cousins which are called power kites, e.g.


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

These are as you can here, generally much larger and are effectively like curved wings.  As they are struck by wind, they produce a power coefficient which lifts them perpendicularly.  Kite surfers channel this energy by directing it with their boards.

This guy’s out of the ocean and just hanging on.  If you are connected on the other end, they pull you, as demonstrated in this picture.


Notice how much he’s leaning back?  That takes energy and that’s just moderate wind he’s in.  The first time I flew one of these I was amazed at the energy it produced, and it needed a lot of effort to prevent it pulling me along.

These kites are so powerful that they’ll lift you into the air (which unsurprisingly is called an “air”:


On land, the power kites energy can be used to pull buggies and land boards


Now all this looks very adventurous (ok last guy doesn’t look like he’s barreling along I admit), but you can just stand in a field (like the one we discussed before) and fly them without going anywhere – although the kite will have different ideas about this!

The calorie use is half from rigging and derigging and half from just holding on to the kite.  Much the same as the stunt kite in the last article, you have to put the kite down and then walk the lines out behind it until they’re all unraveled to their maximum length.  The difference is that the lines are longer, this time there’s four of them and while you’re walking them out you’ll become convinced that sometime between you connecting the lines to the kite and starting to walk back, a tiger jumped inside the kite and started doing gymnastics – ok its just the kite reacting very easily to the wind but it doesn’t feel like that at the time, so its a very good idea to have good weights to hold it down with.

Notice again what you’re doing – lots of walking, and using energy.

This is what a 5 metre kite looks like up close:


Finally you’ve walked the lines out.  You then stake them into the ground, and carefully walk back to the kite and release the weights you left on it.  Wait a minute you say, isn’t the kite going to try to take off while you’re doing this? It would were it not for the reason for the four lines.  Two lines connect to the top of the kite, and two to the bottom.  These all connect to two handles, one for the left side of the kite with top and bottom, and the same for the right hand side.  When you’re flying the kite you pivot the handles to accelerate or decelerate the kite.  The more the top of the kite is pulled towards you the faster it will go and conversely, the more the bottom of the kite is pulled towards you, the more it stalls.  To prevent the kite flying away, you position your handles before you take the weights off, so that they put the kite or wing (which is more what it looks like) in the stalled condition.

Okay, now you’ve removed the weights, and are back holding the handles (probably 150 to 200 feet away).  You then pivot the top of the handles towards you and with a reasonable wind, the kite will launch straight into the air at high speed – until you get used to how to control the stall it will just shoot straight up and you’ll be pulled instantly by it.  You have to firstly, hold on and then brace backwards.  Do this for a few seconds, let alone minutes and you’ll see why kiting takes a lot of energy.

When you start, you just line up the kite so the winds directly behind you, but when its a strong wind day you set the lines up so that the wind is off to one side.  This helps you to avoid the rocketship takeoff because without the wing facing directly into wind, it develops less power.  You can then steer it into the best wind.

Once you’ve mastered takeoff and just holding the kite in the air, you can start to do stunts with it.  The difference between stunting with a power kite and a stunt kite is the power that power kites develop when you’re maneuvering  them.  Turn the handles sharply enough and you’ll induce a corkscrew.  This generates energy which you have to keep from pulling you along the ground and out of the field you’re standing in, otherwise you’ll be through hedges and all sorts.

If you fancy trying power kites, I’d strongly recommend that you join or visit local club beforehand.  Firstly so they can assist you with your first flights, and secondly if they have a kite you can borrow, it’ll save you the expense of buying a kite  for £150 to £200 and then finding out its not for you.


If you buy a power kite and aren’t devoted to only using it on the sea, get a helmet – I guarantee you’ll take a tumble and its better to look a bit odd with a helmet on than wearing a neck brace in hospital because you didn’t think it was needed.

Roller skaters often wear joint armour which fixes by elastic.  they do this to prevent elbow and knee damage.  If you’ve already got this kit wear it and if not seriously think about buying it.  You’ll understand why once you’ve been pulled by a kite.


Probably before both of these I’d say by some safety cords – (these aren’t dungarees for extremely careful people).  These cords connect to your wrists and to the bottom of each of the handles.  If a powerful gust hits your kite it can catch you off guard and start pulling you alarmingly fast.  Without safety cords you’re at the mercy of the kite and whatever juxtaposition the handles are in.  With the cords its simple – you just let go of the handles.   Each handle is connected at the bottom to the cords connected to your wrists and the result is the brakes are applied as the kite has no option but to stall.  If you buy nothing else with regard safety gear but your helmet, buy the cords – they may save being dragged across a fence or through bushes or worse across a road.

I guess the difficult thing with this is assessing how many calories you’ve used.  To at least get the walking part of it, you could use a pedometer.  Map my walk isn’t so reliable here because it adds calories as you stand still and it’ll give you a false reading.  If you’re moving the effect isn’t as pronounced.   Any questions, please leave a comment and if you’ve liked this, please like or follow.  Tata for now and keep


Losing Weight, Power Kiting, Stunt Kites

Gone with the Wind

Hi There and welcome back.

On a week when I don’t seem to have made much forward progress on the diet – (and lets face it they sometimes happen),  I thought I’d let you know about a surprising way of exercising that you may not be aware of and might like.

Remember back when you had a kite and mum and dad got you to run up and down to make it stay in the air?

Well this is kind of like that but a little more sophisticated.  This blog and the next one talk about stunt and power kites and how they can help you lose weight.

Just to get one thing out the way for those with twitcher inclinations – we’re not talking about this handsome fella, or the squirrel he’s somewhat curious about:


unsplash-logoDavid Morris

You’re probably familiar with holiday kites – they cost about £5, have a distorted diamond shape, a set of strings on each edge and one long string that you fly it with, or more accurately that you stop it disappearing with.


To keep these aloft, you need a strong wind, or to keep walking/running with it.  I remember that after about 20 minutes this loses its appeal.

This is a stunt kite.  These are a little more sophisticated.


They cost from £60 and you can do tricks with these – turn them in circles in the sky, get them to fall towards the earth at a great rate of knots and then just before plummeting to the ground pick them up sharply and fire them off back in to the sky again, get them to stall and recover them, and walk dogs – they love chasing them.

They take a surprising amount of effort to hold, and the stronger the wind is, the more effort is needed.  They also take a little while to set up.  Simply put they have two strings connected one on each side of the kite, that are eventually used to control the kite in the air.  That’s right – with this type of kite you are in control, not the kite as is usually the case with the one string type at the top of the page.

Ok, so back to setup.  You have to walk out in to the centre of a large open area (hopefully not with traffic or aircraft landing – a park or the beach would be ideal (and safer).

Once there, you unpack the stunt kite, facing backwards and upside down, connect the strings (they’re actually very high tensile load dyneema these days not string but I won’t get into that) to the kite, and then you put a handy rock or can of coke or something on the kite and walk backwards into wind with the strings until they’re all wound out.

Then you expertly (ok not at first but if you take this up you’ll become expert quite quickly) tug on the lines and the kite will launch into the air, and you’ll be getting upper arm, back and quad exercise whilst pulling back on the kite, just like this fella here.


That is not the only way you’ve benefited.  You had to walk out to the centre of the field and then walk the strings out – doesn’t sound like much but its walking exercise, and if like I did, you spend half your time walking back to the kite to get it ready to launch again, and then back out again to launch it, you’ll find yourself covering a lot of ground, and while the kites in the air having fun and relaxing too.


When you’ve had a few goes, you’ll find there’s something quite marvellous about using the power of nature to transform what was just canvas and poles in a bag, into something quite majestic in the air.

So, the basics are:

  • Buy a stunt kite.
  • Find a safe open area where kite flying is allowed (you’ll see notices if it isn’t).
  • Wait for a reasonably windy, rain free day.
  • Pop out in to the centre of the field with your kite.
  • Assemble it, and put something on it so it won’t blow away (until you want it to).
  • Walk out the lines.
  • Tug on the lines and fly the kite.

There is a little more to it, but not enough to prevent you trying it out, and seeing if you like it.

Please don’t try to fly a kite in weather that looks like it might turn stormy – apart from the risk of getting soaked, its pretty dangerous (kites are earthed lightning conductors in bad weather).

Also if there’s horses about drop your kite – kites spook horses because of their similarity (as far as the horse is determined) to birds of prey.

If you’re not too sure about trying this out on your own, or just want to see how its done first, there are kite flying organisations which hold regular events and will no doubt warmly welcome you along.

In the UK: The Kite Society of Britain
In the USA: American KiteFliers Association

Next time, part two covers kites which will really give you a workout, e.g.


These have four lines not two, cost from £150, will easily pick you and a board up, happily tow a buggy with you steering at 40 mph, and can do all the tricks of the stunt kite and more.  If you’re using them properly they need safety gear. (Ironically this flyer isn’t using a helmet or armoured jacket – I don’t fly my power kite without them).

Holding one of these things where you want it isn’t easy and uses a lot of calories which is a big plus when you’re dieting and want to have fun.

Hopefully this has whetted your appetite to find out more, and at least try a stunt kite out.

For those who are suppressing yawns and prefer feathered kites, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this fella who would find all this string and canvas very amateur hour, and I wouldn’t blame him:


For a fleeting moment, a few years ago a kite I was flying attracted a bird of prey.  He nobly shared what was probably 20 seconds formating with my kite and then departed for tea.  Not something as a kite flyer you forget easily.

If you’ve found this article interesting please click Like or Follow, and this will be seen by more people.  The lead image is from Enrapture Media on Unsplash .

Thank you for reading and catch you next time.

All the best.  Ian.

Losing Weight, Walking



Just when I had all but given up on the weather in Pulborough, which has been constant rain all weekend, I found that what for me had been untraversible forest, at least not without looking like somebody just finishing a mudder, has become navigable by virtue of my new buy – Wellingtons.  Yes I hear you say, surely he’s not the one person in the UK who has never bought Wellingtons.  I have to fess up and say that it was indeed me that was the famed virgin Wellington wearer.

Perhaps I saw them as too grown up, or cissy or what my parents would have sensibly worn – who knows.  Once I survived the trauma of trying them on (they were connected by a piece of that indestructible cord that shoe sellers fit with much glee in a vain effort to stop you walking out of the shop with them, whilst at the same time enjoying your efforts to look grown up and cool while trying them on).  I’m sure any half respectable Wellington thief would carry cutting implement to overcome that particular hurdle.

Once bought, I headed to the local forest for some walking so that I had enough calories added to be able to have a reasonable pudding (or two).  It was quite fun feeling for a moment like those people whose 4 x 4’s comfortably and effortlessly handle the worst of terrain when going to events in the countryside, whilst us normal people realise that our cars are only designed ever to work on straight level tarmac sans potholes.  (Not that I’ve seen many roads like that where I live for some time).  Even huge deep puddles shrunk into insignificance with my new companion footwear, and it was like being a kid again, happy and obliviously unconcerned about the mess I could get in wearing them by stomping gleefully through mammoth puddles.

I hasten to add that they’re mundane green as opposed to those in Jake Hawkes’ spectacular lead picture (Thank you Jake):

unsplash-logoJake Hawkes

Gone were the ever hopeful skirtings of intimidating puddles, that would somehow have lain traps for the unweary and mean that I’d end up in the puddle anyway.  Also gone was my dread of country gates with locking mechanisms that could only be operated by leaning perilously from one side while trying to avoid the huge puddle which is always under the gate, e.g.


It was also nice not to have to find dryer alternatives to the well worn tracks which inevitably fill up with water.  I could also comfortably handle the series of muddy horse shoe sized potholes that seem to fill the entire path on some stretches – those bits where they suck your trainers or hiking boots off your feet with an almost comic spoon in trifle sound.  What do the horseriders do?  I have images of them cantering forward and then reversing until not a single splodge of path has no horseshoe prints – it must take them hours.

Seriously, if that’s possible in a monologue about Wellingtons – they do mean that there’s more times, which with good waterproof jacket, you can continue walking when its been or is currently dreadful weather, and if it means it cuts down my gerbil like time on the gym treadmill that’s a good thing.

Brown female rodent on summer holiday with umbrella

Picture courtesy of Robert Owen

I say gerbil like because of recent injury that means I’ve got be a bit Last of the Summer Wine about my walking.  Got to take it gentle otherwise my physio will be able to use a well meant but still uncomfortable disapproving look on me.  I get the feeling that those unencumbered by injury are wondering what I’m doing (I don’t guess they actually notice at all) walking so slowly.  I have to walk at about 2.5 miles per hour, which I have to say is agonisingly slow.  It means that you’re on the machine a long long long time before you hit the calorie count you want, hence Wellingtons are literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air.  I still have to stick to the restrained pace, but there’s few people to care about it and I’m actually going somewhere, even if its only a circle back to the car park.

As for dramatic news of weight loss, there isn’t much – I’m down 6 ounces to 12 st 8lbs with 11lbs still to go.  Right direction but very slow and not particularly helped by injury and one of those ‘the hell with it’ Saturdays.  Sticking to what I say though, and itwas  right back on with the diet this morning.

Well, if buying or wearing Wellingtons had ever been on my bucket list, (and that’s one sad list if it ever had been) its not now.

I was not alone on my walk – the Scottish incumbents of the South Downs national park were out in force the other side of the small pond that recent rain had transformed into a small lake:


Ok, there were only five of them and they were, I am pretty sure giving me that ‘we have to be here – why on earth are you here?’ look which is normally the stock look of Yorkshire sheep, and yes Sussex does have a small herd of magnificent long horned Scottish cattle.  (For those who are still not sure what they’re supposed to be seeing in the this photo).

Gerty the cow

I wondered why Wellington was associated so closely with these boots, aside from bearing his name nowadays. In Arthur Wellesley’s biography, it is reported that Wellington noted that many cavalry soldiers sustained crippling wounds by having been shot in the knee – a very vulnerable and exposed part of the body when one is mounted on a horse. He proposed a change in the design of the typical boot by having it cut so as to extend the front upward to cover the knee. This modification afforded some measure of protection in battle.  Information courtesy of Wikipedia.  (Thank you).

Earnestly hope that your dieting is going well, don’t take life too seriously and feel free to share those ‘I thought Wellingtons were boring until …’ stories.

Bye for now.  Ian.

Losing Weight

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step


Well a week has passed by, and I’m a little closer to my goal and pleased to say I’ve lost almost two pounds, which has seen my weight reduce from 12 st 5 lbs to 12 st 3 lbs.  Its a single step in the right direction after a couple of weeks of seeing weight going in the wrong direction because of the holidays and injury, and lack of willpower.

Checking your progress – simple right?

Of course whether this is completely true or not I’m not sure as taking your weight is not the simple process it should be.

It can, I have read be effected by what time of day you take your weight, whether you’ve been to the bathroom – won’t dwell on that, whether you’re positively or negatively affected by water retention, ambient temperature and humidity, and whether you’re having a naturally heavy or light day, (which can give you false readings).

After wildly inaccurate readings from my scales some time ago I actually read the small print in the instructions (and who does that), and found that (and perhaps I’m the only one in the UK that hadn’t known this already) the scales didn’t read correctly on carpet.  I know – its obvious to everyone else, but my bathroom has carpet down rather than tiles and having the scales there seemed perfectly sensible.  I was not the one who made that unfathomable design decision.



On top of this, how frequently you weigh yourself can make a difference.  Weighing every day can be counter productive as your body fluctuates its weight a lot and I’ve read that you should only weigh yourself once or twice a week.  I think that you’re less likely to be affected emotionally by a more reasonable weight check after one week, than a daily one fraught with so many environmental and physiological factors.

The added complication for those taking their weight who regularly exercise is that muscle weighs more than fat, so your ideal weight figure may well be higher than the standard BMI figure.  I wouldn’t even try to work out how you allow for this in weight terms, and there is the school of thought that believes that for those who exercise regularly, (and I think this means more than taking the dog for a walk), a better way than looking at your weight is to check your waistline.

perfect figure

According to Australia’s Heart Foundation the bottom line is that your health is at risk if your waist size is over 94 cm (about 37 inches) for men and over 80 cm (about 31.5 inches) for women.

A handy calculator for checking your health by comparing height and waistline is at where you can enter your measurements for an instant verdict on how you’re doing.

This is my reading:

health-calc feedback

(I’m the one on the left).

I have to lose two inches here to get to the point where this ‘Consider Action’ message changes to ‘Ok’.  You have to get to a reading of 0.60 before it says ‘Take Action’.  The graphic of the man and woman changes dependent on which direction you go from Ideal.

Personally, I think that I’m ok if I can get into size 34 waist jeans without straining.  Still got some work to do so shall continue with that.  Kind of reminds me of going on holiday somewhere really nice, and then when you return only thinking of what it would be like to get back there.

Borrowing calories from next day week

Given that I’m not doing so much exercise as normal because of injury, I hit the stage of ‘borrowing’ from the next day, only I overdid it a bit, and borrowed a little from all week.  Having done it, I’d strongly recommend that you don’t.  I was already at maximum 1800 calories, and borrowed 70 calories from the next 5 days when I wanted chocolate I really should have had the willpower to resist, but you know what its like – some days you just can’t help yourself.  It is of course all Cadbury’s fault for making me so dependent on it.

Its an awful way to do it, because you face a reduced number on what is likely to be a pretty spartan figure to start with.  I found it a bit depressing and was glad when Saturday turned up.  If you are going to borrow, as I suggested as a founding principle of the bank diet some weeks ago, make sure you restore the overdraft the following day.  This will also curb your enthusiasm for the amount you overdo it by and reduce the pain making the difference up.

Anyway, hope some of this amuses or helps you and the best of luck with your personal campaigns for losing weight and catch you in a while.

All the best.  Ian.

How to start exercising, Losing Weight

How Exercise can help you lose weight

Welcome back to this series of articles on turning your life around, getting your weight down and most importantly making changes to your lifestyle to keep it that way.

I think a lot of people think that to lose weight, you need to either undergo a strict calorie controlled diet or spend an inordinately long time at the gym or pounding the pavements.  In truth, to make reasonably fast progress on a diet, its a combination of much less of each of these.

The previous articles have shown how to understand what your ideal weight should be, methods for measuring food and drink intake and what to do on those occasions when diet plans don’t go well.  This article shows how you can use exercise in combination with calorie control in a balanced way, and introduces one of the fundamental principles of what I call the bank diet; swapping out exercise for calories to make the diet more flexible and maintainable.  (The bank bit is explained next week).

Why exercise is important, and how it makes dieting easier

You’ll probably already be aware that exercise burns calories, but did you know that it also changes how your body maintains its energy?  Metabolism is used to describe how your body turns food into energy and keeps you going.

If you exercise regularly, you’ll put on muscle as your body adapts to perform the exercise more efficiently.  In terms of moving towards your ideal weight, replacing fat with muscle is important because muscle cells burns more calories than fat cells, even when you’re resting.

In the first article, I said that the fundamental principle of successful dieting is using more energy than you take in and how important that is.  How your muscles use more energy is alongside that in importance.  If you exercise regularly, you’ll find calorie controlled dieting much easier.


I get it that the word ‘exercise’ looks intimidating, especially if its been a while since you’ve put training shoes and gym gear on for their original purpose.  It doesn’t have to be.  Success using the Bank diet doesn’t rely on you doing exercise, but it will be assisted if you are working out in some way or another and will aid you reaching your target faster.

I didn’t exercise very much when I started trying to lose weight.  However, when I moved to the south downs a year and a half ago, I thought that it would be a waste to not get out and see the local scenery, which had been one of my reasons for moving.


This isn’t my local countryside, (it’s actually in Ireland) and neither is the picture above it, but you get the idea.

I started by going out on a mountain bike for a few miles.  I found the closing stages of this hard work because I was out of condition and lugging around three and half stone extra weight.  I started what I now call the bank diet around the same time and the two went together – it was much more diet than exercise to start with, but this changed so that now I’m probably doing between 7 and 10 hours exercise a week and dieting as I need to, to maintain a BMI of 25.  I also do bi-monthly 30 mile cycling sportives, which I have to be honest were really hard work to start with, but have become easier, and they use an awesome amount of calories.

Where do you find the time to Exercise?


I read in a Telegraph article from 2013, that scientists had established that exercising for 30 minutes a day is more efficient than exercising for an hour.  If you do this over 5 days, this is 2 and a 1/2 hours and is actually a very small amount – only 1.5 % of the 168 hours in your week.  You might spend more time washing and refuelling your car!

Some of the rest of your time might be spent as follows:

Sleeping         56 hours.
Commuting   10 hours.
Eating             18 hours.
Working         40 hours.
Shopping          3 hours.

The remainder is 41 hours or so.    If you do 30 minutes exercise 5 days a week, this still leaves 38 and a 1/2 hours free, so you may have more time available than you think.

Cycling is a good form of exercise, and so are walking and swimming.  By the way you don’t have to be all togged up like this rider.  (The helmet is important though).


45 minutes on a bike will consume 200 calories.  A 3 kilometre walk will use up 180 calories.  If you walk to the shops 15 minutes away rather than drive, you’ll have burn’t up 120 calories by the time you get back.

The advantages of exercise

Increased Metabolic Rate

It does this by building muscle mass which consumes more energy than fat.  The grin factor here is that you’ll be able to consume more calories when you’re not exercising as well.

The exercise needs energy, and this comes off of your calorie count.  If you walk for half an hour you’ll burn 120 calories.  (Walking is a very good exercise in itself).

You have to pay for this somehow – this energy isn’t free, so in this case, you ADD 120 calories to your calorie limit.   See what’s just happened?  Exercise requires you to eat more in order to pay for it. You wouldn’t expect to run your car without fuel and the same goes for you when you exercise.


Photo supplied by Robert Linder at FreeImages.

So as an example, say you have a calorie limit of 1800 calories, and go walking for 30 minutes.  You now add 120 to this so your day’s limit is now 1920 calories.  You are now almost up to ‘normal’ calorie intake but still losing weight!

By now you’ll appreciate what 120 calories represents – a nice yogurt or a banana or a two slice kitkat.  If you do an hour’s walking this is doubled.  Think what you could do with this extra 240 calories!


Muscle Tone

If you exercise consistently, you’ll find that your body definition will change, and you’ll actually be able to see your muscles, where before they may have been masked with fat.


I was really surprised by this.  I’m not talking about the kind of definition body builders have, or that displayed in this great statue, but you will see a marked difference in how your body looks and feels if you maintain a reasonable amount of exercise every week.

Feeling happier

That sounds daft right? How is exercise going to make you happier?

Cute dog that looks like it's grinning

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which are morphine like substances that dull pain experienced following exercise.  The side product of this is that they produce a feeling of euphoria.  The British Heart Foundation corroborates this in their Good reasons to cycle article.

Feeling more awake

I found that exercise, (which I thought was the last thing I wanted to do after working all day) was great for giving you more energy for the later evening, whilst still allowing you to drop off to sleep.  An article in the science journal Scientific American supports this and says that we think and learn better when we walk or do another form of exercise.

Getting out of the house

Exercise allows you to get out in the fresh air for a while, and gives you the opportunity to appreciate your surroundings.


I find with my bike – that although you’re still aware of whats going on, you kind of zone out after a while as your body gets into the rhythm – its a good way for your mind to drop all the clutter from the day for a while.  The only thing I’ve found that’s similar is when I’m drawing portraits and get so caught up with the picture that everything else fades away.  If you exercise in a group, its also a way for you to keep up with friends, and being together adds extra motivation to stick to your exercise plans.

The next article (due Saturday the 25th of November)

So, here we’ve discussed the reasons why its a good idea to compliment your dieting with exercise.  In the next article I’ll suggest ways that you can do this, most of which are completely free, point you towards mobile apps that’ll help you count your exercise (including Strava and Map My Walk), and explain why this is called the Bank Diet.

If you want to get started before that, and haven’t exercised for a long time, take it easy to begin with and try gentle walking to get your body and mind used to the idea of regular exercise again.

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All the best and don’t give up on the diet.  You will get there!