How to recover when the diet slips

A change in direction

Hi and welcome back.

As the title suggests, this blog heralds a change in direction.  I think that I’ve put sufficient information in the articles so far, for anyone to be able to take a fresh look at losing weight, and am reasonably confident that following them will produce results.

They produced results for me, but I have news about this.

My grandfather and uncle fought as pilots in the 1st and 2nd world wars.  They I am sure never took their eyes off the fact that the most dangerous part of their missions was landing, where low on fuel and ammo they could so easily have become cannon fodder for marauding German pilots.


This is a Spitfire.  My uncle flew an unarmed mark 16 reconnaissance version in enemy territory towards the end of the 2nd world war.

Much less critical but just as timely is the period when you get to your weight target, and marauding circumstances will lay in wait to throw your best laid plans off course.

I have suffered injury to my knees from, I am pretty sure, and given my age, the change in exercise activity through walking and cycling which has characterised the last eighteen months.  Its made exercise much more difficult and rather made me lower my guard with what I ate, and the pounds have slipped back.  Happily only 9 of them, but after a year and half it makes me feel it is a set back which I don’t currently view positively.

I’ve employed calorie counting and exercise in my weight loss schedule since I started, and now I am having to rely on calorie counting only, at least until I recover from my sports injuries, and predict that it will only be safe to resume them at a more leisurely rate, meaning they won’t be able to assist as much as they have done.

Just like my uncle and Grandfather who saw the unanticipated restart of hostilities with the Germans back in 1939, I am now having to take to battle again (with food) to restore my previous low BMI.  I would never presume to think my calorie counting represents anything like the life threatening challenges faced by my relatives in their flimsy aircraft during a manifestly difficult time, but the metaphor is useful none the less.  Just like I said a few blogs ago, losing track on the diet is not the end of the world and I am confident that I will eventually make the ground up.

The change in direction of this blog will simply be slightly smaller blogs chronicling what I hope will be progress, but which I anticipate will also include some setbacks because I haven’t had to follow my advice without the benefits of exercise.

Hopefully in a couple of months time I’ll be able to announce that I’ve regained the ground I’ve lost.  I hope that narration of my progress will spur me on, and assist anyone else reading who has also faced setbacks.

My objectives are losing the nine pounds and hopefully a little more, by the 6th of March.  My current weight is 12 st 5 lbs and I’m looking to get this back to 11 st 11 lbs or less by losing around 1.5 to 2 pounds a week.  My target today is 1800 calories and I’m still on course, though I’m pretty sure I’ve got to dump a pudding I had hoped for to get in under the line!

Wish me luck, and all the best with your slimming.

Tally Ho! Ian. 😀


How to start exercising, Sportives

Proof of your accomplishments

Hi and welcome back!

This article shows how to use Strava to measure your cycling activity, how to find cycling clubs and places to cycle, and lastly Sportives – what they are, why you should try them, how you enter and what they’re like to take part in.


Strava is a GPS based measurement app used to record cycling and running activity, and I wouldn’t think of not using this app when I’m cycling now. The orange themed app is downloadable on Android and at Apple’s App Store.  The following images have kindly been provided by the Strava app on phone or on their site.

Once you’ve installed the app and registered for free, launching it displays your dashboard.

strava dashboard

URL for Strava Dashboard

This is where you can start what they call a feed, to register distance and direction in figures and map display.   This auto pauses if you stop your bike and restarts once you get going again.  You have to stop it though, at which time you can decide whether to sync and save the run.

strava trip 2

Initial Strava screen

Once recorded and synced with your account you can review your miles online at .

Strava detail 1

Strava Dashboard

Its a lot easier to use and review progress on Strava if you get a mount for it.  I use one from Topeak.

photo of topeak phone mount on stem of racing bike

Topeak Mobile Phone Mount

If you set your phone to permanent display, you’ll have a readout that’s on all the time.  It consumes 30% of battery power over an hour on my iphone – just check that you’re charged up before you mount it, or if you’re out for a while, connect up your battery pack.

Strava allows you to see sections of road on your runs, and your relative performance against other people using Strava who have navigated the same stretch of road, giving you a ranking (mine as you’ll see is miles down the list).

Strava detail 3

It also gives you metrics on height, speed and power during a run, which is useful if you want to see your relative performance on different elevations.

Strava detail 4

There is much more to Strava including a video they send you annually of your achievements throughout the year, and premium contracted services offer a further tier of services for those who take cycling seriously.

Cycling Clubs

The fastest way of finding cycling clubs in your area is  to use the internet.  Three useful sites are Meetup, British Cycling and Cycling UK.

Meetup is an online organising tool for people with similar interests and was founded in 2002 by Scott Heiferman, Matt Meeker and Brendan McGovern as a direct response to the 9/11 attacks, in order to bring people closer together.  You can search for cycling clubs in a radius from a given town, and hotspots to local clubs allow you to see their meetup pages, e.g.

meetup 1

Image kindly provided by Meetup.

British Cycling was mentioned in the last article and besides its wealth of information on cycling in general, it allows you to pinpoint clubs and cycling events near you.

Cycling UK also dedicates part of its site to finding and joining clubs in your area.


So you’ve put in all the cycling miles to lose weight.  If you want to have a go at a non competitive race to see how you’d do over a longer distance against the clock, perhaps you’d like to try a sportive? Want some visible proof of your accomplishments? Read on.

I suspect you’re wondering why its a race if it’s not competitive? Technically its not a race but get yourself in amongst hundreds of riders and its difficult to resist the competitive spirit, even if there aren’t prizes or ranking position points which are the requirements for an official competitive race.  They actually contain 2 or 3 separate ‘races’; short routes of around 25 miles, one for 50 miles plus and a longer one of 75  miles plus.

Sportives do allow you to meet other riders, tackle distance you may not have had time to do before, have a ride out with a large number of riders, and provides freebies for entering.  Normally you’re presented with a medal, and free products from companies using the race for marketing.  Sometimes t-shirts, bandanas or socks are given away.  Most sportives cost from £25, depending on distance, and results are displayed after the race on the organiser’s website.  There are normally photographers on the course taking snapshots of every rider which you can buy online a couple of days after the event.

I’ve competed in six sportives throughout the South East in the Wiggle series, but this isn’t the only series.  The text following describes prep and race on one of Wiggle’s runs.

Entry is online, and they’ll add you to their list of riders for the event and send you confirmation of entry details, including route.


I prepare the night before as its usually an early start, and if the race is some distance from you you’ll obviously need to take this into account when determining time to set off in the morning.

I usually check the bike over; tyres, drive train, lights etc, and then because I’ve got a small car, remove the wheels and pack the bike so its one less thing to do first thing.

I also check the weather forecast on the BBC to see what it’s sensible wearing first thing.

Packing List

  • Printed entry confirmation and route map.
  • A spare tube or two and rim removal tools.
  • A mini pump.
  • Waterproofs that are small enough that you can carry them with you.  Legs are not as important as upper body so if you’re packing only one take the top.
  • A thermos for coffee/tea. (Race organisers do have catering at the race but its normally a distance from the car park).
  • Headgear.  (This must have a US Snell B90/B95 or European standard CE test label).
  • Portable USB charger (for lights and phone should they run low).
    Water bottle(s).  If you can take two do so.  Better to need water and have it than the other way round.
  • Dry clothing including socks (for when you finish).  (Drive to the event in your race gear).

On the day

Plan to leave contingency time for bad traffic.  You can start the ride after the start time periods (there are different ranges of time for each of the rides) but if you finish the race after the organisers have packed up their marshal stations, you won’t have an official finish time or be able to collect a goodies pack.

When you get closer to the race, you’ll see signposts for car parking.  Once you’ve parked up, leave the bike where it is, pick up your headgear and go and register.  You’ve entered, but the organisers will need to tick you off on their lists and slap a self adhesive transponder sticker with your race number barcode for their tracking mechanisms on your headgear.  If you enter late, you may not be on their list.  If this is the case, go to their ‘on the day’ race entrance table, and they’ll issue your headgear barcode.

With some races, dependent on whether you entered weeks in advance or signed up for particular deals, they’ll also give you whatever you’ve also bought or become eligible for, e.g. water bottles, energy bar packs.

Once you’ve registered, the time is yours to use as you wish before the race, remembering to leave enough time to get your bike assembled, your riding gear on and race number attached.  Organisers usually have bike gear and clothing stalls on site, and there’s catering of some sort if you’ve not had breakfast.

The Race

Join the other riders at the start line, listen to the race safety briefing, set Strava on if you’re using it, and you’re off!


If its a longer distance than you normally cover, its best to pace at the start, and adjust your speed depending how you feel after a mile or two.  Its not a race but they’ll be riders who are moving at a fair rate to beat personal times (or friends).

Depending on the length of race you’ve selected they’ll be a number of refreshment stations where you’ll get free drink and energy food, and facilities if you need them.

If you’re calorie counting and its food that isn’t packaged, you can note down roughly what calories these are.  If you have a diet app, this makes this easier.  Personally, I figure that its unlikely I’ll break my diet limit as the 30 mile races I enter use about 750 calories, so I don’t usually count on race days.  It does give you a bit more freedom about what you can sensibly eat before and during the race.

Race Etiquette

  • Its normal to overtake on the right and warn people if there trajectory looks like you might collide.
  • If you can, on less busy roads, warn other grouped up riders ahead of you if there’s a car coming.
  • Ride singly where you can.  A fair proportion of the race will be on normal roads.  I find that riders double up on narrow double white line stretches because it forces traffic to overtake sensibly.
  • You’ll find that riders stop for puncture repairs and to rest.  If you see another rider in obvious difficulty, ask them if they need assistance.
  • Don’t stream riders you don’t know.  Streaming is riding close up behind someone else to benefit from their slipstream and reduce pedalling effort.  This should only be necessary and done by groups of riders who are taking turns whilst in a competitive race.
  • Queue at the start and at junctions.

The end of the race

wiggle medalCycle through the finish line to get your time recorded and be presented with finishing medal (and usually goody bag).

Stop Strava and save the session.  Relax, and congratulations for finishing!   Maybe mutter ‘Never again!’ but weeks later register for your next event.

If you’re calorie counting, add the event’s calorie count to your stats.


If you think you’re going to get into sportives, waterproof overboots are invaluable, as is a neck warmer for downhill segments.  You only need one puddle to get drenched, and in a long race high speed gets your face and neck cold very quickly.

Take a break from exercise on the following day or two days.

Next Time

All about gyms.  How to find one, what they cost, what you can expect and how you can use them as part of your calorie controlled diet.

Thanks for reading, and if you think this article is useful, please like the page, and choose follow if you’d like to be advised when new blogs are available.  There’s a short registration process with WordPress.


Planning Weight Loss

Establishing a sensible weight loss plan

If you’re returning to my blog, welcome back.  If this is your first visit, thank you for taking a look.

Hopefully you have your weight, in either pounds or kilograms.  If not, find it out when you can and follow these instructions.  With this as a starting point, we’re going to put together a safe and just as importantly, realistic schedule for reaching your ideal weight.

Finding out how much weight you have to lose

Ok, the first step is to visit the NHS Choices BMI Healthy Weight Calculator.

This opens like this:

BMI Healthy Weight Calculator

Click the Start button and you’ll be shown this panel:

BMI Healthy Weight Calculator 2

Enter the fairly self explanatory values it asks for.  The buttons at the far right allow you to switch between metric and imperial.  When I used it, I added the following:

BMI Healthy Weight Calculator 3

The Calculate button will take you to a new screen which will ask you to select your assessment of your activity levels.

I chose the following, which was correct at the time:

BMI Healthy Weight Calculator 4

Select the Next button reveals its results .  You can’t close your eyes at this point – remember its going to help whatever it says.

Mine (over a year ago) gave me this result:

BMI Healthy Weight Calculator 5

The slider bar pointer and the orange banner below it show two important things; firstly your BMI, and secondly the calorie intake you should be using to address this.   If you’ve tried some diets, the calorie figures might look higher than you expect.  This surprised me at the time, as the lowest weight I’d ever been as an adult was 14 pounds higher than this, and I remember thinking to myself “That is impossible”.

BMI or Body Mass Index quantifies the amount of tissue mass (muscle, fat, and bone) in an individual, and then categorises that person as underweightnormal weightoverweight, or obese based on that value.

If your BMI pointer is in the yellow or red areas, you probably need to lose weight.  Your eventual target is to reach the green healthy weight band which has a BMI range of 18.5 to 25.  A sensible first target is the yellow zone if you’re not already in it.

Is your result what you expected, or have you been surprised as I was?  I thought about it in terms of bags of sugar – 49 pounds is almost 25 bags of sugar! Can you imagine filling a shopping trolley at the supermarket with that lot and then carrying it around with you?  Because the weight comes off slowly you don’t actually notice the reduction.  The people who do notice are those who haven’t seen you for a while!

I found that the bulk of the work of reducing my weight was dedicated to getting to within a stone of the 25 BMI figure.  Getting to 25 became a part 2 as it were.  If you get to within 14 lbs off of the eventual target, believe me, you’ll already be grinning like a cheshire cat!



Okay, you got me – this isn’t a Cheshire Cat, but you get the idea.  (He could still have come from Cheshire, or like their cheese).

The good news is that getting to the green band is not impossible, and the information I am going to show you will help you do it.  (There isn’t any bad news – at least not here).

Establishing a timetable

Ok, you’re now ready for the next step which is to establish how long this will take you.

Not saying that you’re not great at arithmetic but if you’d like to use it, you may find this easier using Google calculator.

Please write down / add your actual weight.  For me this was 15st 1lb which is 211 lbs.  If you have kilograms instead, that works too.

Then write down/ add your highest healthy weight figure in pounds or kg.  (For me this was 11 st 11 lbs which is 165 lbs) e.g.

BMI Healthy Weight Calculator 5a

Now subtract the second figure from the first, e.g. 211 – 165.  In my case this gave me a difference of 46 lbs (or 3 st 4 lbs).

Now divide the result by 1.5.  This gave me 31.  1.5 is how many pounds you’ll be aiming to lose every week.  31 was the number of weeks it was going to take me to lose the weight if I lost it at this rate. e.g.

Weight        211
Target         165
Difference    46
Divided by   1.5
Equals           31 (weeks)

If you follow the steps above, you should the number of weeks its going to take before you look like a brand new you.  The weeks figure may look like a long time, (it can be made to look better if you convert it to months and remember that instead).  Anyway, time flies, and if you follow my guidelines you’ll soon be looking back and grinning, and wondering why you had never been able to do this before.  (That might be because you hadn’t read the right stuff).

Why 1.5 and not 2 or 3 or 5?

The reason I’ve put 1.5 is that this is achievable.  It may be slower than perhaps you’ve predicted, but it is achievable.

Ever rushed into a diet only to find a few weeks later that the weight is going back on even faster? One of the reasons for this is that the human body doesn’t react well to sudden change.  For instance it can take six months or so before someone emigrating from a hot country to a cold country feels that it isn’t freezing.

Like a tree that bends in a storm and doesn’t break, the more that you can work with your body rather than against it, the more successful you’ll be at losing weight and keeping it off.


Working with your body and knowing how you can counter its sometimes overkill reaction to what it perceives as an emergency is something that is discussed in the next article.


You’ve taken the first step to reducing your weight and improving your health!  Not only by reading this blog this far, but by working out how long it should take you to get to a healthy weight.  Wasn’t too painful was it?

The next article shows you how you can start to do this.  Once again there’s no hidden costs or agenda – I just want to share what I’ve found has helped.

NB: Although this plan is pretty gentle, if you’re at all concerned, speak to your doctor and ask them if they have any reservations against you starting a calorie controlled diet.

Explain that you’re looking to lose a couple of pounds a week and tell them your target.  If they are happy that your body is capable of sustaining this, you’ve got the green light to continue.


I’d love to hear your feedback (below) whether its good or bad, and if you really like the page please hit the Like button to show you’re impressed.

This blog has shown you how to establish the time it will take you to lose your excess weight and explained why a slow burn approach may work better.  Part 3 explains how to start using the calorie figures and embark on your new lifestyle.  Its not as far fetched as it may sound.  It really can happen, and if I can do it anyone can.

Catch you in part 3.

Best wishes.  Ian.