Intermittent Fasting Results: 114 days in.


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This isn’t me.  I’m still closer to the ‘before’ than the ‘after’ but I’m getting there.

I’m not one for fads and I don’t find dieting easy, but I can do it.

On January 5th this year, under the guidance of my daughter, a fitness and nutrition coach in London, I embarked on an intermittent fasting regime that is now nearing the end of its fourth month.

But has it worked?

Well, I’ve shed an average of over half a pound a day throughout that period.  In total 61lbs so far.

What’s the basis of my regime?

Four things:

  • Daily exercise
  • Intermittent fasting
  • No alcohol
  • Vegetarian diet with a careful balance of my macros

I’ve been walking in excess of 15,000 steps a day (an average of 14,000 this year so far).

I walk when I wake up and don’t eat until 1pm.

Then I typically eat a high protein brunch (scrambled eggs is the most common, with Avocado often).  I then eat again at around seven and, apart from frozen grapes in the late evening, that’s me.

My diet is now 100% vegetarian, although definitely not vegan.

I drink a lot of coffee, although decaf after 6pm, and often with oat or almond milk rather than skimmed cow’s.

I have binned the alcohol, although I will be back when this is over.  (In some ways this is the toughest part of the regime, even in Lockdown).

My 61lbs loss is 22% of my body weight (you do the math yourself) and I’m closing in on  the first of my targets, to be under 200lbs for the first time in probably 30 years.

The attainment of a normal BMI seemed unthinkable at the start of all this – if it is indeed even a meaningful thing – but I’m into the low 29’s and closing in gradually on the elusive 25.  But that needs another 28lbs weight loss so it’s a long term, rather than short term, goal.

Update as of Monday 15th June, 2020.  I’m now on day 161 and my weight loss is 76 lbs. (28.1% of my body weight).

I weigh 194lbs, so the first big target has been hit and I’ve switched to decaf coffee 100% now.  

My ‘intermittent fasting’ continues.

Simplify, then exaggerate.


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I was struck by this quote from the editor of the Economist in the 1950’s (Geoffrey Crowther) who held by his personal maxim to “simplify, then exaggerate”.

Now, many of my readers will agree that I have rarely had any difficulty in living up to the second part of Crowther’s instruction and I do my best to live up to the primary challenge so it struck me as a perfect rule by which to live one’s writing life by.

Indeed, much of my professional writing has involved editing of complex proposals and tender documents to a variety of commercial and public sector organisations and I’d like to think that what I bring to the party in this respect is Crowther’s approach.

It’s one I didn’t realise, until today, that I believed in wholeheartedly.

But I do now.

Simple!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Normal People: BBC3. Early impressions.


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Last night we watched Episodes 1 and 2 of the BBC’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s coming of age Irish novel.

It’s described as the first millennial love story novel and I don’t know if that’s how the novel played out or not but the TV adaptation, masterfully directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Room), was simply a love story that’s been realised through the ages.

Much has been made of the sensitivity of the initial sex scene where Marianne loses her virginity to Connell and I have to agree it was directed with great care and sensitivity so as not to sensationalise the scene.

Episode one was a masterclass in tension.  The unfolding of Connell and Marianne’s romance, kept secret as it is from their sixth year classmates, had me on the edge of my seat.  And when Marianne asks the immortal question “can we take our clothes off now”, immediately after that first fleeting kiss, had my wife and I roaring with laughter: relief, I think.

In many ways it’s a standard romantic trope with the usual Jock, plain Jane, bullying boys and unattainable classroom beauties.  But none of it feels like a cliche because, wisely, Abrahamson, has let it play out slowly, surely and sympathetically so that it feels anything like cliche and nothing like a millennial-only piece that us Baby Boomers won’t get.

We 100% get it because it’s timeless.

Rarely have this standard storytelling structure been made to connect quite so realistically.

It’s breathtaking and I can’t wait for the next ten episodes.

To face-mask, or not to face-mask?


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When it all comes to pass and the difficult questions are being asked, the one about the British Government saying facemarks don’t do anything to stop the spread of Coronavirus will be a particularly bum-tightening one.

The big lie.

I’m not a scientist so my view on this is of little or no validity.

But, I do have a brain.

And this is what I see and what I hear.

Firstly, I see a Health Minister (Matt Hancock) floundering under the pressure of office, but putting in a pretty decent shift overall.

However, I also see a Health Minister trapped in the party politics prison that won’t allow politicians in office to admit they don’t know the answer to things, or that they made mistakes.  Or that they simply can’t make happen what they really want to make happen.

Like conjure up half a billion facemarks.

As time goes by Matt Hancock is experiencing two things that are becoming the walls that are closing in on him.

PPE and testing.

He’s lied or misinformed for some time now about the availability of both and this is what I feel is giving him no choice but to mislead us on the use of  facemarks.

Because he simply doesn’t have any to spare.

So, instead of just saying (admitting) this he spreads and/or propagates a mistruth.

That facemarks don’t work outside of a clinical situation.

But our scientists repeatedly tell us that facemarks clearly DO have a role to play.

But it’s on an altruistic level only, in not SPREADING the disease.

Hancock prefers to opt for disseminating a convenient truth, that it doesn’t protect the INDIVIDUAL wearer particularly well from CATCHING the virus.

That way he stops a run on facemasks, ekes out his PPE supply. (Helped along with a few more statistical lies and long grass dates that he hopes journalists will forget: they WON’T though.)

This saves him actually LYING about the truth.  Instead he can push a convenient half-story.

But the real truth is bearing fruit and being enacted on the streets of more succesful viral-containing nations; that facemasks DO stop the SPREAD of Coronavirus, even if they don’t stop you personally CATCHING it.

It’s a shame that this truth isn’t being propagated by Matt.

An alcohol free lockdown. (Or, how to fight coronavirus Corona-free)


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There have been reports that the average drinker is drinking more in the lockdown caused by Coronavirus.

I’ve done the opposite.

In fact I went dry on January 5th as  part of my annual ‘cleanse’.

As is my want I also began a diet and a new exercise regime that is based principally on walking 10,000 steps a day.

This year, for the first time, I also went vegetarian.

All four disciplines remain fully in effect.

101 days later I find myself 53 pounds lighter and feeling the benefit significantly.

I will report on this in a later post but, for now, I wanted to share with you and encourage you, if you’re thinking of taking the sober plunge, with my observation that not drinking through the lockdown is neither the end of the world, nor an unimaginable fate worse than dearth (pun intended).

One motivator for me in this is that I am self employed.  All of my work has dried up and I am not receiving a penny of government support, despite trying to feed a family of five, all adults, and none of us earning a bean.

My son and my daughter’s boyfreind are both just back from travelling – one was too late to find work and the other was unceremoniously dumped the second things got tough – only a few days before the furlough ruling was approved.

My wife doesn’t work and my daughter is a student.

Luckily I have savings and, let’s be honest, our outgoings are significantly reduced (especially as I was able to negotiate a three month mortgage holiday).

So, not drinking (my wife doesn’t anyway) has meant the budget stretches a fair bit further and that could be a primary motivator for you if you find yourself yearning an alcohol-free life just now.

But is it purgatory?

No, I have to say, the good news is it’s not.

The benefits, aside from financial, are manifold and for some of you that get ‘the fear’ when overindulging – thankfully not something I have ever experienced – that could be the biggest one.

In past purges I have substituted with alcohol-free beer, but I think it’s a bad move.  This time I took a conscious decision not to ‘substitute’ in this way and it lessens the sense that I am being punished.

My poison, instead, has been stove-top coffee (Illy Rosa is the king in my opinion) – caffeinated during the day and decaf in the evening.

Some other low calorie ‘treats’ you might like are frozen grapes.  Truly a guilt-free option of an evening.

You’ll find a number of benefits

  • weight loss – if you’re a fat bastard like me
  • good levels of energy
  • much better sleep
  • excellent concentration – particularly helpful in the endless Zoom quizzes you may be, like me, taking part in.
  • I think, generally speaking, better mental health all round

My advice would be to go ‘cold turkey’ rather than trying to wean yourself off.  Get in a good supply of caffeine free diet coke and the aforementioned coffees, but I like to start with a hangover so that at least on day two you immediately feel better.

If you want any support along the way drop me a line.  I’m happy to personally share my experiences.

Mazel tov.

 

 

 

Pine by Francine Toon: Book review


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It’s a sort of gothic horror for our times, although I’d describe it as more mystical than horrifying, and it brings in aspects of police procedural, but with no police.

Instead a crime is traced by 11 year old Lauren, a fairly neglected, and bullied at school, single-parent child.

Her dad, Niall, an alcoholic, has lost his wife (disappeared) in unresolved circumstances before Lauren can even remember what she looks like.  But is she dead, or is her ghost/spirit/person occupying the fringes of the novel?

Lauren has assumed mystical behaviours consistent with witchcraft, and perhaps inherited from her missing Mum.

It’s set on the edge of a pine forest in Northern Scotland and it’s written with great skill by first time novelist, Toon.  But what it scores highly on, in terms of writing panache and storytelling, it loses out a little on in tension.

It feels a little familiar and seems destined for our screens.  Indeed, for large parts. I felt I was reading a film transcript which let it down a little.

That all sounds a little dismissive, but if you are looking for a lightish read with a degree of writing quality (it’s published by Penguin after all) It’s worth picking up.

It’s a decent read.

 

 

Seeing life from a different perspective


My daughter Amy’s latest blog post. More positivity in these tough times.

Hitting the ground running

Whilst the world is trying to work out how to heal and make everything better, it is up to us to stay at home, stay healthy and remain as positive as we are able.

I have had so many conversations recently with people saying “oh my god such and such did this and it is really doing my head in”.

Every time it has prompted me to think and respond, “would they have done this before now?”, “would it have annoyed you then?”, “why do you think they did that?”

Most of the time the response is “yes, they normally did this it just seems worse now”. 

Each of us has our own way of dealing with life and responding to uncertainty. Nobody responds in the same way, no approach is good / bad / more superior. We are only human and it is in our nature, especially right now…

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World 2.0. After the lockdown. Can I help?


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It can surely be no exaggeration to say that the business world needs to hit reboot.

I’m not really sure when, or how that might start to happen (although starting now, to get ahead of the pack, might not be such a bad idea) because we will be entering a new reality.

I’m calling it World 2.0 for simplicity’s sake.

World 2.0.  The new reality?

We’ve had three Industrial Revolutions so far – in turn they were the consequences of the steam engine,  science and mass production, and the rise of digital technology.  They were all born of opportunity and technological advance.

None of them were caused by nature and all of them created booms.

But we’ve also had the opposite.

That has been the domain of World Wars and crashes; one of them financial (2008/9) and one of them (1929) founded on greed and wild speculation.

When we return to our desks, post-virus, post-furlough and scan our opportunities, most likely with a sense of doom, we’ll need to prioritise.

Big style.

It’s highly likely that workforces, everywhere, will be trimmer.

It’s highly likely that plans will be in disarray.

It’s highly likely that the idiom regarding loneliness at the top will never have been truer.

What’s the last thing you’re likely to be looking for?

Consultancy.

That’s what.

I dislike that word at the best of times but, you know, it’s what I do.

I bring to bear the biggest asset I have in my toolkit.

Experience.

The thing is though, I’ve never weathered an apocalypse, because let’s be honest here, that’s what we’re talking about.

So I don’t actually have any experience to offer you.

Right.  So should you read on?

Please stick with me, because my core skills will be as valid as ever as difficult decisions need to be taken about future investment, planning, positioning and your business’ true value proposition.

It simply won’t cut it if they’re flabby, comfortable – designed for World 1.0.

A trimmed down offer.

I’ve been using the lockdown as wisely as I can – or at least I think I have been.

I’ll be honest with you.  I gave up my latest role (with The Marketing Centre) only weeks before the tsunami struck.  I was looking to operate differently anyway, to go back to my own personal basics – little did I know just how differently that might be.

Since the turn of the year I’ve been exercising, dieting and then – enforced to some extent – resting and building up my energy for World 2.0.

Of course, that’s not all of choice.

My business has been hit hard.

Total and utter cessation of income at this point in time.

And at the time of writing I’m, physically, 17.8%  leaner as a result of my efforts.  I have aspirations to progress further but I can only report on fact. (Something much overlooked by many authorities in recent months.)

See these rocks?

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They weigh exactly 17.8% of my body mass.

I’ve been building a wall of them for months.

It’s a metaphorical wall now; one I can help you smash through as you look to re-establish your messages, your proposition, your value in this new world.

And I’ve decided that my contribution to your leaner outlook should be leaner fees, that’s why I’m knocking 17.8% off my World 2.0 invoices – every little helps.

I can help you with your marketing strategy, your business strategy and in visioning what World 2.0 might look like for you.

You never know; it might actually be a better place.

 

 

The baby boom there won’t be.


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I love Radio 4’s ‘More or Less’.  It’s a programme about statistics (and data) and it’s brutally anoracky.

But I care not if you think this makes me socially unacceptable, because you learn fascinating things .

Like how misguided you are when your friends say, “Well, there’s gonna be a massive baby boom in nine months after this, eh?” and you nod; because of course there will be.

Well, I have news for you.

There won’t be.

Never is one.

When big events like this happen, and people are unexpectedly shacked up together, for long and even short periods, it simply doesn’t happen.

Not even once.

Not after epidemics, pandemics, floods, power outages, wars.

Never.

That’s what I learned on this week’s episode (available here for a bit).

Here’s why it won’t happen.

a) The biggest cause of pregnancy is teenagers fooling around without protection – but they are all at home: masturbating.

b) In vitro fertilisation has stopped.  It’s bigger than you might think.

c) Family planners have stopped planning families – would you want to conceive right now?

On the other hand…

d) Prophylactics have vanished from the shelves because they’re mostly made in China.

So mistakes will happen.

But a, b and c outweigh d.

I thank you.

 

 

Borostounness Episode 5: The Articulate one.


OK.  As we settle into lockdown Helen and Rab have one small advantage.  Their pals Jeanie and Bill have already had the virus so they can come and go as they please.

They’ve popped round to cheer Helen and Rab up with a friendly game of Articulate.  (The Game in which you have to describe the words you see on cards under the category that your playing piece is on.)

It can be a little frustrating.

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