Tag Archives: Weight loss

Going public on Cycling goals for 2014

So far I been reflecting on goals for 2014 in Approaching the year end and considering future goals then I came over all mad and brave in Going public on a goal for 2014. The Leicester Sprint Triathlon. So what about cycling more generally for me? It must be time for “Going public on Cycling goals for 2014”.

This is about personal goals related to being more intentional about my health, the issue is typified by my inability to lose weight and keep it lost. I am 2kg heavier than a year ago, my body fat percentage is currently 26% (24% a year ago). Currently, just over 100kg I really want to get close to 80kg (although realistically it is a long time since I stayed under 90kg for very long).

So for cycling I am setting two goals based about two habits which seem to have been effective in the past.

  1. I will ride a bike at least 1 mile every single day. By simply getting on the bike I make sure I have done some exercise and most days once on the bike I do a lot more than 1 mile.
  2. I will complete a 100 mile ride once each month. I find these are really helpful in burning up fat. I have even booked dates in my calendar for these right through the year to try to make sure they happen. They are:

January 24th Friday
February 14th Friday
March 21st Friday
April 25th Friday
May 9th Friday
June 6th Friday
July 12th/13th Saturday/Sunday (Dunwich Dynamo) = 200km
August 8th Friday
September 13th Saturday (Historic Churches)
October 17th Friday
November 7th Friday
December 5th Friday

Hopefully that will bring my annual mileage back up to about 5,000 in the year (2011 total miles was 4,700; 2012 total miles was 5,500; 2013 total miles is 3,500).

Along with the swimming and running needed for the triathlon I am hoping this will help tackle my ongoing concern with my weight.

I am also committing myself to some stretching and core muscle work as I know I benefit from them. I am not entirely confident about my ability to stick to these having failed so many times in the past. For the plank I can currently do 60 seconds and so my goal is to simply increase that by 1 second a day. I am still working on what stretching to do.

Fortunately, I love doing the cycling so the goals are much easier to stick at than goals related to weight loss or other exercise.


50% diet

Today is the 50% milestone.

I am halfway through my diet, I have now lost 7.5kg of the 15kg I plan to lose by the end of July. Not quite halfway there in time yet which is good news.

For those who were concerned that I might fade away or that I would become a skinny wreck of my former self I hope that these few months are reassuring. I have not changed shape dramatically but have dropped one shirt collar size and fit in trousers that I have not worn for a while. My face feels a bit thinner and my tummy does not enter a room so long before the rest of me. However, I am still overweight and there is plenty of spare blubber left to go.

However, despite still having a long way  to go before anyone is convinced I am at a healthy weight I still feel a lot better. I have more energy and I definitely notice the reduced weight when cycling up hills.

I still have binge evenings though and my weight still goes up and down quite a lot (up to 1kg changes in a day) so there is still a lot of scope for improvement.

Anyway I like milestones and round figures so today feels good. Not only 50% of the total but a round number in kg reached for the first time. Even more so there are a couple of other nice targets to aim for in the next few weeks. One a really round number in lbs which will be nice to break through, then a round number of UK Stones and then a number that ends in zero to break through in kg.

What seemed totally crazy in January is starting to seem achievable 🙂


Diet progress: 7kg down

Today marked one of those pleasing mini milestones that I find motivationally helpful.

I have now lost 7kg since 1st January. Every few days I see a weight on the scales that I have not seen in a long time (if ever, when I was going up past this weight I was not weighing myself regularly).

This means that the halfway point of this diet stretch is within shouting distance, if I am disciplined this weekend then it could be within the week.

Sadly, it is now getting noticeably harder to lose weight. A gentle bike ride of 10 miles or so (which would be typical for work) is not enough to allow me to ignore what I eat.

Still the benefits I am already experiencing from losing this much weight mean that it seems more worthwhile than ever to continue.


The 10kg turnaround

Recently my diet has progressed to the point where I am about 10kg down from my maximum weight last summer. That weight scared me quite a bit and so I took action to lose about 7kg although I then put 2kg back on over Christmas. Since the beginning of 2011 I have lost 5kg (which puts me slightly ahead of my target for the end of July).

The difference has come from a combination of snacking less (especially late at night) and of far more exercise (which has mostly been cycling).

I am amazed at the difference that losing this 10kg has made, far more difference than I had expected. People commented that I look less fat (a long way to go before I could claim to look slim) and this is borne out by moving down two9 waist sizes in trousers and at least one neck size in shirts. However, there has been a much bigger change in how I feel and what I am comfortable doing. I guess that tiredness, lack of energy and reduced ability sneak on you with the extra weight and it is easy to assume that it is just you getting older. Now though it is rather like turning back the clock my personal quality of life is much improved and it has a positive effect on the rest of the family as well.

It all seems very obvious with the benefit of hindsight, yet it took a lot to get me to act. Not only that but after seeing the first benefits I nearly slipped back again. The boost given by simply enjoying riding my bike everyday and getting things done by bike that I have never managed before has made all the difference.

I now feel that I have the keys to continuing this progress a little more locked in. The pattern is:

  • Daily bike riding. No set target for length but it does keep going up as I get fitter. Now over 120 days in a row
  • Daily weight recording on the linediet.com to see progress against my target with not quite daily reporting of progress on twitter and quantter
  • Tracking the miles I cycle. I keep a fairly simple tally in Daytum (data entry is very quick and easy). Essentially I add one total per day for the miles I ride broken down by Bike and whether for work or leisure. I can see at a glance that I have ridden 765 miles this year of which 443 are for work and a daily average of just over 12.5 miles. I like numbers and so like being able to see the miles clock up here.

Over the next months the diet will take me into down to weights I have not seen for many years. By the time I reach July I should be just easing out of the overweight BMI category. So far every indication is that will be good, I just wish I had got on with it sooner.


What helps me improve fitness & lose weight

In some ways it is far too early for me to be writing this post. It might appear as if I am all sorted whereas I still have a long way to go.

Still I have lost 9.5 kg since around May 2010 and 4.5 kg of that so far in 2011. I have also cycled many more miles so far in 2011 than I have ever ridden before. In fact you can probably go back a few years and find times when I cycled less in a year than I have ridden so far in 2011.

So I thought I would share what helps me:

  • Being patient. I needed to recognise that it took me years to put on all the weight that took me well into obesity. Therefore I cannot (and should not) expect to lose it very quickly.
  • Focus on simple healthier habits. As far as health goes I have restricted myself to working on only two very simple habits.
    • The first is to ride a bike every day. Since I started measuring this with habitforge.com in late August I have achieved it 91% of the time and am currently at 95 days in a row.
    • The second is to weigh myself every day and use the simple thelinediet.com to track progress against my goal (my 2011 target of 15kg loss in 7 months is at the lower end of the recommended range that I have seen suggested many times of a max of 1 to 2lbs per week for sustainable and healthy weight loss . My target of 15kg is 0.5kg per week or about 1.1lbs). So far this year I am losing weight a bit faster but a) a lot of this was put on quickly during Christmas and b) I am losing it more through exercise and less late night snacks than through eating less.
  • Allowing the healthier habits to help me not turn to older unhealthy habits. Typically for me meant turning to food when stressed or depressed. For example I am now learning that riding a bike works better for me in so many ways.
  • Extra tracking websites give me social motivation: quantter.com and lots of stats: daytum.com (helpful for expense reports as well)
  • Riding a Bullitt cargobike has stopped me from obsessing about speed so I ride more gently and enjoy it more
  • Riding for work has taught me to slow down so that I don’t get so sweaty and this has meant I enjoy the rides more, they made a significant difference to making me feel better, that helps me do a better job and has reduced stress.
  • I sometimes weight myself at late at night to see if a ride would be a good idea to be sure of reaching tomorrows weight target.

Note that there are a few things I am not doing

  • I am not worrying about how fast I ride (I only note it for blog posts which point out the speed and convenience of riding a bike over using a car).
  • I have stopped all kinds of detailed analysis. I don’t measure heat rate, I don’t measure cadence
  • I have not set any targets for the distance I cycle (my only secret aim is not to record too many days where I ride less than at least a couple of miles)
  • Riding in cycling specific clothes (only a few exceptions in very very wet weather and when doing long day rides).
  • Cutting back very much on food at main meals and not cutting back on visits to coffee shops (although trying not to eat quite so many cakes there).

So for me in 2011 two simple habits that I measure publicly seem to be enough to help me tip the balance to gaining fitness and losing weight rather than the other way round.

Your mileage/motivations/experiences will be different so other measures may work a lot better for you.


Getting defeatist me up hills

I have a long history of struggling to cycle up hills. In 2010 I rode the Coast to Coast (C2C) with Christians Against Poverty and returned to the start by the Reivers Route on my own.

I was useless at the hills. I managed the C2C without needing to walk up any hills, but was last of the group I was in up every big hill – (often first down though 🙂

I found the Reivers Route even worse. I have plenty of excuses (I was towing a BOB trailer with my gear, it was very very wet, the wind was very strong in the wrong direction and I was a bit optimistic with the distances).  Basically the hills meant that I stopped enjoying myself and became overall very depressed and nearly gave up.

It seems to me I have two types of problem:

First, my fitness which is demonstrated by my fatty overweightness, note this is a technical term that I just invented and have copyrighted 🙂  The result is that when climbing I get seriously out of breath, my legs give way and I sweat so much that my glasses steam up so I can’t see where I am going. Yesterday included a fair bit of climbing with a cargo in my Bullitt (I managed ok’ish). However, it is interesting to compare that cargo to my weight. Since a (short lived) peak I have lost 50% of the weight of the cargo I was carrying yesterday. If I stay on target then by our summer holiday I will have lost more weight than yesterday’s cargo (will have lost in total about 20kg).  I am sure that losing that extra weight and generally increasing my fitness through continuing to cycle everyday and not use the car for work will help a lot.

But the second problem, and I think this is actually the bigger one, is that in my mind I seem to approach hills with the assumption that they will defeat me. I see a hill in front of me and my heart sinks. When I face a lot of hills on a route I get depressed and my mind keeps looking for excuses to give up. I am sure that a lot of my slowness and tiredness on hills is actually a mind thing rather than just physical limitations. This is not a new thing and I am fed up with it as it so often spoils days out and puts me off doing things I would like to do (eg touring).

Yesterday was by no means bad in terms of how I felt about it. I did get the sinking feeling when I saw the hills in front of me, I am sure it slowed me down but I didn’t feel too much like giving up. The 2.5 miles from Newtown Linford to the  M1 (avoiding the A50 by using Ashby Road) were almost continually uphill, the longest of the ride and I managed it and without collapsing in a heap at the top. I was down to first gear for a while but able to spin it reasonably.

I have had other bad experiences in the past. On a touring holiday with the whole family I ruined one day by getting depressed and even despairing about the hills ahead of us (plus a stretch of busy road that worried me a bit). Several of the holidays we had with the Company Cyclists left me with painful memories of long struggles up hills, they are not stronger than the good memories of those holidays but they do contribute to this general feeling when I see a hill or know there are big hills ahead.

While I can see progress with the physical side (weight loss and getting fitter) I wonder how to change this mental conditioning. I guess the obvious thing is to find more hills and ride up them lots and lots of times. But I don’t want to have to drive to big hills with my bike in the car so I am limited to what is available here. I have also been hoping that but riding my Bullitt (especially with cargo) I will feel stronger and more confident on hills when I ride an ordinary (much lighter) bike.

Locally I have found shortish hilly route (about 10 miles)  and I have ridden it the hillier way (ride to Beeby via South Croxton and then back the same way) as per this tweet:

I could ride this more often but even as I think about it that defeatist feeling comes over me 🙁

So suggestions please on how to (gently and realistically) tackle this defeatist conditioning and free myself from my hill climbing phobia.


One week in. Progress on 2011 challenges

So in  Bike challenges for 2011 written on 1st January I set myself the following cycling related challenges for 2011:

  • The first related to this blog: I’m Bike posting every day in 2011!. I have achieved this and at the same time there has been a significant increase in readers. Yesterday was the highest so far (and more than the best week prior to week 46 of 2010). In fact so far my average visits per day in January is more than double the previous best. I am pleased with this.
  • The second was to lose weight and support this through continuing the daily cycling habit and riding more miles. So far this has also gone exceptionally well. I have lost 1.9kg which is far higher than my target weight loss per week, puts me 0.9kg ahead of my target.

The weight loss has only happened as I have ridden lots of miles as well as riding everyday. In the week I did 126.5 miles which is a lot by my expectations. Of these all but 4 miles were on my Bullitt Cargobike and over 50 miles were for work. Twice I hopped on the scales in the late evening and thought I don’t want to post an increased weight tomorrow and therefore went for a ride, sure enough both times it meant my weight dropped.

I don’t expect my miles to continue at this rate, however, when I looked back and realised how many miles I had ridden this week I was very surprised. I would never have expected to ride so many miles without it feeling like a huge effort. I would have expected that it would have left me tired and stiff but it hasn’t. In fact last night I did just over 15 miles at a deliberately very gentle pace so that I was breathing very easily (always able to hold a proper conversation). I was surprised to average about 11.5 mph and realised how much improved my general condition must be. Hopefully a recovery ride like that was good at burning up fat.

All in all a good week. Now off to do some riding to work things 🙂


Bike challenges for 2011

So the start of a really cool year (well at least as far as dates are concerned anyway. eg 1/1/11, 11/1/11, 9/10/11, & 11/11/11). What about bike challenges for 2011.

I have made two cycling related New Year resolutions.

The first, as mentioned in I’m Bike posting every day in 2011! is obviously to write something for this blog everyday. At least at the moment I plan to be a bit organised and may even write some posts ahead of time. Anyone who knows me will recognise that plan won’t last long 🙂

The second, is supported by planning to continue the combination of my daily cycling habit and wherever possible cycling rather than driving for work. More specifically it is to lose a lot more weight.  Since a horrifying peak in the summer as we moved house I have lost about 5 kg (despite gaining over 2kg during Christmas). My plan now is to lose another 15kg by the end of July. It sounds like a huge amount but in fact works out at 0.5 kg per week which is 1.1 lbs. That fits with what seems to be generally agreed i.e. a healthy and sustainable weight loss should be between 1 and 2 lbs per week.

Experience shows that for me a daily cycling habit and avoiding driving for work are great helps in losing weight (and feeling a lot more healthy). However, I will need to up the miles I do. I don’t think I am going to set daily targets for miles although I will try to make the daily minimum about 5 miles (that won’t actually change many days). I fitted a new simple bike computer to the Bullitt on 9th Nov 2010 and have left it on non stop. It now read 316 miles over 52 days i.e. just over 6 miles a day. Bear in mind that I have used other bikes as well in that time (I guess for about 100 miles).  So I am riding at something over 50 miles per week at the moment. I would like to see that increase quite a lot during the next year.

So far I have pretty much kept to the plan to not cycle for work with the local Methodist Circuit where I am based (Leicester North Circuit). The only exception was on Christmas Eve when I had a service at Rothley at 4pm and another at Syston at 5pm, so I drove to Rothley. All other drives for work have been longer (Loughborough twice, Swanick once, Northampton three times).

What I will do is try to fit in more longer rides. I find that rides that last several hours have a really helpful and significant impact on my weight. I mostly do these as low to medium intensity as I am not trying to train for high speed races but to burn fat and enjoy myself. The ride last week in the New Forest was a good example (I could actually see that some of the Christmas weight gain had disappeared). I don’t think very many of the rides will be off road in that style. Partly that is because of convenience in getting to the rides (generally I don’t like driving somewhere to cycle), but it also reflects my feeling that off road rides are costly in terms of bike maintenance, equipment and time without my finding them hugely more enjoyable. I plan to write about that in the next day or so.

With the daily cycling habit to keep going, the riding for work and the longer rides I hope that I will be able to burn off enough calories that simply by eating reasonably sensibly (yeah I know I am not very good at that) I will be able to achieve the target weight loss of 15kg by end of July (which seems incredibly daunting at the moment). At the same time I hope to achieve a personal best in terms of miles cycled during the year although that is a a by product rather than a specific target.

As I am already feeling many benefits of having cycled more in the last 4 months than ever before (much fitter, far fewer colds, happier) I am very much looking forward to 2011.


Missed seminal habit moment

It is good to note that I have now cycled every day for 44 days.

A bit sad that I missed marking the 42nd day (Sunday) here on 42bikes.

The habit is getting stronger & riding is easier. Weight loss has slowed but slow improvements to body shape continue.

My thanks to habitforge: Forge new habits. Change your life! for helping me so far.


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