Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Lance Armstrong: My part in his downfall

Howdy folks. Hope all is well. Last week was a tough one for me. Last Monday in a spinning class I pulled my groin. Despite what most boys in their teens might think pulling your groin is not fun. Apparently it might also make you blind. I think I read that somewhere when I was still able to read... Exercise was tough for the week as a result but I kept going. I still went to the gym everyday but I dropped the intensity of my workouts as not to aggravate myself further. I also had one session of Hydrotherapy which helped me somewhat but I am still sore today as I write this.

Despite most people thinking at this stage that Lance Armstrong is an awful XXXXer!! (censored)  he seemed to manage getting up on his bike without injuring himself. Saying that if I had taken as much drugs as Lance Armstrong I suspect that my bicycle would have taken flight last Monday and E.T. and I would have been flying over the Mardyke Arena. E.T. dreaming of home and I probably dreaming of a cheeseburger.

It has been so long now since I have had a burger it would almost  like E.T. seem alien (boom boom) to me.
I do not actually miss Burgers. I do not miss Chocolate. I do not miss biscuits. I do not miss my "low calorie fizzy drinks"    I do not miss crisps.    I suppose my new habits have been formed.  I do however miss my favourite , my old lover the Chinese takeaway. I have not had a Chinese Take away in 7 weeks. Sales have plummeted so much in fact that several of the paddy fields in eastern China have shut down. Economists have often said that when China enters the recession that the western world is doomed. I am hoping that the butterfly effect does not apply here. I could not have it on my conscience that by abstaining from Chinese takeaways that I would inadvertently cause the end of the world.

My stag party is coming up in 3 weeks and I and my 12 apostles are heading to London for the weekend. I do not have a messiah complex but the fact that there will be 12 men following me all over London has had me thinking. Surely one of them like Judas will kiss me on the cheek and chain me to Nelsons Column. I hope it isn't too cold. I have lost 21.6 pounds now (just under ten kilos) and I am starting to feel the cold more.  I am not a drinker for the most part so the lure of my stag is not a weekend binging session. It is a rendezvous with my old mistress Chinese food. China town in Soho has some of the nicest Chinese restaurants in Europe.You know you are in a good Chinese restaurant when most people eating there are Chinese. I have met a lot of Chinese people in my life and they in my opinion demand satisfaction and are not shy to voice their concerns when they feel they are not satisfied. The Irish phrase "sure it's grand" does not really exist in the Chinese culture. Something is either satisfactory or it is not. I am very much looking forward to being one of those satisfied customers sitting in a dimly lit Chinese restaurant. The major difference for me though is that I will not be eating my meal as if food is going out of fashion. In the past part of the attraction for me with Chinese food was the variety of eating as many different things as possible. Combination of starters main courses deserts etc. I enjoyed the variety of Chinese food in the same way Russell Brand enjoys the variety of his female audience.( He is much skinnier than me though..)  

 Going forward though I think my attitude to food will change. Having stuck rigidly to the diet provided for me for the last 6 weeks I have settled into a routine and variety is no longer the linchpin of my dietary habits.
I can see myself having my breakfast and lunch in the Main Restaurant going forward. It will be much easier for me to manage if the meals will continue to be calorie counted. I have been assured that they will.
A key task for me going forward is to assemble a list of evening meals (calorie controlled) that I can have at home as I will be totally honest and say that I will not be eating wraps and sandwiches for my evening meal going forward. The one part of this programme that has been hard for me is trying to get used to having a wrap or a sandwich everyday. It might work for Jared from Subway but it won't work for me. It is much easier for Jared to eat those wraps knowing that he has amassed a wealth of $15 Million by eating them. Jaysus give me 1.5 million and I will wear a sandwich let alone eat one.

There is only one week left of this programme and I have so far lost just over 21.6 pounds or just under 10 kilos. It has been hard work but I regret nothing. There are days when my body is sore and my tummy is rumbling. However there are more days when my body feels fit. I feel alive. This programme has helped me to help myself. It has helped me to adopt a healthier lifestyle and a healthier approach to exercise. I have finally in my 36th year found a way to respect myself.  This might sound very cheesy but I have found a way to love myself. My life is forever changed.
 I am at the top of my hill . E.T. is in my basket cheering me on.
Lance Armstrong is miles behind.

Next Week I will be writing about the end of the Programme. I plan in writing about my feelings overall during the programme and the tips that I have picked up to help me exercise and loose weight. I am not an athlete but I am healthier and happy.

Thanks for reading and remember Transformers be healthy and be happy.


Friday, 14 February 2014

The Wall

We don't need no Egg McMuffin,
We don't need no Breakfast Roll,
No Secret Sauce or Chicken Nuggets


All in All it's just another brick in the Wall.

I have been a big Pink Floyd fan. I think for those who don't appreciate Pink Floyd I would say that Pink Floyd and Shakira have a lot in common. Both artists's music is greatly enhanced when you are also watching their videos . In the gym this week as I was exercising on the treadmill Another Brick in the Wall came on my I pod. I started to imagine what it would sound like if I had written the words to it. The result is what you have read above.

The song has also been on my mind this week because at one point in the gym this last week I hit my wall. I could not see around it ,I could not climb over it and I certainly was not breaking through it. I have been exercising in some form every day since the transformation project has began. In earlier posts I swore that I would never like the gym. I am surprising myself as I am really starting to enjoy it. I almost look forward to going to the gym now(almost). Not because it is fun but more so because I am beginning to see the results that it can bring me.After this weeks weigh in in which I have lost a further 2.2 pounds and I am now 18.2 pounds lighter than I was five weeks ago.

However at a particular point in the last week I felt as if I could not go on. I felt my legs turn to jelly under me .My arms were sore and no amount of motivation or instruction could spur me on. I think this was partially down to the fact that I went to the gym 6 days last week and really pushed myself.

Sometimes the bricks of the wall don't add up the way you expect them to. In my first week in which I stuck rigidly to the diet but did virtually no exercise I lost 7.5 pounds. The following week I lost 1.3 pounds and in the last three weeks I have lost 4.5 pounds , 3 pounds and 2.2 pounds respectively. It is hard to get your head around sometimes that even when you intensify your exercise you don't get the same results as you did at the start or the week previously.Perhaps there is a sense of nostalgia about your first big weight loss. 
It is kind of like your first visit to the cinema, most people remember it and no visit since has ever seemed as special. For me the first film I saw in the cinema was The Jungle Book and I obviously didn't get the message as I was disappointed when the Tiger Sher Khan didn't tear Mowgli the man cub to shreds.I had a perverse sense of humour when I was a child. I actually thought Bambi was a comedy. 

It is funny how our memories work. Most people remember clearly the first person they kissed. However most people cannot remember the second. I can still remember my first Chinese take away. The other several thousand have blurred into obscurity.

In our group session last week I just didn't feel motivated. I did what I was told but I was miserable. I also sensed that this was not just me but the overall mood in the group seemed to be stiffer than previous weeks. It was almost if we all had our own walls that we were trying to overcome. 
Our trainers who are absolutely brilliant  and so patient. I am really grateful for their help.It should be noted that they are volunteering their time with us. That is really admirable.
The trainers remarked that we didn't seem to be supporting each other as much as we had in previous weeks. I being quite vocal (and very stubborn) tried to defend the group I felt it was hard to try and encourage others to climb their own walls when you are trying to get out from the shadow of your own.  I also think that it didn't help that this happened as we had been running up and down two flights of stairs for ten minutes.(My calf's were sore for 5 days afterwards)
The only time I have seen that many people run up a stairs like that was to get get to ticket master to buy Garth Brooks tickets.(A good friend of mine remarked that there isn't a coincidence that the announcement of Garth Brooks concerts in Ireland has been accompanied by biblical floods. By the time Brooks announces his 35th date in Croke Park he expects a swarm of locusts to descend on line dancing Irish Country and Western fans. .) 
I would rather go up that stairs for infinity than go to a Garth Brooks concert.Mark my words first if this keeps going we will be seeing yoga classes replaced by line dancing classes. You might think I am joking but nobody did Pilates until Madonna and her 80 year old body started doing it.

Like Madonna I prefer performing individually. Unlike Madonna I will not be wearing a leotard when I am 50.I find group sessions more challenging that my individual ones. When I am training on my own I know what my goals are and what I need to do to achieve them. Group work outs are harder because I feel more pressure to keep up with the others.
 I have huge respect for Mary who is in our group. She has such an impressive drive. She is a fine young woman and is a great ambassador for students. She is such a nice polite person and she is giving it socks. I know that if I can keep up with Mary than I am doing ok. It is I think and I am only speculating much harder for women to lose weight than men. (For men the problem is it is just as easy for it to go back on) I do believe though that women probably have more determination than men and will probably find the changes in life after this programme easier to adjust to than the men. I am speaking generally but a lot of guys I know yo-yo  with their weight where as most of the women I know who have committed to weight loss and healthy living maintain that.

When I see how determined Mary is and I see how she is always ahead of the pace it gives me encouragement to keep going. I suppose in a way the people around me are the sledgehammer I need to help break down the wall and make sure I don't turn in to the flying floating Pig. ( Pink Floyd fans will get the reference others will think I have ingested a hallucinogenic.I haven't)

I do not drink so that should help. I might find it hard to get over my wall but at least in my future I won't be throwing up on it in a drunken stupor. Not drinking is a big help I think. A lot of people I know go to the gym Monday to Friday and then go mad on the beer for the weekend. If that is what works for them so beat. I imagine though that while beauty is skin deep I probably have a more beautiful liver.

I just wanted to stop for a second and say thank you to everybody who offered me support and kind words after my last blog about my struggle with depression. I take great comfort in knowing that there are so many people who care about me. It also has opened my eyes further to how many people are dealing with depression themselves. Depression is not a dirty word and if I can help even one person to realise that then my sharing my own story while it was hard to do ,will be worthwhile.

Thank you everybody for reading my blog. The blog now has 5000 views and I am really enjoying writing it. 
We all have our own walls to overcome but I believe they can all be knocked down.

Remember Transformers be healthy , be happy.


Friday, 7 February 2014

My Mother killed my Black Dog

I never thought that I would admit that Winston Churchill and I  have a lot in common. I always thought I had more in common with Churchill the nodding dog from the insurance commercials ( Would you like another Tayto sandwich Churchill ? "OH YESSSSSS")

Churchill was known for his rapier wit, had a similar frame as myself,dapper suits and was known for his military precision (not unlike myself and modest to boot)  However what Churchill and I probably had most in common was that  we both had a black dog for a large portion of our lives.

My uncle who I adore has a beautiful black dog called Patsy who has enriched his life in a way I don't think any of our family could have imagined possible. My uncle is very successful,articulate,funny and is a very proud gay man. I have always been so proud of my uncle and I love that little dog mostly because of how happy she has made my uncle.

Like my uncles black dog I have had to live with my own black dog since my twenties. However my dog is invisible and the only one who has had to take this dog for a walk daily for years was me. For the most part I carried that dog on my shoulders and not behind me on a lead.

The black dog I speak of is  one that thousands of Irish people have to carry the burden around daily
.It is depression. It is something that I have had to deal with myself over the last 8 years or so and I am not at all ashamed to admit that. I am proud to say that while that black dog lived with me for years he has now gone to live on a nice farm in the countryside and hopefully unlike when a child is fed that line I don't think he is coming back.

My struggle with depression began  for me after a bad break up. I was in a relationship in my twenties that was destined to fail. The girl who is a very nice sensitive person was somebody that I really cared about and after an extended period of time of me wooing her we had a brief courtship. I realise at this point in my life  that this was not a realistic relationship. I was far too intense ,expected far too much from the girl and rightly so she was scared off,
The relationship was like a jigsaw. My life at the time was nearly the full picture, I had my dream job , a loving family (more about that later)great friends and great hobbies. The only thing that was missing from the picture was the girlfriend.  I know now in my maturity that I had the wrong piece for the jigsaw but I tried to jam it into the slot regardless.The pieces were wrong and the picture fell apart.
I hope this girl realises that I am sorry for putting her in that position.I am also so so so glad that that the picture did fall apart because I am ten weeks away from marrying the right person who is the love of my life and I worship the ground she walks on. She for me is not only the whole picture Belcy is my whole life.

I fell into a deep depression and lost half a stone in a week( not a healthy  way to lose weight!) I barely ate and slept most of the time. Eventually my mother brought me to my GP and I spoke to him about how  I was feeling.This led to my first introduction to Anti-Depressants. From here I was began a course of a drug called Effexor which I took daily for about 4 years.
The side effects were awful. My weight ballooned from 15 stone 7 pounds to 17 stone 8 pounds, I would regularly break out in sweats,my sense of smell and taste were drastically altered. Food tasted differently but it didn't stop me from eating instead I ate more.My Libido was so low I could have been a Limbo dancer.
 Food became my comfort. Family could always tell when I was in a bad mood as there would be take away food cartons, chocolate wrappers and crisp papers everywhere. I was  the Willy Wonka for the Prozac generation.
I was numb.

Brian Wilson wrote a song called In my room which was about how during a deep depression he retired to his bedroom for years. The room became his Kingdom and he withdrew from daily life. The song resonated with me as for about 3 years I spent most of time going from work to a takeaway to my room. I realise now that I wasted 3 years of my life. At least Brian Wilson has this beautiful song to show for it. For three years I felt I spent most of my time talking to my family from inside a locked door.

I realise that for many people who know me that this revelation is probably a bit of shock as I have always being able to mask my depression by appearing to be as upbeat  as possible. This was very hard for me but I was able get through it. My closest friends know that there is two parts to me. There is JP(which should stand for John Public but it doesn't) who most people know and there is John who only a few people know. JP has always been happy go lucky,quick witted and fun but John struggled for years with his moods and his emotions. I am happy to say that JP and John are practically the same person now. But they weren't for years.

A couple of things happened that made me want to change my life.  The main reason was my beautiful mother Marian who has been my rock  my whole life. I still feel guilty at times that I put my mum through so much pain at a time when she was not very well physically herself. However my mum never complained and she was always there to talk to me, to listen to me cry, just to be there. I am 35 but I will always be my mums child and she will always be my best friend.
My Mum worried so much for me that I eventually realised that I wasn't just harming myself I was hurting those around me. Even at my lowest ebb when I did not care about myself I always cared about hurting others. That is one of things about myself that I am really proud of. I care about people. I will do anything for the people I love. I learned that trait especially from my mother who is the most amazing  caring mother. I am alive because of her. I have spoken about my dad previously and I can stand proud today to say that I am the person I am  because of my parents and their influence on my life.
I still live at home and will be moving out in the next ten weeks when I get married. That will be strange for me and hard to get used to as I will not see my parents as much but their influence on me has made me the person I am which is hopefully a good one. I want to make them proud.

The other thing that acted as a catalyst for me was an episode where I met my brother in town one night. I was extremely manic very upset and on the verge of tears. My brother and I love each other dearly but are very different people. We have a lot in common especially a love of music and the arts but we do not have a history of deep meaningful conversations.(Perhaps that will change the more mature I/we get) On this night though Ber could tell that I was at a very low point. I assured him that I was going home and that I was ok. Two minutes later my phone rang. It was my mother and I could hear the strain in her voice, Ber was really worried and rang her to tell her the state that I was in. I realised at that point how much pain I was causing others and I realised that I needed to get myself together.If I hadn't met my brother that night I  know that I would not have made it home.My black dog was leading me to the river. I have never told him this and I don't think he realises that by bumping in to me that night he and my mum saved my life.
.I am so proud of my brother he is independent in the truest sense of the word and has always followed his dreams and has never compromised. He is far more courageous than I could ever be.I love you Ber.
( I do have a wonderful sister too Louise but she is deserving of her own post)

Another friend of mine who I shall call N (she knows who she is) was really the only person to recognise that I was depressed. N gave me a copy of a book called I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone. It is a great book that outlines the nature of depression and how to deal with it. I still have this book in my bedside locker today and it has been more helpful to me than a mountain of anti-depressants could ever be.
The book makes some practical suggestions.
Get the right amount of sleep go to bed early and rise early.
Get some fresh air.
Take exercise.
Talk to people about your feelings.
It is ok to be depressed and it is nothing to be embarrassed about.
I will always be grateful to N for her help and how she helped my life. She probably doesn't even realise it.She has had such a huge impact on my adult life. N I love you x.

I am not saying that people do not need anti-depressants.There are many cases where they are necessary.  I can only speak for myself. I spent 4 years on Effexor and I think now that if I had followed the above suggestions I may not have needed them for as long as I did.Perhaps though doctors are too quick to prescribe them to people it is almost as if there is a club card scheme.

One of the things that I have learned from Operation Transformation is that a healthy attitude to food and exercise can help in the fight against depression. I now exercise in some form every day. The personal trainers in the gym would probably argue that I am not the best at the gym but I am going nearly every day and even at my own pace I feel better. As Daft Punk would say I am "Harder Better Faster Stronger"
I wish I knew how much exercise could help my moods years ago. If I had I would have spared my family and especially my mother the pain that I caused them.

Exercise helps your moods.It is not rocket science. You don't even need a rocket a treadmill will do.

In the end my Mother killed my black dog. I realised that if someone loved me that much and would help me as much as she did that my life was worth living.One of my major goals in life  now is to have children with my beautiful wife to be so that I can try to be as good a parent as my Mum and Dad are to me. It is a very high benchmark but I will try to reach it.

I am not ashamed of having depression. I have overcome it.It has probably made me a better person. I do know that this transformation process has equipped me with tools that I did not have previously and I am better tasked to kick the dog in the ghoulies if he tries to come at me again.( I am not advocating animal cruelty folks. It is an imaginary dog with imaginary ghoulies. Have we learned nothing from the Love/Hate Cat episode?)

I am sorry if this post was not as funny as previous posts but I am recapping a very tough period of my life. A period that is in the past. A period of my life that I am no longer ashamed of.

Let the transformation continue.

Thanks for reading transformers. Be healthy, be happy , be you.

There's a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
In my room, in my room
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears
In my room, in my room
Do my dreaming and my scheming
Lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing
Laugh at yesterday
Now it's dark and I'm alone but I won't be afraid
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room


Monday, 3 February 2014

Goldilocks and the Six bears

Goldilocks should have ended up in a juvenile detention centre in my opinion. I don't know where she comes from but they way I was raised it was not acceptable to break into peoples houses to eat their porridge. To add insult to injury she then broke several chairs (probably shoddy IKEA rip off) and then decided that it was acceptable to sleep in strangers beds.
Even when I was a student there was a certain social stigma to sleeping in strangers beds ( I am only joking. There wasn't really). If I came home from college and found a blonde in my bed I would have been like a bear. I also would have a lot of explaining to do to my poor long suffering mother.

Sadly I think if Goldilocks was alive today she would be posting videos of herself on Facebook of Neknominations skulling down pints of porridge and egging the Little Boy Blue to go next. I think this  craze of Neknominations that has supposedly taken the world by storm in the last few weeks is a very dangerous gimmick which seems to have already resulted  in tragedy.   The craze has highlighted even further how we as a society are too relaxed with our relationship with alcohol. The idea of somebody downing a pint of beer (and sadly as what as emerged a pint of whiskey in one case) in ten or so seconds is a crazy one. I don't really drink so it is hard for me to understand it. My own equivalent would be liquidising a bucket of Chicken and downing it all in ten seconds. That doesn't make sense to me because I would not enjoy the Chicken if I had to ingest it that quickly.  I presume that a pint is to be enjoyed and drank slowly rather than just ingesting it as quickly as possible. I hope this craze dies out as quickly as possible. In fact I hope  that people start uploading videos of themselves drinking pints of water as an anti-neknomination campaign as a bit of water never hurt anyone (except on the Titanic perhaps). One of the main things that I have learned so far is to enjoy my food more by eating slowly. In the past I have always eaten my food very quickly like a hungry bear worried about  curly haired delinquent invaders looking for a porridge fix but I have learned to slow down more.. Slow and steady wins the race (to borrow from another old children's' story) .That tortoise persevered and won the race. He then went for a swim and ended up being eaten by a Mexican fisherman who drifted out to sea for 14 months. C'est la Vie.

Goldilocks despite her questionable morals did have an advantage on me though. Before last Wednesday I have never ever had a bowl of Porridge. I have been threatening for some time to try a bowl but I never had the guts that Goldilocks had. I tried to convince myself that if a little curly haired girl was prepared to break into a house inhabited by a family of bears for a fix of porridge then there must be something to it.
when I saw my first bowl it did not look too appetising. It kind of reminded me of what I think all the hair gel from Jedwards's hair from the last ten years would look like if you squeezed it in to a bowl.

I have to be honest and say that I closed my eyes when I took my first bite. Then I paused. Then I realised this is not so bad. Perhaps I will be  breaking into houses with Goldilocks myself to have more. It was really nice and now (despite what I have said in a earlier post about Oliver) I understand why the street urchin asked for second helpings. It wasn't purely because he was hungry , he actually enjoyed porridge.
When I was 14 I was in a production of Oliver in the Opera House. I really enjoyed the experience. Looking back though now I think I must have looked odd from the audience as I was the fattest little boy in the workhouse. This might be the reason that Oliver asked for more porridge as I had probably eaten it all.

I have had Porridge every day since and I really enjoy it. I have modified it slightly by putting a spoonful of honey in it and sometimes some nuts and this only makes it even nicer. I should probably not put additions into it but I can reconcile that a bowl of Porridge with honey is far healthier than a fry up.  On Saturday the check out girl in Tesco's looked at me funny when I purchased 3 tubes of porridge. In my head better to load up on porridge than on snacks.  I actually look forward to my bowl of porridge each morning now  which is an infinitely better proposition for my workmates as Porridge does not have the same aural side effects as a beans on toast breakfast.

Last Thursday night was a particularly hard evening for me. A good friend of mine from work was celebrating his birthday so I and  six of my closest friends from work went to Luigi Malones for dinner.
I have always loved eating there and a Dutch friend of mine christened me the Chicken Wing Monster because of my proficiency at eating the massive 2 pound weight portion of Chicken Wings.
As I looked around the table a sense of dread came over me as I realised that all of my compatriots who are all in there 50's were studying the menus like a seasoned gambler studies the Racing Post.
Then we ordered. I ordered a bowl of Chicken and Mushroom Soup and my friends all ordered the Chicken wings. 12 pounds of Chicken Wings and I could not touch one. (that is a lot of chickens)
The soup was very nice and I buried my head in my bowl. I had to ask for brown bread because they didn't have any so I presume they had to go to the shop for some. I do not think that it is a big ask for restaurants to have brown bread  and low fat spreads. I think unless people complain about this that restaurants won't change.

  ( Disclaimer: Neither these wings or "jolly" gentleman were present in Luigi Malones last Thursday but you get the general idea)

The combination of main courses included racks of ribs , steaks and Chicken Fajitas and a Chicken Caesar Salad.  Guess who ordered the salad.
It was torture but I struggled on. I am eating so much lettuce at the moment I feel like I am a contestant on Americas Next Top Model. I have always had delightful cheekbones.

Kate Moss has famously said "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" I hazard a guess that she never ate in Luigi Malones. She might modify that to "Nothing tastes as good as 2 pounds of wings and a rack of ribs".

I promised myself it would be all worth it. Then as I felt a sense of achievement by getting through the meal  I identified with Goldilocks looking through the window at a family devouring porridge as the six bears all sitting around me ordered Toblerone Cheesecakes. Then the six bears in my presence began to sing

Toblerone, out on its own;
Triangular chocolate, that's Toblerone;
Made from triangular honey from triangular bees,
and triangular almonds from triangular trees;
Oh, Mr Confectioner, please, give me Toblerone.

I told myself it would be worth it. It was.   I went to the gym 10 times in the last 8 days. I have been more disciplined in the last few weeks than I have in my whole life.  I have stuck to the diet religiously ( I am afraid to  use the word religiously or any other word in case the Iona Institute decide to sue me.) and exercise.

I am delighted to say that I have lost 4.5 pounds this week bringing my total weight loss to 13 pounds in 3 weeks. I am now 1 pound off a stone. I really just want to lose 1 pound next week to break my stone so that I can go for the next one. If I lose one more stone then I will be nearly as light as I was when I first met my fiancée Belcy and I want to keep going.

More motivation for me is that I have now also built an extra 2 Kg of muscle on my body.
I have also lost an inch around my belly.
My BMI has dropped from 36.31 to 34.21
My visceral fat rating (fat around vital organs) has dropped from stage 20 to stage 16.
My overall fat percentage has dropped from 41.3 percent to to 36 percent.
My degree of obesity has dropped from 65.8 percent to 56.2 percent.
My skin is clearer ,my back seems looser and I am sleeping so much better.  I really feel as if this experience is changing my life and I hope to maintain it. I would recommend the change in lifestyle to anybody.

It is not easy and I have always stated that I think the easiest part will be losing the weight and the hardest part is losing the habits that made me overweight in the first place.This for me will be the really challenge. The honey in the porridge.

I am Goldilocks. Hear me roar.
Stay healthy and happy Transformers.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Jim is no friend of mine.

When I was in secondary school my favourite teacher was my English teacher. His name was Jim and he was a very nice man.He wore desert boots long after they were fashionable. I wasn't sure if it was purely for comfort or Irony's sake. He introduced me to Graham Greene,T.S. Elliot and a myriad of other literary greats that have both inspired me and entertained me.It was the one class in school that I was very fond of and I always looked forward to going to Jim's Class. That was at least 4 stone ago or 18 in human years.

It was in honesty the only Jim class that I have ever enjoyed. I am now faced with a far more daunting Jim/Gym class and it is very hard to take the same level of inspiration from it. 
My first trip to the gym was a hard one. I felt like I was wearing desert boots in a sea of UGG Boots. Exercising on your own in your own bedroom does not prepare you for the reality of a real gym.

The first observation that I would make about the gym is that it is full of people who don't look like they need to be there.Perhaps that is why they look as they do because they spend a regular amount of time exercising. There is obviously something important to be  learned from that. When I first went to the gym I felt like I was the only overweight person there.I especially felt this way in the changing rooms.I have always resisted taking my top off in pools and beaches because I am ashamed of how I look. In all honesty I felt very negative going into the gym and was not mentally prepared to exercise in public. I am still finding this difficult.This is a hard one for me to process as anybody who knows me knows that I am a very public person. I live most of my life in public and am known for wearing my heart on my sleeve. Depending on your point of view I am either extremely honest or brutally blunt. I am probably a combination of both. I have always lived my life by the following rule. I will never say anything about someone behind their back that I wouldn't say to their faces. I also expect the same in return. In fact anybody who talks about me behind my back is only talking to my hole.( which is getting smaller hopefully)

Being in public therefore has never ever bothered me.However exercising in public is  a very traumatic experience for me.
I do not think that it is something I will ever get used to. I  probably sound paranoid but I do want to clarify that I know nobody is watching me when I exercise. Everybody is focussing on their own workouts and that is the way it should be.However it is still an uncomfortable undertaking for me.

I was not adequately prepared for my first day in the gym. I did not realise that the machines were as high tec as they are and was surprised to see I Pod and USB facilities on each machine.Each upright machine also has TV channels which makes exercise much easier for me.My first work out was tough as it was an hour of these machines with no distractions.A workout in silence.Anybody who knows me knows that I do not do anything in silence. I even talk in my sleep.

I knew  that I would be prepared with headphones and music/pod-casts for day two.

Watching myself cycle around a track has a certain novelty for about 5 minutes. At that point you get bored. I started to imagine I was a a hamster ( the chubby variety) going around a wheel over and over again.I do take some comfort in the knowledge having seen my blood results,blood pressure and ECG results that I will perhaps live longer than a hamster.Having eaten a ton of lettuce in the last week I can almost relate to a hamster at least I have a bigger cage to exercise in.

After my cardio I then had to move on to weights. Weights I found even tougher than the running machines and bikes but it took a shorter time to do.In my head Arnold Schwarzenegger and the hamster were fighting for the space on the imaginary wheel and it seemed to me that the hamster was winning.(might form the basis of Arnie's next film)   I realised after finishing the weights that I am far more comfortable using a treadmill and exercise bike than I am using weights. I do not think that is going to change but I will struggle on at my hamsters pace regardless. I am not a hamster but I am never going to be the terminator either. 

Leaving the gym the first day I was tired and cranky and I turned a corner to the see the machine that has caused me far more agony than any  weight or cardio machine ever could .I looked at the vending machine as you would glance at an ex lover sadly as your paths cross years later.
It is because of a long term relationship with machines like the one above that I now need to have a long term relationship with machines like this
If only somebody had warned me about the former the way Cathy had been warned about Heathcliff I might not need to get hot and sweaty with the treadmill. ( Cathy was warned but as I recall it didn't end well for her either. If only she had bought an umbrella..)
I still find it amusing that these devil machines are in the gym taunting you as you enter and leave. For a second I thought the machine was singing to me in the voice of Kate Bush

" JP its me Choccy come home it's so cold
let me out of my window...ooohhh"

 Has anybody ever thought of putting carrots and rice cakes in a vending machine? Thought not. One thing is for sure my long term relationship with the vending machine is over and I will not try and be friends with it. It never works.

Day two was easier to manage as I brought my music,headphones, USB and even watched a bit of Sky News. A bit of advice for anybody planning to use the TVs in the Mardyke. If you want to be depressed while doing your workout make sure you watch Sky News when you are doing it. I actually thought the world was going to end before I finished my workout. I felt for a moment like the passengers on the Titanic who waved away the desert cart because they were watching their weight.I think I will stick to the music and pod casts in future. I certainly enjoyed the gym more on my second day than I did on my first nervous day.

I thought I was doing well until I had my first group training session with Alannah and Claire on Monday morning at 7am. It was murder.It was very intense. I also felt that the Gods were laughing at me as when the workout began so did an I pod with a speaker.A sense of dread came over my body when I heard the docile tones of Rihanna blasting over the speaker.For a second I longed for the gloominess of Sky News. I would rather eat the hamster in my head that choose to listen to Rihanna. When the four horsemen of the Apocalypse arrive to welcome the end of the world I am sure that Rihanna,Katy Perry,Lady Ga Ga  and Justin Bieber will be their human forms pulled in a sled by all members of One Direction. (and somewhere Simon Cowell will be laughing.)
After a few minutes the music became the least of my problems. The range of different exercises that we engaged in made me realise how drastically out of shape I am. I struggled to do a press up but I carried on and finished 12. Prior to this gym the only time I did a sit up was from the couch when I heard the door bell ring when the Pizza was delivered.(couch to door 12 steps on my pedometer) I thought that I would never ever get the hang of this. Then something unusual happened. I found a form of exercise that I like. At the end of our exercise we went to the circuit training gym and did 3 rounds of about 10 different machines. This was a strange feeling as this was the first form of exercise in the gym that I felt was both challenging and enjoyable. I do see myself finishing each of my own workouts in future by doing some circuit training. ( it is only two letters away from Circus training which I wanted to do when I was a child)

We finished our workout with some mat work which again I found difficult but did it to the best of my current ability. ( I am hoping my ability will improve over time) I thought maybe things would improve. I was optimistic happy and then... Rihanna started again.

My second weigh in this morning has shown that despite my  increased exercise this week the rate of weight loss has slowed down. I lost .6 of a Kilo which is 1.32 pounds. This brings my total up to 8.82 pounds for my first two weeks. My overall health is improving as my Cholesterol and blood pressure are normal which is a very good sign.  I am hoping that my Rihanna free gym sessions in the next week will allow bigger gains next week.  If she makes an appearance I expect my blood pressure to be higher next week.

 To be positive though every pound down is a good pound every pound down is an achievement. Every pound down is another step in the right direction.

When Rihanna does bring about the apocalypse I want to be slim happy and healthy when it comes predominately so I can out run her for fear I have to listen to her sing in person.

Thanks for reading transformers. Stay happy and healthy.


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Trojan Clothes Horse.

A couple of years ago my dad Joe had both of his knees replaced. Dad has worked on building sites for 40 years having started work almost immediately after primary school.Forty years of hard work and a physical frame like my own had led to both of his knees effectively collapsing and drastic action needed to be taken.
I remember seeing my dad sitting at the side of his bed one night before his surgeries almost bent over in pain and I was startled by the condition his legs were in. As long as I live I will always remember the conversation that followed.  I asked my dad why he put himself through so much pain and torture and allow his body to degenerate to the extent it did. His reply will go with me to my grave. He replied I do it so that none of my children will ever have to.
Dad and I often butt heads and don't always see eye to eye on things, especially politics. However at the back of my mind is always this conversation and that memory is always stronger than the urge to strangle him!
I can honestly say that my dad is my hero. My mother also.  Above all else I have learned that family are the most important thing in the world to me. It is really good to have their support as I undertake this journey.
I digress but a worthy digression none the less.

When Dad has his knees replaced we went to town and bought him an exercise bike. His doctor had advised it to aid his rehabilitation. He used it twice and I assumed ownership of it. My grand plan was to use the bike every day for 30 minutes.This went well for about 30 minutes. I discovered after 30 minutes that my Dad and I were more alike then I would like to admit.
For the next two or so years I christened the bike the Trojan Clothes Horse. It became very handy for hanging clothes off of and eventually I had nearly forgotten that it was even a real exercise bike. Like the real Trojan Horse which had the element of surprise I half expected the bike to rise up from under the mountain of clothes and magically lure me to its pedals but alas it never happened. For the last few years that bike was as useful as a Rehab Lottery scratch card. It  looks shiny and promises opportunities but ultimately fails to deliver. Obviously I have realised that the bike is not the issue. I cannot blame the bike the rider is the problem. I am fairly sure that Lance Armstrong's bike was never indited on doping charges.I am surprised though that Lance Armstrong hasn't blamed his bike for his downfall. He has blamed everybody else.

Yesterday I did 7 Kilometres on my exercise bike. (evidence below) I felt as if the bike purred like a long neglected cat as I got going again. What made it easier for me is that I set up my laptop near the bike so I could watch something to distract me when I was exercising. I am watching a very good animation show called The Life and Times of Tim which is very dry in its humour and appeals to me. Each story is 15 minutes long so I plan my bike sessions around each episode. When one ends I know that I am half way through my workout. I will have to find something else to watch once I run out of episodes.

80 calories might not seem like a lot but it is a good start. I felt so good about it I did another 3 Kilometres before I went to bed.

I missed the first group session on Monday as I was attending my fiancées Irish Citizenship ceremony in Dublin we had a great day and I know that I will have to catch up on the gym work a bit. I did also take a three mile walk yesterday with Belcy which did help. Below is a picture of us at the ceremony and looking at the picture I can see that I have a fair amount of work to do. I am so grateful for her support and she has helped me so much since I started this programme.
 After the ceremony was hard for me. We went to my favourite restaurant in the world TGI Fridays which are renowned for their chicken wings,potato skins,ribs and mozzarella sticks. I should know because every time I went there I had a portion of each. I ordered on this occasion a  Chicken Caesar salad which contained more lettuce than I have seen in my whole life. I have not seen so much lettuce since the Fraggles went mental in the trash heap in 1983. There was considerably more lettuce than Chicken but I finished it all nevertheless. It was nice but I did long for my potato skins and wings in the way a Kardashian yearns for attention.I promised myself it would all be worth it.

                                           Caesar Salad ( Caesar would have executed anybody who presented him with this I reckon)

I am delighted to say that I do not regret my exercise or my Caesar Salad. I also do not regret cutting back on my guilty treats as after my weigh in this morning I can confirm that I have lost 7 pounds in the first week. Half a stone. I am very happy with that result. I do know that I will not lose that kind of weight every week but it is a good start and is the motivation I need to keep going.
Seven Pounds in my head  seems like a good achievement.
Just to put into perspective here are some things that weigh 7 pounds.

A 7 pound bowling ball.
A 7 pound baby.
A  7 pound sack of sugar.
A 7 pound bag of coins           ha ha.

or in food terms as I like to think of it...

24 McDonald Quarter Pounders
1100 peanut M& M sweets
10 loaves of bread.

In a week I have probably rid myself of my McDonald's fat for the last 2 years.  Now to remove the Chinese Fat,Cinema Snack fat, Sweets fat and the fat fat.

I and my Trojan Horse exercise bike are at the bottom of a steep hill but it is getting easier to see the top of it.
Thanks for reading transformers and above all else be healthy and be happy. You can't have one without the other!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Movie Night: To Snack or not to Snack. That is the question.

End of the first week and everything is going OK. I have decided that the breakfast of champions is Wholemeal toast and baked beans. It is far more filling than yesterdays breakfast which was a fried egg. To be honest it would really want to be one of Godzilla's eggs fried in order to satisfy me.

Yesterdays breakfast below

Yesterdays meal was very nice too another vegetarian dish with potato gratin cheese and peso. Hats off to Kylemore who are really knocking it out of the park with the meals.  One thing I noticed while queuing up for my breakfast this morning was the amount of students in line for fry ups. That was a little tempting OK seeing all these golden brown sausages, hash browns (named so because of their addictive qualities) and what I thought was a strange option for breakfast Chicken Goujons. I adore chicken I just could not imagine eating it for breakfast (saying that a breast in a bun at 2.30am no problem!). I think I will be sticking to the baked beans breakfast which fills me up which is good for me but I can't imagine will be great for everyone else in the office. Beans are called the musical fruit for a reason.

Last night I watched a movie with 3 of my married friends. This was entertaining as they regaled me with stories about the changes in life once you get married.There was a knowing looking between the three of them that they all understood but I didn't. They have told me that I will in time.There is a lot of change in my life at the moment and they were all supportive of me until the movie started.   I do not drink alcohol generally ( on a very rare occasion I might have a glass of Baileys (350 calories a glass.. ouch) but that might be only twice a year. Perhaps I will have a few drinks on my stag party as a rite of passage, maybe at 35 peer pressure will kick in.
As soon as the movie started out came the drinks I nearly fell about the place laughing as one of my friends a professional family man broke open a 4 pack of Linden Village Cider.Perhaps this is an indication that we really are still in recession when people  are drinking Linden Village indoors. Linden Village is superior in taste and reputation only to Buckfast. I have not seen Linden Village since I was about 14 in the middle of a bush in the Japanese gardens in Ballinlough.. It is rumoured that some DIY folk use Linden Village as paint stripper.
It brought me back to when I was 14 and I was quickly reminded that even at 14 I was very overweight.At 14 my nickname at school was turkey legs because of my frame.  The cruelty of such teasing has kind of stuck with me to this day. I was always articulate in school, did well and generally had good friends. As an adult I think the reason some school kids teased me about my weight was because they had nothing else to tease me about. I hope they are all fat now. ( I don't I am only joking) It does upset me as it did recently when I heard of other people that I love so dearly being bullied over their weight.

Watching the lads drink was no problem. Then one of the heroes broke out a large bag of Keoghs handmade crisps and passed them around. This was hard for me as normally when I go to the cinema or watch a film I would consume the following.
                                                   1 large Coke Zero ( no calories you see !)
                                                   1 large portion of Hot Nuts (in most cinemas they are mostly tepid )
                                                   1 large Pop Corn
                                                    and one tub of  Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
(I am also embarrassed to say I even ate popcorn and chocolate while watching The Passion of the Christ. I am probably going to hell for that one.)

Sometimes we would walk home from the cinema and as a reward for walking (ten minute walk) we would hit KC's on the way home. Below is the average order I would procure from KC'S

1 Poultry Pitta with chicken chips and garlic mayonnaise.
1 large curry chips
1 portion of garlic mushrooms
and 1 cheeseburger.

That my friends is a lot of food wedged around a movie.

Last night I resisted the crisps and instead I drank 1 bottle of diet coke and had 125g of Natural Yoghurt.  That was a weird but somewhat liberating experience for me. The movie was 3 hours long and I reckon I enjoyed it more as I was concentrating more on the screen then what was in my hand or heading for my mouth.I was not remotely tempted once to have the crisps and went to bed somewhat chuffed with myself.  I have never previously watched a movie in a cinema or at home without having a large portion of food with it.
I love movies but sometimes I feel that the movie was only the trailer and the food was the main feature.

Just as a visual aid. Here is a picture of the last Chinese I ate (fully) while watching a movie at home.

I put on a Tommy Hilfiger shirt this morning that was tight a couple of weeks ago and today it did not feel as tight. I am hoping that this is not just an optical illusion but a sign of some progress. I will not really know until I am weighed in next Wednesday.  What I do know is I expect the weekend to be harder as I will have to look after my own food. A new and daunting experience for me seconded only by my journey into the world of exercise. But that is next weeks problem.
Thanks for reading Transformers. Be Well. JP.