Letter to Joshua: Five

Well, there it is, Joshua. You’re now five years old. How on earth did that happen so fast? How did you grow from the tiny baby to the young boy you’ve become, already wise beyond your years. It’s like time fast forwarded to now. I hope it slows down a little, just so we can enjoy it all the more. Because I do, enjoy it, that is. Every single golden second of every waking day.

Yesterday when you got up at 6am to excitedly pronounce that you had, finally, after all your 12 months of waiting reached the golden age you’d been aching for, all I could do was smile. When you ripped open your presents and squealed with delight, I grinned. After a day filled with cake, nursery friends, more cake, cards, more cake, bath and extra bedtime stories as a special birthday treat, there was nothing greater than hearing you tell me how it had been the best day ever.

At least, until the next one. Which I hope comes sooner, not later.

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The diet holiday is over … for both our sakes

Truth be told, I didn’t want to write this post. It’s been months in the waiting.

I didn’t want to say hey remember that four stone I lost, well it’s back. Admit all those hopes of keeping the weight off had disappeared like pakora off my plate.

That yes, I remain a fat laddie. Worse, actually. I’m a fat laddie – again.

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Here We Go Again Then

The point at which this project lost any credbility or chance of success has long since passed.

Looking back, that point was probably in the summer of the first year, when we realised, both secretly, that there was no way on God’s earth either of us were going to lose five stone in a year.

The years since then have been a succession of false dawns and of small yoyo diets, spurts of intense activity, blogging and hope, followed by months of brooding silence and self-loathing as we fattened back up.

So why persist? Why put ourselves and our families through another year of this public humiliation.

Well, for me, I can only say that I need to do it, for my health and to keep myself motivated. A promise is a promise. The notion that anyone else might be interested in any of this is, frankly, secondary now.

Having said all that it’s not all doom and gloom. I ended last year pretty well. December saw me back in the gym regularly and also attending circuit training again.

That followed a month or two when I got a bit of a health fright culminating in me darkening the doors of both my GP surgery and a hosptial for the first time in years.

Long story short I was told to wise up and lose weight. December then was a good mental preparation for 2015, lots of exercise and a bit of healthier eating.

So here we are and here we go again. A weight loss blog by two fat guys that tells it like it is.

(sorry, I couldn’t resist)

My starting point this year is, sad to say, 131 kilos – or, in old money, fat as f**k.

As sobering as it is to realise I am pretty much exactly the same weight as I was when we started Two Fat Laddies, at least I know where I stand.

The first few days of January have been good. Despite breaking my toe on Hogmanay in a ridiculous sofa-moving incident I have been in the gym steadily, battering out long, slow, low intensity cardio sessions on the cross-trainer and exercise bike. The benefits so far might be small but at least it’s given me a sense of purpose.

My crocked foot has given me a reason not to turn out to the much more challenging circuit sessions at Lochend in 2015 but the excuse will only last for so long.

I need to spend the rest of today sorting out the blog’s ‘furniture’ such as the spreadsheet bit where Shaun and I can track our weight week by week, and also trying to figure out if I really need to buy the weights set I have my eye on.

Other than that, I suppose the other thing I should do is wish anyone who has stuck with us this long and who is reading this, health and happiness in 2015.

I (we) apologise for all that has gone on before, and hope we can relate some stories of success this year.

Again, if you have any advice, experience, or just want to drop us a line, feel free.

Pope

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A few thoughts as 2014 draws to a close

The notion of this blog back when we started it was simple, to joyously mark our remarkable weight loss through the course of 2011. It was simple, five stones each in a year.

Of course it didn’t work like that, real life, human frailty, laziness all got in the way and four years later we are both back nearly where we started, and certainly nowhere near five stone apiece thinner.

Others would be embarrassed by the public nature of this defeat, but, you know, that was what we signed up for when we started.

It’s one thing to write about your fight with the flab once you have actually won it, another entirely to chronicle it as you’re in the middle of it.

Now if we had taken four years *of trying* to lose five stones across the piece and not done it, that would have been a bit poor, but the truth is we have both been engaged with this whole thing only in fits and bursts. At a guess I’d say I’ve only really been ‘on it’ for 10-12 months, which would have been great if those months had been consecutive, but they weren’t.

2014, like the three years before it, has come and all but gone.
I’ve been properly ill for the first time in years in the last few months and it has given me a bit of a fright.

So now I find myself crossing the last few days off the calendar of this year with a renewed sense of hope and determination for next year.

But despite the determination I can feel myself getting a little older, and this whole boom/bust weight loss and pursuit of health getting harder each time I try it – almost like trying to pull myself up a rope that is forever being slowly paid out from above.

The last few weeks I’ve been back at Lochend Amateur Boxing Club and back in my own Virgin Active gym.

Just as before, I am feart of burpees and proper weight training, but I reckon, for the first month or so at least, that that can be excused and that even if I stick to long sessions of cardio training it can’t be actually doing me harm, every little counts.

I think I said at the tail end of last year that if we didn’t do it in 2014, then I didn’t want to carry on with Two Fat Laddies at all.

Now I’m not so sure. My partner in crime, Shaun, has plenty of other outlets for his writing (not least this book we heard about not so long ago), but for me this blog is my diary, albeit one I have neglected for far too long. I enjoy it and I’m not sure I’m ready to give it, or the 2FL quest, up just yet.

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It’s Been So Long Since My Last Post That I Forgot The Login

My wife and I going for lunch in a few minutes with a guy who helped Shaun and I a few years ago by listening to why we wanted to lose weight. A shrink.

This guy is a trained psychoanalyst, a friend and colleague of my missus, and I suspect meeting him again after a few years is going to be slightly uncomfortable for me.

Because I may be greyer, a little bit thinner round the temples even, but I am certainly no thinner round the waist than when I hoisted myself on to his couch a few years ago.

It has been a long time since I blogged and I have no good news to tell. I actually had to think hard so I could remember the login password for our blog. The summer has been long but not productive.

But however bad the overall picture is, the last few weeks have been, yet again, hopeful. I am back at Lochend Amateur Boxing Club for circuit training and I am enjoying it.

Shaun too seems to have got his diet going again. He has his own story to tell, his own life chapters closing and opening, and I shall be watching his next steps with interest.

We might not actually say it to each other but I suspect our own individual efforts (or lack of) for Two Fat Laddies has more of an effect on the other than we would care to admit.

I hope he blogs soon and I hope to enjoy his company for a beer soon. As different in life as we are (and we are, he supports Hearts for God’s sake) we have both had very similar battles with the beef.

Lunch ahoy then. I’ll check back in properly soon.

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Memo to self: Just get on the feckin thing

It’s not been a great few months. It really hasn’t.

As of today there are 219 days left until the end of the year, until the point on Hogmanay where we ditch this quietly for ever or look back on a remarkable recovery.

I am sitting at the kitchen table today, on a bank holiday day off, and there is nothing from stopping me getting getting to the gym, out on my bike or plopping my arse on the rowing machine at the end of the bed.

But, it’s the getting started that’s the hardest part.

One of the main sources of inspiration for me over the last few years has been Niall Iain Macdonald, a guy of around the same age who has vowed to row across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Stornoway.

When you see it written down, in front of you, it hits home – New York….to Stornoway. It’s so clearly a crazy ides it defies description really, and over all the years Niall Iain has talked about it publicly, he has put up with plenty of naysayers and no little mockery.

Ready: Niall Iain Macdonald is preparing  to row the Atlantic

Ready: Niall Iain Macdonald is prepared to row the Atlantic

But yet despite that Niall Iain is, as I write, in New York, at the start line, ready to go. Like many, I harboured serious doubts he would ever get this far, but I am in awe of his achievement in even getting to this point.

If he has the steel and drive to get even to the start line he has already proved his mettle.

As the countdown to his cast off continues I have been following his blog more and more avidly and it seems he is pretty much mentally and physically ready. All he needs now is the weather window and, most importantly, the gumption to push away from the dockside.

For a few days I thought it might be a wizard wheeze for me to attempt to match his on-water feat by undertaking to match him metre for metre on my rowing machine back home here in Scotland.

I rationalised that matching Niall Iain’s cross-Atlantic challenge would give me a defined goal and I already know that the rowing machine can yield pretty spectacular weight loss with that kind of effort in a few months.

Then I figured out that if it takes Niall Iain four months (a hopefully conservative estimate on his progress) to cover the 3400 miles between New York and home, that will work out at rowing a very rough average of 28 miles or 45km every day. A marathon each and every day for four months.

I have only ever done half of that distance in one day, far less every day for four months. The very idea of setting aside four hours or so each day or so to rack up those metres while working, commuting and being a husband and father is just out of the question.

Not only that, but as I sit here at the kitchen table with my belly hanging out, even the very notion I would be capable of it seems ludicrous.

I won’t try to do a marathon on my rowing machine every day. I don’t have the stamina, health or time.

But nonetheless Niall Iain’s achievements are spurring me into action and I will be following every stroke he makes over the next few months.

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It’s all gone Pete Tong

It’s amazing how much damage you can do to yourself in the matter of a few weeks.

Right up until the moment the Frenchies stepped off the plane at the beginning of March for our annual Six Nations blowout I was there or thereabouts with Two Fat Laddies.

That was about seven weeks ago, today is Easter Sunday.

In that time I have done next to no exercise and eaten and drunk all kinds of rubbish, lots of it very tasty.

The result has been predictable; a highly discernible thickening of the waist, an equally noticeable drop-off in fitness levels, and the gathering black mood and self-recrimination which inevitably accompanies it.

Of course it’s not the Frenchies’ fault, they didn’t ram all that saucisson, pate, and fine wine down my throat. I did.

And if truth be told I have enjoyed most of the last few weeks. Seeing my French pals was a fine tonic after a long winter and the weekend spent with them and my own close friends gave us all enough smiles and laughter to last until we can reconvene and do it all again in Paris next year.

Frenchies

Frenchies

I never really got back into a gym or diet routine from that weekend, and all the work at the beginning of the year has now been undone.

This last week was spent in Donegal with family and it was lovely. Big open beaches and fresh air accompanied by far too many Irish bangers for breakfast and Guinness in the evening.

The annual joke in the house is that I always take my gym kit over to Ireland when we go and it always remains untouched in the bag. This year I didn’t even pretend to myself that I was going to go out for a run or circuit training and the trainers remained here in the flat in Scotland.

But enough is, yet again, enough.

Today is Easter Sunday as I said. The gym bag is getting packed tonight for tomorrow.

If that’s how much damage I can do in seven weeks, let’s see how much good I can do in the same time.

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A recent lack of effort brings it all home

I’ve bought a cross-trainer. One of those contraptions that lets you pump your arms and legs together at the same time.

It was just by chance, a friend who’d been gifted it a couple of Christmas holidays ago finally deciding that two shots of it in 24-months was quite enough and taking offers for it over on facebook.

So there it is. My new prize possession. Currently sat in the garage.

It matches the exercise bike that occasionally gets a work-out when I’m not hanging my shirts on it to dry.

But here is my thinking. There never seemed much point, it always seems like part of a workout, barely worth the effort.

I wonder how many others out there have similar equipment looking just as out of place, unloved and taunting,

Now, though, I can construct a proper daily routine.

The only consideration is whether this should be in the comfort of a spare room or if I’ll make good on a half thought out plan to convert space in the garage for gym sessions and add a punch bag to the set.

Either way, it has brought some sharp and much needed focus to a month or two where I’ve done hee-haw other than sniff my way through the morning commute and look forward to one too many glugs of wine.

Maybe it’s summer approaching. Perhaps I’ve finally shaken this three month long cold. I’m actually starting to look forward to it all again.

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Mid Term Break

This is not going well. In fact, it’s not really going at all. There’s not really any excuses behind it either.

I’m eating ‘okay’, but despite a half hearted attempt to get into the gym, that’s stalled these past few weeks too.

Instead I’ve spent the past few weeks catching up with old friends, working even when off and loafing.

Mostly, this last week in particular, I’ve been spending time with my son. And it’s been brilliant.

So I’m going to forgive myself a few indulgences, as I will this weekend when a work bash crops up on the calendar.

But don’t look at the stats and think for a minute that I’ve given up. I’ve not.
Let’s just call it a mid-term break.

The bell will ring Monday again.

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Not much to report

It’s been a few weeks of treading water for me as far as Two Fat Laddies is concerned.

In fact, come to think of it, treading water would have been more productive; there has been nowhere near as much work in February as I would have hoped and still no proper control on my diet.

I expected to really kick on in February but with just a week of it left that looks like a forlorn wish.

Real life got in the way in the form of a Chinese New Year banquet at the famous Chop Chop restaurant (delish), visits from old friends, and the long dinners that go arm-in-arm with such occasions.

And last week I was, like many Scottish dads, left with the kids for their half-term break.

We were away in Pittenweem for five nights with no gym and, crucially, no other half to tend the weans while I pushed off for a walk or jog. It can’t be easy being a lone parent and trying to stay fit.

I had, fleetingly, thought about taking the rowing machine with me so I could keep my fitness ticking over. On the plus side it could mean I could set up the rower in the cottage where we were staying while keeping half an eye on the kids.

On the minus side the machine is pretty damned big and taking it on holiday in a car already packed wi’ kids and all their gubbins would have just been, let’s face it, tragic.

In the end the machine stayed in the bedroom, but only after I squeezed out a half marathon in the hours before we left for our wee break, and the three of us had a whale of a time doing not very much at all except for looking at boats, beaches and the Winter Olympics.

I elected not to keep the diet while we were away in the East Neuk but instead splurged on the magnificent fare from the Pittenweem Fish and Chip Bar which is, by my reckoning, head and shoulders above other, better known chippies nearby. The fish is worth a trip to Pittenweem itself.

Not content with my fish supper, and the sausages the kids left behind, I decided to indulge in a two-scoop tub of dairy heaven from the famous Jannetta’s of St Andrews.

If you ever have the chance to visit either of them, so long as you are not trying to lose five stone in 12 months, you should really give both a (rapsberry) whirl.

And now it’s back to reality with a thud. As well the grim task of uploading photos of all the other rubbish I’ve been eating (I should point out that I don’t consider the food in either of the photos above as rubbish) – into our Flickr stream I’ve also been back in the gym the last three days trying to mix up my routine with much more work on the resistance machines, which my body really is not thanking me for at all.

But now as I contemplate another week I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of early 10k sessions on the rowing machine before work as often as I can face, coupled with trips to Lochend on Monday and Wednesday for more circuit training.

I keep coming back to a phrase I heard at the tail end of last year.

You can’t outtrain a bad diet

It’s never easy though is it?

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