Archive for the ‘Weight Loss’ Category

Bye Bye Beer Belly:

My First BeerIt is New Year’s Eve – four months until the London Marathon 2010. I’m in the Railway (a pub in Blackheath, London) with 6 friends. At 11:59pm, I gulp down the remnants of my drink (a cold pint of some devilishly cheap lager) and count down to 1st January 2010. This marks the start of my London Marathon training. At 12:05am it’s my friend Jack’s round.

“Same again?”
“Actually, I’ll have a Jack Daniels and Diet Coke please.”

Jack isn’t the type of bloke that will ridicule me for my girly drink choice, but he does question it. So when I explain that my New Year’s resolution is to quit beer until I’ve crossed the finish line at the London Marathon, he is supportive. And then he orders himself and the guys a hefty round of beers, and I immediately regret my decision.

Cut to April 26th. I’ve just finished the marathon and I’m in a bar on Long Acre. Funnily enough, Jack is the one who is buying me my first pint. That’s it on the right. I get as far down as the dotted line and can’t drink anymore. Admittedly, it’s not the best choice of recovery drink, but after four months without beer I thought I’d have no trouble finishing a pint.

The simple fact was that I hadn’t missed beer all that much.

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REVIEW: My Fitness Instructor

BMF My Fitness InstructorLast year the kind people at BMF (British Military Fitness) got in touch and offered me a free session with one of their military instructors. My conclusion was that it was a fantastic workout, a great atmosphere and very fairly priced. But if the weather was half as bad as it has been lately, I might as well have thrown that money away. My 3-year tenure in the South has turned me into a soft-as-sh*te, cold hater.

A chap called Jon, who also runs a blog called My Big Fat Geek Running, emailed me just before the launch of the BMF iPhone app, My Fitness Instructor. His blog is a cross between losing weight and promoting the iPhone app, which launched on Friday 26th March. Jon kindly offered me a chance to review it.

My Fitness Instructor is a premium application that allows you to fit your own little BMF instructor right in your pocket. Instead of paying the price of a gym membership every month, you can splash out £5.99 and choose when and where you do your own workouts.

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REVIEW: British Military Fitness

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It’s the same story for anyone with a gym membership. You have the tools around you to get fitter but if you workout on your own are you really going to push yourself that little bit further? You know you’d achieve much better results if you had a personal trainer, but after a little research you find that your bank balance will be the only thing getting a workout!

This weekend I attended a class that poses a possible solution to the problem. Each Saturday (or most Saturdays) when I begin my early morning run in Greenwich Park, I’ll pass a bunch of people wearing coloured bibs, usually led by a burly bloke in camouflaged trousers shouting and screaming. These are the British Military Fitness classes.

The British Military Fitness (BMF) classes are the UK’s leading outdoor fitness provider. They are led by a qualified instructor (all of whom have a military background) and each class consists of a one-hour session of exercises that will push you to your absolute limits.

BMF2

When I turned up at 9am to start the class on Saturday morning I had a chat with one of the instructors about my basic level of fitness. I explained that I’d run the marathon back in April and that I was a regular gym goer. This turned out to be an error as he threw me straight into the intermediate class. The classes are broken up into the groups; beginner (blue bibs), intermediate (red bibs) and advanced (green bibs).

Donning my red bib, we immediately started off with a 10-minute warm up and jogged off into Greenwich park. This was focused on getting the heart rate up and consisted of plenty of running exercises (short sharp bursts of speed with rapid changes in direction) and a lot of movement (designed to get the muscles adequately stretched). Because the group was so large (roughly 40 people) we were split up into two. I later found out that the instructors had decided the groups based on what they had seen from you in the warm-ups and tiered them slightly. Apparently I was lower-tier material, which was probably about right.

Our group was led off further around the park, stopping at different points to perform a batch of exercises before moving on. These exercises are largely based on building your core muscle groups. All the instructors have to work with is the park and your body. There are no weights or special tools so the exercises use your own body-weight against you. There were plenty of press-ups, sit-ups and squat exercises during the course of the hour.

One of the best elements of the class is the camaraderie between those attending. Most people (especially the new starters like myself) were initially quite quiet and timid. This really didn’t last long as you’re thrown into exercises with partners. Everyone there was fantastic. I had 5 or 6 different partners throughout the course of the hour and each one of the them was vigorous and encouraging. Considering they were strangers this was incredibly refreshing, especially in a city where the only words you’ll utter to someone you don’t know are “2 pints of lager please”.

They do try to pair you off with someone of similar size and weight. During one exercise we were required to push against one another in an effort to force your opponent over an imaginary line between you. The chap I was paired off with gave me a little wink, said “I’m a rugby player”, dug his heels in and launched me backwards! I reckon I’ll ‘av him after a few more classes.

Overall these classes are an excellent way of staying in shape. Coupled with a running schedule, the BMF would be an ideal way of training for an upcoming race and, based on how I’m feeling today (three days after the class), I’d imagine you’d shed some serious pounds. For the price of a gym membership you can attend these classes as many times a week as you’d like. I’d honestly recommend these classes to anyone. Everyone is incredibly friendly (a few members took me out for a coffee afterwards) and I was in no way made to feel intimidated. Your first class is free and there’s no obligation to sign up if it’s not for you.

The only negative feedback I can report from the day is the lack of water breaks. It was pretty warm on the weekend and we only stopped twice for a quick gulp of water. Considering the intensity of the workout, I didn’t feel that this was enough. Also, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed the session if the weather hadn’t been so good. Winter is only around the corner…

BMF1

Sir Win A Lot

Like what you’ve heard? Well the team at British Military Fitness are kindly giving away one month’s free membership to the BMF classes to 5 lucky SJAL readers! The courses are based all over the UK and, if you’re a winner*, you can select any BMF venue you’d like to attend.

You can enter in one of two ways. Either…

  1. Post a message on Twitter by clicking this link or…
  2. Answer the following question:

Which BMF class was I put in during my introductory session?

A. Beginner

B. Intermediate

C. Advanced

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

*Winners will be contacted either by email or Twitter and announced on 1st September. Your email address will in no way be distributed to third parties.

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Sir Jog A Lot – The Movie:

So you may have noticed that I haven’t written a blog post for a little while. This is because I’ve been hard at work in the ‘studio’ creating Sir Jog A Lot – The Movie!

This year, Justgiving have a competition to create a video that promotes your fundraising efforts for the London Marathon. The prize is a £100 donation to your Justgiving page. Last year Gwan Yips won £500 with this effort (obviously the credit crunch has hit Justgiving as they’ve cut their prize by £400). With my fundraising target still in the distance and sponsorship drying up I thought it couldn’t hurt to sacrifice one Sunday to create an entry for this competition…

…and here it is:

Possibly the most embarrassing Sunday of my life (parading around London like a lunatic and getting filmed doing it) but I console myself with the thought that it’s all for charity. Anyone can do this and I encourage you to give it a go. I made this with a digital camera and Windows Movie Maker and it’s a fantastic way to drive traffic to your sponsorship page.

However, if you are going to do a video then wait until after Friday (as that’s when the competition closes)!

If you’re interested, the backing track is from a song called ‘Mr Munchies’ that myself and a couple of  old school friends, Paul Child and Thom Hawkins, wrote when we were 16. It comes with lyrics too and if you want a copy then let me know. Be warned: The lyrics are very childish, rude and resemble any song by Afro-Man.

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Why Am I Gaining Weight?

During Christmas 2008 I stuffed myself. I’d been up North for the festive season and just before I returned to London for the new year I weighed myself. 13 stone; the most I’ve ever weighed. I was gobbling down roast dinners like they were canapés and even after I’d had my fill and the gravy was seeping through my pores, I’d still find the room to stuff down a tube of Pringles.

Knowing full well that come January I’d be on the highway to health, I assumed that a little overindulgence would do me no harm. My first week of training alone would cover 4 hours and 5 minutes of running time so I felt confident that, if I stuck to the plan, the pounds would fall off. During the second week of training I dusted off my IKEA scales in the bathroom and had a peek at the oscillating numbers in front of me.

13-stone, 3 pounds

Not to worry. My clothes and the change in my pocket could account for that. Plus, these scales were different to the ones I’d used back home. But, this morning (week 4) I weighed myself on the scales again (this time, straight from the shower)…

1312

I’ve gained half a stone in one month. What the hell?! I was supposed to be losing weight, not putting on the equivalent of a new born baby! After turning to the net for comfort (no, not like that) I soon calmed down. Apparently there are two reasons to account for this:

  1. Muscle mass is denser than fat
    Hopefully, during marathon training your legs accumulate muscle mass. Muscle tissue will weigh 18% more than the same volume of fat. I wonder if Rick Waller used that excuse with his agent, just before he left Celebrity Fit Club. “I haven’t been eating more, I’ve just been working out too much!”
  2. You’re eating more
    Running is one of the fastest way to burn calories. But, by running your energy levels will deplete and hunger will set in, hard. Before long, breakfast alone isn’t going to get you through until lunch and you start to snack.

I think both of those apply to me. My legs look and feel more toned but I do have a bit of a pot belly. Although my metabolism is normally high I have been getting hungry by 11:30am (hungry is an understatement. I’d eat the pencil shavings on my desk if I could). Snacking can’t be avoided so see this page for tips on healthy snacks for runners. Just to clarify, I am not personally recommending peanut butter spread on apple slices.

For me, weight loss is not the reason I am running the London Marathon (you’d know this full well if you’ve ever spotted me inhaling a big bag of Kettle Chips) but for those of you who are taking up running to utilise a few more belt loops then you can follow these steps to avoid hunger.

Well done to About.com for featuring 3 times in this post. I should get paid for these plugs. I accept cash, cheques or chips…

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