Saturday, April 21, 2012

Not gone quite to plan.

Well my great plans for 2012 went out the window very quickly when on Jan 20th my Dad died. I took this quite hard as, for reasons I won't go into here, we hadn't spoken for a long time so I didn't get to say goodbye to him.

I'm responsible for organising all his affairs so had to arrange the funeral, sort out a solicitor, deal with his will and still have to clear and sell his house. These are the things that make you a grown up and you never really plan for them and everything is an unknown.

So my mileage challenge went out the window in February and has put me way behind my target, so what have I done about it? Well despite the urge to give it up I decided to find a way of measuring all the miles I clock up just walking around, without the GPS measuring everything. I invested in a FitBit. This is an intelligent pedometer that apparently has the same tech in it as a Wiimote controller so measures very accurately your steps as well as including an altimeter to measure floors climbed.

This wirelessly syncs to a base station whenever you're within 15 feet of it and uploads to a dashboard. This has meant I now have a way of capturing the 1-2 extra miles I walk each day. I'm still behind my target but will do my best to hit those 1000 miles before the end of the year.

It's been a very busy four months so far in 2012, work is very busy, in a good way with lots of new challenges and opportunities, the company had a great Q1. We got holidays booked, we're going camping in Dartmouth in June during the jubilee week, we've got 2 weeks in Lanzarote at the end of July and I've got a weeks motorbike trip booked for the end of June, so lots to look forward too.

I've made quite a big decision with regards to my volunteering at Air Cadets. I was getting quite frustrated with a few things and as a civilian I was limited in what I could do so I've decided to go into uniform. I've decided to become an adult NCO so provided I meet all the criteria, I will become a Sergeant. I decided I didn't want to go for a commission and become an officer as I see that as a management role and as I do that for my day job I wanted to do something different. Being a sergeant will mean I can contribute more in the drill, dress and discipline areas with the cadets.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

First full week of 2012

My first full week of my mileage challenge has seen me complete 32 miles. I'm very pleased with that as it puts me in credit by 13 miles.

I've added a widget to the blog from dailymile to my blog so you can see at a glance how I'm doing.

I'm also making a point of writing down 3 positive things that happen each day. It's very easy to get wrapped up in the negative things and overlook the positive. Often it is the little things in life that we're thankful for.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Gonna be harder than I thought

I've managed 21 miles so far of my 1000 mile challenge and it's been hard. A bit of cycling, some walking and a trip to the gym have taken a lot of time.

I managed to persuade Rhian to join me at the gym tonight so that gave me some motivation. Its true that exercise is easier if you have some support.

I'm tracking my progress on DailyMile so you can see how I'm doing.

onwards and upwards!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Welcome to 2012

So over 18 months and not a single blog post! That's a bit crap/lazy (delete as applicable)

It's not that I've not had anything to say, just that I've been saying it elsewhere on twitter and Facebook.

Anyway, new year, new start. I'm going to try and journal what I think will be an interesting year for me, both at work and personally. I want to be able to look back, this time next year and see how it panned out.

New years resolutions

"Failing to plan is planning to fail" - Someone more intelligent than me said that, but it's true so I have a few plans for 2012, the first being to work on my fitness. To do this I'm giving myself a target. That is to travel 1000 miles under my own steam (no engines or motors) before December 31st. Walking, cycling, rowing etc. should be achievable but won't be easy. It averages at just over 19 miles per week.

Hopefully, if I work on the fitness, the diet will fall in line. Since my weight loss in 2008 where I dropped 8 stone, I have put some back on but have not allowed myself to buy bigger waisted trousers so have hit a ceiling and then managed my weight there. I've had a couple of 1-2 month stints back on the diet to keep things in check but if I'm honest I'm still about a stone and a half heavier than I want to be.

I'm pretty sure that this time next year my job will be very different. I have to embrace the change and hopefully good things will come.

I'm going to be 42 this year and they say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. We'll see about that, I aim to learn something new this year. I don't know what yet, maybe that lifelong ambition to play a musical instrument, or write a novel, or perfect some wonderful new skill.

Anyway, that will do for now, off for a bike ride to make a start on the 1000 miles.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2 Weeks after my gall bladder operation

It's now been 2 weeks since I had my gall bladder removed and to look at me you wouldn't know I'd had the operation. I feel fine, the scars have all healed, I'm not in any pain and more importantly I can eat normally again.

The only minor issue I have is fitness. 4 weeks ago I came down with pancreatitis and together with my operation I haven't had a lot of exercise. This has been evident to me over the last week when I've been getting out of breath just walking up stairs.

Because of this I've been on a few walks and been to the gym a few times hitting the treadmill and cross trainer. I was even able to start running again yesterday and already feel better.

The keyhole surgery was pretty amazing consider what they did through just a few small incisions and the healing was so much quicker. I think being fairly fit before the op must have helped too.

Anyway, if you're having doubts about the operation I can only pass on my experience and say it really isn't a problem and I'm certainly in better shape than before the op.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Two days after my operation

Following on from my previous post about stomach pains I was booked in to have my gall bladder removed on Thursday 27th May. This was planned to be a keyhole surgery called a laparoscopic cholysystectomy.

Surgery went well and I was allowed home the following morning at about 11am, I had the op at 17:30 the previous day. The operation went very well and I even have a vial with 2 stones about 7mm in diameter that caused al my issues.

I'm coming up to 48hrs after the op now and when I'm not moving am not in any pain at all however walking, standing etc hurt in my stomach and strangely my shoulders. This is apparently due to the gas they use to inflate the stomach to see the organs. Some always gets trapped in the stomach cavity and as you stand it finds the highest ground. It's supposed to get absorbed within 48 hrs.

I have 5 x 1" cuts in my abdomen and belly button that have all been glued with sub-cutaneous stitches and only one of these is slightly tender. Apart from that and sore shoulder I think I've got off quite lightly.

Katie has been great waiting on me hand and foot and is going on a well deserved holiday on Monday for a few days, I don't think I'm up to it so will be staying at home looking after myself.

Hopefully this will now see the end of the problems I've had, fingers crossed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stomach Pains

I think I may have finally got to the bottom of repeated stomach pain I've been having. But first a little history.

I started LighterLife at the beginning of July 2008 at 23.5st. By December 2008 I had lost 8st and was 5 weeks into Route To Management (slowly introducing normal foods). I was very happy.

Christmas Eve 2008, mid afternoon I got very strong constant pain in my stomach, just  at the base of my rib cage, right in the middle. Painkillers didn't help and after 2 hrs I called NHS direct. They diagnosed an indigestion attack. Something I'd never had in my life before. The pain went after about 3 hrs and didn't come back. I enjoyed Christmas and forgot all about it.

In June 2009 I started getting the indigestion pains again on random days but always during the night.  Pain killers would never work and I'd get through gallons of Gaviscon and other indigestion remedies. Always, the only solution was to wait it out for a few hours and the pain would subside. During a motorbike trip in Germany, I was awoken during the night, after a particularly good night out at about 4am. Very severe pain that didn't go after 2 hours. In fact I was 5 hours before that subsided.

This routine continued for a few months with the doctors still treating me for severe indigestion. By August I was on Omeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor. These reduce the amount of stomach acid produced. I also had one trip to A&E for pain relief early one morning after a particularly bad bout which had lasted over 5 hours. Morphine stopped it in its tracks. I had an endoscopy to look inside and see if there was any reason for the attacks, nothing was found and all was normal.

In Sept 2009 the symptoms stopped, no attacks at all for the rest of the year. I made it through Christmas, all the way through to April this year when for no explicable reason the pains came back.

The first severe attack took me by surprise as I hadn't had them for so long. Out came the Gaviscon and Omeprazole that I'd stopped taking months ago. Back to the docs but this time they questioned me more about the location of the pain and if I could think of any types of food causing the problems. I couldn't.

Over the next two weeks I lost a lot of weight as I was in pain nearly every evening and it seemed to be after every type of food. I had 2 visits to A&E and the second visit suggested going back to the doctors as it sounded more like gallstones.

The doctor agreed and booked me in for an urgent ultrasound scan. Fair play to the NHS, I was seen 48 hours later. Sure enough I had a cluster of gallstones about 5mm in size.

I read up lots about gallstones and the gall bladder. It seems one of the causes of gallstones is being overweight and then losing weight quickly. A gallstone attack described my symptoms exactly, even to make a point that over the counter pain remedies have no effect.

I had recently taken out some private medical cover so thought it was time to put it to use. The doctor referred me to a local consultant and I was due to see him last Thursday. However, events took a turn for the worse.

Last Thursday at 01:30 I woke up again with pains in my stomach. This time however I was aware they were very different. The pain was on the left and much sharper. Almost pulsing but getting stronger fairly quickly. Katie took me to A&E for the 3rd time in as many weeks at 04:00.

Usual procedure, install cannular, take some blood, give some morphine. I was expecting the usual wait a few hours for the morphine to kick in and then go home but the pain was getting worse, not better.

After about 2 hours a very concerned doctor came to see me and said “We took a bit longer than usual to get your blood tests back because we ran them twice as we didn’t  believe the results, they were off the charts. You have pancreatitis”. Oh, that sounds serious.

He then explained they were admitting me, and the only treatment was to manage the pain and let the pancreas sort itself out. What happens if it’s caused by gallstones is that a stone comes out of the gall bladder and instead of moving straight out of the system it gets caught in a duct in the pancreas. The pancreas then thinks it’s under attack and, to quote another doctor “unleashes hell” on the infection. Because there is no infection the strong enzymes are release into the  digestive system.

I was fitted with a catheter (another unpleasant experience that I cannot recommend enough) and was on a surgical assessment ward by 9am. However as I was in a new location I needed a new doctor to take on my case and prescribe any medication.

By this time I was in the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. I think I can be one of the few men who has experience as much pain as any woman who has given birth, if not more. It was like someone was inside me waving around a knife cutting me from the inside out. I also think Katie appreciates my comments more that I made at the birth of our two girls.

When a man is present at the birth of his children, he’s a spare part and is there mopping his wife's brow and saying squeeze my hand because he thinks it helps. It doesn’t. You're completely useless and while you want to do anything and everything possible to stop your wife hurting there is nothing you can do.

Katie went through this while I was writhing around the bed in pain waiting for a doctor to prescribe more pain relief. For what seemed like hours I was in so much pain that, thinking back, I don’t know how I managed to cope. I was eventually prescribed paracetamol, tramadol and morphine by IV. I had another cannular fitted and was then given another IV line with morphine and a button that I could press to release it. However it wouldn’t let me overdose so I was constantly waiting for it to light up so I could press it again.

Most of Thursday was a blur of pain, answering lots of questions, being given fluids by IV, observations every 4 hours and dozing. Friday morning I had an MRI scan as they wanted to see if the stone was still blocking the pancreas. It wasn’t, so that saved me from having  another procedure. Late Friday afternoon it was obvious I was going to be in hospital all weekend so I decided to put the recently acquired private medical insurance to use and asked to be transferred to the private wing.

After a lot of last minute negotiations between Katie, the doctors, the nurses and the healthcare company (they shut at 6pm and didn’t open until 8am on Monday), I was finally approved for private treatment until Monday and moved into the private wing at 11pm.

Throughout Saturday I was using the morphine button less and less and no longer had constant pain. It was still there and was like a sharp stabbing if I coughed, sneezed or hiccupped. On Sunday the morphine drip was removed, along with the catheter, the IV fluids and I was taking paracetamol tablets and occasionally the tramadol tablets. I was detached from all the pipes and tubes and was free to move around without getting someone to disconnect me first.

Today, Monday, I was told I would be staying in until tomorrow as I still have some pain. I’ve had more blood tests done and have had to get authorisation from the private medical company for another night. The doctor wants to try and fit me in this week to get my gall bladder removed but has admitted his schedule is very tight. Hopefully if he can’t do it I will be discharged tomorrow, Tuesday to come back at a later date for the operation.

In the interim, now I know it’s gallstones, I also know they can be managed by following a very low fat diet. It’s the fat in the diet that works the gall bladder and gets the gallstones messing things up and infecting the gall bladder.

I also know that the quick weight loss was the likely cause of the gallstones. However I don’t blame LighterLife as it could happen with any method of quick weight loss. Also, if I had to do it again, I would. The short term pain and problems now are nothing compared to the health risks of being morbidly obese.

Hopefully, I put the worst of this behind me know. I  would also like to say a massive thanks to Katie, Rhian and Kira who have been to hell and back with me recently. The doctors and nurses at Frimley Park and the Parkside Suite for exceptional care. To Simply Heath for not adding to an already stressful situation. Finally thankyou to everyone that has send me get well messages recently. they really helped me to stay positive and keep smiling

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009 and Best Wishes for 2010

This seems as good a medium as ever to wish everyone that knows me and my family a Very Merry Christmas and an enjoyable and prosperous New Year.

I know some people hate electronic or new media Christmas wishes, they feel it takes no effort, is lazy etc. While I understand this, I disagree. This gives me a chance to get to a wider audience and include people I wouldn’t ordinarily remember to contact.

It’s because of the Internet I’ve got back in touch with so many old friends and made some new ones.

Lets be honest, if I took the time to go to the shops, buy some cards, take them home, work out a list, write the cards, address them, put stamps on them, post them etc, what do you do with it?

You open, read it, say “ooh that’s nice”, put it in a big pile with all the others you’ve got and them throw them away in the new year. Pretty wasteful if you ask me.

So I’m taking the money I’ve saved and adding some more and making a donation of £50 to the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham instead of wasting it on Christmas cards. I’m sure you agree that’s a much better use of my money.

Where was I before I went off on one? Ah yes.

2009 coming to an end already, this seems the fastest year yet. We’ve all been incredibly busy this year doing lots of decorating following last years extension. Both the girls have fantastic bedrooms now and I have a rather stylish study, Katie still has her downstairs toilet. Just the bathroom, kitchen, landing, stairs and old dining room to do and we’re finished!

I’ve trained for and passed my Institute of Advanced Motorists bike test. The girls are both doing very well at school and are growing up fast. Rhian has joined the Air Cadets and I’ve joined as a Civilian Instructor. We had such a great summer holiday this year that we’ve booked again for next year, but this time for 3 (yes three!) weeks.

Hey, it’s my 40th year too next year so why not?! Speaking of 40, WTF! so soon? 2010 is going to be a big year for most of the people I went to school with as we’ll all be hitting the big four oh at some point next year. I plan to celebrate it with a gathering of some description, not sure what yet but keep the weekend around May 21st free.

The weight maintenance has been tough and I’ve put 1 stone back on (I did overshoot my target weight by over a stone don’t forget!) but am still within 6lbs of my target weight of 16st 4lbs which being one year on from introducing food I’m very happy with.

Anyway, there’s a big pile of Christmas food and drink with my name on it (not as big a pile as fatter Steve would have had!) so I best wrap this up (pardon the pun)

So from myself, Katie, Rhian and Kira,

Have a fantastic Christmas, enjoy yourselves, be merry, be careful and laugh lots.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

VMWare Storage VMotion Plugin (SVMotion) Gotcha!

We use VMWare Virtual infrastructure extensively at work and in the 4 years we’ve been running our core infrastructure on it it has saved us thousands in time and effort. It constantly amazes me just how clever and technologically advanced it is.

However, when it goes wrong, there’s a LOT more at stake. More than once, the management GUI sits there doing “something”, with a progress bar slowly creeping across a screen and the whole infrastructure is doing something unexpected. You feel quite helpless.

The most recent of these was yesterday. We were preparing for a major database upgrade so was checking we had enough storage space to snapshot the SQL servers (a topic worthy of many a blog post!). When I noticed I didn’t have enough space on one of the storage groups I though I would use storage VMotion to move some of the drives and the main VMWare config file onto a different datastore. VMotion is the “killer app” in VMWare and allows you to move a running Virtual Machine around onto different hardware without losing any service. The storage VMotion moves virtual drives around on the SAN, again without losing service. We’ve used a free plug-in ( that puts a GUI onto the SVMotion tools a few times to just move drives around on the SAN and it works a treat. You can balance storage use on the SAN with zero down time.

However, yesterday I had to move a VMX (VMWare config) file as well. I had to do this as VMWare by default stores snapshot delta files in the same location as the VMX file. There are ways of forcing the snapshot files to be written elsewhere but the thought of just running an SVMotion to move the VMX file seemed easier….at the time.

Within the storage VMotion GUI you would typically just drag and drop and virtual drive file onto a new datastore and click apply. I assumed moving the config would be the same, it’s NOT. When you drag the VMWare config onto a new datastore, it automatically snaps ALL virtual drives onto the same store. For a small machine with everything on one store that may not be a problem. For a 1/2TB SQL server with 5 drives spread across 4 datastores it was a BIG problem, that I didn’t spot until after I clicked apply!

I took me about 10 minutes to work out what sort of problem I’d kicked off and then a further 30 minutes to work out why. I had no choice, I had to make sure my target datastore had 1/2TB of free space by moving other VMs off. I just had to let it run as by all accounts trying to fix a failed storage VMotion is a much worse prospect.

With the benefit of hindsight, this is what you MUST do if you just want to move a VMX (Config) file.

  1. Open up the SVMotion GUI and make a note of the current drive/datastore locations for your VM.
  2. Drag your VMWare config file to the new target datastore (It will fail if there isn’t enough space to house the complete virtual machine – I didn’t know that yesterday). You should see the complete VM tree on the new datastore.
  3. This is the IMPORTANT bit. Drag the individual disks BACK to their original datastores.
  4. Click apply. VMWare should then just move only the files and drives you want to move onto the target datastore.

Fair play to VMWare, although it took over 8 hours to SVMotion a 1/2TB SQL server that was being hammered in the middle of a working day, the server didn’t miss a beat. No slowdowns, no complaints from users, nothing. Phew!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Whoosh, where is the year going!?

I can’t believe we’re already into September and I’ve hardly updated my blog this year. To be fair I’ve been updating twitter fairly frequently and you can see those posts over on the right.

A lot has happened this year. I’m still just about maintaining my weight and the last few weeks have been my worst with me not being very good and eating a bit too much and drinking a bit too. It started on holiday where I put on about 5lbs over a fortnight and then haven’t reigned it back in. I’ve also not done a huge amount of exercise either.

Currently I’m at 16st 10lbs and want to be between 16st and 16st 4lbs so have a bit to shift. It’s so easy to go off the rails though and temptation is all around. I know losing the weight is fairly easy as I can still eat a lot and lose weight however my issue is and always was late night snacking.  Getting bored and hitting the kitchen rather than bed.


We had a great fortnight in Lanzarote in August and for the first time in years we had 2 weeks with no rain, average temperatures were 30 degrees every day and our most difficult decision was beach or pool :-) We hadn’t been to the island since 2000 when Rhian was 4 and Kira was 9 months and this was their first foreign holiday since then and they both loved it.

We loved it so much we’re going back next year for 3 weeks (well it is my 40th birthday next year!) We’re going to risk the wrath of the schools by taking them out of school for a week at the end of the Summer term as it means we’re going for 3 weeks for less than the cost of 2 weeks this year.

Old Friends

Over recent weeks I’ve hooked up with some old friends and this has bought back old memories, some were very fond. In particular I’ve been reminded of the good times I used to have in the Air Cadets (ATC). Coincidentally Rhian has shown an interest in joining so I took her down to the local squadron a few weeks ago and she decided to join. I also decided to join as a Civilian Instructor. I figured I got a lot out of it so it seems fair to see if I can give something back. I have the opportunity to get involved in most subjects and the ATC will train me where necessary.

I need to be mindful of the fact I should not “cramp” Rhian’s style and embarrass her in any way. I know there were lots of things we did at cadets that I wouldn’t have wanted my parents involved in. She needs to be allowed to grow on her own.

Rhian’s a little overwhelmed with it  all at the moment and still doesn’t know many people and the whole uniform, discipline and drill side of things will take a bit of getting used too. However, she’s started and picked up her “green” uniform on Friday and we bought her boots today. She looks very grown up and I was very proud seeing her in it.


Since April, I’ve been training to take my Advanced Motorcycle Test with the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). This has involved me having about 5 or 6 “observed” rides where I get followed by an observer who then critiques my riding at regular intervals. I’ve learnt a massive amount from this and I feel I have improved my riding drastically.

After my last ride, my observer announced I was “test ready”! I have since applied for my advanced test and am taking it on Wednesday Sept 23rd at 09:30, scary stuff indeed.

I’ll update here with the result.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Testing iPhone blogging

Just trying an iPhone blogging app, here's a pic of my motorbike parked up today while I was doing a machine control course which involved lots a cones, swerves, u turns, emergency stops and controlled skids.

This was someone else doing one of the slaloms

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I’m still here!

Despite not updating the blog for over 3 months I’m still here. No excuses, just not occurred to me to update. There’s been lots going on and I’ll try and update everything here. I’ve been updating on twitter fairly regularly.


I’m now almost a year into the LighterLife journey (I started on July 4th 2008) and am maintaining my weight within 1/2 stone. Currently at 15st 10.25 and have peaked at 16st 5lbs. As long as I stay within a few lbs of 16st I’ll be happy.

I do have to be careful what I eat as I now suffer with very bad indigestion. Whether this is related to the diet or not I don’t know but it is very painful when it happens and  has mostly been happening when I’ve eaten a lot of food late at night. The doctor gave me a course of acid reducers which helped but as soon as I stopped it came back worse than ever.

I now have an hospital appointment on July 7th for an endoscopy to take a look inside me to see if they can see what’s causing it. I’m hoping it’s just something simple but have made the mistake of researching on the net and seen what it could be. Apparently stomach cancer or oesophagus cancer are possibilities but very rare. Fingers crossed it’s something simple but the more serious stuff is always in the back of my mind now. Especially as I have a permanent pain in my stomach that nothing seems to touch. It gets worse whenever I eat too.


I did a BikeSafe day back in April with the Surrey Police to give me a glimpse into advanced riding and have my riding critiqued. The aim of the day was to give me 1 second of time when riding to be able to respond to hazards. After a very long and tiring day I got home buzzing with information overload and really enjoyed it.

So much so that I’ve taken it further and joined the Wey Valley Advanced Motorcyclists and am working towards my IAM Advanced Motorcycling test. This involves taking a number of observed rides and making sure I ride to the system used by police motorcyclists. I’ve had 2 observed rides so far and expect to have another couple before I’m ready for the test.

I’ve also just got back from a long weekend away with some friends riding down to Germany and spending a few days riding around the Rhine and Mosel valley. Fantastic roads. Lots of twisties and hairpins and I have to confess to coming off my bike on a slow left hand hairpin. No damage apart from to my pride as I messed up the corner but you live and learn.


The extension was completed months ago now but we’re still in a state of turmoil in the house. The living room and dining room have been finished but we’ve still not moved everything back from Katie’s Mum’s yet. The study is abut 85% decorated now and has had a new skim of plaster, new skirting and coving. Lots of the stuff from the study is currently in our old dining room.

The next room to do is Rhians bedroom and the plasterer is coming at the beginning of August so we’ve got to get her room emptied and stripped before then. Seems to be never ending.

Other Stuff

We’re  all looking forward to 2 weeks in Lanzarote from August 6th. Because of the foul weather on last years camping holidays we booked 2 weeks in the sun this year and have had tantalising glimpses of sun while we were on holiday at the end of May that has got us all excited. Katie’s booked me a legroom seat on the plane so that's one less thing to worry about too. As the kids are now older (it’s been nearly 10 years since we last went) we’re hoping for a more chilled and relaxing holiday. For once, I could easily do a few week lazing by the pool and on the beach.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

8 months into the LighterLife journey

It’s been just over 8 months since I started LighterLife. I’ve been going it alone now for a few weeks and as I feared it has been extremely hard. I’ve discovered some triggers that are very very difficult to ignore. However the good news is that my weight is staying fairly stable with a fluctuation within  4lbs. Max I’ve weighted is 15st 11lbs, lowest has been 15st 7lb in the last 8 weeks. I’m happy with that and am weighing myself a few times  a week to make sure things don’t start moving out of control.

So my triggers. It’s no surprise to me that it’s sweet things and evenings. Put the two together and you have a recipe for disaster with me craving something sweet and sometimes winning the battle, sometimes not. It doesn’t help that there’s a continual supply of sweet stuff in the house for “the girls”, I say we don’t need it but obviously I don’t know what I’m talking about. If I don’t have anything sweet I’m usually fine but if I do then I want something else, and so on. It’s an addictive mentality. It’s to do with the sugar rush as it’s short lived and does make you crave more. So I’ve started having a cup of tea in the evenings as a way of putting something else in my mouth. Jury’s out on that one but it’s worth trying.

I’m surprised that after all the time, effort and money spent on this diet I wouldn’t have thought it would be so easy to stray of the path of good intent but let me tell you it’s much harder than losing the weight in the first place. Like any diet, anyone can loose weight but it’s keeping it off that’s the hardest thing. The good news is that with a little effort I can move the scales back the other way too and moving 1 or 2 lbs is much easier than moving 1 or 2 stones!

I’m getting noticeably fitter too now. I’m cycling a lot and have been on a 20 mile ride this morning and have been working on a 10 mile route each week and seeing my times dropping like a stone. Started at 1hr 7 minutes and got it all the way down to 54 minutes. I started the 200 sit-ups program 6 weeks ago and even though I’ve only managed four weeks out of the 6 I can see a difference already. I’ve gone from doing about 30 situps in one hit to about 60 now, still a long way from 200 but it’s an improvement. I can feel my abs and stomach getting very firm (shame there’s still a bit of loose skin on top!)

I also had a go at the 100 pushups program and am finding that much harder. for some reason I’ve never been able to do push ups, I was only ever able to do 1, on the way down. Well again there’s been an improvement but it’s still pathetic. I can probably do 6 push ups now but they still hurt. For the program I do pushups while resting on my knees as I find full push ups too hard. I’m going to stick at it as there is definitely an improvement.

I’m dropping in to see my LighterLife counsellor every 2 weeks now and I find this very useful and it makes me accountable to someone else. I can’t hide any weight gains and she knows all the issues people face at this stage so I know I can talk to someone if I need to.

So I’m mostly happy with things at the moment. Just need to get the better of my cravings and the hardest part of the battle will be over.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Air Bag Jackets in the news, crooked reporting strikes again!

As a motorcyclist I’m always interested in new safety improvements and was interested in a story all over the Radio 1 news this morning regarding a report that Air Bag Jackets should be made compulsory for all motorcyclists,

Now these are not new and I first heard about these in March of 2008 in Motorcycle News

I have to take issue with the news story on the BBC because as usual  it only tells half the story. They correctly state that motorcycles account for just 1% of road traffic and yet account for 20% of road fatalities, this is of course a very frightening statistic. And there the stats conveniently finish and are used as justification that like helmets, these jackets should be made compulsory.

What they don’t tell you is that of those 20% of fatalities, how many are caused by other road users who “didn’t see them!”. Surely more needs to be done to educate other road users to open their eyes and look properly. And then give more severe punishments to those that cause these deaths and injuries. Why does it have to be reported in a way the points the finger at the motorcyclist?

Of those 20% of deaths a very small number are the fault of the motorcyclist themselves so why should we have to fork out extra money? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very interested in the technology but it has to be my choice.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Back on the mountain bike

For the first time in probably 18 months I got out on my mountain bike this morning for a very cold 10.5 mile ride around the area.

The bike was fine, just needed a wipe down, some air in the tyres, some oil on the chain and cables and some batteries for the cycle computer.

I have a slight disadvantage where I live in that a bike ride either has to start or end with a hill climb. Today's started with a 1.5 mile descent and that was bloody freezing. I had to cover my face part way down the hill due to brain freeze, it was 0 degrees outside so I wasn’t too shocked.

Considering I haven’t been on a push bike for such a long time I was very pleased how easy I found it, spinning obviously helps a lot here but road riding is a lot harder. I was able to stand during all the hill climbs and motor down the hills. It was still icy around the kerbs but I stayed on. I also beat my best time for this ride by about 8 minutes. I did it in 57 minutes today where my previous best was about 1hr 5mins in my 23st days. So I expect this to come down even more.

Even though it was so cold I enjoyed it much more than an hour at the gym so I plan to keep this up.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

LighterLife Update – End of Route To Management

I’ve finished!

The journey I started on July 4th 2008 finished on Thursday after the additional 12 weeks of route to management and now I’m a  free man.

I still  have to be very careful and I don’t want to undo all the good work I’ve done but I learnt the hard way last weekend that I can’t take my eye off the ball even for one minute.

We went away last weekend and I managed to put on 5lbs in just a few days of not watching portion sizes, having a few beers etc. Luckily I can control it at the moment and have already lost 1/2 of that but it was still a wake up call. To be honest it was a kick op the arse I needed to point out I still have to be careful as I have lapsed a few times over recent weeks but  the lapses haven’t shown up on the scales so I been under the illusion I’ve been able to get away with it.

Anyway I still have a lot to learn and will still be going back to my LighterLife counsellor  every few weeks to keep on track and get weighed.

Total weight lost (and maintained for the last 5 weeks) is 8 stone, waist (actual) has dropped from 50” to 37”, chest dropped from 50” to 42”, trouser size dropped from 44”  to 36”.

I feel fitter, healthier and much happier. I’ve been back at the gym a few times and been back to my spinning classes and have had so much energy, I even jogged for a bit at the gym the other day, something I’ve never done before. I’m slowly starting to tone up and still want to bulk up a little bit and would still like to put on a few pounds. I’m currently at 15st 6.5lbs and want to be between 16st and 16st 4lbs (BMI 25)

One thing I was surprised about with this diet is the cost. Not the £66 per week while on abstinence as I was fully aware of that before I started but the additional costs. Mostly new clothes. I’ve replaced most of my wardrobe at least once, sometimes as many as 3 times.

My head has shrunk so I’ve needed a smaller motorcycle helmet and all my biking gear is far too big so that all needs replacing too. I had to buy a completely new winter wardrobe and coat and in total I think the weight loss has cost me an addition £1000+, on top of the nearly £2000 for the actual diet itself the cost racks up. BUT, and it’s a big but, I’d do it again…in a heartbeat.

The weight loss has made such a big difference it is money very well spent. I’ve also had some unexpected side effects from the weight loss. I had a small patch of psoriasis on the back of my head for at least 10 years that has completely gone now. I’ve not had anywhere near as many back strains and my knees don’t hurt as much. I’m sleeping better and generally feel much better about myself.

Anyone thinking about doing this weight loss program should do their research to check it’s right for them and then do it. It works.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MSI installs keep crashing in Windows 7 Beta

I’ve been running the 64 bit and 32 bit betas of Windows 7 on a few machines and for the first few hours I was very happy on all of them as the beta has been at least as stable as Vista has been.

However, without exception, all 3 machines started crashing whenever I tried running any installation program that uses Microsoft’s MSI installer. This meant I couldn’t install some of my most used applications, including a key one for work, the VMWare Virtual Infrastructure client.

This got so frustrating that I was on the verge of binning the beta until a last ditch Google search uncovered this is a widespread issue affecting the beta that has a relatively simple fix.

A detailed page on the problem can be found here:

I have no evidence on the cause of this but my hunch is either Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Air installers as all seemed to be well and these were the first apps on all machines to exhibit the issue and then every MSI install failed after that.

The fix that worked for me was deleting all keys apart from "Default” in HKLM\Software\Microsoft\SQMClient\Windows\DisabledSessions using REGEDIT.

Update apparently Microsoft have updated the Crash Reporter with feedback when this bug gets reported to Microsoft.

I’m going to be different…

…and I’m not going to blog about todays presidential inauguration.

No wait… doh!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Whoosh…where did the time go?

It’s been a crazy few weeks and I’ve let updating my blog slide so here’s a well overdue post.


I’m now on week 10 of Route To Management and this week is introducing cheese back into my diet. Of all the weeks, this week and next week (bread) are the 2 I was expecting to be triggers for me craving food. I had some cheese over Christmas when I shouldn’t have and had terrible indigestion for most of Christmas Eve evening so am a little cautious on having some this week.

Recent weeks with cereals, pasta, potatoes, rice etc have been fine with no problems. I continued to lose weight on RTM up until week 8 and then slowly started putting it back on. My lowest weight was 14st 13 3/4lbs between Christmas and New year and now I’m up to 15st 5lbs. I’m still just under a stone where I want to be so am expecting it to go back up slowly. I’m on 3 meals a day now and just one pack and  I’ve worked out  that to maintain 16st 4lbs at my height I need to be having around 3000 calories per day.

Overall I have found RTM to be quite tough and fighting of the cravings has been very hard. The “voices” can be quite loud sometimes :-o

House Extension

We managed to get the majority of the work completed before Christmas and was able to move back into our new living room with it’s nice new wooden floor and new fireplace. It’s a shame we’ve got to ruin the nice clean grown up looking room by moving all the family crap back into in with bookcases and pictures cluttering everything up :-) Katie’s documented a lot of the build with lots of photos on her blog at

There’s still a few little odd jobs for the builders to do and we’ve probably done 90% of the decorating for the new build and will then have to make good all the other rooms that were “touched” by the building works. This includes the bathroom, study and kitchen.

We also got a new garage door fitted on Friday which was a relief to me as it’s been stuck since before Christmas and I’ve not been able to get my motorbike out. Although to be honest it’s been so bloody cold I’m not sure I would have got much time on it anyway.


Has come and gone (no sh*t sherlock!). Because of all the decorating work we didn’t really have the big build up to Christmas this year and only really got settled on the 23rd. I got my early Christmas present then of a new plasma TV and Blu-Ray player. Wow! movies in HD are pretty amazing and Wall-E was put on about 4 or 5 times over the festive season as we showed off the TV to visitors (of which we had many who all wanted a nose at the new extension)

Christmas Day was spent with friends and Katies Mum, Sister (and partner) and her daughter and I cooked again but this time at Katies Mums house. I’ve also learnt never to cook in someone elses kitchen as they never want to leave you alone. I’ve managed fine in my own kitchen for the last few years but was constantly “monitored” this year. It turned out OK with the exception of some burnt yorkshire puddings and a burn on my wrist which is only just clearing up now.


I had just under 2 weeks off at Christmas and started the New Year feeling refreshed as we decided to have a break from the decorating. Work is keeping me very busy and it’s quite an interesting time for someone in IT as there are a huge amount of technology changes that can benefit most businesses and help maintain costs and sometimes bring them down.

We’ve moved into virtualisation in a big way at work and it seems that with the benefit of hindsight this was a very good move as everyone seems to be doing it now and we’re seeing the benefits big time. I think, like most businesses we’ll see things slow down this year but I think we’re well positioned and have the foundations to ride it out.

We’ve got our now regular January break booked for the end of Jan when we take a weekend away somewhere. This helps us get through the post Christmas lull by giving us something to look forward to that’s only a few weeks away. We’re going back to the Isle of Wight to stay at a pub we visited during our May trip last year.

We’ve got more decorating to do and we also plan to re-fit our ailing kitchen too. Hopefully we won't be spending every weekend doing this but it needs doing desperately and all the new building and decorating has made the kitchen look very tatty. Plus it’s made the Kitchen darker so we’ll need a new window fitted as well.

Our new leather sofa should be turning up in the next week or so and once that’s in we’ll start “furnishing” the living room with pictures, bookcases, storage etc. We’ve still got a lot of our house contents in Katies Mums garage so this has to come back into the house as well but this will be once my study (Kiras old bedroom) gets decorated.

This year sees us going abroad for the first first time in 9 years for a holiday and we’re going back to Lanzarote to hopefully get some sunshine following last years washout camping trip. We’ve still to decide what we’re going to do during the May holiday when we would typically go camping for a week somewhere.

I plan on going for another motorbike trip at the beginning of May with Garan and we’ve provisionally said we’ll go down to the west country and tour around Devon and Cornwall for a long weekend (last years 9 day trip was too long, but great fun!)

I’m going to get my pushbike dusted off this year as I don’t think I rode it at all last year and definitely going to exercise more (going to the gym in the morning and spinning on Monday!) All of this is a lot easier now that a) I’m much lighter and b) now got more energy as I’m back on carbs again.

Anyway, that’s enough waffle for now, I’ll be posting regularly again from now on and aim to at least match the number of posts I made last year which was my highest number for 3 years (mostly thanks to the LighterLife updates)

Monday, January 12, 2009

No update for ages..

Sorry! - I'm still here just been really bad at making time to sit down and collect my thoughts. I'll get a new post up in a day or so.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Do the UK a favour

It looks like the X-Factor winner is going to be our Christmas #1 on Sunday with an OK version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. However there is a very slim chance you can help to stop that happening and instead get a much better version to number 1 instead.

I was fortunate enough to catch Jeff Buckley's version on the radio yesterday and apparently this is currently sitting at number 3 on downloads alone. It’s from his 1994 Album, Grace. It’s widely accepted as the definitive version of this track.

It is an amazing track, just an incredibly powerful voice and acoustic guitar and in a different league to the X-Factor version. Please go and buy or download the track or album and lets get a decent Christmas number 1 for once!

Download a legal DRM free version from Amazon here

RTM Weeks 3 & 4

Apologies for the lack of updates recently but it’s been so hectic at the moment I barely have time to think. What with the house extension reaching a climax, Rhians birthday, preparing for Christmas etc I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.

Anyway, good news and bad news with the RTM progress and both are related. I’m still losing weight and am now way below where I want to be. Week 3 was a 0.9lb loss so I thought I’d got the balance right and then last week was another 2lb loss. This brings me to a total of 8st 1lb lost! I should be over the moon.

Now because of this I have been upping and upping my protein levels with each meal and really hope I’ve kept it in check at my weigh in tomorrow. This is also the reason for the bad news. I lapsed! For the first time since I started I knowingly eat something I shouldn’t have. I kept telling myself I’m now too light and need to put a stone back on and before I knew it I had eaten 2 chocolate bars. Stupid I know and I immediately felt guilty, that I let myself down. Good news is that I was able to spot it and realise why I did what I did and hopefully keep tabs on the crooked thinking in future. But this is really hard.

Food wise I’ve been living mostly on stir-frys with lots of herbs and spices and loving it. Our new George Foreman grill gets a daily workout and makes it very easy to grill chicken or turkey breasts. This week I was able to introduce alcohol and disappointingly I had a headache the following morning after just one scotch. I tried it the next day and had the same effect. So while I’m not going to announce I’m teetotal I am going to say I can take it or leave it.

We’ve got Christmas next week and I’m really looking forward to cooking Christmas dinner again and I’ll be able to eat most of the main meal with the exception of peas, potatoes and the usual gravy but will be able to have turkey, bacon, carrots, swede, sweet potato and a glass of wine. Katie’s bought me a small Christmas pudding to have when I’ve finished RTM in the new year. I’m happy with that.