Thursday, February 25, 2010

Moving House!

I am moving to Wordpress!

I am told (see I do take advice!) that this is a much better way of blogging and if you would like to go visit me there you will see some news of the plans I am making to turn the Lean For Life words into action.

So please do follow me on my trip across cyberspace to my new home at

If only moving house in the physical world were this easy!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Isn't the human body amazing?

This post is prompted by someone who emailed me after my last blog entry wondering whether they could have a real influence on how the body re-builds itself given what has been put in in the past.

My answer to that is without a doubt. Our bodies have largely evolved to respond to the environment and to what we are doing with them.

If we lift heavy weights they tend to build muscle (certainly for men), if we sit around and do nothing our muscles tend to waste away and our joints seize up.

I just wanted to recount my own experience to illustrate this. Not that I am in anyway remarkable as a specimin, anyone is capable of doing similar but it does go to show that we do hold a good deal of influence over how our bodies constantly remake themselves.

Six months ago (August 09) I was just on 16 stone and totally unfit, my body fat % at that point was 36% fat. I could not run without stopping to our nearest shop (500 meters). If I had taken no action at all I would by now have billions of new cells in my body but my body would have been little different to look at or if it were measured.

However I decided to change that. I now weigh around 12.5 stones and have a body fat % of around 12. Last night I went out for a run, intending to do at least 5K (awful day at work and didn't feel much like it) but at various places decided to take the long route and ended up doing 10.5K. Ironically my Runkeeper App told me that I had done 10K just as I passed the shop I could not run to 6 months ago. I must admit I chuckled to myself as I lengthened my stride and gave it a last push for home (10K time was 58 mins 55 secs for anyone interested, not Olympic standard but not bad for an old git of 51!).

As I say nothing special about me but there is something special about this physical body we all possess that it is so forgiving for all the years of abuse and misuse that with a bit of cajoling and effort it can remake itself into something which can pass for decent!

Moral of the story for me is that it is just never too late to do something about it and that time will pass anyyway so if it takes six months or a year so what, in six months or a years time you will be that much older, the question is 'how' do you want to be? We are constantly instructing our bodies as to how we want them to be based on what we put in and how we use them. Makes you think doesn't it?

Saturday, February 20, 2010


'They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks' or should that be that 'There are none so blind as those that will not see'.

I have been weight training off and on for 30 odd yeas now (more off than on it has to be said!) and while I have known all along it is better to use less weight and better form, I am not 100% sure I have really applied this until recently but now know without a shadow of a doubt that this is the truth.

How can I be so sure? Well if you take squats and lunges for example I have dropped a fair bit of weight off the barbell and really relly concentrated on form, both in keeping my back in the correct position and getting the 'drop' in both exercises as far down as I can while retaining good form and balance. Result DOMS in my legs for two days that I have not had before (and bear in mind that I have been doing these exercises for some months before) and in the case of lunges my heart rate was hitting plus 170 which certainly never happened before.

So my conclusions are two fold, firstly that I may have known something logically for years but it wa not until I really experienced it did it finally become a belief and secondly that there is no fool like an old fool!

Also would add that a good steady 10K run (this ime on the treadmill due to snow and ice) is a great cure for DOMS!

With the weekend here and nothing to get in the way intend to do a Shoulders, Chest and Triceps session this afternoon, and a Legs,Back, Core, Biceps session tomorrow.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How does your fare. fare?

We are what we eat. It is true and there is no getting away from it. Our cells are renewing themselves at the rate of billions per hour and they can only do that from what we take in as food. Therefore to argue that our bodies are not affected by the quality of that food makes no logical sense to me at all. If you put poor fuel into a highly tuned engine it will run but not as well as it might. So it is with us.

The argument that is trotted out that a ‘calorie is just a calorie’. It is in it’s most simplistic sense for sure. But if you are going to stop there I think you are in danger of totally misleading yourself with such ‘flabby’ thinking.

Our bodies are much more than just energy! Our experience of life is much more than ‘can we stay alive?’ Our experience of life is a very emotional one, it is about how we feel, both physically AND emotionally and one often feeds the other.

This to my mind is where the question of food makes SUCH a difference.

Not all the food we eat is created equal. Some of it should probably never be created at all!

I have been thinking about this a good deal recently and came across a way of thinking that divides up foods in 5 grades A,B,C,D, and F (I know E is missing but F stands for Fail in my book!) What follows is influence by that but adapted to my own requirements.

Grade A: Is food that is consumed as close to how it came out of nature. Take the shell off a Brazil Nut or peel a pineapple and you have grade a food. These are the foods we are most evolved to eat and which often carry the highest nutritional density.

Grade B: Close to nature but undergoing a certain amount of processing, which adds nothing and takes as little as possible away, an example would be whole wheat bread. It has to be milled, it has to have yeast and water added but that is all it needs to make it bread.

Grade C: A process has taken place which alters the food significantly by either the addition of what was not there or the taking away of what was. A good example would be many commercial white breads. The wheat germ has been removed and other ingredients have been added to make it last longer or taste more palateable.

Grade D: Highly processed foods that still bear some relationship to the original but are highly processed with the addition of fats, sugars and other additives with the sole intention of making them ore palatable.

Grade F: Foods that bear no relation to anything found in nature. (Have you ever seen a naturally occurring Quaver?) Many of which have little or no nutritional value or worse still can be harmful.

To illustrate what I mean let us look at the humble apple. As it stands it is Grade A. It comes off the tree you eat it nothing added nothing taken away. Would unsweetened apple sauce be grade A? I would suggest not. For a start the skin has been lost and there are nutrients in the skin, secondly it has been boiled and heat affects the vitamin content. So it is Grade B still good though!

So we sweeten it with sugar it becomes Grade C.

Fruit juice (which means that much of the fibre is taken out is Grade D.

It ends up in one of those nuclear zapped apple pies from MacD’s the ingredients of which most of us have no idea of without searching them out on a website and this has to fall into the Grade F category.

Of course there is no ‘official’ grading of foods. Perhaps there should be but believe me folks it is never going to happen, The big food conglomerates have way too much power to ever allow ‘GRADE F’ to be plastered all over their products!

Here are some examples of what I would regards as Grade A – F

Grade A

Leafy green veg
Root vegetables
Peas, sweet corn and other legumes (fresh or frozen)
Fresh fish
Lean red meat
Fresh Fruits
Unrefined Oats

Grade B

Wholemeal flour (including simple breads)
Canned fruit and veg
Natural Yoghurts
Brown Rice
Cous Cous
Snack bars with 100% natural ingredients
Canned fish
100% whole grain cereals (such as Shredded Wheat)

Grade C

Dry Cured Bacon
White Rice
White flours made into simple additive free white breads
Ready meals and sauces with few or no ‘chemical’ ingredients
Butchers quality sausages
Non Wholegrain cereals

Grade D

All processed food masquerading as ‘real food’ i.e. you would hope to find the main ingredients in nature but by now have been so highly processed and messed about that they would be barely recognisable.

Supermarket bacon
Low quality sausages
Ready meals with a long list of additives
Potato Crisps
Shop bought cakes
Biscuits and cookies
Rice Puddings in a pot
All 'Lite' foods

Grade F

Rubbish. That is food so highly processed it really does not deserve the title food. That has been chemically enhanced to make ingredients that would be unpalateable.

Low value burgers
Packet snacks (Quavers/Monster Munch )
Fizzy drinks
Cheese Straws

I stress this is MY list and not any sort of official classification, nor is it exhaustive you can add or change anything you want..

My suggestion to you is that if you are serious about your well being, use the classification above to look closely at your own food choices and see how they rate. No one is telling you to change them, no one is saying you should do this or do that, you may even want to finesse your own definitions of the various grades.

However I am saying that in my experience the more Grade A and B foods I eat the better I feel. It affects my mood, my self esteem and my ability to exercise. If I feel better I exercise more if I exercise more (up to a point) I feel better. It is a virtuous circle.

I have also not made judgements in terms of fat or calorie content in the grading because that can be taken into account with regard to amount consumed within overall limits. 1 brazil nut is MUCH higher in calories than the equivalent weight in Haribo but I know which is better for my well being!

What amazes me having been a member of and now of a different calorie logging website is just how few people make the connection between high grade food and wellbeing.

Indeed part of the reason I was booted off of WLR was that I dared to say that you would get better results if you were critical of your diet. We have evolved to eat mainly grade A foods (for hundreds of thousands of years that is all hominids ate). It is only in the last 10,000 years that we have started to introduce Grade B and C foods and only really in the last century have we seen the massive increase in Grade D and F foods.

So if you are reading this and are serious about your physical well being I really do suggest you have a look at the quality of the foods you eat, it does make a difference believe me, and I make no apology of being an advocate of high grade foods.

Monday, February 15, 2010


It's funny isn't it how a number of things crop up around the same time and if you are lucky you see the pattern and make something of it. If you are not tuned in the moment passes and is lost.

Such is the case with me. For a couple of weeks now this whole question of purpose has been cropping up, and in a way refuses to go away.

Let's go back a bit first to put some persprective on it and then it may (I hope) become clear what I am rambling on about.

Many years ago my brother gave me a copy of a book by Tony Robbins called 'Unlimited Power'. If anyone reading this knows the work of Mr Robbins they will attest that he is a very charismatic and powerful man. He stands about 6'5" built like an athelete and one of the world's best known success coaches. This is a man who knows about power.

Have a look at his web site, if you follow the Robbins approach there is nothing that you cannot achieve. And you know what, he is right, if you want it enough you can have it, but the trick really is in knowing what you really want.

Indeed most of the 'motivational' and 'success' coaches will put great emphasis on material success. They will have you writing lists and making picture boards with all sorts of 'things' on them. I don't mind admitting when I first discovered this world and the power of it that was what I did as well, but I never seemed totally motivated to follow through on it.

I now realise where I was going wrong. I did not want all that stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I like nice things, but not enough to do what was needed to do to get lots of them.

My dear wife once said to me some years ago "The difference between having a car and no car is huge. The difference between having a 10 year old BMW and a new BMW is really not that great." How wise is that? Think anbout it. The difference between having a 37 inch flat screen TV and no TV is huge. The difference between having a 37 inch and 42 inch not that great. You can carry this on across all sorts of material things.

Though this is not the case in relationships. The difference between having one loving relationship or no loving relationships in your life is enourmous. The difference between having one and two equally loving realtionships is well....double!

This was the blinding flash of inspiration that has been dawning on me for about the last 5 years,(I never said I was quick on the uptake)it really is not things that make me happy (don't get me wrong, I would rather be comfortable than poor) but people. Indeed it is not even people that make me happy it is 'me' that makes me happy, when I know I have interacted with someone that is of value to us both.

Now I have to be careful here in sounding just too 'mom and apple pie' but I am beginning to discover that working at getting as many interactions in my life as right as possible will pay me back with huge dividends, it makes me feel good and I like feeling good!

We are after all pretty selfish creatures, even our altruism we do because it gives us a feeling that we want.

What has this got to do with being 'Lean For Life'? Well I have been wondering over the past few weeks why I write this Blog.

I started it full of evangelical fervour when I found a way to change my body composition easily and effectively, which I have to say some other people seemed unable to do.

I blogged intermittently as I really only wanted to blog when I really had something to say, but the feedback I got was that some people enjoyed it and looked forward to my posts.

Since getting my marching orders from WLR I wondered what was the purpose of it? Though there were other calls on my time over the last couple of weeks I thought should I carry on? Would anyone miss it? When I got emails from two people asking how I was and why I had not been around I took that to mean that there are people out there who feel a benefit from what I have to say, which is great. I will therefore be very happy to give what I can, to anyone who feels they can make something of it.

Which dovetails in with two other projects I have going on a present, both in very very early stages, and if anyone would like to comment on they should just fire away.

The first is that I feel the whole area of fatherhood has been devalued in our society and consequently we have a lot of young men (particularly) that have suffered from lacking the sort of older male role model that I was fortunate enough to have. I would like to get something going by which men like myself who have been though the process of bringing up children, (especially boys) and who would like to give something back by mentoring youngsters who want to make something of themselves but are possibly finding their energies directed in a less than positive way.

The working title for this project is "Just one is a success". Which I think encapsulates what I am thinking of, if I could help just one person turn their life around and follow a path that they would never have found to a happy and productive life then I would count it a success.

The other is similar but not quite the same in that I was talking to two business owners in the building that I manage and it became clear that they may benefit from having an outside person to ask them questions and possibly suggest different strategies for them to achieve what they want. I have offered to help them in anyway I can.

So to me it is becoming clear what my purpose is, it is to be a mentor. Someone who creates the space in which others achieve all that they want and all that they are capable of being.

What is a Mentor? I have looked up a few probably the best easily accesible one of which is " a wise and trusted guide and advisor". Personhally I prefer Robert Dilts's version "someone who creates the space for others to be come all that they can or want to be".

I don't even know if you can just say, 'I want to be a mentor', but then again I suppose you have to because there is really no mechanism set up for others to come along and tap you on the shoulder and suggest you do it. Perhaps it is a bit like The Field Of Dreams - 'build it and they will come' well perhaps if I just hold the space and I am ready for it then those that I can help will find me.

If you have got this far, I apologise that this blog has strayed a little from what it was a few weeks back, but hey nobody has to come read it!!! There is an element of musing in it and as you might guess all the thoughts are not fully worked out as yet.

I would be really appreciative of any feedback that anyone is willing to give.

Did I say the going was getting tough????????

I really wasn't joking! You may have noticed that I have not been around much the past couple of weeks, indeed a couple of lovely people even emailed me to see if I was OK!

To say it has been a trying couple of weeks would be a bit of an understatement.

Firstly the spectre of redundancy stalks where I work like a great big stalking thing, and when that happens you tend to get your head down and try to make yourself as indespensible as possible, no? So it is probably true to say that my head has been elsewhere!

On top of that my car went in for an MOT two weeks ago (today) and I only just got it back yesterday. A part they needed had to be ordered from Germany and when it came it was the wrong one! In the end the girl there managed to work her charms on the examiner and get it though on a repair rather than a replacement! It just goes to show how much we take personal transport for granted.

On top of that I suffered a minor tear in my calf while out running two fridays ago so had to rest up. Which would not have been a problem if I could get to the gym but not having the car and Mrs F working different hours to me made things a bit of a problem!

On top of that we were having work done at home in the bathroom which needed re-decorating this weekend!

So I am still alive and kicking but have been fighting fires in other areas!

On the Lean For Life Front, I am just starting to get my head around being aware of what I am eating and how much but not counting every calorie that I eat. I really don't want to count every calorie for the rest of my life and think that I have a sufficient handle on the whole thing for it not to be a major issue in the future.

Part of being lean, fit and happy must be being able to maintain the right sorts of balance in life. I know I have a tendancy towards the obsessive and it is something I really need to guard against.

Yesterday was a case in point. Two months ago (while still losing) I would have stuck to my calorie quota. Yesterday as it was Valentines day I decided that I could be a little more adventurous and cook something nice for myself and Mrs F. She deserved it after really putting in a shift with the paintbrushes and rollers over the weekend. So on the menu was :

Roasted tomato, anchovy and prawn salad.

Free range breast of chicken with breadcrumbs, parma ham and rosemary (it is all chopped finely and stuck together with butter then stuffed under the skin and roasted)

This was served on a bed of crushed new potatos and leeks with a side dish of frech beans tossed in garlic butter.

Dessert was one of the little Gu Chocolate Banoffie Pies (cheating I know but we were busy doing other things!)

1 glass red wine.

Now looking at that it is not something I would normally have eaten during my fat loss time but most of it is whole foods (the Gu aside!) and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all concerned.

I also felt better about going a bit OTT because I did get out and do a 5K run setting a new PB of 28 mins 10 seconds (that is 1 minute 20 better than previous best!

So I think the corner has been turned on this difficult period (and it wan't all that difficult now was it!) so you should be getting a bit more from here in the coming days!

One last request, as I am no longer on WLR please feel free to leave a comment so that I know you have dropped by. This is particularly true if you think I can help in anyway or you would like me to address a particular subject in this blog.

Friday, February 5, 2010

You know what they say............

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

I doubt that there are many of us who find January and February great months. I little winter snow can make the place look beautiful and the kids like it for a while. However to my mind it palls fairly soon after that. February is little better but it does have the redeeming quality of being mercifully short! March I can handle. The world is waking up and things are starting to grow, the feeling of renewal is beginning to spread.

But there are things all of us can do now to make sure that we are best placed for the better weather when it comes.

I know dragging my sorry carcass out to the gym on a dark rainy night is more difficult than leaving work in the light with perhaps a bit of sunshine to travel in.

For those of us who run outside the prospect of lighter nights and warmer weather must be eagerly anticipated.

However much as it is tempting to hibernate for the rest of February there are rewards to be gained from pushing on through and getting the 'hard yards' done now.

Not exercising is not just neutral. It is not as if doing nothing for the whole of February will leave me where I was on the first. The nature of the human body is such that if you do not use it it slowly deteriorates, especially as you get past the dreaded 50!

If you weight train missing out too many sessions will set you back there is no doubt about that, and while not many people will see the changes you have made under layers of winter clothing time will come around when it is just T Shirts and jeans or sunner dresses when all that work pays off.

If you are a runner stamina is lost of you don't run, gained if you do. Many people (myself included) have entered runs and races in the coming months and it will be the miles put in in January and February that makes finishing the run possible in April May and June.

So am I writing this to motivate others or myself? The truth is both. If we are having trouble motivating ourselves to do something, the more compelling reasons we can find to do them, the easier it becomes. So for my part I am thinking forward to the half marathon that I have entered and standing on the start line knowing that 13 and a bit miles is within my capability. I am thinking about being able to wear whatever I want to wear in the summer without my belly hanging over my belt, if feeling confident and healthy in my physical body.

So whatever it is that is de-motivating at the moment, put to one side, look forward and imagine the rewards of the efforts you are putting in now. It makes following through and taking action so much easier.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

So the world moves on.............

Found a new site today that does much of what WLR does called I have signed up for a free 5 day trial. I had thought of doing without, as Chocolatebutton said I should know enough about what to eat by now and she is probably right however having that bit of dicipline 'imposed' on me where I know I will have to record what I eat is no bad thing.

It means I can put the whole WLR thing behind me. What irks me a bit is that there are stll nasty little people having a dig when I am not even able to defend myself!

Still that is between their ears.

Really pleased about the response to the facebook page and want to say a big thank you to Tina for helping out with some of the admin and generally giving the page a shot in the arm.

Also a big thank you to all who have come along and joined. I realise now I should have made it a 'group' rather than the page I did then everyone would be a member rather than a 'fan' but I suppose there is not much wrong with being a fan of beng Leaner For Life.

The ethos is really discuss whatever you want there and certainly clean eating HIIT and increasing protein is not barred nor will you have anyone jumping down your throat for it!

As for me today, it is a rest day exercise wise and with the bathroom a bit upside down due to having a new shower put in just a case of holding the line on food and looking to get out there and get some miles under my belt tomorrow.

Wow! Blown away!

Wow guys, I will admit I went to bed last night feeling a tad low. So many amazing people that I was in danger of losing touch with all because I am a bit impulsive and hot headed!!!

I was even beginning to wonder how would I keep my motivation going to stay the way I had become (let alone do the really hard part which is the last 10%)

Then when I got to work I looked at my hotmail account and there was a message from Jo (JAG) saying that she had joined the facebook page. Oh well I thought if it is just me and her, who better to share a corner of cyberspace with!

So I logged on to Facebook and it seems 30 of you little rascals have already got there nad joined up!!!

To say that I am chuffed would be an understatement. But this is not about me it is about providing something for people that does not exist elsewhere.

I would like the Facebook page to be a place for people who have got past the foothills of the process and know that to climb the mountain the you have to be in control of your own feet.

That does not mean we do not all need a bit of help from each other from time to time but it does mean an acceptance of the fact that change has to come from within.

To get some better idea of what I am saying I would urge anyone in doubt to go the the facebook page and look at the discussion initiated by Marianne 'Why are we here' I could not have put it better so I won't try.

What I do know is that as a group we are stronger than as individuals and I for one would love to be able to continue sharing this journey with other people.

My main question now is what do people want from the Lean For Life facebook page? I have started a discussion there so please feel free to put your thoughts.

Also anyone who is adept at getting the most from facebook please let me know as I am a bit of a novice, the page does allow me to make others 'admin'.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My my this page has been busy!

I have just checked my stats and it seems that there have been something like 6 X the pervious highest number of views of my blog page than the previous busiest day!

Thank you to all those who have looked in be they the curious, the supportive or just the downright happy to see me gone from WLR!

As dear ol d Oscar Wilde said "There i sonly one thing worse than being talked about.....and that is not being talked about!

Now what can I do tomorrow to get those sort of numbers again. perhaps the towel shot without the towel!!!

Lean For Life

In the course of todays events someone said why don't you set up a facebook page. well I have done just that and have called it 'Lean For Life'.

It is not in anyway in direct competition with WLR as I just do not have anything like their resources, but it seems to me it might be nice where people who have had a certain amount of success with what they are striving to do and have tended to stick to the clean food/cardio/ weights message can have a place of their own and on which they can discuss their way of doing things .

I have no idea what it might become but it strikes me that as much as I got into trouble for saying it on WLR there were a number of people for whom the penny had dropped and this seemed to be making a huge difference to their results.

So I have set this facebook page up as a place where those of a like mind can help and encourage others without some of the 'periferal' stuff that goes on on WLR. It costs nothing so I thought it worth a try.

Blogs can be promoted shamelessly and any photos that are OK with Facebook are OK with me!

Can be found on:!/pages/Lean-For-Life/288223610955?ref=ts

Drawing a line and moving on

Had time to consider, and what has happened with my fall out from WLR is probably for the best. Clearly my sensibilities and some people on that site are not the same, and not having been there for years and years I suppose I was bound to get the smelly end of the stick.

Perhaps there was some resentment of the fact from those who saw fit to complain that I had managed to do in four months what they it seems were still struggling to do after years of trying. It takes all sorts.

However I don’t go away that easy and anyone who is interested in how I am doing can follow on my blog as I will now change it to being a little more like some of the others which are more a kin to an online diary of how I am doing.

One thing I am absolutely sure of is that I will not let this derail me in the slightest.

Should anyone want to stay in touch or would like any help with anything you can get in touch at

Oh and Suzie? Never was anyone so misnamed.

Laters people!

Farewell to WLR

I had quoted it as a favourite website but it seems it is not one where freedom of speech has any place. Following unexplained and undiscussed complaints they summirarily terminated my membership.

This is a shame because I met some very good people there but it seems we are living in an increasingly sanitised world where is you deviate from the accepted norm you can no long er be tolerated.

Me today who next?