Fat Boy on a Diet: June 2019 Update: Back on Track

After the birthday indulgences, I was hoping that June would be a chance for me to get back on track. The Couch to 5k training, a few more sensible dietary choices and deciding to push for 175 miles on my Race at Your Pace challenge, I was hoping that this month would help.

I’m feeling healthier as a result of the running. I’m writing this on Saturday and hoping to finish the 6th week of the Couch to the 5k plan on Sunday morning. I’ve found the runs challenging but not impossible, and in week five ran for 20 minutes, which I wouldn’t have been able to get near when I began.

I’ve also started getting into walking more, enjoying being out in nature and trying to up my steps per day. I was aiming for 150 miles this month, but soon found I was going to pass this and upped the total.

All this exercise has made me feel better, mentally as well as physically and I thought I’d shed a bit of weight.

I haven’t weighed in every week, but have kept track by hopping on the scales now and then. At the start of the year I was hoping to hit about half a stone a month, and while I began well, it has slowed considerably, but I’m happy to report that I was just under that vague target.

We’re reaching the halfway point of the year, and overall, I’m rather happy with the progress I’ve made. Not just with the weight but in my outlook, actions and exercise. How much I weigh bothers me, but it’s not the sole thing that I need to change to feel happier and more comfortable with who I am. I’m working on it, but I’m becoming increasingly aware that I do better when I’m working to improve in more ways than just a number on a scale.

Over the summer I want to keep the running going, do the 5k and also keep walking, making better choices and trying to change my relationship with food to one which is healthier and more sensible.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: May 2019 Update: Stalled

I kinda knew that May was gonna be a tricky month. In the last week I was on holiday and celebrating my birthday, both situations where I’m less likely to eat wisely.

There were desserts, pints, fast food. It was not a good effort.

Luckily, restarting Couch to 5K and absolutely caning out the miles for May’s Race at Your Pace helped and I do feel better and fitter.

The problem is that I’ve fallen into the trap of indulging more. I’ve definitely done the thing where as I’ve run I feel I can treat myself.

As a result the weight loss has stalled. There’s barely been any change since the end of April and I really need to behave myself.

It’s pointless doing the running and walking if I then munch through the evening. I need both parts of the exercise + eat right equation to get the result I want.

I have taken a few steps. WoM and I have set up a new rule regarding treats- we buy a small amount at the start of the week and don’t restock until the next week. Once the biccies are gone, they’re gone.

I also got some healthier snacks of mango chunks and apricots, which will give me my TV munches without negating my exercise completely.

Here’s hoping June is where I get my Mojo back as there’s definitely been a loss of momentum since March.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Couch to 5k: 1st Third

So, last year, I rather foolishly wrote a blog about starting up on the Couch to 5k plan again. This is a training programme where over the course of 9 weeks you build up stamina and fitness until you can run for 30 minutes, where you should be around the 5k mark.

I completed it back in 2011-12, and really loved it. For about eighteen months I ran three or four times a week, and did a 5k for Sport Relief. Strangely, considering I’ve never enjoyed sport (pool and kickabouts aside), running became part of my weekly routine and I got to the stage where I was running an hour a few times a week. I loved it, feeling healthier and better about myself it gave me a chance to clear my head and some alone time.

Unfortunately, my running ground to a halt when I returned to uni, as I struggled to get into the groove of fitting in my runs and worrying about what the other students would think of me returning a sweaty mess. It was unbelievably stupid and I lost all the benefits of the work I’d put in.

Last year, having started walking more thanks to (a) having a dog and (b) doing the Comic Relief Kilimanjaro step challenge, I decided I really missed those exercising sessions and that getting out and being active wasn’t just good for me physically but improved my mental health too. I don’t do well moping around the house, and being lazy just makes me feel crappier about myself.

So, I wrote a blog here about how I was getting back to running.

I then did two runs and stopped. In my defence, both runs went badly. I tried taking Ozzy with me on one, but he almost tripped me up, couldn’t work out why I kept changing pace and seemed baffled by the sight of me running, which in fairness was a new experience for me. The second time I left Oz at the house and set off only to get cramp shortly before the halfway point. I hadn’t stretched, which was dumb.

These two knocked my confidence and I decided to just focus on walking. This has helped me feel better and with the weight loss, but I still felt like I was chickening out. I’m heavier now than when I started the first programme and several years older. I was worried that I’d fail.

But then this year my little sister approached me with a proposition. She wants to get fitter too, and had heard about a 5k run we could do to raise money for Ty Hafan, the Welsh children’s hospice. It was taking place in September, so we would have five months to train for it.

I was on board, knowing that this would give me the motivation to train and help with my bucket list item to raise £1million for charities. WoM was in too, and so Big Hero 3 was born. Why Big Hero 3? Well, the run takes place in Disneyland Paris, so we wanted a Disney themed team name.

Three weeks ago, I pulled on my trainers, put in my headphones and listened to Sarah Millican guide me through the opening session.

sarah millican

The first week sees alternating 60 second runs and 90 second walks, meaning you run for 8 minutes total. I ran with WoM, and it went rather well. It was tiring, and more running than I’d done in a while, but the programme is structured cleverly so while it was a challenge, it was still achievable. Two days later, we were out again and it was a bit easier.

The following week steps up to 90 seconds of running and the same time walking. The step up in difficulty was noticeable, but again, manageable. I did however realise that the initial route WoM had chosen wouldn’t work. It was a loop, but not on the flat. I’d run on a flat for a while, then a downhill, then a shorter flat period before a steeper incline. It was alright, but the uphill section was knackering me.

The flatter route I found was easier, but did mean I was nearer busier roads and felt self conscious as people drove by. With Sarah and some Disney tunes in my ears, I tried to push these thoughts to one side and just focus on my running. It just about worked.

Week 3 was a bigger step up, going to running two of the following sets- run for 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds, run 3 minutes. Longer distances which did push my stamina a bit and I found harder, but yesterday morning, I finished the week.

c25k wk3 r3

I’m feeling quite good about myself at the moment. I’m proud that I’ve stuck with it and I do feel my fitness slowly improving. While I’m tired at the end of each session, it’s the good kind of tired. The tired you get when you know you’ve worked hard at something. That, coupled with my sense of achievement is helping me through.

The weight loss has slowed of late, and I can’t quite work out why. I’m hoping the running will help this and focus me on eating better. This is what happened the first time around anyway.

Fitting in the runs around work is a challenge, as I seem to have irritated my bosses who are responding with some of the crappest scheduling I’ve ever seen. But, I can work around this.

I’ve worked out a schedule for my next couple of runs, but am then away for a week, so week 4 may take longer than planned to complete. I’m thinking of doing the first 2 runs this week, having the break and then doing week 4 again in it’s entirety when I get back, hoping that one week off (where I will be fairly active) won’t set me back too far.

I’ll keep you up to date with the developments. I’m going to write about it here, but I held off because I didn’t want to document another failure if something went wrong.

If you would like to sponsor Big Hero 3, here’s where you can do that.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Fat Boy on a Diet: April 2019 Update: No Change

I kinda knew that April was going to be a tough month. Oddly, however, I got why it would be tricky wrong.

I’d imagined that the trip to Florida would be where I let myself down, that I’d over indulge on American treats and sweets, and this would set me back. In this dietary premonition the last two weeks of the month would be me trying to claw back some of the ground I’d lost stateside.

Bizarrely, however, I lost weight in America and put most of it back on when I got home. Crazy. The first weigh in after Florida turned out to be a pleasant surprise, as I’d lost 4lbs.

Now, was I a nutritional saint while away? No. To prove it, here I am with a giant doughnut.

us big pink

But I’d forgotten a couple of things from my first trip to Orlando. Firstly, due to the heat I didn’t actually feel like eating that much during the day. I’d grab some breakfast, maybe a small snack and then have an evening meal. So, I was probably eating less, even with the treats.

Secondly, you walk a lot in the Parks. Seriously, a lot. I’m keeping track of my miles for Race at Your Pace and every day we attended one of the Disney parks I absolutely crushed my target for the day. I’d kind of anticipated this and gone for a bigger target of 150 miles, which I absolutely smashed thanks to Disney and the Comic Relief walk.

march rayp

I’m starting to think they could advertise the Disney parks as a healthy trip given the amount of walking you do. And the best part, it doesn’t even feel like you’ve walked that far because you’re walking in Walt Disney World and everything around you is amazing.

Anyway, I got back and wasn’t sure how it had gone as I’d been ill towards the end of the holiday and moped on the sofa. It makes me wonder that if I’d stayed fit then I might have lost a bit more.

So, what went wrong back in Wales?


There’s this argument that a holiday refreshes and revitalises you for your working life. I used to buy into this theory, and carry a good feeling for the first week or so back at work. But this time, I didn’t feel refreshed. I just felt resentful that I wasn’t enjoying life in sunny Florida anymore. My shift schedule hasn’t been great and my job is awful.


So, how has this hit the diet?

Well, I slipped back into some bad habits, buying too many treats at work, using sugar and tastiness to cope with boredom and frustration. Throw into this a couple of days of  inactivity due to travelling back, and I’ve just not been doing well.

I’ve slipped into a bit of a funk and unfortunately, this just exacerbates my poor diet choices. After a shit shift the other day I chose to get a McDonalds, which I didn’t really need to eat as I was pretty much going straight to bed when I get home. But I decided that after a rubbish day I deserved something nice. Bloody stupid.

Thankfully, the slump appears to have been short term and I’ve had a few instances where I’ve avoided some temptations and opted for healthier options. However, those two weeks saw me regain much of what I’d lost and so as April closes I’m pretty much exactly where I was at the start of the month. Not great.

But a new month is about to begin and I’m starting afresh. I’ve got a few plans in motion which will help me get a bit more active, and I’m going to do my best to stick to the path and make better choices. I just need to find a way to give myself a pick-me-up after a crap shift that isn’t food.

Suggestions welcome.

Anyway, see you in a month to see how May goes.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Florida 2019: Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s space exploration, particularly during the Cold War Space Race is a period that holds endless fascination. An era where scientific boundaries were being pushed, invention was running wild and brave figures were putting themselves at risk in experimental machines.

Astronauts became heroes, they pushed the frontiers of where man had been, they gambled on their technology to keep them safe as they ventured into one of the most dangerous places.

It’s hard to imagine that you could take space exploration and make it rather dull and uninspiring, but fair play to the Kennedy Space Center, they manage it.

There’s the dull film sections, which often go so heavy on the cheese that they should probably warn lactose intolerant people not to visit. There’s the way the displays are slow and ponderous, that to get to see the Saturn rocket you have to sit through a recreation of the 3 minutes leading up to launch. Three minutes! That’s a whole lot of people saying “check”, you could cut out two and a half minutes and it would be a lot better.

space center 01

I was massively disappointed by the experience. There were a few interesting bits and pieces, and seeing the rockets was cool, but far too much felt flat and lifeless. There’s a film advertised as being narrated by Patrick Stewart, but he barely features and much of the voiceover is provided by a trio of astronauts who are remarkably dull. It kinda ruins the image of them as courageous space heroes. Less Flash Gordon and more Gordon Brown.

Oh, and the “Moon rock” you can touch is absolutely tiny.

It was pretty cool to see some of the ships they used, especially as it highlighted just how uncomfortable and dangerous they were. The Gemini 9A capsule looked tiny and imagining spending a couple of days in it, with another person, sounds like a nightmare. How the astronauts could put up with it and not constantly think about how they were a few inches from the cold, deadly vacuum of space is beyond me. I guess I don’t have the right stuff.

space center 02

There are interesting things at the Center, and some interesting stories, but they’re not relayed or displayed in an entertaining or particularly captivating way.

I just felt it was all a bit of a let down.

One of the highlights was that on the drive back I finally got to see some wild gators.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Bucket List #60: Fire a Gun

My thoughts on guns are massively contradictory.

Born in the UK, my experience with guns is limited and I remember being terrified after the Dunblane shooting and relieved that our government brought in stricter gun laws. Similarly, I view the US’ gun situation as being crazy and dangerous.

However, I’m also part of a society where guns and gunplay are a massive part of popular culture. I grew up watching Westerns, action movies and reading comics like The Punisher, where guns are frequently used and shown in a cool way. Think about lobby scene in The Matrix, or the bullet ballet of John Woo movies and you’ll see what I mean.

In real life the only time I’d ever seen guns were when they were attached to soldiers or police officers. And even those are rare sightings.

But I wanted to live out my action hero fantasies, and I wanted to see what it’s like to use a machine built expressly to kill. And so, firing a gun went on the bucket list.

And so, in Florida, I got the opportunity and went to Machine Gun America, a gun range which seems to cater to the tourists who visit the Orlando area. Upon arrival I signed up for the fire three option and selected my guns:

  • An uzi- because I know what one is and they’re used in several action movies
  • A gun named L’il Ass Kicker- which WoM picked
  • An AK-47- probably the most famous gun in the world


I waited for my range officer to come walk me through and started to feel a bit nervous. I was about to hold something which through misuse or mistake could easily kill me or those around me. I can be clumsy at times and fears of accidentally shooting myself in the foot or losing control of the gun filled my head.

Steve, my minder for the experience, was a pretty chilled guy, talked me through the safety points and told me everything was gonna be cool. Then we entered onto the range and he got my guns and ammo. I would get 25 rounds for each gun.

First up was the Uzi, and it was surprisingly light in my hand. I used up most of my rounds in the first burst, but managed to control it into a few shorter bursts of fire.

It felt weird, there was less kick than I anticipated, and it felt extremely easy. A small squeeze of my finger and I could unleash hell.

L’il Ass Kicker was a different beast. Even through ear protectors it was louder and there was an impressive muzzle flare when I fired. It kicked a little bit more, but was easy enough to control and it did give me a bit of a buzz to shoot it. I can see why folks like guns, it makes you feel powerful and I imagine trying to get better and more accurate could become addictive.

Last up was the AK-47, which was louder again and felt even more powerful. I kept my bursts short and like with the others hit the target with the majority of my shots, even if my grouping wasn’t the best.

I can’t deny that I didn’t enjoy the experience, like I said, there was an odd sense of power and a definite buzz from firing the weapons. There was a thrill in doing something which had the potential to be extremely dangerous. And a definite buzz out of being in charge and in control of that danger, of wielding that kind of power.

At the same time, the ease of it all was terrifying. One simple finger movement and you were blasting away. In a few minutes you could send 25 bullets flying out, each potentially lethal. It’s the kind of thing you could easily do by mistake, or too quickly in a state of fear or rage.

I enjoyed my experience, and the folks at Machine Gun America were great. Their place felt safe and the help I got was fantastic.

But I’m still glad that guns are extremely rare here, because it just taught me how powerful these dangerous machines are and exactly how easy they are to use.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Fat Boy on a Diet: March 2019 Update: You don’t weigh on holiday

Okay, so I know it’s not the end of the month yet, but the March update of my weight loss attempt is going up now because I’m away the end of the month on holiday and I’m not going to weigh while I’m away. It just seems daft to spoil what should be a relaxing time by worrying about what the scales are going to say.

It doesn’t help that I’ll be spending my holiday in Florida, with a few days in Walt Disney World and other parks, so eating healthy is going to be very difficult. I’m hoping that walking about a lot and some self control can stop it being a total disaster and the first April weigh in won’t be too bad. I’m kinda expecting to gain a little over the fortnight I’m away, but I’m determined not to let it derail what has been pretty good progress so far. Just chalk it up as a lapse and get right back on it.

The first half of March went quite well, and weigh ins on the 7th and the 14th showed some consistent losses. I cancelled out the poor finish to February and kept on moving down the scales.

2 stone

The walk for Comic Relief and the effort towards Race at Your Pace has helped, and I’ve been doing a lot better in resisting temptation and making some healthier choices around food. There have been a few treats, but they’ve been smaller and less frequent. And I’ve stopped trying to make myself feel better with food.

Doing the Comic Relief walk and raising the money for it made me feel a lot better about myself, and passing the 2 stone loss mark also provided a real feel good moment and sense of achievement.

It means that in 2019 I’m about a stone lighter, and while I haven’t quite kept up with the vague goal of dropping half a stone every month I think it’s a solid showing for the first quarter of the year. If I can keep this up for the rest of the year I’ll be in much better shape.

And I’ve already got some  plans in the works which should make the weight loss easier and help me start to feel healthier and more positive mentally.

See you in April to see just how badly the holiday effects my efforts.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Unicorn Walking: My Quarter Marathon Walk

So, yesterday I completed my quarter marathon walk for Comic Relief. I woke up to driving rain and some really strong winds, so I was a little worried that I’d be soaked in my Unicorn Onesie.

Ah, yes, I was doing the +7 miles walk dressed as a unicorn.

When I started fundraising in February donations were a little slow in coming in, so I decided that I’d appeal to my friends and family’s meaner instincts and give them a chance to embarrass me. I said that if I hit my £70 target by the 1st of March I would do the walk in a unicorn onesie.

It had the desired effect and soon the donations were rolling in and I smashed the £70 barrier with two days of February to go. In fact, the donations kept coming in and I reached £160, more than double what I’d aimed for (£125 on JustGiving, £35 via Facebook).

So, I got my unicorn onesie on and headed to Limpert Bay, where I would be starting my walk heading East along the coast for Barry Island. The weather had eased off, and while there was a bit of wind coming off the sea, conditions were okay and I was quietly confident, while still aware that I was pushing myself to walk further than I had before.

Luckily, I wouldn’t be doing it alone as my little sister had joined me for the walk, and hopefully the Comic Relief balloons she was carrying would let people know that there was a reason for the walk and not just some weirdo wandering about dressed as a mythical horned horse.


We got going and the first stretch was pretty easy, the wind kept off us by a sea wall and the path tarmac. After a while we lost this and had to walk along a track which got a bit muddy in places, but all was good.

Then we hit what was the first of several hills as the Wales Coast Path would take us up and down some of the cliffs. We trooped up a ton of steps and by this point realised we were about two miles, or 1/4-1/3 of the way through. For most of the way so far we’d seen a handful of dog walkers who seemed a little bemused, but surprisingly I felt very little embarrassment. Was it the fact I knew I was doing something good? Or that the balloons answered their question as to what was happening? Or was the spirit of the unicorn taking over? Yeah, it’s probably not the last one.

At the top of the hill the path took us through a caravan park and we got plenty of confused and amused looks from windows as we passed, before we found ourselves moving onto walking along fields on a route which rose and fell with the coastline. For a long stretch we were on a narrow, muddy track where finding solid footing was tricky.

This slowed us down quite a bit, and also the branches overhead claimed one of the balloons. But we ploughed on, chatting away and joking about how a mud covered Unicorn Chris would make a funny photo, albeit one I hoped to avoid. We dropped down again, before climbing once more, but the route here was less tricky and we were both feeling good.

Around this point we reached a large standing stone which told us we were at “The most Southerly point”.

“Of what?” My sister asked.

“Wales, I guess.”

It turned out I was right, but the standing stone’s inscription had faded. A less impressive plastic sign told us we were at Rhoose Point and as far South as you can go in Wales. I suggested that in a few years we could try to walk from here to Ynys Mon, the most Northern part of Wales. But this would have to be a few years, and a lot of training away. But it shows that I was feeling pretty good at this point.

This good feeling stayed with us until we neared Porthkerry, where we faced a steep downward portion of the route that had been reduced by recent rainfall into a mudslide. We managed to get about half way down okay, although our pace had slowed considerably.


Where I walked, from the left to the right,

Unfortunately, I got in my own head and started to think about falling too much. If I’d kept going I would have been better off, but overthinking it made me panic a little. I got a grip on myself and managed to make it to the bottom okay. We were now within sight of several key landmarks and feeling good.

Then came the hardest uphill portion of the whole walk, a large, steep stairway which probably would have been a challenge on it’s own, but around five miles in was agony. By the top I was gasping for breath, my thighs on fire and feeling knackered. I chugged some water and started to fear cramping.

There was a couple sat on a bench and for the first time I felt truly self conscious, knowing that I looked a state, huffing and red faced. The unicorn magic was clearly wearing off.

We walked on across a large field which was largely flat and only rose and fell in gentle stages. I caught my breath, my legs stopped aching and I started to feel good again.

Then we dropped down at the Knap and from there on we knew we were on road again, and wonderfully close. Unfortunately, the rain started and I got a little damp, but the end in sight, I wasn’t going to stop.

Finally, we reached Barry Island and headed for our finishing line, along the front, just up from Marco’s.

The walk had taken 3 hours and 56 minutes, much longer than planned, but had I scouted the route better I would have been more realistic. The hills and the mud really slowed up the pace and I think if I did a flatter, better paved route I could beat that time.

What I will say is that despite the aches, the rain and the tiredness, I felt immensely proud at the finishing point. There was a real sense of achievement, I’d set myself a challenge and met it, and it leaves me optimistic for facing fresh challenges as I move forward, and hopefully getting fitter will help with those. I’m hoping to consistently exercise more and lose weight so maybe in a year or so I’ll try this route again to see how I do.


I couldn’t have done it without my sister, as having someone with me made me feel safer and the company definitely helped to distract and make it more fun. Also, it was really great to see WoM waiting at the finish line to drive us home, and the cups of tea she had brought were extremely appreciated.

My Just Giving page is still active, so if you want to donate a bit more, you can do so here.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

Fat Boy on a Diet: February 2019 Update: The Difficult Second Month

Anybody who makes resolutions knows that late January and early February are the graveyard of your “New Year, New Me” hopes and dreams. The optimism, hope and determination you had on January 1st isn’t sustainable, and it can start to waver. It doesn’t mean you have to give up, but expecting to keep powering forward with no loss of momentum is a bit foolish.

After a really good January, February started off well enough, with a consistent slide down the scales. And then I hit a bump and had a wobble.

One of the things I need to work on is avoiding using food, especially junky food, as a comfort or way to break my boredom. I’ll eat not because I’m hungry but because I have nothing to do. I need to get better at filling my time more constructively, and I do have a few ideas for how to do this.

The other problem is “treating myself”. Work has been a constant grind for the last few weeks, and I’ve been letting myself go a few too many times. I’ll buy chocolates or a pastry on my break because I need some kind of pleasure to break up days which manage to be both incredibly stressful and crushingly dull at the same time.

homer food

It doesn’t really help. In fact it just makes me feel worse.

I’ve spent money on food I didn’t need and feel a bit of guilt over being so weak willed. Now, I’m not saying I’m gonna start living like a monk without any indulgences, because that seems like a crappy way to live (sorry if I have any monk or nun readers). Pleasure is good, but I need to learn how to delay this and enhance the “treat” aspect, keeping these things for special occasions or infrequent luxuries.

So, what to do going forward? Well, I’ve decided to cut out the chocolates and crap at work, not have treats multiple times a week and I’m hoping that my continuing work towards Race at Your Pace (125 miles done in February, aiming for 150 in March) will help out.

Also, there’s the extra walking I’m doing in preparation for my Comic Relief Quarter Marathon Walk, which I’m still fundraising for, and will now be doing in a unicorn onesie. You can find out why and maybe even sponsor me at my Just Giving page.

And I’m also going to put the delayed gratification principle to the test by foregoing treats throughout the first three weeks of March so that I can indulge a bit on my holiday to Florida at the end of the month.

Come back in a few weeks to see how that goes.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

SPONSOR ME!!!: Quarter Marathon Walk

One of the items on my bucket list is to raise £1 million for charity. It’s a big ask and so I’m approaching it as a long term goal that I’m slowly chipping away at.

Last year, thanks to the Sport Relief walking challenges and the Children in Need Countryfile Ramble along with a few other smaller things, I raised £381.86.

A long way to go!

Now, I don’t want to bombard people I know all the time, so I’m trying to do 2-3 things a year, and the first one this year is in aid of Comic Relief.


On March 7th I’m going to walk from Limpert Bay to Barry Island, a distance of around 7 miles, slightly more than a quarter of a marathon.

I know to some folks 7 miles won’t sound like a lot, but it’ll be the longest continuous walk I’ve ever done and it’s the first step on a journey that I will hope see me increase my stamina and fitness until I can walk greater distances.

I’m set my goal at £70, which is a tenner per mile. You can sponsor me from as little as £2 and it helps a great course which provides help and support for people all over the world. All donations, big and small will be greatly appreciated.

I’m hoping that I can raise more this year than last year, and it’d be great if you could help with that.

My sponsorship page is here.

Thanks for your time!

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.