Sunday, 23 November 2008

Report Card

Actually, I waited another week before trying to get my thoughts in order and make a few comments.

Diet

Well, in terms of weight loss and discipline, this was spectacularly successful. I went from 92kg to 79kg without feeling weak in any way. I was able to follow the instructions without feeling huge hunger pangs. the weight loss was very dramatic, nearly all in the first month or so.

I worried that the speed of the loss might be difficult for the system to take and that as I could choose what to eat, I might have missed out on some vital nutrients but Patrick was always exhorting us to eat a variety of things.

I was lucky about two things. First, living in Japan. While drifting down the same route, Japan does not yet have a preprocessed food culture so common in other developed countries and the grocery shops stay open late, sell in small quantities so following a resticted intake diet is actually easily doable here. Of course, there is a downside, I can't read labels so I can never be sure what is in the packet I am buying but even this has the advantage of me leaving something on the shop shelf if I am not sure what is in it. (Side grouse - content labels on imported foodstuffs just about ALWAYS get stuck over the English equivalent, leaving other, equally incomprehensible lists in other languages clearly readable). Second, after a previous diet some years back (at that time I went from 106kg to 81kg, but it took a whole year), I had retained a number of fairly healthy habits including a preference for brown rice and no red meat so adapting to the PCP diet was not too hard.

And I lapsed from the diet very rarely, only occasionally nibbling on something that was off limits.

So I can probably give myself full marks on the diet part.

And what about since? Well, my weight immediately bounced back up 2kg ..... but then has stayed put. I definitely now miss brown rice in the middle of the day. My appetite has fallen and I have noticed two things - a relative lack of vegetables in restaurant-served meals and that if I get peckish, I always previously went for a carbohydrate fix. I'm trying to concentrate on fruit now but it is not considered convenient enough to have much, if any, shelf space for fruit in Japan's convenience stores so is not always easy to find when I want it. I've been buying apples to take into the office.

Skipping

In week three, this nearly caused me to quit. I struggled for the whole time to get some "style" into my skipping and I read with envy the ability of the rest of the PCP2 team to apparently breeze to the target skips and embellish their routines with refinements I can only imagine. Instead, I could never get a long sequence of skips together and it always took SOO long.

In week 1 we had to do 500-1,000 skips and I started on day 1 with 500 and managed 1,000 on day 7. Week two was 1,000 skips and I managed that. Week three was 1,500 skips and at this point I nearly rebelled. I did 1,000, 1,500 and 1,700 on consecutive days but the 1,700 took more that an hour. I emailed Patrick in frustration and he put me on timed skipping before the rest of the team. This saved me.

Nevertheless, it did not get that much easier. I continued to trip over the rope with monotonous regularity. For the record, I think the longest sequence I managed was 159 skips and the average more like 20-30. On a bad day, tripping over the rope on the first skip on a sequence was all too common. The best six minute set managed 425 skips, just over 70 a minute, and that was the last one I did on the PCP.

On the other hand, I skipped every single day, in sickness and in health, rain (on the porch, or even, on a couple of days, inside) or shine (in the garden). And towards the end, with the temperatures dropping, this became quite a challenge to step into the garden first thing in the morning - I preferred to skip in the morning because leaving it to the evening meant skipping in the dark (my lights are not bright enough) and that was not fun.

So I guess I can award myself eight out of ten, more for persistence than style.

Post PCP has seen this stop. By the end, I was in a good deal of pain with my stiff neck and it is only slowly recovering. But, it is an easy discipline to get going again so this is only my New Year list.

Workout

One size does not fit all and I have a distinct aversion to "exercising for exercise sake". That latter statement is dumb, of course, because the exercising we have been doing is not "for exercise sake" but to promote overall health. But I have never enjoyed the "burn" and always preferred to do exercise with some other "purpose" - a sport or activity. In addition, I have been arthritic for seventeen or eighteen years and that added some discomfort to the workouts and a general low condition to be starting from.

So this was always likely to be the problem area for me and so it proved. Even the early workouts proved difficult although at my own level, I was able to notice the progress. I started out unable to do a push-up from my toes, just from my knees. I can now do this, although I need to work on getting down lower. And the plank, one of my less-liked exercises, I can now do a minute at a time - I started off at 20 seconds. On the other hand, I feel I did some exercises in my own style rather than what was actually intended. My stiff back and neck impeded the abs exercises in particular.

Patrick recognised that I was unlikely to keep up and had me on an individual programme that followed the main programme but recognised my personal limits.

I made noticeable progress but my physical condition eventually let me down. I picked up what seemed to be a flu bug in day 62 and this started to affect my ability to do the workouts. One thing seemed to follow another culminating in the worsening problem I had with my neck that was so painful, some exercises could not be done.

In the last week or so of PCP, I was unable (or unwilling) to do much on the workouts so that just at the time that I should have been building up my stamina and muscles, I was increasing unable to cope.

So here again, I can't get full marks - maybe six out of ten with a comment that I could have done more.

Blogging

Now this was an area that I could cope with. Even if it was just a few minutes before midnight, I did blog every day. Towards the end with the on-going frustration of my body not wanting to cooperate, it was a bit difficult to stay positive and interesting but at least a few words! I hope it was not too boring.

Towards the end, I thought we all got a little introverted on our blogs, concentrating on where we were and the finish line. But maybe that is what PCP is all about too - making sire we look hard at ourselves to be the best we can.

But I can definitely give myself full marks for the blog.

Time

What did suffer during the PCP was my time. I already had a pretty full diary and hadn't really taken on board exactly how much time PCP would take. Skipping up to half an hour (longer before I went on to timed sets). Workout thirty minutes to an hour. Preparing food - lunch, fruit snacks, and PCP breakfast and dinner - probably took between thirty minutes and an hour more than pre-PCP (dinner out was often the choice pre-PCP). And the blog took a variable amount of time. So on average I could say that I found an extra two hours a day out of an already busy schedule.........

Sleep

......... which meant that one of the instructions was often ignored. Patrick emphasised that eight hours sleep a day was necessary but this was one thing that was cut in order to meet the other requirements of PCP. This can be self-defeating because without enough sleep, it is difficult to maintain the mental and physical level necessary to complete PCP successfully.

So on sleep, I think I only get five out of ten.

Teamwork

It was great to be participating with the others : Nate, Amy, Emiko and Adrian. And, of course, Partick's daily email and availability for any personal difficulties, with Chen in the background supporting us all.

Everyone's blogs varies from the day-to-day routine to quite philosophical posts. We all seem fixated on food to start with but we all managed to contribute to the feeling that we were not alone on the project.

I feel that special awards need to be made to the team :

Enthusiast Award : Nate for pushing the envelope on the workouts, introducing us to Parkour and managing on a schedule that sounds even busier than mine.

Traveller Award : Amy for continuing the programme despite travelling to various places and fighting her allergies, neither of which I could have done.

Teamwork Award : Adrian and Emiko for supporting each other, and us, despite the friction it caused and showing how strong their relationship is, and volunteering for lots of new activities as the programme went on. And a special mention for Adrian for the egg-shelling record.

Mental Balance

The programme proved that it isn't just doing it, it really comes down to the mental effort it takes to stay on track throughout the whole ninety days. And the biggest lesson to learn is that this discipline and success can be applied to anything that we set our mind to achieve.

Aging

My special side project was to monitor the effect of doing PCP on a "slightly" older body. (OK, more than twice as old as any of others).

I think I can say that I proved that a rather more age-challenged person than the target PCP is aimed at, can cope.

But there were some things that need to be borne in mind.

1. Patrick did get us to sign a disclaimer and insisted that we get medically checked out, if necessary. I think this is ESSENTIAL for older participants for the programme. Actually, I didn't. I asked my doctor if I was up to an exercise programme and he thought it was a great idea but I didn't have an overall health check first. So while we may be aware of some things that no longer work too well (in my case, the arthritis), it is possible that we could have health problems of which we are not aware and while Patrick has always said it we feel under pressure to ease off or take a break, the fact is that doing exercises to "failure" could trigger some reaction in our systems and reveal a health problem we were previously unaware.

2. I will probably never know if the rapid weight loss did indirectly cause me to have the health problems I suffered at the end of the programme. We discussed that burning off the fat could cause the release of stored toxins back into the body causing extra pressure on the immune system. There were others in my office suffering from flu systems so the start of it could just have been coincidence. But the neck pain was such an extreme extension of the stiffness I usually have that it was difficult to spot a specific reason and the changes that PCP triggered could have been a factor.

So for older participants, I think we have to be aware of too much of a good thing and be aware of our limitations. Of course, we need to push the envelope as much as we can. But the envelope needs to stay in one piece.

Wile

And did I end up emulating my hero?

Well, I think you can say yes!! Lean, mean (well, grumpy with the stiff neck, anyway) and grey.

Wile only caught the Road Runner once (and then he regretted it) and in the same way, you can say that I never quite got to "Peak Condition" but I did enough to see what is possible and to start planning what I can do to build on what I've achieved already.

Just remember that Wile NEVER gives up and that is the way we should be.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Postscript

Watch this space - final blog to follow.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Day 90 : That's All Folks

Well, that's it. Something like 12-12kg (27-28lb) lost but still barrel-chested, not a six-pack in sight (but to be honest, I didn't think that would happen).

These trousers were from my favourite suit , made to measure in April, before PCP.











I even hit a high on my skipping this morning. The best set I've managed : 425 skips in six minutes. Amazing for me, at least.

Dinner was off to a curry restaurant but unlike my indulgence, this was a disappointment. The taste wasn't great and seemed much too salty. Should have gone to Malabar!!

Congratulations to the rest of the team, some hours behind me. It was great to share the experience with you and I hope it leads on to greater things in the future. Good luck!!

I will write a longer, final blog, probably at the weekend. But one kind of clip I have saved until the end has to come now!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Day 89 : Loose Threads (2) - Eyesight

I went back outside for my skipping this morning and felt so much better for it. Skipping the the hall felt like skipping in a box.

The other thing I was talking about and stopped was the correction exercises to improve my eyesight. Well, like a lot of other things, my recent run of health issues knocked that to one side but not before my eyesight had changed enough for me to change my glasses. I intend to get back to the eye exercises shortly. Like PCP, doing the eye exercises requires application and support so I will have to think how to best achieve success there.

One day to go!!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Day 88 : Loose Threads (1) - NLP

Skipped in the hall again today, still felt strange.

Also had my neck x-rayed : joints 3 to 7 look in perfect shape but it is difficult to get a good x-ray shot of joints 1 & 2 (closest to the top) so I'm going to have an MRI tomorrow, results back on Friday.

It occured to me that one or two things have come up in my blog that have been left "hanging". One was Adrian's question of weeks ago about NLP.

To be frank, I'm not an expert. Even though I have a certificate that says I'm a practitioner, I have never practised!! Although I am sure that I use some of what I learned in day-to-day life.

So just a couple of points.

The effective use of NLP is based on two assumptions.

1. The Map is not the Territory.
Each person has their own "map" in their head about what the world is. No-one's map is more real than anyone else's and when you try to communicate with someone else, the response you get depends upon their "map" not yours (but how you interpret their response dependes on your "map" not theirs).

2. Life and Mind are Systems
Processes inside a person and between a person and their environment are systemic i.e. linked into one system. Mind and body are one system (as we have realised in doing PCP). Behavior gives the most useful information about a system but in itself is not the system i.e. the system is more than just the behavior patterns. All behaviors have an original intention appropriate for the system at the time. Even if the behavior seems negative or damaging for that person, there will be an underlying positive intention behind the behavior.

And there is an underlying belief in NLP that people have all the resources they need to succeed so that change can be achieved by enriching a person's map (i.e. view of the world) so they have more choices and can use more of their own resources.

I won't even attempt to continue but feel the NLP contains a useful set of ideas and tools for helping both yourself and other people. Worth checking out.

You can see that PCP does fit well into even this brief introduction. It has changed our "maps" of the "world" and empowered us to use more of our own resources to generate change.

Cool, huh?

Day 87 : Skipping Inside

It has only taken me 87 days to realise that if I pushed things around inside my hall, there actually is enough space to skip indoors. I overslept this morning and didn't have time to skip before I went out. By the time I returned home, it was cold, dark and wet and I definitely didn't want to skip outside so I finally had a good hard look at what I could to inside and found that it was just a matter of thinking outside the box (literally - I have one or two boxes belonging to a friend that I am keeping for him and I haven't found a better place to put them yet). Mind you, it felt really strange after becoming used to skipping outdoors and I occasionally hit the ceiling with the rope, which is not a problem in the garden.

I weighed myself this morning and got a shock. My weight has dipped further and is now below the 80kg mark - 79.4kg to be exact. I7m sure I haven't been this light for maybe forty years. Maybe the sickness has taken its toll because I certainly feel that I am eating a lot. Charlie reckons that he was able to get a lot more movement out of it when I saw him today but that still didn't stop needles of pain shooting up the back of my skull at times. I'm not wimping out, honest, this is real. I'll try to get it x-rayed or scanned this week to see if the is anything that can be spotted that is causing the pain.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Day 86 : Cold Rain

I woke up to a cold, wet morning. Skipped, of course, with the chilly rain blowing into my supposed shelter on the front door step. I need to investigate an indoor skipping place.

This was followed by household chores, a shopping trip and a meeting with friends, all accompanied by the all too familiar aches and pains, making motivation a little bit lacking. But being at home for much of the day, at least I was able to be a bit more creative with food, turning my lunchtime vegetable ration into a rather tasty soup.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Day 85 : No Late Spurt

I had been hoping that things were going to clear up so that I could have a good final week, but final weak is more like it. Today was a re-run of yesterday. I can skip without too much aggravation and did this on the front porch, now with all the foliage on the trees cut back, so nothing to get in the way of the rope, but have limped through the rest of the day and an evening meeting has got me home late again. Interestingly, the guy I met knows one of Corry's PCPers.

I've decided to go back to the doctor and get an x-ray or scan done although if it is a lymphatic problem, as Patrick suggests and he could be right, it won't show on a scan. Unfortunately my doctor was out of town today so I booked to see him on Monday so I won't have the results until PCP is finished, even if we can get it done quickly.

So I'll see what tomorrow brings and hope I can get some workout done.

I was so tired last night that I forgot to put on a new batch of rice so today was a foretaste (pun intended) on how to eat the PCP way on what is available in the shops. There is a convenience store chain here called Lawson and they have a sub-brand called Natural Lawson that sells higher quality items, at appropriately higher prices, of course. The is a branch near the new office. For example, they sell cut fresh fruit in conveniently sized 100g portions as well as small tubs of unsweetened yogurt so the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks were easy to fix. They had a great salad, but no weight listed on the container and the next door chicken restaurant was selling lunch boxes of grilled chicken on rice. I think I got the quantities more or less right. The down side - the chicken was grilled in something (teriyaki sauce?) and there must have been some salt thrown in as well. In the evening, we ended up in a family restaurant. A salad (non-oil dressing 9 cal), a portion of rice and some more grilled chicken with a few vegetables also seemed about the right quantity. But the chicken was covered with a rather tasty looking tomato/garlic sauce (which I didn't eat) and I think some oil must have been used somewhere.

So I can see that the biggest challenge to continued healthy eating is the oil and salt that are used in even the most simple of meals (plus soy sauce in Japanese food)and the use of sauces with possibly artificial ingredients (MSG etc). Not to mention the almost universal (in Japan) use of white not brown rice.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Day 84 : Seven Days to Go

OK, showing my age again, this one dates from the year I returned to Japan.


As PCP days go, this one fizzled out. Up and skipping as usual but I paid Charlie a visit to see if we can loosen what ever it is that has my neck so stiff. Well, he did his best but has left it very sore and a very late return home means I guess this is a rest day.

We've been talking about what it might be. Another friend pointed out that if the body can't get rid of toxins, then it hides them in fat so if the fat is being disbursed, then the toxins get released again. And the theory we are working on is they've chosen to make a "last stand" in my neck. It is really weird. Charlie can be manipulating the neck which I can easily tolerate and then come across a point so sensitive that I can't stand to have even the lightest touch.

So, team, once in peak condition, stay there and avoid the side-effects of getting in shape again later!!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Day 83 : What a Day

As a Brit, I have no direct say in the internal politics of the United States but as a not quite impartial onlooker, I think that the Republican Party was hijacked some years ago by some extremely powerful but hidden forces that have had a huge influence on world events in recent years. So for this reason and also the wonderful historic precedent of a bi cultural candidate breaking through the prejudice barrier, I think that the election result has generated an immense sigh of relief everywhere in the world outside of the southern and mid western states of the US (oh, and the new frontier of Alaska).

On a much lower key, I had a very long day waking before six and then skipping in order to get to an 8am meeting in Tokyo and an evening meeting which didn't get me home until nearly 10pm for a truncated workout before crashing.

The weather turned much colder today so my early morning skip had me wrapped up in a sweatshirt that did not get removed. The cold weather has put paid to my Snow White-style visitors that came to watch in the summer. And in any case, the annual visit from a gardener paid for by my landlord has laid waste the local habitat - they seem to believe in the scorched earth school of gardening. Nothing much remains until the weeds start poking through next spring. Although I have forgotten to mention that the shrubs surrounding the garden are actually bearing a crop of nuts, although I don't intend to see if they are edible.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Day 82 : Hungry

I felt hungry all day. Maybe the amount of senna tea I drank on Monday created a bit of space (only half joking). I didn't have a PCP lunch because I took out some visitors from our Shanghai office who have been installing all the IT equipment in the new office. But I looked at my very healthy Japanese lunch (tuna sashimi, red rice, miso soup) and felt it was much less in quantity than I get under the PCP diet.

The new office feels a bit strange. My room (yes, I've got my own office) is much grander than I am used to and I feel a bit cut off from the rest of my staff. I dare say I will get used to it!!

I skipped this morning and worked out this evening so I felt that I'm still there or there abouts on the programme.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Day 81 : Strange Day

A public holiday but I had to get up very early and meet the firm's founder, show him the new office and have a series of meetings so by lunchtime when I put him into a cab for his hotel and from there back to the airport, I was pretty tired.

So I came home, did my skipping and went to sleep.

That must have done me some good because, and now for the good news, I got up after two or three hours rest and managed nearly a full workout, only wimping out on the abs exercises, made (even more) painful by my stiff neck.

Maybe there is life in the old coyote yet!!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Day 80 : Feeling a bit lost

I'm feeling that I'm only doing 2/3 of PCP. Diet, fine, and the skipping but my condition really isn't up to most of the workout so that while I thought Day 80 would be a great milestone, what I am realising is that I haven't reached that level that I could have and there isn't much (enough) time to catch up. And my thought of continuing past Day 90 will be relatively short-lived because I'm going to England to celebrate my father's 90 birthday at the beginning of December and that will throw out any remaining discipline. So it it beginning to sound like a New Year Resolution. Hmm.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Day 79 : Dehydration?

As I said, my company is moving office this weekend and after declaring myself much better yesterday, I went and overdid it, carrying a couple of heavy bags of personal things home causing some of my recently improved muscles to go into spasm. Ah well!

The move actually went well and I dropped by the new office today to check on progress and it looks really good.

I also went to see Charlie, back from his recent trip. He came up with an interesting analysis. I've mentioned before that a number of people have suggested that becoming sick was as a result of the exercise and weight loss. This is not something I agree with. I mentioned to Charlie that I have been feeling very thirsty recently and also (something we haven't mentioned) constipated in the past two or three weeks. Charlie suggested that PCP is pretty tough on the system and that it could trigger the system to try to get rid of toxins, something Nate mentioned a few weeks back. To get rid of the toxins, the system needs water and has basically taken it, causing the thirst, constipation and dry skin, something that Amy and Emiko have both mentioned too.

So I've decided to drink a lot more tea and water to see if I can rehydrate myself and hopefully get back on track.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Day 78 : Theraputic Skipping

The tone of my blog yesterday is an indictation of the discomfort I was in and I got up this morning feeling no better. But I had no choice but to go into the office and so, of course, I skipped. It wasn't very good but improved in each of the three sets and by the time I had finished, I realised something had changed. My neck was still stiff with restricted movement but it had stopped HURTING. Still a bit sore if I try to move too far or too fast but a huge improvement. I don't know what I did. Probably I managed to somehow click the neck into a more normal position or maybe the muscles loosened up a bit, but whatever it was, I'm grateful. Facing the boss on Monday relatively pain free will be a bit help.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Day 77 : Barely holding it together

It's really great to read the progress from the team but it is adding to my sense of frustration. This week I have been going to work, at least, but physically feeling worse and worse.

Today I had a scheduled day off because I had booked myself to go to a seminar given by a world-famous behavioral coach, Marshall Goldsmith, that I didn't want to miss. So, of course, I went (after managing the skipping despite the neck pain - it woke me up three or four times in the night).

It was worth going. One of the best parts was when Marshall was explaining how he "fines" his clients small sums of money that they can easily afford for negative behavior and he introduced that into the seminar, "fining" participants Y50 (equals 50c) for similar behavior. He asked the attendants if anyone knew a worthwhile charity to whom the money should be donated ..... and I was the only person to put a hand up so I walked away with a pocket full of loose change, and a $20 bill from Marshall, for the Philippine Self Help Foundation, a micro finance organisation helping the poor in the Philippines run by a saint called Richard Foster, who I met in the spring.

At least that made me feel good to compensate for the physical discomfort that just got worse during the day.

And I have the weekend from hell coming up. We are moving office so I MUST go in tomorrow to finishing packing my desk and papers. I feel obliged to show my face on Saturday and Sunday to show support for the team actually doing the work and then the founder of the company flies in for meetings and an inspection of the new office on Monday, a public holiday. I will have to meet him at his hotel at 8am on Monday morning.

Once again, the sensible thing would be to rest but as readers of the blog will have realised, I seldom do the sensible thing.

Either way, the effort I am able to put into PCP has taken a battering so in the same way that Amy is considering extending her programme, maybe I should do the same. Something to think about.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Day 76 : Indulgence Three

For Indulgence Three, I decided to revisit one of my old lunchtime haunts and have a set Chinese lunch. Today's special was prawns in chilli sauce (one of my favorites) with white rice, soup, pickles and almond jelly for dessert.

Once again, I waited for a negative feeling that just didn't come. In fact, it was a bit of a letdown. I enjoyed it but actually left the restaurant feeling hungry. That suggests that my PCP lunch is more filling.

So apart from worrying about the potential monosodium glutamate content of any Chinese meal, and eating white rice instead of brown, it was completely unremarkable, making me wish I had tried a new Indian I've spotted or my (previously) regular Thai place.

Health-wise, I'm still struggling with the stiff neck which today translated into a fairly constant headache so I cut back the workout again but skipped OK.

Congratulations to the PCPJ team who completed their project today - Kumiko, Kazue and Kazuhiro. Well done .... and we are only two weeks behind you.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Day 75 : Letting Off Steam

I'm feeling pretty frustrated. It's all the little things. The stiff and painful neck that doesn't seem to want to get any better; the permanent feeling of exhaustion; well-meaning friends who say "you've lost too much weight" or "you are not eating enough" which WE know isn't true, or even "you've lost weight too quickly, that's what's made you ill" etc etc.

And getting home tonight with a workout still to do, needing to find some energy from somewhere.

So, in these circumstances, as I may have mentioned before, there really is only one thing to do. Play this VERY LOUD


And voila, a three quarters completed workout (still missing out a couple but a great improvement).

Meep, meep

Monday, 27 October 2008

Day 74 : A Long Day

I was hoping to report that all of my troubles are behind me and that I completed the workout full of energy. No such luck. I got up this morning and skipped. Then got halfway through the workout before I ran out of time. However, a full day in the office plus two evening meetings absolutely drained me so by the time I got home at 11.15, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep.

Better luck tomorrow.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Day 73 : .... and half a workout

I managed the skipping this morning and half a workout this evening, with a lot of rest in between, so I seem to be getting back on track. Let's see what I can manage tomorrow. Work unfortunately but maybe a full workout too!!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Day 72 : Signs of Life

There are signs that the drugs are having some effect so I could be back in action soon. As it was, I only did a token skip this evening after it got dark. I found it difficult without enough light but I haven't missed a day's skipping since I started PCP so wanted to continue the sequence.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Day 71 : Rain and Doctors

More of the same, I'm afraid. Woke up feeling less than 100%, took a bit more sleep and decided that I should go to work, did my skipping and headed out into the pouring rain. I was running a slight temperature by the time I reached the office but that went down again after lunch.

I spent most of the afternoon in doctors' waiting rooms getting tested. Nothing has come up so more antibiotics (blah).

Then the real reason for not taking the day off. If I had stayed at home, my conscience would not have let me go out in the evening and I had a ticket to the WBA Featherweight title fight between Indonesian Chris John and Japanese Hiroyuki Enoki. John won his 10th title defence by a unanimous points decision. It is the first time I have been to a world title fight. John reminded me of Adrian's hero, Manny Pacquiao!!

I hope a restful weekend will help.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Day 70 : Not much change

Almost a carbon copy of yesterday except that when I woke up at 7, I recognised the feeling and went back to sleep until 11, and only went onto the office in the afternoon. There are some signs that the stiffness in my neck is getting a bit better.

To cap it all, it started raining this evening, I hope it lets up by tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Day 69 : Three Weeks to Go

I wish I could report some substantial improvement. I did get up early enough to do my skipping and did reasonably well. I decided I should "attack" more and this made me feel a bit more positive about things. But there were delays on the train going into work and I gradually felt worse during the day. In addition, we had four people out sick today, so it isn't just me.

By evening, the head/neck pain is sufficient for me to take today as another rest day and hope it will improve by tomorrow.

I haven't heard back from Doctor Fred what it might be but I tested negative for mononucleosis, which I was worried about. I had that about 35 years ago and believed it impossible to catch again but Fred said it was possible. At least I don't have to worry about that - it was nasty first time around.

Sorry I'm not more cheerful.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Day 68 : Back to Square 1

Sorry if my blogs are getting monotonous but it was just more of the same today. Woke up a 7 feeling terrible, got up at 9.15 and emailed the office to say I might not be in, had breakfast and felt a bit better, checked my work emails and decided to go in because there were things to to, skipped, ate lunch and then felt progressively worse on the journey in. I got the things done that needed to be done and came home, hardly able to keep my eyes open. A quick dinner and then bed.

One thing that I have noticed in my behavior is that sometime in my past, probably as a child, someone (my parents?) implanted in me the notion that you "shouldn't" go sick unless you really have no choice. So I have this "guilt complex" about taking time off (even though I will always tell my staff to go home if they are not feeling well). It is great when the doctor says "rest" but usually it is my choice because I'm the only one who knows how I feel and I push myself to avoid the feeling that I'm "skiving". I get that feeling even though I'm the "boss"!! Ah well.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Day 67 : Moving in the Right Direction?

Well, I got up, skipped, went to work and did the workout, except abs, when I got home, so returning to something like "life".

On the other hand, I felt washed-out all day and visited the doctor on the way home. The doctor I went to see last Wednesday is the one in the local clinic - when I'm really suffering, it doesn't make sense to travel an hour each way to see my regular doctor in Tokyo. But I dropped in on Doctor Fred and got a sympathetic hearing plus something that may loosen up the muscles in my neck. And I had a blood test to check some things out. Fred showed a great interest in PCP so I will have to introduce him to Patrick.

This meant I got home early so I'm getting ready for an early night, after steaming some vegetables to take the place of salad.

By the way, today is the three quarters mark!!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Day 66 : No-Man's Land

I feel like I'm in a grey zone, not really well, not really ill.

I had a good night's sleep, got up, did the skipping quite well, followed on with the workout but once again missing out the abs exercises (my neck really does tense up with both the v-sits and the side crunch).

So I've been pondering on motivation and how to snap out of what seems to be a self-perpetuating cycle.

I will report back!!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Day 65 : Signs of Improvement

Rather than my new-fangled gadgets, in addition of the pain killers, I resorted to a rather more old-fashioned accessory when I went to bed last night - a scarf. I thought about a photo but then thought better of it - not a pretty sight. Something did the trick because I slept through the night.

After a gentle morning, I tried my skipping, and that felt normal (i.e. the "normal" aches, especially in my back, rather than the sickness related ones). Afterwards, a bit more stiffness and pain in my neck than before I started, but not too bad.

I left the workout until the evening and managed OK except I decided to pass on the abs exercises. The v-sits give me trouble anyway and side crunches do not seem a good idea at the moment.

But after a good night's sleep tonight, maybe tomorrow will be better yet.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Day 64 : The Best Aloo Gobi in Tokyo

Welcome back on line, Patrick!!

Last night was a repeat of the night before only my painful awakening was 2.30 not 4. I went to sleep earlier and about four hours sleep seems to be the amount before the pain breaks through. Once again it took about an hour and a half before I felt I could try to go back to sleep..... this time, though, I slept through until 9.30.

The sleep did me some good and I felt a bit better. But the work has been building up so I decided to go into the office in the afternoon. So I did my skipping which after a slow start, also went OK.

I set off feeling pretty good but even the walk to the station took it out of me and by the time I reached the office, I was feeling pretty shaky. And by the end of the afternoon, even worse. So, did I do the sensible thing and go straight home? Of course not. I have been promising myself this curry for weeks and so off I went to "Malabar", near Edogawabashi Station, for local readers.
As previously announced, I consider this to be the best aloo gobi in Tokyo so that was an easy choice, although the chilli prawn just below it on the menu was a bit of a temptation (but I know from experience how hot that one is and it could have been a risk lol).












Since I choose not to eat bread, I needed some rice.








And as this meal was definitely looking a bit light on protein, I added some fish tikka.








So my meal ended up looking like this :








And when I had finished, looking like this :








The net result?

I definitely felt full, with no temptation to add any more, which is what I might have done in the past, so maybe I have learned my limits. I had the "normal" "full" feeling after a heavy meal, something not felt since the beginning of the PCP, probably down to oil in the meal because the quantity wasn't actually much more than I am allowed at lunchtime on my PCP diet. I was waiting for some further reaction later but it didn't come although I felt full for a long time afterwards.

So, it was a "good" indulgence. The bad news? I would cheerfully repeat the exercise tonight if allowed!!

Unfortunately, by the time I got home, the aches and pains were back with a vengence and I resorted to painkillers which I don't like to do, and went to bed.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Day 63 : A Pain in the Neck

I woke at 4am feeling it would be preferable if the world were to end. I didn't exactly leap out of bed, the pain was too great, but gently eased myself to a sitting position and then spent an hour and a half letting it all subside.

So no commute today either, although I did some work exchanging files with the office and answering emails.

The doctor yesterday said the antibiotic should help the glandular infection but the stiff muscles need warmth and massage. So before going home, I visited the local discount store and came home with these:

The first is a long sausage-shaped gel filled plastic sac that is heated in the microwave, put inside a cloth cover and draped around the neck. It feels quite good.

The name of the second makes me wonder what uses the makers had in mind. Nevertheless, it allows the head to rest quite easily and vibrates quite nicely so that may also help loosen things up.






Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Day 62 : Relapse

Well, I was feeling pretty rough before I went to sleep and just as bad when I woke up. I did my skipping, not advisable with a stiff and painful neck and a severe headache, very gingerly and decided that today was not the day to be a hero, called in sick and went back to sleep. The next thing I knew it was 12.30.

A trip to the doctor in the afternoon just described what I already knew - swollen glands in my neck and throat causng the muscles to lock up and giving me the headache. The cover-all solution, of course, is a course of antobiotics. I hate taking antibiotics because they kill the good bacteria with the bad but as I have the things, and I really do ache, I've decided to take them.

So, let's see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Day 61 : Speed Trials

Well, working out faster seemed to do the trick. I definitely "failed" when required this morning.

I think that the summer temperatures also had something to do with me getting into the habit of "pacing" myself. We started on 15th August when it was HOT and I definitely didn't want to overdo it in the heat. Now it is cooler, there is less risk of that, although I certainly felt warm by the end of the workout. It is a switch to being more active instead of being more "stylish" but since no-one is watching me anyway, I can afford to lose a few style points.

I'm still not 100%. My neck muscles are still locked up, which is giving me a headache.

So I'm heading off for a massage (which I missed last week) and an early night.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Day 60 : A Milestone

Two thirds sound great but even better when you realise that the time left is only half the days we have already put in. Keep it up, team!!

And I had a 60 day revelation today. I commented yesterday about having trouble with the "to failure" instruction. I've worked out why - I've been pacing myself!! By that, I mean, holding something back to make sure I can get through the exercise. I guess the arthritis has made me cautious about overstraining myself so what I've been doing is the opposite of "to failure". When you hold back, you make sure you can continue but then the exercise never seems to end!!

I actually had a bad start to the day because after skipping I really did fell dizzy - the room span so I left the workout, and left it, and then found something else to do and then left it some more.

I thought about taking it as a rest day but as it is Sports Day and the rest may be good later in the week, I finally started about 10.30pm. So I tried to get through it quickly and "voila", I began to run out of steam and feeling I couldn't do any more : in other words "failure". By taking things rather more slowly, I was allowing my body to cope as it went along which is great for stamina but not for what we are doing. I'll see how I get on tomorrow.

I spent some time yesterday checking out Looney Tunes cartoons because I had run out of signs that Wile has actually held up (or made, in the case of "Free Bird Seed"). The only picture of me not holding up a sign so far is the one with the umbrella, and he certainly has held one up either trying to use it as a parachute or to keep off the rocks that are about to drop on him, and the other non-authentic one is me holding up menu chart made by Patrick. I'm pleased to say that I now have at least five more authentic signs that I can use so I should manage a unique sign in each weekly photo through to the end of the project.

Meep, meep (OK, I know that is the Roadrunner's line).

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Day 59 : Carbon Copy

Almost a carbon copy of yesterday, a late start and a leisurely workout.

I'm having trouble with the "to failure" instruction. The bands, by definition, are flexible so the amount of tension they are put under dictates how hard the exercise is. I can make them so tight that the resistance is maximum and failure will come almost immediately. I didn't think that was the object of the exercise (pun intended) so what I have done is worked on the exercises I am supposed to do "to failure" until I'm feeling a bit light-headed/dizzy.

I had a fridge clear-out today. Completely out of eggs and all the meat and vegetables were cooked. So, a relatively expensive trip to the supermarket this evening to restock. I'm now OK for the next few days.

Tomorrow is a public holiday in Japan "Sports Day". I have Parent Teacher Conferences in the afternoon for my younger son, who turned seventeen yesterday.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Day 58 : The Meaning of It All

I read Adrian and Emiko's blog today saying their motivation and energy have been low and I felt a bit the same today. The post sickness "bounce" lasted one day!! Nevertheless, I had a good set of skipping (on the porch because it was raining). This week, I have to do three sets of six minutes. I'm still slow and trip up over the rope a lot but in the three sets did 375, 402 and 352 skips, so 1,129 skips in eighteen minutes, so much better than when we started. But I couldn't get myself "up" to do well with the workout and took a long time to get through it all. It was a good thing that I had nothing special to do today.

Getting back to Adrian and Emiko's blog, I put myself on a strict diet about eight years ago and got my weight down from 106 to 81kg (a medical examination had told me I was 25% overweight - I didn't believe it until I actually got the weight off). Recently it had edged up to 92kg.

Anyway, the point of my ramble is to comment on what Abel and everyone is saying. It isn't actually that Adrian is too skinny, it is that modern society accepts being overweight as the norm - so many people told me that I had become too thin, even though I was exactly where the doctor told me I should be. You know, "you are tall, you can carry it" and other similar comments. The fact is that being overweight is not good for us but we just accept it most of the time. And we then come to equate overeating with pleasure and the feeling of being too full as being the way we should feel after eating.

So Tim's answer to the question "when are we supposed to start caring about our diets?" is straight away!! A lot of our eating habits are just that, habits. I still retain a lot of good patterns from the previous diet. I'm not sure whether it was actually bad for me or not, but I decided to cut out gluten. This means no wheat, barley, rye or oats. That is no bread or cakes and therefore no hidden calories in the form of butter and sugar that gets put into those things. I was brought up on sandwiches. particularly as a bedtime snack, but once I had made the change, it was easy to say no. And I had already switched over to brown rice (I actually think it tastes better too).

I can only second what Adrian and Emiko said "moderation is actually the key to happiness". We can always imagine that we need to have "more". More food, more travel, more possessions. But they don't make us happier and the desire for more can never be fulfilled so it just makes us unhappier. The people who are content are that way because they accept that what they have is, by and large, "enough".

And of course, PCP is not about doing more (although that is not the way my workout seems this week), it is about doing enough, the right amount to get us into peak condition.

By the way, I get a bit introspective after I've been sick. Having too much time on my hands makes me question the human condition (and mine in particular). I watched a video on YouTube this afternoon called " Zeitgeist Addendum" suggesting that we should switch from a system driven by profit maximisation to the detriment of the planet and the human race as a whole (why do we permit so many people to go hungry?) to one that is committed to the intelligent management of the Earth's resources.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Day 57 : Back to "Normal"

Well, in some ways better than normal.

I woke up with familiar aches and pains. I still had a headache and back and neck pains. But I woke completely unaided (i.e. not the radio) at 6am with the clear sense that these are "normal" pains and that I was not sick any more. The headache isn't really normal but I often have to get moving to get my joints to accept that they can actually function without hurting.

So I got up and did my skipping and workout before breakfast, and did some business on the way to the office. Once in the the office, I felt tired but without the feeling I've had most of this week that I wasn't going to make it through the day. By the end of the day my head was hurting a bit but people in the office commented how much brighter I appeared today.

As we've said so many times, the mental state is just as important, if not more, than the physical.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Day 56 : Much the Same

I woke up after a solid sleep feeling a bit better but not great and my temperature was back to normal. If I could have got back to sleep, I would have done but there were things to do at the office and trying to do them remotely was no substitute for being there.

So I swallowed a couple of painkillers, something I usually try to avoid, and after breakfast, felt vaguely human. I decided to make the commute and because of that decision, felt that I was up to skipping. I did OK after getting through the back and neck pains in the first set.

I ate my lunch before heading out but already knew by the time I reached the station that all was not well. I made it to the office feeling the worse for wear but managed to get done what needed to be done.

And then home, feeling tired and achy, in no shape for the workout so I'll claim sickness privilege again. A long weekend is coming up so I can get back on track then.

I had a look at the back diagram Patrick recommended but it didn't mean much to me. I looked at the neck diagram too to try to see which bits have locked up but putting a name to them doesn't make it hurt any less!!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Day 55 : Off Sick

When I went to sleep last night, I was in pain, particularly my neck. This morning, it felt a bit better but a quick check with the thermometer quickly persuaded me not to make the same mistake as yesterday and I stayed put.

Staying put actually meant logging on to the computer, checking my emails and doing some work before heading back to bed.

In the afternoon, I acted on Emiko's suggestion and tried the skipping. I got through the sets OK but with a bit of back and neck pain. But it also pushed my temperature another point so I decided that the workout would have to be put on hold.

It occurred to me how easy it would be to drop out of PCP at this point. A couple of missed days and the pattern would be broken. Mustn't let that happen.

It is also much harder to stick to the diet if I am stuck at home. When I'm up, I tend to prowl around the house and nibbling is a real temptation.

Despite feeling ill, I actually had to go out this evening. I ran out of brown rice last night and as this is my carb of choice, had to make a run down to the supermarket for more supplies. I came back with 10kg which should keep me going for a while. Driving with a stiff neck is not a good thing.

Missing work highlights how our perceived commitments are actually a matter of priority. When faced with something more important, like not feeling well, work has to wait and skipping my school board meeting tonight was as easy as sending an email.

I've also been thinking about lots of things that I need to do that I have actually put off. I'll be making a list!!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Day 54 : A Tactical Error

Woken up by the radio this morning having slept about 24 out of 32 hours, I figured I was fit enough for work if I could get through the skipping and workout, especially as I had a few appointments booked.

I guess I miscalculated. I managed the skipping and workout OK but felt a bit shaky on the way down to the station and by the time I reached the office, was definitely feeling the worse for wear. I managed to get through the day but at the cost of a pretty severe headache and a few aches elsewhere. I'm sniffing a bit too, so maybe the flu. What does the PCP handbook say about genuine sickness?

I guess I'll see how I feel in the morning.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Day 53 : Wiped Out

Well, yesterday I said my lie-in didn't really work. Today it did!! After getting up and skipping on the porch (rather nasty, with cold rain coming down and the wind gusting rain into my little sheltered area) and breakfast, I was feeling a bit strange. I was running a mild temperature and decided that a lie down was in order. I emailed the office to say I wouldn't be in until at least the afternoon and went back to bed.

Four hours solid sleep later, I realised that maybe this was more than I thought. So after a quick lunch and another email to the office, back to bed. The next thing I knew it was 6pm!

I was dreaming too. I can't now remember the morning dream (travelling somewhere with someone, I think) but this afternoon's ended with me eating two bars of chocolate, something I wouldn't do consciously, and I was saying to myself, well, I guess this had better be my indulgence. Fortunately, it was alll in my mind so I am still on for my curry.

The curry target is still the best aloo gobi in Tokyo but unfortunately, it is in a restaurant near where I used to live, now in completely the opposite direction for me on my journey home from work. Thinking about it, the non-PCP things will be the out of balance carbs (half the dish is potato and I may have rice with it) and the oil. On the other hand, lots of vegetable and no meat (so maybe a piece of tandori chicken or fish tikka will be in order). But I'll have to schedule it and apart from today, and today is now a bust, I've got another full week of booked evenings.

I guess I've got to take today as my day of rest (I must admit I can't even think about doing a push-up at the moment) and try to make sure I can get the workouts done during the rest of the week. The worst day is likely to be Wednesday. Unless I get it done on the morning, School Board meetings often go on very late in the evening.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Day 52 : Sunday

I tried to have a lie in and I guess by my normal standards, I did, staying in bed until 9am but it didn't really feel so long. I took a long time over the skipping and workout. I'm clearly able to do so much more than at the beginning. Push-ups, for example. I still don't dip too deeply but I'm doing it from my toes with my body straight. And now I seem to have got the right cushion combination, I'm feeling the V-sits where I should instead of in my back.

The morning weather was glorious but it clouded over this afternoon and it has been raining all evening. Looks like skipping on the porch again tomorrow.

Because of the long time I took over the workout, my meals got mixed up. I managed lunch before breakfast and only realised that when I was still feeling hungry in the early afternoon. I know Patrick wants the exercises done in order, I'm not sure about the meals.

One thing I think I've noticed in recent weeks is that I think I'm drinking less. Since I've been off alcohol for about fifteen years, in my case, drinking is mostly tea and water and I think that I am not drinking as much as before. Maybe less salt in the diet.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Day 51 : Just call me Prof

Some months back I was asked to do a series of lectures for an online MBA programme. I finished recording them some weeks ago. Apparently this makes me an Adjunct Professor, whatever that means. Today's reason for not taking it easy at the weekend was the course opening ceremony. I looked very smart in the robe they provided.

It also messed up the diet for the day because I was provided with a lunch box, Judging by the quantities, it didn't look too different from my lunch allowances and certainly looked very healthy (with lots of vegetables, a bit light on protein, if anything), so I ate it but am not really sure exactly how much I ate.

Unusually for me, I actually logged on before Patrick was ready this morning giving me a great excuse to leave the workout until this evening. I must admit I don't like this "until failure" thing. Having said that, I just about failed on the Da Vincis anyway. Chest dips were a bit of a problem. V-sits were a bit easier - I added another cushion. But the side crunches are more challenging because my back just doesn't, well, twist. Maybe it will get better as the week goes on.

And tomorrow, nothing in the diary, so a lie-in is the order of the day.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Day 50 : Or 55%

More than half way and the ratio between time already put in and time still to go will now get bigger so quickly. At the half way mark, obviously that ratio was 100%. Now, on day 50, we have already put in 125% of the time remaining to get to Day 90. By Day 60, in only ten days, it will be 150%. I like playing with numbers and I find making the remaining time feel "less" is a great encouragement to "stick with it" even when the mind (rather than the body) says it is too tired.

Having said that, I did feel tired this morning at the end of the busy week and only did the skipping. There were no fixed plans for this evening so the workout should have been done in good time but I got tempted by a massage on the way home and didn&t finish the workout until 11.15pm.

The weekend doesn''t seem to be too busy for a change. I'm booked up on Saturday but to my amazement, I seem to have a free Sunday, although there is the laundry to catch up on.


I weighed in this morning at 81.8kg and my weight has been plus or minus 82kg all week so maybe it has bottomed out, particularly as my dinner is back on solids again from this week. I must say I will miss the fruit content, although not drinking my dinner from the blender.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Day 49 : Stomach Ache

Not an upset stomach, like Amy (hope you are feeling better, Amy), more of an ache after eating. I noticed it first after breakfast and lunch, the two substantial meals, but now I even feel it after my evening shake. I guess this is the stomach getting smaller and possibly, the tightening of the abs reducing the space the stomach has to stretch into. It doesn't last very long but the feeling is there!!

Other than that, not much to report. Skipped (in warmer weather) this morning and took my rest day. This week I seem to have spent a lot of time watching other people eat while I have politely refused, both at lunchtime and dinner. Dinner time is more difficult because while I can carry my lunch, I don't pre-prepare the shake and so have to wait until I get home.

I still haven't had indulgence one yet (I guess the time has passed) but I will think about indulgence two. Curry (with all that oil) has to be favorite at the moment.

Day 48 : No Rest

I didn't take today as a rest day after all as I managed to do the workout in the morning. As I've just got home after midnight, I think tomorrow is a much better day to rest.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Day 47 : Sounding Like a Broken Record

I guess this doesn't mean much to the younger generation but it means repeating over again. On vinyl records, scratches could cause the stylus to stay in the same groove of the record over and over again.

So here I am, listening to the rain pouring down. Another typhoon on the way, following much the same track as the last one but heading further out to sea so not much chance of it coming ashore, but a lot of wet weather, nevertheless.

Got back late tonight as expected but managed to finish the workout.

When I get home late but have the workout to do, my meals kind-of run into each other. I'm allowed some carbs before the workout and an egg white afterwards. What happens in practice is the carbs are a few mouthfuls of brown rice but then the extra egg white gets thrown into my dinner shake. And then, if I am really late, I can go straight on and have my bedtime snack.

I will have a trip out to the airport tomorrow to meet a business visitor as he has to go straight into a meeting and we have things to discuss first. I hope the typhoon doesn't delay his flight and the transport doesn't get messed up at this end.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Day 46 : Only in Japan

The mystery of the disappearing bananas is solved. Apparently there is a banana diet being pushed on a TV show and that has caused them to disappear from the shelves. Sold out again in one supermarket this evening but still in stock in my local store.

This week is shaping up to be the week from hell. I only had time for skipping this morning and tomorrow I have an 8am meeting so I'll have to be up really early. And my evenings are booked solid. The worst is Wednesday so I guess that will have to be my day of rest.

If I haven't done the workout in the morning, it preys on my mind all day. I'm not enjoying this week's exercises either, in reality, probably just the push-ups (which I have hated since school days) and the abs exercises. The v-sits are still a problem for me and I'm still not finding quite the right position for my cushion.

And while I'm moaning, boy was I wrong about the temperature yesterday. It was only in the mid teens centigrade for most of the day and below 10 when I was doing my skipping this morning. I wore a sweat shirt ..... and didn't really sweat!! I was actually lucky not to be skipping in the rain too - it started as I was finishing my skips and it has rained all day. The rain is forecast to continue until Wednesday.

Wish me luck getting through this week!!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Day 45 : Half Way There

A curious sense of anticlimax. I guess in PCP halfway is nowhere, despite the changes so far.

Only time for skipping this morning before driving up to Tokyo to do some errands I needed to have the car for. I don't drive much and this trip reminded my why - Y2,600 ($25) in expressway tolls and Y4,200 ($40) in parking, plus the cost of petrol. That, at least, has dropped in the past few weeks. A train ride would have been at no cost because I would have used my commuter pass.

So another evening workout with the usual exercises causing me the usual problems. I think I felt stiff yesterday because of the shoulder press.

I had a better night's sleep last night and felt a bit better for it. The weather has turned cooler and so I'm not fighting the heat while skipping. Indeed, it almost feels like I'm skipping to keep warm! Being a Brit, I can't really say it is cold. It still is reaching the mid to upper 20s centigrade during the day is in the mid to upper 70s fahrenheit but morning and evening are cool and autumn seems to have arrived.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Day 44 : Stop the World (I Want to Get Off)

Even though it is the weekend, I'm still super busy. Got up and did the skipping with a new audience : a really pretty yellow butterfly, a small blue butterfly and a grasshopper. The grasshopper was a bit of a surprise. It was quite cool to start with but when the sun came out, it felt warm again.

The new workout felt tougher and I've been stiff all day. I wonder whether I overdid it or at least pushed myself a bit hard(er). The creeps reminded me of an exercise that sumo wrestlers do to strengthen their legs, the V-sits are still a problem and I kept slipping off the chair with the seated sit-ups.

For the rest of the day I was on the go. First, a shopping trip where I spent too much, of course. Then a visit to the home of the British Consul whose daughter was having her first birthday party. I felt a generation too old - the room was full of young parents with very small children. My boys are 16 and 20 so being so close to such a large number of young children was a throw-back experience. It felt strange and I wasn't sorry to leave to attend a ceremony at a volunteer group I am associated with. The really tough thing was not eating anything at the buffet dinner that followed with only a shake to look forward to when I got home. And then finally took in a new British pub that opened walking distance from my house a few months back. Good to know that there is somewhere that I can now catch the important soccer matches without being stranded miles from home (in the winter, UK 3pm kick-offs are midnight in Japan and by the time the games have finished, all the public transport here has stopped).

Moving around today, my meals got a bit messed up and I think I ended up with too many carbs and not enough vegetables but on balance, probably just about OK in total.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Day 43 : Six Weeks!!

And I weighed in this morning at exactly 83kg, 9kg (20lb) down.

A better night's sleep, I guess - 11.30pm to 5pm straight and then I was woken up by the wind swirling around the house. The remaining 90 minutes until the alarm went off were less restful - probably asleep but feeling that I had actually been awake.

Things were a rush because I had to get out of the house early again for an early meeting (one of business visitors left this afternoon and the other will leave tomorrow morning so hopefully back to "normal" next week, whatever that is). I was surprised when I stepped into the garden. Not only was the wind strong, it was humid. And it completely messed up my skipping. The rope was blown around a lot and my timing, never the best, really struggled. Only two of the sets had any fluency. Right in the middle of the skipping, I spotted a mosquito flying sluggishly by my foot. A quick stamp and the mosquito turned into ..... a large smear of blood. Mine I suspect. If it hadn't eaten so much, it might have got away!

I visited a potential client mid-morning and he wiped the smug grin off my face - he has lost 7kg in four weeks, but then he said that he was dieting because of gall stones. I certainly don't envy him that.

The afternoon was meant to be a quick wrap-up with the second of my visiotrs but the final meeting went on until after 7pm and by the time I had done everything I had to do, I didn't get to start completing the workout until 10.30pm.

But now that is done, I guess that I have the new workout to look forward tomorrow.

The new diet gave me a small increase in rations here and there, which is nice.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Day 42 : Sleeping

I got to bed too late last night and was really tired but that didn't stop my brain working overtime. I went to bed about midnight and then woke at 1.30, 3 and 4.30 before waking up before the radio, set for 6.40 at 6.30. After each wakening, I went back to sleep very easily but each time my brain was buzzing, as though it had woken me up for some conscious thinking instead of the unconscious thoughts that are happening all the time. Hmmm.

That at least got me skipping earlier. A little bit uncoordinated, as ever, but gradually got better and the last set was reasonable fluid. The workout went fine. I added the yellow band to the blue one I have been using for the chest fly, now rebranded as the standing ovation, and it stiffened the resistance up considerably to the point where I could feel the relative weakness of my left arm compared to my right. Disappointingly, the v-sits were not so good. They started off fine but I guess the positioning of the cushion is crucial because by the fourth set I was struggling and hurting. More experimenting required.

I had an expensive treat for my afternoon fruit - I found a shop near a client's office selling fresh raspberries so I splashed out.

Just got home at 10.15. Time for a quickie smoothie and bedtime veggies before going to sleep.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Day 41 : A Quick Blog

As I said, a long and busy day today. I set the (radio) alarm early but was really fast asleep when it went off. My immediate thought was "day of rest" and reset the alarm for half an hour later. Of course, I didn't get any more sleep, just lay there wishing I was asleep. And I still felt asleep when I stumbled throught the skipping.

The day whizzed by and I got home at about 9pm and still had to make some calls. Then a straight choice - the workout or a massage. You can guess which one won.

So off to bed so I can get up and do the skips and workout before I leave tomorrow because tomorrow looks to be another long day.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Day 40 : Public Holiday

Another public holiday and as usual I managed to get booked up. Woke myself without the alarm and felt ready positive. This was the result of a good meeting I had last night that has given me some new ideas.

It is interesting how mental energy helps the physical energy. A bit like biorhythms. One up and one down, you can get by. Both up and you are cruising. Both down and everything is a challenge.

Well, both were up this morning. All of my skipping sets went over 200 skips and I cleared most of the workout without too much of a problem. I even think that I may have found a way to do the V-sits with the strategic placement of a cushion. After a bit of trial and error, it will be great if I have found the solution.

Then out into the sunshine to the school for a meeting (again), back to cook lunch and some vegetables (lotus root, soy beans among them) before going to spend some time with my older son.

I have a really early start tomorrow so I've decided on an early night. I hope the attitude is still there in the morning.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Day 39 : Green Bananas

Well, obviously the supply chain broke down somewhere. Bananas were back on the shelf of my local supermarket this evening but they are all green. At least they won't go ripe on me too quickly.

More torrential rain this morning had me skipping on the porch again but with the wind blowing the rain towards me. And it was COLD. I have five skipping sets to do this week and had the satisfaction of increasing the count on each one. Sometimes I just get more tangled up the more I do but today I just seemed to get more into the swing of it.

But I only had enough time to do floor jumps and get the plank out of the way before heading off to the office.

I managed to get my fruit ready and then left it at home so I went round to the discount supermarket near the office and picked up some grapes, wincing at the price of the bananas (18 for Y315 = Y17.5 each - my banana last night was seventeen the price!!).

I had a LONG day, getting home about 10.15 with the rest of the workout still to do. In addition to my back twinges (hang in there, Emiko), I've found a new ache to moan about. My hands hurt pressing down on the push-up handles! Actually, I shouldn't be too surprised. My type of arthritis typically affects the spine and the extremities i.e. the hands and feet. So I covered the handles with cushions!! The other difficult one is the V-sits but I managed to do the minimum in a remote semblance of what I should be doing. A long way from what it should be but an improvement.

My weight this morning was 83.5kg. I started the PCP at 92kg so that is an amazing 8.5kg (nearly 19ib) loss in 39 days - 1lb every two days! Kind-of scary and I do find that I lose energy at certain times of the day. The mid-morning and mid-afternoon fruit is necessary. A few years back when I weighed in at 106kg, I had a medical. The doctor said I was 25% overweight and should weigh 83.4kg. I put myself on a strict diet and lost weight smoothly at a rate of about 2kg a month for a year, ending up at 81kg. So I'm now more or less where the tables say my weight should be and approaching the lowest I've been since childhood (and that was a LONG time ago). My newest suits are now too big around the waist. Hmmm.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Day 38 : The Great Banana Hunt

The day started well enough with the skipping under sunny skies. The exercises this week are tougher and I need to consult the oracle on a couple of them. I pushed the plank up the order again and was able to do it - if I leave it to the end, I seem to lack the inner strength to last out long enough.

Then off to see Charlie as the rain clouds banked up again. By the time I reached Charlie's, the heavens had opened again and we have had heavy rain showers for the rest of the day. After Charlie, a visit to Japan's ancient and recently scandal-prone sport, sumo. Great fun with a major upset in the last bout. Thought maybe they could use the PCP, although they are very fit underneath all that blubber.

Shopping on the way back, I thought I had everything, and even bought some mint. But I forgot the bananas. Actually, maybe they weren't on display because when I realised, I thought, even though it was late, I had time to walk down the hill to the closest supermarket, which closes at 10. Shock, horror, no bananas!! Quickly on to one convenience store and then another. They often have single bananas on sale but no such luck. Finally, I thought of one more supermaket that also closes at 10, the expensive one. Dashing in at 9.50, I'm greeted with signs for four different types of bananas - but no bananas!!! Eventually, prowling round the shop, I came across what clearly much be the gourmet banana corner. Individually wrapped bananas! (Funny, I've always thought of bananas as the most convenient of fruit because they come ready-wrapped). Anyway, in the interests of the PCP, I invested Y198 (nearly $2) in a gourmet banana.

I bought the mint because I thought it would be a good variation to add to the shake. And so it proved. My shake ended up a slightly greenish colour and tasted of, well, mint. So I didn't really get to savour the true taste of the goumet banana, after all. Ah, well!!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Day 37 : Typhoon Gone

The storm blew over last night - thunder and heavy rain. The typhon never actually came onshore. It was the sort of rain where you lie in bed thinking, "wow, that sounds hard, shall I get up and have a look?" and then it gets even harder. I didn't bother to get up and have a look though. It did wake me a few times. But today we had some blue skies again and the typhoon has continued to the north east, back out to sea.

I did skipping and workout this evening and Nate was right about the mosquitoes at sunset. I looked down and I had a swarm around each ankle. I went running for the insect repellent (in Japan they have a slow burning "fuse" that gives off smoke the insects don't like).

I'm still trying to work out some of my new exercises. The plank increased, just as I was beginning to feel I could cope with it.

I've felt hungry and tired all day so an early night tonight.

I'm not holding a sign in this week's photo - in honour of the storm, I've got an umbrella, something that Wile often holds, either trying to make it into a parachute or to somehow hold off the rocks showering on his head. I'll do a diet sheet photo for Patrick next week.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Day 36 : Looking like your Hero

You know what they say about people changing to look like their pets (or vice versa). PCP is about getting in the same condition as our heroes but will we actually look like them?

Patrick actually didn't end up looking like Bruce Lee but Adrian already looks a bit like Manny Pacquiao. Emiko will have to dye her hair and maybe get a perm to look like Michelle Rodriguez, Amy stands a chance of looking like Monica Carlson as the PCP takes hold and Nate is already jumping around like David Belle but look-alike, I'm not quite sure. As for me, it's more of a spiritual thing - I don't want to end up looking like Wile.

Patrick kindly stepped in an extracted the weather map for me. It looks like it is going to stay out at sea but be off Yokohama about 9pm this evening. I had better be home by then.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Day 35 : Lunch in a Restaurant

More lethargy this morning, pouring with rain so skipped on the front porch again and left the workout for this evening. After breakfast, began to think about putting my lunch together. Then I remembered, I had a appointment with a former client at lunchtime. But since I had suggested somewhere with a salad bar, I had a brainwave and instead of packing my lunch, I packed my kitchen scales and at the salad bar, slid it under my plate and measured out 150g of tuna and 150g of salads. The only carb available at the salad bar was pasta and since I try to avoid gluten, I order a small bowl of rice and weighed out 100g of that. My first white rice in a month. My companion went back for seconds, of course, but all in all, it went quite smoothly. I have another lunch booked there next week so I'll know what to do!!

Yesterday afternoon and evening I had some very positive meetings that really put a bounce in my step, followed by my weekly massage. The ladies there seem to have decided that I'm their special client and are adamant that they will have me flexible by the end of the year. Yesterday I was told I'm much stiffer down my left hand side than my right. I guess that figures because I'm completely right-handed so the right side of my body has more to do.

Today was the opposite of yesterday with more stress than I needed at work and I came home feeling drained. The power of fruit came to my rescue though because after my shake, I had enough energy to get through the workout.


I tried to copy the weather map showing the typhoon still tracking towards us, still two days away but couldn't "lift" the image. Here's the link though. http://www.jma.go.jp/en/typh/081324.html

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Day 34 : Back, Satan!

I read Patrick's email after sleeping late and doing my skipping AND after deciding that I was just TOO TIRED to do the workout so that this will have to be my "day of rest".

What Patrick said was spot on. The little devil in my head was definitely whispering "It's ok to skip the workout today. You're tired, you deserve the break... no one will know...".

I would know, of course, and I am allowed a day off anyway so I haven't broken the rules but I'm glad that I didn't take the rest day to recover from the hike and so had it in reserve.

The main reason is the Board Meeting last night went on until 10.45pm so by the time I had got home, made my shake etc and got ready for bed, it was after midnight. Getting the sleep is so important.

I tried Kazue's recipe by just "baking" my eggs in the pan this morning "dry" but I definitely think a drop of oil improves it. I'm actually not very fond of the taste of olive oil which means I'm not likely to overdo the quantity.

On the train into the office I was already feeling hungry. Bad sign since the biggest meal of the day had already been eaten. But I was saved by my mid-morning fruit. I had mango today and it was delicious, giving me the sugar hit that I needed.

Day 33 : Skipping on the Porch

Rain, as forecast, this morning so I had to think about somewhere else to skip. The only place that came to mind was outside the front door. There isn't that much room. I had to be careful not to fall down the front steps and kept hitting the rope against the wall and front door so I didn't get quite as many skips in but did OK. I was feeling lethargic through the skipping and the workout but had to get through them because today is one of those burning the candle at both ends days with a board meeting tonight at Yokohama International School. I hope it won't go on really late.

Everyone seems to be talking about food again (except Nate who is educating us on the ways of parkour). I've been feeling really hungry over the past two days. Emiko's photos had me drooling (not a pretty sight). I was interested to see Kazue's blog about breakfast because before I had read it, I ended up doing the same thing this morning but I used a drop or two of olive oil in the pan and made an omelette with steamed spinach and onion in it. I missed the salt I would normally put in.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Day 32 : Hey Dudes

Actually, Patrick is quite right, I would never use the word as a term of address in a month of Sundays - I'm the Atlantic Ocean and about two generations from having it in my vocabulary but as we are proving with PCP, anything can change.

But I was sitting listlessly at the computer having been woken up too early by my thoughts (about a meeting I have this morning) reading Patrick's email and trying to summon the energy to get skipping when I thought "music" and "Dude looks like a lady", and went off in search of Aerosmith. I couldn't find the Greatest Hits CD with "dude" on it so I grabbed "Honkin' on Bobo" (what a delightful title lol) and if you are familiar with the album, you will know the first track is "Road Runner". Someone somewhere is trying to tell me something, I thought, and went skipping.

Not as good as yesterday but not bad and I've decided that skipping without my glasses is more pleasant but I've renamed my skipping rope - it is now my tripping rope!!

Then onto the workout - I rearranged the order to put the plank first. I often try to do the least pleasant things first to get them out of the way and this at least got me out of that horrible feeling of having one exercise left and it being the one I least want to do. I managed to struggle through it and got everything done by 8.20 with the rest of my public holiday "free" (apart from my from my morning and afternoon meetings, that is - both not "work" work but scheduled time, nevertheless).

The highlight of the day was actually lunch because for a change I was home and could do something in the kitchen. I threw some cooked minced chicken, some steamed spinach and some onion into a saucepan with a little water and some curry powder and dumped it on my carb allowance (brown rice). The rice seemed to disappear but the whole thing was delicious but I suspect my standards may have dropped in the last month.

We've got another rainy week coming up. There is a typhoon to the south-west and if it tracks up the coast, we could have some fun weather. I live on the top of a hill so my risk is being blown away, not being flooded.


Sunday, 14 September 2008

Day 31 : The Day After

Have you ever noticed that the day after something is when the reaction happens? You know, jet lag on the second day is always worse than the first.

So I woke up this morning feeling like I climbed a mountain yesterday. Stiff thighs, particularly.

But I stepped into the garden for my skipping and totally amazed myself. Unlike Emiko's (for me) unbelievable skipping sequences, my time trials seems decidedly wimpy (although Patrick assures me that they are doing what they are supposed to). I have been struggling to get skipping "runs" going and I currently have to do as many skips in 4 x 3 minutes as I can. To my utter surprise, this morning I did over 200 in each of the four sets. That's more than 800 in 12 minutes, which by my standards, is incredible. Then I did my lunges before going off to see Charlie.

A good seesion with him including something that I have been waiting for him to get to - the kinks in my back. Instead of concentrating on the legs and neck where he usually works, he concentrated on twisting me around. As usual, it wasn't totally painless but the gain is apparent.

On the way back, I thought, what the hell, let's have my indulgence so I detoured via the ice cream shop. BUT THEY DIDN'T HAVE MY FAVORITE FLAVOURS. Well, I wasn't going to settle for a second choice indulgence so I walked out of the shop again.

What I did do on the way back was finish my book, "Maskerade", the 18th "Discworld" book by Terry Pratchett. I'm working my way through them in sequence. They are set in a fantasy world full of witches, wizards, dwarfs and trolls as well as ordinary people, not forgetting my favorite character, Death, who always speaks in block capitals. The stories range from amusing to hilarious. If you want a break from the seriousness of the world, try one. The first in the series is called "The Colour of Magic" (he's a British author so I guess that is the right spelling).

I was feeling tired by the time I got home though so postponed the rest of the exercises until the evening. And of course, felt no livelier by evening. So I toughed it out and even managed the planks in one set (just).

A good night's sleep is definitely in order.

By the way, something to watch out for, PCP Team - the unexpected compliment. I"m sure you have been getting some nice remarks about your weight loss etc but the other day someone told me I look taller. Hmm. It wasn't "slimmer" but "taller". Then I realised - I must be standing up straighter. Why? Because my back muscles are stronger. And that is what I mean by the unexpected compliment because even the complimenter doesn't realise the true compliment - the overall effect of PCP.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Day 30 : Another Mountain to Climb

This one literally!!
I mentioned going hiking today. I should have used my better judgement and stayed in bed but there were actually some positives out of it.
A friend of mine organises a hike every two months. He grades his hikes into easy, medium and hard but what he grades as medium, I grade as hard so I should have known better. I also should have paid more attention to the location - Oyama means "big mountain" and I should have taken that literally. Japan is a very mountainous country and many times a hike will climb steeply up to a ridge but then once up there, gently wind up and down. Not in this case!
It's alright, he said, we are going part of the way in a cable car. That should also have alerted me too. The cable car went from 315m to 678m above sea level. Oyama is 1,252m at the summit. And the "hike" was all uphill - we rose through 578m vertical height in 90 minutes : that's 1,896 feet!!! I had visions of Nate doing parkour up the slope ahead of me, jumping from rock to rock and leaving me in the dust.
By the time I reached the top, I was really struggling. I had taken my PCP lunch with me and found it very difficult to eat and only managed about 2/3 (the other 1/3 tasted so much better when I got back down to the bottom of the mountain). The apple snack was delicious, though. Fortunately, the route down was marginally kinder - just as well as since going down often gives me more trouble than going up!!
So, what were the positives :
- my legs were actually fine, the skipping must really have had an effect. What I was lacking was stamina and energy.
- my older son came along and we had a good time together








(he's the handsome one on the right, me in the hat at the back).
I managed all this after a really bad night's sleep - went to bed too late about midnight, had trouble going to sleep, woke up about 3am, spent at least 40 mins in front of the computer before going back to bed and waking frequently before getting up at 7.15.
I just had time to check Patrick's email and I'm on specials (well, you don't lead a sedentary life style for years without paying some penalties) but no time to do the exercises before I left so they were still to be done when I got home.
I actually didn't need to skip when I got back because my hike must surely count as an alternative .... but I did. I'm on timed sets and did OK despite the leaden legs. It was dark, of course, by then and although there is a light in the garden, it was a bit of a surreal experience because since last week, I have been trying to skip without my glasses and while this is OK in the daylight, at night everything turned into various shadows without them. Kind of like skipping on auto pilot.
The Continuous Jumpropes are a bit like time trials. Then Lunges (OK), Push-Ups (a Tim PCP first today - I actually did them properly from my toes, although not dipping down far enough yet), Chest Fly (I've change the elastic band from red to blue which is harder work); Curl (OK); Shoulder Fly (struggled towards the end); Leg Up (OK with my bum on cushions) and Plank (aaaargh - needed two separate attempts to do them).

Friday, 12 September 2008

Day 29 : Morning Off

That was a great idea - a lie in, enough time for the workout, a leisurely bath ............ and then into the office and all the regular stresses of life.

The weather was great too so I really wish I'd been able to take the whole day.

As it was, I stayed at work too late and have ended up feeling tired after all, so sorry, that's it for today.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Day 27 : The Benefits of Chocolate

This from http://www.pastrywiz.com/archive/whatis.htm.

The pharmaco-dynamic substances (those whose action is similar to medications) found in chocolate are responsible for its reputation concerning its abilities. Four of these such substances can be found in chocolate: theobromine, caffeine, phenylethylamine, and serotonin. They appear in a negligible quantity, but each in infinitely small quantities plays an important role. Theobromine stimulates the central nervous system, facilitates muscular efforts, as well as having diuretic and cardiotonic action. It is an orexigan (appetite stimulator). Caffeine increases resistance towards fatigue, favorises intellectual activity, and increases watchfulness. Concerning phenylethylamine, it has a chemical structure similar to amphetamines and therefore contains psycho-stimulating properties. Serotonin, on the other hand, is a neurotransmitter (substance freed by the nerve endings) in the cerebral cortex--its quantity is often found to be lower during certain nervous depression states. The serotonin found in chocolate helps correct its initial loss. Likewise, the caffeine and saccharose stimulate the body's stimulation of serotonin. Finally, due to the pleasure it offers, chocolate stimulates endorphin secretion thus procuring naturally the same effects as opium. With this description of chocolate's chemical composition, it's never-ending list of virtues are easily explained.

Yeap, it's another "light" blog day. Patrick sent out the updated diets a day earlier than usual. I note that Nate, Adrian and I are all now allowed a spoonful of cooked rice with our dinner. This is easy for me because I always have (brown) rice in my rice cooker and it has been my carb of choice for most of PCP (I had a few potatoes earlier but the rice is so much easier) but I'm wondering how the other will cope. Of course, a spoonful is a rather inexact measurement. At the risk of incurring Patrick's wrath and appearing even more subversive than usual, I thought I could eliminate my carbohydrate cravings by using this one, apparently located at a place called Cramlington, Northumberland, in the north of England.

My indulgent day off tomorrow has been halved because there are some necessary things to be done by the end of the working day. But I'm going to take half a day and have a long lie-in.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Day 26 : My Indulgence

I've been reading the respective blogs on consuming the indulgence but I have a confession to make. I don't have much of a sweet tooth. I don't really like chocolate much and while I might have been tempted to gulp down some Haribo Gummi Bears, they used to make me feel sick before PCP (crazy what we do to ourselves) so I certainly don't want to do that now. I might be more tempted by some crisps (= chips in US, what we call chips translates to french fries) or corn chips, but they are so laden with fat and salt that I don't want to go there either.

My real indulgence is my now weekly visit to the Thai massage place and that hasn't cost me any calories. I called in on my way home tonight and decided that I wouldn't finish Workout 1 (I got as far as the squats this morning) and take today as my rest day.

Another calorie-free indulgence I'm thinking about is taking Friday off. Monday is a public holiday and that would give me a four day weekend, which I need!! Having said that, I'm planning to join a hike on Saturday so it will be interesting to see how my stamina holds up.

So the favorite for my calorie-filled indulgence is still the sorbet, and I know I'm going to love that. And let's face it, a good sorbet should be pretty healthy anyway. But I'm not going to go out of my way to get some. Maybe the urge will hit!!