Sunday, 23 November 2008

Report Card

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.........


......... 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.


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.


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.


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


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.