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.


Amy said...

Wow, I can't believe I won an award! I accept!

Tim, I think you did great despite all the challenges. If the PCP was easy and if we all had unlimited time I'd hope we would not be in such a sad shape.

Nate said...

Tim, Thanks so much for sharing this great post and your wonderful attitude with us. I owe you a ton of respect for what you did here. Corry paved they way for the moms and you have paved the way for the seniors (no offense :-) )

great work Tim I hope we get to meet some day

and my verification is "ovetim" lol