Saturday, 28 March 2009

Primal Blueprint - 5 and a bit week Update

13st 1.2lbs on the scales this morning. The weight is still coming off slowly but surely. 

The further away I get from my old carb laced diet the happier my body seems to be. Its getting to the point where I'm so satisfied with my food intake that it's hard to eat over 1800 calories a day without really trying or really feeling bloated. I'm trying to push it up to around 2000 calories per day, which will still leave me around 900 calories in defecit even on a really sedentary day. 

My body fat is down to just over 20 percent now, which is great. I've been upping my bike riding and walking, plus doing Tabata sets and free weights every other day. 

Above: Primal gearing for a Primal Blueprint kinda ride? The country bike in singlespeed mode.  

I'm also going to convert my green country bike back to singlespeed (how it started life) to give my ride some 'muscle confusion' as Mark Sisson would put it. 

You see, cycling seated at a constant cadence isn't a very good primal exercise - Grok didn't do turbo sessions. He sprinted, climbed, stooped, lunged, lifted and stretched. 

I think that a one speed bike will encourage me to use more of my body when climbing or muscling the bike through mud and rooty sections. Plus it will give me natural variations in cadence, torque and so on. Sometimes I'll have to get off and push/carry - i.e. more variation - more primal. 

Plus I get some valuable shed time... Always thinkin...

Friday, 27 March 2009

Great shoes coming my way - Clarks Moko GTX

On order - what look to be a fine pair of all-round living, mooching, biking shoes  - Clarks Moko GTX in black. Big sticky sole, anatomical shape, Gore Tex lining and a very craftsy look. And to top it all, a killer Final Clearance deal! Also available in brown, but alas, not in my size. 

Dahon Meets Hairy Bovine (and other stories)

Here are some recent shots of the Dahon doing what it does best - mooching around. The Carradice Camper Longflap works so well on the folder, keeping the laptop and other stuff high and dry - out of the way of road spray. Clips on and off in seconds thanks to the superbly designed Carradice SQR. The other day, attached to the country bike, it carried a bundle of birch logs foraged from the local woods - great firewood this morning when typing this...

Above: On the Ashton Canal in central Manchester on a sunny evening in March. 
Above: D7 - Highland Cattle interface - make no mistake, these are scary animals
Above and Below: D7 in one of my favourite local riding spots - the River Alt footbridge in Croxteth Park. 

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Friday, 20 March 2009

Shock News - A Bike Related Post!

I've been harping on so much about Primal Blueprint that I thought I'd post some bike stuff for a change. 

Spent yesterday clearing out the shed in the fine spring weather and I found three bikes that I'd almost completely forgotten about! Well, almost...

Above: The country bike, basking in the autumn sunshine, back in 2008

I've decided that the country bike is just too nice to sit there in the dark, slowly rusting away. So I pulled it out of the shed and gave it a dust down, pumped up the tyres, gave the bar tape a couple of coats of shellac and let it dry in the sun. 

Today I took it for an afternoon spin around the park. I had the bars set pretty low and have got used to a much more upright position on the Dahon, so I pulled them up, a la Rivendell. Grant Petersen's advice is to get the bars at least level with the saddle, if not a little higher, for the moustache bar to work best. This is certainly good advice when you've got shellacked cloth tape, which doesn't afford the hands much in the way of cushioning. With this tape setup, it's best to carry a little more weight on the saddle - and the B17 Standard is great in that respect. 

Above: Reelight SL100 induction lights - fitted to both of my 'useful' bikes

So I can make sure I get the most use out of the country bike, I've ordered a set of Reelight SL100s for it. The Dahon D7 has got a set and they are unbeatable for fit and forget battery free lighting. 

I've also ordered a Carradice SQR block for the country bike, so swapping over the Carradice isn't a pain. What I'll do is alternate between the folding bike and the country bike for commutes, and keep the folder in the hallway for shopping errands and the like. 

Which just leaves the other two bikes in my stable. A 2004 Claud Butler Alpina MTB, which has served me well on bridleways, trail centres and rocky Pennine trails. 

The most neglected of all is the road bike. An aluminium framed 'winter bike' with carbon forks and a few Rivendell inspired touches - bar end shifters, Brooks Swift saddle, Stronglight compact double crank and a set of 28mm tyres - the biggest that it's clearances will allow. 
Above: The latest version of the Picador - ours is much older and rustier

Also loitering in the shed is a Pashley Picador trike which must be 20 years old or more. It's my step-daughter Kelly's and it's going to her dad's house to live - he's got access to some great country parks and bike paths so it should get a lot more use up there. Just a new set of (incredibly hard to source) 500a (20 x 1 3/8) tyres and tubes and it's ready for action. 

And that brings us up to date on the bike front. The much modified Dahon continues to serve me well - so well that the other bikes have had to fight for their place. 

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Primal Blueprint - 4 Week Update

One month in a 1 Stone down. 

On the scales today I'm 13st 4.5lbs. From a starting point of 14st 5lbs one month ago. 

Can't believe how well things are going. Still loving the food that I'm eating - enjoying eating real food every day. 

Had my most 'Primal' day to date - took a day off work and spent the day outside sorting out the shed. So lots of slow movement and lifting heavy stuff, lugging timber, toolboxes and storage crates around. Kneeling, stretching, bending, painting. All very primal movements in a modern day context. Being outdoors makes it so much more primal and in touch, if you know what I mean. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Primal Blueprint - 3 Week Update

This Week's stats: 

Weight: 13st 10lbs

Body Fat: 23%

BMI: 26

Resting Heart Rate: 43bpm

Blood Pressure (resting for a minute, lying down): 104/60


3 weeks in and I’m feeling really good. I’m full of energy, never bloated, never ravenously hungry. I’m not getting the sugar lows and highs that I used to get pre-Primal and I’m not feeling guilty about not making every bike ride hard, long or both.

I’ve started adding in tabata intervals three times a week, and I’m going to start some heavier weight sessions too.

In terms of weight loss however, I seem to have hit a plateau of 13st 10lbs to 13st 12lbs. Whether my body composition is changing toward more lean mass I’m not sure – it’s hard to measure accurately with a hand held body fat monitor, but I certainly feel leaner.

My resting heart rate and BP have lowered which is great. I’m moving doctors in a few weeks so should be able to get a full check up for cholesterol, blood sugar and a body fat calliper measurement.

My carbs are coming just fruit, veg and the carbs in dairy products – I’m not going to push them too low and risk ketosis – kidney problems aren’t something I’m keen on.

My plan is to keep a food diary for a few days and use to work out my calorie intake. Don’t want to get into the rigmarole of daily calorie counting, just want to get a handle on how much energy I’m consuming on the new diet and how many grammes of carbs. Then I can move forward knowing that I’m eating a healthy balance that’ll shift body fat and keep me out of ketosis.

To give you an idea of what I’m eating, here was yesterday’s food intake:

  • 2 eggs scrambled, 1 rasher of back bacon, 3 mushrooms, all scrambled in olive oil
  • 1 apple chopped and topped with cottage cheese
  • 1 pear
  • Tuna mayonnaise and cottage cheese with a big green salad
  • 1 apple
  • 2 smoked mackerel fillets with stir fry vegetables and a dash of soy sauce, cooked in olive oil
  • Small bowl of Greek yoghurt, with a handful of blackberries, grapes and mixed nuts.
  • Semi skimmed milk in tea and coffee 

All delicious, satisfying, non-bloating and pretty Primal! I’ll number crunch this lot on and post the results later. 

Monday, 9 March 2009

Carradice Camper Longlap Saddlebag

On it's way from Spa Cycles in Harrogate, a brand new Carradice Camper Longflap saddlebag. 

I've had a Carradice Pendle in Green for about a year and have been really impressed with it, but just lately, felt the need for something that'd let me stop off for groceries on the way home from work. 

With my commuting gear and laptop, the 11 litre Pendle was chock-full. However, the Camper Longflap is a full 24 litres, which is like a large pannier or daysack, meaning I can get lots of goodies in there! Plus its got external D-rings on the outside for lashing-on raingear, plus the long flap feature lets trap bulky items like tents, camping stools, small children - stuff like that. 

It'll see sterling service on commutes, plus it'll come into it's own for S24Os, which are going to start as soon as the current cold snap ends. Can't wait!!

The price of the bag ranges from £51 at Spa Cycles to £56 at Carradice's site. 

A thing of honest beauty and utility. Here's another thing that swayed me, Russ Roca's excellent video, showing the tardis-like quality of the bag, to the mellow strains of Devendra Banhart.

Tabata Intervals - Ouch!

Started doing Tabata Intervals yesterday - which are great for people who want to boost their metabolism, aerobic capacity and VO2 Max with a very small time input - in fact, just 4 minutes a day!


It's really simple:
  1. Pick an exercise (e.g. sprints - running or bike, squats, jumping jacks, dumbell presses, you name it)
  2. Warm up
  3. Do as many reps of your chosen exercise as you can in 20 seconds
  4. Rest for 10 seconds
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 eight times. 
I guarantee you'll be knackered on your eighth set. You can tailor the sets to your level of fitness by choosing an exercise that you're comfortable with. 

I'm doing these in conjuction with lots of base fitness stuff (walking, cycling and swimming) and in conjunction with the Primal Eating plan. 

Friday, 6 March 2009

Yehuda Moon

Finding the Fat Burning Zone

My heart rate monitor has sat unloved in the bottom of a drawer ever since I did a 100 mile sportive two summers ago. I’m not a big training for training’s sake person and prefer to get my exercise in a stealthy way – by making it useful, fun, or both. 

However, since reading about the Primal Blueprint, I’ve become interested in heart rate zones – but not in terms of finding some high intensity training zone – quite the opposite. What I needed to do was get a handle on which zone I was in when doing my normal everyday exercise, which is walking and cycling.

So today, I wore a heart rate monitor. Just a basic Polar monitor, with no fancy zone alarms and stuff. There’s a note in Rivendell Reader 41 about using a simple HRM to discover the relationship between your heart rate zones and your perceived effort. 

I figured that my normal commuting pace would put me slap in the middle of the 50–70% fat burning zone, which would make the most of my primary Primal fuel source (dietary fat and adipose tissue - body fat). 

Using 220 minus my age as the rule of thumb (the thought of a ramp test fills me with dread) I calculated that this for me was between 92 and 128 BPM. What surprised me was that I had to back off considerably with my effort to stay within this zone on hills and into headwinds.

I’ve heard experienced road riders talk about building base fitness in this zone and using an adage that states ‘if it doesn’t feel hard enough, it’s about right’. This was right on the money.

Combining my walking and cycling I’m getting about 1 ½ per day in this zone, with occasional efforts at around 85-90 percent on hills, which combined with some bodyweight resistance sessions should fit just right with the Primal way of things. All of this without ‘dressing as an exerciser’, buying a gym membership or setting aside specific exercise time. 

I can hear pieces falling into place. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Primal Blueprint - 2 Week Update

Two weeks into the Primal Blueprint diet and exercise plan and I'm really beginning to reap the benefits. I weighed in yesterday morning at 13st 10.8lbs. That's a weight loss of 9lbs in two weeks. 

Not missing any of the carb heavy foods which still amazes me - I was a bread-aholic. Even more impressive are my Body Fat Monitor readings. My starting point was Body Mass Index of 28 and Body Fat Percentage of 27%. 

Mark Sisson says that the diet will target body fat and he's right. While my BMI has dropped 2 points to 26, my Body Fat Percentage is down to 22% which proves that the diet isn't stripping me of lean mass. 

Did a 1 1/2 hr steady ride on Saturday too see how I felt without carbs as fuel - the result - no ill effects - and no making a bee-line for the bread and cereal when I came through the door. 

My wife is starting to get seriously interested in the diet as she starts to see my weight shift. And, last but not least, I'm one belt buckle notch thinner - the most important scientific measure of all!