Thursday, 26 May 2016

A day in the life of an absent blogger

The tea shop

The OxWash truck partially obscures the aging architecture that was supposed to be my glorious view through the tea house window.  Background chatter of fellow patrons boasting multiple languages and accents, passing buses, some open topped with a scattering of tourists eager to spot a dreaming spire. The OxWash man continues his onerous task, emptying large green waste containers with a ponderous malaise. The late morning sun has caused concern to the staff, who step outside to pull the canopy and offer shade to the just cleared single table sitting exposed to the hustle and bustle of the street outside. OxWash has moved on with unexpected haste. The noise in the cafe seems to increase temporarily. Perhaps the patrons had been raising their voices to overcome the bin collector. It soon strikes me that they are noisier than OxWash ever was. High decibels are being hit and I start to miss the low murmur of the stationery truck, which had somehow acted as a general mute for the chaotic cafe chatter.

So many people stride past. There is nothing lackadaisical about the street. OxWash man was the only one who was not rushing. Now he is gone and I miss him. The school of art across the road is looking back at me coldly, any artistic alchemy that may be occurring is absent from my vision. If only another service van would park up outside to brighten the view. 

I don't care about the novel the guy behind is describing. It sound pretentious. He sounds pretentious. Trying too hard to impress. 

Time to finish my tea and find another haven of calm amidst the maelstrom. 

The Morrocan

I have my back to the open window, seated upon a colourful knitted window bench. I can hear buses, cars, and cyclists in constant flux behind me. The only other patron is also travelling solo, a lady in her sixties, she too has a tablet which is winning her attention. 

A heady scent hits my nostrils, accompanied by several short beeps that I presume signal a dish is ready to be served in the freshly cleaned counter. Could it be today's advertised lentil soup? Sadly my olfactory senses are not refined enough to know off-hand. I may ask when I leave, for future reference. 

Just as the volume of chatter seemed to increase exponentionally the longer I remained in my last stop, I now start to become far more aware of the ethnic music being piped into the cafe. I can't say if it is authentically Morroccan, or the rose tinted tourist trap street music that gets rolled out in movies to lazily dilineate cultures when changing scenery. Pipes or flutes vie with crooning men and women telling tales in a language I cannot understand. 

The cool breeze on my back is a reminder that the outside world beckons. I am also starting to envy the orders of the newest patrons, a couple who could well be Morroccan, though could easily be from many other countries, or even be as 100% English as I am, nevertheless they have received an impressive copper coffee pot and two ornate espresso sized cups. I am assuming this is Turkish or Arabic coffee, something I was tempted to order, but decided to forgo in lieu of a Morrocan 50/50. 
I had to ask about this curiosity and learned it was a macchiato and an espresso, with one sitting atop the other. 

This is a much more peaceful experience and if the buses were to pause their frequent trips past I could almost close my eyes and let the scents and sounds wash over me and temporarily transport me to distant climes.

The elderly lady has left me behind, the couple came and went, staying only long enough to use the facilities, drink and go. It's just me and a man who is now sleeping in the corner, perhaps succeeding in blocking out the traffic and journeying in his mind.

I shall join him on that adventure. Two drinks in swift succession have left me in need of a toilet break and that may as well signal my time to leave Morrocco and head further out of the city in search of another experience.

A crepe stop

It seems Morrocco has a hold on me today. Not long after my 50/50 I find myself tempted by a cafe sign promising gluten free crepes. Lunch will actually be later, but you know what, breakfast was 4 and a half hours ago and I'm not meeting my friend for lunch for another 2 hours. The plan is to have a light healthy meal now, and again later. So here I am, in a more traditional cafe/restaurant setting, seated deeper within than the previous two establishments, yet still unable to escape the low rumble of passing buses. Now the Morroccan influence is in the food, with cous cous, felafal and various herbs filling the interior of a large soft crepe, the edges ever so slightly crispy. 

I am now being serenaded by sweet guitar music, the ethnicity of which is vague. To my untrained ears it sounds latin, but perhaps it is more authentic than the previous setting, I am sadly not well-travelled enough to comment.

I could be in any number of anonymous restaurants in the world as far as decor is concerned, but it is the food that a restaurant should be judged on, and frankly I shall return to this establishment again, and I shall bring the wife. Enthusiastic murmurs of approval from the chap who came in shortly after me adds to sensation that I have successfully discovered another culinary treasure trove.
My fellow patron is rather vocal in general considering he's alone. Though I'm glad he asked for the rear door to be shut, the long thin layout was proving to be a wind tunnel that made me regret my light attire. 

I have decided to resist the temptation to dive straight back into coffee so soon, having briefly been struck by an overwhelming desire to order the Turkish coffee I coveted at my last stop. 
I think it is wise to stagger the caffiene intake.

Tap water will do. It looks rather pretty in the flip top glass bottle despite it's mundane origins.
The chap behind me has finished and is pleased. He too is planning to return. He used to live in the area he tells the owner. Also he doesn't usually eat rice but found it extremely delicious. I like him, he's much more authentic than the pretentious book reader in the tea shop.

I have yet to find my next OxWash, but here I am finding a pleasing duality in watching the passers-by outside unwittingly walking into their doppleganger heading in the opposite direction in the glass fronted counter.

Maybe one day one of them will vanish and the reflection will take their place. 


Shops have been browsed. I tried to avoid spending money, but somehow it still happened. Nothing big. First was notepad, despite the fact I don't use notepads, which features an esquisitely colourful face of a lion. I'm rather partial to lions and the idea that I may actually scrawl my thoughts and musings on paper now I'm 38 held a rather optimistic appeal. Second was a Turkish coffee pot and tub of appropriate coffee spotted enticingly awaiting me in a deli window. That will mark my fourth method of making coffee possible at home now. Also purchased was a spice mix for Tzatziki and some raw chocolate and nut treats to snack on in the cinema.

Whilst waiting for my friend to arrive I entered one of those bland trendy coffee houses that probably do well with students. This provided me with a bland iced americano that did nothing to stir the tastebuds.

We are now awaiting delivery of lunch in a cafe above a bike shop which feels much more in fitting with my earlier travels. We are surrounded by good natured chit chat, open laptops and tablets propped up in cases. Perhaps this place is hipster chic gone mad, but the vibe seems pleasant enough. Even here the grip of Morroco on my food and drink adventures is ceaseless for I have ordered a spiced chickpea dish. 

We shall be heading to the cinema shortly. Not a place for typing on tablets.

A short story from a tall place

One movie down and we're out to eat. I'm with company but am being rude by typing this out while we wait for our order. I've done well for food today so have opted for a starter and side. 

Nothing Morroccan. In case you were wondering.

My tablet battery will not last the evening. But the night will continue with one more drink and one more movie.

Today has been one of the good ones. 

The post credit scene

I'm home now. The clock shows a few minutes past the midnight hour and I've been back barely 15 minutes. I've showered and got into my pyjamas. The day has been exhilarating, inspiring, and personal.

I want to take on the world. But it's easy to feel that way when you are on a high. 

Come tomorrow will I step up, or falter? 

But tomorrow has already arrived. I'm 6 minutes in to the day after the above events.

I never did find my next OxWash. But the moments you don't expect, no matter how seemingly banal, can spark an internal revolution within your soul. If it wasn't for OxWash blocking my view, I would not have started typing on my tablet. I would not have set a template for my day that gave me great pleasure and joy. And it all started with rubbish bins. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Guest blogging on my own blog

This is a blog post, to tell you I have another blog post. 

Just to explain, I am not retiring from being an adventuring procrastinator, it is more that the current blog and moniker made little sense in the context of my new project. What I had realised, after a long break from writing here, was that without a good subject matter, I was running dry of material. I just don't find my own life interesting enough to write about on a weekly, or even fortnightly basis! Originally I had Clara Bow and the Seal of Solomon as my drive, the whole point of this blog being a public journal of my effort to write it, in order to push its finish.

And finish it I did, so one purpose of the blog was eliminated. Although I'm writing a follow-up, the fact that the first exists, and people are wanting a continuation, is the drive I need to keep on with The Staff of Aaron. 

Another subject I covered frequently was adorable wife's struggle with Endometriosis. Yet again, this matter has, at present, been successfully resolved. I certainly don't wish a relapse, merely to give me inspiration. No indeed, we're very much happy with the current status quo. But let's face it, a happy relationship has no drama to speak of, and therefore, much as I am not too fussed on looking inward, I don't see the need to publically discuss the daily goings on in our home life.

Which leads us to my new project Banbury Pulse. I'll not explain too much here, because the blog speaks for itself. I'm very excited about where this is heading at the moment. This time I'm looking outward, to my local community, and the people that make things happen. The first was about me, to give readers an idea of who I am and why I'm choosing to write the new blog.

I hope those who have followed this blog will also like my new, more focused blog. I will pop back here once in a while, when I have something worthy of sharing with you all, something that is all about me! Please let me have any feedback. I only created the design and layout on Sunday, so  I'm sure I have a little tweaking to do.

Without further waffling ado, here's my new blog link:   Banbury Pulse

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Writing, healthy living, and my future in Banbury

Hi there!

Yes, I'm still alive. Still writing. Still on book two of my Clara Bow saga. Still on my Kick Start Fat Loss healthy living and exercising drive.

I've found getting attuned to a new lifestyle has taken some time, and perhaps it's merely an excuse, but I have found less inspiration and energy to sit and write as much as I used to. When I have written, it has been with one purpose, to get Clara further towards the end of The Staff of Aaron. That has been the sole focus of my creative energies for the past few months, and it has paid off with the story very close to climax.

It's not that I have less energy, indeed, I have more throughout the day job, and into the evening. But waking up at 5.45 for a 6.15 exercise start three days a week, inevitably means I'm ready to sleep earlier than I used to. Two days a week I have an evening exercise, which means I have no chance to do any writing. And cooking everything fresh and from scratch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner means I spend more time prepping to eat. I still cook enough dinner to last several days, and of course adorable wife cooks too, but it does seem there's always a meal required! I'm not complaining mind, it's a great healthy eating regime, and frankly the results speak for themselves! In the five months since I started I have lost 2 stone and numerous inches. Adorable wife is certainly getting more and more impressed with my more toned body...

Perhaps it's just become habit now, rather than a conscious effort, but I finally feel that I'm better placed to manage the day job, the healthier lifestyle, and my creative desires. I meet up with a friend every two weeks to work on a screenplay we'll one day, probably far, far into the future, make into a movie, or webisodes. The novel has been progressing sporadically but successfully, when I get a few clear days to sit and type. I find squeezing in an hour or so after work impractical, preferring a good run at a few hours worth of typing. I have a few days booked off work in May, so they will be well used. And adorable wife is going to be working Saturdays for a while now, so some of them will be set aside for Clara. 

What I find is any gap allows me to keep the pace fresh, rather than getting bogged down in one detail, I am ready to progress to the next element, like a reader coming back, breathless to know what next happens in the tale.

I still know where I want to go with As Bright as the Fading Ark, but I'm aware it is frustratingly stalled right now. I'm wary of trying to promise myself, and by extension my readers, that I can manage all the writing, and in many ways, I still want most of my writing focus to be Clara. I'll just play that one by ear. After all, if I re-commit to Clara, Ebbe, this blog and my screenplay, that's four writing projects up in the air at the same time. Perhaps that was always too ambitious when I work full time. Maybe, or maybe I just need to push myself and try ridiculously hard, push like I have with my health drive. At the start I never imagined I could wake up so early and leave the house to exercise, but that's become normal. Why not the same for my creative efforts? I'll just see how it goes.

I have a seed of an idea for this blog, something to give me source material and a focus, rather than the random ramblings I sometimes foist upon those foolish enough (I mean kind enough) to read one of these here blogs. It's something of a business plan, a way to promote my local area Banbury, get me writing, and get known in the community. I'll just have to see how that pans out too. 

All in all, I'm happy and feeling positive. I'm not going to beat myself up for what I haven't done, I will simply aim high and see what I hit.

Thanks if you've stuck with me in the last few dry months (and the times before).  Sometimes one just needs to take stock and reconsider our goals and aspirations. I'm not going anywhere, and I never will. 

Well, I am going now, but only to put the first cog into the machine that is my new future plan. 


Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

The ringing in of a new year becomes a natural time to draw a line the sand, to feel reflective and stupidly optimistic about the future. 

I'm not setting any resolutions this year. I rarely do. Why should the line the Gregorian calendar sets be the one that makes any resolutions more effective? I had already resolved to get fitter and healthier and that journey has already begun, so as I cross from 2014 to 2015, I am only having to continue down the same path. I had already resolved to write my second Clara Bow novel. That is nearing its end, and with a little more effort it shall be completed. I'm not going to beat myself up for not finishing within the year, the fact that I aimed for that, and got as much done as I did is enough for me. 

What I did do last night, before the year was out, was clear off the nonsense and junk from my phone. The apps I didn't use, and the apps I used too much for no real gain. Anything that resulted in me staring at the screen for ages, without achieving anything, browsing for daft or funny images, is now gone. Placed in high prominence is my Clara Bow Facebook page, always right in front of me, reminding me to post something, or write something! All the positive social media apps are also sitting prominently at the top, quick and easy access to all the positive people in my life. I've added some health and mindfulness apps and re-organised the productivity apps. 

I want my pocket technology to encourage me to move forward, and to inspire productivity, not drain my time and creativity. 

As for the new year, well, it shall certainly contain more Clara. I can almost smell the pages of the new book! There will be the need for some proof reading, so anyone who wants to get their hands on a preview copy should make themselves known, so I can get one in your hands to check for typos and downright idiocy!

It shall also contain more Ebbe. Poor old Ebbe of my Fading Ark blog novel. Always being left behind in dramatic situations not knowing what shall happen next. Again, I'm actually very close to reaching a natural closing point for the current story trajectory, and the fact that she was not wholly abandoned in 2014 is encouragement enough for me to get back on it.

There have been many sad and tragic moments in 2014, many lives senselessly lost, lives cut short by disease or disaster. There is nothing we can do about these horrible events, other than live the best lives we can, while we are lucky enough to have lives to live. I shall be positive, happy, and do all I can to share good times with those close to me. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

My efforts to stick to the Kick Start Fat Loss diet

Greetings bloggites! Firstly apologies for the delay! During this time I actually had two weeks off, so you'd think I'd have more time to write. But what time I did have I allocated solely to Clara Bow and the Staff of Aaron. The bad news is I still didn't manage to finish it. But the good news is, the end is nigh! To that end this blog, and my tortuously slowly progressing blog novel may suffer, as I feel that overall, if I have time to sit and write, it is best used on Clara. Once the second book is finished, I'll have some peace of mind that it hasn't dragged on too long, and will be more prolific on this blog and the Fading Ark.

So I've been writing. But I've also continued my healthier living efforts. I am now officially signed up to Kick Start Fat Loss and it is now four weeks since I had coffee, wheat, gluten or anything processed. I've also completed my first full 5 day week of exercise sessions, which consist of HIIT and kettlebells.  It also involves dragging myself from bed at 5.45am, ready for a 6.30am workout, 3 days out of the 5! The amazing thing is that results are already visible. The bloated gut is diminishing and adorable wife is constantly admiring what she calls the 'apples' that have appeared on my biceps. I still have a way to go before I slim down, and tone up, fully, but it's encouraging to see real world results so soon.

The other aspect of this regime is having to ensure I eat properly. As I mentioned I've cut out various baddies from my diet, and now have a much healthier breakfast and lunch. An omelette has become my staple breakfast, and a salad with a meat has become my lunch. Dinner is not much different from before, but I am trying to cut out white rice, because it's not actually on my 'shopping list' from KSFL, so am breaking the rules by having it!

The group frequently share our meals on a private facebook page, to show how good, or bad, we have been, and to help encourage each other to stick with the good foods. Therefore I thought it would be nice to share my recent meals!

This is spicy saucy beef with choi sum and turmeric cabbage. Broke the rules a little with this because there was some ketchup in the sauce. Next time we shall have to make our own ketchup!

This was one of my early lunch efforts. Smoked salmon on salad. Simple but scrummy!

More salmon here. This time curried for dinner, with stir fried kale, and miso soup with seaweed. The white rice is naughty! Bad starchy carbs!

This is an example of my staple breakfasts. A spinach, enoki mushroom, button mushroom and chilli omelette. Really delicious.

This is my work lunch box. Usually filled with a large salad, and here I had some leftover curried salmon and some avocado.

This was a lamb stew, with loads of amazing vegetable, like sweet potato, courgette, carrot and parsnips. Quite spicy too, thanks to a healthy dose of chillies!

Another one of my lunches to the right. This time I had cooked chicken thighs with coriander and chilli (which is an ingredient that shows up a lot in my dishes! Certainly couldn't live without it). The salad dressing is a simple mix of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. In this instance, I had also added some fresh chopped coriander.

Below is another partial cheat. It's spicy tomato mackerel. But the fish was tinned, which means it must have had some preservatives. I did check and it was very low on the sugar content so I think it wasn't the greatest sin of them all. But next time, it should be from the fresh fish counter.

This is one of my favourite breakfasts! It's a banana and cinnamon omelette. A wonderful post work-out treat!

I made this yesterday for my breakfast because I totally forgot to buy eggs when I went shopping on Friday! Huge mistake when eggs are a staple element of your diet! This is a turkey thigh stir fry, with red peppers, cabbage, courgettes, and... what else? Chilli of course!.

This was lunch yesterday. Smoked salmon and avocado salad. Simple and delicious!

Overall I'm finding that having a heavy omelette for breakfast and a large salad for lunch is keeping me going just fine. The whole point of this is not to snack between meals. So far that has worked out, and I have resisted the cakes, biscuits and chocolates table at work. I have also donated my unopened cereal to local food bank.

Who knows, if I get some really good results soon, I may even become brave enough to post my before and after photos!! Currently the 'before' photos are held in a secure facility that even the members of IMF would struggle to access.
I'm off to have a fruit tea! Catch you all very soon.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Shove it sugar - Week Two

On the 27th of October I started a sugar free and exercise five day regime via work, called Shove it Sugar!

The title is a little misleading because actually we were encouraged to cut out not just sugar, but wheat, gluten and caffeine. To be honest, the thought of not eating chocolate, biscuits and sweets was not really an issue for me. We still have a few chocolates leftover that adorable wife bought at last years Banbury food fair! Neither of us are big bread eaters, but we do usually have a fry up and toast on the weekends for breakfast, and usually end up making sandwiches for lunch during the week. 

But actually adorable wife doesn't really like sandwiches, finding them too dry. Therefore cutting out bread didn't seem too tricky either. 

My first attempt at home made healthy bread

Coffee, well, that's a different story. I don't over-indulge, honest I don't. I have freshly ground beans, via the coffee machine in the morning, and then a coffee pod via the Dolce Gusto machine at work. And that's usually it. Apparently when people cut out coffee, even when they only drink one cup, they usually have headaches, but I was fortunate to have no issues whatsoever. I hope that means I'm not overly addicted, and caffeine hasn't been having a negative impact on my body. But right now, when I'm at home, it is the thing I'm missing the most. The machine is just around the corner from where I'm sitting and I have coffee I'd already ground before the week starting calling to me! 

But I shall be strong. I don't think I'll cut caffeine out of my life forever, but I will hold out for a 28 day period for a bit of a detox and then stick to one cup of fresh coffee per day and cut out the capsules, because it's harder to know what chemical treatment they have been through.

The first set of exercises on the 27th were after work and was what is called a HIIT. That's High Intensity Interval Training to the layman. It involves 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds rest, followed by a 20 further seconds of a different exercise, the break, and back to the previous exercise. You do three sets of these 20 seconds, 10 seconds cycles, and this takes about half an hour, and then you're done! Well that's the theory, but about 20 minutes in my head started to swim and I had to pause, before finally giving in completely and laying on the floor. Sindy, the instructor, suggested it was better to walk it off, and so I tried, but my head was clouding up and I knew I need to be on the floor! I recovered slowly, talking to Tanya, the lady who would do our meditation sessions later, and felt myself able to get back up and take part in the stretches at the end. It wasn't really the physical effort that foiled me, but the dizziness that threatened to topple me.

The next day, my thighs were destroyed! It was incredibly difficult to sit, stand, walk up or down stairs, or even slopes. Yet I had agreed to walk to work with my friend, rather than drive, for the rest of the week. So despite the discomfort I wobbled all the way up the (mild) hill, oohing and ahing the whole way. Crossing the road was a much greater challenge than normal because if the timing was off, I couldn't make a dash for it, the legs just wouldn't cope!

Worse still, that day the lunch time event was another walk! But I got a lot of mileage on my pedometer, so from that perspective I did well.

Wednesday lunch time was relax and stretch, and I think this more gentle exercise did a lot of good in setting my body back on track. Thursday was Pilates, which I thoroughly enjoyed and will certainly do again. Friday was another HIIT, but as it was lunchtime it was, thankfully, a lighter version. Also by Friday, much to my relief, my legs started to feel functional and normal again. Walking down stairs now became possible without holding the handrail! I wasn't broken after all!

My lunch today! Couldn't resist a little butter...

Every morning I had been cooking scrambled eggs or omelettes, rather than having cereal as normal, and I did find that kept me in good stead until a large salad for lunch. The trick was to mix in some extra ingredients from the list, such as spinach and smoked salmon. I was surprised to find that I quickly took to this heavier breakfast. 

As of Wednesday I also dared to try one of the hardest suggestions of the week; a cold shower! Initially I was only brave enough to wash my face while standing out of the water. Eventually I had no choice but to plunge under, instantly feeling the iciness grasp at the skin on my back. Gasp! It's electric and I couldn't hold, having to side-step and keep dipping under and back out of the water. Apparently it's good for me, so I've stuck with it each subsequent morning.

I haven't really changed my evening meals because as a rule they are home cooked and healthy already. Besides, adorable wife isn't on this scheme and I don't intend to enforce it on her, though that is happening to a degree due to not purchasing certain items, such as bread. 

So, cooked breakfasts, leafy salads for lunch, home cooked food, no sugar, wheat, gluten or caffeine, cold showers, and knackering work outs... What has this all meant for me in only five days?

Well, I went from 71kg to 70.7kg. So there was a little weight loss, which isn't really my goal, I would be happy to lose my pregnant gut and gain muscle elsewhere really. I also appeared to have lost an inch from my waist and hips. Which in five days isn't too shabby and encouraged me enough to stick with it going forward.

On Saturday I went to Sindy's YouTube workouts and did one of the HIIT sessions she kindly recorded. I tell you what, I was glad for the cold shower after doing that! That appears to be the trick. Work out and THEN have a cold shower.

This is what I did:


I also tried the Tabata training in the afternoon. I sweat half my body weight away on that one. Needed another cold shower after this one...


She says to start all over again as it's "only" three rounds. Heeeeelll nooo! Once around the tabata block was enough for me right now thanks very much!

Now I'm off work and thought I wanted a bit of eating variety. Sindy kindly supplied me with a healthier bread recipe, so I gave it go this morning, in time for my lunch with the usual salad. The results can be seen in the photos above. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked first time, even if it is a little small. It's a flax meal loaf, made with no flour, and no yeast and took me just over 30 minutes! It's very light and soft, and full of flavour. Not bad going for a first effort.

So the adventure continues. I continue keeping away from the processed foods where possible, and will attend some of Sindy's official sessions, as well as doing them at home. I do feel energised and hopeful that I'm getting fitter and healthier and can keep the momentum going.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Shove it sugar week - Day One!

On the 26th October 2014 I weighed 71kg, my chest was 37.5", my waist was 38", my hips 39", and apparently my left thigh is half an inch bigger than my right, being 22" and 22" respectively. My biceps are a barely worth mentioning 11.5" each.

I exclaimed greatly when adorable wife measured my hips at larger than my waist, seeing as all I can see looking downwards is gut. She politely reminded me my bum was also sticking out the other side.

Photos were taken, the kind you take for your before, normally looking glum, unwashed, and all grey tones. Should I see results I presumably need to take happy smiling ones. Though I made a before faux pas by looking reasonably happy in the before. This despite the experience being a gruesome one, where I let the gut hang out in all it's glory. Honestly, if I were a lady, you might ask me when the baby is due. I'd say I have another 3 months left.

What, you cry, is the point of all this measuring and photographic shaming?

A friend asked me if I'd attend something called Shove it Sugar week at work. It was simply to accompany the first presentation so he could see what it was all about. The attendance was poor, and the lady, Sindy, was enthusiastic and inspiring, so it seemed a worthwhile idea to sign up and see if my lifestyle is below par.

Not that I needed someone to tell me that was the case. Frankly I spend most of my work life on a chair, and then come home to spend most of the evening on the couch, watching TV, or in the current case, writing on the laptop. Since getting the car I've stopped walking to work, and despite a valiant effort to become a jogger, once the weather turned nasty I wimped out.

As far as food was concerned, I was pretty confident that I wasn't a terrible eater. I don't put sugar in my hot drinks, don't indulge in biscuits and sweet treats, and am not really a fan of junk food. That said, Asian cooking, although it can be healthy, can also be very oily, and you usually leave the fat on meat when cooking. We also have white rice with pretty much every meal. And we do occasionally treat ourselves to a nice unhealthy desserts, bad things, bad bad things. I mean, not serial killer bad. Though one could argue that sugar is currently a serial killer, the ultimate bad guy!

Today was the beginning. We're supposed to cut out sugar for the next five days. I don't think that will be too much of an issue for me, I'm not big on sweetening everything I eat or drink. Next, we've been given a list of good foods, though this is not a diet, just a suggestion of healthy foods to eat. Mostly it's about cooking a decent breakfast, and eating lots of leafy greens, partnered with something meaty.

For my breakfast I tried to make a mushroom omelette, but in my morning haste I left the egg on the pan too long and it ended up far too dry. The only way I managed to chew my way through it was to sip coffee in-between mouthfuls. It was only pointed out to me later in the day that coffee was not on the menu for breakfast. Caffeine is another drug that should be limited. So green teas and water from now on!

I ate nothing else until lunch, only drinking water post-breakfast. Lunch was actually something I'd been eating already, a leafy salad with hard-boiled egg and chicken. I just added more greens than usual, as instructed! My friend and I even did a bit of extra credit by walking briefly after eating, having picked up a pedometer each, to record each step. We'll be walking to work tomorrow morning, and for the rest of the week. Shed pounds, save pounds, winner all round!

Post work there was a HIIT work-out! For those not in the know that stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This was going to be the toughest part of the training by far. Upon arrival we discovered only one other hardy soul had bothered to turn up, so we felt a sense of pride at actually participating. We learned that the principles of HIIT is 20 seconds of workout, followed by 10 seconds break, followed by another 20 seconds. The 10 seconds is really just the time it takes to shift to the next exercise.

I think I was okay for the physical side, though it was a struggle, I'm no Olympian that's for sure. Squats, running on the spot, sit-ups and push-ups were all punishing my lazy muscles. But worse still, about half way along in the training, my head began to feel light and fuzzy. My vision was unfocused and I needed to take a genuine break. Sindy advised I walk it off, rather than sit still, so I tried but quickly found my head was swimming and I needed a lie down!

I managed to revive in time for the stretches at the end and redeem myself somewhat, before forcing my jelly legs back down the stairs and into the car for the slovenly drive home.

Sindy is kindly going to visit first thing in the morning to do a blood sugar test, to see if she can help identify the cause of my light-headedness. It is something I experienced when I used to jog last year, and as I got used to the exercise it did die down, but it shows that I lack something, hopefully nothing I can't replenish with the right diet!

So, I'm at the cusp of a, currently only 5 day journey, but who knows, will my weight change? My muscles increase? My energy levels improve? Will anything change? I hope I find something from all this, and I hope it can make me healthier for a lifetime. But for now, 5 days is the short goal, because exercise is the easiest thing to dive into, and ditch not longer after.

And I am, after all, a procrastinator. So, wish me luck!