Tag Archives: weight loss

Monday Morning Motivation: Colin McCourt and goal-setting

29 Jan Colin McCourt in his prime and in early 2017

So we’re nearly a month into 2018 and many people who subscribe to the ‘New year, new you!’ philosophy, but simply wish for change aren’t making it happen.

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? How are they going? Did you plan ahead and have a clear goal? Depending on your long-term goal, you may need to break it into a series of short-term goals to make it achievable. You should also make your goals SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achieveable
  • Realistic
  • Time-based

A great example of someone who set a SMART goal and followed it through in 2017 is the former GB 1500m international runner Colin McCourt.

McCourt had retired after failing to make the London Olympics in 2012. In the intervening period, he put on weight, rising to almost 15 stone (210lbs/95kg).

After seeing an old photo of himself in his international vest, he couldn’t believe how much he had changed. It prompted discussion with some of his old running buddies and he took a bet in 2017 that he could run under 16 minutes for 5k within a year. The forfeit would be to tattoo the names of his 17 friends who laid the bet on his body. Or if he accomplished the feat he would collect a tidy £100 from each. This was no easy feat. His last recorded run had been a 24 minute parkrun in early 2016.

With the added pressure of his journey being documented through social media and an on-line blog, there was no escape. Yet, on Saturday 18 November, Colin McCourt did it. He clocked 15:38 at a race in Burnley to bring a happy ending to the tale.

After reaching his goal, he told Athletics Weekly: “In eight months I’ve gone from a 24-minute 5km runner to a 15:38 5km runner. It has been a mental year. It just shows that if you can just run and do little sessions and tempos, you can take it to the next level if you want to. It’s just believing in yourself and doing it.”

Colin McCourt

McCourt’s next challenge is to try to break 2:30 for the marathon – follow his progress on Instagram.



To read more, visit:

Monday Morning Motivation: Why not now?

17 Jul
Vivian Stancil

©Jeff Lewis

I love this video about an amazing woman who took up swimming as an adult – please do spend 3 minutes watching it.

Why Not Now: Vivian Stancil from Riley Hooper on Vimeo.

If you’d like to read more, have a look at this article: Doctor’s weight-loss order pushed her into the pool; now she’s a champ.

Some turbo trainer basics

13 Jul

My most popular ever blog post is: My first ever turbo trainer session. I wasn’t sure why it has become so popular, so I decided to analyse the search terms that people have entered that have led them to this post. The top results could be categorised as follows:

  • Turbo training/cycling/Duathlon for weightloss
    • turbo trainer workouts weight loss
    • cycle turbo training for weight loss
    • turbo training for weight loss
    • can i lose weight on a turbo trainer
    • duathlon weight loss
    • turbo training weight loss
    • turbo trainer weight loss
    • cycling shed fat
    • weekly training schedule for aquathlon and weight loss
  • Workouts for turbo trainer
    • turbo trainer dvd
  • Music for turbo trainer
    • turbo training sessions music
  • Clothing for cycling
    • long bike ride training underwear
  • Cycling for the first time in a long time or after injury
    • getting back on the bike
    • getting my bike back on the road
  • Choosing a bike
    • girls ironman bike
    • best bicycle for girls
    • how much is a dassi road bike
  • Specific cycling events
    • There were too many posts to list about the Challenge Weymouth bike course.
    • wiggle new forest sportive
  • Curveballs
    • cycling and food festival
    • who won vankru winchester bike guess
    • fat chick bike blog
    • girl cycling
    • hybrid or road bike with asthma
    • fat bike journeys
    • cutshall weightloss

I’m guessing that many people arrive at that blog post as WordPress uses it as the first link when someone gets notified that I have liked or commented on a post on their blog, but some people also search for something and end up there… apologies to those people who are probably disappointed by what they find! Anyway, in this post, I’m hoping to address some of the things that people are searching for.



Turbo training/cycling/Duathlon for weight loss

OK, first up, I’m going to tackle the easy part of this request: ‘Duathlon for weight loss’. I’m not convinced that a single race will make any difference to a person’s weight loss, although with a strict training plan before the event and continued effort afterwards then it may help as a motivational factor. I also believe that combining sports means that you give some muscles more recovery time and challenge your fitness more than spending all of your time on a single sport.

I think that being on a turbo trainer can certainly make you work harder than just going out for a ride… but it does depend on how you use your turbo trainer. As I live in a city, then if I want to go out for a bike ride, I spent at least 15-20 minutes in stop start traffic trying to get out of the city, which isn’t terribly effective training, whereas every minute on my turbo trainer counts. However, if I were to do some leisurely pedalling on my turbo trainer whilst watching a TV programme or movie then it may not be an effective workout.I try to make sure that I have a clear idea of the workout that I want to do before getting on my turbo trainer.

Another factor that can make cycling on a turbo trainer feel like hard work (and may cause temporary weight loss) is the temperature. When cycling outdoors, there is always a breeze (or at least the feeling of breeze as you cut through the air). As you are static (and usually indoors) on a turbo trainer then there is no cooling breeze, which may cause your body temperature to rise more quickly… and many people end up a hot sweaty mess on a turbo trainer in a relatively short period of time. It is therefore important that you have access to plenty of water/suitable drinks whilst on a turbo trainer and that if possible there is some air movement, whether it’s from open windows/doors or a fan.

Turbo trainer workouts

I tend to do a variety of interval sets on my turbo trainer, so that I have to put in hard efforts followed by short recoveries. If you’ve ever been to a spinning class then you may be able to adapt what you have done there. I don’t feel that I’m qualified to give advice on turbo trainer sessions, so here are some of the best that I’ve found online:

I also like the Train with GCN videos that are available on YouTube. Here’s an example of one:

What’s your favourite turbo trainer workout?

Music for cycling on the turbo trainer

I’m not someone who ever runs with music and I wouldn’t think of cycling with headphones, but I love listening to motivational music when I’m on my turbo trainer. I tend to prefer tracks that I used to listen to in spinning class… and these have the advantage that they are usually about the right rpm for me to maintain good cadence. These are the tracks that can usually be found somewhere on my turbo trainer playlist:

  • Titanium – David Guetta featuring Sia
  • Wake Me Up – Avicii
  • Break Your heart – Taio Cruz
  • Bounce – Calvin Harris (featuring Kelis)
  • Wild One – David Guetta
  • Don’t Wanna Go Home – Jason Derulo
  • Give Me Everything – Pitbull
  • Turn Me On – David Guetta
  • You Make Me – Avicii
  • We Found Love – Calvin Harris (featuring Rihanna)
  • Where Them Girls At – David Guetta (featuring Nicki Minaj)
  • Dynamite – Taio Cruz
  • Sweat – Snoop Dogg Vs. David Guetta
  • Little Bad Girl – David Guetta
  • Hey Brother – Avicii
  • Higher – Taio Cruz (featuring Kylie Minogue and Travie McCoy)
  • She Wolf (Falling to Pieces) – David Guetta featuring Sia
  • Duck Sauce – Big Bad Wolf

Erin at Sweet Sweat Life often recommends All Day by Girl Talk for trainer sessions. If you’ve not listened to it before then I’d strongly recommend it – it’s a free download 🙂 If you use Spotify, you can also find some great turbo trainer playlists there.

What do you listen to when you’re on your turbo trainer?

Clothing for cycling

The question that gets asked a lot is ‘what underwear should I wear when cycling?’ The sensible answer is not to wear any – cycling shorts are designed to be worn without! I have quite a few different pairs of cycling shorts, tri shorts, bib shorts and tights. In very cold weather, I prefer to wear my fleecy bib tights, but for most of the year I wear SOAS Racing tri shorts either with or without knee warmers. I find tri shorts with minimal padding are significantly more comfortable than padded cycling shorts, but it’s definitely down to personal preference, so you may need to try a few pairs before finding out what is best for you.

Whenever cycling outside, I always wear at least mitts (and windproof/waterproof gloves in winter). It may waste time in a triathlon, but I’m nervous that I may have an accident and damage my hands. I also always wear a helmet and glasses (clear or tinted)… but my helmet, mitts and glasses are the first items of clothing that I ditch when cycling on my turbo trainer as they are not needed.

I usually wear a cycling jersey when outside as the pockets are useful for carrying kit/snacks, and it’s good to be able to unzip the neck a bit when it gets hot. When I’m on my turbo trainer I usually find that a wicking t-shirt is fine – I don’t need to carry a repair kit or snacks and I don’t worry about wearing something close-fitting as wind resistance is not an issue!

One advantage of using a turbo trainer for novice cyclists is that it gives you a chance to get used to wearing cycling shoes and clipping in and out. I’ve never ridden my road bike with flat pedals, but I know that it’s something people worry about, so this can be a way of getting used to it without the fear.

Have you got any tips about cycling clothing?

Cycling for the first time in a long time or after injury

If you’ve not ridden your bike for a long time then it’s important that you make sure that it’s in good working order, whether you’re going to ride it outside or on a trainer. If you’ve had an injury then starting off on a trainer means that you can stop immediately if you feel any niggles, rather than having to make it back home.

I’m not qualified to give medical advice, so I can only recommend that you start gently and make sure that you have a good warm up. Make sure that you build up over a period of time, rather than trying to start back exactly where you were before you were injured.

Choosing a bike

The bike you choose will depend on a number of factors, including what you want to use it for. I’m fortunate enough to own a hybrid that I commute to work on, a relatively cheap road bike that I use for touring and a carbon fibre road bike for racing (and most of my long rides). I’d also love to own a cyclo cross bike. I don’t have a tri bike or aero bars because I don’t think I’ve got good enough bike handling skills and most of the courses that I am interested in racing tend to be undulating and hills are not friends with tri bars!

There is a lot of debate about the merits of women specific design. My main road bike is unisex and my other road bike is a man’s bike (Giant Defy). The women’s version of the Giant Defy is a Liv Avail. I compared the dimensions and the only difference I could find was 5mm on the top tube. As someone who used to be a gymnast, I am quite flexible, so I’m fine with the slightly longer top tube. The most important thing to do is to visit a bike fitter and get them to confirm whether or not the bike you are interested in will be suitable for you – obviously you need to do this before you but the bike!

I hope that answers some of the questions that people want answered!






Weightloss and running

29 Jun
running in New York

Running in New York ©pexel

In the last week, I’ve seen loads of adverts on Facebook about losing weight through running. Whilst I believe that starting to run can help to kickstart weight loss for many people, it’s not usually a long-term solution for weight loss… if it were then I’d be wasting away by now!

However, that doesn’t mean that running and weight loss are incompatible. A 2014 study by Cornell University showed that runners who have fun lose more weight than those who take their training seriously (source: birthorderplus.com). Here are a couple of summaries of the research:

running couple

Sporty couple © pexel

One of the reasons why I love running is because I view it as a sociable activity. Even when I’m pushing myself hard in a race, I know that there will be time to chat with friends before and after the event and if I’m doing a long run then I see it as a chance to have a conversation with a friend for a couple of hours. When else do you get that kind of opportunity?

Has running helped you to lose weight? Was that one of the reasons why you took up running?


Friday Five – 5 foods to avoid for a healthier and happier life

8 Jan

It’s the start of the year and if you made any New Year’s Resolutions, it’s likely that one of them related to weight-loss. I couldn’t find any UK statistics, but data from University of Scranton, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed that ‘lose weight’ was the #1 new year’s resolution.

For many people, this will mean taking a hard line on what they eat, which can backfire and lead to binge eating and other unhealthy habits, so how can you make some sensible changes to your diet?

Should you cut out carbs?

Is it OK to eat after 7pm?

What about fasting every week?

What I’m going to suggest is a strategy that is more sustainable and which is specific to you.

These are the foods you should almost never eat:

  1. Any food that you find addictive

You know the kind of thing I mean – it’s that jar of Nutella that keeps luring you back to the cupboard, or the biscuit barrel… or, for me, the open bag of granola. It can even be snacks that are healthy, such as nuts – they key is in moderation.

If you know that there is something that you eat compulsively, then it’s best to avoid it, or purchase it in smaller packets.


2. Any food that doesn’t make you feel good

I’m fairly lucky in that I have a cast iron stomach, but many of my friends find that certain foods can have unpleasant or uncomfortable side effects. A friend of mine gets a little ‘gassy’ if he eats pork, so that’s something he avoids.

I know it’s not a food, but drinking cola makes me giddy and hyperactive, so I try not to drink it too often. However, I don’t drink alcohol and I do like cola, so I’ve not cut it out completely.

3. Any food you don’t enjoy

At the start of my weightloss journey I swapped my lunchtime sandwiches for a home made salad. Amongst the sald vegetables that I included was celery. This may be normal for you, but it was a change for me.

I hate celery. Celery soup is fine, but I just don’t like raw celery. I’ve tried to like it for years, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are plenty of other vegetables that I enjoy, so why should I torture myself with a food that has little nutritional value?

Beetroot, goat’s cheese and marmite are beloved of many vegetarians. I won’t deny their merits, but as I dislike the taste of them, it makes eating them an ordeal.

I don’t advocate cutting out entire food groups, but if there are particular foodstuffs that don’t tickle your tastebuds, just don’t eat them! Enjoying your meals means that you are less likely to be tempted by unhealthy items.


4. Any food that makes you feel guilty

So many times I’ve eaten something that doesn’t sound like it should be included in a diet plan – brownies, Danish pastries, ice-cream, cookies… I have a sweet tooth, but maybe for you, it’s crisps or savoury treats.

The problem is that it doesn’t always end at one item. It spirals. I have a bar of chocolate… and then I feel guilty that I’ve ‘failed’… so I’ll have some cake… and then I give up and have some biscuits… until I’ve spent the day/weekend/week bingeing.

I then promise myself that I’ll start again on Monday… but the cycle happens again. I eat something that makes me feel bad and it escalates into a situation where I no longer feel in control.

I now decide what is OK for me to eat and try not to be too strict. Eating a doughnut is not a failure, it is part of a balanced diet. As long as I eat well the majority of the time, the odd less healthy item is fine.

5. Any food that isn’t really food

As much as possible, I prepare my food at home from scratch. This is proving to be a challenge at the moment as I only have two hob rings and a microwave (what I would give for an oven!) However, it’s not impossible.

What I can avoid is anything that contains lots of additives – as stated in the beach body diet review too. Instead of choosing a ‘low fat’ yoghurt (that is probably packed with artificial sweeteners), I opt for a full fat plain yoghurt. If I want a treat, I choose dark chocolate in preference to cheap milk chocolate.

Don’t try to change everything at once. Remember the 80:20 rule. As long as you’re doing well the majority of the time, then the odd ‘less healthy’ meal is OK.

What are your personal healthy eating guidelines?


Monday Morning Motivation – From 280lbs to Ironman

22 Jun
Before and after pictures of Ginger Kaburek

Before and after pictures of Ginger Kaburek © Ginger Kaburek

If you’re struggling for inspiration, check out Ginger Kaburek’s amazing story about how she lost half her bodyweight and became a certified personal trainer:


Monday Morning Motivation – Are you motivated to lose weight in 2015?

12 Jan

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight? If so, then you’re not alone.

Sticking to Your New Year�s Resolution for Healthy Eating

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Winning at Weight Loss

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Monday Morning Motivation – Find your greatness

29 Dec

It’s just something we made up.

Somehow we’ve come to believe that greatness is a gift reserved for a chosen few.

For prodigies. For superstars.

…And the rest of us can only stand by watching

You can forget that.

Greatness is not some rare DNA strand.

It’s not some precious thing.

Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing.

We’re all capable of it.

All of us.

What are you doing to find your greatness?

Monday Morning Motivation – From Fat Man to Ironman

17 Nov
Dan Hyatt

Dan Hyatt

This week’s motivation comes courtesy of Dan Hyatt, who managed to lose nearly 10 stone (135lbs) to put him on the path to a healthier life and much closer to his goal of becoming an ironman. You can read Dan’s story here:


Tracking and track-ing

10 Jun

Today has been a really beautiful sunny day, so I’ve made the most of it. This morning, I had to cycle down to the Oceanography Centre for work (which was exciting as I got to see some really cool stuff linked with a work project), but the real bonus was that I then had to cycle all of the way across the city at about 11:30am, so I got to enjoy some of the sunshine.

I’ve also been #TWIETing today:


Chocolate brownie porridge

Chocolate brownie porridge

Oats, raisins, cocoa powder and almonds (there were no walnuts in the cupboard!)


Salad with carrots, spring onions (scallions), spinach, lettuce, radish, tomatoes and hummus.

Salad with carrots, spring onions (scallions), spinach, lettuce, radish, tomatoes and hummus.

An apple (with my brand new apple!)

An apple (with my brand new apple!)


No photos, but a sharon fruit/persimmon and some toast.


Vegetable stirfry with tofu and a peanut sauce

Vegetable stir fry with tofu and a peanut sauce

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal for an entire week now and am into the final couple of weeks of my WW membership, so I went along tonight for my Weigh In. The tracking has obviously helped me as I’ve lost 2.5lbs 🙂 I hope I can maintain my momentum as I’m back under 11 stone again – I’m 10st 12lbs (152lbs)… only 26lbs to lose, how hard can that be? 😉

So, from tracking to track-ing… This evening, I went along to the first Tri Club track session. I quite enjoy running at the track, and it doesn’t cost me anything, which is great. I also thought that it would help to mix up my training and I might meet some new people. Finally, I’ve grumbled a bit before that my Tri Club mainly functions as a swimming club, with a few rides organised (at times, locations and paces that don’t suit me) and absolutely no running, so I felt that I should support this endeavour.

A mix of people from Tri Club turned up, but I recognised most of them which was good. I was definitely at the back of the pack, but I hadn’t really expected anything else. Also, an advantage of track running is that you’re never far from the other runners and after a while it’s hard to know what lap anyone is on!

The track was very busy when we arrived, so we went for a 1 mile warm up outside of the track. Then, on our return, we did some drills, including high knees, butt flicks and fast feet. Then it was on to the main set 6x600m. We were meant to be doing them at 5k pace, but I went out at what Steve Prefontaine would refer to as ‘suicide pace’, which wasn’t wise and I paid for it later. How on earth did I think I could maintain 3:19/km?!! I averaged 5:12/km for the entire set, which is faster than my current 5k pace, but I know the last couple were very slow… and I want to see all of them start with a 4! Overall, I really enjoyed being at the track, but I think I need to push myself harder.

Do you like track running? Is it something that is readily available for you to do? (It costs £3+ per session here).