Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gut busting

I used to be thin - very thin. At 21 I weighted 9 stone and had a 30-in waist, and was still pretty skinny (and fit) in my mid-thirties - but a desk job, three meals a day and lots of kids and D.I.Y (meaning far fewer weekends in the hills) left a fiftysomething Laban looking at 13 stone and a 38-inch gut. Euuch ! (I'm 5'9'')

When I noticed the tops of my thighs rubbing together and my GP started dropping hints about blood pressure, statins and the possibility of diabetes, it was time to do something. So for the last 5 weeks or so a greying, teddy-bear shaped figure has been pounding the lanes at lunchtime or in the evening pretty much every day. I try to do about 4 miles at lunchtime or 3 in the evening.

The routine tends to be :

Run 150 yards ... walk 25 while recovering wind ... run 150 yards ... walk 25 ... and so on - although the running machine seems easier (no gradients ?) and one can do a mile non stop on that at about 5-6 mph (well, 1500 metres at 9kph says the machine).

It's having an effect. My legs never had this sort of muscle on them when I was 10 stone and fit - presumably having to shift 13 stone gives them that much more to do. The thigh fat has almost gone and been replaced by muscle.

But ... I've put on half a stone and the gut looks just as it did before ! Should I be doing something apart from running ?


Anonymous said...

It takes 8 weeks before the effect will start to show. Trust me, I know.

And it will be well worth it.

Mercurius Aulicus said...

Muscle weighs more than fat so it isn't surprizing to weigh more. You also should, in addition, try isometrics or calisthenics to increase muscle mass which will in turn increase fat burning.

Anonymous said...

LT how tall are you? Those waist/weight figures dont tell me much without that.

Anonymous said...

I recently had success losing weight with the help of a cyclical ketogenic diet and high intensity interval training. If you stand the cringe-making pictures of muscle marys then there is a lot of useful diet/exercise advice on bodybuilding web sites even if you don't want to look like Schwartenegger.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago my dad went big on fitness, he used to have a belly that flopped over his trousers, but did a lot of situps not sure if he lost much weight but he definately improved the look, and at best had no noticable belly sticking out at all, although a few years later its come back now.

I think many British people eat far too much food, when you see survival programmes with people such as Ray Mears its amazing how little food the natives can live on.

Anonymous said...

Try to do different exercises. The body gets efficient at doing the same thing all the time.

So do something else...

e.g. 1 string sprint training

Do a warm up jog and stretch hamstrings........then....

Square or rectangle, e.g. half a football pitch.

In turn go down the white line, and turn 90 at the corner.

Walk the first length, jog the next length, turn 90 degrees sprint and I mean sprint. Do 4 set of w,r.s without stopping.

Rest 1 minute. Repeat w,r,s 4 times

Rest 1 minute 30 repeat w,r,s 4 times.

Throw up if you feel like it.

Also, Eat and drink less.

The weight should fall away.

Anonymous said...

Running is not very good for losing weight, as if you are unfit you cannot do it for very long.

To lose weight it is better to do moderate exercise for long periods - cycling is excellent. Even a two or three hour strenuous hike is very good. The problem, of course, is finding the time to do it.

Also, be patient - you have spent years slowly putting the weight on; it will take at least a year, possibly two or three, to get it off again. There are no miracle solutions.

Anonymous said...

You seem optimistic about your rate of weight loss - I'd concur with the previous. At 1 lb a week - which is a significant rate - and so figure 40 weeks.

You might be interested in the Maffetone Method by Phil Maffetone (see the google books intro here -, who advocates a slow burn method of getting aerobically fit -which boosts fat metabolism - instead of
exercising at higher heart rates which just depletes your glycogen in your cells leading to exhaustion. Basically it amounts to training at an optimum heart rate (or heart rate band). As you get fitter the amount of work you can do in the band keeps going up.

Maffetone also has an interesting way of measuring weight loss - ratio of hip to arm circumference - you can find on the google link.

malpas said...

Buy some dumbbells.
Use them.
Use them forever.

Shuggy said...

You could always do more exercise but it sounds like you need to reduce your calorie intake.

Try eating lean proteins - fish, fish, fish is the answer.

Don't eat too much late at night.

Do you eat a lot of bread? Don't.

Do some core stability exercises - crunches, back-lifts etc.

Shuggy said...

Btw, are you sure you're not exaggerating the distance you're running? Four miles at lunchtime sounds like quite a lot to me - the weight should be falling off you if you're doing this everyday.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you need to eat small portions.

Half a sandwidch and one child's pudding for desert for lunch. You will scrape that pudding cup, trust me.

Water to drink.

I lost weight by skipping a lot of lunches (on top of running). They say you shouldn't do that, but it is the only thing that worked for me.

Breakfast should also be very light - fruit only, if possible.

Cream/milk in coffee has a LOT more calories than you think. You can't go to starbucks and lose weight.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'm running (or run/walk/run/walk) for 50-55 minutes. Given that I can walk at three miles an hour I'd like to think I could hit four miles in that time - LT

Anonymous said...

I think diet and excercise are the key. Either one on their own has never worked for me.
3 years ago, when I was a kickboxer, I was constantly on a diet to make weight along with lots of hard excercise.
Nowadays I'm a Judo player and don't have the requirement to make weight, so I don't bother with my diet so much. I'm 2 and a half stone heavier, despite still doing lots of hard excercise.

Tim Worstall said...

Cycling works for me. Standing up on the pedals to get up a hill and swinging the bike from side to side works rather like ab crunches.

Trofim said...

Haven't you got a garden? How often do you see a fat gardener? And just fidgeting makes a difference. Restless fidgety babies end up healthier than placid ones. I am a notorious fidget, and have never put on weight, no matter how much or what I eat.

Anonymous said...

My doctor says that the secret is always to leave some food on the plate. So now I always ask for a third vegetable.....

Anonymous said...

Thw stomach is the centre of what the Americans call the "core".The core is what you should be working on. Sit ups or abdominal crunches are essential to strength the stomach muscles which will have the effect of tightening (i.e. reducing) your belly. The ab work along with a reduced calorie intake will work wonders. I lost 20lbs and my belly after only six or seven weeks of doing the above. Good luck with it, Laban.

Anonymous said...

Good on yer Laban. Wish I could muster up the enthusiasm for a 4 mile run. Keep at it. It is will, as other commenter's have mentioned, take time and effort.

Anonymous said...

I was off work all of last summer (out of choice, I hasten to add). Did lots of sailing, some building work, a fair amount of gardening, and other general "outdoors-y" stuff.

Didn't change eating or drinking habits at all.

Result - had to go out a buy smaller sizes in jeans, shorts, etc etc.

The thing is not to be sedentary - apart from that it doesn't matter much what you do, but it does take time to switch. Expect changes in four to five months, not less.

Unknown said...

You've got to eat less whilst keeping up the exercising.

One pound of fat is around 3500 kcalories. So to lose 1 lb per week you have to reduce your daily food intake by 500 kcalories LESS than you expend. Each day.

This is one way that exercising helps - you are expending energy so you don't have to cut back on food so much. Plus, muscle takes more energy to maintain. Exercising when your body starts expecting snacks should help as well. And if you have chocolate cravings, a small amount of plain chocolate will satisfy them in less calories than milk chocolate.

Analyse your diet and see where all the calories are coming from. I did this and was shocked at the percentage of my calorific intake was down to bread. You've got a beer gut? Well the Monks called beer "liquid bread" for a reason. Think about it...

Liberaliser said...

Keep on running, Laban.
Meanwhile, having followed your attacks on the hypocrisy of the likes of Brigstocke and Bragg, I thought I'd draw Paul 'Eton Rifles' Weller to your attention...

Anonymous said...

Oh dear Laban, you seem to have you facts all wrong.

You can only lose weight by taking in fewer calories than you are consuming. You cannot convert fat to muscle - the body has no mechanism for doing so. The belief that you can convert fat directly to muscle is an old wives tale. Fat can only be converted to energy. Muscle can only be created from "complete proteins" most commonly found in eggs and milk. Since I presume you haven't had a craving for either of these you probably haven't gained any muscle at all - what has probably happened is that your muscle tone has improved, making the muscle feel like steel rather than rubber. By the way, having lots of muscle you don't use much is also bad for the heart, in much the same way as too much fat is - more body tissue = extra blood vessels = extra strain on the heart.

The only way to lose weight is to diet. If you exercise and don't diet, you will only gain an appetite which will, of course, encourage you to eat more! You also feel you can eat more because you feel self righteous about running. But 5 minutes of running will only burn off about 50 calories - which isn't a lot.

The only real way to lose the fat is to diet. And its going to hurt. All the fun of eating too much has to be paid for by dieting. There is no escape. The only real answer is to go hungry. If you signficantly reduce your calorie intake you will lose weight extremely quickly, because your body will need to take all that fat and burn it to replace the calories lost. Personally I wouldn't exercise a great deal whilst actually on a calorie reduced diet - it makes you feel light headed anyway and running for four miles will probably finish you off! At 5'9" you probably only need to lose a couple of stone - that really isn't difficult. You can lose that in 6 months with only a modicum of effort. Keep an eye on what you are actually eating. Some foods have astonishingly high calorie levels - MacDonalds, coke, beer especially.

If you want to tighten your belly you will need to do abs crunches - best done with special equipment at a gym. Unfortunately abs are the most difficult muscles to tone up.

Trust me, I'm a body builder, and I know more about changing body shape than any doctor could ever tell you!

Steve_Roberts said...

It's almost impossible to lose weight by exercise alone. What worked for me was low carbohydrate diet - ie nothing manufactured with sugar or starch, just meat, fish, fruit, vegetables (no rice or potatoes), nuts, cheese, olive oil. And wine instead of beer (beer is very sugary) and water instead of fizzy drinks. After three months I'd lost enough weight to be comfortable exercising, starting with some cycling and toning with light weights (running or jogging is very bad for the joints) and working up to high intensity intermittent work with heavier weights, and some yoga / pilates for flexibility, core strength and balance. I never weighed or measured a meal, just ate what I wanted, and I have never felt hungry, and have never felt fitter in my life. Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...


The chairman of the Professional Gardeners' Guild is a big fat bloke

Anonymous said...

As a triple-bypass survivor (fighting fit 18 years later), I can tell you that the exercise recommended by heart docs is walking, vigorous walking, plenty of uphill. You have to get your pulse rate well up. Stopping and starting your run is useless, because it doesn't achieve that effect.

I am fortunate enough to live in a town that crawls up a mountainside, so serious walking and hiking are a pleasure. Find a scenic route if possible, it's good for motivation.

As for diet: Fad diets never last. You slim down, you fat up. My successful recipe is very simple: high protein, high fibre, low fat, no dairy (except yoghurt with muesli and fruit salad for lunch). NO eating between meals (except for an apple or suchlike) and especially NO midnight snacks.

I thoroughly recommend Pilates for a good weekly workout that keeps the abdomen hard and flat, the limbs supple and the body flexible.

No need to murder yourself.