Friday, December 16, 2016

238 - under two hundred and forty

Another quick one today:
238.6 lbs (108.2 kg)
238.6 pounds. I'm going to look into the role of coffee drinking in weight loss. I've noticed that I'm drinking a lot of coffee lately, which coincides with my rapid losses. But, "correlation does not imply causation" is a phrase often used in statistics. More later...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

240 - Unstoppable

Few words (today), just:
240.4 lbs (109 kg)
Two hundred and forty pounds.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Reflecting on the great year

I actually read some of the information below on another website (about the Day One journaling app for Apple devices, at, but I'm going to adapt it for my own purposes here. It's a list of ten questions to ask yourself as you look back and reflect on the past year, and look forward to a better year ahead.

1. What was your favorite single day or event of 2016? What's the first thing that pops into your head that puts a smile on your face?

2. What was the best thing you built or created in 2016? We're all builders or makers in some way. What did you create this year?

3. What was the most impactful decision you made for you and your family's future in 2016? What will have a lasting effect on your family's lives?

4. What was your best financial achievement of 2016? It could be a wise purchase, a lifestyle change (new job, retirement), paying off a loan, or reaching a savings goal.

5. Did you achieve any lifetime goals in 2016? Did you cross any items off your "bucket list"?

6. What was the hardest lesson you learned in 2016? Making mistakes is easy, admitting them is hard. Wisdom comes with learning from your mistakes.

7. Did you develop any new hobbies or passions in 2016? And, are there any that you would like to take up in the new year?

8. What was your most humbling experience of 2016? What did you learn from it?

9. What is the one thing you are most grateful for in 2016? Use this quiet moment to properly reflect on the people and gifts around you.

10. What are your personal goals for the coming year? They can be family related, religious, health, financial or career goals.

My favorite event of 2016 was the first time I managed to successfully climb Mount Helena ( at the beginning of June. Sure, I had a rush of good hormones when I climbed Buttercup Hill the year before, or when I reached to top of Mount Ascension for the first time last March (, but the elation and jubilation of reaching the top of Mount Helena was the best.

In terms of creation, my best thing was the accessorizing of my bike. With its bright lights, rear view mirror, repair tools, pump, luggage rack and bag/panniers, it is now a well equipped device for getting around town and for getting good exercise (

My most impactful decision was to leave my job and move to my "spiritual home" of Missoula. I was really getting to like Helena (after nearly 20 years) but, even after only five weeks, I'm already really happy that the opportunities FOR ME are much greater in the Garden City. Generally, the people are great and the city has so many cool things to do and see and places to go. There's greater diversity here, people are more open-minded, and their politics are more akin to my own.

As we approach the end of this year, I would encourage you to answer the questions above for yourself. Hopefully, your own journey was as good as mine, and that you too can look forward to a bright and happy 2017!

Monday, December 12, 2016

244 - The fantastic year is ending with a bang

With only three weeks to go until the end of the calendar year, I've been contemplating what has happened in the past 12 months and what the future has in store for me. I'm excited! Usually, by now, I have already sent out my annual Christmas cards with their 'round-robin' letters. My friends all know how much I love to send (and receive - hint!) letters and cards in the mail. Anyway, it truly has been a fantastic year, and the best is yet to come!

January started out with me weighing 336 pounds (152.5 kg). This morning:
243.8 lbs (110.6 kg)
243.8 pounds, 92 lbs lighter in twelve months. Losing nearly eight pounds a month on average is a good, healthy amount. 

I was still living in Helena at the time (in January 2016), still working for the Dept of Public Health and Human Service in a job that had me practically tied to a desk all day answering a phone. I was walking the ⅔ mile each way to work (a 100 foot elevation difference so, yes, it was uphill both ways 😜), including in the middle of winter with all its snow and ice (and I can honestly say, I never missed a single day because of the weather). At this point I hadn't been riding my bike, which was still stored in my hall closet. I also hadn't substantially started hiking yet, although I had started to make plans to go to southern Oregon and see Crater Lake as part of a 100-mile PCT hike that was scheduled for the end of May. 

In July I had decided that I was financially stable enough to be able to leave my job and move to my "spiritual home" (where I'm actually living now) of Missoula, MT. There was a short 'blip' when I was in Sidney (eastern Montana) for a few weeks. My close friends know the details of that little escapade (temporary insanity? 😵) Anyway, I moved to the Garden City at the beginning of November and have been able to get back on my program (such that there is one - low carb diet and more exercise, basically) with great results. I've been riding my now-heavily-accessorized bike a lot (weather permitting), and walking more than ever before. 

So, next year I'm looking forward to finally reaching my final target - 178 lbs or (80.7 kg) which, for a 5' 10" guy (1.78 m) is still a BMI of 25.5 - so, technically, still overweight. I should be there by, say, mid-July. But, you know what? If it takes me until August, or September, or even December, I'm not that bothered. It's all a heck of a lot better than 405 lbs (June 2015) or 428 lbs (June 2014)!! Of course, there's the question of what to do about the 20 pounds of excess, flapping skin that will be hanging off me all over the place. "Surgery!" (I imagined myself saying that in a ringing, singing voice).

I still have some objectives to meet. I still want to find a place to do some boxing to help develop my upper body musculature. I still want to find a place to do T'ai Chi to help with the physical and mental/spiritual balance. I still want to do a long-distance bicycle ride (Portland, Oregon, is still looking attractive as either the destination or the starting point for that little tour). I really want to start dancing again. I have such fond memories of my daughter and I going to some contra dances in Helena, but that was six and seven years ago! I know that those things are all available here in Missoula, it's just a question of time and money, and making it a big enough priority. 

If you're in Missoula and you're interested in contra dancing, the Missoula Folklore Society has dances twice a month (first and third Saturday) from October through May ( Maybe I'll see you there? Oh, and Sara Bareilles? I'm still waiting for your phone call to ask me to be in a future music video of yours ("Brave" was brilliant! 

And, I haven't given up on wanting to complete my PCT hike, or climbing Mount Hood ("Go BIG or go home!", right?) I have unfinished business to take care of in Oregon, and I'm not going to let it beat me! 

I still want to expand my répertoire of mostly plant-based (but not exclusively vegetarian) recipes and learn some new cooking styles and techniques. I still want to learn and practise my own food growing, canning and preserving. Not that I want to be all "prepper" self-sufficient, but a little better preparedness doesn't hurt (interestingly, even after living in the US for 20 years now, I've still never fired - much less held - a gun. I get that question from my English friends all the time). 

In the short term, I want to start enjoying the winter (I never imagined that THOSE words would ever come out of my mouth!) I want to try snowshoeing (or cross country skiing, maybe). 

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom-of-night
stays this man from going outside."
2017 is going to be another fantastic year. If I can take some friends with me, old ones or new ones, it'll be that much better. If I can leverage the new-found knowledge and experience of healthy eating and exercise and weight-loss, and get myself a better job, or even just use it to HELP other people, I'll be delighted. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

246 today - Happy Thanksgiving!

Back in early February (so, nine and a half months ago), I published this:
"Having previously published some target weights, and failed to hit the latter ones, I have revised my aims and come up with a new path to success; one that is more realistic, if somewhat longer."
After a bit of a blip in the middle of the year, and moving house twice recently, I'm back on track. With almost a week to go until the end of November, I'm only four pounds away from my published target. 


It's still a very ambitious plan, but I don't see why I can't achieve this, given the history and the ongoing motivation. The next significant goal is to be under 233 lbs by the end of the year.
246.6 lbs (111.8 kg) today
There will be more changes, more good stressors (eustress, as opposed to distress), and more successes to come.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

249 - Progress continues

Just a quick update this time. This morning I stepped on the scales and they said:
249.0 lbs (113 kg)
249 pounds! The move to Missoula has been really good for me, not just mentally but physically too.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Enjoying my cycling

Before I get on to the story about cycling, I came across an interesting article in "Outside" magazine called The Definitive Superfood Ranking ( I'm please to say that I love the top 15 out of 21 items mentioned, including;

  • Blueberries
  • Turmeric
  • Salmon
  • Red wine, and 
  • Dark Chocolate (> 70% cacao)
Shame they didn't mention hot pepper sauce. 

The real purpose of looking at Outside magazine was to read their list of Top 10 Bike Towns ( from 2012, which incuded my new home town of Missoula at number 5, and a former home town of mine, Chico, California, at number 10. 

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) maintains a list of Bicycle Friendly Communities (, in which Missoula was awarded the Gold level in 2016 (up from their Silver award the previous year). Even Helena got a Bronze award. 

As well as feeling safer on the (predominantly flat) roads here, I also took a minute to register my bike with the National Bike Registry ( Since 1984, the National Bike Registry has been working with local law enforcement agencies to return stolen bikes to their rightful owners. A bike registered with NBR can be identified by police and returned to you instead of being sold at an auction. The city of Missoula also has their own program. The Missoula Bicycle / Pedestrian Office offers bicycle registration as a free online service (at Registration makes it easier to identify and return stolen bicycles to their rightful owners, and (eerily) help identify people, especially children, in the event of a crash. 

If you could see me, in my bright yellow and reflective high visibility helmet and gear, and head and tail lamps (!!!!) you'd be astonished if anyone ever hits me. They certainly wouldn't be able to say that they didn't see me! I'll post a photo soon. 

At this point I have to say Thank You to Sandy (and Debbie) for the bike that I have (an older model Diamondback Sorrento recreational mountain bike -, and for the expensive tune-up that it had a few years ago. Yes, the bike hung/sat idle for a couple of years or more, but it gets used a lot these days, and it's performing like a champion. I'm adding a Topeak Explorer rack ( with trunk bag to the back, so that I can carry more "stuff" safely. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Lost 150 pounds in 17 months - all natural

Back in June 2015, I had made a decision to improve my health and lose weight. At the time, I weighed 405 pounds (having peaked at an incredible 428 lbs the summer before). I changed my domestic circumstances, moved into my own apartment, was once again 100% in control of the food I bought and prepared and ate. I deliberately put myself in a position where I HAD to walk to work (it was only 2/3 mile, but it was better than not walking at all). I started walking everywhere, hiking and climbing small mountains (for fun!) 

In May 2016, I attempted (this time unsuccessfully - but it won't always have me beaten) to walk 100 miles next to the Pacific Crest Trail (not actually on the PCT because there was too much snow, at the end of May!) I left my desk-bound job of five years in September and moved to Sidney, MT. I started working in a grocery store, expending A LOT more energy than I have in a long time (but also eating more, and more carb-laden foods than normal). Now, it's the middle of November. I've been on this new program (new regime, metamorphosis, call it what you will) for 17 months, and I've lost 150 pounds (68 kg, for my continental cousins). 


I moved house again last week, this time to my "spiritual home" of Missoula ("a place where you feel you belong, although you were not born there, because you have a lot in common with the people, the culture, and the way of life.") I still need to find a new job, but that will come very soon.  The good diet continues now. The increased exercise continues. The improved health continues. In two week's time I will be turning 50, and I'm determined not to slow down or go back to where I was. 

Me, at the 'M' on Mount Sentinel in Missoula, yesterday
As the brilliant Zig Ziglar used to say, "See you at the top!" 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

254 - How low can he go?

In Bug's Life (1998), when the stick insect "Slim" is encouraging the ant Princess Atta to do the limbo dance, he asks her, "How low can you go?" Well, now I'm asking myself that question.
254.6 lb today (115.5 kg)
This morning I tipped the scales at 254.6 lbs.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

259 - unstoppable at the moment (back on the low carb diet)

Another day, another pound or two off.
258.8 lbs (117.4 kg)

Now that I'm 100% in control of the food I buy and prepare and eat again, the weight is simply dropping off.

My new local grocery store had whole chickens (not organic, but "raised without antibiotics") on sale for 99¢/lb, so I bought a 5 lb bird for $5, trimmed off the two large breast pieces for another time. I had the oven-baked legs and wings this evening with some broccoli, and used the carcass for a tasty soup stock with rutabaga (swede), turnips, parsnips and carrots, plus some herbs and diced green and red peppers - no pasta. It was very tasty and made several large portions of soup.

I've also been able to eat my spinach and eggs for breakfast again, which has been great.

Eggplants (aubergines) were on sale too, so I bought one to slice and bake with some tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese - no bread crumbs (maybe I should get some fresh mozzarella too?). If I had access to a fully equipped kitchen, I would love to make baba ganoush all the time (basically, baked eggplant mixed with tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley). Interestingly (botanically) eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers are all part of the same nightshade (Solanaceae) family. I can happily skip the potatoes, but I love all the others.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

263 - LOTS of changes, hopefully things will settle down again soon

Wow! In the last three weeks a lot has happened. After leaving my desk-bound job in Helena and moving to Sidney, MT, ostensibly to get remarried, I am now in my "spiritual home" of Missoula, MT. The wedding is not taking place now. So, it's back to the original plan.

I'm in a place now where I can weigh myself accurately again, after not being able to do so for a while, and I was pleasantly surprised.
262.8 lb (119.2 kg)
After six weeks of tremendously increased physical activity, and increased intake of food generally and carbs specifically, I tipped the scales at under 263 pounds! Last Thursday morning, when I was staying at a friend's house overnight on my way to my new home, I got to see myself naked in a full-length mirror for the first time in ages. Not just my head, or my upper body, but a full length view of all the loose skin and (still a little bit of) fat. At the same time, I was both pleased (at having lost 142 lbs in 17 months) and horrified (at the sight of so much loose skin, especially around my belly).

I make jokes now about turning over in bed at night, where I sleep on my side, and my body has already made the turn, but my belly follows two seconds later, like a floppy Jell-O pudding. Having bought some 48" waist pants (trousers) a couple of months ago, I recently had to buy a couple with a 46" waist, because the original ones were too large now. I even had to buy a belt, because the smaller ones are getting too big now!

I'd like to take a moment to thank Loren Kutzler, Theresa Johnson and the rest of the team at Reynolds Market in Sidney, MT, for their support and encouragement. That "Be Foxy" jingle will be stuck in my head for years! It was a huge step down in wages from my old job but, as I told people, sometimes there are more important things in life than money. Working at a grocery store; rounding up carts, bagging groceries, putting out new stock (with all the heavy lifting and carrying that that entails), helping to build endcaps, plus a bit of cashiering, all led to me regularly walking 10 miles a day, especially on the two days a week when I was separately delivering newspapers. The irregular hours didn't help with the diet but I certainly got a good workout.

I also want to say Thank You to my ex-fiancée, Scarlet, for her fashion advice and sense of stylishness. Thanks to her, I now have a new wardrobe of clothing that fits much better and makes me look good.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

272 - joined a gym again

With winter approaching, and needing to keep up the momentum of increased activity and weight loss, I joined the gym here in Sidney a couple of days ago. This morning (after delivering newspapers at 6.30 am, and before working at the grocery store at 1.00 pm) I went there for the first time. It was a good first session, with a few minutes on an elliptical trainer and the rest of the hour spent getting used to the tension equipment (training leg, arm and back muscles). I was careful not to overdo it on this first occasion - after all, I keep telling people, "slow and steady wins the race". It doesn't require a single Herculean effort but, rather, a consistent application of small steps.

I also found a second set of scales (at the gym) on which to confirm what my home bathroom scales had been telling me. I've managed to get down to 272 lbs this morning, the lowest I've been in a very long time. As I begin to get used to my new routine, I think we'll see the pounds starting to drop off again soon.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Losing inches, not pounds, for now

It's been more than three weeks since I last blogged about my progress, and tomorrow it will be two weeks since I moved to Sidney, MT. In some ways it feels like I've been here longer than that - it's been so busy.

I'm still hovering around the mid-270s pound mark, the same as two weeks ago. The big change that I've noticed is that my new pants (trousers) are fitting better than when I bought them seven weeks ago.

In terms of diet and exercise, I know I'm burning way more energy now than I ever did before. I'm working two jobs at the moment - both requiring a lot more physical exercise than I've been used to for a few years. At the moment, I don't have an accurate way to capture all the daily steps, but I'll estimate that I'm easily exceeding 12,000 steps a day at the grocery store, and my newspaper delivery route easily adds 8,000 steps to the tally. I'm also riding my bike half a dozen times a week, which is good too. I know I'm eating a lot more than I used to, and that a greater proportion of what I eat is carbohydrates. I'm trying really hard to stick to salads and green vegetables.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

274 - I'm not cheating

273.8 lbs (124.2 kg)
I promise, I don't have a bunch of fat friends all lined up waiting for me to photograph the weighing scales. And I don't have my hand resting/leaning on the bathroom counter top, faking a reading. This really is me, losing weight at a rapid rate. 273.8 lbs this morning! Woot! 😊

Monday, September 12, 2016

275 - lost 8 pounds in two weeks

275.4 lbs (124.9 kg)
 More good news, as I'm down from 284 to 275 lbs in the space of two weeks.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

277 - Fourth time up Mount Helena

When I was at the State employee health center in Helena recently, I was given two objectives to meet before I leave town: one was to climb Mount Helena two more times. The other was to walk 80,000+ steps in a week. I was close to the latter goal a couple of times, reaching 75,150 and 76,805 steps two and three weeks ago. This week, I'll likely reach 70,000 again. So, now I have just two more weeks to try to reach my target, which is equivalent to walking about 40 miles in seven days. Since I'll be packing for my house move, the scope for walking will be more limited, but I'll give it my best shot.

The former objective has been met!
Fourth time up Mount Helena in four months
So now, after 19¾ years of having NEVER climbed to the summit (Trailhead Elevation:  4,350 feet; Top Elevation: 5,460 feet), I've conquered it four times in twelve weeks (once each in June, July, August and September). In Richland County (Sidney, MT), where I'm moving to, the peak elevation is about 2,950 feet, located about 40 miles west of Sidney on the Richland/Dawson county boundary. When people say it has no mountains, they're not kidding! So, my new pursuit will be bicycle riding. Of course, we're approaching the snowy winter season, so it won't always be practical, but I'll do what I have to in order to get my leg muscles attuned. I still want to do a long-distance ride some day.

Continuing the good news, this morning's weigh-in gave a new low: 276.6 lbs.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

278 - one hundred pounds left to lose

277.8 lbs (126 kg)
The good news continues! For those who don't know, or who haven't read the beginning of this blog (almost a year ago), I started this journey 15 months ago at 405 lbs. This morning I was at 277.8 lbs (127 lbs less). My ultimate goal is to reach 178 lbs (81 kg). 

For the first time in many years, my BMI (body mass index) is below 40 (39.9). I know, it's still way too high, but I'm working on it with a plan that I know works. 

Thanks to the useful Internet Wayback Machine (, I was able to find a single snapshot of my old website from 10 years ago (June 16th, 2006). At that time, I had just moved back to England for a year, and was starting from 353 lb. Later on (March 2007), I would eventually reach about 270 lbs or so,... a weight I managed to maintain (within 10 lbs) for the next three years. 

Here's the entry from June 2nd, 2006:
"At my last weigh-in on April 19th (yes, it's that long ago), I weighed 352 lbs. Today I went to the doctor as part of their new patient registration process. My pulse rate was down a couple of points, my BP was a shade lower than it has been, and my weight was... 
343 pounds (155.6kg) 
So, the combination of walking (oh boy, have I been walking!!) and good diet have paid off. I have blisters on my feet right now, but I'm prepared to suffer if it'll enable me to continue losing weight at that rate."
SO, now the challenge is to keep up the good work. Onward and downward!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

279 - it's just melting off again now!

279 lbs (126.5 kg)
After weeks of seemingly little weight loss progress, and a couple of weeks of > 75,000+ steps, the past few days have seen me drop five pounds!! It's been nine years since I was this light.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

281 - three pounds off, even with my first visit to Sidney

280.8 lbs (127.4 kg) - a new low
I spent a long Labor Day weekend (six days) in Sidney, MT, ... my future home (at least for a little while). Despite not doing my usual amount of walking and hiking, I managed to lose 3 lbs! I didn't do any cycling either. However, there is a good cycle path that goes right next to the house. Now, if only that Montana snow will stay away this winter!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More steps

My weekly average number of steps has increased recently to the point where I did more than 70,000 steps in both of the last two weeks:
> 70,000 steps in both the past two weeks

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Big changes coming up - trying to sustain the momentum

People who know me will know that my last blog post was carefully worded: "Moving again", and "coal train from eastern Montana"!? More details will be published soon enough, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I'm leaving Helena at the end of September. I've handed in my notice at work and told my landlord that I'll be vacating my apartment. The wheels are in motion! 

I moved here to Helena on the Labor Day weekend back in 1996, and was fortunate enough to get a job within four days. Life has been a rollercoaster ride of ups and down, but mostly ups, ever since (buying a house, the birth of my daughter, a few job changes, divorce, moving house a few times, new relationships, etc.) Especially in the past 14 months, almost all  the changes have been good ones. 

I've managed to lose 122 pounds in 14 months (405 lbs down to 283 lbs). My waist size has gone from a shocking 60" to a not quite so shocking 48". I used to struggle to find decent clothing to wear. Last week I bought my first pairs on non-5XL non-sweatpants. When I'm in a car, I can do the seatbelt up without needing an extension. When I'm in a restaurant, I can fit in the booths now - I don't need a table. Whereas I used to only be able to walk a city block, now I can regularly walk 8 and 10 miles in a day. I've climbed Mount Helena three separate times in the past three months - that's three more times than in the previous 19 3/4 years of living here! My average weekly number of steps has increased from 35,000 to 70,000+. 

Now, a new phase is about to begin. I want to find a new job, preferably one that is not sitting behind a desk all day. I want to be able to share the gifts that I have (knowledge, wisdom, experience, compassion, love, inspiration, etc.) and thereby enrich the lives of other people. At the same time, I have to maintain my own progress. I know I'm only half way there yet... I still need to lose another 105 lbs. I still want to fit into 36" waist pants (I haven't done that in 25 years). I still have lots of other goals and stepping stones along the way. 

My third time at the summit of Mount Helena (August 27th, 2016)
Eastern Montana will certainly be quite different from the more picturesque mountains of western Montana. Thinking about the positives, it'll make cycling a lot easier. I'll be able to develop those leg muscles more steadily. My former plan: to ride a bike from Helena to Portland, might need to be changed or postponed until another year. A quick-and-dirty calculation says that from Sidney, MT, to Glacier Park is about 487 miles, along US-2 (the Hi-Line). That would still be a good challenge!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

283 - moving again

After bouncing up and down around the 284 lb mark, I'm finally moving in a downward direction again. This morning I weighed in at 283.2 lbs. Yesterday I walked 21,000+ steps (10 miles), and most of them were in the 90 °F hot sun. At one point, I was stuck on National Avenue in Helena, waiting for a hulking long coal train from eastern Montana to clear the crossing. Kind of an appropriate metaphor, really (making good headway, then stopping, but ultimately moving on).

Astute readers of this blog will know that those words were carefully chosen  ;-)

Friday, August 05, 2016

I'm still very much alive

Have I really only posted one blog post in the past month? What's happening? Well, dear reader, it's the plan coming to fruition! I'm spending more time doing the things that are important, and less time in front of my computer(s). About two months ago (maybe ten weeks now), I disconnected my home Internet. For a guy who works with technology (more on that in a moment) that was a radical step. Suddenly, there was nothing for my Chromebook and my laptop and my two Raspberry Pis and my Amazon Echo ("Alexa, I love you!") and my cloud-connected printer and my music and file server to connect to. So I turned most of them off and packed them away. "You're fired!"

An unintended consequence was that my power bill was $30 lower than normal last month!

I've been able to get back into my reading and writing hobbies. I've started watercolor painting again. I'm beginning to get a life back, and it feels great.

I'm sad that the darker (longer) nights are returning. Whereas it used to be light until almost 10 pm (22:00) here, it's now dark before 9 pm (21:00). I guess I won't have to feel odd any more that I'm going to bed while it's still light outside, huh?

I recently acquired a proper, powerful headlight for my bike. It's just annoying that people are so untrustworthy that I have to remove my bicycle pump and tools and lights every time I leave my bike in public. Nobody has stolen the seat yet, but I'm sure that'll happen one of these days too.

284.6 lb
I did hit a new low weight recently, 284.2 lbs (although the photo was from four days earlier, when I was 284.6 lbs). I've been slowly adding back more carbs to my diet as I attempt to increase the amount of fiber. It's a tricky balance - too much fiber/carbs and the weight loss stops or reverses, too little and I'm eating lettuce ten times a week :(

I've seen some good blood pressure readings recently. After months of 140/95 or thereabouts, my last few readings have all been around 110/65, with my resting pulse rate down to 64 as well.

I made another successful summit of Mount Helena last weekend.
Chris atop Mount Helena - July 30th, 2016
I got up super early, walked the two miles from my apartment to the foot of the mountain in the dark (with a head lamp), then climbed up the 1906 Trail and down the Powerline Trail (hard work on the thighs) before the hot sun came up.

This coming weekend I'm going to attempt Mount Sentinel ("the M") in Missoula. I've been contemplating moving there some time. Maybe the time is now? Maybe it's next spring? Perhaps it won't happen. I don't know yet.

There's more to report, but it'll have to wait until another time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cycling may lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes

My new bicycle helmet should be here later this week, and the lock to secure it. Then I'll be riding around town more often myself. In the meantime, here was some good news about bike riding:
Cycling rather than driving may help lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests. Research from the University of Southern Denmark showed that people who cycle to work or regularly cycle for recreation were less likely to get type 2 diabetes, even for those who had taken up the sport late in life.

The study involved over 50,000 Danish men and women between the ages of 50 and 65. The researchers evaluated the participants’ cycling activities and found that those who biked regularly were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The more the participants cycled, the lower their risk for the disease became, the study said. 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

286 - goal reached, six days late

286.6 lb (130 kg)
A while ago I published my list of monthly goal - target weights that I wanted to achieve by the end of each month. My target for the end of June was to reach 286 lbs, which I missed. Six days later, I made it!

Now, my next goal is to be under 277 lbs by the end of July. I'm feeling pretty good about that. After being stuck on a plateau for three weeks, I've suddenly started moving downward again, doing pretty much the same thing as I had been doing all along; trying to keep portion sizes under control and avoiding too many carbs.

2/27/2016   321 lbs
3/30/2016   312 lbs
4/30/2016   303 lbs
5/11/2016   300 lbs
5/31/2016   294 lbs
6/28/2016   286 lbs
7/30/2016   277 lbs
8/30/2016   268 lbs

I had a great July 4th holiday weekend. I had my moment of enlightenment about becoming an athlete, and I finally paid attention when a dear friend from Wyoming told me to read The Mediterranean Zone, by Dr Barry Sears ( You do Smile, don't you?) In a sentence, it's about reducing diet-induced cellular inflammation by switching from Omega-6 rich fats to Omega-3 rich fats (extra virgin olive oil, for example), and consuming lots of colorful vegetables to get an adequate supply of polyphenols. I'm doing most of that already, with great results (118 lbs in 12½ months), but I can do even better. The good news is that if I can do it, so can almost anyone

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Another moment of enlightenment - become an "Athlete"

From time to time I have the good fortune to have these moments of enlightenment, almost literally like a lightbulb lighting up above my head, shining and lighting the way forward. Suddenly, everything becomes really clear. Or, more accurately, one particular thing or aspect of my life becomes really clear. It's like being able to see into the future - being able to visualize things that are going to happen. It used to happen sometimes when I was swimming, in the days when I swam five (very early) mornings a week. With no distractions, my mind was free to roam and explore.

Without that "vision", we have no way of imagining what success looks like. Without being able to picture things in our minds, life is just happening to us and we are just passive bystanders. When I see myself standing on top of a mountain, for example, that is one of the things that spurs me on and drives me towards success and ultimate victory. I want to be an ACTIVE participant in life. After this morning's revelation (imagine the Shaolin monk in the 1970s TV show Kung Fu, saying, "Ahh, Grasshopper..."), I am determined to be the athlete that I once was (when I was in my 20s), even if it takes me a couple of years to get there.

I had been listening to the Rich Roll podcast (, where Rich has conversations with leaders in the fields of health and welness, fitness, nutrition, art, entertainment, entrepreneurship and spirituality. This week's guest was Colin O'Brady (, who completed the Explorers Grand Slam, scaling the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and treks to both the North and South Poles, in record time (139 days). At one point in the two hour podcast, Colin mentioned the word "Athlete", and it struck me like a bell. That's what I need to become (again).

In my youth, and even in early adulthood, I had been very active. I run (yes, for fun!) and swam and played field hockey and badminton and squash. Recently, the only squash was when I accidentally sat on something! After years (nae, decades) of gaining weight and losing some, and gaining more and losing a little, my life had become super sedentary. ... Anyway, I'm determined, now, to do something about that.

55:30 minutes for the 5K.
A good baseline.
At this point, I want to take a moment to say Thank You to my ex-wife, Lea. She invited me to take part in the Governor's Cup 5K in Helena three weeks ago. I didn't run, but I did walk at a average 3.3 mph pace for the 3.1 miles. Holy cow, it was tough, but she was encouraging me all the way. Afterwards, I figured my time of 55:30 minutes was a good base from which to measure future progress. I can imagine doing some more 5 Km runs in the future (with real, proper running). I can even foresee the day, maybe in a year of two, when I tackle a half marathon or a full 26.2 miles. When I was younger, and living in England, I had always dreamed that my first would be the Robin Hood marathon in Nottingham ( at the end of September. Or I could do the Reading Half Marathon ( in mid-March. It's been nearly nine years since I last visited England.

I also want to thank Lea for doing such a great job raising our daughter, Birdie, of whom I am incredibly proud. She has turned into such a thoughtful young woman with the wisdom and maturity of someone twice her age. I salute you both for the lifestyle changes you've made and the health benefits that have accrued to you. Amazing what a vegetarian/vegan diet can do! Even Murphy, the dog (good old boy) has seen improvements.

I was reminded of a book which I've had for ten years on my bookshelf, but never actually read; "Fit for Life: Reach Your Personal Best", by British explorer and holder of several endurance records, Ranulph Fiennes ( He has been described by the Guinness Book of Records as "the world's greatest living explorer", and he has done a lot of his best 'work' at an age when many of us are contemplating retirement!

Which leads me to another thought. If I actually manage to pull this off, if I actually manage to get down to 200 lbs, or (better yet) 178 lbs; or if I manage to pull off a finish in a half- or full marathon, of post some decent times for a 5 Km race, then I want to use this forum and my website to promote two thing: Exercise and activity for young people (kids and teens) so that they can avoid the damage of diabetes, and exercise and activity among adults who want to do the same, or who want to overcome the limitations of arthritis, or to reduce their high blood sugar or cholesterol levels, regardless of their age. Honestly, if I can do it, anyone can! If you feel you need encouragement, call me. If you're serious about getting active, I'll help and support you in any way I can.

OMG, there's a lot to talk about. I guess that's one of the consequences of not having an Internet connection at home any more (he says, as he's sitting in the public library, connected to their Wi-Fi).

Encouraged by the health improvements demonstrated by my daughter, I've been trying to switch away from eating so much meat and dairy products (even though I LOVE cheese). Another time, I'll share my thoughts on the merits or otherwise of drinking cow's milk. I haven't bought any myself for several weeks and I really don't miss it. I still have to read more on the effects of casein (one of the two milk proteins) on the body. It's a popular supplement among bodybuilders.

292.4 lbs (132.6 kg)
Finally, the news that my downward weight loss trend continues. This morning I hit a new low - 292.4 lbs.

Friday, July 01, 2016

292 lbs - forward movement again

After deliberately trying to (slowly) add a few carbs back into my diet (in the form of beans and pulses, because of their high fiber content) my weight-loss had slowed WAY down.
292.6 lbs this morning
I missed my end-of-June goal (286 lbs), but I'm not sad about that. I feel much better for having allowed myself to eat more fiber. And, the trend is downward again. I have a good feeling that July will be the month that I'll catch up and get back on schedule.

The new activities are starting to take shape: boxing, T'ai Chi, cycling and dancing. There will be updates on those in the next two or three weeks. I can already tell that the T'ai Chi will be an early morning activity, both because it's a quiet activity to do at 5.00 am, and because I'll be approaching it with a refreshed mind and body after a good night's sleep. The boxing will be an evening thing. I've also been challenged to report my weekly cycling miles, and see the numbers go up from one week to the next. Priority #1 will be to get a new saddle (and a helmet, I suppose)!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

First a Princess, now Goldilocks

Observant readers of this blog will have noticed that I am not posting as frequently as I once did. That is a direct result of my getting rid of my home Internet connection (and saving myself $70 a month in the process - that $840 a year!). Now, instead of frittering away my time doing trivial things online, I'm actually taking advantage of the lighter nights (summer solstice this week) and doing more. More of everything: more reading, more preparation for writing the next great novel, or poems, or song lyrics (I can dream, can't I!?), more painting, more photography, more new social activities, spending more time with the people who are important to me, and more preparing for the next phase of my journey back to better health.

One thing that's not going so well: sleeping with two mattresses! Why did I ever think that was a good idea? As Goldilocks would have said, "This bed is too soft!", and she is correct. So, I can see myself fixing up a solution that involves putting my 10" foam mattress on the bedroom floor at night, then leaning it against the wall during the day. The difference between when I first got the mattress and now is that I used to be a 405 lb guy trying to get up from the floor, and it was comically painful to watch (even worse to be the one having to DO it!). Now, I'm a 295 lb guy, and it's much easier.

Which brings me to the next thing: my State of the Union, or State of the Chris, to be more precise. It has been exactly a year since I launched my effort to get healthier (it was Father's Day weekend, June 20th, 2015). A lot has happened since then. A lot has changed, almost all of it for the better.

Birdie (my daughter) and I were talking about this earlier this morning, after she'd treated me to some tasty Eggs Benedict at a local cafe. The obvious visible difference is the loss of 110 pounds (50 kg). I can see it in my face now, and my waistline. There's still a lot there, I'm under no illusions about that, but it's a lot less than it used to be. I can't imagine, now, where all that fat once was.

I am able to walk a lot further than I used to be able to. I still struggle with going up hills and stairs sometimes, but that didn't stop me from reaching the summits of Mount Ascension and Mount Helena locally.

I can more comfortably bend over to tie my shoelaces or pick things up from the ground. I can fit into clothes that I haven't been able to wear for three or four years. It'll soon be time to save up for a new clothes shopping spree, where I will reward myself for reaching my halfway point with a $$$ trip to the "normal" men's store instead of the "big and tall" store.

I feel so much happier. I was telling The Bird, who has also done REALLY well with her own journey back to good health, that there have been days when I wake up feeling euphoric. She has experienced the same thing. It's a bizarre (as in, unexplained) state of supreme happiness and contentment. I'm sure it's hormonal. I remember, several times, talking to my supervisor at work about how I was feeling almost unnaturally happy - yet none of it was induced by artificial chemicals. It was all natural. Of course, my friends noticed it too.

It's not all sunshine and roses though. There are still some psychological struggles. I'm still prone to overeating, or eating things that I know are not good for me. Not often, but sometimes I feel almost powerless to stop myself. Last week, one day, I had doughnuts and a bagel; things I don't normally eat any more. From time to time, I know I should do more exercise, pushing myself further and harder than I am used to. I don't always do it.

Some things have changed for the better. I can hardly remember the last time I had any sickly sweet milk chocolate. If I ever have chocolate these days, it's > 70% cacao, and (usually) only in small quantities. I rarely eat bread or anything with much flour, almost no rice or pasta. I bought my first small bag of sugar last week, but only because I'm making my own kombucha (drink) at home, and the bacteria and yeast need something to feed on. Most of the sugar gets converted, so only a little is left.

I'm eating a lot more vegetables than before, and a lot less meat. As that trend continues, I'm going to switch to better sources for my food. It'll be more expensive, for sure, but it will also have fewer hormones and antibiotics and pesticides in it or on it. Some day (like, in a few years, probably) I'll be in a position again to grow my own vegetables. That is something I'm looking forward to.

My stomach fills more quickly now - I don't need to eat as much to feel full, normally. My blood sugar levels are generally lower and more stable. At some point I'm hoping I'll be able to taper off my heartburn (acid reflux) medication.

In the future, I'm looking forward to some new activities: boxing, Tai Chi, cycling, and (a new addition to my list) dancing. I'm not sure yet what kind of dancing, but it ought to be fun. There'll be lots of opportunities to burn excess calories. There'll be lots of opportunities to make new friends and share common interests.

So, overall, life is grand. The past year has been good, and the future looks bright too.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

More progress, and new activities

Thinking about my previous blog post (, and some of the things needed to make those new priorities a reality, I started by clearing my bed from my bedroom, so that now I have a dedicated "home gym" area for my boxing and Tai Chi. The bed frame is in the hall closet, and I'm sleeping on an extra mattress now in the spare bedroom, which makes me feel like the "Princess and the pea".

A large mirror will be installed on one wall for the shadow boxing (and for checking myself out - what with having a sexy new figure and all!) My ceiling isn't built to hold an 80 lb canvas heavy bag for punching, so I'm going to acquire a "BOB" (Body Opponent Bag) that sits on the floor. You fill the base with water and/or sand (about 250 lbs of sand, apparently).

The reason for converting my main bedroom is that I don't have neighbors below that room (it's the laundry room underneath me), so I won't disturb anyone with the noise (when BOB bounces back and smacks me on the chin! - no, not really, he's got no arms!)

My friends at are sending me some hand wraps and boxing gloves. They must be my friends because they keep sending me stuff, right? (not for free though). A couple of friends here in Helena, who happen to be boxers, will be giving me some tips and pointers to successful training. In my imagination, I think I can manage, at least for a few months, without having to join an actual gym again. We'll see.

With the bed frame in the hall closet, the bike has to live in the "gym" for the moment. I still need a pump for the tires, but I'm getting a puncture repair kit, tire levers, a special bicycle multi-tool, so that I can repair and maintain the bike myself. New bright LED lights and panniers (for carrying groceries, for example) will be added later. Cycling is going to become my next BIG THING, especially if my plan is to ride to Portland next year!

Tai Chi doesn't require much gear - just some comfortable loose clothing and lightweight shoes.

Now, too, I've got the space to be able to use my rubber/elastic resistance bands (which I've had for many months), and my homemade weights (really just 1 gallon Arizona tea jugs, filled with sand or water). If you would like to download my resistance band exercise charts, go ahead: The gallon jugs, filled with water, weigh 8.6 lbs each. Filled with dry sand they weighed 12.2 lbs each. I can add water to the dry sand and probably reach 15 or 16 lbs each.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Priorities for the rest of 2016

Now that my trip to Oregon is behind me, it's time to focus on the next few months of my improved health journey.

It started almost a year ago and has, for the most part, been successful. Having been, at one point, "pre-diabetic" with A1c values of 6.4, 6.2 and 6.1 %, I now have better control of my weight and diet, and those values are coming down all the time. Whereas I once physically struggled to walk to the end of my driveway and back, or walk half a city block, I can now comfortably walk 10 or 12 miles at a time, including up a steep mountain ( I've lost 110 pounds of weight in the past 12 months.

Thinking about just the weight loss aspect, if my plan is to go from 405 lbs to 178 lbs, that's a loss of 227 pounds. I've lost almost half of that in 12 months, so I know I have at least 12 more months to go. I also know that I may always be carrying an extra 25 lbs of extra loose skin with me, unless I have it surgically removed - which I wouldn't do until I've proven to myself that I can keep the extra weight off for at least an extra year. Still, even if I "only" get to 200 lbs, that's still a heck of a lot better than 400 lbs, right? That's still 200 lbs less body mass to have to move all the time, 200 lbs less that my heart has to pump blood around, 200 lbs less for my skeletal joints to support.

To help me achieve my ultimate weight loss goal, which I have broken up into a series of monthly goals (, I will be continuing the hiking and backpacking and walking. I had toyed with the idea of buying a car to get around before the next winter comes, but discarded that thought. The exercise is good for me, and I really need to learn to love the cold and snow. I moved to Montana 20 years ago in September, and have never really embraced the weather here (

I've spoken to a number of people recently who have said something along these lines: "I need to get moving too, because of my arthritis (or they want to lose weight, or to control their blood sugar, or whatever), but I can't find the enthusiasm". If you are one of those people - call me! We'll go for walks. Even if it's only a measured mile (or two) around Centennial Park, I'll walk with you! I don't walk especially fast (3.0 mph is usually my max, about 2.7 mph is 'normal' for me) but I'll encourage you and we can hold one another accountable and motivate each other.

So, thinking about new activities to keep things fresh and push myself in new directions, here are some things I'm looking at:
Some of you may be familiar with the biblical expression, "Man does not live by bread alone" (or, in my case, lettuce alone!). Physical nourishment is not sufficient for a healthy life. A man (or woman) has other needs. For me, those include:
  • Winning the psychological battle with food that is going on in my head, 
  • Getting into better shape financially and becoming debt-free again, and 
  • Spending more time doing the things I love, with the people who are important to me. 
As an employee of the State of Montana, we have some excellent resources available to help with the first point (the psychological battle with food). After five years of loyal service, I'm doing okay financially where I'm at. My income is higher this year than it was last year or in previous years, and my expenses are lower. Starting tomorrow, I am ditching my home Internet connection (and those of you who know me know how much I [used to] LOVE the Internet). Instead, I'm going to use the time to get outdoors more, to do more reading and writing, or watercolor painting or photography, or whatever other things are important. 

Another priority will be to move towards a more vegetarian diet. I can't imagine myself becoming a total non-meat-eater, but I can foresee eating a lot less beef (think of the environmental consequences), and choosing better quality meat with fewer antibiotics. I can also see myself adding more pulses, beans and nuts back into my diet; both as protein sources and sources of fiber. I'll become an expert at cooking with cauliflower, broccoli, chard, kale and spinach. 

Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Mount Helena conquered

I had something to prove, and I did it! I woke up just before 05:00 on Saturday morning (I'm usually up at 5.00 am on a work day anyway, so no big deal). After getting dressed quickly, I was out of the door by 05:11. The sun was barely up over the horizon (we're less than three weeks from the summer solstice), and the temperature was a pleasant 49 °F (9 °C).

Hard work, reaching the summit of Mount Helena
An hour later, I had walked to the Adams St parking lot at the Mount Helena trailhead. I chose to go up the very steep Powerline Trail, and return down the 1906 Trail. Just after 8.00 am, I reached the summit. After a few minutes of taking in the scenery, taking photos, and texting some of my friends, I started the descent, past the Devil's Kitchen limestone formation, on the longer 1906 Trail, which turned out to be just as challenging as the Powerline Trail. Hard work, for sure!

I reached the trailhead again just before 9.30 am. The Montana Conservation Corps were doing some scheduled trail maintenance today. Thank you for that valuable work that you do!

A short rest, then it was time to head to the farmer's market downtown. At this point I was beginning to wish for a flying carpet or magical teleportation powers to take me home. A nice, fortifying breakfast (with a couple of scoops of ice cream - I'd earned it!) set me up nicely for the final leg, the 2.5 miles back to my apartment... uphill!

From 4,200 down to 4,100, then up to 5,468 feet elevation
By the time I got home, I was fit for nothing except sleeping for an hour. Checking my number of steps, I'd walked 10.1 miles today, with more than 22,400 steps! It felt like nine tenths of them were uphill, but I know that no more than half of them could have been (what goes up must come down, right?). However, I do know that my apartment is at 4,200 ft elevation, the Last Chance Gulch walking mall is at about 4,100 ft, and the summit of Mount Helena is at 5,468 feet.

Photos are available at

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Booth or Table?

Who shot President Lincoln? Was it John Wilkes Booth or John Wilkes Table? The answer is obvious, as any smart fifth-grader will tell you: Booth. When you're a 405 lb fatty in a restaurant, and they ask you, "Booth or table?" the answer is equally obvious: Table - because you can't fit in a booth.

So, yesterday, I was having lunch at a cafe with my friend Traci, and we were faced with the dreaded booth. Now that I'm substantially slimmer (296 lbs this morning!), I not only fitted in the booth, but my stomach didn't even touch the table!! Win!

Less than 2 pounds off target
My "target" for the end of May was 294 lbs. I missed it, but only just (by less than 2 lbs). So, the journey continues. My target for the end of June is 286 lbs, so I have ten pounds to go, in thirty days. I can do it!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Finally below 300 lbs

It's taken a long time (almost 12 months) but I finally broken through the psychologically important 300 pound barrier today.
299.6 lbs (135.9 kg) today
Before I left for southern Oregon, last week, I had been 306.4 lbs. At my first post-hike weigh-in (yesterday) I was down to 301.6 lbs. This morning I tipped the scales at 299.6 lbs!

I know, I haven't published any details of that Oregon trip yet. They will follow soon. I'm just really excited to have achieved this one goal, and am also really excited about some of the new adventures that I'll be taking part in over the next few months and years. Details to follow.

Friday, May 20, 2016

D day - The adventure begins in ernest

Waiting for our ride to the beginning of our trail. After eight months of planning, and 28 hours on trains, we're about to take out first steps in the rain. The plan is to reach Crystal Springs by this evening.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

On our way to Oregon today

The day has finally arrived! I've been contemplating this day and this journey for eight months now, thinking about it, planning it, dreaming about it, and now it's here. Birdie and I will be leaving Helena in just over an hour, heading up Interstate-15 towards the Amtrak station in Shelby. Our backpacks are packed. Hers weighs about 25 lbs, mine weighed in at 38 lbs! When I think of my personal weight loss journey over the past 11 months, I've lost the equivalent of two and a half big backpacks!

This morning, on the bathroom scales, I was at 306.4 lbs. We'll see how much I lose in the next 11 days (the next time I'll weigh myself). These last few weeks have been up and down much more than normal. My diet has had a lot more carbohydrates in it than normally (well, the 'new normal', anyway). I've also been struggling in a psychological battle with food. I'm determined that I'm going to WIN that particular battle, so there will be renewed action on that front when I return to Helena at the end of May.

I'm sad that we won't be hiking the 'real' Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) because of all the snow on it, but we've managed to come up with an alternative that is almost as long (still 72 miles), and that takes us past a nature reserve and bird sanctuary, so there should still be some sights to see on the way, and good photos to take and share afterwards. I also won't get to see Crater Lake up close - this year - but my plan is to come back in two years time (2018) and do it all again. Except, then, I'll come back in March - when there's a lot more snow, and I'll be properly equipped and trained to deal with it. How about that for making lemonade out of lemons!?

Once I get back home (Sat, May 28th) I'll upload all of my photos to an online album, but some pictures may get posted from my cell phone before then. is the address of the album. There's a tentative schedule of where we'll be at, and a near-real-time map of our whereabouts at (also reachable via The password is the name of the state that we are hiking in (with a capital 'O' at the beginning). 

I would like to thank all my friends and others who have supported me in the past eight months, either with the physical preparation, or with words of encouragement. Thank you.