The Exercise Diet part 5

When I found that I had gained so much weight over Christmas I was actually quite disappointed and that old feeling that keeping my weight down being a mountainous task was coming down on me like a thick fog.

I felt truly disheartened but not quite ready to give up and become blob woman! Coincidentally my husband had also decided to try to seriously lose weight so I encouraged him to calorie count just to understand what is in each type of food. So we both started the tedious job of keeping track of what we ate.

He was flabbergasted to learn how many calories are in a doughnut and started to understand why I frowned so much when he even considered having a croissant for breakfast.

But more Interesting for me was to see how much I was actually eating and how much I was burning off.

What a pig!!

The Good news was that I could easily stop eating the really bad stuff, like family pack sizes of kettle crisps, and the weight really did come off as easily as it went on!

I used to task nutrition and exercise. It’s fine although you need to find the American name for some things or it won’t find the food. E.g. Yorkshire Puddings are called popovers.  There is also My fitness Pal which seems to do the same job.

So if you are like me and curious to know how exercise and diet can affect your weight, be reassured that it can be controlled within reason. Also, it is much better to be over weight and exercising regularly so that you are fit than it is to be a slim couch potato.

Having been the worst in my class at sport throughout school I would like to encourage anyone like me to take up a sport now as there will be no teacher to tell you you aren’t good enough. You can exercise in privacy, meet up with friends or get to know new people at a local club. You never know, you might find that you start to enjoy it!!!


The Exercise Diet part 4

I said that I was trying out this exercise routine to see if I could lose weight without going on a diet or at least keep my weight from increasing without having to starve myself. I found that increasing my amount of exercise dramatically enabled me to eat anything I wanted without putting on weight.


Christmas soldier

I guess that my usual diet can’t be that bad because the Christmas weight explosion was not avoided this year!  Even though I kept up my exercise every day, I still gained half a stone, just like I do every year!

That’s interesting. It means that my normal diet is not that unhealthy yet I can still feel like I’m getting to eat lots of yummy things. It’s also interesting that I gained the same amount of weight over Christmas even though the percentage increase in calories must have been much less and I should have been burning off more of those anyway.

So now I am in need of losing weight. I’m wondering if by going back to a healthy diet together with exercise will do the trick or will I have to go back to feeling hungry all the time and gnaw on a stick of celery?

The Exercise Diet part 3

Well, I still haven’t lost any weight but I’m not unhappy with that. If you knew how many bags of crisps I’ve been eating then you’d understand! I’m happy because I can now eat when I’m hungry and I can eat lots of nice things, I’m not restricted to vegetables and salad. Never being able to eat something you love just isn’t sustainable and it makes you unhappy. In fact I once remarked, whilst taking a stroll in Paris, how wonderfully slim Parisian women are and my husband noted that they also looked unhappy! Could it be that they were suffering from a repressed desire to eat more? Only joking, but maybe you see my point.

Last week I saw a twitter post by Jeffrey Zeldman about exercising to lose weight:

Exercising but gaining weight

I thought it was interesting that a study showed that exercising does not help you to lose weight, in fact some people gain weight! I think that is true, I mean I haven’t lost any but I confess that I’m not actually trying to lose weight at the moment, I’m happy just to keep my weight from increasing.

In the study, the women took up regular exercise for the first time and began exercising for 30 minutes 3 times a week. The comment was that the lack of weight loss for some was probably down to an unconscious increase in food intake. But I would also say that you need to exercise more than 3 times a week and for longer than 30 minutes, after all you eat every day, right?

So back to my exercise diet…

The good thing about running is that you can discover new places and enjoy some great views so it’s not all misery!  The latest app I’ve been using (Endomondo) is good. I’m using the pro version but I would say that it is overpriced. The free version is good enough.

But wait, now you are going to laugh. I’ve had this idea that I could attempt a triathlon, the shortest one of course! That makes me laugh, I’ve always been so unfit and hated sport so it’s weird to imagine me in a triathlon!

Freedom Tri

I’ve tried out a couple of coaching sessions with Freedom Tri I must be the slowest ever but the people are so friendly and encouraging. Went to the swimming session on Friday night thinking that I should be able to hold my own, after all, it’s the one sport I’ve always been good at. Yikes! I was again the slowest there.

I shouldn’t give up so quickly, I’ll keep going at it, maybe I could do a triathlon?

The Exercise Diet Part 2

OK so now I have been swimming 5-6 times a week doing 64 lengths (25 metres per length) for the past few months. I’ve gone from taking 50 minutes to 38 minutes to do that mile so that is success, even if it wasn’t my goal.  Well actually I started to yearn to be able to swim faster because swimming takes up so much time by the time you get there, get changed, swim, shower, get dressed…

I’ve become so envious of those swimmers who skim along the surface like they are wearing flippers! Still I’ve met some very lovely people who swim every morning.

So? Did I lose weight? Well, no, I didn’t!


Now this is a biggie, I can’t run to save my life!

But maybe after all this swimming I could try to learn? You might ask why. Well, for one thing, folks tell me that it’s very hard to lose weight by just swimming. I presume it’s just not strenuous enough.

But I don’t own any trainers


Jogging pants!

So I bought some hi-tec silver shadow trainers for £30. If they are good enough for the British army, they are more than good enough for me.

I needed to know how far I was running: how can you measure your success without measuring something? So I downloaded an app for my phone: “Couch to 5k” sounded like my mind of thing. I mean, I’m not exactly Ms fitness champion so I decided to ease myself into it.  Here’s the URL for the app: to 5k

Well I loved this! Walk for 5 minutes to warm up and then jog for 1 minute, walk for 1.5, run for 1, etc. Easy peasy, even I can do that! I loved the way I could compare my runs, the routes and the times and it was reassuring to have a voice telling me when to jog (and especially when to walk!). It’s better than swimming as you don’t spend most of your time looking at tiles at the bottom of the pool which is soooo dull.

Trouble is, although I’m now exercising every day, I’ve put on weight!!!


I think the reason must be that the workout program for running was just too easy going compared to my swims.  Also I have to admit I’ve been gorging myself on biscuits, crisps and various other unhealthy snacks!

Then I realised that the app was very inaccurate when measuring distance. Some sort of bug in the program. Quite a major bug if you ask me!

So I’ve swapped to using Endomodo and I’m aiming at doing 5k per day.


What will this do, apart from making my knees hurt and my sleeping even better?

The Exercise Diet

There are all sorts of diets out there, Atkins, Cabbage, Weight Watchers.  And we all know that you shouldn’t “go on a diet” you should “change your diet“.

I’ve done the GI diet and what seems to be known as the two five diet.

The GI diet seems to be a healthy version of the Atkins diet but I found that really it was just encouraging you to eat more healthily and the recipes are rather nice.

The two five diet as I’ve heard it called is something I tried after watching Eat, Fast and Live Longer: That’s a really interesting programme and I would recommend watching it.  The idea of this diet is that you fast 2 days of the week: this suited me because I can’t be “good” forever!  Just 2 days of suffering and then you can have some nice food!

They both work if you follow them exactly and I think that they are quite reasonable and healthy. Trouble is keeping to them. I did the GI diet for nearly a year and the two five diet for about a year and a half. After each one I feel back on bad habits. It seems to me that this is par for the course, everyone does it and we are told that this is the road to obesity.

I reflected on the role of exercise in all this. Like many of my friends, I’ve tried going to the gym a couple of times a week or swimming or yoga or exercise classes of one type or another. It doesn’t seem to make a difference.Then it occurred to me. I had been swimming twice a week doing half a mile (32 x 25 meters) and I wondered what would happen if I started swimming a mile 5- 6 times a week. Surely this would have some sort of effect?

Dorothy at 2014 Swimathon

Another side effect of exercise

It’s got to make some sort of difference, right?  I thought that this was an extreme experiment; those of you who have always exercised every day are laughing now!

I really felt 

Doubling the distance of my swim was noticeable and I really felt it!  One side effect that I hadn’t really considered was how much my sleeping was going to improve!

Of course these things take time and after 2 weeks I hadn’t lost any weight at all. I decided that I had to give it longer to really see what difference it would make.  My husband said that I actually did look slimmer even if I hadn’t lost weight; I thought that I did too.

After a month I started to feel less exhausted! I made sure to eat a little something first thing before my morning swim and that seemed to help.  Going every day meant that I didn’t have to choose a day to go, it was just something that I had to do, a bit like commuting!  And as I was doing so much exercise I deserved some of the foods that I would normally only have once a week if at all…

Hmm, now where is that chocolate?

In App Morality

I’m talking about technology, mobile applications in particular.  You know, those things that you can download from iTunes, Google Play or the windows phone store?

An “In App” purchase is one where the user of the application is invited to spend money while they are using the application. The purchase is directly related to the task they are performing and is therefore much more relevant to the user than it would be before they began using the product. For example, I have a train timetable application that lets me see train times, delays, platform numbers etc. but it will also allow me to buy tickets from my phone: these tickets are “In App” purchases. It’s a perfect solution to buying tickets. In fact it is nothing new when you think about a traditional ecommerce website.

My rant here is about applications that try to trick you out of your money by tapping into well know psychological weaknessses.

Candy Crush

Candy Crush

In App purchases are a relatively new feature of mobile applications and seem to becoming more and more common but is this the best way to sell your product?  Definitely it seems to be a real winner when it comes to profits but how do your audiences or customers feel about your product/company?  To what level does the use of In App Purchasing affect a customers feelings of trust or loyalty?  Is it really OK to take as much money as you can get regardless of how you get it? Are In App Purchases merely the epitome of Capitalism?

Producers of mobile applications are using this technique to generate revenue for their products as the classic method of paying for a product before using it is hard to sell. The games market is highly lucrative but also pretty cut throat as there are so many games to choose from. The answer seems to be to offer a game as a free download and get the user to pay as they play. In fact this is a much more lucrative model as, provided you have got your product right (i.e. it is actually engaging) you can make a lot more money than you could have made with a one off payment to download the game.

Of course you can see where this is leading can’t you? Once you have the player hooked into the game, you can fleece them repeatedly by denying them access to the feature they need in order to progress in the game that they have now invested so much time.

Candy crush is a notable example of such success with its daily revenue estimated at $633 000 per day. Not bad for a free game eh? ¹

It is so successful because it lets you play for a while (until you have got into the flow) and then asks you if you want to spend just a little bit of money in order to continue playing.  In fact you don’t have to pay at all, you could just wait 20 minutes and then you can carry on for free.  If you weren’t already hooked and in the middle of the game, you would most likely plump for waiting 20 minutes but obviously for many players, this is just too long to wait.  In fact there is much more to it than that, there are many things to consider when encouraging folks to part with their cash, in fact here is a nice little piece that sums it up: 5 Tricks App-Makers Use To Boost In-App Purchases by Veronica Henry.²

But hey, we’re all adults here, if we want to spend our money on games and that brings us happiness then who’s the right to criticize?  It’s all just a bit of fun isn’t it and if you can’t control yourself when you are playing a game then you shouldn’t blame the company who makes it should you?

Except we’re not…

My son is mad about Moshi Monsters ³ .  It is free to play unless you want to be a member and since you can only do one mission as a non-member, it is likely that your child is going to want to be a member.

Moshi Monsters Membership

Moshi Monsters Membership Price Plan

Then there are all the toys, the monthly magazines which add to their revenue.  What’s more, it appeals to parents as it is a game that encourages your child to read and even do maths! As a parent I was happy to see my son being encouraged to read and I know that if he wasn’t into Moshi Monsters, he would be likely to be into something other fictional character that has a magazine and toys to collect!  It’s not that I object to paying for the software, I most certainly am in favour of paying, after all it’s how I make my living! But there comes a point when it starts to sound just a tad … GREEDY.

But then there was the free App..

“Free DOWNLOAD on MOBILE & TABLET” it says in the Moshi Monsters Magazine. “Head to your app store to download the PAWsome Moshi Monsters Village!”.  My son loved it.

Now here comes the rub.  This application comes with, yes you’ve guessed it, In App Purchases. Whilst playing the game your monster can earn Moshi Money but it can’t earn rox and rox are what you need to buy great stuff for your moshi village.  So how do you get rox?  Well, you do get a couple each day you use the app but if you really want to get that super apartment block then you need to part with real money.

Moshi Monsters Village

Moshi Monsters Village

OK, I have to admit that the magazine does warn the child about In App Purchases and it does tell them that this can be turned off: “Remember, the game is free to download and play, but it also includes in-app purchases that cost real money.  Ask an adult to help you if you want to turn off in-app purchases on your devices’ settings”.

I ask you, how many parents are happy to see their child spend £6 on some rox for their virtual monster?  What sort of message does this give to a child about the value of money?  How many parents read the moshi monsters magazine and the information about the in-app purchases?  How many parents know how to turn them off?

Moshi Monsters markets itself as an educational game for children.  I thought that it was teaching them to read, do maths and solve puzzles but it is now teaching them about greed and how successful they are at using psychology to squeeze more money out of those who are not so worldly wise – children.

1. Candy Crush Saga earns a record breaking $633 000 each day

2. 5 Tricks App-Makers Use To Boost In-App Purchases

3.  Moshi Monsters

Fail – Toilet Roll Holder

I took this picture of a toilet roll holder in the ladies toilet at The Busy in Milton Keynes because it annoyed me so much that a company would sell such a badly designed product.


Toilet roll holder that doesn’t dispense toilet roll

This toilet roll holder it’s designed to hold several toilet rolls at a time; ideal you would think.  Except it isn’t. The weight of the rolls stacked on top of the bottom roll stop the bottom roll from turning thereby preventing you from getting any paper out of the holder!