Witness the fitness

I’m 32, unfit and getting a bit tubby. I drive to work, sit at a computer for most of the day and eat/drink what I like. This lifestyle has got me through my twenties intact, but it’s time to change. I’d like to lose a bit of the flab that I’ve gained and generally feel fitter and healthier.

But how? I’ve no interest in diets or fitness crazes. The only method I trust and believe in to lose weight is exercise and eating sensibly. There’s no secret formula, I’m going to have to put down the crisps and get off my lazy arse.

I’ve never had to give up smoking or needed to employ serious willpower, so there’s a danger of falling off the wagon and gorging myself on Kettle Chips. To help motivate myself and to keep track of progress I’m going to be using gadgets, data and stats. Not only do I hopefully get fitter, but I get to play with new toys. Win win.


York C202

So, firstly, exercise. I hate going to the gym. I’ve had spells of going a couple of times a week in the past but it never lasts. I end up spending more time driving, changing and showering then actually doing anything meaningful. The whole experience is a tedious time sink after a long day at work when I’d much rather be relaxing or at least spending the time productively.

I wanted a cardio-vascular exercise I could do from home. I hate running (too much impact on my knees) but I’ve always liked cycling. The exercise bikes at the gym were always my favourite of the machines so I reasoned I could buy one for my loft room. With a bike positioned in front of my computer, I’d be able to watch catch-up TV or listen to podcasts while getting fitter.

Researching a few models, I found the York C202 Cycle on offer at Amazon for £180. It’s got a clever little computer that takes your pulse, gives you speeds, distances, calories burned and has programmes for weight loss, cardio and interval training.

Every morning I get up a little earlier and do half an hour of the bike’s interval setting while (currently) watching The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. Sweating and puffing, I then jump in the shower and start my day. No extra showers or fuss, my heart’s pumping and I’ve even watched an episode of excellent comedy.

I’m focusing on the cardio for now, but plan to add some weights later.

Eating better

I’ve started with paying attention to high-calorie foods and omitting them. I’d previously ignored the information labels on packaging. I’m now learning a fair bit about how bad some foods are. For some reason I assumed peanut butter on celery was a good snack. And who knew how calorific orange juice is?

I’m not calorie counting, I’m just eating less and choosing foods that are more healthy. Here’s what I’m trying:

  • Better breakfasts: I’ve switched from sugary cereals to Shredded Wheat.
  • Something sensible for lunch: sushi or a salad instead of a fatty sandwich and crisps.
  • No more fizzy drinks at work. The water coolers are nearer my office anyway.
  • No more midweek alcohol. I refuse to give up booze on a Friday or Saturday but I can omit the naughty couple of glasses of wine during the week.
  • Avoid processed food. Simple way to do this is not to buy them!
  • Reduce carbohydrates and eat more veg. This is a bit more tricky. What’s left?! I’ve started with cutting out crisps, chips and large quantities of pasta.
  • Not eating when I’m hungry. I just drink some water.

And a key for me: I plan on having one naughty/reward day a week. I’m not going to avoid a meal out or pizza with my girlfriend, I’ll just fit the good days around it.

Weighing myself

Withings Wi-fi scales Weightbot graph

And here’s the fun part. Inspired by Garrett Murray’s Nerdy Adventures in Weight Loss, I’ve bought myself a Withings WiFi Body Scale. When you weigh yourself your data is automatically sent to Withings’ servers. You can then review your progress online or via their iPhone app. It’s also compatible with Tapbots’ excellent Weightbot which provides glossy charts like the one here.

Part of my new routine when I wake up is to weigh myself and because the scales send the data wirelessly there’s no danger of me forgetting to record my weight. The Withings software can also Tweet your weight every day, but no one wants to see that.

Finding a way of tracking my progress satisfies both my geeky interest in stats, plus keeps me focused on the target. Any slip-ups will stick out and ruin my lovely downward chart.


I’m just beginning this project and by writing about my plans in this article I’m publicly committing myself to try. Witness the fitness! It’s not going to be easy, but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it.