Gym Rest Timer

One of the things that has thrown a spanner in the works of my body-weight based fat loss program is weight training.

I have been doing lots of it. And added a good bit of strength, and therefore muscle, and therefore fat free weight.

So if I weigh the same, but can lift more weight, have I lost any fat? Yes as it turns out.

One key element to weight training is controlling rest breaks between sets.  If I am pushing hard I might need to take 2 or 3 minutes, but on a lighter day I can recover enough in 60 seconds.

I have been using this Gym Rest Timer app (for Android devices only), every session.

Prior to that I was just kind of guessing or using my (unwieldy) phone clock. I failed quite a few sets because I probably didn’t have enough rest. And a few times my weights session seemed to last hours – probably due to much too long rest breaks.

Anyway my new app is super simple to use, at the end of a set I decide how hard it was, easy: 60 or 90 secs rest, hard: 2 mins, killer: 3 mins, didnt finish: 5 mins. Click the button, chill and wait for the beep.


Check it out.


Climate factors

In much of the health debate the focus is on food. References to exercise are vacuous at best.

What they conveniently ignore is the weather and the seasons. In the UK we get a lot of rain. Thats great for some sports but for many its a major turn off. In our winter its dark by 4pm, so any winter activity will need some sort of lighting.

Whilst the government glibly tells us we need 5 sessions of 30 minutes of moderate activity a week to stay healthy, they show no signs of making that realistically possible.

My kids play football on a floodlit ‘all weather pitch’. So far this winter their training has been cancelled 3 times because of the rain, and twice because of frost. Hardly all weather!

I don’t know where the nearest covered venue is, but I can see unless we get more proper weather proof venues the general health of the nation is likely to decline even further.

One option to help with the lighting issue might be to insist companies give staff a 2 hour break during the day to get out and be active. In fairness most places I have worked didn’t care how long we took for dinner as long as we made the time up and the work got done.

For the last few years I have noticed I have made a significant ‘get fit’ effort in the spring, pretty much as soon as the clocks change (next week for us).

Do you think weather is a factor in health/fatness?


Not sure quite what has changed, but for weeks (/months) my exercising has been a bit of a slog. Quite pleasant, but easy to avoid.

Yesterday and today I have done longer sessions and have come back buzzing each time. I’m up to about 15 minutes running and about 40 minutes biking. One possible difference is I am doing them back to back, I go for a run, then jump straight on my bike after. It ends up as not far off a full hour of decent intensity aerobic exercise. I tried it the other way round – ride then run, the run nearly killed me. As riding is easier it makes sense to do that when I’m tired after the run.

I assume something has happened to get the ‘runners high’ to kick in, but the main thing is its a great feeling and I’m hoping I can use it to encourage me out on those dark dreary days. I suspect it is the length of session that gets the endorphins going. I don’t think I could do long enough in any one activity, but combining them seems to work well – lets see what happens tomorrow.

Yesterday I rode to the woods, hid my bike then went for a run. This worked great until I couldn’t find my bike after the run. Predictable of course, I found it eventually, I’ll need to be a little smarter next time!

I’m not worrying about food, just trying to not go daft. We are on holidays for a few days soon though and generally that kills any thought of sensible eating.

Operation obsessive – day 4 and 5 report

Today (fri)

Late last night I sneaked a couple of biscuits, and things have sort of gone downhill. No exercise today due to snow and generally crappy weather. Diet has been poor, but not a complete disaster. Don’t feel anywhere near as good as yesterday. Lost about 40 quid in rewards I’m not getting. I need to pick things up for the weekend, or I’ll put back all I’ve lost this week.


Went for a decent run, ate sensibly, felt good. earned 20 quid in rewards or something.

The day before

I did a decent bike ride (by current standards!), just over half an hour, at a fair pace. I ate no junk and didn’t totally gorge myself at meal times. I ate a lot but no so much it hurt like I usually do.

The day before that

I had to take a rest, but somehow still managed to eat sensibly.


I am beginning to think the only way to shift some of my lard is going for an intensive/obsessive program for a few weeks.

It just seems to be too easy to ‘forget’, or to put off for another day trying to reduce fat if its just a small part of everyday living.

I am thinking a one month sprint, to get some healthy habits in place and see some encouraging improvements, followed by a generally more healthy work/life balance.

I’ll post my plans in the next few days.

British summer time

Ended this morning – a potential one hour lie in for anyone without kids.

The down side of course is that it now gets darker earlier – basically there is no light evening time now until spring.

I can’t help thinking this is unlikely to have a positive effect on most peoples body fat management program. Maybe I’m not enough of a morning person to benefit from the light mornings. But I know from experience I’m going to struggle to drag myself out in the pitch black to do some activity.

And footie with the kids is off the agenda too as it will be too dark by the time they get in from school.

Looks like I better order those bike lights.

Anyone else find it harder to control your weight in the winter?

Fat maths

I remember reading somewhere that a kilo of fat contains about 7,700 Calories of energy. Although looking on google I have seen 9,000 and 7,000 and 8,100. I am just going to use the 7,000 for ease of maths.

I can put on half a kilo (a pound) a week which is 3,500 cals easy, thats eating an extra (unneeded) 500 cals per day (that would be an understatement I reckon).

I estimate that if I cut out the junk I eat that will reduce my calories by 1,000 per day, so that is 500 that causes my weight to increase and 500 that will cause it to reduce. the net effect then is that instead of my weight going up by half a kilo (a pound) per week, it will go down by that much. And this is with no change in activity.

If I do some exercise that burns 500 cals per day then over a week I should have saved 3,500 cals from eating sensibly and burnt 3,500 from exercise. The effect then according to the maths will be a loss in body fat of 1 kilo (2 lbs).

And thats my plan – don’t eat 3,500 cals and burn 3,500 cals extra and aim to lose a kilo a week.

So the intake side is sorted, what about the activity how to burn an extra 500 cals?

well a half hour run is probably around 500, and biking at a similar heart rate is presumably similar. So what I need to do is do a minimum of half an hour of heavy breathing level exercise a day. Currently I aim to do that is 2 sessions a 10-15 minute run and a 20-30 min ride. Anyway it all looks feasible.

I’ll report back in a few days.

Maths summary:
Getting fat = eat needed cals + 500 per day
Staying fat = eat needed cals
reducing fat by 0.5kg (1 pound) per week = eat needed cals – 500 per day
reducing fat by 1kg (2.2 lbs) per week = eat needed cals – 500 per day and burn extra 500 cals per day.