Despite thinking that my weight loss success in June was tricky, July has got it beat. But, I suppose, ‘success’ is a relative term. Towards the end of last month’s post, I wrote:

In all honesty, my idea of weight loss success in July is that I’m the same weight as I was at the end of June.

On which basis, my weight loss success in July was a roaring success. I lost a pound!

I ended June at a weight of 214lb (15st 4lb/97kg).

My weight on 31st July was 213lb (15st 3lb/97kg).

As such, my weight loss success in July was 1lb (0.5kg).

One pound of weight loss… for a whole month! Maybe it’ll sound better in ounces…

My weight loss success for July was 16 ounces.

Actually, that does sound better! Strange how it goes.

In reality, I have every reason to consider my one pound weight loss during July as a real success. For two weeks of the month, we were on holiday in Croatia. So, yes, you can expect a few holiday photos as part of this post. In fact, why not start now…?

And let’s start with the start… The Intrepid Explorers Land in Croatia

But, while this was the start of the holiday, it wasn’t the start of the month. We flew out on Saturday 13th, which meant that I had the first two weeks of July to try and get a preemptive strike on my weight loss success. And this would be necessary because, as I mentioned last time, the most important thing about the family holiday was that we all enjoy ourselves. If all I was doing was worrying about what I could and couldn’t eat, this would spoil it for everyone. So the plan was to relax and have a good time; without going nuts.

And, in order for me be able to feel relaxed within myself during the holiday, I did plenty of exercise in those first two weeks:

10 recorded activities in 13 days is pretty good, by anyone’s standards

On top of this lot, I went for quite a few strolls with Julie. What I didn’t manage to do was remain quite as focused as I should have on what I was eating. Sometimes, that holiday feeling is a tricky thing to overcome.

But I think it’s important to remember that this is okay.

I’m losing weight for the rest of my life. I’ve set aside a year in which to do it, and July is only month seven of twelve. In addition to which, I’m way ahead of where I expected to be and I’ve still got a huge cycle tour coming up. I’m glad I was able to ease off a bit and make the most of the holiday period. Particularly because it all worked out in the end.

Talking of exercise, because I was well in the routine of doing regular exercise, I planned to keep that up while we were in Croatia, so I took my running shoes and my exercise kit. I saw no reason not to work on my running, in preparation for the Tough Mudder that I’d be doing with Ceri in August. As you can see, those plans didn’t really come to much:

That many!?

Three activities in 15 days really isn’t many. But there are good reasons for this, which I will come on to.

The holiday was in two parts. The first week was spent in a villa on the outskirts of Pula, the capital of Istria County. Just over the road from the villa was Busoler forest, a nature reserve with a series of tracks running through it. The day after we arrived, I explored the park and mapped out a potential two-mile running route. The route, however, was beset with problems. For example, the tracks through the trees had many protruding roots and rocks. It was too hot to run during the day and to run at dusk was to invite a broken ankle…

Running, for the first week was out. Thankfully, though, Busoler forest had a surprise: an outdoor gym. So I walked up there every evening, often with Ceri, so we could work on our upper body strength for the monkey bar obstacle in the Tough Mudder. Sadly, I’m still not strong enough to to a pull up or a chin, but I could do this:

Only 2-3 sets of 10, and then 2 sets of 20 press ups, back at the villa

The second week, again, started well. On the Sunday I went out for a run with the girls. The villa, for the second week, was not, ‘a 15 minute walk from the sea’, as advertised. It was, in fact, a 25 minute drive from the sea. And virtually all of that drive was in one direction: down! The second villa was at an altitude of over 1,000 meters and tucked back against a forest National Park. As such, flat areas for running were in short supply.

But the last bit of the road to the villa was reasonably flat, so we ran up and down that a couple of times. It worked pretty well, really. I dropped the girls off after the first lap and went out again for a second lap, with a bit tacked on. Running late in the evening, in the cool air of 3,000 feet, allowed me to do around four miles of unbroken running. Nice.

I went out the following day, walked up the road for three quarters of a mile and marked the point. There and back would be exactly a mile and a half. The plan was to build Ceri up to two laps by the end of the holiday. I, meanwhile, wanted to build up to three laps. These plans, however, were utterly shattered by the confirmation of an interesting discovery:

Did you know Croatia had wild bears? Neither did we until we got to the second villa…

When I’d got back from my run, it was really quite dark and Julie and the girls had been waiting for me on the balcony, telling me to hurry up and get inside. Apparently they’re heard a, ‘barking, growling’ noise from the treeline behind the villa. I chuckled as I headed in for my shower. Then I’d started thinking…

I remembered seeing a documentary about bears living wild in the Alps. And the Alps really weren’t that far away…

After the shower, I did a bit of research and, yep, Croatia had wild bears, wolves and lynxes living in the forests of its mountains. A little nerve-wracking but there weren’t many of any of them, and Croatia is a reasonably big place. Statistically, 1,000 bears in an area of 22,000 square miles (56,000 square kilometers), meant one bear every 22 square miles (56 square kilometers). It’d be fine…

So, still more amused than anything, I did a bit of research and found what I was looking for. On the Tuesday, I took Julie and the girls on a surprise trip to Kuterevo, a village about a 45 minute drive away. A village with a bear sanctuary – the place I took the photo, above. Those are cubs, by the way.

While we were watching the bears, one of them roared at one of the others and Julie instantly looked unhappy. She explained that said ‘roar’, sounded just like the noise that she’d heard at the villa a couple of nights previously. At which point, I found the whole subject a lot less amusing.

A bit more thought, for example, led to the realisation that, as the bears tended to stick to the more remote, heavily forested areas, a density of one bear per 22 square miles was inaccurate. I mean, let’s assume that 10% of the Croatian land mass qualified as ‘remote and heavily forested’; that was a bear every 2.2 square miles… The maths, however, quickly became redundant after a bit of research on Northern Velebit National Park, which was just off the main road leading to the villa. The park’s website includes the following:

It is important to note that large complexes of preserved woodlands are suitable habitats for all three species of large carnivores – bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus) and lynx (Lynx lynx), and their presence in this area is a sign of the well preserved ecosystem.

http://www.np-sjeverni-velebit.hr/park/zivapriroda/zivotinje/

Oh, we noted it, alright!

Which is why all thoughts of late evening runs disappeared, never to return.

Of course, for anyone who is used to the idea of living with bears (what are known as Grizzly Bears in the US), our reaction is laughable. I get that. And, given enough time, I’m sure I’d find it laughable too. But we were only there for another few nights. And the knowledge that there were definitely bears close by, was enough to make us uncomfortable with going outside in the dark. In our defense, the most dangerous animal in the UK is the badger:

Now, these things I can cope with.
By BadgerHero – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7428454

We arrived back from the holiday on Saturday 27th, and I managed to fit a run and a cycle in, before the end of the month. I also got strict with my eating again, because I had to…

The first week, in Pula, had been easy and convenient, when it came to food. There were a couple of supermarkets within a mile and a corner shop within easy walking distance. As such, we were easily able to get all the food we needed for me to cook for four of the nights we were there. Sure there was some light snacking going on, as well as an ice-cream a day, but I was able to maintain my food consumption at a pretty healthy level.

This all changed in week two. The nearest corner shop was a 20 minute drive and the nearest supermarket involved a round trip of an hour and a half. The nearest restaurant was also a 20 minute drive away. Evening meals became something that required more in the way of planning. We solved the issue by starting our daily excursions after eating lunch, we’d visit wherever we were going and then stop for a meal on the way back. I’d taken my porridge with me, so I was still eating that twice a day, to maintain my normal routine. But, aside from porridge, I only cooked once in that second week.

Worse still was the issue of snacking. Because we knew that there were no shops in easy reach, we always ensured that there were ample supplies in the house. You know, in case the bears decided to stage a siege and trap us inside for a couple of days. Alongside this easy availability of food, and that holiday feeling, was the knowledge that I had my next set of scans the day after we got home. This didn’t help my mindset one little bit. The amount of snacking I was doing steadily increased from the end of the first week.

You see how easy it would’ve been for the bears to encircle us?!

Almost inevitably, towards the end of the second week, this led to a period of binge eating. I suppose I could try and label them as ‘cheat days’ but I’d just be lying to myself. My mindset deserted me and I returned to my unhealthy relationship with food. I binge ate after everyone else was in bed. This, as it always does, just made me feel worse…

Thankfully, I was able to get on top of it after a couple of days.

Even so, I really pushed myself to get back on track after the scans. I didn’t have the bottle to weigh myself on the Monday, instead waiting until the end of the month. I was pretty anxious before I got on the scales, worried that I’d be several pounds heavier…

To see myself a pound lighter was such a boost, it was amazing. And that’s why I consider my weight loss in July to be a genuine success. Despite only involving the loss of a single pound.

It almost seems pointless, but I’ll record my July measurements, if only for the sake of completeness:

Key – Current Measurement (change this month) [total change]

  • Neck –  42cm (0.5cm) [-1.5cm]
  • Left bicep – 36cm (-0.5cm) [-2.5cm]
  • Right bicep – 36cm (-0.5cm) [-2.5cm]
  • Chest – 108cm (-2cm) [-11cm]
  • Waist – 100cm (-2cm) [-14cm]
  • Hips – 104cm (-1cm) [-9cm]
  • Left thigh – 63cm (-1cm) [-6cm]
  • Right thigh – 63cm (-1cm) [-6cm]
  • Left calf – 42.5cm (-0.5cm) [-2cm]
  • Right calf – 42.5cm (-0.5cm) [-2cm]

Well, that was unexpected!

My total measurements have decreased by 8.5cm. And that’s including the half centimeter that my neck has increased. It seems that all that snacking and calorie surplus has allowed for a bit of muscle growth. Which is probably the origin of the old ‘turning fat into muscle’ myth. But, given all the exercise I’ve been doing, an element of muscle toning and growth is inevitable. And, as everyone knows, muscle weighs more than fat… Actually, there’s a good article about that, along with the benefit of tracking your measurements, here.

Which, I suppose, leads on to the photos of what I look like this month:

I definitely think I’m getting somewhere.

And at least I’ve managed a nice, uniform suntan…

Looking forward, then, my plan is to be strict with my diet and exercise routine for the whole of August. I’m confident that I can be at, or below, 14 stone 10 pounds (206lb/93kg) by the end of the month. This will set me up nicely for the Cheat Day that I’ll be taking on my birthday, at the beginning of September. And I really don’t have to worry about how much I eat during this cheat day, because, the very next day, I set off on my cycle tour through France.

Two weeks of cycling, five to six hours a day, should set me up nicely to hit my goal of being no more than 14 stone (196lb/90kg) by the end of September.

It’s what happens then, that I’m currently a bit uncertain about. After all, I’ll still have three months, a quarter of my diet year, left to work with… I’ll have to give it some thought and hope that I have a clearer idea by the end of next month. Still, if I have to be stuck with a problem, this is a pretty good one to have. 🙂