Wednesday, June 19, 2013


The Health Junkie: DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN......RACE REPORT:   Well  having just spent the past week 'taking it easy' to see how I would feel, I can honestly say it seems to have worked; so mu...

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Health Junkie: MAYO CLINIC.....PART 2

The Health Junkie: MAYO CLINIC.....PART 2: Following on from my Mayo clinic blog (which has been one of my most widely read blogs) I thought I would give an update on the tests that I...

The Health Junkie: THE MAYO CLINIC.....ALERT!

The Health Junkie: THE MAYO CLINIC.....ALERT!: For the less well read amongst us I would like to point out that the Mayo Clinic is not a hospital that deals with patients who eat too much...


The Health Junkie: THE CROSSFIT ENDURANCE QUESTION.: As its only 2 weeks to my 32 k Trail des Caps, I thought it might be a good idea to give a flavour of what I've been doing. As you know...

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Health Junkie: WAY TO COOL 50K....RACE REPORT

The Health Junkie: WAY TO COOL 50K....RACE REPORT:     As you know my race preparation for the WTC was far from perfect but  personal tragedies, injuries, lack of training and more are all pa...


The Health Junkie: RACE REPORT-TRAIL DES CAPS: Wow, what a weekend. Last night Sue and I went for a pre race dinner in St Tropez and then back to our fab hotel, the Villa Begude, for an ...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Health Junkie: UTBA 53K .....THE 'IMPOSSIBLE' RACE REPORT.

The Health Junkie: UTBA 53K .....THE 'IMPOSSIBLE' RACE REPORT.: Nearly 12 months of beautiful weather...........but not today. I went to bed on what felt like a warm summers evening and awoke to a tropica...

The Health Junkie: BUY THE BOOK

The Health Junkie: BUY THE BOOK: Just a quick update to all my readers. You will notice on the blog page a picture and a book title ... yes folks I have just published my f...


The Health Junkie: FATBUSTER 2 AND THE OVERCONSUMPTION OF ENERGY: Relax, this isn't about global warming, renewable energy, fracking, wind farms or nuclear least I don't think it is.  ...

The Health Junkie: FATBUSTER

The Health Junkie: FATBUSTER: You might be wondering (or you might not) what I've been up to the past month ...'s not running. Okay I've run ever...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


The Health Junkie: 'I DON'T WANT TO LOOK LIKE MADONNA': 'I don't want to look like Madonna', wish I had a pound for every time I heard that one. It must be the most overheard phrase i...


'I don't want to look like Madonna',.. wish I had a pound for every time I heard that one. It must be the most overheard phrase in the personal fitness training world when you propose that a woman should lift weights.
As I always patiently and calmly try to explain, 'if only it were that easy'. Madonna  has probably worked out every day for hours nearly all her life. Hard work, sweat, discipline, single minded purpose, dedication and time. Most women couldn't even come close, so please don't be afraid, it ain't going to happen.... and if by some weird genetic predisposition it does, well, you can always stop. So fear not, get in the gym and do your stuff, a toned woman to most men is very sexy, even if they tell you they like you with a bit of weight around the midriff, that's not what they say to their mates and I can assure you, it is certainly not what they think.

      So what about the guys, what do they say? Usually it's 'I don't want to look like Arnie, just toned'. Again, I have good news because you aint gonna look like Arnie either.
    To run for 30 hours up mountains isn't easy, to cycle around France in a race for 3 weeks, isn't easy and to look like Arnold is pretty much impossible unless you are prepared to work and train very, very hard for a very long time. So now we've got that out of the way, what can us mere mortals do, well contrary to the comments just made, quite a lot.
 As my friend Brigitte said many years ago in her fab French/English accent, 'It's all in ze training', it most certainly is, plus that other well known phrase uttered by Arnie:- 'Great abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym' . And there you have it:- Training and Eating.
       Do these 2 things well and remarkable things are possible, even for us normal types.
But the real point is - What is your goal? These things may be of no interest and you just might want to go read a book, which is fair enough.
 ((May I recommend and excellent summer read - LAST TRAIN TO ST TROPEZ.
 It is available worldwide on Amazon.
USA Link to Amazon ... s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369325208&sr=1-1&keywords=last+train+to+st+tropez
UK link to Amazon ...

Click on the link and... Buy It Now!))

Sorry about that, couldn't resist it, where were we?
Ah yes, what is your goal?
To many people it is losing weight and to a few more achieving a toned figure or physique ... and to the great majority getting fit and healthy. These are all worthy goals and yet here is the conundrum, if these are the desires and goals of the many then why is obesity of the charts in most countries and getting worse annually.
     Having studied this for a very long time it seems to me that its just too hard to change, to step up,  to walk past the biscuits, to say no to a pizza, to visit the gym, to refuse the candy or ice cream, to reject the glass of wine, to go for a run, to drink water instead of coke, to start a fitness regime and keep at it.
These days the guy or girl at the party who works out and looks fab is seen as a bit weird or obsessed. It never seems to occur to the masses that drinking and eating crap every day is also weird and strangely obsessed ,especially when we know for a fact that the healthy, fit ones will live longer, have less sickness, have more vitality, be less of a drain on the health services and will be here to see their kids and grandkids blossom in their lives. Who's the weirdo?
Then the healthy one gets hit with 'well you have to enjoy life' which is really perverse as it infers that because they drink or eat mountains of pasta that somehow this is more fun! Have these people ever been healthy? Have they any idea what they are missing? probably and sadly not.
As I started this blog in a contentious mood, I figured I'd end on the same note.

PS - I was just reading a report on Dakota Jones who last year ran the Grand Canyon South rim to the North rim .... and BACK AGAIN, in just over 6 hours (called the R2R2R). To some this may
seem utter madness, to me it would be the experience of a lifetime, no matter how long it took. The sheer beauty and hardship all wrapped up in a melange of life being experienced to the full.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Health Junkie: FAT LOSS FOR IDIOTS

The Health Junkie: FAT LOSS FOR IDIOTS: I heard this phrase used the other day and it occurred to me that millions of people around the world are still doing the same things in gy...


I heard this phrase used the other day and it occurred to me that millions of people around the world are still doing the same things in gyms and fitness centres whilst getting exactly the same results ... The madness of it all is that they are still fat or overweight and yet they continue to pay their monthly fees and run, cycle, step, dance or whatever and go home thinking they've done well. This is bizarre, this crazy acceptance of failure as if that's just how it is. They have come to accept that working out at home or in a gym three times a week equals no change.
   It's a sort of coercive brainwashing; you do your thing week in week out with the total acceptance that it won't work?

                  'If you keep doing the same thing then you will get the same result'

How NOT to lose fat.
     I am fascinated by the psychology of this, admittedly some of it is pure ignorance but some of the practices that people take part in to lose weight are bordering on the criminal. If it doesn't work and the trainers and fitness centres know it doesn't work then why do millions of people sign up for more of the same year after year. I know that many people believe that if they are not getting any worse then that's a good thing and an end in itself but really that's maintenance. Now maintenance is fine if you have achieved your predefined goal and have low body fat and a super toned body. But most people don't have this so why do they accept it?
    I visited a gym last week and saw rows and rows of people pedalling away on bikes as well as
running, cross training, gliding and doing all sorts of wild and wonderful things on a whole range of aerobic machines and equipment but, with a few exceptions, they all had one thing in common ... they were overweight. Now before everyone starts jumping all over me, yes I totally accept the argument that they are doing some form of exercise and that this is better than doing nothing at all but when you've been doing it for years with the express desire to lose fat and you are not, then why do you continue?
   The person I was with turned to me and softly muttered the line ...

                                           'That's just fat loss for idiots'.

 I am the first to admit that I too suffered this same madness for years as I ran to lose weight. I didn't,  infact I very, very slowly began to put weight on. The reason for this is your body becomes efficient at what you are doing  and so burns less fat because it doesn't need as much energy as it did when you first started exercising. Your physiology adapts.
    Combine all this with poor nutrition and boom! you get fatter. The amount of times I here people say 'but I go to the gym 4 times a week and I eat really well' as if its not their fault, is amazing. The other excuses that get trotted out with staggering regularity are 'it's just my genes', 'it's hereditary' or the one I love the most,  'I have special hormones' ... Wow, what do you want, a prize!

                     Instead of looking for an excuse why not look for the solution.

Stephanie at age 57
  There are proven scientific methods to burn fat and tone the body. Now at this point a very good friend of mine, Stephanie, will probably be dashing of an email chastising me for criticising the masses. So, for the record, let me say again that it's great that people are trying to get fit and working on improving their cardiovascular health but surely the goal is to be effective, so if fat loss is your goal, STOP and change what you are doing now! ... and by the way Stephanie is superbly toned and a great example of fitness and health. As you can see from the picture, Stephanie, at age 57 doesn't look remotely like the masses ... and she doesn't run on long slow cardio machines either ... and never has. 
       Therefore assuming that most people who read my blogs are not idiots then how do we cut fat. I will expand on this in another post but for now here are  my top 10 ways to cut fat.
1)  Eat a protein/vegetable breakfast. (Not cereal, orange juice, toast and jam, croissants or waffles etc.)
2)  Supplement your diet with fish oil, probiotics, green drinks, magnesium, zinc and vitamins.
3)  Drink at least 2.5 litres of water per day. (No alcohol ... yep that's what I said.)
4)  Eat at regular times throughout the day (and up to 5 meals per day)
5)  Double your protein intake and severely restrict you carb intake ... and only eat slow/low carbs.
6)  Reduce stress.
7)  Sleep approx 7 hours per night.
8)  Eat lots of vegetables and salad (watch that dressing!)
9)  Lift weights to build fat burning lean muscle.
10) Do 10-20 mins of High Intensity Interval Training at least 4 times per week.

 .... and stop yo yo dieting and doing long, slow cardio ...  because it doesn't work!

Now at this point you might be thinking 'but this guy runs ultra-marathons and that's a lot of long slow cardio' ... yes, but I don't do it to lose fat, I do it because I enjoy it ... well, sort of. It can be fun, exhilarating, beautiful and mentally and physically rewarding, and it can also be a total nightmare of pain and suffering, but mainly I do it for the challenge.

Yesterday I lifted weights and did an 12 minute High Intensity routine. From an exercise stand point this is still the most efficient and quickest way to lose fat.
And today I went for a run in the mountains which was an exhilarating, life affirming and stunningly beautiful experience.

Both have their place just don't confuse why you do what you do ... and don't be an idiot :)


Thursday, May 23, 2013


Just a quick update to all my readers. You will notice on the blog page a picture and a book title ... yes folks I have just published my first book!  LAST TRAIN TO ST TROPEZ.
 It is available worldwide on Amazon.

USA Link to Amazon ...

UK link to Amazon ...

Click and put this link into your browser.

 Firstly this is NOT about running but I think if you like my blogs then you will like the book. It's an amusing true story of my adventure through France in 1978.  A quest for freedom with no responsibilities it pulls no punches and is written from a young man's view of the world. Hopefully you will be entertained and perhaps inspired as it is a vivid account of life on the road, meeting dynamic characters, beautiful women and surviving risky situations whilst living on your wits.


Monday, April 29, 2013


Sunday was the Ultra Trail des Balcons d'Azur ... its already one year since my 54 k 'impossible race', amazing, time flies and all that. This year I decided not to run it. I achieved my goal and now I seek new challenges. I am still working on strengthening my body for potentially more ambitious challenges but more on that later. In the meantime I felt it was time to give something back to this truly demanding sport. As my French is lousy, a position at an 'Aid station' was not an option but I had others.
    On race day the weather was even worse than last year, and that's saying something but I thought if those guys and girls can go out in this storm then so can I. I arrived to wave off the early morning runners, many with that look on their face of,  'What the hell am I doing?' I knew the feeling well, its a sort of abject fear of impending pain. Later on in the day I hiked up into the mountains to give encouragement at the 5 hour mark. I stood on a fork on the trail in the driving wind and rain wearing my trusty bright orange racing jacket with not a soul around. As the runners came through they appeared a bit lost as the trail markers were not very clear so I started directing them the right way. I was going to move to another spot but felt it important to stay and keep directing everyone as getting lost up here is not an option, and I should know ... having done it myself on more than one occasion.
    As time passed a few more people appeared and started asking me questions about the race. It dawned on me very quickly that they obviously thought I was a Race Marshal, they seemed somewhat confused when asking me a question in French as my reply was always a blank stare. I had no idea what they were talking about and they must have thought I was a lousy Race Marshal who was either a mute or an idiot ... and probably, 'How on earth did he get this job?'
   However it kept happening as more and more people appeared. This was compounded further by the runners themselves asking me questions. 'Combien des kilometres?' ... 'Ou est la Revailletissement? These I could answer easily, '5 kilometres', but I did it with such assured aplomb  that it convinced the spectators even more that I was a Marshal ... a crap one admittedly but at least I was sending everyone the right way. I felt a bit like a traffic cop, Sue says it was my jacket ... judge for yourselves.

As time passed I picked up some of the language that others were using to encourage the runners. One girl kept shouting   'S'accrochez!'. I remembered hearing something like 'accrochez' when hanging up a phone so I figured this must mean something like 'hang on in there'. I found out later that this was correct however my pronunciation was pretty lousy and when I said it I got weird looks .. not sure why ... maybe I was saying ' go hang yourself ' or something even more bizarre. The leaders had come through much earlier and they seemed serenely calm as if they were on some early morning jog before breakfast. Weird. I of course had never seen these people before due to the fact that I am always at the back ... still, most disheartening, they looked so cool and in control ... and fast! After about 2 hours the majority of runners had passed and I was one big wet orange blob.
       There were 3 different races that day and this was the 54k with a longer 64k taking place further away. I decided to move on to an even more remote location where the 'back of the pack runners' of the 64k would be. I ended up at possibly the most remote place in France (well it felt like it). The wind and driving rain were horizontal and I had to keep running up and down the track so that I didn't die of exposure. This time nobody else appeared other that the odd bedraggled exhausted runner. I clapped, and shouted 'Bravo', I didn't risk 's'accrocher' in case some poor soul took the more dramatic option and to be fair about five of them looked liked they didn't have long for this world. Maybe that's what I look like after 10 hours, Crikey!, no wonder the Medics always look concerned when I pass them by.
     When they asked the distance to the finish I told them it was 12 kilometres. It wasn't, it was more like 14 but I think that would have pushed a few of them over the edge and I wanted to keep their spirits up. They also had the worst climb of the day ahead of them, I know, because last year it took me an hour to go about 3 kilometres and at the top its practically vertical. Ultra running is a tough, even brutal sport, the sense of achievement in doing it is immense but it's at these times in a race where you feel the mental pressure to quit the most and hence my reason for standing there. Quite a few of the runners thanked me, clapped and shouted 'Bravo' back. It's a respect thing, I guess you had to be there, it's quite emotional.
     I waited until I could see no more runners coming up from the valley floor. It was getting near the cut off time so I presumed that was the last of them ... I hope so as I don't like to think of one last lonely guy struggling on his own ... one day it could be me.
     When I got home I had a sauna to get warm as it felt like I had sort of run the race myself, I was exhausted.  Very strange.
     The winner did the 64k in just over 6 hours ... and the last guy, in just over 12 hours; and he was 66 years old. Amazing stuff, it makes me proud to be part of such a unique group of complete nutcases.


Saturday, March 16, 2013


Relax, this isn't about global warming, renewable energy, fracking, wind farms or nuclear least I don't think it is.  I read this phrase, 'Overconsumption of Energy' last week from Professor Ian A. Macdonald head of the UK Centre for Arthritis and Musculosketal Ageing research, University of Nottingham Medical School (some title, I know).
         We all know that obesity is on the increase, the US is no 1 and the UK no 2, closely followed by every nation in the developed world, even France, the last bastion of supposed balanced eating has seen a massive rise in obesity. Why?  There is no question that High Fructrose Corn Syrup and many other nasty ingredients contribute to the problem, including lack of exercise. Often it all sounds very complicated as we tend to talk about exercise, nutrition and general health in terms of numerous diet plans, supplements, medicines and varied exercise protocols. He was making the point that many foods can be good or bad for the human body and in varying degrees but his main argument was that obesity or just general weight gain comes from simple overconsumption of energy. It puts a different spin on eating too many calories or not doing enough exercise and I think simplyfies our understanding.
   When we eat we are absorbing energy, now you might think that having a glass of wine or eating a bag of chips or a tasy salad is a pleasureable action that stimulates the senses and it often is but at a very basic level its just fuel for the body. Once it hits your stomach these various foods are just broken down into units of energy or waste. If you consume too much energy which is in excess of your basic metabolic rate plus any additional exercise then you will get fat. You can count calories and run to Texas and back but if you take in more energy than you use then you will get fat.
    Generally speaking nutrition is 65% of the energy equation whilst the other 35% is exercise. If we think in terms of how much energy did you use today in relation to how much  expended then you get a much clearer picture of where you are at. A good start is to work out your Basic Metabolic Rate or BMR, click on the link to find out yours....

Now this is how much calorific energy you use up even if you stay in bed all day.... so the more you move around and EXERCISE then the more you will need.  Using the Harris Benedict Formula (see link) you can work out how much in total including exercise, you burn a day. (Do it now, it takes about 10 seconds). Mine is approximately 2200 calories a day and that includes 6 days a week of
exercise. An 'average' woman's is about 1500 calories.

BREAKFAST 1 (with Juice Plus/Fish oil/Green drink and Probiotics)
BREAKFAST 2 (5 mins after opening my Glut-4's)
EXERCISE (20 mins or 50 mins))

    A Big Mac, chips and a coke is about 1100 calories! Two pieces of toast with butter and honey on is about 350, Two glasses of wine is 300 calories. Just think about that ...... that's 20%  of a woman's energy intake per day. If you drink 2 glasses every night with an evening meal for a week that's the same as 10 Donuts! Would anyone think that eating 10 donuts a week is healthy?
       As you can see from these figures overconsumption of energy is very easy to achieve ... and unfortunately the people who overconsume also tend to eat very bad calories, bad fats, poor proteins and very poor high GI carbohydrates aswell. This leads to not just obesity but type-2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, heart disease and many other illnesses.
     My last blog 'Fatbuster' was my most widely read to date so clearly this is an issue that we are all concerned about ... and rightly so. But then why isn't everybody aware of the healthy, quick and efficient ways to lose weight or even to maintain their existing weight. There are mountains of books, diets, tv programmes, dvd's and of course the internet, surely it shouldn't be that complicated and the truth is, it isn't. If you eat rice, potatoes, pasta, cakes, pies and pastries and consume alchohol regularly what do you think is going to happen? It doesn't matter how many times you go to the gym, play a sport, swim, run, cycle, dance or zumba if you eat crap you will get AND remain fat.

                                         You can't exercise away a bad diet.

Remember I've run up mountains for 10 hours at a time and lost no weight at all, in fact I put it on. I won't even start to talk about Cortisol and Insulin spikes as that's for another day but please note this -   Not all calories are created equal -  If you take your energy (calories) from protein, vegetables and healthy fats as opposed to bad carbohydrates eg pasta, cakes etc then you can consume more because the body will utilise this type of energy more efficiently. Remember starve the fat, feed the muscles. and ask yourself these questions;-
     1)What and how much are you eating ?
     2) What type and how much are you exercising?
     3) What's your Basic Metabolic Rate?

And finally .... stop your overconsumption of energy .... its bad for your health ... and bad for the planet....
            ....... and now I'm off now to save the Whale :)

P.S. You may have noticed I've changed my Blogger name .... I'll explain more in the next post.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


You might be wondering (or you might not) what I've been up to the past month ...'s not running. Okay I've run every week but not much, 10-15k, so what have I been doing. I decided to have a serious go and cutting body fat whilst increasing lean muscle mass. There were several reasons;

1) To increase my overall fitness.
2) To improve my body conditioning for future challenges.
3) Vanity - to look good.

I began just before Christmas with 6 HIIT's per week. These included weights as well as high intensity exercises for on average 9 to 18 mins per day. After 2 weeks I then began German Volume Training or GVT for 4 weeks. GVT is 26 sets of 10 heavy reps in 4 different exercises over 3 days in a 5 day rotation. This could take up to an hour per session. Then after this I returned to 2 more weeks of HIIT's

     The results speak for themselves. After 8 weeks of this training my Body Fat % has dropped to 8.9%. This was achieved in two ways. Firstly, the exercise routine just mentioned and secondly nutrition.
     I ate twice as much food in this period as normal and dropped weight and fat whilst increasing my lean muscle mass and yet hardly ran at all. So how was this done?
    Paddy Warwick, my coach, prepared this plan by combining Crossfit regimes, GVT and general targeted weight sessions. I stuck to this rigidly and when I visited California in January I just went to Gold's gym  and kept at it. U.S. gym's stay open 24/7 so there are no excuses.
   But what did I eat? I recently saw a picture that said:-

           'Feed the muscle.........Starve the fat!'  ... and that pretty much sums it up what I did.

Breakfast 1- One teaspoon of Glutamine, one Probiotic, two omega 3 fish oil capsules, 4 JuicePlus, One tablespoon Superfood Green Drink, 7 Almonds,5 Cashew nuts, Two eggs and Bacon with vegetables OR Chicken with vegetables Or Ham etc (Atleast 20 grams of protein) Once a week porridge with honey and cinnamon.

 Breakfast 2 -Glut -4 opening exercise routine (120 seconds), followed by one Chocolate croissant and two strong coffees.

Mid morning snack- 7 Nuts or half a greek yogurt plus half a banana.

Exercise - 2 weeks of (Weights, Hiit's 18 mins per day- 6 days per week)
                  4 weeks  of (GVT- one hour - 3 days per week)
                  2 weeks  of (Weights, Hiit's 18 mins - 6 days per week)
            After a workout a 35 gram Protein shake including Glutamine and BCAA's

Lunch -   Chicken OR Fish with LOTS of salad and a few nuts (No dressing). Some dry crackers with butter.
                  Tea with 5 squares of 70% Dark chocolate and 3 plain biscuits.

Afternoon snack - Slice of ham or chicken

Dinner- Fish eg Tuna or Salmon, OR Chicken OR Minced beef with 3 or 4 different vegetables- with 3 times per week maybe sweet potatoe or small portions of rice or pasta.
                 Tea with a few chocolate biscuits.

 Before bed- 300 miligrams of Magnesium with Vitamin B6

I drink 2.7 litres of water a day not including teas and coffees....and just for the record I don't drink or smoke....but you knew that anyway.

 If you do this for 8 weeks you will cut fat. If you just do HIIT's and no GVT you'll cut even more.

So how does it work? Its not a trick as its all science based. There is an even faster way - If you have a full Protein breakfast and NOTHING WHITE eg Bread,cakes,pasta,rice etc at all, for one month but eat as much as you want of everything else, then you will lose weight.
    My goal was not to lose weight but to cut fat whilst increasing my lean muscle mass, hence the GVT. My weight was slightly down but my body composition it radically different. For guys this means you look, feel and are stronger......and for girls the same, except you drop a dress size or two!
       High intensity exercise burns fat during AND after training for up to 24 hours, whereas long slow running burns limited calories for just the duration of the run. Hiit's also improve your overall fitness, strength and endurance. The shortest HIIT you can do is a Tabata (4 mins) and that is the equivalent of a one hour run.
   So why run at all ?......I like running in the hills, it's good for my Karma, life affirming, energizing etc etc...but as a tool to cut fat it's not the most effective thing you can do.
      I must point out that exercise is only about 35% of the fat cutting equation, the rest is what you eat. Remember if you eat right or 'clean' you can pretty much eat as much as you want. I have never, ever dieted...... It doesn't work because you are starving your body of food so in simple terms it hangs on to your stored energy (fat) and doesn't let it go. If you eat constantly throughout the day the body is not stressed and therefore lets the excess fat go into energy for your exercise......and so voila, you lose fat and weight. I get lots of comments about how people find it hard to eat a protein breakfast,it really isn't. If you had an evening meal at 7pm and then breakfast at 7am you just did a 12 hour 'fast', the body wants and needs nutrients, (Not poor quality Carbs like white toast, Cornflakes or, God forbid, waffles).
     It's really not that hard its just consistancy of effort that eventually becomes a habit.


Thursday, January 10, 2013


It's January. Fitness gym membership goes through the roof, magazines for women are selling the latest diet or detox, new books are out promising the 'lose 10 pounds in 7 days' crap and men's health mag's with the 'great abs in 2 weeks' promise. The list goes on and on. I'm afraid  most plans when hatched at the end/ start of the year nearly always end up discarded by March. Everyone has the best intentions but it's basic human  pyshcology and so within a few weeks of hard effort the goals and dreams start to fade and the old habits return ... and the next year, the cycle is repeated. So what's the answer?

       In my humble opinion and from my own experience you have to start by setting small attainable goals, it could be something as simple as doing a brisk walk (ie quick, fast paced walk) for 30 minutes... or maybe a short run or a walk interspersed with sprints. As your confidence builds and fitness improves then look at a more ambitious plan with a target and a time table to achieve it. This could be food choices, fitness or preferably both but it must be a definitive target. For the more focused who have a proven track record of setting and achieving goals then one can be very ambitious indeed. I find most people who are like this have set their goals independant of year ends etc ... and I believe therein lies the secret. One should already know what your goals are and be already living a healthy and fit life independant of any arbritary calendar dates. Still, if you've made your mind up over Christmas and you're commited, then go for it. I think you have to either enjoy the experience and/or feel good about yourself for doing it. I believe we all have a responsibility to make the best of ourselves ... as well as a responsibility to our loved ones to be fit and healthy.
      At present I am in the middle of some serious body conditioning. I will be running a few smaller  events in the spring just to 'get my legs back' and so at present I am just doing easy 10-15k trail runs for fun. When running ultra's it is important to have 'downtime' where you do not stress your body through running. It is a time to strengthen your body and crosstrain or do different sports just to have mental as well as physical variety. Running and training for ultra's is stressful and the body needs time to rest and recuperate. This does not mean sitting on the sofa eating donuts!.....Sleep and clean nutrition is paramount.
      My goal is to strengthen and stretch, with sprints and HIIT's over the next 8 weeks so that I can start training in earnest for my next big event. I already know what I am going to do and it will put great demands on both my strength and endurance and so at 58 years old I need to be in 'more than' the best shape of my life, mentally and physically. At this stage I'll just give you a clue ... it's in the USA, of course. I am a sucker for American enthusiasm and I love the positive energy that the organisers and competitors bring to the big events ... and as a Brit, I understand what they're saying - which always helps... More on this later.
        In the meantime it's back to training 5/6 days per week and not going too crazy. Unusually for me I've had a few training partners over the last few weeks. My coach Paddy and I did some seriously heavy workouts together before Christmas and over the holidays I've been in the gym with my son, Alexander, who has really developed his physique through training, strict nutrition and no alchohol - not easy for a 21 year old. His friend Will has also been training hard and has done quite a few trail runs and hill sprint routines with me. It's great to see these kids getting it together and learning the importance of fitness and health whilst in their youth. If it becomes a habit now then it will stay with them all their lives -what a gift.
    Happy New Year to all.