Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Challenge list

The Challenge List

I thought long and hard about taking the easy route on this post and just calling it a bucket list like everyone else does.

But you know what, I don't just want my personal list to be chock full of things that I could achieve by maxing out my credit card or taking out a loan. After all anyone can visit Hawaii if they really want to.

After rattling on about the importance of setting goals recently, I decided that I wanted my list to be made up of things which would require some effort on my part.
That way I will ,hopefully, feel a sense of genuine achievement with each one I am able to cross off.

To make life easier for myself (plus to make this a little more interesting for you!) I have broken my challenges into categories and will be crossing them off and adding to them on what I hope will be a regular basis.

If I achieve something particularly awesome or interesting I might even write a post about it...won't that be fun!

Anywho here it is in all it's glory, my challenge list:

Health and Fitness

Get a "6-pack"
Run a sub 6 minute mile
Deadlift 500lb or above (PB 620lb 9th August 2012) 
Run a 5k
Run a 10k
Run a Half Marathon
Run a Marathon
Learn Capoeira 
Learn Karate (3rd dan blackbelt in Shotokan Karate - October 2006)
Learn Kickboxing (2nd degree blackbelt - Feb 2006)
Run Tough Mudder (Booked for Autumn this year WOOOH!)
50 consecutive pushups (February 15th 2014)
100 consecutive pushups
200 consecutive pushups
50 consecutive pull ups
Bench press 1.5x my border weight
Complete the 3 peaks challenge 
Swim the English Channel
Cycle Land's End to John O' Groats
Cycle Malin head to Mizen head


Drive across America
Visit all of the continents North America, Europe Africa, Asia, Australasia, South America and Antarctica
Get to Space
Drive across the Alps
Obtain Dual citizenship (English and Irish - March 2004)
Visit 20 Countries (12 so far)

Money and business

Raise £10k for charity
Raise £50k for charity
Raise £100k for charity
Earn £1Million
Bank 100K
Start my own company (December 2013)
Derive 100% of my income from my own business
Hold a patent

Experiences and events

Burning Man
V Festival (2004,2005,2006 - Cheltenham)
Drive around the Nurburgring
See the Northern Lights from within the Arctic Circle
Swim with dolphins in the Florida Keys
Ride an airboat (Think Burt Reynolds in White lightning but more awesome)

Self Improvement

Become fluent in a second language
Publish an Ebook (Cooking with Fire, August 2012)
Publish a physical book
Learn to fly a helicopter
Learn to fly a plane
Learn to Scuba Dive
Learn to DJ 
Grow all my own fruit and vegetables for a full year

Fun Stuff

Be an extra on TV
Be an extra in a film
Get inside a bank vault (National Reserve NYC, 20th Feb 2006)
Fire a pistol
Fire a rifle  Fire an assault rifle on full auto (SA80 L85, LSW and AR15)
Host my own Radio show
Do a Bungee Jump
Learn to Paraglide
Do a parachute jump
Drive at over 150mph Drive at over 200mph

Monday, 24 February 2014

7 key tips to help you lose weight

During the last 7 years I have tried pretty much every fad diet, crazy exercise routine or other stupid trick I could find to try and help me lose weight.

Luckily I never ran across this

When I say I tried them all, I mean I tried them ALL...

No meat, no veggies, red day/green day, shakes, tablets,  cabbage soup, detoxes...the list is pretty much endless.

For most of that time I did what most people did, lost a few pounds due to some miracle shake or only eating sprouts and then piled all the weight back on when I stopped, plus usually a few extra pounds decided to come join the party.

Now with added inspiration

As I have mentioned on here and elsewhere the inspiration I needed to finally get ahold of myself and  start making some changes in my life was the birth of my daughter, Sophia.

Whilst wanting to be around to enjoy my child growing up is a major motivating factor.
I would be lying if I said there weren't days when I haven't just wanted to say out with the new and in with the old...

On those days it really helps to have something extra to keep you on the right track.

The story so far...

Hi there, my name is Tom.

From about 5 years old or so I was always a slightly chubby little kid.

Flash forward 10 years or so and I was pretty much your average nerdy teenage boy, I loved video games, sports, music, hanging out with friends and all that sort of jazz.

All throughout school I was bullied because of my weight. Quite simply as far as most other kids were concerned I was the fat nerd and that's all there was to it.

The shame of it is when I look back now at old pictures, especially from my latter teenage years, I wasn't even that heavy.

But we all know that kids can be cruel and in my mind at least I was a ten ton behemoth.

So I decided to do something about it. I started running and cycling everyday, I was in the gym at least 5 days a week and was involved in martial arts training for upwards of 15 hours a week.

Within a year or so I was in pretty good shape. Compared to how things had been before I felt like a million bucks and was finally at a point where I had some self confidence in how I looked and how others saw me.

200lb of mean :P

I was on top of the World...

Around Christmas 2004 things were starting to slow down at work and I was made redundant, it sucked to be out of work but I made the best of things and stayed positive during 2005.

By the begging of '06 things hadn't really picked back up and I decided to leave the UK and to join my family in the south of Ireland.

That's when things started to fall apart.

Work was harder to find than I had been lead to believe and a few things I had in the pipeline never really materialised. I was missing my friends and my old life in England and if I'm honest with myself was most likely suffering with mild depression.

Before too long I had started to comfort eat and was going out partying whenever I had the chance to do so.
Without really noticing I managed to undo all the good work I had put in and by the end of the first year I had gained about 45lbs.

Mid 2008 - 280lb

From late 2007 onwards my life in Ireland steadily improved. I had a steady income from a decent job which I ended up staying in for the next 6 years!

However as my standard of living increased so did my weight.

At my heaviest  I was tipping the scales at around 315lb

Summer 2009 - 310lb approx

Between 2007 and 2012 I would occasionally do the whole yo-yo dieting routine. I would throw myself into visiting the gym for a few weeks and would cut out fatty foods yada yada... sure I would lose 10 or 20 lbs but before long I would feel like I was torturing myself and things would grind to a halt.

Magically of course the 10-20 lbs would be straight back...often bringing a few friends along with them

In July 2012 I got engaged to be married and later found out that come February 2013 I would be a Dad - scary stuff!

July 2012 - 275lb

At this point I was sitting at around 275lb and decided that if I was going to be a responsible Father I should do something about my weight.

And I did, for about 6 weeks...

Throughout the pregnancy I was yo-yoing pretty hard, I must have lost well over 100 lbs during those 9 months.Problem is of course I gained them back as well.

Eventually when my daughter was born on February 16th 2013 I was a little lighter at about 265lb...not much to show for 9 months of supposedly taking things seriously!

Feb 2013 - 265lb

Becoming a Dad is without doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. I was so happy I could have flown to the Moon and back.

So of course being happy I put on a few pounds, about 25lb to be precise. By the beginning of Summer I felt like crap.

I wasn't sleeping right, I was tired all the time, my back hurt constantly, I had no energy...the list of complaints I had at that point was endless.

In June last year I had a bit of a wake up call. A coworker passed away at age 46 leaving a young family and a few weeks later a good friend of mine had a massive stroke at 48 years of age leaving her disabled for life.

I realised I needed to man up, stop finding excuses and take things seriously. If not I was well on my way to being next.

Being Summer and having a few parties and BBQs planned with relatives flying in from all over I decided to be sensible.
I would cut back where I could right away and then set myself the target of starting my "serious diet" from the start of August.

This is me at the start of my serious phase:

August 2013 - 294lb
As of 20th February 2014 I am now tipping the scales at 213lbs. That is a full 81lb lighter in 6 months.

End of January 2014 - 215lb 

It hasn't been easy, but then nothing worthwhile ever is.
If I can manage to change my life around and improve my health than so can anyone.

I'm going to be posting regular updates of my own progress along with diet and workout plans which have worked for me and some hints, tips and advice which has really helped me.