Saturday, April 26, 2008

Driving up standards

Its been a while, a lot of work, training, camping and all round frivolity. Which means, I haven't given the blog more than two shakes of a lambs tail in thought.

But THIS, this is a pure image of beauty, a perfect example of the complete and utter waste that the UK Labour Government under Blair and then Brown place on style over substance. This pair really have never stood for anything other than spin as they have lumbered from one disaster to another, all the while believing that they have managed to pull the wool over everyone's eyes.

At top left is the new logo for the "Office of Government Commerce" - quite what was wrong the The Treasury as a name is beyond me, but the buffoons have never been too spectacular at making decisions that have any foundation of sense about them. As logos go its not bad, san serif font, clean understated design which should appeal to all. IT is supposed to symbolize “improving value for money by driving up standards and capability in procurement”. Naturally lots of mouse mats, pens etc etc were produced bearing the new logo.

OK, now rotate it 90 degrees to the right, as in the picture here. I'm not sure how a snowman having a wank symbolizes an improvement in Government value for money and driving up standards. Though wait, with this Government it probably is an increase in quality compared to how they usually spend their work day. Jerk away boys.

It cost $30,000 to design.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Gotta keep moving forward

Work has had a best abs contest for the last three months, which was originally set up as certain people were crying as they felt excluded from the “Biggest Loser” contest (funnily enough none of them submitted abs photos either).

It originally gave me the motivation to up the abs and core parts of my workout, which I have stuck to religiously, in fact expanding it as the benefits became clear. I also focused on the abs workouts almost as a training session in their own right, concentrated on each crunch, or swiss ball exercise on every rep. What I have found is that by targeting both abs and core (planks, hyperextensions, bird dogs) it has paid incredible dividends in my running and cycling, the strength training and not slacking off on leg exercises also come into play, but I can feel the muscles in my lower back and abs kick in as I run and ride. I have more power and endurance across the board, with gains exceeding what I would have had if I only trained in the sports themselves.

Initially I was a little disappointed in the photos, and not having a fully visible six pack, which had been my mental target at the beginning of January, until I went back and looked at my training diary, when the first picture was taken I weighed 183, on January 25th. The second was taken this morning at 175 pounds. So in two months as I look at the pictures I have lost pounds and become much more defined.

I’m lifting 30% more weight across the board in that time frame, and am now able to keep up with weight increases through consistency and mental focus while working out.

For the first time in my entire life I can look at a picture and be comfortable with what I see, I have always been either way too skinny, or too heavy in my eyes with my weight varying over the last 7 years from 140-210 (the latter in January 2007).

Exercise, workouts and what I eat have changed over the last year from a chore that I ‘have’ to do, on some days more a chore than others, to now have become an integral part of my lifestyle. If I don’t work out I am like a rabid rat terrier on crack.

If I can change my body this month in two months...roll on the next two months (though the two Birthday cakes that have sat in my freezer for the last month now have a very short life expectancy !!).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ol' Winny was right

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

Though I have still been training diligently, I’ve stepped back a lot of the longer stuff once I realized at the beginning of the month that Great Floridian just wasn’t on the cards this year financially, and that I need to dedicate those resources elsewhere. It was quite a blow mentally and emotionally, but I’ve come to realize after making the decision that it was the right one in terms of priorities.

Which brings in the quote above from Winston above. Someone always says to me that God will provide, which recently has been not something I really want to hear. But recent events show both that and the quotation to be true.

My company is a little nepotistic, in that my CEO’s youngest daughter is in High School, and was organizing an auction for her Synagogue, she asked one of her other sister’s who happens to be one of my colleagues if she knew of anyone who could donate things to be auctioned, so I ended up being asked if I would donate one of my photographs. I selected a frame and a few different pictures for her to choose from and took them to lunch with my CEO so he could pass them on. He was impressed by the pictures, as it was one of those hidden skills that even though you might work with someone there are often talents or skills you never learn about the other person.

Fast forward a month, and our company wants to stop using a stock photo agency, as after using it for 7 years our clients have seen almost every picture available and have been asking for something new. So my CEO asked if I would be interested in shooting for them, after doing some research on pricing and launching a bid through elance we agreed a price per image, and he supplied me with 50 categories. I spent the last week putting things together (this is for a Business eNewsletter so its things like calculators, clocks, light bulbs, tax forms, pens etc) and Sunday shooting a few of the images.

I supplied proofs through Picasa, and the response from those involved in the project has been incredibly enthusiastic, with them choosing 20-30 pictures. Further conversations have revealed that this is not just a one off project, but will be something ongoing almost indefinitely as new images will always be required. Which will make quite a lot of extra money each month.

M was right, keep on giving to life and God will provide.

But to training, Mike (bubbleman) wrote on his blog of his overtraining hole, which I had diagnosed upon him telling me how he had spent the previous week. Whilst I am not overtrained per se, I think I have killed my legs. Today’s run they just weren’t turning over and I felt stiff each stride, taking 20 minutes to get moving, but they still felt dead, but only a few more days until submitting a photo for the company best abs contest.

It took me a little while though to figure out why they felt dead…duh. One and a half hour run Sunday, followed by weights with extra emphasis on thighs, single leg reverse squats, Bulgarian split squats and step ups. Then last night I did a trainer session on the bike, 5 mins warm up, 8 minutes single leg pedaling and then a main set each minute changing to a harder gear until I could not complete a full minute. Then spin easy for two minutes, before changing back to that harder gear and coming back down the gears each minute. The legs were a bit wobbly even after a 5 minute spin cool down. That’s a lot of leg work in 48 hours. So cut the run to 35 mins easy today, and won’t push as hard on leg exercises doing weights tonight.

Tomorrow I really want to get out and ride outside, maybe an hour and a half before work, just a ‘smell the roses’ ride, I feel the need, I can taste the morning air.

One very cool little episode while I was running was seeing a Heron right next to the bank, eying up the water. Then he submerged his head for a few seconds and lunged, coming up with a fish in his mouth. I was only maybe two yards away, sadly without a camera, but it wouldn’t have worked out as he was behind some tree branches. Nonchalantly he twisted the fish around, gulped it down and took off. Who needs the Discovery Channel when you have a backyard lake ?

* - Images are from the photo shoot.