Some not-so “big data” analysis on my weight

My gym has a nifty scale that measures all sorts of things such as weight, muscle mass, body fat, and indications of where it is distributed. Although I am highly skeptical with how accurate devices like this are, I think they are good as a comparative tool to look at the device. They installed it at the end of October last year and you can email results to yourself (which my OCD side tagged, labelled and archived so they were easy to compare).

After six months I thought it would be interesting to look at changes in the baseline and what I think may have caused them.

Given how much I like to enjoy myself trying new foods and restaurants when travelling I wasn’t so surprised at spikes on the trips such as Christmas or new projects abroad. One really surprisingly (but really shouldn’t be surprising) is the impact that the ski holiday had on my weight. Yes, you’re out skiing all day burning calories but probably not enough to balance out the hearty meals (breakfast, French meals) and the amazing four course dinners we would have (complete with wine and Apéritif)

I’m surprised that Brazil didn’t have as much effect as I thought it would have, although the combination of a bit of food poisoning and most Brazilian foods not really being heavily processed probably had something to do with it.

Perfect day for Cricket at Lords

My friend, Alex, had the great idea of booking a Sunday Twenty20 cricket match at Lord’s. Although I knew that I would arrive back from Brazil on the Saturday, I thought the £20 for a ticket would be worth keeping the option open of going.

We watched a match between the Sussex Sharks and the Middlesex Panthers and sat underneath a glorious London summer sun to enjoy the match as well. Lord’s is a fantastic ground – they had good food for those that wanted to eat (pies, fish and chips, and a burger stand where all the food looked pretty good). They also had a couple of tea and coffee stands as well as ice cream, that proved extremely popular given the heat.

The drinks stands were well manned and not only did they give you paper trays to carry the drinks, they also had the option of a plastic lid to ensure your drink of choice (beer, pimms, etc) did not spill on the way up to the stands. Very civilised! In the end, the Middlesex Panthers beat out the sharks, and given the required run rate, I doubted they would be able to catch up as the Panthers played extremely well in the first half. Here are some pictures that capture the day.

Skiing in Morzine

I didn’t get to go skiing last year and Negin was gracious enough to organise this year’s trip to Morzine, which sat pretty much on the other side of the mountain from our last trip to Les Get.


Like last time, twelve of us shared a common chalet. I think this year’s one definitely takes the award at being the best ski accommodation of them all. I think it’s also probably set very high expectations for future events. Not only was the building very new, but the wonderful hosts from Mountain Spaces had thought of a lot.

Mountain Spaces

For example, the chalet came equipped with six walkie talkies that we could distribute amongst the group and use on the mountain. Though they didn’t work across mountain ranges, these were quite fun to use and we did use it a fair bit trying to co-ordinate when to meet up for lunch or at the end of the day.

Walkie Talkies

Chalet Le Milan Noir didn’t stop there as well. The place came equipped with a new, modern hot tub, an indoor sauna and the entrance to the lodge had boot warmers, ski hooks to hold the gear and a separate place to hang your ski jackets from the rest of your stuff.

Chalet Le Milan Noir

We were definitely spoilt with fresh cakes in the afternoon when we arrived, an amazing breakfast spread (although no nutella) of cereals, croissants, juices, fresh coffee/tea and an egg of the day not to mention an aperitif/snack before the daily three course meal ending with a cheese course and unlimited bottles of wine during dinner. The wine was actually really great as well with two choices of red and white every night.

Like last time, we had really good luck with the skiing conditions. It snowed pretty much every day resulting in a heavy, thick layer of powder – perfect to soften those black runs and make off-piste look even more appealing than the piste. The snow did have side-effects of removing a lot of the visibility but we did end up with two of the six days of skiing super fresh powder and amazingly clear snow.

Some of the highlights of the skiing part were definitely heading over to Mont Chery and heading over to Chatel. Mont Chery has only a handful of runs – mostly reds and blacks but this means that it was less busy than many of the other slopes and a great place to push yourself when covered with thick amounts of powder. Our trip to Chatel was also a fantastic day where we headed out early and came back on one of the last slopes having skiing as much as we could.

Morzine at Night

With great company and great facilities at home, we only headed into town a couple of nights but it was definitely a bigger city than what I remember Les Get being.


A few of us had to try the raclette again (some of us had it twice during the week!) although I’m convinced that we didn’t do enough skiing to really work off all the wonderful food and drink that we indulged in for the week. But, it was a holiday after all.

Chalet Le Milan Noir

A really great week of skiing and one that I definitely won’t forget for some time.

Almost end of 2012

Looking back at this year, I’ve been pretty slack at blogging however it’s been rather busy. Since the last blog, I saw the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil courtesy of tickets purchased for me by my sister. It was a great show in the O2 centre, although there was definitely a lot more music dance, than the circus acts. As I say, it was definitely a more Soleil show than the Cirque and could have used a bit more balance. I think I also fit in a short weekend break to Dusseldorf where I met some friends and practiced a bit more of my German.

I also visited Turin again for the Salone de Gusto, the slow food festival that I went to four years ago. I went with the same Italian friends (and my American friend Ajit) that I went before and we had a fantastic weekend despite the heavy, wet weather. Lots of cheese, wine and meats were consumed along with plenty of espresso and just chilling out.

A quick trip to Berlin for a conference (although technically it was in Potsdam) and a fantastic Christmas meal at St John’s restaurant where we tucked into a very festive Christmas pig. One Christmas/farewell part at the newly opened ping-pong bar/restaurant called Bounce that also happens to be the place where the British invented the sport. We also had a company Christmas party that left me with a bit of a sore head on a Saturday.

Euro2012 Cup

Through June, Europe was buzzing with the Euro2012 football match. Although I’ll admit I’m not the biggest football fan, we had a betting pool at work in for fun, where we all put in £5. Given that it was a fairly large team the winning prize was a reasonable amount, but everyone would win some small prizes as a result.

For some odd reason, I ended up leading the pack most of the way, even though I didn’t really know much about the teams at the time. It also turned out that my betting on Germany winning the finals lost me plenty of points that would have guaranteed a clear victory after the quarter finals. As it turned out, I ended up tying (points wise) with another person, but still won out given that I picked more winners consistently throughout. Fun times!

Budapest Half Marathon

Done! One of my biggest goals for the year was finishing a half marathon. I was debating about where and when I should do one and settled upon the one in Budapest. It turned out to be a great choice with both London and Berlin averaging around twenty degrees and enough rain to make it worth it, we settled on a very hot (30 degrees) and wonderfully sunny Sunday morning with a running route that went along both sides of the Danube up and down the main streets of the city.

Although I’d been training all year, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to run the time in. My goal was to simply finish the race (the next one can be improvement) and given that I had a small knee injury leading up to, wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be one of those people that get picked up by the trailing vans that carry people around.

Fortunately I finished the 21km in 2:02:48 a time I was very happy with. I was very impressed by how well organised everything was although the medal engraving coudl have done with some better organising (turning into a very random name calling section that doesn’t really scale well for the 8000 participants in the half marathon).

New Gadget: GPS Watch Garmin Forerunner 305

In the latest of my gadgets this year, I have to admit, the Garmin Forerunner is doing quite well. Since last year, I’ve been determined to keep up my training (at least where possible) since it’s the sort of exercise you can do regardless of where you are. Essential stuff i you’re going to battle consultant-health-unfriendly-eating-out-at-restaurants like me.

I’ve been averaging approximately 2-3 times a week running distances between 10k-16k. I’m thinking about running a half marathon later this year if I can keep it up. During winter, I found a pretty standard course in Berlin, however I’ve struggled to proper measure how far I’ve run through Tiergarden as the weather warms up.

No more with this GPS, heart-monitor watch.

First looks, you’ll balk at the size of the thing. Yes. I know. However, this is where running with a G-Shock watch already acclimatised me to the bulk. It’s not much bigger, and definitely lighter than my existing running watch. The more modern Garmin watches are definitely more stylish and they’ve done well to reduce the size of them. I bought this after talking to some folks at Runner’s Need and finding this older model available on Amazon for a bargain £120 (what you’d pay for a very beginner’s model).

The box is outfitted with everyone, and despite the huge Amazon box is pretty small.

It contains all the essentials, including the watch and it’s charging stand (that uses USB). Awesome stuff Garmin as I can reuse the USB chargers I carry around for my phone, or simply plug it into my laptop for charging.

Even better is the small charger they gave, accompanied by, get this, an EU adapter – perfect for when I’m travelling to the continent (which has been a lot this year and will be for another couple of months).

They even throw in a watch strap extender and screwdriver if you want to change the strap (for those with chunkier arms). Fortunately the standard strap worked fine for me.

On to the watch… Unlike Apple products, you have to charge the watch first. It took a good hour to actually do, but by then it worked quite well. In that time, I had other stuff to do, including downing their software and hooking it up. I don’t bother with their Mac software much, however I used the latest software off their website (the included CD a little bit outdated now) so that I could use this free software (highly recommended) called TrailRunner.

I’ve tried it for a couple of runs now. The watch took a little bit of time the first time to pick up a satellite, as it did when I started off with my run in Madrid, however once that goes, it keeps up the pace very well. You can customise the watch to show different layouts – far too many options for me to care about, but the default display is perfect – distance, time and pace.

It comes with an accompanying heart rate monitor as well that the device connects to, so when you download your runs, you can monitor time, heart rate, and elevation. This is exactly what I need right now. I flipped through the manual, but everything is pretty intuitive.

Of course, the improvements are probably the size of the watch (I kind of like the massive display so I can quickly glance to see stats while running) and the included software for Mac is a bit naff, but the free one works like a charm.

Ski Trip to Les Gets

A few weeks ago I ended up in Les Gets where fourteen of us ended up in a nice little chalet to enjoy the snow. Many of us were concerned the skiing wouldn’t be so good given the little snowfall around Europe however someone must have smiled upon us with a long fresh snowfall the day we arrived. It lasted for the good week and provided us excellent conditions.

One of the nicest parts of European based skiing is the on slope facilities including lovely restaurants with outdoor BBQs and French food for lunch. We ate well. Almost far too well on the slopes. Here’s a picture of a few of us at lunch where we managed to hoard a table for almost the entire fourteen of us.

Although the snow was good, we did have quite a few days of fairly cloudy days. It’s kind of surreal plowing through a cloud bank and trying to find your way down. I found out brightly coloured ski gear really helps!

Below is a picture of the chalet that we stayed at. We went through a good company who organised all of our transfers, ski hire and ski passes and had half board (breakfast and dinner) meals prepared by a really friendly Welsh couple. It was three course meals almost every night (except for the one where we ate out) and carafes of wine that went down a treat with everyone after a hard day’s slope. The best part was the heated outdoor jacuzzi where we could unwind and relax our tired muscles from the day’s activities.

I said we had a lot of snow. At least we got some pretty nice views.

One evening we went out to a nice restaurant that focused on regional cuisine. Our group ate loads of cheese, both in the form of a mushroom fondue, but also this swiss style, melting cheese raclette.

And after!

The new goggles went down a treat and worked out really well considering we had plenty of sunshine all the time we were there.

Les Gets has some awesome runs and its pistes are connected with eleven other ski resorts. We tried at least eight of them out, even making our away through three of them to get “across the border” into Switzerland. Here’s the proof:

Jo and Nathan beaming after the crossing.

Our ski host took us out one day skiing. This turned into a really great day run despite some of the cloudy conditions including some really good runs. We managed to find this again, crossing through Avoriaz, Portes Du Soleil, Morzine, to finally get to Châtel. This long red run was definitely one of our favourites, and a good thing that our guide showed us it. We didn’t know the name of it, but it’s one of the longest continuous runs that has some very decent speeds. For the record, the run is Le Linga.

A tiring and extremely satisfying ski holiday. It really shouldn’t be that long since the next one. It was great to be in a mixed group of skills. A number of people came up to speed really fast, and most people got away with out any injuries.