Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Today being the 21st August means that I have just 10 days left until my 5 Stone Challenge, so my weekly weigh-in has been more nerve racking than usual.  The past few weeks have really been a personal challenge for me too. I’ve left my job, which has meant spending quite a lot of time at home.  That usually means spending time cooking and entertaining, so that’s been tough.  However, it’s been made even more difficult as one of my best friends who lives in New Zealand is staying with me, so I’m still having to cook or go out for meals and generally socialise a lot, which hasn’t left much time for the gym, but I’m been really careful and hoped it would pay off.  Finally, I’ve organised another of my best friend’s wedding which takes place in Italy in a couple of weeks, so the associated stress or flying around and making sure that everything is sorted before we leave is exactly the sort of thing that would usually make me turn and look for comfort…and we all know that my happy place is with food and drink.  I have, however, resisted.

So, here’s the results from today’s weigh-in.  I started out this challenge at 26 stone (165.3kg / 364lb)with a BMI of 42.05 and a Body Fat percentage of 37.7%.  Today I weighed-in at 21st and 4lb (135.4kg / 298lbs) with a BMI of 36.7 and a Body Fat percentage of 32.5%, so that’s a loss of 66lb or 29.9kgs, plus a reduction in my BMI of 5.35 and Body Fat is down 5.2%.  Whilst it certainly hasn’t been easy and this sounds like a lot of weight, I am still technically obese and have a long way to go to fall into a much healthier range, but I do feel that knowing 5 stone is possible in 8 months, what’s to stop me doing the same in the next year?

Charitable donations have also continued to flood in and I am honestly overwhelmed by the support my friends and family have given. So far we have raised £3,649.88 and I hope that we can break the £4,000 mark with other pledged donations.  In the meantime, I still have 4lbs to lose, so wish me luck!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


With just over 3 weeks left of my 5 stone diet and exercise challenge to raise charitable funds for The Dream Factory, the pressure is definitely on and I’m working hard to make sure that this challenge doesn’t beat me. Carefully counting every calorie and exercising however and whenever possible.

At the beginning of this week, I weighed in at 22 stone exactly and I now officially have 24 days left to shift that weight. I couldn’t be more focused on meeting this goal and it’s great to have so many messages of support spurring me on.  Local press have also been very supportive.

Of course, the whole reason why I am putting myself through this pain every day and have endeavoured to turn my entire lifestyle on its head is to raise money for a charity which is working to help so many poorly children, but simply doesn’t have the resources to help them all.  These children are looking for a break in cloud cover so dense that there often seems to be no light at all breaking through.  I want the Dream Factory to go on and shine that light where it is most needed, but I can only make a difference with your help.  I really hope you will consider making a donation via my JustGiving site today.  I can personally assure you that every penny donated is spent carefully helping those most in need of support.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Once again, I have taken my place on the dreaded scales this week to review my progress as part of the 5 Stone Challenge set out before me to raise funds for The Dream Factory charity.

This week I weighed-in at 22 stone 8lbs (143.7kgs), which means in total I have lost 3 stone and 6lbs (21kgs), which is the equivalent to 10 household bricks.  As you can see though from the photo I have uploaded of my weigh-ins from the past few weeks, my weight loss is certainly getting much slower now.  I only have 12 weeks left to complete my
challenge, so if I were to only lose 1lb a week for the next 12 weeks, I wouldn’t complete the weight loss proposed.  That is precisely the reason why I am now working with Brett Sizeland and the Concept Fitness UK team and getting myself into the gym.  I hope that by introducing this new lifestyle change and slowly increasing some cardio fitness, I will be able to burn more calories than I currently am and increase rate at which I am losing weight.

For anyone else who is thinking of joining the gym, I was sent a fantastic quote by someone this week, which sums up how I am trying to approach “the gym”.  Martin Luther King Jr. once said of faith: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”I say the same to you.  Take the first step of fitness.  You don’t have to be hench or want to be an athlete or Mr. Universe.  Just try it out…you never know, you might like it! I certainly never thought I would and I’m going back again this evening.

Saturday, 1 June 2013


Those of you that managed to listen into my last radio interview on the BBC, I talked about how when I first started out on my 5 Stone Challenge back in January, there was no way I could have gone and signed-up the gym.  The harsh reality was, I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs without getting breathless.  I was ridiculously unfit, but I knew that if I slowly increased the amount of exercise I did, I would see small improvements every day and that is what has happened over the past 5 months, predominantly through walking.  I was also aware, that whilst walking and gardening and cleaning and other simple day-to-day activities help to burn calories and increase fitness levels, there was going to come a time where I would decide that perhaps 4 hours walking versus 30 minutes in the gym might make more sense to my lifestyle and that time has now come.

During the course of my 5 Stone Challenge, I had a message from Brett Sizeland, the owner of Concept Fitness UK which are based in Epping offering to help provide strength and conditioning training whenever I felt ready.  What I loved about the this gym is that they use such a range of principles to achieve each individual’s goals and they’re totally inclusive, so their customers range from 7 years old to 87.  That immediately gave me confidence that it wasn’t going to be a stereotypical ‘one size fits all’ facility where I would feel totally out of my league from the moment I stepped foot through the door.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still very nervous, but the time felt right!
For those who know me well, you will be aware that my wardrobe goes from smart/casual to smart then to formal.  I don’t really do casual at all, but wasn’t sure turning up to the gym in a suit would be particularly sensible, so off to JD Sports I went.  With new running shoes and a tracksuit purchased, I was ready to go!

When I arrived at the gym and met Brett, he put me at ease straight away. He explained that no two bodies are the same, so what works for one person often doesn’t for the next.  He said his plan was to take things easy and he asked me to do some simple exercises so he could access my fitness levels and look at my posture and balance. We than began doing a range of different resistance exercises and moved on to using some kettle bells and other equipment, as he felt I had the ability to do so.  Then out came the ropes!  From magazine articles, I was aware that the use of ropes is a brilliant way to exercise your whole body.  Effectively I had a very large, heavy rope and had to hold on to the two ends and shake the rope as high as I could off of the ground. We did sets of 10 seconds on, 20 seconds off for a good few minutes. As time went on, I could feel one arm giving up and the other fighting hard to compensate. It was great! Something so simple, but effective and uses so many different muscles. Beyond exhausting though!!

In conclusion I completed my first session feeling weary but also absolutely exhilarated and inspired. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it might be and despite being ridiculously unfit and overweight, I actually didn’t feel out of place.  I can’t recommend Brett and the Concept Fitness team highly enough to anyone in a similar position. If you’re thinking of joining a gym, drop them an email to or call 01992 579050.  You can also check out their website here. I should also add that Brett is training me free of charge, in support of my charity challenge for The Dream Factory, for which I and the charity are enormously grateful.

Thursday, 23 May 2013


As you may recall, at the beginning of my 5 Stone Challenge I was invited to spend some time with BBC Essex radio presenter Dave Monk to talk about my work with the Dream Factory and about how I intended to change my lifestyle to overcome the challenge and lose 5 stone.  Since then, I have returned to spend time with Dave and his highly supportive listeners at regular intervals and yesterday I did so again. You can listen to our discussion online in full here.

It’s great to be able to help raise the profile of this charity, which brings a little light into the lives of families who seem to feel so encompassed by darkness and I can’t thank people enough for their donations, encouragement and offers of help.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


This morning I woke-up at 6am as usual, but all I wanted to do was assume the fetal position and drift back off to sleep (of course, I didn’t).  I got up, had a shower and headed into the office, certainly feeling less than my usual partying self – dizzy, tired, grumpy and a little sick does not a good Murf make!

When I arrived in the City, I was approached by a sea of salespeople trying to offer me free samples of their products, most of which fell outside of the 'healthy' food and drink category, so I grabbed an iced caffe latte and a fruit smoothie and headed to the office. As I strolled through the office the temptation continued. I had forgotten it was the charity cake sale!! The smell across every floor in the building was wonderful. Working for such an international organisation, there was such a vast variety of goods to choose from and a few months ago, I would have made light work of ensuring I visited each station to support the good causes. Alas, this year I made a donation and scurried off to my office putting myself on lockdown!

For lunch I turned to one of my favourite dishes from the restaurant EAT; Chicken Laksa Soup. It's officially described as: "a Malaysian classic. Lots of noodles and chicken in a spicy coconut creamy soup. Garnished with a fresh salad of spring onion, spinach and coriander." All I know is it is delicious and thanks to the wonderful website My Fitness Pal, I can always see what I'm eating and how bad it is for me. This particular dish is 365 calories for a 'big' portion which I think is very reasonable for a hot lunch and something which fulfils me and stops me wanting more throughout the afternoon. Also, because this is a creamy dish with noodles, you don't want any bread with it, so it's a real winner in my books.  For dinner I had a grilled gammon steak with a medley of vegetables.

Monday, 20 May 2013


For those of you who know me, you will be aware of just how hectic my schedule can be.  I’m a big believer in the phrase ‘carpe diem’, so try and ram as many events and see as many people as I possibly can during the course of most weekends.  However, socialising is almost always accompanied by the temptation of good food and drink!

On Friday, I attended a wedding, but was very well behaved.  I didn’t drink, I didn’t eat and I only stayed for a few hours before giving my apologies.  From previous experience, weddings and I just don’t mix well, so I think I have to resign myself to the fact that weddings forever more must be judged on the basis of ‘all or nothing’.

Saturday I caught up with some family, then in the evening caught up with an old friend.  We went for dinner locally to the Clocktower Restaurant and I was pretty good on the food front (olives as an alternative starter, followed by a grilled chicken breast and vegetables).  The owner of the restaurant is a friend of mine, so she joined us towards the end of our meal and kept bringing over peach bellinis, which I enjoyed very much!  We then decided to pop into a local nightclub called Club One9Five and really spent a good 4 hours dancing until we couldn’t dance any more.  It was great fun and I managed to stick to vodka and tonic, so relatively well behaved given the highly tempting surroundings!

On Sunday, we went for breakfast in a fantastic local coffee shop Belgique and enjoyed some scrambled eggs with a toasted bagel.  Later I met another friend and went off to Upon Park for West Ham’s last game of the season against Reading.  I go to football quite regularly, but my friend had never been before, despite being a life-long West Ham fan.  It was great day and the sun was shining so the 4-2 result to my team ended the season beautifully and left West Ham joint 9th in the league tables.  Not bad considering we weren’t even in the league 2 years ago!

In the week ahead, I hope to keep focused on the food and really get in some good exercise.  I hope you’ve all had enjoyable weekends too.

Thursday, 16 May 2013


It's amazing how quickly you feel better about yourself when you return to a healthier way of living.  I honestly do believe a lot of it is psychological.  If I had a penny for every time someone has asked me ‘Do you feel better for the weight loss?’ the charity coughers would be overflowing!  The truth is I actually don’t feel any different to when I started.  I obviously noticed the weight loss in my clothes, having gone down 8 sizes and I also notice a difference in my physical ability when exercising, but I don’t feel a massive change overall, as so many people seem to suggest will come at some stage.  Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that I’m still overweight, even though I have lost 3 and a half stone, and I still have a long way to go.  I do, however, feel positively towards knowing that when I am dieting and exercising I am doing the right thing, not only for my own health and future, but also in raising money for the Dream Factory charity.

I’ve also been thinking about ways to ensure I remain focused on the challenge for the rest of its duration and came across a new American study, which suggests that people who attend regular dieting groups across a 3 month time scale lost an average of 8.6lbs compared to those going it alone who lost an average of 1.8lb.  They weighed the same group again after 6 months and those in the group lost an average of 10.1lbs compared to the solo dieter who had actually put an average of 5lbs on!  Thankfully, I use my blog and social media to continue to communicate with other dieters which is much like a dieting community for me.  When life gets busy and I stop blogging seems to be the time when I also stray from the diet plan, so the key from now on in is to keep blogging, regardless of what else is going on!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


To say I’ve lost my way with this 5 Stone Challenge would be an understatement!  The past few weeks have been peppered with so many luring social events and I seem to have made some marvellous excuses as to why I should be allowed “just one night off” for a birthday or wedding or family gathering or…!!  I’ve broken the cardinal rule which is you have to ensure that whatever goes in, has to be burned off to come out.  It seems as though as soon as the sun makes its extraordinarily rare annual visit, my body cries out for alfresco dining...which is obviously best complimented with copious amounts of vino! 

However, I’ve had enough of not making the progress I desire.  I am now officially 19 weeks in, so have 15 weeks left to complete this challenge.  I think the last time I posted my weight was just after my trip to Mexico at the end of March and I weighed in at 23 stone exactly (146.4kg).  So starting afresh, I hopped back on the scales today and weighed in at 22 stone and 9lb (144.2kg).  My BMI is 38.3 and body fat percentage is 33.6%, so I still have a long way to go, but at least I know where I stand.  Now I know I have to lose 1 stone and 9lbs (23lbs) in the next 15 weeks as an absolute minimum, so the food focus is back and I’ll be stepping up the exercise regime too.  Of course, there’s no time like the present, so today I took a nice stroll from my office which is just off of Liverpool Street, across the Thames to the Mayor of London’s office at City Hall, then I walked back again – it’s almost a 4 mile round trip, but only took me about 40 minutes, so easy to do in my lunch hour.  It also gives me an opportunity to venture into parts of the city I wouldn’t usually see as part of my daily routine and it acted as a sharp reminder of just how magnificent our historic London skyline really is.  Of course, within 5 minutes of leaving my office without an umbrella or overcoat, the heavens opened and I appeared at the Mayor’s office looking rather like a drowned rat!  Another lesson learned.

Thanks again to everyone for their continued messages of advice and support.  Needless to say, the whole reason why I’m going through this massive lifestyle change is to raise money for a charity which so desperately needs support to make dying children’s wishes come true.  It’s realy that simple.  We are just trying to give kids a break in life they so richly deserve.  If you think you can help with that, you can make a donation via my JustGiving website here or you can send a text MURF50 then the amount you want to sponsor (anything from £1 upwards) and send it to 70070 or you can call the charity directly on 020 8501 1234.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Today’s been a normal day for me.  Back on the porridge for breakfast, soup for lunch and dinner is an unknown surprise at the moment as I have a Governor’s meeting which is expected to end very late this evening, so may try and grab some fruit to take with me to keep me going!  I have to confess though, I feel exhausted.  The jetlag from Mexico is the worst I’ve ever had and I have a cold too, so generally feeling sorry for myself…and when I feel sorry for myself, I crave comfort foods.

I think I’ve mentioned on my blog before, prior to the start of this challenge, I had a very unhealthy relationship with Hellman's mayonnaise.  I couldn’t get enough of it and would try and work it into my daily intake of calories any which way I could.  It was most definitely my Achilles heel, which is why I made the decision to cut it out of my diet altogether rather than attempt to ration my intake and end up getting overruled by the need to quench by greed.

Now that I’m feeling more secure in my diet and exercise regime, my mind wondered whether there was any way to introduce a mayonnaise substitute which was healthier.  I have to confess, I was stunned when I looked properly at the contents of a jar of ‘Real Mayonnaise’ - 100 calories per 14g tablespoon and 11g’s of that is fat! There is clearly a massive difference in the ‘Light Mayonnaise’ which is 40 calories per 15g tablespoon of which 4g’s are fat, but the taste and texture is very different and I’m not a big fan.

Over the next few weeks, I’m planning to trial a whole range of alternatives, from avocado (like a guacamole), greek yogurt, sun-dried tomatoes, hummus, pesto, Nayonaise and aioli.  If any of you have any other suggestions though, I’m willing to give anything a shot.  I really can’t stand dry food and if I can find a sauce which works for me, I’ll be a very happy man!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


As the weeks continue into my 5 Stone Challenge I have to admit, the commitment to the diet waivers, the results are harder to achieve and my desire for anything at all which is laced with lard increases! So why on earth am I doing this challenge?  It’s simple – because of The Dream Factory.  It’s one of the most worthy charities I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

You can never truly understand the overwhelming burden which is placed on a family of a terminally ill child - be it financial, psychological or physical.  The way in which everything that seems so perfect and normal can be completely turned on its head to make the things which you thought were important pale into insignificance.  To have a helping hand in a person's hour of need which allows them to make the most of time they have left with their child is surely one of the greatest gifts we can give?

But the harsh reality is, charity work is extremely expensive.  The requests for help that flood into The Dream Factory’s office every day far outstrip the funding available to help.  So there are families out there who are left without that helping hand and that is all I am trying to help with.  It’s simple, the more money we can raise, the more children’s dreams can come true. 

It’s so simple to donate too.  You can do it online via my JustGiving website, you can send a text MURF50 then the amount you want to sponsor (anything from £1) and send it to 70070 or you can call the charity directly on 020 8501 1234.

So far, with gift aid, we have raised £3,197.50, but with your help, we can and must do better.  Whatever you can afford to give will be gratefully received.  Thank-you.

Monday, 18 March 2013


So, today is week 11 of my 5 Stone Challenge and whilst I’ve been beyond lax at updating my blog over the past few weeks, the diet has continued, even if it has been a particularly bumpy road!

As those of you who follow me on Twitter may be aware, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks in Mexico celebrating my best friend’s stag / bachelor party.  I have the honour of being his Best Man, so have spent the past year pulling this event together…and what an event it was!  For anyone who has not experienced Cancun during Spring Break before, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I made a pact with myself when I first took-up this challenge which was that I would completely forget the diet for the 2 weeks of the stag, but that would be the only time I would let myself off the leash between now and the end of the challenge.

As it turns out though, I made the effort to swim every day, to dance hard all night every night, to only drink gin and slimline tonic and to eat as well as I could.  Generally speaking (minus a few 5am pizzas), I stuck to those rules.  Breakfasts were simple and healthy, lunches were often BBQs (so freshly grilled seafood, meat and vegetables) and the evening meal’s allocation of calories were consumed via copious amounts of alcohol.  Not a diet I would advocate, but I was making the best of a bad situation!

I returned home over the weekend and have dreaded stepping back on the scales, but ‘carpe diem’ as they say, I hopped up today and prepared for the worst.  I can’t begin to tell you how elated I was to find out I had lost weight on the stag.  In fact, I had to weigh again just to be absolutely sure.

When I started the challenge, I weighed 26 stone.  Today I weighed in at 23 stone, which is a whopping 3 stone or 42lb loss (or for my European friends, 165.3kg to 146.4kg = 18.9kg).  Thinking back to those bricks I referred to in my earlier post, that means I have now lost 8.5 bricks of fat from my body.  BMI was 44.4 and it’s now 38.9.  My body fat was 37.7% and is now 34.7%.

I genuinely do believe in divine intervention and someone somewhere has clearly given me a helping hand which has given me exactly the focus I needed to get back on the bandwagon and lose the final 2 stone of this challenge….here’s to the future!

Thursday, 7 February 2013


This morning started bright-and-early today and, as with every Wednesday, my weigh-in was niggling away at the back of my mind.  Taking my usual route to the office however, I was faced with what can only be described as a very cruel temptation to test my resolve and commitment to the 5 Stone Challenge.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so you can see for yourselves…a Big Ben burger…c’mon!!  You’ll be pleased to know I avoided it like the plaque and laughed off as just another chapter in my new life. 

Lunchtime came and off I went to Boots for my weigh-in.  I am pleased to report that this week I lost another 3lbs (1.4kg), which takes me down to 23 stone and 8lbs (150.1kg / 330lbs).  That means I have now lost a total of 34lbs in 5 weeks.

My BMI is now 39.5, down from 42.05.  Remember, a BMI over 40 falls into the ‘morbidly obese’ category, so I am now out of that extremely unhealthy category and moving in the right direction!  Let’s hope next week we make even more progress, but I know that weight loss is certainly getting harder to achieve.

I also had a good chuckle playing a game with my niece this evening where you have to collect shopping and place it in your trolley.  I only managed to collect some water and some soup in mine - it felt scarily 'close to home' for my liking!

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Thankfully, this weekend hasn't played host to any birthday parties, stags, weddings or charity events which would take me away from home, unlike the previous 4 weekends.  However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been busy!  I am blessed with a mixture of great friends geographically scattered all over the globe and a family with whom I am particularly close.  I am also a firm believer that relationships require time and you will only ever get out what you are prepared to put in, so there really isn’t ever a quiet moment in my social calendar, which makes dieting more difficult for me personally.

Friday evening I joined a friend for dinner and, as is usual for us, we headed to our favourite Mexican restaurant.  Usually I’d be having some jalapeno chilli, salsa and cheese topped nachos as a starter, chicken and steak combo fajitas mixed nicely with a couple of Corona’s and a Margarita or two for good measure.  This week I had to find something new from the menu and given how notoriously fattening Mexican food can be, I applied my own rule of thumb, which was to try and stay away from anything which was fried, so I skipped the starter and tried out the Guisado de Cordero (slowly stewed lamb in a tomato sauce) which is served in a tortilla bowl, which I didn’t eat.

On Saturday, I missed breakfast, as I overslept, so grabbed a coffee en route to a meeting I had in Victoria.  I headed to La Tasca for lunch and had a Castile la Mancha (spicy roasted vegtable cassolo made with butternut squash, red onion, chickpeas, celeriac and cannellini beans in a winter warming spicy tomato sauce).  After lunch I went to witness one of my friends get confirmed in Westminster Cathedral.  This friend’s family is half Italian, half Irish, so food and drink plays a huge part in the every gathering.  After the confirmation, as expected, we soon sound ourselves in an Italian restaurant and I really had to dig deep to avoid ordering some bruschetta, a nice plate of pasta and bottle of red wine, but I pushed on and ordered Spigoli Alla Meditarrean (seabass grilled with onions and garlic) served with a side of broccoli and spinach.

We will find out on Wednesday whether or not it is possible to continue to have a social life which involved a lot of eating out and still lose weight, but the key rules seem to be not ordering a starter or dessert, staying away from alcohol and allowing yourself to order a couple of extra sides of vegetables and a coffee whilst everyone else is tucking into their tiramisu! As one of my Titter followers said to me earlier today, “a moment on the lips…a lifetime on the hips”!!

Saturday, 2 February 2013


At the launch of my 5 Stone Challenge the interest from the media was fantastic and it helped to both raise the profile of The Dream Factory whilst also reminding people of ways they could support me by donating to this very worthy cause.

The month of February seems to bring continued media coverage with an informative article in the Everything Epping Forest Magazine in the Essex
Megascene Magazine and I have also been invited to return to BBC Radio Essex on Monday 4th February at 11.30am for a monthly review of my 5 Stone Challenge with presenter Dave Monk which you can listen into here.

To all of my friends and colleagues in the media, I thank you for your continued support.