Six kilos in six weeks: 28 days down

wpid-wp-1447062912089.jpgRead the first post in this series here – Six kilos in six weeks: finishing what I started.
Just a warning, I’m going to be talking about weight loss, dieting and body image. If you struggle with your relationship with food, or have any self image difficulties, you may find it hard to read.

How am I doing?

We just spent a week at Center Parcs. Usually, a trip to CP involves us doing a shopping trip where doughnuts, cookies and chocolate feature pretty heavily. I was a bit concerned about this, but actually, the week proved pretty great.

Getting muddyWe ate tons of cabbage, broccoli and about a pint of coffee every day, but I managed to stay away from the biscuits.

  • I was under my calorie goal on three days this week…
  • …but on my worst day I was over by 775kcal.

Overall, based on a basal metabolic requirement of 2400 kcal per day, I’ve averaged a daily deficit of 865kcal, leaving me just over 6000 kcal down for the week.

Getting sweaty

My exercise has been going brilliantly. Center Parcs helped, with its rather inviting biking trails, and having free time in such a lush setting – you can see my mud splattered face on the right.

  • Week 1: I burnt off 1157 kcal doing exercise
  • Week 2: 945 kcal.
  • Week 3: 2150 kcal.

This week? 2235 kcal burnt off! I’m thoroughly enjoying being more active, feeling much healthier, and have even beaten my 10K time down to 55:20.

WhaLibra chart- 2015-10-26 12-00-00t is my weight?

Time to be frank: I’m a kilo and a half behind my goals at the moment.

My red average line continues to drop steadily, but I’ve left the blue goal line dropping away from me depressingly fast.

I suspect there are two reasons behind the slow loss:

  1. Based on my calorie deficit, I’m not quite hitting the goal of eating 7000 kcal less than I need each week. I’ve average 6,100 over the 4 weeks, which could account for at least half a kilo of weight.
  2. I’ve been doing steadily more strength exercises. Still only body weight work like press ups and sit ups, but my whole body feels firmer, especially my shoulder and arms, so its likely that at least another half kilo is muscle gain.

Macros!

Macros are more about how I feel than the effect they have on my weight.

After planning to look at this every week, today I finally had a look through my macros.

  • Protein aim: 40% – I’ve averaged 19%.
  • Carbs aim: 35% – I’ve averaged 50%.
  • Fat aim: 25% – I’ve averaged 30%.

I could get all excited trying to link high protein weeks with successful weight loss weeks: but ultimately, its impossible to separate this from the maths of calorie deficit. For me, especially whilst I’m not doing any significant weights or strength training, macros are more about how I feel than the effect they have on my weight.

I’m going to adjust my goals to those that more closely match the RDAs, and aim for Protein 25%, Carbs 50% and Fats 25%, and see how I see with that mix. I suspect I’ll struggle to keep protein that high, and may end up swapping out a bit for fats…

Changes, changes, changes.

weightlossweek4

I’m confident that if I carry on pushing, the weight will continue to fall off. Frankly, I trust the science more than I trust my scales. That said, metabolism, fat burning and calorie restriction are not exact sciences, so its worth slightly fiddling to see if there’s an improvement.

  1. Drop back to a 1200 kcal target. I think I can manage this, and I’m intrigued to see if its all I need to hit my targets.
  2. Carry on the exercise. 2000 kcal of exercise is a nice amount for me. Going to carry on the same routine as last week, with 2 circuit training days, 2 running days and 2 cycling days.
  3. Try to hit new macro targets. I’m keen to see if this has an impact on my percieved energy levels, or other pseudo-scientific effects…

Shout out thanks to Jon Smith for keeping me accountable, and texting me daily to tell me to “put down the butter dish and walk away”. Check out his ace 5K running app at RunwithKick.com

Results

These are all updated live from a central database, so feel free to check back daily for updates…

Six kilos in six weeks: halfway through

horizontal-162952_1280Read the first post in this series here – Six kilos in six weeks: finishing what I started.
Just a warning, I’m going to be talking about weight loss, dieting and body image. If you struggle with your relationship with food, or have any self image difficulties, you may find it hard to read.

How am I doing?

I stuck to my guns better than last week:

  • I was under my calorie goal on two days…
  • …on my worst day I was only over by 400kcal.

Overall, based on a basal metabolic requirement of 2400 kcal per day, I’ve averaged a daily deficit of 922kcal, leaving me just below 6500 kcal down for the week.

WhaLibra chart- 2015-10-19 12-00-00t is my weight?

Err… Somehow, I seem to have lost no weight at all since last week. Weighing in at 69kg was somewhat depressing this Monday morning.

That said, the red average line has still dropped by half a kilo in the last week, and I suspect my weights will catch up through the week, although it does look like I’m a little behind…

A changeable week.

Routine is the dieter’s friend. For me, I get up, weigh myself, have a negligible calorie coffee, go to work, eat around 700 calories through my work day, do some exercise at lunch, then go home, do a little more exercise, and eat about 700 calories in the evening.

Without routine? Life seems to be suddenly filled with opportunities to eat, and a high availability of difficult to assess foods. How many calories are actually in a Saag Paneer with half a Peshwari Naan. A Salad Kebab? Even just a latte from a random coffee shop?

In dieting, as in so many areas of life,
knowledge is power.

This week I visited my grandma in Birmingham. I massively upped my exercise, and did my best to keep track on calories pretty severely. But the simple failure to remember my weighing scales meant I already felt uncomfortably cut adrift.

So far, I’ve not found this moderately intense diet particularly difficult. Weight loss is pretty simple really: mostly, you need to eat less. Having a nice graph of weights, whilst tracking my daily input and outputs gives me a real sense of control. That’s why not having my scales robbed me from feeling capable and confident; in dieting, as in so many areas of life, knowledge is power.

Getting sweaty

What went better? Exercise went better:

  • Week 1: I burnt off 1157 kcal doing exercise
  • Week 2: I managed 945kcal of exercise.

This week? 2150 kcal burnt off. More than the previous two weeks combined. This may have contributed to the difficulty losing weight, in two ways:

  1. Firstly, there is a risk of overestimating exercise calories burn, which would mean my net deficit wouldn’t be high enough.
  2. Secondly, I may have built up my muscles a bit, which would disguise fat loss.

Changes, changes, changes.

weightlossweek3

I’m confident that if I carry on pushing, the weight will continue to fall off, despite the results this week. This week I’m going to:

  1. Stick with a 1400 kcal target. I doubt I will see significant progress with any more, and I’d be miserable with any less!
  2. Aim to stabilise my exercise. 2000 kcal of exercise in a week is a sustainable amount for me – translated to about 5 hours. Aiming to fit in the following workouts:
    – 2x a NYT workout twice a week
    – 2x cycling day
    – 2x running day (working on bleep test)
  3. Keep an eye on macros. *Still* haven’t thought about macros much. May look at this this week, or just review it at the end.

Shout out thanks to Jon Smith for keeping me accountable, and texting me daily to tell me to “put down the butter dish and walk away”. Check out his ace 5K running app at RunwithKick.com

Results

These are all updated live from a central database, so feel free to check back daily for updates…

Six kilos in six weeks: 1 week in

horizontal-162952_1280Read the first post in this series here – Six kilos in six weeks: finishing what I started.
Just a warning, I’m going to be talking about weight loss, dieting and body image. If you struggle with your relationship with food, or have any self image difficulties, you may find it hard to read.

How am I doing?

The first question in any diet is: have I fallen off the wagon yet? I’m happy to say no.

  • I have overshot, on one day by 250kcal…
  • …but I’ve also been under it by 137kcal on one day too.

In the last week, based on a basal metabolic requirement of 2400 kcal per day, I’ve averaged a daily deficit of 996kcal, leaving me just a smidge under 7000kcal down for the week.

All things being equal, 7,700 kcals would roughly equate to a kilo of fat loss. Has it…?

WhaLibra chart- 2015-10-05 12-00-00t is my weight?

Fairly underwhelmingly, in the last week, I’ve gone from 71.1kg on the scales to… 70.6kg. I’m happy things are moving in the right direction, even if they are currently moving a little slower than I hoped, after the exhilaration of reaching 70.0kg on my 3rd day.

In the past I’ve had my weight change by 3 kg over the course of 3 days!

You should expect your weight to vary significantly day by day. Drinking more water one day than the next can account for huge variations, as can the timing of bodily excretions. In the past I’ve had my weight change by 3 kg over the course of 3 days!

What matters is the trend of your weight. At the moment, I have a steadily downwards trend for my weight. On the graph on the right, the blue line is what I would need to achieve to hit my 6kg target loss. The red line is the estimate based on my weigh ins.

What’s wrong with my maths?

If I’m running at a deficit, why aren’t I losing weight? Some people say that calories in/calories out is a myth – are they right? Unfortunately, metabolism, weight loss and nutrition: none of these are exact sciences. Whilst its a helpful rule of thumb, lots of factors can derail this.

Estimations I’ve had to make.

I’ve had to make a number of assumptions and estimations for my diet.

  • Firstly, my basal metabolic rate using the Harris-Benedict equation: BMR= 88.362 + (13.397x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years ). For me, that equals 1,706kcal a day.

Already there are huge potential variabilities here – if your weight is mostly muscle, your BMR will increase, but that’s not reflected in this, and conversely, if its all fat your BMR will decrease.

  • Secondly, my daily calorie needs, based on my activity level: BMR x 1.55 (based on being moderately active) = 2,644kcal per day.

I started with an assumption of daily calorie needs of 2200kcal a day, giving me 1200 after a 1000kcal deficit. I felt pretty tired on this, and felt it made sense to increase to 2400kcal, (giving me 1400 after my deficit). The unclear aspect of the daily needs is: does one account for exercise calories if its already included in the calculation?

Unhelpful exercises

I actually found my ability to do press-ups reduced throughout the week.

A key issue here is that I’ve been doing strength exercises every day. The New York Times 7 minute workout isn’t much, but it involves a fair amount of sit ups, press ups and similar body-mass strength routines.

Doing strength exercises every day, on the same muscles, is a stupid idea. A good workout actually slightly injures muscle fibres, with the act of repairing damage leading to an increase in size and strength. They need at least a day, ideally two, to recover and be ready for more work. I actually found my ability to do press-ups reduced throughout the week.

Also, I may have been putting on muscle, which would impact on the daily weigh in.

Changes, changes, changes.

weightlossweek2

One week is down, and I’m feeling good. Sure, I’ve not obviously lost much weight, but I’m solidly on a path to being heathier, and I’m excited about it. Pretty sure there is a slight visual difference too… This week I’m going to:

  1. Stick with a 1400 kcal target. It’s difficult to be certain of my basic calorific needs (as discussed above) but its likely at least 2,400 kcal. A 1,000 kcal deficit is likely to be both effective and sustainable.
  2. Change my exercise. I’m going to do the New York Magazine workout twice a week, a decent cycle ride twice a week, and an attempt at improving my running time in a bleep test once a week. Sunday is going to be a day of rest!
  3. Keep an eye on macros. I’ve not really kept much of an eye on exactly what I’m eating, so this week I’ll think a little bit more about hitting the ratios I planned at the start.

Shout out thanks to Jon Smith for keeping me accountable, and texting me daily to tell me to “put down the butter dish and walk away”. Check out his ace 5K running app at RunwithKick.com

 

Results

These are all updated live from a central database, so feel free to check back daily for updates…

Six kilos in six weeks: finishing what I started.

wpid-wp-1447062912089.jpgJust a warning, I’m going to be talking about weight loss, dieting and body image. If you struggle with your relationship with food, or have any self image difficulties, you may find it hard to read.

Weight graphGetting healthier

I’ve been taking a more proactive approach to my health over the last two years. Amongst over achievements, I have:

  • Lost around 16kg (Around 2 stone, 8 lb) – 18% of my entire weight.
  • Dropped my BMI from 28 (Nearly obese) to 23 (Middle of normal).
  • Started running – and competing in a weekly 5K at runwithkick.com.
  • Taken part in my first Triathlon.

My “magic” technique

There’s an old cycling adage that holds a lot of truth:

You get fit on the bike;
but you lose weight in the kitchen.

I’ve always been fairly active, walking and cycling around Sheffield’s hills, but I’ve also always been completely able to eat a large pizza, followed by a large tub of Ben & Jerry’s.

The simple fact of the matter is, to lose weight, you need to eat less calories than your body is using. There needs to be a deficit. Thanks to calorie counting, a few lifestyle hacks, and a general awareness of the fact that its better to be fit than full, the weight has steadily come off.

Not quite there yet

Unfortunately, as the graph above shows, it easily goes back on. Whilst overall I’ve made a steady progress, I’m keen to skip to the end now. I’ve been aiming for 65kg for several years, and I’m planning a final push.

That would take my BMI to just under 22, and, I estimate, leave me with little enough belly fat that a six pack would emerge.

Why bother?

Last night, I came across an article by a chap who has lost around 40kg, and I showed his progress photo (below) to Katherine (my lovely wife), asking: “If you could choose, which body would I have?”. We’ve both come a long way over the last few years in opening up, and talking in a healthy weight about diet, about calories, and about fitness – I’m proud that she knows she can answer a question like that honestly, without hurting me.

She chose the second from right image. Mildly muscular, low body fat.

4dZcALk - Imgur

Now, I have a healthy weight at the moment. I’m fairly happy with how I look, how I feel, and how I weigh. But I’ve always wondered how it would feel to be a bit more slim and muscular. And there is no shame in wanting to look sexy for your wife: frankly, it’s my duty.

DSC_0252The plan

I’m aiming to lose 1kg a week (around 2.2lb). This is a healthy amount of weight loss to aim for – its recommended in the NHS Weight Loss guide. I will do this by maintaining a calorie deficit of around 1,000 calories a day.

For fitness, I imagine I will have a fair bit more muscle work to do at the end, but for now I’m going to carry on my normal running and cycling, but commit to completing the New York Times 7 Minute workout once a day.

I’m not a big believer than the macronutrient mix has a huge impact on metabolism; but I do know that protein makes me feel full more easily than carbs, which helps to hit calorie deficit goals. I’m going to be aiming for roughly 40% protein, 20-30% fat and 30-40% carbs.

Support me!

Encouragement is very helpful to me. Kind words, fat jokes, comments on how ridiculous I look in those cycling socks – anything with a spirit of “I’m behind you!” would be great. Feel free to text me, facebook me, tweet me; comments on the blog are especially nice to get.

If you want advice about making lifestyle changes yourself, drop me a message.

Results

I’ll be doing a weekly update post, but I’m going to keep track of some key stats below.

One finding I’m expecting is that my basal metabolic rate may be higher than I give myself allowance for. This will show itself in me losing weight faster than planned. If so, I may need need to increase my daily calorific intake by 100-200kcal. I can definitely cope with having to eat a chocolate bar.

I may also find that I run out of abdominal fat after 4 or 5 kilos. If so, I’ll stop.

Triathlon Chris

Over the past year and a half, I have become steadily more excited about being healthy. Lots of people seems to think that being vegetarian means that you are automatically more healthy: they forget that vegetarians are allowed to consume their body weight in cheese every day.

Since August 2013, I have lost around 18% of my body weight (about 16kg) and have become steadily more enamoured with cycling.

I’ve even started running: not exactly frequently, but somewhere in the middle ground between regularly and occasionally.

As part of this exciting new me, I signed up to do my first ever Sprint Triathlon, the XTERRA Buffelspoort LITE

Training

I decided firmly to do the triathlon in around mid December, giving me 6 weeks to train. And I kinda did, vaguely racking up some time in each of the three disciplines:

Swimming

Ultimately, doing 80 lengths of a 5 metre long pool feels a bit ridiculous.

My swimming training was pretty rubbish – I only managed around 4 swims in my 6 weeks. I did a few practice swims at Sodwana Beach, but the current there is insanely strong, and the waves are pretty ferocious, so it wasn’t the best preparation for a flat lake swim of 400m.

I also tried to do some practices in local lodge swimming pools – but these ranged from 5m to 10m wide, making them not very practical for working on my front crawl. Ultimately, doing 80 lengths of a 5m pool feels a bit ridiculous, and I got more tired from constantly turning round than from swimming.

Cycling

wpid-1421077162864_fact_1.jpgThis is definitely my strength – as you know, I love cycling. In the tri, I need to do 19.6km on tricky off-road hills. I bought a second hand Rocky Mountain Element 50 in Paarl, and it flew with us back to KZN.

I’ve had some lovely little rides on it, up Paarl Rock, Table Mountain, Signal Hill and a few decent ~20km trips around Mseleni. I also went after work on day to False Bay Park and spent a few hours rocketing around, as you can see in the picture on right.

Running

I’m steadily starting to appreciate running more in my life, and I went on around 1-2 runs a week. The triathlon involves a hilly, off-road 6km trail run: a good fit for the undulating off road territory around Mseleni hospital.

I generally aimed to do runs around 6-8km, although I think doing a few longer ones would have been a good idea. My favourite run was probably the one up Paarl Rock, where I was able to sprint back down the hill at a ridiculously fast pace.

The Big Day

We are staying with our lovely friends, Paul & Debbie, in the exciting township of Soshanguve. Buffelspoort is around an hour’s drive from Sosh, so we ended up leaving horribly early – 4:40am. Whilst my friends took part in the trail run, I had several hours in which to fix a rather annoying puncture of my back wheel. After a rather exhausting hour scrounging tools (and experience) from some helpful strangers, I finally had a fully inflated back wheel.

By 8:30am, we were at the starting point, and by 8:50, I was in the water surrounded by nearly 400 other men in leotards. Soon the ten second countdown began, and off we went!

Swimming

It turns out that swimming in a tight triathlon suit for the first time, whilst surrounded in every direction by hundreds of other swimmers, is quite stressful. I struggled to get my breathing rhythm sorted, and then, when I tried to stop, had people trying to clamber over me.

I actually began to panic a little, but after a minute or so, I switched to breast stroke, and made my way forwards. After the initial crush, the field thinned out, and I was able to get some space, calm down, and switch back to front crawl again, overtaking some of the people who had shot past me.

Getting out, I nearly tripped over a few times, but soon got my balance and jogged into the first transition.

Time: 400m in 10:21

Transition 1

Putting on tight cycling socks with wet, sandy feet is always a challenge. I was still a little disorientated after the near drowning, so somehow I wasted nearly half the time I spent swimming just getting changed over.

The guy who won the event did both his changeovers in around 40 seconds! Anyway, soon enough I had my bike, and was off past the start line.

Time: 4:37

Cycle

Buffelspoort-XTERRA-LITE-MTB-ROUTEIt felt good to be in the saddle. The first half a kilometre was on a sandy road (see route on right), and I began to relax.

Just as I was starting to focus on my cadence, we moved onto some tricky singletrack, and there was a traffic jam. Everyone had to stop and shuffle along for a bit until the crowd had dispersed a bit. During this time, the leading girls (who set off ten minutes after us) overtook, which was a little depressing.

After a few minutes, things had thinned out again, and off we went. Generally I found the terrain quite tricky, but only had to dismount briefly maybe 20 times over the 19.4km, pretty similar to many of the guys around me.

When we went onto the smoother tracks, especially uphill I was pleased to find I was much more bike fit than the group around me, and was able to power past people, overtaking a lot. Sadly, on the technical downhills I was much too much of a wimp, and a fair number of people overtook me each time (but less than I was passing on the uphills).

I suspect this is probably a result of lots of guys enjoying a little Saturday afternoon MTB, where they drive to a tricky trail and whizz around for an hour, but they don’t do very much long distance: the complete opposite of me.

Cycle Triathlon

Anyway, after a nerve wracking technical descent, I completed the bike course, and went into transition 2.

Time: 19.4km in 1:13:52

Transition 2

Second TransitionThe automated chip on my ankle didn’t record my entrance time into the transition, and combined it with my cycling time, so I guessed that I made better time than the first one, given that I wasn’t wet, and didn’t have to change my shoes.

I did apply lots of sun tan lotion, but managed to forget to put it on my back, leading to a nice burn that has left my race number, “1505” in white skin surrounded by tan on my shoulder. I was a little disorientated, and initially tried to apply the sun lotion as a deoderant, since it was in a spray can. Needless to say, my armpit did not get sunburnt.

Time: 3:00 (probably)

Run

Run RouteShortly after leaving the starting line, I started to get a pain in the left side of my chest, with a very rapid heart rate, around 180. I decided it made more sense to walk for a bit than to die, so it took me a few minutes to get going again. Most of the runners around me were in a worse state than me, and after my myocardial infarction had settled down, I began to pick up the pace.

To my surprise, I had a lot more energy left than the people around me, and I was able to steadily overtake for the rest of the run.

There was a very steep gradient on one uphill, which I walked part of, but aside from this, I didn’t need to stop for the rest of the race (except a brief moment to eat some fruit gums and grab a glass of water from a refreshment stand).

The last kilometre was very enjoyable, and my pace picked up more, the closer the finishing line came.

Running home

And then I was done, the race complete!

Time: 5.8km in 37:28

Results

Winners MedalMy overall time was 2 hours, 9 minutes, 19 seconds. I came 173rd, out of 585 racers (29% centile), or 144th out of 389 men (37% centile). Given that I was aiming for 60% centile, I’m pretty happy.

Given that running is really not my forte, I was very happy with that side of things: compared to the Puma trail run results from earlier in the day (which did the same route), if I had entered that and run the same time, I’d have come 20th out of 234 runners (9% centile) – and I’d already done the first two parts of a triathlon!

All in all, I had a fantastic time, and definitely plan to do lots more of them. I think I need to get a fair bit more training in, but just on the swimming, cycling and running parts.

Snakebites and sad goodbyes

dhThese notes are about the CMF Developing Health Course 2014.

The focus of today is Dermatology. I made notes on the whole course in 2012 – you can read about this day here.

Each day I’m just going to write about things that impacted me, and things I need to read later…

A final morning chapel followed our joyful late night escapades last night, with a combination of Amazing Grace and We Are Marching to get a bit of the African clapping vibe working. The photo below is from earlier in the week, but since its the last day today, it seems appropriate to share it…

Beautiful_photo_DHC_2014

Dermatology

Clare Fuller showed us lots of very interesting graphs. Dermatology complaints are known to under present, be poorly treated and lead to people avoiding healthcare for other important issues.

In some studies, more than 60% of Dermatological prescriptions were inappropriate in a Developing world setting.

Also, distance effects health seeking behaviour in Dermatology more than other conditions: if there is a clinic within 1km, people attend with their fever, their pain, their rashes. If the clinic is 10km away, they will only go with their fever or pain, according to one study.

Apparently 10-20% of children with scabies will still have haematuria 10 years later! That’s terrifying, and only something that’s recently coming to light.

Skin lightening products

Using topical steroids for skin lightening leads to low birth weight and vaginal bleeding in pregnancy.

Generally dangerous

Cutaneous bacterial infections

Very common in the tropics, can be difficult to identify which one in particular.

Treating cutaneous bacterial infections

  1. Wash skin – clean water, disinfectants
  2. Remove crusts, debris, necrotic tissue
  3. Topical anti-inflammatory/anti-biotics, honey, etc.
  4. Oral antibiotics

Eczema

Acqeous cream should not be left on the skin – can inhibit barrier function.

Otherwise the greasier the better.

Snakebites

Approach will vary depending what snakes you have in your area.

I saw a snake on my balcony, and was concerned, so asked a colleague what to do.

Their response, “Have you tried the exposure test?

“What is that?“, she replied.

Let it bite you, and see what happens

Fond goodbyes

I was feeling desperately sad by the end of the day, but it was time to say goodbye to everyone. I got bullied into starting a Developing Health 2014 facebook group, so feel free to join if you came along – it’d be great to stay in touch.

Thanks to everyone who came along, everyone who donated their time to teach, and the course organisers: I’ll be processing everything I’ve learnt for months…

Ladies, feet washing and goodbye curry

dhThese notes are about the CMF Developing Health Course 2014.

The focus of today is More Women’s Health. I made notes on the whole course in 2012 – you can read about this day here.

Each day I’m just going to write about things that impacted me, and things I need to read later…

Cross Cultural Care

Mary Hopper delivered a talk that usually marks part of a 30 hour course over 6 weeks. In 55 minutes.

Your race is a constant.
Your culture constantly changes.

She recommended reading a book called “Desert Flower”, by Waris Dirie.

She mentioned that simple things like Dermatology books rarely have pigmented skin, making medicine itself culturally inaccessible, but then Marli emailed me an African Skin Guide, which is not added to my ridiculous pile of things I need to read…

Labour and Obstetrics

A maternity dashboard sounds like an excellent way of keeping track of statistics and aiming to improve them across a whole hospital.

We had lots of very useful workshops, which included resolving a shoulder dystocia, and delivering a breach. I also had some great one-on-one tuition from Julie-Rachel, a midwife working in Zambia, who invited all of us to stay out there – she has ridden on an elephant! I definitely want to ride on an elephant, so now I just need to persuade Katherine that the experience is worth 20 hours or so of travelling…

Final evening

jesus-washing-disciples-feet-by-taklaIt being the last evening before the end of the course, there was a goodbye service in the chapel, where Ian spoke about Ephesians 1 again, and talked about the big transformation present in so many biblical lessons: imagining a U shape, starting high, dropping low, coming high. Jesus is Lord, coming down to mankind, dying an ignoble death, then rising up again.

He ended with John 13:

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.

No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.

Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

John 13:3-17

Last time I was on the course, I felt a calling to wash everyone’s feet. This time we did it again, myself, Marli and Jayde. As always, it was an intimate, humbling experience – an honour for all of us.

CURRY!

Several of us had wanted to go out for an evening meal, but Vicky was sad about people leaving on the very last night: we compromised with an Indian takeaway. In the largest order I’ve ever made, we ordered £120 of curries, rice, poppadums and naan breads. We pulled together 3 tables, and sat round them, laughing, sharing, and trying not to think about saying goodbye.

After the food was finished, we spent some good old fashioned time singing Irish songs, National Anthems of every country round the table (we didn’t do all 11 verses of the Norwegian one), reading out poetry and spoken word, and telling jokes.

Worship in the dark

By around 10, a small group of us – Me, Jayde, Marli, Jakob, Ingvlid, Richard (until his wife summoned him away) – headed to the chapel, where we started playing worship songs. We turned off the lights, with just a small torch lighting up the music on the piano, and stayed together for hours.

It was a peaceful end to the course, and an honour to share with friends who were strangers to me 2 weeks ago. Around 1am, we prayed for each other, and headed for bed.

I stupidly also chose this time to pack, but because I’m a disorganised man, it only took me about 5 minutes to shove everything randomly into bags