All posts by Simon Hibbott

The 5BX plan, or how to achieve physical fitness in 11 minutes a day

I first came across the 5BX plan back in the early 1990s. Since then I have probably started the programme a dozen times or so, on occasion reaching my target level.

The cover of the Penguin paperback copy I have dating from 1990 describes the 5BX plan as “the 11 minute exercise plan for men…for getting fit, feeling fit and staying fit”.

In the late 1950’s one third of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) pilots were considered insufficiently fit to fly. Bill Orban, a Canadian athlete, scientist and academic working for the Canadian Department of National Defence, was tasked with developing a fitness program to address this issue.

The result was the 5BX (5 Basic Exercises) plan first published in 1961. Described as an early version of the now popular HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) program1, the 5BX program is ideal for those of us searching for the holy grail of fitness programs. Firstly, because many RCAF pilots were located in remote bases in northern Canada with no access to gymnasium facilities, the 5BX plan does not require access to specialised equipment. Secondly, the plan requires only 11 minutes per day to be spent on the exercises.

The 5BX plan consists of six charts arranged in increasing order of difficulty. Each chart is composed of five exercises that are performed within 11 minutes. The five basic exercises remain the same throughout the charts, but more difficult variations are introduced and number of repetitions increased.

The first four exercises are callisthenics and the last an aerobic exercise, as follows:

  1. Stretching
  2. Sit-up
  3. Back extension
  4. Push-up
  5. Running in place

The final exercise can be substituted for a walk or run. I opt for this choice.

The aim is to work through the levels until you reach the appropriate one for your age. In my case as a  50-60 year old man I should reach and maintain Chart 2, Level C+, although inevitably I’m tempted by the level suitable for Flying Crew aged 45-9 (Chart 3, level B). This is partly in homage to my dad, and partly because I am, after all, a marathon runner and (part-time) triathlete.

The first stages are almost ridiculously easy but by the time you reach your target level are just taxing enough to abandon through lack of time. Last year I reached my target level on holiday, but then failed to carry on while travelling home and all was lost. This year one of my resolutions is to begin once again, and to stick with the programme this time.

The exercises have somewhat fallen out of fashion in later years, partly because they are considered to be unsafe due to the fact that they are unsupervised, and partly because the sit-up exercises in the higher levels are potentially damaging to the spine. The former is just silly, the latter can be resolved by replacing the sit-ups with crunches. John Walker, founder of Autodesk, Inc and co-author of AutoCAD, has developed a version that is suitable for everyone as part of his (excellent) Hacker’s Diet, which I hope to write more about on another occasion.

I am currently on Chart 1, level D+. You can follow my progress, or lack of it, on my personal twitter account at https://twitter.com/hibbott/

Download a copy of the 5BX plan here.

1 Amy Lewis, Good Housekeeping, How to get a body like Helen Mirren, 25 September 2014

Adventures on a Grand Scale and the Theory of List-Making

I have always been a list-maker.

As a child I frequently made lists of my dreams and aspirations for the future. As a teenage schoolboy I distinctly remember filling my homework diary with an ever-increasing list of Latin verbs that I intended to learn, always starting tomorrow. This was an early example of the act of list-making itself replacing the action of completing the list.

Sometime in my early adult life I conceived the idea of the 7-year plan, based on the adventurous highs and lows of my father’s life. I began to believe that identifying and recording a series of desired life goals or outcomes for each 7 year period of life made their achievement much more likely. This built upon the theory of visualisation that was presented to me as a motivational tool early in my sales career.

Then, in the summer of 2014 I finally got around to compiling a Bucket List of sorts, listing a fairly random selection of the almost infinite things I wanted to do or achieve during my lifetime. Once again it seemed that by making a physical list of things that I wanted to do or achieve, they became part of an agenda and thus much more likely to happen. Seeing Pete Doherty play was a typical example – having added it to the list it went from being a vague wish to an actual plan. I followed him on Facebook, saw a reference to a guerrilla gig later the same day, and seized the opportunity. Tick.

The following list is of Adventures on a Grand Scale. Everything one does in life comes with an opportunity cost, and in all honesty I suspect that the personal cost of these adventures will prove to be too high. Nevertheless, before I die I would to spend three of my remaining years doing the following things:

  1. Spend 6 months driving around Europe in a camper van
  2. Spend 6 months driving around the USA in a camper van
  3. Spend 6 months driving around Australia/New Zealand in a camper van
  4. Spend 6 months driving around Asia in a camper van
  5. Spend 6 months sailing around the Med
  6. Spend 6 months sailing across the Pacific

To be continued.

Reboot 5.0

A sustained period of healthy living earlier this year saw a new me emerge. I liked him. He looked good, and because he didn’t drink or smoke he was happier and more even-tempered than the old one. My wife and children liked him too.

To mark turning 50 I had completed Ellesmere Triathlon in May this year. My time of 2:47:57 was just over 12 minutes faster than 42-year old me in 2008. The holistic combination of swimming, cycling and running saw my weight fall below 190lbs. Continued running and healthy eating lead me to me reach my target weight of under 185 lbs in July.  This meant that I had a “healthy” BMI  for the first time since records began – I’ve been monitoring my weight for the past decade.

On holiday in Spain this summer I managed to get below the 180 lb mark, albeit for a solitary week.

However, on returning home I took up the challenge of drinking the vast quantity of wine we had brought back from Spain with vigour. At the same time I fell  out of the habit of running regularly due to work pressures, and abandoned my diet to counter the black dog of depression brought about by yet another British winter by comfort eating. This has resulted in my weight ballooning back to a peak of 199.1 lbs last week. I no longer feel a mixture of pride and smugness when I look in the mirror.

Time to reboot. Here is my manifesto of change:

I will resume using the MyFitnessPal app to religiously count my calorie intake, good or bad.

I will begin to follow the GI diet again, which worked so well for me last time.

I will resume the 5BX exercise plan, starting once again from Chart 1.

I will run or do some form of exercise every day until I once again reach my target weight – in this case to weigh under 180lbs again.

My only cheat days will be Christmas day and my birthday on New Year’s Eve.

Viva la revolution!

Domain Junkie, revisited

Back in 2008 I wrote a blog post cataloguing my domain portfolio. 8 years have passed and it is time to revisit the subject, as I enter a new phase of business planning and development.

I’ll run through the list as it was then, update it and then look at the new additions to my addiction. I’ll also list my aims and ambitions for each property.

DesignCheshire.co.uk
All other variants available

DesignMidlands.co.uk
.com, .net registered
.net is a Nottingham, UK based design and marketing company

DesignShropshire.co.uk
.com registered with holding page for a Shropshire-based web design and graphic design company

Ellesmere.me.uk
.co.uk , .com and others registered.

GenealogyBookshop.co.uk
.com registered to Genealogy.com

Generationx.digital

Generationx.it

Generationxcomputers.co.uk

Generationxcomputers.com

Generationxdigital.com

Generationxhosting.co.uk

Generationxinternet.com

Headingforthecoast.co.uk

Headingforthecoast.com

Hibbott.com

InventiveInnovations.com

Languagetolife.com

Mummycool.co.uk

Mummycool.com

Mummywear.co.uk
.com registered to a holding page

Mummywearmaternity.co.uk

Mycaravanforsale.co.uk

Mycaravanforsale.com

Myonlineguide.co.uk
.com, .net registered, .uk available

Shropshireholidaycottage.co.uk
.org.uk, .com registered

Specialistbookshop.co.uk

SpecialistBookshop.com

Thestartupbusiness.co.uk
.uk available, other variants registered

Walkeatsleep.com
.co.uk registered

WordPressconsulting.co.uk
.com registered

 

 

 

Bucket List #27 – Run Snowdonia Marathon

Awe-inspiringly beautiful and epically hard, Snowdonia Marathon has been on my bucket list ever since running my first marathon in 2008.

I am delighted to say that I completed it on Saturday 24th October 2015, finishing with a chip time of 4:23:31.

More to follow when I have time.

I suspect that the next item on my Bucket List will prove to be an even harder challenge: #26 Run a sub-40 10k.

Bucket List #13 – Walk the Maelor Way

The Maelor Way is a 24-mile cross country trail, between Grindley Brook near Whitchurch and Bronygarth near Chirk. It was officially opened on April 6th 1991, and was conceived to link the Sandstone Trail with Offa’s Dyke Path (Bucket List #14).

I added it to my Bucket List largely because it is signposted quite prominently in Overton-on-Dee which I drive though often, as a result of which I have developed a yearning to walk it. I mentioned the vague possibility of walking it to my friend Phil, who suggested we walk it this half term. I tried to round up a group of other friends who might be interested, but a combination of work and family commitments meant that in the end it was Phil, my regular running partner Graeme and I who set off from Grindley Brook at around 11:00 am on Thursday May 29th, 2015.

I had naively thought that we might be able to complete the full walk in a day. Our average speed of around 2 mph quickly led us to moderate our ambition to reaching Overton-on-Dee, at somewhere over the halfway mark.

After a picnic lunch at Llyn Bedydd we passed through Hanmer and on to Penley. Graeme had worn shorts, having not anticipated the number of nettles we encountered, particularly around stiles. He was also suffering quite badly from blisters and at this point it became apparent that he was unlikely to make it from Penley to Overton-upon-Dee. Phil phoned his wife who collected him and Graeme, dropping Graeme off at the White Horse in Overton while I carried on .

I completed the first leg of the Maelor Way in Overton at around 7:30pm , joining Graeme in the White Horse  to enjoy a well-deserved pint of “Slumbering Monk”.

On Friday I set off from Overton-on-Dee at 10:20am, having left the car in the car park behind the church. The walking on the second day was more varied and picturesque. The weather, however, was changeable.

I reached Bronygarth – the official end of the Maelor Way at 3:30pm, after just over 5 hours of walking, and stopped for a celebratory late picnic lunch before heading off on the 4.5 miles to Froncysyllte, where Jude, Isi and India collected me.

 

My Resolutions for 2015

It seems particularly typical of my current state of being that I am only writing my resolutions for the coming year on the 6th April.

Particularly so as 2015 is an auspicious year. I turned 49 on New Year’s Eve last year, so this year marks the start of a new 7 year plan, and the lead into my 50s – the decade when I hope to see a fundamental shift from work to life. I will write more about my aims with regard to this later.

In the meantime:

  1. Give up smoking
    As I write this I last smoked on September 24th last year, so I’m almost 6 months into this resolution. This time I hope it will last.
  2. Achieve and maintain my target weight of 185 lbs.
    Starting point is a shocking 213lbs, so I have exactly two stone to lose. Target date is October 24th, when I run Snowdonia marathon.

    As for the rest I’ll simply repeat the ones I made in 2013
  3. I will not shout at my children. No exceptions.
  4. I will have more fun.
  5. I will set and achieve one business objective each day.
  6. I will somehow work 35 hours a week, 42 weeks of the year. On average.
  7. I will go to church at least once a month.
    I have been very lapse with this – but I went yesterday and will stick to this one. Religiously.
  8. I will run every week.
  9. I will spend 15 minutes each day learning Spanish.
  10. I will do the Royal Canadian 5BX programme, every day. Starting today.
    Started today.
  11. I will start one side-project and work on it for two hours a week. I hope to earn more than £1 per hour.

 

Bucket List #23 – See Pete Doherty play live

My 13 year old daughter teases that I have a man-crush on Pete Doherty. I stand guilty as charged. The epitome of elegantly wasted, he has raised bohemianism to an art form.  Even setting aside his music, his penchant for classic Jags, supermodels, wine, cigarettes and deviance from the social mores of our time prove a heady mix for any middle-aged man fondly recalling his own days of hell-raising and hedonism.

Looking back I realise that the characteristics that in my twenties gave me the slightly romantic air of being tragically flawed,  seemed by my late thirties to be merely a tragic waste of my own talents. In my forties I lost my best friend to a lifetime of hard drinking, and began to clean up my own act, shifting my gaze to the pure and simple pleasures of Arcady.

Those who push boundaries – their own and those of them around them – to the very limits, and occasionally beyond –  have always appealed to me.  Pete, Jim , Keith, Hunter.  Their self-destructiveness vicariously feeds my own tendencies. There but for the grace of god and the love of a good woman go I.

In a  very twenty-first century way Pete embodied this when he lit a cigarette on stage during his guerilla set in the appropriately sleazy upstairs room at Society in Coventry. His casual disregard for the petty, nannying rules of modern Britain incited anarchic cries from the crowd – “Pete’s smoking, so can we”.

It was the combination of Pete Doherty’s music and this devil-may-care attitude to life that put seeing him perform live onto my bucket list when I drew it up last year. His music has been a staple of the Hibbott family soundtrack for a while. At the time, nine months ago and before he got clean in Thailand, it felt like there may not be much time left to see him before his lifestyle caught up with him.

To make sure that I didn’t miss the opportunity to see him play I started following him on Facebook, and late last month I was excited to discover that he was playing this intimate “one-off” gig in the upstairs room at Society in Coventry that night. Billed as a homecoming gig, it is said to be his last before heading back into the studio to record a long-awaited new Libertines album.

Pete Doherty, Society, Coventry Friday 27th February 2015I sent Jude an email to see if she  was on for a spontaneous adventure, half expecting a regretful no. To my delight she completely bought into the excitement of it all and I hurriedly bought the tickets online. We set off to see the him play just a few hours later.

Apart from Plaxstock, an invitation-only musical festival we have attended a few memorable times it is rather shockingly the first live gig I’ve seen since The Stranglers played Thessaloniki in about 1995. It was a perfect re-introduction to live music.

The support bands – April, Yes Sunshine and Pretty Rascals – were good, but like most of the rest of the crowd we had come to see Pete.

He arrived fashionably late  – enough for us to be relieved when did finally come on, looking happy and healthy –  and performed a set that included many of my favourite songs: including ‘ What Katy Did?’ (a family favourite), ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ and the new and poignant ‘Flags of the Old Regime’, written for Amy Winehouse.

As a souvenir of a wonderful night I am now the proud possessor of a signed ‘Flags of the Old Regime’ poster scrawled “Up yours, Pete Doherty”.

Improving Page Load Time for WordPress

I have recently been spending some time looking at ways of improving page load time for WordPress websites. This has the twin benefits of improving user experience whilst at the same time improving Google ranking.

In this article I will look at some practical ways in which I am seeking to improve the page load time on this website.

Benchmarking is critical when seeking to bring about measurable, quantifiable improvements in page speed. One possible test model would involve measuring page load speed on a clean default installation of WordPress and then again after adding individual plugins, or replacing templates. However, some results would be more relevant when performed on a site containing a representative sample of content.

This blog, started in 2008 and subject to repeated and prolonged periods of neglect since then, is as good a place to start as any. Continue reading Improving Page Load Time for WordPress