So tempted to buy these!

Leicester Half-Marathon – 1 week to go!

I haven’t blogged for awhile, but training has been so good – Focusing around shredding for a few weeks, then core training and now endurance ahead of the big race! The last race I did was the 10k in Leicester in April and that was brilliant. Such a nice day and really enjoyed the atmosphere and event itself. That race came as I was building up pace in training and in the lifestyle change itself and really worked well as a catalyst to lose fat and put on some muscle. My time there was 48minutes which I was chuffed about.

Since April’s race my discipline has improved, built up knowledge around fitness and nutrition as well as performance. After this I knew shorter distances are more beneficial to my fitness goals (I’d rather look more like Usuain Bolt than Mo Farrah!). A few weeks after the race, one of my friends passed away from cancer which really upset me. He was looked after by LOROS Hospice in his final stages and a few weeks after that I lost 2 uncles. One from terminal cancer (LOROS again did a brilliant job in caring for him and the family) and another from cardiac arrest. So this was the reason for entering the Leicester Half marathon, I wanted to run in their memory but also to raise funds for LOROS Hospice so that they can carry on providing the much needed support and case for people that needs their help. The great thing about Hospices like LOROS is that they care for people who are terminally ill and with any sort of illness, especially with NHS aren’t able to offer any treatment. Also with my uncle, they helped him spend his final days at home with his family…

Training for the race has been difficult for various reasons – Stress, fitting in time to train around work, other commitments and also some minor injuries. But – I’ve really increased core strength, pace and 2 weeks ago did a 6 mile run without much prep in 51 minutes under difficult conditions. Then last Monday after work I did a 10 mile run in 1hr 25 minutes. This kind of pace sets me up with a goal of 1hr 50 minutes for the half marathon which I would be really happy with. Obviously with carb loading, some energy drinks before, hydration during the race (I never drink during running when I’m on my own), plus the hype of the race should see a better pace. But I am really worried about a knee ligament issue I had before the London Marathon in 2010 and cropped up 2 weeks ago again. And my running trainers are showing serious signs of wear and tear so now I have the dilemma of whether to stick with what I have and it may fall apart during the race, or try and break into new trainers and get used to them a week before the run! The ones I’m thinking of getting is the featured pic.

Anyway, this was just a bit of a ramble to let you into my mind and to share the link to the just giving page so you can read the story there and provide any support which would be really appreciated! Why not tweet me?

Lifestyle change – August update!

The good life

It has been a long time since my last post, and my last update on the lifestyle change. It’s strange to think of it as a lifestyle change now, as all of the changes I made early on are just part of my everyday life and I don’t feel healthy – I feel great.

Originally I set out to make the lifestyle change and did think that it would be something that evolves over time, listening to my body and learning. But I had no idea there would be so much to learn and it would be this enjoying. I said that I feel great, and there are so many reasons for that. I can see and feel that I’ve lost quite a bit of body fat. Lifting weights and especially working on my core has led to a noticeable difference, even with clothes on! I hoped that my running would benefit from this, and it really has. I did a 10K race in April and hoped to do it in 50mins, and managed to do it in 48mins! I want to push that pace and break into the 45min barrier so I’ve been working on shorter distances – More on the training side later.

The lifestyle change has mainly 2 elements: Nutrition and Training. How is this different to what I was doing before? Knowledge and putting that into practice. The latter it more important than the former, because until you actually use the advice; it is pointless. Sometimes that is the worst thing, knowing what you should be doing; yet you are not and then wondering why you’re not seeing the changes. This is essentially why I started this: I used to put in effort and train like most people yet wondered why I didn’t see much development in my physique. I knew there could be improvements and I was willing to make the changes. Note – Although my nutrition wasn’t clean, this doesn’t mean I used to eat pizza every week and never ate fruit and veg. My diet was fairly healthy by most people’s standards, but that is the point of the Lifestyle Change. Here are a few changes I’ve put in practice over the last few months which has been really effective for me!

Nutrition

+ Sugar free tea! – It took a few weeks to go from 2 teaspoons per cup of tea to none, and since December 2012 I haven’t looked back. Having fresh ginger steeped in the tea helped.

+ Hydration – Drink more over the course of the day. So as soon as I wake up I’ll have a small glass, or a big glass straight after breakfast; and then water after every meal. I’m easily drinking 6 glasses of water a day. Plus some during training and having some just before bed is really good too.

+ Protein – Everybody knows that protein is important when it comes to training. I ensure my breakfast is either eggs or oats, and this may sound boring but there’s lots of variations. Especially with oats

+ Salt – I cannot remember the last time I added salt to food. I use herbs and spices to flavour everything, from omelettes to grilled veg! Lemon and fresh herbs are great to garnish salad with.

+ Bread – Bread seems to be everywhere in our diets now that I think about it. For the last few months I’ve drastically reduced my intake. I probably have 1 or 2 slices per WEEK. This has made a big difference as I feel a lot ‘lighter’ without bread, and easily get enough fibre from the fresh fruit and vegetables. I went from having 2 slices of toast (with spread on) with my breakfast to just 1 without spread, and now none at all. I have mushrooms, tomatoes or even spinach with cooked breakfasts instead. It is easy to cut out bread when you realise how good it feels without it…just takes a bit of thought.

+ Veg – Fresh or frozen, and usually steamed! Love having this as a side because it contains a lot of vitamins and nutrients, plus water. So it helps fill you up while helping the protein do it’s magic.

+ Fruit – I used to eat a lot of fruit and veg, I probably eat less because I’ve learnt that having fruit salad for lunch isn’t really clever – too much sugar, not enough protein. I easily get about 5 portions of fruit and work it around what I’m doing. Essentially fruit shouldn’t be a meal, but should be had between meals. I like the usual fruits like apples, bananas, grapes etc but also always have some exotic fruits e.g kiwi (very underrated nutritionally), mango, pineapple, different berries, avocado etc!

+Other upgrades – Brown rice instead of white rice. Avoiding white potatoes completely and having sweet potato instead. Adding in other vegetables such as courgettes and butternut squash is great as keeps things fresh.

+Nuts – I personally think nuts are often overlooked. I don’t think they as important as protein or fruit and veg, but they contain nutrients, minerals and of course some protein. But above that, they’re low GI, good for stress (as they’re crunchy) and a good alternative snack in comparison to crisps or chocolate. A handful a day of the mixed fruit & nut bags is a great inclusion. Just ensure the nuts you’re snacking on aren’t laden with salt. The best product I’ve had so far contained sultanas, raisins and cranberries along with almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts!

Drinks – I only really drink water, tea, milk and (not from concentrate) juice. I’ll have a fizzy drink very rarely if I’m at a pub lunch etc. I really dislike juice from concentrate, it doesn’t taste as good and I know there’s a lot of (unnatural) sugars and flavourings etc. On a side noyr, I haven’t had alcohol since November 2012 which started off unintentionally but I like waking up with a clear head!  August is my birthday month so I’m going to have a well earnt drink (or two)

Training

+ Consistency – I used to focus more on running than actual training (weights). Now the emphasis is on lifting more regularly and training different muscle groups to ensure the training

+ Higher Intensity – Training shorter amount of time and training harder and smarter. Using mountain climbers, jumping jacks and burpees etc to keep the heart rate high which helps training more effective. Weighted abs too area great, really feel it the next day.

+ Less running – I run shorter distances now; I decided I would rather look like Usain Bolt than Mo Farrah! But moreover, long distance running can take its toll on joints (knees especially), it takes longer (duh) and depletes your GI. Running shorter distances, at a higher pace burns more fat, works muscles more and by fitting it in the morning means it boosts the metabolism. Win-win.

+ Variety – I mix up the different exercises I know, especially with core and it is good because you can easily become bored. So I always have some weighted core training involved, sometimes this is Russian twists, other times it’s dumbbell side crunches. There’s also a variety of push ups too which I use to easily hit 100+ push ups in a session – Decline, close grip, angled for triceps, Spiderman and wide grip. M100’s also help to liven things up. I also swim once a week and the approach with that is the approach taken with running. I’m seeing good results in the pool now too.

+ Dynamic warm ups – I used to only do static stretches, but now I always do dynamic stretches; especially dragon flag stuff for core training. I find it really helps activate different parts of the body and add in jumping jacks etc, gets you ready to train and you can check for any weakness or problem areas.

+ Focus – I used to train without a focus, sure I wanted to lose fat and build muscle. But what I’m doing right now is training with a focus on core. So some days I will just train core while other days I’ll train core and other areas, and sometimes just a specific area (e.g. leg days)

All of these changes I’ve mentioned have been in place for at least 5 months and is really making a difference. I’m learning a lot more about myself and understanding how the different changes work. I don’t have any processed food, with the exception of baked beans (convenience for energy at breakfast) and hummus. I’ve been anti-processed food for a long time now and it really is easy for me to avoid crisps, chocolate, biscuits, donuts etc. If you add in things like nuts, you will find that you can squeeze out these other processed snacks which have a lot of hidden salt, sugar and fat. Also – Cereal counts as processed food in my opinion. I used to have a ‘healthy’ fruit & fibre cereal for years, but I can’t remember the last time I had it. I just had a look at the ingredients and thought there’s no point. It’s not natural and me removing sugar and salt elsewhere is pointless if there’s salt in cereal (which there is)

Some of the changes I’ve made seem drastic now that I’ve listed them all, but they really just feel normal to me now. And this is exactly how a lifestyle change should be ; A range of different kinds of changes/substitutes in your diet with a more informed direction in your training. If you’re going to subway muttering “I’m on a diet so I’ll have a salad”, then you won’t enjoy it and will constantly be looking for changes in your body too soon. When the GF is round, I will indulge a bit with her and she has seen the results so she doesn’t try to tempt me too much and lets me make a few healthy choices when we dine out or in without kicking up a fuss. And to be honest – She actually likes a lot of the stuff I’ve introduced her to – berries in porridge and sweet potato wedges…and even steamed veg! This is the thing about the way I’m eating and training 1) I’m seeing and feeling the results. 2) I enjoy all the food I eat. So it’s a continuous cycle.

This ended up being a longer post than expected – Sorry! All in all, I’m learning that the key to a successful lifestyle change is understanding the more changes you make, consistently; the more defined your results will be.  Along with this is that those results will be long lasting.   Just a quick mention that my next fitness/lifestyle post will cover my home gym! Let me know how you have been approaching a lifestyle change and if you do similar things to me – Find me on twitter!.

From left over Roast Veg to tasty Bubble & Squeak!

 A few years ago all the big supermarkets used to stock frozen Bubble & Squeak, now it’s hard to find anywhere.  I asked a few people on Twitter and like me, they grew up eating it along with other frozen food.  Just before Christmas I saw a Jamie Oliver TV show on Christmas cooking and a recipe to turn your left over Roast Potatoes & Veg into a very scrummy Bubble & Squeak!

Jamie’s recipe was more of a pie than individual bubble & squeaks and included poaching eggs into it.  One great tip from him, especially with using left over roast potatoes and veg is to make sure you have equal portions of each, as the potatoes will hold the whole mix together.  Here’s a quick step by step…

Ingredients:

Equal portions of roast potatoes & roast veg (We had roast carrots, parsnips, peas and some boiled brussel sprouts)

Seasoning & chilli

Breadcrumbs

Step 1

Get mashing!

Get mashing!

Mash up both the roast and potatoes in one bowl.  If your left overs have been in the fridge then soften it up by warming in the microwave to help you mash it up.

Add in any other ingredients.  I added a whole red onion, sweet corn and extra brussel sprouts.  As long as the veg is roughly equal to the amount of potatoes you have, it’ll hold together!

Add some seasoning too – Black pepper, chilli, herbs etc.  As we used herbs and other seasoning in the roast veg originally, we didn’t need to add much more to it.  Lemon would have been a nice twist to it come to think…

Step 2

photo 2

Get a board ready to roll the bubble & squeak on to.  I found doing it by hand was the easiest and having a bowl of breadcrumbs helped as you can see below.  Press in as much breadcrumbs as you can, as this will give a nice coating.

photo 3

Step 3

photo 5

These only took roughly 20 minutes to prep!  Press in any left over breadcrumbs if you can, especially if you have a bit of veg trying to escape from the bubble & squeak!

Step 4

Pan Fry or oven bake?  I wasn’t sure which to do (Jamie did his one big bubble 7 squeak in a pan, then finished in the oven), so I pan fried 4 and put the rest in the oven for about 40mins.

Pan Fry – Best to use sunflower oil as it helps make it crispy.  I found that my bubble & squeak didn’t crisp up on the sides as it was too thick.  Frying took about 5 minutes each. 

Pan fried

Pan fried

Oven bake – Grease under each bubble & squeak with a bit of oil.  This was a much better option, but takes longer.  Can’t beat that golden finish though!

Oven baked

Oven baked

The whole family enjoyed this on Boxing Day and would definitely make this again using the left over veg!  Enjoy 🙂

 photo 4

Sweet Potato – Healthy, Sweet and Tasty!

The humble sweet potato. Not as popular as the common potato. But – Just as versatile and in my opinion, better in every way!

In some parts of the world the sweet potato it’s more popular than the potato we’ve grown accustomed to. Certainly in the Asian community in Britain, we still eat sweet potato. But it’s not as ingrained in our diet as in some African countries or Japan, for example.

Before the last few weeks I’ve only ever cooked the sweet potato simply by roasting it and topping it with some Greek style yogurt, chilli powder, salt and black pepper.  Very simple but tasty!  Since 1st of October I’ve taken a new perspective on food and training as part of my lifestyle change and I’ve been adding different whole foods.  While I already knew the sweet potato is healthier than the popular potato, I saw a BBC four documentary on aging and straight away realised that it truly is a super food.  More on that later.

You can cook sweet potato as you would with an ordinary white or red potato!

So far I’ve used the sweet potato in a few simple ways…

1)       Chips/Wedges

Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips

Simply roughly chop the sweet potato, boil in a pot with a pinch of salt.  After about 5 minutes of boiling it should be cooked all the way through.  Then place the potato chips/wedges on a baking tray; drizzle with olive oil, salt and black pepper.  I also add chilli powder and mixed herbs also!  Then pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes or grill.

Girlfriend was very sceptical about trying it, but after one or two she loved it!  She has since asked her mum to start buying it!

2)      Mash

 

Sweet Potato Mash

Sweet Potato Mash

 

I’ve seen this in a few restaurants and have tried it, it is delicious!  I make it in the usual way of peeling the potato before fully boiling it.  Then mash it up, adding a drop of milk, a knob of butter and season.

Jamie Oliver does a speedy version of this in his 15 minute meals show.  Thinly slicing the sweet potato before boiling, then mashing it.  It is quicker, as it can take awhile to peel!  Plus the skin contains a lot of nutrients and vitamins.  I tried it with the skin on for the first time yesterday (pictured above) and honestly, it’s just as good – so I think I’ll be doing that more often

3)      Fry

Sweet Potato in a Stir Fry

Sweet Potato in a Stir Fry

I fried it for the first time a few days and it was very good!  It adds a different texture to a stir fry and you’ll get that sweet potato taste come through.  I would cut the sweet potato into strips next time, and have them a bit chunkier for taste.

I mentioned earlier about its health benefits.  A BBC four documentary on aging and how the Okinawan people of Japan live longer than any other group of people.  Not only do many Okinawan’s live past their 90’s, they also are active and happy in their old age!  The Okinawan lifestyle and genetics are responsible for this.  The sweet potato is one significant ingredient in the Okinawan diet.  The common variant there is the rare purple sweet potato.  I’ve only tried the white or orange sweet potato, and prefer the orange one as you can tell from earlier pics.

Purple Sweet Potato

Purple Sweet Potato

I also mentioned earlier that the nutritional value of the sweet potato is significantly superior to the common potato we tend to know and use a lot of.  I knew that it would contain beta carotene due to its colour, however compared to carrots as well it is remarkable.  100 grams of carrots gives an average male 93% of his RDA (Recommended daily allowance) of Vitamin A (Which is partly what beta carotene metabolises as), the sweet potato?  79%.  Not bad at all when you’d get virtually nothing from the normal potato – exceptions being Vit C and Potassium, but they’re easily found elsewhere. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_A)

Aside from Vitamin A, it contributes to your RDA of B Vitamins and other important minerals.  Here’s what SelfNutrition data says about sweet potato – “The good: This food is low in Sodium, and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6 and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Manganese.”  The bad?  None stated. Read More at http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2667/2#ixzz2ErVewThH

Interestingly it also suggests that it is good for weight loss because it craves hunger (mainly due to it having good fiber and low GI), but also good for healthy weight gain!  So it really is a win/win.  It’s perfect for those who want to lose weight or exercise and train.  Sometimes when you train, you can become really hungry.  But having sweet potato there for your carbs can work out really well…

Aside from this, vitamin A and etc…The sweet potato can be as versatile as the common potato, is definitely more tasty and extremely healthy in comparison.

Make the change! It’s also quite cheap.  Asda stock them; a pack of 5 for £1.  On top of this, I’ve found that they store longer than the normal kind of potato.  Normal potatoes will sprout roots after one or two weeks.

Let me know what you think about the sweet potato.  Have you always eaten it?  Have you suddenly discovered it like me?  If not – Give it a go and comment below and tweet me about how you get on

Back firing pranksters -Mel Greig and Michael Christian

Nurse found dead after prank call impersonating the Queen

Most of us are saddened and in shock from the death of the nurse who was the subject of a prank call from the two Australian DJ’s, Mel Greig and Michael Christian at 2DayFM.

Most of us will have laughed hearing the prank call at the time. There’s nothing wrong with pranks or laughing at them.

However, we should look at this incident seriously; especially considering a woman has lost her life as an outcome, leaving behind a husband and 2 children. The current media reports suggest she commuted suicide and it must be very likely to be as a result of being humiliated from the prank, especially as she gave information about Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge.  Kate was being treated at the King Edward VII hospital for acute morning sickness.

Now it may be argued that Jacintha Saldanha had a choice and didn’t need to commit suicide. That’s the case with most people that contemplate suicide or actually do commit suicide, some don’t have little options – e.g terminally ill patients who under extreme and horrific pain with no cure or treatment.

However, should use hindsight and think – at the time of the prank, was it likely that the nurse would be disciplined and suspended as a result of this considering the patient in involved were VIP’s? Yes. No doubt.

Would this cause be damaging to the nurses well being and affect her by causing significant stress? Yes, most likely. Especially as not only was Jacintha being tricked, she was also tricked into breaking patient confidentiality commitments.

Therefore the Australian DJ’s acted irresponsibly. Chances are, we all have played a practical joke or made a prank call in the past – but unless you have no responsibility, you wouldn’t do it if there was a strong chance somebody would lose their job. That isn’t funny. It’s malicious.

While the DJ’s will not have planned this outcome, it’s clear to see that being the subject of ridicule was a significant factor in her suicide. Imagine how stressed out she must have been? The actions of the DJ’s caused this. No doubt.

Cause & effect is a simple theory and while the prank call didn’t cause the death – it started a chain reaction leading to a person taking her own life.

Essentially – without the prank call and the exact specifics of asking highly personal and confidential details about a patient (which broke the law by impersonation to access confidential information), the nurse would not have been suspended.

The pranksters could easily have called it off after they initially fooled the nurse. They decided to take it further to ask highly personal details about Kate and her condition…

Here’s 10 facts about this story – http://www.heavy.com/news/2012/12/jacintha-saldanha-kate-middleton-prank-call-suicide-dj/

Now – take in to account their past history :

They’ve made a teenage girl admit, live on air, that she had been raped.

Previously called a journalist a ‘fat slag’ on air.

(Source and more info at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/07/2dayfm-australia-shock-jock-station )

While it the intended outcome was not planned, their past behaviour leads us to believe that the actions were malicious and were hoping to cause embarrassment and gain publicity for their show.

Action should be taken. What action? Not unintentional manslaughter in my opinion. Bullying is a possibility though. Also we know they impersonated the queen which is an offence (impersonation to get information generally is breaking the law), add to that breaking patient confidentiality ESPECIALLY taking into account that Dutchess of Cambridge was literally vomiting constantly, it’s an awful act.

Something must be done. The worst thing about this is that Jacintha Saldanha picked up the call to fill in for the absent receptionist.  If the DJ’s get a slap on the wrist with a fine, what’s to stop them for trying irresponsible pranks in the future?  What kind of a message does this send?

William and Kate

 

 
William and Kate

The latest from The Royal family is that they feel awful about the death.  The family of Jacintha are heart broken.

 

Let me know your thoughts as always!  Is it just an honest prank which was innocent?  Or was it blatently irresponsible?  What action do you think should be taken?  (Tweet me)

Here’s one of a few petitions out there to get the two DJ’s off the air for good – http://www.change.org/petitions/2day-fm-radio-sydney-dismiss-mel-greig-and-michael-christian-and-all-those-involved-for-gross-misconduct

The perfect choctastic strawberry surprise!

Wow your partner with Chocolate Strawberries!

This is perfect as part of an elaborate and romantic meal as a dessert or just as a surprise on its own.  I did the former for Valentines day this year and my girlfriend loved it.  She was really surprised with the effort  I put in and especially the swirling chocolate effect.  Believe me – It is not as difficult as it looks and I’ll show you how you can impress your partner with the recipe and some tips…

Ingredients:

Belgian Milk Chocolate

Belgian White Chocolate

Large strawberries

Whipped cream

Prep time: 15 minutes

Step 1

Wash the strawberries and remove the leaf, but dont remove the actual stalk – That is important!

Pat the strawberries and leave them to dry completely

Step 2

Pat the strawberries dry with kitchen paper and leave them for a few minutes

Step 3

Chop the chocolate and then warm them separately until they’re completely melted.  I used a microwave for this, but it would be better to do it in two pans on the hob.  Low heat and stir.

Oops!

Warning – If you do it in the microwave, ensure you keep taking it out regularly and give it a stir.  You can see what happens if you don’t do this!

Step 4

So now you have two bowls; 1 of melted milk chocolate, 1 of melted white chocolate and the strawberries should be dry.  At this point take a strawberry by the stalk, dip it in the melted chocolate.  You can use a tea spoon to ensure the coating covers the entire strawberry.  I personally liked to show a bit of the strawberry at the top.

It’s all in the technique!

Tip! – Twist the stawberry as you pull it out of the to ensure you get the excess chocolate to drip away.  If the stawberry was not completely dry then the chocolate won’t stick well!

Step 5

After you have coated a strawberry with one chocolate, lay it down on baking paper; preferably in a cooler place.  Repeat this with the rest of the strawberries, I coated some with the milk chocolate and some with the white chocolate at this point.  This should dry in literally 5 minutes depending on room temperature

Step 6

Ensure the chocolate in both bowls are still melted, if the consistency isn’t so fluid, then warm it back up.  Then take a strawberry and use a teaspoon to apply melted chocolate by dripping it on the strawberry.  After, place it on a new sheet of baking paper.  To get the swirly effect, simply twist the strawberry while you apply the chocolate – It’s all in the wrist 😉

Edit – I was thinking of using chocolate buttons, or drops to decorate.  I’m sure you can use other toppings for other effects, such as hundreds and thousands or little stars!  Be creative 🙂

Step 7

After repeating previous step with the rest of the strawberries and leaving to rest on the baking paper, it’s ready to be served with some whipped cream!  If you are doing this in advance, it’s completely fine to leave in the fridge as it is.

Enjoy! I’m sure your significant other will enjoy it and you’ll have as much fun as we did! Let me know how it goes 🙂 Tweet me a pic if you manage to make it.

Life Style Change – 28 days later

Why?

I made a life style change on 1st October 2012.  It actually started off by watching Ch4’s Food Hospital show and realised how much caffiene is in our drinks.  But for me, personally the main benefit would be to reduce sugar intake from tea and processed foods.  So I began by reducing the sugar in tea, within a few days I went from my regular of 2 tea spoons to a quarter of a tea spoon just for the taste.  Now I’m literally only having a pinch of sugar with my tea – Of which I only have a maximum of 2 cups a day.

Alongside this, I signed back up to gym membership on the 1st of October after being really busy with my Masters Degree dissertation.  I had a few weeks off to relax and all year while studying my Masters Degree I kept telling myself that I would reward myself by getting back into shape by making massive changes to my diet and fitness.

A year away from home to study meant a LOT of all nighters, stressful days and inevitably one or two take aways a week.  I’ve always been health conscious but when you are studying; convenience food is essential for long nights in the library!  I don’t think I was every very unhealthy; I always drank water and always had some fruit and veg each day.  I cooked almost everyday, but still; studying full time for a year will inevitably add on a few lbs and lack of time to train consistently at the gym meant I was taking a few weeks out training – This wasan up hill struggle of the worst kind!

I’ve never really been obeise or unfit, it’s only 2yrs and some odd months since I ran the 2010 London Marathon!  But still, I realised that whatever training I was doing (Gym and running) would not really have the impact it could without making a real change.  A change for life…

What?

Food

As mentioned earlier, this all began with me challenging myself to lower my refined sugar intake.  Why?  Refined sugar is incredibly bad for our bodies.  My late Uncle was a diabetic and it cost him his eyesight and eventually his life.  Seeing that alone made me want to change my lifestyle after finishing studies.  Added to that, refined sugar turns into fat in your body and can clog up artieries!  I want to be running when I’m an old man so this is definitely something that is added to the life style change.

Aside from sugar in my tea, I also have an almost total ban on fizzy/carbonated drinks – I’ll only have one or two glasses if there’s a meal out…So far this has been just once in the first 28 days!

Processed foods – I’ve cut out biscuits and cakes completely from my diet.  Very difficult thing, especially as my Mum works at a cake catering company and is always bringing home cheese cake or chocolate fudge!  I’ve cut out chocolate also.  The only processed foods I eat are cereal (I only buy Fruit & fibre cereal) and muller corner yogurts which aren’t bad at all.  Except for that the only other thing I have are Quorn type products which are low in fat and high in protein so that’s not a problem at all.  Sports drinks like lucozade are required for me…

Fruit & Veg – I’ve always had a range of fresh fruit & veg in my diet, but the emphasis now is to include MORE of it and use it to replace other things.  For example, instead of having tea & biscuits at the UK tea time of around 4pm, I’ll have corn on the cob at least 3 times a week!

Salad comes under this as I already eat quite a bit, but realise that I can eat more in replacement of other things I used to eat.

Eggs – We have pet chickens which means a great source of free range and organic eggs!  I don’t eat eggs as much as before so that’s good and I also will have it boiled instead of fried 9 times out of 10!

Family food – Indian food is known for all sorts of reasons, the spice, the range of different veg; but also the oil used in curry and the butter in roti!  So to accomodate this, if the curry has too much oil, I just eat at mine and not go to parents.  Some things are completely find to eat, like lentils (daal).  Other things like teplas/paronthe, samosas etc are just too oily for me to eat!  I’ve resisted all of these kinds of foods so far.  I choose specifically what I can and can’t eat.  For example, with chicken curry – I only take the chicken pieces, ignoring the potatoes and only a bit of the tomato curry sauce.  I eat that with rice and yogurt to make up for not too much sauce and no roti!

Drinks – I drink 2 cups of (very low sugar) tea, water throughout the day, sometimes lucozade (energy drink) and thats it’.  I haven’t drank any alcohol in the first 28 days.

Training

At the moment I’ve focused on abs training.  I’m following a plan which focuses on all aspects of the core muscles and I do that every other day.  It feels great and some days I also do cardio on it’s own or along with weights in the gym.  The best training session I had was actually yesterday and I didn’t even step into the gym!

I’ve decided to follow advice and switch from endurance running to shorter distance (3miles) at a quicker pace (8.30min/mile).  This promotes fat burning more and helps me get to where I want to physically.  I also mix it up with 2km rowing and 20mins of cross training at the gym!

Weights aren’t a significant aspect right now, but when I am doing weights it’s for my chest, shoulders and back.  The arms are usually secondary muscle groups for the machine/training I do but over time I’ll focus a bit more on that…

Verdict

I can honestly say I have noticed a massive difference physically and just from looking in the mirror!  A lot of the extra lbs I put on over the course of a year have actually gone by sticking to this lifestyle change.  It has been very difficult but the feeling while training is great, as I know I have prepared correctly and will make it count further by eating correctly after.

My partner has noticed the extra weight has gone and that I have toned up quite a lot in the shoulder and abs area (specifically just under my pecs).  She even said that recently I have a glow about me!

On top of this, the results in the gym and while running are clear.  I’m lifting more weights than before, I can lift them more easily and my running is a LOT more stronger.  After training my recovery does not take so long, I believe it’s the complex carbs I’m taking on and the water which helps digestion etc.

I will definitely keep it up and take it from there.  I have had 2 minor blips.  An indian take away for GF’s birthday and a McDonald’s chicken burger 2 days ago, but they didn’t cause much damage.  I think I will allow myself a treat once a month or so otherwise the temptation will only grow!

This has been a massive learning experience for me.  I’ve learnt hat by changing my diet I can get so much more out of training.  I’ve learnt that training doesn’t need to last hours, – it’s better to train smart.  When it comes to running – Less really is more.  On top of this, seeing and feeling the results motivates me further.  I think I’ve missed a few things out in this post but it’s turned into an essay already!

Let me know as always what you think and what kind of life style changes you’ve made/are making!

NikePlus Sports Band & Running – Update (Small glitch?)

I mentioned in the last post that I’ve been using the NikePlus Sports Band to track my running performance for a few months.  I’ve also been running more as part of a Life Style Change that I’ve made.  The NikePlus Sports Band really is helping with my goals and performance.  But first a quick bit about a small glitch I found…

Last week, I had 2 runs stored and ready to upload.  Yet when I connected up the Sports Band to my laptop via USB, it said ‘No new work outs to upload”, which was a bit strange!

I disconnected it and connected it back a few times and still gave me the same error.  Obviously it’s really annoying as I’ve grown to rely on it to monitor my running and I want to see how I’m progressing.

I panicked a bit and then naturally went to Google to see if this is a common glitch, but I only found one person asking about this specific issue and he was told to look to the NikePlus forums.  I didn’t bother chasing that up, instead I just went to the usual NikePlus.com website and somehow (Magically) the last 2 run data appeared.  Very random and strange as I couldn’t actually see it uploading so actually thought it was lost.

I’ve since been running and uploaded my data without this error occurring again, but it’s worth noting that it’s happened to me and could happen to you too – But nothing to worry about, just check that it appears in your NikePlus.com profile and it’s all good.  Let me know if this happened ot you or if there’s a solution?  Might be handy in the future…

Running Performance

Fastest 1k

Fastest 1k

Fastest 5k

Fastest 5k

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the sports band is really good at recognising achievements and I’ve definitely been performing better as part of the Life Style Change I’ve made exactly 28 days ago.

On the fitness side of things, I’m focusing on core & abs training (Mostly) with fat burning.  Fat burning is all about high metabolism, and the best way to achieve this is to build/tone muscle.  So the core and abs training does this, but then the running (Cardio) helps to burn off extra fat.  I’m choosing to change from endurance/long distance and slow pace to shorter, more regular, faster paced running!

This is having a much better effect for me personally.  As I’m really used to running for an hour; running for half an hour means I don’t feel too tired the next day.  I have enough in the tank to go running more regular and make the healthy eating and other training (Various weights in the gym – Mostly chest, back and shoulders) really pay off.  More about the Life Style Change later.

The NikePlus website is helping, even though I *just* missed out on the last goal I set up!  You can see below the running distance I’ve achieved in the last 30 days in comparison to others.  Last time I checked, this chart was really different.  Also my running pace is actually more than a minute quicker than other runners my age!

Distance comparison: Me vs NikePlus Community

Let me know what you think about the NikePlus Sports Band or other running equipment and how you are setting goals 🙂

You can always reply with a comment below or tweet me.

NikePlus Sports Band

Nike+ Sports Band – A Review

Nike has been offering running gadgets for a few years now. An earlier bit of technology was the attachment for the Apple iPod nano, for use with the Nike plus trainers. I used this combination of kit for years and really enjoyed it. It even got me through the London Marathon in 2010! When I lost the Apple iPod attachment a few months ago I had my eyes on this and my partner bought it for me as a birthday gift. I’ve been using this bit of tech for almost 3 months now…It is definitely suitable for any type of runner, whether you run occasionally and want to track your time, or whether you run as part of sports training and want to meet personal goals. The Nike+ Sports Band can help you – As long as you have Nike+ running trainer’s which has the compartment allowing for the Nike+ sensor to fit…

Price – £45 from Nike via http://store.nike.com/gb/en_gb/?l=shop,pdp,ctr-inline/cid-300/pid-341403/pgid-254691 or around £35 from Amazon via http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Nike+plus+sports+band

Size – Adjustable strap which is comfortable and water resistant so no problem about sweat or rain.

Battery – Excellent. Lasts approx. 14hours of running time before charge is required. But whenever you connect the sports band to your computer to upload latest run times, the sports band battery will charge itself. A full charge from 0% would take 2hrs, which is a great return.

Installation – Simple instructions include downloading free Nike software to your computer before it can be configured.

Set up – Also simple, just put in the Nike+ sensor (comes with the Sports Band) into your Nike+ shoe and press the main button and walk around for it to pick up the signal.

How to use – 2 buttons. Main button to start, pause and stop your work out. The side button is to toggle through a range of different stats from; actual time, distance, pace, running time (chrono) and calories burnt.

When you finish running you can easily upload your run times and this is very simple

Positives

For the features it has, it’s very light and simple to use. I’m especially happy with the quality of the strap itself as it seems quite durable so far, the (plenty) of sweat that it has endured has not even marked the aesthetics of it.

I’ve never been a fan of running with more than I need to (Therefore never run with my iPhone), and the combination of it being light and the strap being comfortable, I think it really fulfils this criteria.

Connecting the Sports Band to your computer fires up the (free) software mentioned earlier and automatically uploads any of your run work outs since last upload, to the Nike+ website (www.nikeplus.com). Your browser will also take you there to show you information about your run including milestones and achievements! See below pic

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This is great to see stand out achievements from the last run and important info like total distance, run time, avg page and calories burnt! You’ll also see animation when you complete specific goals and objectives which is pretty cool! Similar idea for when Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods would say well done when you make a personal best in the Nike+ iPod attachment…

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You can see the same run info this time with a graph and scroll through the other runs through the calendar

Part of the Nike+ website is to connect with the community of other runners and comparisons with them and is part of the NikeFuel concept…

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It’s a nice little thing which works well; always makes you want to run quicker and keep the pace down.

Negatives

Personally can’t think of any. The major difference with the iPod attachment from Nike+ which I used for years before this had the graphs and stats on the iPod, whereas with the Sports Band only the actual stats are on the Sports Band. The rest of the graphs and also split times for each mile are on the website, which is great.

I would worry about dropping the sports band, it hasn’t happened yet but knowing my luck it would do soon! I’m hoping it would survive being dropped but you never know.

As mentioned earlier, compatiable Nike+ trainers are required for this. They are not cheap, but if you’re even an occasional runner you’ll see a return in them.

The screen can be difficult to read when you run in the dead of night, would be great if it was backlit with an LED.

Verdict

Unless you’ve not been concentrating, my opinion is this gadget is amazing. It does everything it needs to and is a big improvement from the previous technology Nike+ has released and there’s no dependency on having an iPod or an iPhone. The only requirement is having a pair of compatible Nike+ trainer.

All of the features have been described under ‘Positives’ as they literally all are flawless and I recommend it highly especially if you are into running or running as part of your work outs. The Nike+ fuel band is more popular from what I’ve seen and the Nike Sports Watch is not popular, but I guess they have different uses.

I’ve not really mentioned the NikeFuel aspect because I see it more as just a conversion of energy used and is not really part of my goals but I can see it being useful. I’ve added one other Nike+ member who I follow on Twitter (Tweet Me) in the Friends area and it’s great to see other peoples goals, targets and then them meeting them. I’m guessing I willuse the goals feature more in the next few weeks and will post my experiences of them soon,

Do you use the Nike+ Sports Band? Or any similar products? Let me know what you think!