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…
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.
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…
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!