Fit at 40 – In the mood for food


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Its half way through May and therefore half way through my fit at 40 challenge! Its been emotional! Only kidding it’s actually not too bad although some things are still a lot harder to get to grips with than others. The lastweek has been certainly difficult in terms of the diet so that is what I am thinking about most & I would like to think that it would be the same for others trying to get healthy.

My own Preference

Over the past few years I have conditioned myself to eating quite a few meals over the course of the day. Typically 5, 6 or 7 smallish servings depending on my work schedule & exercise load. The type of food I eat also varies within that depending on what I am trying to achieve with my training. If I am trying to diet then it’s mostly salads & protein or if I am trying to get a little bigger then I change some of the meals to include more rice, sweet potato or bread, usually in the form of a bagel (circular goodness). Breakfast as you know has been lashings of porridge & supper has usually been either Weetabix with milk (bulking phase) or cottage cheese on its own (cutting phase).

Bulking snack

The theory with the smaller meals more regularly throughout the day is that you don’t get highs & lows of energy but rather a steady delivery of calories which helps maintain the body in every aspect of its existence. No mid afternoon lulls for me then just a good energized feeling & an ability to do whatever I need to without that low blood sugar tiredness all of the time. It’s not the only type of diet available you understand but when I first started to train I did suffer from the afternoon sugar slump which either caused me to attack the vending machine (I used to work in an office) or just go into daydream mode. I think I read somewhere (probably Mens Health which was the law before I became a PT) that changing my eating strategy would help & I have stuck with it ever since.

The downside of this type of eating for me has been the constant need to be prepared. Miss a meal for some reason, especially in the diet phase, and the hunger soon comes back to bite you. You are treading a fine line with calories at this time & if you don’t get them your body quickly lets you know. It has taken me a long time to understand what works for me & I can’t say that it definitely works for all that’s for sure. Our excellent nutritionist Katherine Neal always seems to approve of my many Bento boxes chock full of salads but fasting diets & the Metabolic Balance diet are producing some great (and quick) results in the gym so they may be better for others.

Peer Pressure

During this month Denise (Wife) & Gemma (friend & PT goddess) seem to be concerned that my food has become very functional rather than tasty & delicious. They are in some cases absolutely correct. A diet consisting of no dairy & almost zero sugar is never going to set the hearts and minds of others racing & I certainly am never going to win any awards for my culinary skills but I do insist that for the most part the flavours are so fresh that the food is good. Adding things into the mix such as chilli flakes, Jalapenos, basil & coriander has also helped to keep me interested & often surprised at how happy I am to continue along the same path. I admit the current serving of porridge on a morning does look a lot like gruel & the version I tried just made with water & oats was almost inedible but now I have settled on a version with a small quantity of protein shake added I am quite happy to munch my way through it although still missing the grapes.

Porridge made with water








Don’t get me wrong the ladies aren’t trying to tempt me with delicious sugary goodness (well apart from one request to try popcorn covered in chocolate) or say that what I am doing is wrong they just both have a passion for great tasting food & as they are both slender & not unhealthy they obviously have a good balance between eating right & enjoying their lives.

On the flip side of this, I am blogging about the exercise & diet & as I have told people that’s what I am doing I feel that it is helping me to stay focused & not deviate from the plan.

 Treats and treat meals

As this ‘experiment’ is only for a month I have tried to remain very strict & true to the plan. No dairy has passed my lips & I am currently happy with my 1 pre-training banana & small handful of raspberries in my post training shake in terms of my fruit/sugar consumption. I explained the reasons for these admissions in my previous blog and will continue with it for the remainder of the month. I have cut out at least another 2 banana’s, the all too well known morning grapes & 1 or 2 apples a day so I figure this is acceptable.

Post training raspberries

I have limited my treats very severely also & have tried to look for things which have intense flavours but no added sugar & little impact on calories consumed. My answer to this? an Oat cake sometimes with peanut butter on or small amount of KP salt and vinegar peanuts. Yes I know they have a high calorie content but I only  have 6 maybe once a week & the flavour intensity is soooooooooo  intense its just about as much as my brain can process. Does make me instantly thirsty though.

I have also tried to stay away from the cheat meal thing but do confess to a Chicken Tikka & boiled rice which ticked the tangy-ness box quite nicely & kept me sane. Other than that I have been as good as gold & really miss things although I think that I might be indulging in a bag of Giant choccy buttons come the 31st!

Giant Choccy Buttons








The plan of attack

I have a 12 point action plan for anyone wanting to lose some weight & possibly get the summer bod ready. This is based on what works for me and as I have said above it might not work for all but is a list of the things which I think will give you a good chance of achieving the results you are after

1. Tell People – Decide you are going to do it & then tell everybody about it. Fear of failure is a good motivator.

2. Planning stage 1 – Take time to plan how you are going to do it. Plan your weekly meals. then go out and buy the ingredients. Stick to the plan but have variety so you can change your food slightly if you don’t fancy a certain thing that day. Also make sure you restock the fridge before it’s all gone to keep the ball rolling. Nothing worse than an empty fridge to cause a random food binge.

3. Planning stage 2 – Make all of your days meals either the night before or on the morning before work & take them with you. Make double the quantity of your evening meal & box the rest up for the next day. Word of warning check with your partner before cooking salmon at 6am – believe me it doesn’t make for happy times!

4. Don’t buy junk food – If you don’t buy it you can’t eat it. If you really need a treat then only buy one at that time or in the case of the bag of chocolate buttons, only dish out a few into a bowl & then stash the rest for the next treat day (next week).

5. Be really honest – Keep a food diary on my fitness pal or similar but be really honest about the food & quantities in particular. Specific health issues aside the casual cheating/picking or the denial of the portion size is usually the culprit for a lot of people. Write it down & monitor what you are doing.

6. Drink Water – Lots of delicious refreshing water! Sometimes dehydration can feel like you are hungry. Drink lots to keep hydrated & it also helps to make you feel full. If your wee’s not clear you’re not drinking enough. Water mixed with grapes and fermented does not count!!

7. Read the Labels. Don’t be suckered into buying fat-free or sugar-free stuff. Read the labels & look at three things. a) Calories – if it’s a small piece of food with high calories then it’s usually high in fat or sugar or both. b) Ingredients, they are listed in order of quantity within the meal. highest first. If sugar is near the top then you have been warned. c) Nutrition info. Look at protein, carbs & fat ratio’s. try to choose things which are balanced between the three groups. Also, and really importantly, check the carbs ‘of which sugars’ line. If the carbs are mainly derived from sugar then look elsewhere. Fruit is a tricky one in respect to this as its fairly high in sugar content but good for you. The choice is yours with that one.

Nutrition Label

8. Carbs in a morning – try to take a higher percentage of your daily carb allowance earlier in the day when you have chance to use the energy. Take in more of your protein allowance later on as you will feel fuller & your body can use this to help repair the muscles overnight.

Chicken Salad – Yum

9. Listen to your body – If you feel desperately hungry then you have probably cut out too many calories & your body will start to burn the muscle as well as the fat. Be honest though a little hunger pang is not too be taken as starvation and diet abort! Eat something sensible sticking within the guidelines.

10. Don’t rush it – It doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t just expect the weight to drop off. It takes time & commitment. 1-2 pounds a week is good. More loss is generally a little too quick depending on your starting weight. It’s all about being healthy so extreme dieting without supervision is not the way forward.

11. Stick with what you know – don’t try to change everything at once. Cut out the bad stuff if possible & reduce portion size whilst sticking to healthier foods you like. Small changes with diet can make big changes to weight.

12. Seek professional advice – Whether it’s a nutritionist to help set target calories, a PT to help integrate some exercise into your life or a Doctor to give you the all clear to change your lifestyle & help you get started. It’s a good way to get the ball rolling & an appointment is a good way to focus the mind.

With all of these points in mind I am 2 weeks in & so far it seems to be working. People have said I am wasting away although I hardly think 2.5kg is going to put me anywhere near the risk of that. The 6 pack is slowly being uncovered so hopefully it will be in attendance at my party.  Saying that 1 month is not long so maybe not but at least it’s heading in the right direction & I feel better about it.

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