An inexpert guide…

Fitness and nutrition are those sorts of subjects.. .everyone is an expert.

It’s an endless barrage. Fat is bad for your heart, too much protein will weaken your bones and give you gall stones, you are over training, you aren’t training enough, more cardio to burn fat, cardio doesn’t burn fat, eggs will give you heart disease, red meat will give you cancer, all meat will give you cancer, just face it you are getting cancer, do weights, no do cardio, no just swim because you will destroy your joints otherwise, running is the only thing that works, running is ruining your knees and wasting many of the muscles, you must have milk for your bones but milk is bad for you, microwaves make food be not actual food, do atkins, paleo, vegan, cabbage soup or something where meals are replaced with shakes. It’s nuts. It’s massively contradictory and to some extent it’s personal, different strokes and all that.

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Often when I comment or discuss my choices I get told what I ‘should’ be doing instead. I could sit and go through it point by point refuting, responding, clarifying. I won’t. I have a much simpler answer. I have an expert guiding my exercise and nutrition. An actual expert who has actually studied these things, not just read it on line or in men’s health.  I also used to be 21stone and eat primarily pizza, crisps and chocolate. So I thank you for your comments and opinions, but I am doing ok and honestly I’ll take my chances on whatever the current hysteria is about because no matter how much red meat and eggs I consume, no matter how hard I train (fitting it in around a full time desk job after all), no matter what method I use to cook my meals, I am never going to be doing as much damage to my body as I was just by being 21stone and eating a shitty diet.

We need to get a little perspective I think generally on the health industry and our diets and fitness. At this stage I will go point by point on a few general things. Before I do let me just clarify MY perspective. I was for many years very obese. I ate badly, I moved little, I was unhappy and I am fundamentally inclined (even now) to eat for comfort or boredom. I did reductil (later removed from market as dangerous) and other pills. most of the other pills, I did cabbage soup, atkins, weight watchers, slim fast, hypnotherapy (twice, the second time it was the brilliant Wizard and it helped  keep me from self sabotage). I have yo yo’d a lot. My mother has bribed me with clothes and cash. I have done every desperate thing and in the end divorce was the thing that worked. My appetite was reduced due to the stress and escaping to the gym was easy when I couldn’t stand being in the house. Of course it only got me so far and wasn’t the healthiest approach, although it wasn’t awful. Still, there is work left to do which I am doing in a more healthy and constructive way.

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So back to the topic in hand. The diet industry.

First of all it’s just that. The whole health, diet, fitness thing is an industry, it needs to make money so it needs to ensure just enough of us are successful that people believe the hype, but the majority keep failing and backsliding so we keep trying new things. The primary purpose of the fitness industry is to make money not to make us healthy. Something to remember when contemplating your next steps. All the magic pills are designed to work just well enough to make you dependent, the protein powders etc can be useful if used sensibly but should not be a fundamental part fo your regime. I use powder as a shortcut to top up my protein intake, it’s not a meal replacement (slim fast etc) it’s not a magic powder to make me stronger faster (sorry maxi muscle) it’s an easy way to top up certain nutrients rather than adding in an extra meal. I’m not keen on eggs first thing in the morning, total yogurt mixed with powder fills the protein requirement. Use them by all means but be aware of what they are actually replacing and why you are using them.

People are different. Our bodies are different, our desires and habits and routines are different, our tastes and the things we enjoy are different. Of course I am going to recommend martial arts/combat sports, I love them, they bring me joy. I am not going to suggest people run because frankly I hate it and it’s never worked for me. The sensible advice really is try a bunch of stuff a few times and stick with what you enjoy most. The sticking is more important than the activity.

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Equally with food, I enjoy meat and eggs and green veg. Low carb is easy for me because it leaves me lots of things I like to eat and a way to manage my food that suits my timetable. I don’t however like fish much, so while I acknowledge it would be good to eat more fish my PT accepts that it’s not going to happen and doesn’t push the issue. We work around it because having something I can do consistently is more important than eating so many grams of a specific thing at a certain time.  We set principles I have to adhere to and I do that. Other people work better from a diet plan, all the meals written out in advance in full, some have particular dietary needs or issues to be considered. Find something that works and that contains mostly healthy whole foods and you are probably ok. I think it can be agreed that trying to avoid processed food is always a good thing. (see point one on the food industry).

Clubs like weight watchers etc have a value, if you find group support helps great, go for it. The problem with them is they offer all sorts of alternatives to supermarket versions of things ‘low point biscuits’ etc and that is dangerous because it doesn’t actually challenge you approach to food. It’s offering you a way to lose some weight without really addressing the way you eat. I could rant about this for hours, but instead I’ll say, if you find support groups helpful use them, but be aware and cautious about how you are dealing with eating patterns.

In short, the best thing you can do for yourself if you want to be fitter, healthier, slimmer, stronger, is exercise you enjoy and eating mostly fresh food. That’s it.

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Heavy thinking

There have been some superb posts recently on diet, weight, body image etc. I thought i’d share a few favourites.

A slightly snarky look at food fads and the ‘wisdom’ of the internet. The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater.

And on weight, BMI and the dangerous approach of healthcare reducing us all to a single stat. Female Bodies: A Weighty Issue

Generally a pretty good site for information and body image positivity… Fat Girl, PhD

how researching nutrition on line makes you feel.

how researching nutrition on line makes you feel.

While Juliet E McKenna is best known as a fantasy writer, she is also a long term martial artist and has written sensibly on a number of subjects. Her site is worth checking out for articles like this one on the Nigella restaurant incident and why fighting back isn’t always easy.

This video of a girl beating a number of Jui Jitsu opponents was posted on Leicester Shootfighters facebook page and is well worth a few minutes of your time.

While he’s not been training for a while Alasdair Stuart’s achingly honest Judo Diaries are my go to when I feel frustrated or doubts set in.

Thanks to Alec McQuay for this article by Henry Rollins

Please add your favourite links on nutrition, training, body image etc in the comments.

balanced diet

 

Edited to add more links from friends.

From Sarah Cawkwell, one from the Huffington on guys struggling with body image and a really personal one about bad mirror days that certainly speaks to me.

Simon suggested the nutrition and protein product site Monkey Nutrition, for those who are interested I use The Protein Works, largely because they do good flavours.

My PT Karl suggested EliteFTS

The lovely Jan suggested Nerd Fitness which I just fell in love with a little bit. I had that Wolverine figure! She also pointed at Fitocracy for those who like the social media dynamic.

Max suggested this video on discipline and this excellent article on The Pleasures of Drowning.

For those of you who like to run (I hate it, there will be a post on that shortly) there is also the Zombie Run App.

Thanks to everyone who has given their suggestions. I shall refer back to these when I feel frumpy, unsure, uninspired or am just having a really bad day with my hair. 🙂

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Progress

(WP has developed an annoy habit of defaulting posts to Paws regardless of which I log in on so this is being double posted.)

 

It’s the end of week 4 of my new regime.

Measurements are as follows: Before I started I was 222lbs, after a week of sort of trying and on my official first day weigh in I was

Waist 36″, Hips 44″ and Chest 42″. Weight was 222lbs.

Today I came in at:

Waist 34.5″, Hips 42.5″ and Chest 41″. Weight was 213lbs

I am extremely happy with this.

I also had the first week of my new gym routine which consists of weighted goblin (technically called goblet) squats, press ups and cable rows. It was very hard work as promised but not too dull. More painful than dull. On Wednesday I had to train through brutal DOMS, pretty sure only my natural stubbornness got me through. I love it!!

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I also had another fantastic week at Leicester Shootfighters (I missed Thursday night because of babysitting and book group) but otherwise made most of the classes and of course breakfast club. It’s been a great week. I still think bear crawls are evil and I will never learn to cart wheel, but I am getting a teensy bit better at backward rolls. Yay me! Am also starting to see how things link together in grappling. Doesn’t magically make me any better at them or more able to remember the subtleties but it is helping. Importantly I also feel as though i’m getting more control over my body gradually, which means I spend less time worrying about landing on people and more trying to get things right. My grip is still utterly rubbish.

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Nothing is sacred to Echo. Not even my gi.

 

Posted in Measuring progress, Nutrition, Training | Leave a comment

Progress!

It’s the end of week 4 of my new regime. 

Measurements are as follows: Before I started I was 222lbs, after a week of sort of trying and on my official first day weigh in I was

Waist 36″, Hips 44″ and Chest 42″. Weight was 222lbs. 

Today I came in at:

Waist 34.5″, Hips 42.5″ and Chest 41″. Weight was 213lbs

I am extremely happy with this.

I also had the first week of my new gym routine which consists of weighted goblin (technically called goblet) squats, press ups and cable rows. It was very hard work as promised but not too dull. More painful than dull. On Wednesday I had to train through brutal DOMS, pretty sure only my natural stubbornness got me through. I love it!! 

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I also had another fantastic week at Leicester Shootfighters (I missed Thursday night because of babysitting and book group) but otherwise made most of the classes and of course breakfast club. It’s been a great week. I still think bear crawls are evil and I will never learn to cart wheel, but I am getting a teensy bit better at backward rolls. Yay me! Am also starting to see how things link together in grappling. Doesn’t magically make me any better at them or more able to remember the subtleties but it is helping. Importantly I also feel as though i’m getting more control over my body gradually, which means I spend less time worrying about landing on people and more trying to get things right. My grip is still utterly rubbish.  

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Nothing is scared to Echo. Not even my gi. 

 

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Week Two & what’s next

Well all told I lost 7lbs over 2 weeks and it’s been ok going. Am very pleased. I found a few days before my cheat meal I started to notice large bags of chocolate buttons at low prices etc. Knowing it was coming held me over and while I haven’t really missed the junk food in between the pizza and sundae was rather marvelous. I had a moment of ‘ooh I could eat like this forever’ (the whole plan, not just pizza) to which my PT pointed out, that was rather the point. Oh, ok then. Good.

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Yesterday I met with my PT.  My press ups have been corrected, my squats are good and we established I am ok with a seated cable row. These three exercises make up the first weights routine. I have been assured it is hard, dull and absolutely necessary as the foundation of everything to come. It’s not about number of reps or heaviness of weight, it’s about doing it right. So that’s three mornings a week for the next 6-8 weeks.

I’m delighted. I don’t care if it’s hard and dull, it’s all working toward something and I like that. It’s working toward being a better martial artist and I’ve a long way to go. I also like the thoroughness of the approach. The pre training concept to prepare properly for what’s to come, that seems a smart approach. Most importantly though, I now get to book end my days with training! Early morning training is great for clearing my head and getting me nice and awake and happy for the start of the work day. Since I’m one of those people incapable of hiding my mood the early morning buzz benefits everyone who has to put up with me. Now I get four days a week of it, three doing weights and one doing Breakfast Club grappling. Maybe I should just work from home on Tuesdays and keep my grumpiness to myself. Or maybe I should just go and soak of my aches in the jacuzzi.

For old friends this one

For old friends this one

Of course I train in the evenings too. Evening training is awesome because it helps me let go of the working day be it good, bad or totally f*cked up, so when I get home I feel physically tired, mentally better and generally happy. Also I just love the training, you might have picked that up by now. So ok, training at both ends of the day doesn’t give me masses of time for other things, a couple of hours to work on the publishing stuff and eat dinner etc, but I have weekends mostly free to work on the books and rarely take my work home (the last two or three weeks being an exception to that) and when I don’t train I usually end up losing the evening to feeling grumpy and watching crap on TV anyway. So I don’t think it makes much odds in terms of evening productivity. In the daytime I am much more useful when I train before work.

Me when I'm not training.

Me when I’m not training.

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Jits and the art of motorcycle maintenance

I should note, there are no motorcycle maintenance tips in this post and honestly not that much jits. I considered llama’s but the jury is out on whether they belong either. Possibly the least accurate title ever, but it sounded good in my head.

So first of all the diet update. Week two went well. Two weeks is about the right length of time between cheat meals, the last couple of days I had a few oooh chocolate nooo nearly cheat time moments. The cheat itself was a pizza express pizza and an ice cream sundae. It was well deserved, my loss of the last two weeks has been 7lbs. The best thing is this is just healthy eating, I can eat like this for the rest of my life, not just 12 weeks or whatever.

In spite of spending the previous weekend with a vomiting bug predictably followed by a cold I managed a fair amount of training last week. I am loving all of it. My evasion in boxing is still verging on non existent but I feel overall as though I’ve made real progress in the past few months. I feel (and it may all be n my head) as though my movement is more balanced and my punches are getting sharper. I’m getting told to relax less often too. Yay!

Kitty says relax

Kitty says relax

Kickboxing just continues to be huge  fun. Three years of light contact means the biggest issues are around low kicks, clinching and distance (it’s very different in full contact), but a lot of the time it’s still familiar territory even if I need to take everything back to basic principles and relearn well all of it.

Grappling in its many forms was always the furthest from my comfort zone, but for all that I know desperately little I am gradually feeling more at ease with it. A few things are sinking in at last, the language is gradually making sense, I’m getting more relaxed. I love these classes, they require something of me that I’ve never been able to do before. They expect me to relax, breathe and go with it rather than setting against and fighting all the time. They demand that I learn to move counter intuitively, that I trust my body to do things it can evidently (sort of ) do even while my brain (and on occasion my mouth) is going ‘yeah right, this is not going to work’. It’s fascinating, it also ties in to something my Dad has been trying to teach me my whole life, sometimes (this is for you Al) resistance is futile. Sometimes you just have to go with it, keep breathing and wait for your opportunity. The lesson in that is gradually making it’s way past the endless layers of stubborn and into my brain, in grappling and in life. Wait… is that actual personal development? Stop that now brain!

heybrain

Anyway, it was a great week of training and this week I am due to get my weights regime and my instructions on how to do it. I think I also get to train Thursday night. It’s an exciting week! I love weights, not as much as training, but still, it’s a good way to start the day. Looking forward to seeing what is in store.

So once again huge thanks to all the coaches and training partners at Leicester Shootfighters, the end of the work day is always the start of the best part of the day for me.

oh hell llamas are always the right choice

oh hell llamas are always the right choice

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Week One

So week one.

We started with some discussion of how I deal with structure (love it), what I do and don’t eat in whole food terms (no mushrooms, not too much fish and we are good yeah), then on Monday I got going.

It’s been good. It’s inevitably the week where stuff gets used up and the right things bought, the settling period where I am getting my head around what’s needed.  Usually when I get into a new regime I feel ok for a couple of days then crash for a day or two. That’s not happened this time round, I feel good and as a result impatient to step things up especially by bringing the gym back into the picture. I’ve been told to wait till my end of week assessment.

This week I was issued with an eating plan (meal make up with examples) designed with the training I do in mind and the instruction to walk at least 20mins every day and drink at least 2litres of fluids excluding hot drinks. No coffee after 2pm. The plan is fairly loose because I get bored if it’s too rigid.

as long as I can have my morning blast..

as long as I can have my morning blast..

I’ve written down everything I consume and notes about how I’ve felt etc to send my trainer and I’ve been taking measurements. I am all told happy with my progress. Instead of going to training knowing I’ll feel better once we get started, I’m heading over itching to get into it. I’m still not sleeping well but I never expected kicking the evening caffeine to change that, I’ve tried it before. I will in due course find a balance and start to sleep better, but right now my brain hasn’t quite accepted that it needs to let the day go and enjoy the oblivion.

Saturday morning weighed in at a 2lb loss, hurrah. Good start.

In training terms it’s been a good week too.

Am able to train on Mondays again so went boxing this week. May have to stick around for the second class next week. Tues was Jitsu, kickboxing and MMA (there is an intro to MMA course being offered in April incidentally if you want to try this), Weds was more boxing and no gi grappling, Thursday am breakfast club and of course Friday was wrestling and no gi jitsu. Enjoyed both classes as always. Am quite looking forward to getting on Thursday evenings too, have had to miss this months Wayne Lakin Judo session due to other commitments.

The groundwork still isn’t easily retained, but it’s coming better little by little, the feeling of everything being horribly clumsy and alien is passing. While I may not be able to get that exact angle with this limb around their head etc I am feeling overall more in control and comfortable with things.

The striking comes a little more easily, so I’m working a lot on trying to get the techniques right. Also, after just over three years of getting hit in the face I’m finally grasping the concept of evasion, almost. All round just working on being a little better than last time.

As for the gym. Well my routines have to be discussed and set but if I’m honest with myself there is a lot more to do than just lifting gradually heavier stuff. Though am hoping squats, leg press and deadlifts figure, because I like those. Am awaiting my routine.

It just made me laugh.

It just made me laugh.

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