Pleased with Progress …

This year has been one of the best for me for a long time, so many small changes made for the better, so many decisions made and so much clarity achieved.

One of the big things we did as a family at the turn of the year was to make nutrition changes, and not the “let’s juice for 30 days” type of change, but a commitment to long term dietary changes.

We decided that we would try as much as possible to cut out the processed foods that the super markets tempt you with during the “weekly shop” – we would commit to cooking from fresh as much as we could, and we would also try and source our meat and fish locally.

Changes like that can’t happen overnight, it takes weeks and months to achieve them, but they are so worth it. So what does a typical meal look like for us these days? Well here are some snaps I took before I ate the plate of food in front of me ….

Tuna, Anchovy, Olive, Tomato, Feta and Spinach salad:

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Hot Chicken, Onion, Garlic, Tomato, Celery, Feta and Spinach salad:

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Scrambled Eggs with herbs, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and walnut oil drizzle:

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Roast Lamb, Kale, Sanfire with a touch of salt and butter, mashed sweet potato:

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I have to say, we don’t always get it right, there are still the “emergency chippy” days and the “I really do fancy a curry tonight” days …. but these are rare now … and they really are a treat when they come along and it feels like a splurge.

Over the months one the of surprising things I managed was in August when I made a brew and found we had no sugar in the house, so I drank it without and thought, wow, if I could do that all the time that would be good …. I have tried many times before, usually lasting a couple of days before falling back to my half teaspoon …… but this time it stuck …. not had sugar now for over 6 weeks and I don’t miss it … happy days.

I have also made a massive effort on the white bread …. I love my bread and could easily eat 10-16 slices a day, especially when training hard … these days, I try and not touch the stuff, maybe a few slices a week and even then, they are not white, they are gluten and wheat free options.

But what does this mean as we come to the end of September?

It means this:

I started the year weighing 107.5kg (or 16st 12lb) and although I was fit and healthy, I needed to drop some of that size ….. this morning on the scales I was 101kg (or 15st 12lb) …. but even more impressive has been the change to my body shape …. my belt has 5 notches on it and I was on notch 2 at the start of the year but this has dramatically dropped and I am now on notch 5 and it’s soon to be time for a new belt !!!

I have had to throw away loads of old clothes as they now bury me and I have only really just started, so may be loads more to go as well …… a stone over the course of 9 months has been done without any “dieting” at all … just eating healthy foods, cooked from scratch.

I even make my own salsa and fajita seasoning these days too:

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Food of Life …

One of the biggest changes that we as a family have undertaken in 2015 has been the commitment to try and eat “cleaner” – we have always been a family that have eaten generally well, but it’s all so easy to take the easy option sometimes and of course to fall for all the marketing out there.

We have always encouraged our boys to try everything and they do, and I doubt there are many families in our neck of the woods that have children that prefer to eat seafood for breakfast or to choose to have olives and anchovies … they don’t always like what we give them, but they will always try it first and give it a go.

So this year we have focused on trying to remove white bread from our breakfast and from our lunches … ideally remove it completely by the end of the year, but if we can make those first steps then its a huge improvement.

We have worked on using scrambled egg as the main breakfast constituent and then work around that … normally its smoked salmon that goes with it, but today it was vine tomatoes, feta cheese and fresh mint drizzled with a little walnut oil:

breakfast

It has worked well, I have virtually removed white bread from my diet now and I feel so much better for it – we still get the odd low GI brown loaf and yes occasionally I will have some white toast, but it is really occasionally now …

Combine that with the removal of sugar which I have already spoken about on this blog and we are really starting to clean our act up here. And the great thing for  us as parents is that the kids are loving it …

My cold is subsiding, but I am still coughing up some pretty gruesome stuff, so a weekend of rest is ahead of me to clear it completely before we get back into the training next week with some gentle runs and a visit to the gym.

 

 

Choose Your Fuel …

Sports Science has taken over the world – we see everything scrutinised and everything is analysed and pages and pages of data are produced. Now I am a data lover, data is great and it gives you lots to think about and this aspect of sports science is brilliant.

But there is a dark side to sports science … the dark side  that sells sugary rubbish to athletes to “boost their perfomance” and to “unlock their potential” … you see it all the time, short 5km races with people guzzling energy gels …. it is this are that the marketing departments have jumped on and taken advantage of … the marketing companies that make “sports drinks” and “natural health drinks” and all the association of fizzy drinks with being cool, trendy and sporty – that has to change.

A recent visit to a cafe highlights what is wrong:

Drinks

Row upon row of sugar and carbonated death juice … only water and milk as real drinks of any benefit – but this is what is offered to consumers – a terrible state of affairs.

I am embarking on something a bit different for my marathon training, I have already road tested it a little on the bike where I can now ride 3-4 hours on just a bidon of pure water, no gels, no bars and no carbs needed, just a solid healthy breakfast of eggs and salmon. I haven’t tried this with the running, but I am pretty sure the same adaptations can be gained over a period of time and that will help me fuel properly for the marathon itself.

It’s a big question, but can I run the marathon without any food at all and rely just on water ? Not sure ?

If I need food, then what food should I have and how much of it will I need to have ?

It will be an interesting journey back to old school running and something that I am looking forward to as the cold months close in.

 

Small Changes Matter …

You cannot make wholesale immediate changes and expect them to work. Everyone knows that, if you do then you are doomed to failure, but when it comes to planning for next year there are changes that I need to make.

First off lets tackle the subject of weight and the changes that are needed there.

Diet Changes

 

As a family we grabbed hold of our eating last winter and made some commitments that have already produced some amazing results. We decided to #EatClean, which basically means that you eat fresh and as natural as you can, avoiding processed foods and reducing the amounts of carbs that you eat each day. We hardly eat any potatoes or pasta now, and every day see’s lots of green vegetables and meat and fish and of course my two favourite “superfoods” … eggs and tomatoes, rarely a day goes by without me having eggs and tomatoes.

It was think change of mindset that started us off on a much healthier eating regime, but it wasn’t done overnight, we made small changes over weeks and those small changes matter.

Gone are the days of cereals and toast for breakfast, gone are the days of packs of sandwiches for lunch … it really had been uplifiting. The children love it too, I can’t remember the last time they had a “yellow meal” … you know the one, chips, chicken nuggets, smiley faces … all that crap …. my boys now prefer hearty stews, salmon and white fish and asparagus and sanfire … really great building blocks as they grow older.

BUT, and there always has to be a but, there are still lots of things we get wrong … there are still lots of times when work or life in general makes it just too easy to grab the takeaway and bottle of beer or wine, and its those instances that we need to tackle now, that and the dreaded killer of athletic performance and life in general … SUGAR.

So my small change today, was to reduce my sugar intake in my coffee …. so I had half the day with sugar and half the day without and you know what, it was alright, early days yet, but if I can reduce that one sugar per brew right down to nothing then over 7 months that will have an impact … if I can stay away from the Chinese and Indian “treat” at weekend, that will have an impact and if I can reduce the beers and wine right down, that will have an impact …. small changes, done over time, not all together … that is the way forward.

Join me and change how you think ….. “Eat Clean” is now my mantra … not gonna obsess about it, but I will try to follow it as much as I can and not beat myself up about it too much if I have the odd slippage.

Finally for today, I am pleased that my legs are good after yesterdays run … it was only a little run I know but it was my first for over 5 months, and I expected some pain today but I have no soreness and am quite ready to go again, so a good start indeed.

Tomorrow sees a gym and core day with Jonny (my eldest) who went out and ran 11km last night, cos he fancied it … oh to be 16 again eh !!!