Friday, 28 October 2011

Healthy eating for under 30 quid.

I frequently get told that healthy eating is expensive. I will not deny that healthier options do cost more. However, for most, to eat healthier than they currently do would not cost anymore money. The main cost to us is convenience. We pay for food to be packaged, look and taste the way we want it to because it is convenient. So if you want to eat healthier without spending more money, you are going to have to get used to a bit of inconvenience. This means, searching out deals, not buying everything from the supermarket. Using a butcher if there is one local to you and preparing meals from scratch.

So I was told by someone that they couldn't eat healthily for the budget they had. I was then challenged to make a menu for their budget. When I scoured the supermarkets, there were various 2 for 1 offers which made a saving. The main saving was on making things last. Food was to last for 2-3 meals and leftovers. Mackerel and pouting are great low cost fish alternatives. Liver again is a low protein option (even though it isn't on this menu).

The plan is a 20% protein as this individual isn't very active. Porridge is soaked to speed up the cooking time and to aid digestion by breaking down phytic acid. I guarantee that if people have a bad diet, their digestion and absorbtion of nutrients will be poor. Fruit and veg portions are around 7 a day. Oily fish and flax seeds are to ensure optimum intake of omega 3

So here's the menu.


Porridge with flax seeds, banana and maple syrup.

Lentil soup with vegetables

Tuna salad with vegetables


Mackerel, tomatoes and rice

Lentil soup with vegetables

Roast chicken and vegetables


Porridge, flax seeds, banana and maple syrup

Chicken salad

Sweet potato with tuna and stir fry veg


Smoked mackerel, cottage cheese and raw vegetables

Lentil soup with leftover roast vegetables

Thai green chicken curry


Porridge, flax seeds, banana and maple syrup

Omelet with spring onions and salad

Curry leftovers


Fast in the morning (gut cleanse)

Chicken salad

Pouting (fish) with vegetables


Porridge, flax seeds, banana and maple syrup

Nicoise salad

Roasted veg with oregano and tomatoes + chicken leftovers.

I didn't even include vegetarian days which bring the cost down even further. This is for one person so economies of scale would bring the cost down a little more. I also added some extra little tips such as a starting the day with water and lemon juice to aid peristaltic action of the colon. I am also recommending a protein shake which is to be turned into a smoothie to make a nutritious meal. Every little bit helps. It's all about being creative and planning what you are going to eat for the week.


Monday, 24 October 2011

Are you really doing a bootcamp.

When you get multiple leaflets through your front door advertising bootcamps, it is safe to say that bootcamp training is everywhere. Yet something doesn't quite sit right with me. Earlier in the year, I downloaded Marc Kent's Commando Fitness, bootcamp blueprint book. As Marc used to be a commando it seemed a pretty good place to start get to the bottom of this bootcamp phenomena. Also hearing from Patrick Dale about the disparity between actual military style bootcamps and the one done in the park with friends, has led me to this post.

The original bootcamps were long (32 weeks), hard endurance runs in full gear and life changing. They were designed to hone people into elite commandos so they could earn the right to wear a green beret. Not everyone will make it but those who pass the test have done well. X factor have bootcamps in which good singers are brought up to scratch to see if they can make it as world-class performers. Again, many don't make it. I recently saw an add for an investors bootcamp which was a full weekend learning how to become an investor. The end result is to earn money. All these bootcamps have in common is a STANDARD OF PRACTICE. They challenge you to be different. If you don't like it, see you later. Even though fitness bootcamps today don't need to be military based, they still need to incorporate some of the original functions. If they don't you are doing an average to good circuit class. There is nothing wrong with it, you are just kidding yourself that you are doing a bootcamp.

So here is my checklist to see if you are doing a bootcamp or if you are simply doing a circuit class. You are doing a circuit class.....

1. If you say, "i'm going to my weekly bootcamp class." 'Weekly' and 'bootcamp' shouldn't be in the same sentence. The only exception is if you are doing technique work for hours at a time. I used to attend these for sports. I expect fitness bootcamps to be 3 times a week at least as well as take home material, homework and a strict nutrition plan to follow.

2. If you enjoy it. Bootcamp shouldn't be fun. Why? Because you are trying to change yourself and you will meet resistance. The results and the destination are the fun part. You shouldn't base your decision to do bootcamp on whether you enjoy it. Some people do though.

3. If you have to miss bootcamp because it clashes with something else. The result you are trying to achieve in bootcamp training should take priority over everything else (withing reason).

4. If you go out the night before knowing that you will be OK in the morning for bootcamp.

5. If you stop doing bootcamp because it is getting cold. You haven't bought into bootcamp training. You were doing a circuit class.

6. If you tell the instructor what you can and can't do. You should have been screened before so when you turn up, you get on with it. No excuses.

7. If it is easy. Getting in shape, mentally and physically is hard work and if you are going to change your mind and body, and you find it is easy, you aren't being challenged in the way bootcamp is designed. You're circuit training i'm afraid.

8. If you stop doing your bootcamp because you don't like being told what to do. Most likely you are going to bootcamp because doing it your way over the years hasn't worked. If you don't hand over control to the instructor, you are doing a circuit class because it is all done on your terms. Eventually, something will get on your nerves and you will leave.

I'm sure there are more but I hear these a lot.

Feel free to add to them.


Monday, 10 October 2011

Are we more mentally unfit than physically unfit?

Around 1 in 4 men and 1 in 3 women in the UK are obese. 25% of young boys and 33% of young girls are also obese. The gov keep telling us that the numbers are growing despite 'efforts' to reverse this trend. Even though we shouldn't ignore this growing trend, my concern is the apparent decline in our mental fitness. Confused? Check this out.

We all know that we need to eat less and move more (sort of) to lose weight. It is the worst kept fitness secret out there, yet people seem to ignore the advice. Others put it down to motivation, time money...yet if we look behind the reasons, there appears to be something else going on as to why we can't lose weight. First we need to look at other growing trends.

The highest percentage of road rage victims are found in the UK. The UK is the road rage capital of the world with 80% of people being victims. Domestic abuse is also on the rise. Hospitals are seeing an increase in shaken babies. It needs to be stated that this can be seen during times of economic gloom. Alcohol intake and treatment has risen sharply. The number of units consumed doubled between 1997 and 2008. Unsurprisingly, there has been a 24% increase in the number of drink related deaths. Is this all down to the economy? Even if the economic climate makes us feel down in the dumps, why does this make us consume to excess?

People are stressed everywhere we look. But what is stress? If you perceive a situation stressful, you will experience stress as if it were real to you, despite the fact that you are getting worked up over not getting the dishes done. My observation is that we are becoming less able to deal with the demands of day to day life and we are becoming less mentally fit. If you become physically fit, your body is better equipped to resist the physical exertions placed on it. How much of the day is spent on getting our minds better equipped at resisting the stresses of day to day life? We are even now so afraid that our kids can't deal with not winning at sports day that everyone has to win. Getting back to the food issue, we have also lost the fine art of resisting urges as despite economics or finances, there is an abundance of the things which can do us harm. We seem to also have lost the art of saying 'no'. Someone asks if you want some of their deep fried chicken. We are so afraid of hurting their feelings, we would rather damage our own health than speak our minds. Many years ago, someone asked me if I wanted a cigarette. I said, "eerrr, I'm OK thanks." I had to back step and acknowledge my nervous response and tell them that I didn't smoke and for some reason, I gave the impression that I did as I didn't want to appear rude. The parent's of obese kids were asked if they thought their kids were obese. Most said no as they don't want to label their kids. Haven't the parents done that already with their diet and lifestyle?

Obesity isn't about just about being overweight. In my experience, there is always a mental issue that has not been addressed which manifests itself physically as weight gain. Smoking, drinking and now eating are all being used to seek comfort. So it makes sense that the more 'uncomfortable' we feel, the more we will use a 'crutch' that makes us feel better. Education only informs people about the consequences of comfort eating, smoking and drinking to excess. It doesn't deal with the issue as to why we need comfort. Dealing with emotions, managing expectations, negativity, conflict resolution, taking responsibility for your life.....this is what we experience everyday yet we don't even touch these issues. Any youth worker who deals with the 'disaffected youth' will tell you that kids today don't know how to deal with their emotions and feelings and it manifests itself in criminality.

I know plenty of guys who are physically super fit yet can get wound up easily. Footballers spring to mind. I watched a game where a player was moaning about being fouled and the referee not acting on it. He ran up to the ref, showed him the mark from the challenge and said "he got me first look, see!" When have you seen a ref say, "oooh, that looks bad mate. You know what, I think you're right. I'll have a word with him. You'd better get some TCP on it." Yet this is seen by most (not me) as the accepted way to behave. Golfers and gymnasts on the other hand have to be aware of their emotions, then in control of them as they only get one chance to execute a shot or move. They get direct feedback that something wasn't quite right. The flip side is this can make you over critical which also isn't good.

So what do we do? Firstly we need to stop labelling people with mental illness as 'them'. We are all on the same spectrum, just further down. We all have our 'stuff' to deal with. When you get wound up, ask yourself this question. If I had won the lottery, would I care? How much time in the day do we spend unwinding compared to being wound up? How much negative talk do we use? Do you use a vision board or have an end step so you know all the hard work is for a reason? Do have have an anchor to help you put life into perspective when you get mad? I use a picture of my wife and son. Do you meditate? When was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone? I believe the balance we need for optimum health addresses all the elements of fitness, not just the physical. Also, most people need to use their mind more than their body, so surely it's worth spending time getting it in shape?

If you have any other ways which you work on mental fitness, feel free to post.