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13 results found.
As a large runner I spend quite a lot of time focusing on food and diet. My aim is to establish a diet that makes it easy for me to maintain an acceptable weight, feel satisfied and still provides sufficient levels of energy for me to live my life with abandon.
My dietary program has been heavily influenced by three excellent books that have a similar theme of simplifying food and eating.
My first recommendation is Savor, a Buddhist guide to mindful eating. This book attempts to fuse nutritional advice with the Buddhist concept of mindfulness through the discussion of the four noble truths and a series of exercises or meditations that encourage a focus on the present.
The eating messages I’ve taken home are:
I’ve turned to Michael Pollen for the sort of down to earth advice succinctly wrapped up with the maxim: Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. Homespun advice that would make your mum and grandmother nod their heads in appreciation.
In Defense of Food, contains Michael Pollen’s manifesto for eating and attempts to find the common sense lost in the nutritional world that has become hijacked by commerce and the food industry.
In addition to the Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants advice you’ll find tips such as:
Both of these books suggest a common sense approach to eating and food, but slightly more prescriptive advice can be found in the next book which advocates the diet of our ancestors.
The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain
From an evolutionary time frame our digestive systems remain as they were in paleolithic times. The agricultural revolution has brought about many changes in our eating habits but our bodies have not yet had time to catch up.
By reverting to our ancestral food types we can achieve many health benefits and reduce a number of inflammatory or allergic reactions that are associated with modern foods such as wheat and highly processed foods. I mentioned in passing recently that I’ve had a lot of success treating plantar fasciitis with the paleo diet.
The Paleo Diet really is a very easy diet to follow. I’ve already listed out the rules in the space of two paragraphs. That’s all there is to it. I find it a very acceptable way to live, I may have to plan ahead sometimes but Paleo food is quite accessible – just stick to the edges of the supermarket where you’ll find the fresh produce aisles, then snack on fruit, nuts and cooked meats.
Because it’s an easy way to live, that’s the way I see it – a way of life. That enables me to let myself off the hook from time to time. Some may call it cheating but it does mean that if I visit friends for dinner, I can join them without feeling the need to educate them on my current eating habits. I just return to Paleo tomorrow.
Many Paleo advocates call this the 80:20 rule – get it right 80% of the time and you’ll be alright. Julia Buckley would say “Mostly good, most of the time”.
I’ve had great successes on the Paleo Diet, I lost 6lbs in the first week, 3-stone in the first year and I have been on a steady decline since then. It could be considered a boring diet but it has the great effect of reducing my cravings. So while I may feel hunger I’m actually not that bothered by the feeling, it can rumble away for a while before I need to satisfy the pangs. That is incredibly unusual for me, before the Paleo diet I would say I practically lived in fear of hunger, I would anticipate the feeling and ward off the onset with fairly regular snacking.
The Paleo diet has a lot of similarities with the GI diet, they don’t necessarily recommend the same food types, as the GI diet includes whole grains which would be avoided on the Paleo diet, but they both impact on and stabilize insulin levels in the body. I think it is this that stops the cravings and the emotional highs and lows with traditional dieting.
If you’d like to kick start your Paleo lifestyle I can highly recommend the Whole 30 challenge which is a 30-day uber strict paleo diet challenge. It’s a great way to detox and determine if you have any food intolerances but its also a useful way to familiarise yourself with real foods again.
The Whole 30 food list is even simpler than the Paleo one from Loren Cordain’s book:
It may feel strange to avoid grains which have for a long time been touted as a health food pillars but they are relatively recent intruders into our diet. If you look at the Paleo Diet with its lean meats and fish, its abundance of veg, salad and the delights of fruits, nuts and berries, you can rest assured that you are eating healthy and nutrient laden food.
I was in the park last weekend, playing frisbee with Will, an 8 year old.
He ran me absolutely ragged.
When I could run and leap no further I had to feign urgent business near the picnic blanket. My young friend followed me and while I flopped into a heap, he relaxed into a perfect example of the Primal Squat. I admired his squat and demonstrated my best Crab Walk. He wasn’t particularly impressed with my ungainly attempts and scuttled off across the park performing a high-speed Duck Walk.
It seemed quite a coincidence that only a week after I’d finished reading my copy of Paleo Fitness by Darryl Edwards, I’d be careering around the park impersonating an assortment of creatures with another aficionado of animal gaits. I wondered briefly whether Will had also read the book but I suppose it is more likely that Darryl had been inspired by children at play when he designed his functional fitness routines.
Darryl Edwards (Fitness Explorer) offers personal training and primal boot camp sessions in and around the parks of West London. With my recent focus on the Paleo Diet, I was quite tempted to explore the world of Paleo Fitness and was happy to give the book the once over.
Paleo Fitness focusses on whole body movements (as opposed to isolation movements such as bicep curls), encouraging mobility and strength in a way that prepares the body for everyday activities. It has a heavy emphasis on fun and if you embark on this course you’ll be fit enough to run your own 8-year old ragged.
The book covers the Paleo Diet in a satisfyingly succinct way and then moves on to describing the exercises and weekly routines.
I’ve been adding the animal walks to my current training plan as a warm up. I find that Bear Crawls and crab Walks loosen up my back like no other stretch and puts me in a great place to start the rest of my routine.
I don’t feel quite brave enough to join Darryl in the park for a session in Primal Fun but I’m sure if I did, it would enhance my mobility and strength no end. This is a program that would set you up for leaping park benches, climbing trees and hopping over walls. It would certainly prepare you for a session of frisbee in the park.
Back in 2014 I posted about my newly discovered autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I’d acquired the diagnosis rather opportunistically while I was taking up an offer of a performance blood scan and I responded with suitable outrage and a desire to make lifestyle changes that might put my body back on an even keel.
Automimmunity feels to be the scourge of the modern age and I’ve become an ardent advocate of the role of diet in the control of inflammation. The kitchen is full to overflowing with assorted microbial foodstuffs and we cycle our way through recipes in books like the The Paleo Approach and the Weston A Price bible.
I came away with my new diagnosis and then immediately started my first round of the Whole 30. This is a rather strict, paleo style elimination diet. No alcohol, no dairy, no sugar, no grains. It’s tough but I have never felt so fantastic. Full of energy, drive and awareness. Apart from maybe the first week when I felt flat, grumpy and lethargic.
Having completed the 30 day program, feeling totally amazing, you’d think I would just continue on to the Whole Forever. I didn’t of course. Instead I fell right back off the wagon and added almost everything back into my diet.
Fortunately some habits did stick. I rarely have milk in my drinks now and I am approximately 80% gluten-free. Cakes, bread and pastries are a very rare component of my diet, having been replaced by home-made fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi.
I went back for another blood test shortly after finishing the Whole 30 and there were some very satisfactory improvements noted in the blood markers. My antibody levels had dropped by half and @sportiedoc was quite impressed. The top box shows my initial results with the thyroglobulin antibody levels showing values well above the normal range. It’s this marker that indicated Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The lower box is from the test about 3 months later and although it is still abnormal the antibody levels have dropped to 209 from 529.
It had been my attention to keep a regular eye on my blood results. I wanted to see quite how relaxed I could let my diet go while still keeping the antibodies in check but private blood tests are pretty pricey and 3 years passed before I knew it.
This is where Thriva makes its entrance. I noticed an ad in Outdoor Fitness mag for a home blood testing service and was amazed that they have an advanced thyroid scan available via the DIY kit for £69. You can of course get blood tests for free via your GP but getting them to do the right ones is challenging. I’m a bit of a cynic and think that our health service would be better called an illness service, my experience is that my GP is only interested in basic thyroid function tests that will alert us to catastrophic failure of the thyroid, that can then be treated with external hormone replacement. They are less interested in indicators of future problems, knowledge of which may empower us to make healthier choices.
Rant over. Hopefully it explains why I pay for my own blood tests. If you follow this Thriva home blood test link you will get £10 off as well.
The kit arrived promptly and when I plucked up courage I had a go at filling the vial. It requires quite a lot of blood from a finger prick and I made a bit of a mess of the job. It’s not really a hard task but it was challenging to take the video and collect the blood. Try not to let this video put you off (and listen on mute if you are sensitive to cursing!).
DIY Blood letting with @thrivahealth Apologies for the swearing. I was diagnosed with #hashimotos an autoimmune thyroid condition a while ago. I noticed huge reductions in my antibody levels by changing my diet but the tests are usually too expensive to repeat very often. This new home kit costs about £60 so I'll let you know how it goes. I made a bit of a mess of it! Link: 👉https://thriva.co/i/AWKVJC #selfquantification #biohacking
And what fantastic results they were. Antibody levels are right back to normal. In fact if this was my first test I would no longer get the Hashimotos diagnosis.
Obviously I am really happy about that. It’s great news but what can you learn from my experience?
You can be absolutely sure that the last 3 years have not been run as a perfectly controlled experiment. I have been chopping and changing my diet and exercise routines, left right and centre. I’m a starter-leaver by nature and rarely follow any protocol fully or for the prescribed length of time. The most significant actions I’ve taken are as follows, any of which may have affected my immune response:
It’s all been a bit ad hoc and not terribly consistent but the message I am left with is that you can influence your body’s response by your actions. Maybe you just need to do your own experimentation, perhaps you could pick one from the list and see how it goes. Now that home blood testing is a reality you can monitor the impacts on a regular basis.
Here’s a final chart showing the 3 readings (R1 = first reading, R3 = latest reading) for each blood test.
I’m a quitter and a failure.
At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last year or so.
We were onto the second course, a delicious ox heart carpaccio and a good way into a bottle of Chardonnay when Lynn asked me what had happened to my fitness plans as she’d noticed that the training calendar was blank and I had been emotionally flat for a while.
I tried to talk but in the end it just seemed easier to sob into my Chardonnay.
I was choking up trying to explain how my last three 100km attempts had ended in failure and I now felt that I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t risk adding yet another failure to my list by aiming for an ultra but at the same time, I couldn’t think of anything, more realistic, that had the power to excite me.
Following our emotional dinner, I came home and promptly ordered Achieve the Impossible (ATI) by Greg Whyte.
It proved to be a fantastically inspiring book. Within a few pages it was clear that my challenge needed to be “audacious” and needed to have an emotional hold over me. Despite hating long distance walking it’s hard to find another challenge that could tick both of those boxes and I’m afraid my big challenge has to be to train and complete a 100 km event.
I wasn’t going to mention it on my blog, hoping to save face if it turned into failure number 4, but another thing I learnt from ATI was that I have to put the challenge out there and be accountable.
So here goes, in 2016 I will train for and complete a 2 stage ultradistance event. Ideally it will be Race to the Stones in July 2016.
Achieve the Impossible is written by Greg Whyte who is the driving force behind a number of high profile mega challenges such as Eddie Izzard and his 43 marathons and David Walliams with his 140 mile swim down the Thames. These and many other challenges are used to illustrate the concepts and are fascinating and inspiring in their own right.
The book is ultimately about conception and planning: “Success isn’t an accident; you plan for it”
It has opened my eyes to the level of detail required to ensure success rather than just hope for it. It’s clear in the past that I have designed a training plan focused on only one element required for success – usually running distance. I’ve then gone out there and loosely followed the plan but not checked my progress or considered strategies for the tough times ahead. That means that I arrive at the start of an event someway short of optimally prepared and then have to wing it with no clear idea how to deal with curve balls that appear throughout the course. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but it’s always hit and miss.
In management speak I refer to myself as a Starter Leaver and consider it the perfect complement to the Belbin team role of Completer Finisher. It means that I’m creative and have oodles of energy at the start of a project but I’m very quick to move on to the next big idea. It can work well in a diverse team but when you’re into the grotty half of an ultradistance event it exposes extremely unhelpful personality traits and makes it easy to be a quitter. My emotional response to hard times needs to planned for as much as my body’s reluctance to churn out the distance.
Preparing properly is quite a technical job in itself. The book provides a framework with loads of planning concepts, images and examples to help you along the way but I still found it a little tricky to see how I could put it into action, there were lots of different examples but ideally I wanted the illustration to show: overweight, middle-aged woman plans to run 2-stage ultra event in precisely 1 years time, so I could nick the Measures of Success and the meso and macro planning cycles, but I suppose that is expecting a bit too much.
I am planning an accompanying blog post that will layout my very personal example and I’ll share the Achieve the Impossible spreadsheet that I’ve developed to track and display my progression towards my training goals.
In the meantime I would recommend this as a key read for anyone in the early stages of the next big challenge.
I am a big fan of eggs. They are nutritional power houses and are one my staple foods at the moment. I’m in the middle of a paleo-style detox (Whole 30) and so my current diet consists pretty much of eggs, meat, fish and vegetables.
In order to keep up with my voracious egg consumption I’ve been trying out the Severin Titanium Electronic Egg Boiler. I am not particularly adept at the perfect egg boil, so I thought an electronic gizmo might save the day. I was a little concerned when I read the instructions, which had been translated into an impressive array of languages, and informed me that I could achieve an infinite level of hardness with my egg, just by turning a dial.
I have problems with infinite hardness, not least because I want a dippy egg but mainly because I am sure the egg would self-combust before it approached anything near infinite hardness. After trying the gadget on umpteen occasions and having failed to soft boil more than 24 eggs I would now concede that this is a device that is focussed on it’s goal of achieving at least brick-like hardness.
This morning, in a bit of a strop, I turned the device down to its lower setting and tried again with a rather special Organic Burford Brown Hen egg, complete with the Red Lion stamp of quality and Britishness. The gadget beeped after a mere 30 seconds (or so), the water had not boiled and the egg had not even warmed through. I picked it up, shook it to reveal a fluid centre and then cracked it on the side of my frying pan and went back to the good old fashioned way of cooking a breakfast egg.
The British Lion Eggs website is a really useful resource for eggy related info and detail on egg nutrition. This page on eggs and cholesterol, although voluntarily restricted to health professionals provides some research backed evidence to explain how the cholesterol raising misconception arose.
I was sent 3 snack bars from The Primal Kitchen to try out last week. I’m afraid they were so lovely that I didn’t have chance to take artistic photos before I’d polished them off.
The Almond and Cashew bar is particularly delicious and I’ve already bulk ordered some additional bars for the snack cupboard.
They’ve been designed to make paleo snacks more accessible and include minimal ingredients, all real food. My favourite bar contains only dates, almonds, cashews and almond oil.
I have found them the perfect snack for taking on endurance events like the London2Brighton. They’re also handy in the office drawer but can be a little to tempting for my own good.
Just as a quick aside. It’s Day 11 of Juneathon and I’m still on track. I reluctantly dragged myself on to the treadmill this morning for a High Intensity Training session before work and was mighty glad I made the effort. There are few things more rewarding than a completed run.
I’ve been in a six-week workout dither since I completed Julia Buckley’s 12 week Fat Burn Revolution program.
I had some good results on the program – take a look at the transformation photos on Julia’s site for evidence, but I’ll leave you to guess who’s who. By the end of the 3 month stint though, I was ready to take control and create my own routine.
Unfortunately the new routine has taken a little while to bed in.
I was convinced of the benefit of strength training and so the new program was going to involve lifting heavy weights as well as more running. As Lynn had bought me six sessions of British Military Fitness, it was also going to include a load of running around in the local park looking like a bullied fool.
I kicked right off with Starting Strength, a remarkably simple and progressive routine for rapidly increasing strength. It’s a barbell routine, mixing up deadlifts, chest press, shoulder press and squats. It’s easy enough to master and each session is relatively short as the exercises chosen work multiple muscle groups in one go. If you use the amazing JEFIT PRO App you can grab a pre-designed starting strength routine here.
The strength gains are quite rapid but that also became my downfall.
I started off in the garden squatting and bench pressing a fairly manageable dumbbell, by week 3 I had to call for assistance to be released from a bar that was now heavy enough to pin me to the grass. If I want to progress much further with this I’m either going to require a squat rack contraption in the garden or I’ll need to brave the testosterone area of the local gym.
The running element is going really well, I’m strengthening my feet with Cool Running slant board and I’ve re-kindled my love of the Zombies, Run! app. The Zombie chases work perfectly with my new focus on interval training and I’m enjoying the running buzz all over again.
So although there have been some positives over the last few weeks and I haven’t been entirely lethargic I can’t claim to have been incredibly focussed either. This week I’m stepping it up again. I’ve had a six week dither and dabble but now its time to enter the next 3 month showdown. I’ve drawn up a mega program comprising a hybrid of the intense P90X and Body Beast programs from Beachbody, combined with 1-2 BMF sessions and 3 running sessions per week.
As if all that exercise were not enough, I’m restarting the highly effective Whole 30 paleo diet plan as well.
Here is this evenings set up for Day 1 of P90X. It may look as if I’m about to hang myself but its just the required gear for the Chest and Back session which is a mix of assisted pull ups and an assortment of push up variations.
So far so good, it’s early days and way too soon to judge the P90X program but it looks like its going to be just my cup of tea – way less intense than the nutty Insanity program with the added advantage that its focussed on weight training.
I’ll post a few updates along the way of my modified Body Beast and P90X 90 day challenge but if you want more regular updates please consider joining the newly set up warriorwomenblog facebook page which is looking very lonely or join me on twitter @warriorwoman.
These were supposed to be chocolate truffles with a hidden ingredient but I got so carried away grating an excess of roast beetroot that I was unable to hide the purple vibrancy of the mix. I tried to smother them in a thick dusting of cocoa powder but there was no fooling my diners – I practically had to force the kids to swallow them. I wouldn’t let it put you off trying the recipe though, teenagers are renowned for gagging on healthy vegetables and these moist little treats could be just your cup of tea.
I was recently sent a load of protein powder shakes from Kinetica Sports and initially thought they would make good emergency lunch supplies to stash in my desk drawer for those days when I haven’t had time to prepare a chicken salad. I don’t tend to use a lot of protein powders anymore, they aren’t real food and so don’t fit that well with my attempts to stick at the Paleo diet but they are probably a better option than ready-made sandwiches.
The different protein shake brands tend to differ in the mucosity (texture) and flavour scales. I regularly used Myoplex diet as a breakfast option, one sachet would make a full pint of a flavoursome and filling shake although it did admittedly score highly on the slime scale with a similarity to raw egg nog. In comparison, for the same calorie count, Kinetica Whey Protein shakes make a thimble-full of a slightly powdery liquid with no hint of slime at all but an entirely disappointing flavour with an artificial aftertaste.
The emergency lunch supplies were ferried back home for the addition of a little creativity……
The general consensus seemed to be that the flavour was ok but the texture was considered disturbing by most. A thicker paste is probably advisable and go easy on the beetroot.
Kinetica also sent me some ready-made protein bar snacks and these were rapidly devoured by the family. So if you don’t fancy my beetroot treats but like the idea of a protein hit, you wouldn’t go far wrong by trying Milk Pro Toffee.
I doctored this recipe from the Protein POW website which is a great resource for protein powder recipes, the original chocolate and peanut butter bar looks a lot more appetising than my version.
There have been times over the last few years when I thought my running days were over. I’ve been so crippled by the pain of plantar fasciitis that I’ve had to use hiking poles to get into work and at it’s worst I’ve resorted to moving around the house on my hands and knees.
Most runners will be struck down by a running injury at some time in their life but few are as debilitating as plantar fasciitis. As a breed we have a tendency to push ourselves hard and increase volumes and intensity too far and too soon and usually combine the two for good measure. Overloading your body, running with inappropriate footwear and ignoring other aspects of your fitness such as core strength training and flexibility will unfortunately increase your chances of being struck by plantar fasciitis. Overweight runners are also more prone to overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
Typically the pain is felt on the sole of your feet, around the fleshy part of your heel pad. I had it in both of my feet but more often it is restricted to one side. I described the pain as though I had a large pebble in both shoes, causing a pressure pain and a bruised sensation.
It was also associated with stiffness which was much worse after resting, so after waking in the morning I would find myself hobbling for the first few steps as my feet accustomed themselves to movement. It felt like I was walking on stumps rather than fully mobile and flexible feet. For a while I was able to run through the pain and suffer the consequences after I stopped but when I started increasing the intensity again, the walking sticks had to make a re-appearance and the enforced rest periods started again.
I’ve been dealing with the injury for well over a two years and have worked my way through most of the advice available, some of which provided only limited success but I am pleased to announce that I am now pain free and back running and training for my marathon.
Here’s my ten step plan for achieving pain free running:
I hope this program helps you in the way it helped me. When you start running again start back slowly and maintain the stretching and strength elements built into your recovery plan, the aim is to remain strong and flexible and to build the running levels slowly.
It’s always tempting, following a little bit of success, to throw yourself back into the running with a rather heroic attitude, but you should resist. If you’ve had plantar fasciitis already then you are going to be prone to relapses and that is just not worth it. Progress slowly, keep stretching and roll out the muscles of your legs before and after each run – if you don’t have a handy masseuse on hand, try the DIY option and invest in The Stick.
I’m nearing the end of the Julia Buckley Fat Loss program with just 2 more weeks of hard graft before I take the final measurements and review the before and after photos.
Julia’s program has a very structured training plan but the nutritional aspect has been left much more fluid, enabling the recruits to guide themselves towards a healthy and workable nutrition plan. The food motto for the JBFL program would probably be “Mostly good, most of the time”, where good means low in processed carbs.
I started my diet plan with a predominantly Paleo foundation, so immediately cut out bread, pasta, potatoes and sugar. I’m afraid I was following a French caveman who turned out to be a founder member of the Stella Artois brewery and alcohol managed to sneak past my paleo principles.
3 weeks ago I decided to take the plan a bit more seriously and went in search of hardcore Paleo rules.
I found the Whole 30.
For the last 25 days I’ve been following an über strict paleo detox. So that means NO milk, NO alcohol, NO bread, NO sugar, NO pasta, NO grains, NO pulses, NO flour.
I’ve been living off jasmine tea, eggs, chicken, tuna, veg, fruit and cashew nuts. That’s pretty much it. If it weren’t for the cashew nuts I’d probably be wafer thin by now.
Its been a struggle. Cutting out milk in my tea turned out to be the surprise challenge. I had a very sulky patch during week 3 – I was bored with the monotony of it all and wanted a god damn beer. I did have a couple of blips in the end. I had two bottles of Mythos at a Greek restaurant and a dollup of Elmlea fake cream with some strawberries. On the whole though, this has been a rewarding and successful challenge.
One of the main ideas of the Whole 30 plan is to detox or get clean for a whole month so you can slowly re-introduce food types into your diet to assess for any intolerances. I don’t think I’m bothered much by food intolerances so expect to be able to re-introduce milk and alcohol almost immediately. I hope I’ve learned something about moderation though.
My intention is to stick to a mostly Paleo inspired diet, the reduction in processed carbs and sugars has freed me from many of the intense food cravings I had and I feel much less of a slave to food. I’m looking forward to a bit more freedom and flexibility though.
If you’re tempted by the Whole 30 Challenge I would recommend the following two books “Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat” and “It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways” as well as this amazing iPad recipe app, “Nom Nom Paleo” which is a joy to use and includes some really delicious and inspired Whole 30 compliant recipes. Despite having cut out a number of potential ingredients from my diet, with the help of these 3 guides I’ve actually been incredibly creative in the kitchen, knocking up homemade mayonnaise, Chinese style cauliflower “rice” and a rather special Vietnamese beef dish.