The one thing I get asked about more than anything else is about what food I am eating. I guess people are looking for that quick fix. I think they are half hoping i’ll either say I’m still eating whatever I want and the gym is cancelling it out or that I’m following some crazy points/food combining plan that is easy.
You have to put in the effort with nutrition.
There it is. Pure and simple. You eat crap, no amount of exercise will save you! How do I know this? Take a look at this graph:
The first initial drop in that first month or so, was me going it alone. The Sainsbury’s diet + a bit of swimming at the Metrodome. I was pretty pleased but then there is a plateau, with a little drop. That is when I started working with Jason but still ate crap. The really significant steep drop is once Jason managed to get me on to a proper nutrition plan.
Why did it take so long to get me on that plan? Why didn’t he put me on that plan straight away? Well I don’t know, you’d have to ask him that BUT if I was to take a stab in the dark I think he knew upping my fitness AND changing my eating habits would have been too much all at once. I would have struggled to to process both at once. Exercise and fitness was (and still is!) a new thing for me. I probably needed the comfort of the food, I needed to get in to the habit and routine of exercising regularly, I couldn’t have done that whilst focussing on nutrition as well. It would have been too hard, I’d have probably struggled to do both. Like I say, you’d have to ask him, but that is my guess.
So in June Jason announced the nutrition plan. It centred around “eating clean”. To be honest eating cleaning is everything we’re already told to do, there is nothing magical about it. No points, no food combining, keeping everything fresh and unprocessed. Vegetables, fruit, legumes (also known as beans, lentils and other hippy shit!) fresh, lean meat, fish, poultry. Nuts, seeds. No processed/refined carbs. No sugar, limited dairy (Greek yoghurt etc) and water (no alcohol, contrary to popular rumour I did NOT have an issue with this! )And that’s it.
He gave me a menu for a week. My eye was instantly drawn to the final day, where it said “go wild!” Not gonna lie, that looked like the best meal of the week. My eye was also drawn to ‘Pinto Beans’ WTAF is a Pinto Bean anyway? (it is now a standing joke in the office at work that I know all there is to know about Pinto Beans and several staff have bought them since!)
But here was the issue. I always thought I wasn’t a fussy eater. Turns out I am REALLY fussy! I started to reel off to Jason all the things I couldn’t/wouldn’t eat (yoghurt, fish, mushrooms, tomatoes). Jason was actually quite firm about this though, I had to try things! I promised I would give things a go, but fish was non-negotiable, “I don’t do fish”.
“I’m going to a conference Tuesday, I won’t be able to do it then” I bleated. “Just take the food with you!” Jason replied.
So I went home and stuffed my face with a huge takeaway (Pizza if I recall), the last supper.
And then it started, the most diabolical food week of my life. The first day I was gipping over my breakfast (raw tomatoes are STILL a huge issue for me, they literally make me vomit!), I had lentils for lunch (they tasted like shit!). By 2pm I was miserable. I sent Jason a lot of texts with questions, questions that were probably very obvious and sounded daft “Can I do this, can I do that, do I have to eat this?” At about 3pm he texted back and said I could use garlic and chillies! (turns out they are good for you!) I’m not going to lie, I actually cried in Meadowhall!
The biggest issue I was having was not the meat or the vegetables etc (I LOVE veg!) but the lack of sauces, spices, flavours! Suddenly I was having to work hard to flavour my food naturally. I’ve never bought so many chillies and fresh herbs. (Top tip, put your herbs in the freezer, then snip them with scissors in to your dishes, they keep much longer!)
For the first 5 days the food tasted vile. Bland, boring, unappealing. (Yes I did take my lentils and chicken and veg to the conference in tupperware!) Then after a while things started to happen to my pallet. I started to taste things for what they were. Scrambled egg, actually has a slight salty taste to it. If you just scramble 2 plain eggs I swear it has that slight flavour. Why on earth have I been adding salt to my food?? It doesn’t need it.
As I got to day 6 I texted Jason about what ‘Go wild day” entailed, he’d been a bit vague. The response I got was not what I wanted “Skip it, do another week” Oh my god, could I seriously do this for another week? Let alone long term? “Don’t worry, this isn’t a long term plan, it is just to get things started then we can start adding things in” he replied. “Thank f**k for that!” I thought.
So I did another week. I got through it. I had a treat meal at the end of the 2 weeks, I can’t remember what it was, pizza I think but it made me feel vile! Bleurgh! 2 weeks of eating clean and suddenly all that fat was not a good thing. I also had a toffee crisp, this made me irrationally happy!
And then we really got started. Gradually Jason allowed me to add things. Rice, once or twice a week. Peanut butter on wholegrain toast, I’d never had peanut butter before (except in Ben and Jerrys and I don’t think that counts!) I was amazed at how salty it tasted after a couple of weeks of no salt.
Over the next few weeks Jason gave me 1 or 2 recipes to try and as I developed my confidence and love of cooking again, I began to experiment. Colleagues began to send me recipes too. (I make a divine chicken and lentil curry! I’ll post it later.) I’ve got the principles of eating clean, I know what to do, I can adapt recipes I find and make them cleaner (Yummly is a great source of recipes too!)
I’ve tried tomatoes, mushrooms, yoghurt and fish! Yep thats right we’ve had tuna steak, salmon steak and mackerel. Tuna is pretty good, Salmon I can just about do. Not gonna lie, mackerel was hard work but I did it and I ate it. Mushrooms I am fine with now. Raw tomatoes and greek yoghurt are not cool. Anything that has me yacking in to the kitchen sink is not good.
I’ve started eating berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and nuts and seeds. Quinoa has been a revelation! First time I cooked it, it was like Frog Spawn! But I have found a recipe that I love. (I’ll post it soon!)
I am trying foods I’ve always dismissed before and even a lot of new things. I am quite embarrassed at how narrow my pallet was before!
Recently I’ve started looking more at the Paleo (Caveman!) way of eating but that is a post for another day.
That said, I don’t always get it right. I would love to say every meal is fantastic and I never slip up, but look at the graph above, anyone can see that isn’t true! The last 5/6 weeks I’ve been shocking. Too many treats, too many takeaways. I can pinpoint why, STRESS! When I feel under pressure I eat crap. The next few weeks are going to be about breaking that cycle. I need to break it and fast. No point shelling out for personal training if I am sabotaging my efforts with poor nutrition. However, I also need to be realistic, there will be times I slip, but I need to make sure this is not as frequent as it has been the last few weeks.
So there we have it, “Eat Clean”. It isn’t rocket science, in essence it is easy, but it does need willpower, especially in those first few weeks.