Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Change of heart and news update!

Having been advised to go to Wordpress, I have decided that I do not like it as much as Blogger so have decided to come back here. Hopefully this gets to all those lovely people who had decided to followed my original blog and that they are still here!

Lots been happening in my life so it has been a little difficult to keep up!

Firstly, like many other people I have been subject to the dreaded 'R' word - redundancy. It is not nice and I would not wish it on anyone, but what happens happens and all I can do is respond tht situation.

Sometimes though it does not seem so at the tme things that happen to us can be blessings in disguise. Having to re-think my future is one of those occaisions, and I have decided that I am no longer going to depend on others for my future security but will rely on my own resources. This means that I have to do things and offer to the world services that will be of value to others. While I have a number of ideas that I am progressing the one that s relevant here is the launch of 'Lean For Life'.

Lean For Life is a number initiatives that will give people the opportunity to make lifestyle changes which will result in fat loss and a leaner halthier body, in a way that can be maintained for a lifetime not jus for the next few months.

As I have said this will be done through a number of initiatives:

Website: www.iwillbeleanforlife.com

The site will have articles and information and I would be very pleased to hear from guest contributors. So if you would like to write an article please visit the site and send me an email.

Seminars: It is intended to run a series of seminars where peole can get experiential learning of how to change the way they think which will help make change easy and sustainable which they can take away with them and use on day to day basis.

Ongoing email coaching: Changing body composition does not happen over night and it is not divorced from our day to day lives so situations will arise when maintaining compliance to a new way of life becomes more difficult to follow. Having attended a seminar it will be possible (for a small monthly subscription) to have access to email coaching as and when required.

So that is what I am up to, I would like to take this opportunity to give a big public thank you to Pearl who ishelping me to make the most of these new methods of getting known on this here internet. Thanks Pearl, you are a diamond!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Moving House!

I am moving to Wordpress!

I am told (see I do take advice!) that this is a much better way of blogging and if you would like to go visit me there you will see some news of the plans I am making to turn the Lean For Life words into action.

So please do follow me on my trip across cyberspace to my new home at http://www.gotowillsblog.wordpress.com

If only moving house in the physical world were this easy!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Isn't the human body amazing?

This post is prompted by someone who emailed me after my last blog entry wondering whether they could have a real influence on how the body re-builds itself given what has been put in in the past.

My answer to that is without a doubt. Our bodies have largely evolved to respond to the environment and to what we are doing with them.

If we lift heavy weights they tend to build muscle (certainly for men), if we sit around and do nothing our muscles tend to waste away and our joints seize up.

I just wanted to recount my own experience to illustrate this. Not that I am in anyway remarkable as a specimin, anyone is capable of doing similar but it does go to show that we do hold a good deal of influence over how our bodies constantly remake themselves.

Six months ago (August 09) I was just on 16 stone and totally unfit, my body fat % at that point was 36% fat. I could not run without stopping to our nearest shop (500 meters). If I had taken no action at all I would by now have billions of new cells in my body but my body would have been little different to look at or if it were measured.

However I decided to change that. I now weigh around 12.5 stones and have a body fat % of around 12. Last night I went out for a run, intending to do at least 5K (awful day at work and didn't feel much like it) but at various places decided to take the long route and ended up doing 10.5K. Ironically my Runkeeper App told me that I had done 10K just as I passed the shop I could not run to 6 months ago. I must admit I chuckled to myself as I lengthened my stride and gave it a last push for home (10K time was 58 mins 55 secs for anyone interested, not Olympic standard but not bad for an old git of 51!).

As I say nothing special about me but there is something special about this physical body we all possess that it is so forgiving for all the years of abuse and misuse that with a bit of cajoling and effort it can remake itself into something which can pass for decent!

Moral of the story for me is that it is just never too late to do something about it and that time will pass anyyway so if it takes six months or a year so what, in six months or a years time you will be that much older, the question is 'how' do you want to be? We are constantly instructing our bodies as to how we want them to be based on what we put in and how we use them. Makes you think doesn't it?

Saturday, February 20, 2010


'They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks' or should that be that 'There are none so blind as those that will not see'.

I have been weight training off and on for 30 odd yeas now (more off than on it has to be said!) and while I have known all along it is better to use less weight and better form, I am not 100% sure I have really applied this until recently but now know without a shadow of a doubt that this is the truth.

How can I be so sure? Well if you take squats and lunges for example I have dropped a fair bit of weight off the barbell and really relly concentrated on form, both in keeping my back in the correct position and getting the 'drop' in both exercises as far down as I can while retaining good form and balance. Result DOMS in my legs for two days that I have not had before (and bear in mind that I have been doing these exercises for some months before) and in the case of lunges my heart rate was hitting plus 170 which certainly never happened before.

So my conclusions are two fold, firstly that I may have known something logically for years but it wa not until I really experienced it did it finally become a belief and secondly that there is no fool like an old fool!

Also would add that a good steady 10K run (this ime on the treadmill due to snow and ice) is a great cure for DOMS!

With the weekend here and nothing to get in the way intend to do a Shoulders, Chest and Triceps session this afternoon, and a Legs,Back, Core, Biceps session tomorrow.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How does your fare. fare?

We are what we eat. It is true and there is no getting away from it. Our cells are renewing themselves at the rate of billions per hour and they can only do that from what we take in as food. Therefore to argue that our bodies are not affected by the quality of that food makes no logical sense to me at all. If you put poor fuel into a highly tuned engine it will run but not as well as it might. So it is with us.

The argument that is trotted out that a ‘calorie is just a calorie’. It is in it’s most simplistic sense for sure. But if you are going to stop there I think you are in danger of totally misleading yourself with such ‘flabby’ thinking.

Our bodies are much more than just energy! Our experience of life is much more than ‘can we stay alive?’ Our experience of life is a very emotional one, it is about how we feel, both physically AND emotionally and one often feeds the other.

This to my mind is where the question of food makes SUCH a difference.

Not all the food we eat is created equal. Some of it should probably never be created at all!

I have been thinking about this a good deal recently and came across a way of thinking that divides up foods in 5 grades A,B,C,D, and F (I know E is missing but F stands for Fail in my book!) What follows is influence by that but adapted to my own requirements.

Grade A: Is food that is consumed as close to how it came out of nature. Take the shell off a Brazil Nut or peel a pineapple and you have grade a food. These are the foods we are most evolved to eat and which often carry the highest nutritional density.

Grade B: Close to nature but undergoing a certain amount of processing, which adds nothing and takes as little as possible away, an example would be whole wheat bread. It has to be milled, it has to have yeast and water added but that is all it needs to make it bread.

Grade C: A process has taken place which alters the food significantly by either the addition of what was not there or the taking away of what was. A good example would be many commercial white breads. The wheat germ has been removed and other ingredients have been added to make it last longer or taste more palateable.

Grade D: Highly processed foods that still bear some relationship to the original but are highly processed with the addition of fats, sugars and other additives with the sole intention of making them ore palatable.

Grade F: Foods that bear no relation to anything found in nature. (Have you ever seen a naturally occurring Quaver?) Many of which have little or no nutritional value or worse still can be harmful.

To illustrate what I mean let us look at the humble apple. As it stands it is Grade A. It comes off the tree you eat it nothing added nothing taken away. Would unsweetened apple sauce be grade A? I would suggest not. For a start the skin has been lost and there are nutrients in the skin, secondly it has been boiled and heat affects the vitamin content. So it is Grade B still good though!

So we sweeten it with sugar it becomes Grade C.

Fruit juice (which means that much of the fibre is taken out is Grade D.

It ends up in one of those nuclear zapped apple pies from MacD’s the ingredients of which most of us have no idea of without searching them out on a website and this has to fall into the Grade F category.

Of course there is no ‘official’ grading of foods. Perhaps there should be but believe me folks it is never going to happen, The big food conglomerates have way too much power to ever allow ‘GRADE F’ to be plastered all over their products!

Here are some examples of what I would regards as Grade A – F

Grade A

Leafy green veg
Root vegetables
Peas, sweet corn and other legumes (fresh or frozen)
Fresh fish
Lean red meat
Fresh Fruits
Unrefined Oats

Grade B

Wholemeal flour (including simple breads)
Canned fruit and veg
Natural Yoghurts
Brown Rice
Cous Cous
Snack bars with 100% natural ingredients
Canned fish
100% whole grain cereals (such as Shredded Wheat)

Grade C

Dry Cured Bacon
White Rice
White flours made into simple additive free white breads
Ready meals and sauces with few or no ‘chemical’ ingredients
Butchers quality sausages
Non Wholegrain cereals

Grade D

All processed food masquerading as ‘real food’ i.e. you would hope to find the main ingredients in nature but by now have been so highly processed and messed about that they would be barely recognisable.

Supermarket bacon
Low quality sausages
Ready meals with a long list of additives
Potato Crisps
Shop bought cakes
Biscuits and cookies
Rice Puddings in a pot
All 'Lite' foods

Grade F

Rubbish. That is food so highly processed it really does not deserve the title food. That has been chemically enhanced to make ingredients that would be unpalateable.

Low value burgers
Packet snacks (Quavers/Monster Munch )
Fizzy drinks
Cheese Straws

I stress this is MY list and not any sort of official classification, nor is it exhaustive you can add or change anything you want..

My suggestion to you is that if you are serious about your well being, use the classification above to look closely at your own food choices and see how they rate. No one is telling you to change them, no one is saying you should do this or do that, you may even want to finesse your own definitions of the various grades.

However I am saying that in my experience the more Grade A and B foods I eat the better I feel. It affects my mood, my self esteem and my ability to exercise. If I feel better I exercise more if I exercise more (up to a point) I feel better. It is a virtuous circle.

I have also not made judgements in terms of fat or calorie content in the grading because that can be taken into account with regard to amount consumed within overall limits. 1 brazil nut is MUCH higher in calories than the equivalent weight in Haribo but I know which is better for my well being!

What amazes me having been a member of Weightlossresources.com and now of a different calorie logging website is just how few people make the connection between high grade food and wellbeing.

Indeed part of the reason I was booted off of WLR was that I dared to say that you would get better results if you were critical of your diet. We have evolved to eat mainly grade A foods (for hundreds of thousands of years that is all hominids ate). It is only in the last 10,000 years that we have started to introduce Grade B and C foods and only really in the last century have we seen the massive increase in Grade D and F foods.

So if you are reading this and are serious about your physical well being I really do suggest you have a look at the quality of the foods you eat, it does make a difference believe me, and I make no apology of being an advocate of high grade foods.

Monday, February 15, 2010


It's funny isn't it how a number of things crop up around the same time and if you are lucky you see the pattern and make something of it. If you are not tuned in the moment passes and is lost.

Such is the case with me. For a couple of weeks now this whole question of purpose has been cropping up, and in a way refuses to go away.

Let's go back a bit first to put some persprective on it and then it may (I hope) become clear what I am rambling on about.

Many years ago my brother gave me a copy of a book by Tony Robbins called 'Unlimited Power'. If anyone reading this knows the work of Mr Robbins they will attest that he is a very charismatic and powerful man. He stands about 6'5" built like an athelete and one of the world's best known success coaches. This is a man who knows about power.

Have a look at his web site, if you follow the Robbins approach there is nothing that you cannot achieve. And you know what, he is right, if you want it enough you can have it, but the trick really is in knowing what you really want.

Indeed most of the 'motivational' and 'success' coaches will put great emphasis on material success. They will have you writing lists and making picture boards with all sorts of 'things' on them. I don't mind admitting when I first discovered this world and the power of it that was what I did as well, but I never seemed totally motivated to follow through on it.

I now realise where I was going wrong. I did not want all that stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I like nice things, but not enough to do what was needed to do to get lots of them.

My dear wife once said to me some years ago "The difference between having a car and no car is huge. The difference between having a 10 year old BMW and a new BMW is really not that great." How wise is that? Think anbout it. The difference between having a 37 inch flat screen TV and no TV is huge. The difference between having a 37 inch and 42 inch not that great. You can carry this on across all sorts of material things.

Though this is not the case in relationships. The difference between having one loving relationship or no loving relationships in your life is enourmous. The difference between having one and two equally loving realtionships is well....double!

This was the blinding flash of inspiration that has been dawning on me for about the last 5 years,(I never said I was quick on the uptake)it really is not things that make me happy (don't get me wrong, I would rather be comfortable than poor) but people. Indeed it is not even people that make me happy it is 'me' that makes me happy, when I know I have interacted with someone that is of value to us both.

Now I have to be careful here in sounding just too 'mom and apple pie' but I am beginning to discover that working at getting as many interactions in my life as right as possible will pay me back with huge dividends, it makes me feel good and I like feeling good!

We are after all pretty selfish creatures, even our altruism we do because it gives us a feeling that we want.

What has this got to do with being 'Lean For Life'? Well I have been wondering over the past few weeks why I write this Blog.

I started it full of evangelical fervour when I found a way to change my body composition easily and effectively, which I have to say some other people seemed unable to do.

I blogged intermittently as I really only wanted to blog when I really had something to say, but the feedback I got was that some people enjoyed it and looked forward to my posts.

Since getting my marching orders from WLR I wondered what was the purpose of it? Though there were other calls on my time over the last couple of weeks I thought should I carry on? Would anyone miss it? When I got emails from two people asking how I was and why I had not been around I took that to mean that there are people out there who feel a benefit from what I have to say, which is great. I will therefore be very happy to give what I can, to anyone who feels they can make something of it.

Which dovetails in with two other projects I have going on a present, both in very very early stages, and if anyone would like to comment on they should just fire away.

The first is that I feel the whole area of fatherhood has been devalued in our society and consequently we have a lot of young men (particularly) that have suffered from lacking the sort of older male role model that I was fortunate enough to have. I would like to get something going by which men like myself who have been though the process of bringing up children, (especially boys) and who would like to give something back by mentoring youngsters who want to make something of themselves but are possibly finding their energies directed in a less than positive way.

The working title for this project is "Just one is a success". Which I think encapsulates what I am thinking of, if I could help just one person turn their life around and follow a path that they would never have found to a happy and productive life then I would count it a success.

The other is similar but not quite the same in that I was talking to two business owners in the building that I manage and it became clear that they may benefit from having an outside person to ask them questions and possibly suggest different strategies for them to achieve what they want. I have offered to help them in anyway I can.

So to me it is becoming clear what my purpose is, it is to be a mentor. Someone who creates the space in which others achieve all that they want and all that they are capable of being.

What is a Mentor? I have looked up a few probably the best easily accesible one of which is " a wise and trusted guide and advisor". Personhally I prefer Robert Dilts's version "someone who creates the space for others to be come all that they can or want to be".

I don't even know if you can just say, 'I want to be a mentor', but then again I suppose you have to because there is really no mechanism set up for others to come along and tap you on the shoulder and suggest you do it. Perhaps it is a bit like The Field Of Dreams - 'build it and they will come' well perhaps if I just hold the space and I am ready for it then those that I can help will find me.

If you have got this far, I apologise that this blog has strayed a little from what it was a few weeks back, but hey nobody has to come read it!!! There is an element of musing in it and as you might guess all the thoughts are not fully worked out as yet.

I would be really appreciative of any feedback that anyone is willing to give.

Did I say the going was getting tough????????

I really wasn't joking! You may have noticed that I have not been around much the past couple of weeks, indeed a couple of lovely people even emailed me to see if I was OK!

To say it has been a trying couple of weeks would be a bit of an understatement.

Firstly the spectre of redundancy stalks where I work like a great big stalking thing, and when that happens you tend to get your head down and try to make yourself as indespensible as possible, no? So it is probably true to say that my head has been elsewhere!

On top of that my car went in for an MOT two weeks ago (today) and I only just got it back yesterday. A part they needed had to be ordered from Germany and when it came it was the wrong one! In the end the girl there managed to work her charms on the examiner and get it though on a repair rather than a replacement! It just goes to show how much we take personal transport for granted.

On top of that I suffered a minor tear in my calf while out running two fridays ago so had to rest up. Which would not have been a problem if I could get to the gym but not having the car and Mrs F working different hours to me made things a bit of a problem!

On top of that we were having work done at home in the bathroom which needed re-decorating this weekend!

So I am still alive and kicking but have been fighting fires in other areas!

On the Lean For Life Front, I am just starting to get my head around being aware of what I am eating and how much but not counting every calorie that I eat. I really don't want to count every calorie for the rest of my life and think that I have a sufficient handle on the whole thing for it not to be a major issue in the future.

Part of being lean, fit and happy must be being able to maintain the right sorts of balance in life. I know I have a tendancy towards the obsessive and it is something I really need to guard against.

Yesterday was a case in point. Two months ago (while still losing) I would have stuck to my calorie quota. Yesterday as it was Valentines day I decided that I could be a little more adventurous and cook something nice for myself and Mrs F. She deserved it after really putting in a shift with the paintbrushes and rollers over the weekend. So on the menu was :

Roasted tomato, anchovy and prawn salad.

Free range breast of chicken with breadcrumbs, parma ham and rosemary (it is all chopped finely and stuck together with butter then stuffed under the skin and roasted)

This was served on a bed of crushed new potatos and leeks with a side dish of frech beans tossed in garlic butter.

Dessert was one of the little Gu Chocolate Banoffie Pies (cheating I know but we were busy doing other things!)

1 glass red wine.

Now looking at that it is not something I would normally have eaten during my fat loss time but most of it is whole foods (the Gu aside!) and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all concerned.

I also felt better about going a bit OTT because I did get out and do a 5K run setting a new PB of 28 mins 10 seconds (that is 1 minute 20 better than previous best!

So I think the corner has been turned on this difficult period (and it wan't all that difficult now was it!) so you should be getting a bit more from here in the coming days!

One last request, as I am no longer on WLR please feel free to leave a comment so that I know you have dropped by. This is particularly true if you think I can help in anyway or you would like me to address a particular subject in this blog.

Friday, February 5, 2010

You know what they say............

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

I doubt that there are many of us who find January and February great months. I little winter snow can make the place look beautiful and the kids like it for a while. However to my mind it palls fairly soon after that. February is little better but it does have the redeeming quality of being mercifully short! March I can handle. The world is waking up and things are starting to grow, the feeling of renewal is beginning to spread.

But there are things all of us can do now to make sure that we are best placed for the better weather when it comes.

I know dragging my sorry carcass out to the gym on a dark rainy night is more difficult than leaving work in the light with perhaps a bit of sunshine to travel in.

For those of us who run outside the prospect of lighter nights and warmer weather must be eagerly anticipated.

However much as it is tempting to hibernate for the rest of February there are rewards to be gained from pushing on through and getting the 'hard yards' done now.

Not exercising is not just neutral. It is not as if doing nothing for the whole of February will leave me where I was on the first. The nature of the human body is such that if you do not use it it slowly deteriorates, especially as you get past the dreaded 50!

If you weight train missing out too many sessions will set you back there is no doubt about that, and while not many people will see the changes you have made under layers of winter clothing time will come around when it is just T Shirts and jeans or sunner dresses when all that work pays off.

If you are a runner stamina is lost of you don't run, gained if you do. Many people (myself included) have entered runs and races in the coming months and it will be the miles put in in January and February that makes finishing the run possible in April May and June.

So am I writing this to motivate others or myself? The truth is both. If we are having trouble motivating ourselves to do something, the more compelling reasons we can find to do them, the easier it becomes. So for my part I am thinking forward to the half marathon that I have entered and standing on the start line knowing that 13 and a bit miles is within my capability. I am thinking about being able to wear whatever I want to wear in the summer without my belly hanging over my belt, if feeling confident and healthy in my physical body.

So whatever it is that is de-motivating at the moment, put to one side, look forward and imagine the rewards of the efforts you are putting in now. It makes following through and taking action so much easier.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

So the world moves on.............

Found a new site today that does much of what WLR does called nutracheck.co.uk. I have signed up for a free 5 day trial. I had thought of doing without, as Chocolatebutton said I should know enough about what to eat by now and she is probably right however having that bit of dicipline 'imposed' on me where I know I will have to record what I eat is no bad thing.

It means I can put the whole WLR thing behind me. What irks me a bit is that there are stll nasty little people having a dig when I am not even able to defend myself!

Still that is between their ears.

Really pleased about the response to the facebook page and want to say a big thank you to Tina for helping out with some of the admin and generally giving the page a shot in the arm.

Also a big thank you to all who have come along and joined. I realise now I should have made it a 'group' rather than the page I did then everyone would be a member rather than a 'fan' but I suppose there is not much wrong with being a fan of beng Leaner For Life.

The ethos is really discuss whatever you want there and certainly clean eating HIIT and increasing protein is not barred nor will you have anyone jumping down your throat for it!

As for me today, it is a rest day exercise wise and with the bathroom a bit upside down due to having a new shower put in just a case of holding the line on food and looking to get out there and get some miles under my belt tomorrow.

Wow! Blown away!

Wow guys, I will admit I went to bed last night feeling a tad low. So many amazing people that I was in danger of losing touch with all because I am a bit impulsive and hot headed!!!

I was even beginning to wonder how would I keep my motivation going to stay the way I had become (let alone do the really hard part which is the last 10%)

Then when I got to work I looked at my hotmail account and there was a message from Jo (JAG) saying that she had joined the facebook page. Oh well I thought if it is just me and her, who better to share a corner of cyberspace with!

So I logged on to Facebook and it seems 30 of you little rascals have already got there nad joined up!!!

To say that I am chuffed would be an understatement. But this is not about me it is about providing something for people that does not exist elsewhere.

I would like the Facebook page to be a place for people who have got past the foothills of the process and know that to climb the mountain the you have to be in control of your own feet.

That does not mean we do not all need a bit of help from each other from time to time but it does mean an acceptance of the fact that change has to come from within.

To get some better idea of what I am saying I would urge anyone in doubt to go the the facebook page and look at the discussion initiated by Marianne 'Why are we here' I could not have put it better so I won't try.

What I do know is that as a group we are stronger than as individuals and I for one would love to be able to continue sharing this journey with other people.

My main question now is what do people want from the Lean For Life facebook page? I have started a discussion there so please feel free to put your thoughts.

Also anyone who is adept at getting the most from facebook please let me know as I am a bit of a novice, the page does allow me to make others 'admin'.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My my this page has been busy!

I have just checked my stats and it seems that there have been something like 6 X the pervious highest number of views of my blog page than the previous busiest day!

Thank you to all those who have looked in be they the curious, the supportive or just the downright happy to see me gone from WLR!

As dear ol d Oscar Wilde said "There i sonly one thing worse than being talked about.....and that is not being talked about!

Now what can I do tomorrow to get those sort of numbers again. perhaps the towel shot without the towel!!!

Lean For Life

In the course of todays events someone said why don't you set up a facebook page. well I have done just that and have called it 'Lean For Life'.

It is not in anyway in direct competition with WLR as I just do not have anything like their resources, but it seems to me it might be nice where people who have had a certain amount of success with what they are striving to do and have tended to stick to the clean food/cardio/ weights message can have a place of their own and on which they can discuss their way of doing things .

I have no idea what it might become but it strikes me that as much as I got into trouble for saying it on WLR there were a number of people for whom the penny had dropped and this seemed to be making a huge difference to their results.

So I have set this facebook page up as a place where those of a like mind can help and encourage others without some of the 'periferal' stuff that goes on on WLR. It costs nothing so I thought it worth a try.

Blogs can be promoted shamelessly and any photos that are OK with Facebook are OK with me!

Can be found on: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Lean-For-Life/288223610955?ref=ts

Drawing a line and moving on

Had time to consider, and what has happened with my fall out from WLR is probably for the best. Clearly my sensibilities and some people on that site are not the same, and not having been there for years and years I suppose I was bound to get the smelly end of the stick.

Perhaps there was some resentment of the fact from those who saw fit to complain that I had managed to do in four months what they it seems were still struggling to do after years of trying. It takes all sorts.

However I don’t go away that easy and anyone who is interested in how I am doing can follow on my blog as I will now change it to being a little more like some of the others which are more a kin to an online diary of how I am doing.

One thing I am absolutely sure of is that I will not let this derail me in the slightest.

Should anyone want to stay in touch or would like any help with anything you can get in touch at williamfreeman@hotmail.co.uk

Oh and Suzie? Never was anyone so misnamed.

Laters people!

Farewell to WLR

I had quoted it as a favourite website but it seems it is not one where freedom of speech has any place. Following unexplained and undiscussed complaints they summirarily terminated my membership.

This is a shame because I met some very good people there but it seems we are living in an increasingly sanitised world where is you deviate from the accepted norm you can no long er be tolerated.

Me today who next?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cut the crap!

On my very favourite website I see a lot of people going through the rigours of sorting out their eating issues. I am making absolutely no judgement on this as we all have to find our own path to where we want to go. However I thought it might be useful to include a few thoughts on here about food. More specifically the quality of food.

Now I am a self confessed foodie! I love food I think it is one of the great delights of life, especially when mixed with good company and good fellowship. However my preference is for GOOD FOOD and good company. If I can only have the good company I will settle for a lower standard of food but if there is no company why would I compromise on the quality of the food?

What I am saying in my roundabout way is this. On Saturday night we are eating out with friends. I will go where we go and eat what I want from whatever is on offer. What sort of person gets precious about what they are eating in those circumstances?

However that is a once or twice a month thing for me (and I suspect for many of us) the rest of the time I am eating for me. To put fuel in my body and to give my body what it needs to be healthy.

Therefore my question is why would anyone eat most of the crap that is on offer these days? Highly processed industrialised food that has been added to tampered with and generally mucked around with until it often bears no resemblance to what it started out as!

If you are looking to get lean and stay think, think and think again about what is going into your body.

It is true that the calories in v. calories out is the ultimate equation but is that really where it ends?

For the first three months of my new lifestyle I was conscious of what I was eating and by most standards I aat well. Since I have come back from my holidays I have stepped it up a bit and really started to look at my diet and see where I can eliminate any remaining processed foods.

Let’ start with breakfast. In the winter porridge is I believe one of the finest foods available to us. Just rolled oats, nothing added nothing taken away. Slice a banana on there and a drizzle of pure runny honey. Gorgeous. At the weekends a couple of free range egs and some smoked salmon!

Bread. I have looked at what goes into commercially made bread and have decided, thanks but no thanks. I don’t each much bread but what I do will be homemade with flour yeast and water and any other seeds or grains I decide to put in.

Snacks are easy! Lean protein with some of last nights veggies or seeds or nuts or fruit with natural yoghurt.

Evening meals are easy. Lean protein and veggies (just got a George Formby type grill and I have to say I am converted!). This does not have to be boring, there are plenty of ways to make it interesting with sauces using chillies, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, tomatoes etc. etc. The key being I know what is going in not some food scientist in a lab somewhere.

Last meal for me is usually some fresh fruit diced up and taken with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey, perhaps some quality granola for crunch and carbs if I have been to the gym.

At the weekends there is a bit more chance of varying things because time is at less of a premium.

So what is the result of this? Well I thought I felt good before Christmas but to say there is a tangible improvement about how I feel day to day would be an understatement!

Now I am not saying anyone else has to eat this way, all I am saying is that for me it works. I feel better, I never wake up tired, while all around me are coughing and spluttering I seem to be immune, I have more energy than ever and it seems more ambition!

Is this just me bigging up me? Well maybe but who cares? What I am saying is you want to feel better? Look at the quality of the food you are eating. You don’t have to eat out of the health food store or be taking all sorts of weird and wonderful supplements. Just spend more time in the fresh foods and produce section of the supermarket than all the junk food aisles!

I know a few people will be reading this a bit horrified thinking I am some sort of holier than though health freak. I can assure you I am not I have just discovered that I can feel much better for much longer than I ever did when I was eating junk, and that is good enough for me. Give it a try what is the worst that will happen?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Paying the energy bills.

People have asked me whether having cut calories back when trying to lose weight it is important to compensate for additional calories that have been ‘spent’ through exercise.

Firstly let me make it clear if your body needs say 2100 calories a day to live and allow you to do all the things you are asking it to do (run your brain, breath, move, digest food, eliminate that food, constantly re-build cells etc. etc.) and you only give it 1100, it has to have that energy from somewhere. It runs contrary to the laws of physics for it not to have to take that energy from somewhere.

So in ‘the economy’ of your body evolution has coded three different types of energy, that which you are earning and processing, a i.e. your food intake in it's various forms which it always uses first, the energy involved in your active infrastructure (muscles, skeleton organs etc.) and that which it has stored in the bank against hard times – fat..

Fat is natures energy store. Every gram contains 9 calories as opposed to 4 in every gram of protein or carbohydrate. It is (as far as survival goes) like gold.
So why not if we have too much just eliminate it out of the poop chute?
The reason is that we evolved in a world where food supply was not constant and in winter particularly, those who had been able to store up excess energy from the plentiful times had a greater chance of survival (and therefore were more likely to re-produce) than those who could not.
There was no advantage to be had in getting rid of precious energy you may need during the hard times. It is this evolutionary fact (which we see in operation in many many other animals), that gives us the problems we now have.

The difficulty we now face is that we now have no times of famine (well most of us do not) and we are surrounded by shelves of supermarket groaning with energy dense foods. Trouble is evolution is glacially slow and ours has not had time to adjust and has not yet caught up.
So back to the original question. Let us suppose you embark on a sensible calorie restricted diet where the intake needed to maintain your body and the activities you are doing is 2100 and you aim for a loss of say 2lb per week aim to take in 1100 calories per day. This is quite a drastic change from the say 2500 per day you were consuming.

Being dedicated and focussed you take yourself off to the gym and having strapped on your trusty heart rate monitor you exercise to the tune of 600 calories. In effect you have just robbed you body of 600 calories as your normal maintenance level has gone from 2100 to 2700.
This is something of a shock to your system as you are now actually 1700 short on the day.
Now unfortunately as yet the body has not evolved a direct line from your conscious mind to your cybernetic regulatory system. It is no good saying don’t worry I am only doing this for a week or two, feel free to use up my fat stores normal service will be restored as soon as I am X stones Y pounds.

What your ‘evolutionary body thinks is “cripes! The food (income) has run out I have energy bills to pay (the deficit you have created) and I have to pay it and quickly."

Now (aside from where it is needed to perform certain functions in the body like protect nerves etc.) fat really only has one main purpose and that is paying the energy bill. But it is very good at that. However it is not the only substance in your body that can pay the energy bill. Your muscles, organs and skeleton can too.

But let us look at muscles for a moment. In evolutionary terms these are the earning sections of your economy. They allow animals to run, jump, walk to where the food is, to hunt food down, lift rocks and branches to find grubs etc. So while they can pay energy bills they can also be employed to keep the income coming in - call it your earning infrastructure.

We know that if you work muscles with physical exercises and particularly heavy weight exercises your body would rather repair them and keep them in good working order than it would use them to pay the energy bills. Of course it would if they are there you can eat if they are not you cannot.

This makes evolutionary sense. Those early humans who had the muscle power to hunt and gather, got more food than those who did not.

Consequently your body responds differently to say a 1000 per day deficit if you are accounting for and eating those additional calories than if you are not. It registers that the muscles are being used that energy volumes are increased even though there is still a deficit. Exercising and increasing intake is sometimes called 'high energy flux'.

What we know is that if you are in high energy flux and your deficit is the same as if you were just in calorie depravation your body reacts differently.

In high energy flux your body knows it has to maintain it’s investment infrastructure (the muscles and skeleton etc) as they will be needed to keep the income flowing in therefore it pays the energy bills out of it’s fat reserves.

If you force it into what is sometimes called ‘starvation mode’ by going on very low calorie intake (wether by choice or by creating that state by exercising and not increasing intake) it tries to hang on to it’s ‘gold deposit’ of fat as it has no idea how long the famine will last and after all it is not using it’s infrastructure anyway so it can sell a bit of that off.

What does this mean to people trying to lose weight? It means that if you send your body into energy deficit but do not use your infrastructure you lose a higher proportion of muscle than you do fat. This in turn decreases the need for calories (after all the investment infrastructure cost more to maintain than the fat deposits) which makes sense really seeing as there is a shortage of food. Thus decreasing your need for energy.

You will lose weight by starving! But what happens when you have had enough of starving yourself and the will power goes? You have sold off some investment infrastructure (muscle and skeleton) and the amount of energy you need to stay alive has fallen from say 2100 calories per day to 2000.

But no body gives you an accurate read out and you return to your previous eating habits and consume 2500 calories a day. So even though you have lost weight you are now putting it back on at a rate greater than you were before because the level needed to maintain your physical body has fallen. So now rather than being in excess to the tune of 400 cals per day you are in excess to the tune of 500 calories per day.

Not only that but unless you make efforts to re-build that investment infrastructure that excess will be laid down against either another famine or when you next decide to go on a starvation diet. No wonder the fat piles back on.

If you are looking to lose fat, strive for a state of high energy flux. Let your body know it needs all the infrastructure it has to maintain these levels of energy input and let it be confident in using up some of it’s fat stores. That way lies the lean fit you I suspect you want!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stress and how to deal with it!

I thought it might be useful to look a bit closer at the whole question of stress.

Stress is a response we have evolved and developed over millions of years so it is with us to stay and is not 'just' imagination.

Cortisole is produced in the adrenal gland and as many know adrenaline is the most powerful of stress responses to be used in fight or flight. However adrenaline is not useful for longer term 'stresses' or what could be termed challenges, as it causes an immediate physiological response.

Cortisole is triggered by our brain dealing with input from both bio-feedback mechanisms in the body and by stimulus from outside changing the way we think. To explain further if you are hungry that is a bio-feedback it is telling you to start thinking about finding some food. If you don't cortisole is employed to start providing the body with more glucose.

However it is quite possible to trigger the stress response by the way we 'choose to think'. If we go to the supermarket and find the shelves empty even though we may just have eaten it is likely that there will be a stress response because we are thinking forward about how we might have no food to eat!

Often we stress ourselves through our own imaginings. If loved one is late home we imagine flashing blue lights and emergency rooms much more than we do seeing them enjoying themselves and losing track of time!

So this is the easiest 'stress relief' tip you will ever get! If you find yourself stressed, ask yourself this simple question 'How can I think about this differently'. There are several sub-strategies that I know work or you can make them up as you go along. What you do does not really matter as long as you can change your focus and the way you are thinking.

My chosen response to stress is always to develop a strategy to deal with whatever it is. This winds my OH up no end!!!

When I ran training I used to invite people to write down all of the 'work stuff' that was running around in their heads, you know all the stuff which is 'crucial' (not!) and would if I left it there distract them all day. I then got them to seal it in an envelope and sign the back. They then gave the envelope to someone else in the group they trusted or to me. At the end of the day they got them back.
What this did was dump that stuff for the period of the training but they knew they would have it back at the end of the day. I have though had people at the end of the training say they would not bother taking the envelope back!!

Others quite rightly suggest distraction. If you are stressing over something you probably have too much 'thinking time' on your hands. Go do something else. Listen to some music on headphones, do the ironing, go for a walk with your OH there are thousands of things.
The point is that in modern life many of our stresses are very perceptual.

The great thing is that if you change the thinking you change your bodies physiological response. For instance it is known that laughter decreases cortisole levels in the blood stream! So put a Blackadder DVD on (it always makes me laugh!).

Of course exercise is without doubt a really really good way of getting rid of stress.
Once you have done it once notice what difference it made, how and where your body felt difference.

Stress is natural, in fact it could be argued it is an essential part of being human, it is how we DEAL with it that will determine if you are it's mater or it's slave.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Being sold to

It strikes me that people trying to do something about their weight/fat are a somewhat vulnerable group when it comes to being targeted by the rapacious ‘diet’ industry. It seems everywhere you look there is someone promising you an easy way to lose 40lbs of unwanted belly, or ‘eat this and you will be healthy for life’.

Let me just say one thing. If any of these things worked we would all be lean lithe and lissom and some fortunate inventor would be sitting there counting his (her?) billions. There would be only one thing to buy and we would all use it wouldn’t we?

But there is not just one miracle cure is there, whether it is a super abs twister or a super fat burning goji berry shake!

The fact is there really is no short cut. The fact is that most of us have eaten an exccess of calories for years. We decide we want to change in a moment but we also the results in a moment. There is a fundamental mismatch here.

I am of course open to argument but as far as I can tell there is no easy way to get lean. It is about changing behaviour. No longer eating without thinking what is going into the body and why, it is about moving more than perhaps you have done for years. It is about re-discovering where food sensibly fits within a balanced and happy lifestyle.

None of these things are made any easier by being bombarded by ‘marketeers’ (snake oil salesmen) purporting to have the easy cure to all your body shape issues.

So I have a few recommendations:

If the product is ONLY aimed at dieters run, run in the opposite direction. You do not see ‘diet’ cabbage or ‘diet’ Swedes. There really is no need for diet foods just good proportions of good foods. There is no prescription of only a few foods to eat, food CAN be enjoyed so work out how much of the food you enjoy you can eat.

There are no pills or potions that will do the job for you. If there were the NHS would be giving them out for free. Obesity is costing us millions now and will cost us billions in the future.

Any exercise contraption that promises to make you lean lithe and lissom from one body movement should be avoided like the plague. THEY do not work. Those buff and beautiful models they have on them are just that models, they are being paid to look that good, and they look that good because they do the hard work of looking after their nutrition and exercise in the kitchen and the gym.

Of course there are people who will profit from helping us along the way, those who provide gym facilities, for example. No problem with that they are offering their facilities to everyone not selling their gym as a miracle cure. People who have ‘been there and done that will often write books about their experience’. As long as they are not selling snake oil I see no problem with them making a living by sharing their knowledge.

You no doubt can think of other examples. I am by nature a free market person but I also think it is incumbent on the consumer to educate themselves to avoid being taken in by these rouges.

That is the purpose of writing this blog piece. The sooner we ALL wise up and realise that there is no ‘quick fit – get ripped in 4 weeks’ answer the better!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is it really that confusing?

I went to a friend of my daughter’s to pick her up last night and bumped into the friend’s mum, a lady of similar vintage to myself. She had not seen me for some considerable time and remarked on how much less of me there was. She said she too would like to lose weight but it is all sooo confusing. How had I done it?

That got me to thinking. It is confusing, but why so?

Call me a cynic but I think the whole ‘diet’ thing has been made confusing by the fractured and self interested nature of the diet industry. Each part of that industry (and it is enormous) is interested in pushing forward it’s solution as THE solution.

Let us examine a simple proposition, one that has worked for me, it has transformed me from a fat, sluggish 51 year old that was deluded in thinking that he was just big boned into a more realistic leaner, healthier, fitter 51 year old, who is under many fewer illusions.

The proposition is that in essence getting lean is actually quite simple and straight forward. The problem is that there really is not a great deal of money to be made from selling ‘products’ this way. How so?

The first building block to a leaner life is in your own head. Get that sorted and you are well on your way. True it may be that you have to spend a few bob on a good book or two but if you really want to you can glean huge amounts of information from the good old interweb. You must be prepared to sort the wheat from the chaff but it is out there.

Secondly eat well (with a calorie deficit while trying to lose fat). By eat well I mean good food, quality food. Not specialist foods, not diet food just the best quality food your budget will allow. If you are reasonably well off by all means eat fillet steak, if you cannot stretch to that slow cook some shin of beef, it will end up falling apart tender and taste better than the fillet. Vegetables are plentiful all year round and if you choose those that are in season they will not cost a fortune. Trouble is for the ‘diet industry’ there is no way you can process a vegetable to make it more healthy. Why because it is usually pretty damn perfect as it is. Learn how to make good bread. You will find that you need eat less of it because it is denser and more satisfying. No need to eat the ‘diet’ variety. In fact I would go so far as to say that there is no need to eat any ‘products’ of the ‘diet’ industry.

Thirdly. MOVE!!!! Part of the reason we have such an obesity problem is that we have not evolved to do what I am doing now, sitting at a PC typing! Our bodies were evolved to move, to work, to run, to walk to where the food is. So to get lean we HAVE to move more. That means cardio vascular exercise, running, cycling, swimming, walking. No need for any sort of diet industry here.

Fourthly. Re-build lean mass. If you have a temporary calorie deficit (what is often referred to as dieting) your body will to a certain extent catabolise it’s own lean mass as well as some of the fat that is stored.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a rabid advocate of maintaining lean mass. Why? Simple really lean mass (muscle and organs) takes a lot more calories to stay alive. Therefore if you maintain your lean mass while losing fat your metabolism will be higher than if you lose of lean mass along with the fat.

So given that anyone in deficit will lose lean muscle, the body has to be encouraged to ‘re-build’ it’s muscles. This is done by doing resistance (weight) training that take the muscle to the point of hypertrophy, which is where the micro fine fibres are broken and need to be repaired. It is the repaired strands that strengthen and re-build the muscle.

Again there is good evolutionary reasoning for this. Successful early humans would have lifted rocks carried branches and done all manner of other things. Those that maintained and repaired muscle well did better than those who did not. Evolution in action.

But again not something the ‘diet industry is going to tell you about’ is it? True, gyms do well out of it but there are many many things that can be done at home at very low cost.

So is it really confusing, this getting lean business? Get your head straight, eat quality fresh food whenever possible (in the short term at a deficit to your energy needs). Move. Get the heart pumping, encourage the body to burn off excess fat. Re-build the lean muscle being loss through weight bearing resistance exercise.

How confusing is that, the rest is just detail?

These are the secrets that the diet/nutritionist/supplement industry does not want you to know, because there is nothing in it for them. They are desperate to sell their supplements and diet magic. In past day they had a name for these people – snake oil salesmen.

Ask yourself one other question do turkeys vote for Christmas? Why then would the diet industry ever come up with a product that worked? If it did it would go out of business.
If one person reads this blog and starts to think differently it will have made my year because it will be one more person delivered from the grasping clutches of the diet industry.