Dropping Pounds – Leaner & Meaner!
A simple eating plan to lose body fat in just 6 weeks – for weight loss, race prep or plain vanity!
Ups & Downs
The clocks have sprung forward at last and for me that always represents a boost in motivation! Time is always against us when we try to train for events or purely fit exercise into our lives. As the days get longer I always look towards what I want to do with my year, having completed various ultra marathons and trail runs over the past 6 years or so.
Since ‘running’ what was hands down my toughest ultra-marathon yet – The Mud Crew’s “The Quest” (a very hilly 40 mile slog along the north Cornish coast)- last May, I have been guilty of misplacing my mojo a tad and have not entered an event since. Aside from pacing a friend in the Bristol half and just recently running a 5km night run in Leigh Woods with my sister, it’s been a slack year.
So, 6 weeks ago I decided I wanted to try and drop a few pounds ready for the Forest of Dean half marathon – and also just lean up a bit to make my return to running (and plans to start cycling more again) a little easier. In addition to this I would use it as a chance to experiment more closely with a very basic diet and weight loss method, that I’ve been messing about with for ages. Here’s how it went!
Keep it Simple!
My plan was simple and the results have been very positive and were above and beyond what I expected.
I think sometimes with all the new diet plans and fancy ideas about weight loss we can become confused and forget the key equation for losing weight.
Burning more kcals than you consume = WEIGHT LOSS. Fact.
My aim was to be tougher on myself, stop buying foods that offered me little to no nutritional value, drink less beer (I love a real ale!) and quit the occasional munching of chocolate and biscuits- I blame the kids! It’s no coincidence that food low in nutrients are often also high in calories!
I was going to eat more regularly (at least every 2-3 hours) snacking on fruit, veg, boiled eggs, nuts and drink a lot of water!
To be fair to myself, I was doing a lot of the above before, but not consistently enough – and that is key!
Creatures of habit
I know from experience that I work best with regimes that don’t differ all that much. I find it easier to stick to and it becomes a habit quicker, which is what we want. Sadly it is harder to form good habits than bad, but this is where the success comes, once it’s a habit it is a lot less effort to maintain. So, while it might not make for particularly inspirational reading, this is what I’ve done for my main meals each day. Just to be clear, the following represents my working week days- the weekends were less strict and I might have brown toast and marmite or a bacon sarnie for brekky and other evening meals like chicken curry, spag bol, bean stew etc, all homemade of course!
Overall though it was about me being more self disciplined and this lead to becoming increasingly more empowered by the results that it yielded. Sat right next to the weight loss equation, is the other huge part of dropping pounds – determination to succeed and self discipline. This is inescapable and it is why weight loss is such an emotional journey for us all.
was porridge made with 90% water and a little almond milk- I have to admit I also had a squeeze of golden syrup, you can’t give up everything and unsweetened porridge is vile! When I had time I would have 2-3 scrambled or poached eggs, sometimes with bacon, but no bread.
was the same or very similar each day – fish and rice, or rice/spelt/quinoa/bulgar wheat combinations, with tomatoes and/or avocado. The fish was usually tinned mackerel, sardines or tuna and the rice always brown and only at lunchtimes not in the evenings. Despite having read recently that when you consume your daily calories has nothing at all to do with whether you’ll lose weight or not, I still believe (for me anyway) that it is best to avoid eating platefuls of carbs just before you hit the sack.
were simple too and consisted of any combination of fish, chicken or eggs with salad or vegetables. Occasionally I’d have red meat, potatoes or pasta, but rarely. I didn’t really restrict any vegetables but the bulk of it would be broccoli, asparagus, sweet potato, peppers, tomatoes, spinach and kale.
My diet was pretty decent before I chose to do this but in order to drop some weight I needed to focus on what wasn’t good, the bad habits that had crept in, and where I could improve. I also strongly believe that the only reason we go for sweet, carb rich foods for snacks is because we are not managing our diet properly and our blood sugar levels have gone haywire as a result. So I would always ensure I had a stock of healthy snacks to hand and never allow myself to get hungry.
At the start of each week I would buy in tomatoes, sugar snap peas, hummus, celery, apples, blueberries, oranges, nuts, even rice cakes as a savoury treat!?!
All these are just snacks and they helped me keep going between my ‘main meals’ and importantly help me stay focused with clients. Whilst I usually encourage varied diets to stop boredom, I personally find that once I’m ‘on it’ I need to be quite regimented and consistent with my foods as I find this easier.
Aside from feeling noticeably fitter despite not really training any harder, I also lost weight. I am 5ft 9″ on a good day and my starting weight was 71.6kg. Just over 6 weeks later I am 68.9kg, a loss of 2.7kg – I certainly wasn’t expecting that. It actually dropped down to 68.5kg recently, but that was straight after a 10km run.
As somebody who fortunately hasn’t been in a position where I’ve needed to lose weight for my health it was really interesting to do this and I was encouraged by the results. I feel it demonstrated how easy it is to over eat, and how it becomes the norm.
It has given me even more confidence in the advice that I give not only to my weight loss clients, but everyone I train, in reference to their eating habits.
The bottom line
Now, more than 6 weeks on I am still feeling great and plan to continue the same ‘regime’ for now at least, only making adjustments that are based on my increased activity levels as I train towards my next event.
This plan highlights the importance of consuming the right amount of complex carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice and potatoes) for your level of activity. Try to think of these carbs as FUEL, and only eat them if you plan to burn them off!
Best laid plans!
Typically, I picked up a cold the week of the Forest of Dean half so I wasn’t able to run – very frustrating! Now I look towards June and my next event- a trail marathon in Snowdonia!
by Chris Greig