Lifestyle editor Adrian Collins is on a health kick in the hope of getting into cover model shape just in time for summer, so here’s how he’s getting on as the program enters week three.
We’ll start this week off with a few numbers:
30 – The waist size on the shorts I foolishly bought last weekend, thinking we’d get some sun. Already down a size after just two weeks.
7:35 – My average pace for a mile when jogging, which is down from around eight minutes when I started.
16 – The number of times I talk about food apropos of nothing on a daily basis now.
4 – The number of kilos I’ve lost since this started, which is over half a stone. As a scale, here’s a highly unreliable picture that I sourced on the internet of what 5lbs of fat looks like. I’ve lost nearly nine.
Pic via Sametmax.com
Does it work? Yes it does, quite clearly. Is it fun? Absolutely not. It’s hard work, it takes a lot of dedication and it’s pretty much all encompassing. I haven’t really been out of my house except to go to the gym and to the cinema, and even that is a bit weird since I’d normally have some popcorn or a drink in my hand, and now I’m not really too sure what to do with my hands if they’re not shoveling food into my face during a movie.
This week has been the one that has probably opened my eyes the most to a few different things, however. First and foremost, a huge part of this whole thing is preparation. Fail to prepare and all that, but it really is true. On Sunday afternoon, I went food shopping as there was nothing left in the fridge that was acceptable to eat. I was hungry while I was out, and thought it couldn’t be that hard to find somewhere that serves fish and rice or chicken and green veg, but I was wrong. Since then, I’ve been paying extra attention to the things around me when I’m in a shop, and come to a conclusion that is pretty obvious really: our senses are assaulted on an everyday basis with products that are incredibly unhealthy, no matter where we are, be it a local shop, café or supermarket. Even products that are marketed as healthy, like protein shakes, contain piles of sugar, and it varies massively from brand to brand. One of the lower ones I saw was 14g in a serving (over three teaspoons) and another was as high as 20g. That was a particular brand that I really liked because it tasted great, and now I know why…
Of course, having some sugar in your diet is important, but when you’re trying to cut it out then you keep a closer eye on where it’s coming from, and it really is hidden in everything. When you walk around a shop, bright packaging, garish signs screaming about special offers and enticing smells are wafted around to distract you, and I’ve found myself craving things that I don’t really want. Writing the blog has been a great motivation since it has encouraged me not to slip or cheat, but if that weren’t the case I probably would have cracked by now.
The other thing that I learned this week was just how much I love food. There was good news and bad news, as Anthony, my trainer at Raw Gyms Dublin was away this week, and I was left to my own devices until today. However, that meant that it went over the two week ‘cutting’ period that Ant outlined at the start, so I got in touch to find out what the plan was when it comes to changing up what I was eating. The bad news was that I had to keep it the same until the end of this week, and that was exactly what I didn’t want to hear. However, it also came with some good news in the form of a Monopoly-style ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for one cheat meal with a drink, so on Monday evening, I enjoyed the best meal I’ve had in a long time. Well, two weeks.
I cooked up my own homemade Bolognese and even if I do say so myself, this batch was bloody brilliant. I also had some garlic bread on the side, whipped up a little bit of pesto from scratch, and dined like an Italian king. Having eaten nothing but dry turkey and fish for the previous 14 days, this was an absolutely mind-blowing experience. It tasted way better than I remembered, and it reminded me how much I like the act of cooking. Throwing a piece of turkey in the oven doesn’t really count, and the usual slog of putting a meal together was instead an absolute joy from start to finish. Then again, my (extremely supportive) girlfriend did the dishes, so that helped. In the true tradition of Instagram, here's what I ate. Yes I sprinkled parmesan on the garlic bread, I'm a monster:
Anyway, it also made me realise how social the act of eating is. I insisted that we sit down at the table with no TV on and eat, and we instead had a nice chat about something that wasn’t how much I hate dry turkey for the first time in weeks. In short, it felt like being human again, even if only for an hour. Psychologically, it was invaluable, as knowing that I’ve had that now will keep me going for the next few days.
A particularly tough session with Andy Hickey in Raw was also a highlight of the week, and although it was hellish at the time, I finished it. Here’s what I had to do:
100 battle rope slams
80 ball slams
60 mountain climbers (x 60 each leg)
40 weighted burpees with 10kg weights and a step
20 Olympic ring rows
1000m on the rowing machine
NB: for the burpees, hold 10kg in each hand, drop to the floor and do a push up, making sure your chest goes all the way to the ground. Jump up to a standing position. Step up on to the platform or box you've set up and back down the other side. Turn around and drop to do another burpee, facing the place where you started, and repeat.
The workout above takes less than half an hour, as you’re supposed to take as few breaks as you possibly can, but timing it and setting that as a benchmark will be the best way to see your progress. At the end of something that intense, it’s pretty hard to describe how good you feel (mostly because you’re so tired you can’t move) but in a weird way that was a session I really enjoyed: high intensity, pushing my limits and feeling the results.
Before you ask, there are no progress pics this week, but they may be back next week, you'll have to wait and see how lucky you get. If you want the incredibly grim meal plan, or if you’ve started the program yourself or you’re thinking about making a change and getting fit, then don’t be afraid to drop me a line on Twitter or get in touch with the lads at Raw. They know their stuff, clearly.