Perfection is something I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in; it’s right up there with the phrase ‘nothing tastes as good as thin feels’ and the 2013 Cliff Richard calendar in my ‘List of Things I Strongly Oppose.’ But sometimes, for reasons beyond my control […]
Month: January 2013
I know, I know – I’ve kept you guys waiting on this one. But finally – I’ve finished the meal plan. Finally. It’s been a labour of love, but one that I hope you guys will find really helpful in getting healthy and happy – so I really hope you like it!
It’s designed to be used alongside the exercise programme that you can download here. The idea is that if you’re following the programme three or four times a week, this meal plan should help you to lose fat and build muscle – without feeling hungry or deprived.
It’s essential, though, to bear a few things in mind.
Firstly, as I’ve said time and time again – we’re not dieting here. If you’re expecting to lose 10lbs a week – like you might on, say, a low-carb diet, or some other crazy-ass fad – then you’ll be very disappointed indeed. It’s just not possible to lose that amount of weight and keep it off, unless you’re okay with the idea of still eating cabbage soup (or whatever your method is) twenty years from now.
Instead, we’re working on a lifestyle change.
You’ll notice that most of the food here is relatively unprocessed, and there’s a lot of cooking to be done. That’s not to say that there aren’t bits here and there that are processed – the sauces, for instance, are often shop-bought, but if you’re a hardcore ‘clean eater’ then you’ll probably want to substitute these for ones you’ve made yourself, or just leave them out completely.
However, we’re following the 80/20 rule here – so a good 80% of the food you’ll be eating is fresh and natural. But that’s not to say it isn’t delicious. We’ve got burgers, we’ve got a roast dinner, we’ve even got Chinese food – but the difference is in the way you cook them.
Not only that, in fact – but the fact that you are cooking, rather than buying it ready-made, will help you to burn calories by increasing our old friend NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). Increase that, and your body will be more efficient at burning calories all day long – meaning that we’re on to a winner on the weight loss front.
The thing is – and I swear to God this is true – the more you cook your own food, the more you’ll realise just what it is that you like to eat. For instance, a lot of processed food is either really sweet, or really salty… And that’s about it. After a little while, you’ll come to find yourself able to identify different herbs, spices and tastes that you like – and soon enough, you’ll be coming up with recipes of your own.
Recipes which, incidentally, I would love you to send me. Go on. Feel free.
This whole programme is about putting you back in control of your eating. It’s about understanding what you like, what you don’t, and, frankly, what’s got you here in the first place. We’ve all got different reasons for wanting to lose weight – but if you don’t know why you’ve gained it, you’ll find it considerably more difficult to lose.
That’s why each day, alongside the food I’m suggesting you chow down on, you’ll find something to think about. Something that should hopefully help you to identify why your relationship with food is what it is – as well as giving you something to contemplate during that long cardio workout you’ll be doing!
I can’t stress this enough – we’re looking at a long-term change here, because this whole programme is founded on the idea of a holistic approach to your health. Exercise is one part, and food is another – but it’s important to give yourself the opportunity to look at your whole life in every aspect, so that you can take control of it.
Now, you might notice a few of these recipes specify gluten-free ingredients – but if you don’t have a gluten intolerance, that’s not a requirement. That’s just because I’m coeliac – so I thought it’d be worth taking into account for anyone else who might be. In other words, if you can eat gluten, don’t feel like you shouldn’t because of the notes in this plan.
Also, the recipes for most of the meals will be uploaded on to the site over the next couple of days – so look out for posts that I’ve tagged as ‘Meal Plan‘ for cooking instructions!
So… Here it is. Click here to download your copy – and please, please let me know what you think!
Per person: 1 Medium Beef Burger 50g Iceberg Lettuce 30g Cucumber Medium Tomato 30g Mushrooms 1 Clove of Garlic 30g Courgette (or Zucchini, if you’re in the US!) 1/2 Red Onion 15g Red Chili Peppers 1 Bell Pepper Handful of Fresh Basil 1tsp Paprika (optional) […]
Check these out. They’re adapted from a recipe I found here – and I have to say, the first time I tried to make them I was totally sceptical. I mean… It’s cauliflower, for Pete’s sake.
But once I’d made them… Well, wow. They’re just delicious. And they’re a great way to keep those pizza cravings under control.
I’m pretty sure there are ways that this recipe could be made even better – so feel free to experiment and send me your tips!
100g Cauliflower, Grated
1 Medium Egg
113g Low-Fat Mozzarella
1tsp Fresh Parsley
1tbsp Mixed Herbs
2tbsp Tomato Puree
1tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
100g Low-Fat Cheddar Cheese, Grated
2tbsp Pineapple Chunks
1. Start by ‘ricing’ the cauliflower – basically grating it into the finest pieces you can muster. If you’ve got a food processor, that’s the easiest way to go about it, but failing that – get grating.
2. Heat an inch of water in a medium-sized saucepan until it boils. Pop the cauliflower rice in, cover it with a lid, and allow it to steam for about five minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C / Gas Mark 6.
4. Strain the cauliflower through a sieve, allow it to cool for a couple of minutes, and then squeeze it in a clean tea towel or a few sheets of paper towel, until it’s as dry as you can get it.
5. Pop it in a large bowl, and throw in the grated mozzarella, the egg (slightly beaten), and a tablespoon of mixed herbs.
6. Stir the mixture well.
7. Put some greaseproof paper on a baking tray, and brush it with a teaspoon of olive oil. Spoon on the cauliflower mixture, either in a rectangular shape or by forming a circle(ish!) shape, depending on what you fancy!
8. Pop it in the oven for 35-40 minutes – or as long as it takes to make the crust firm and brown.
9. Take the crust out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Spread the tomato puree over the crust, followed by the cheddar cheese, ham and pineapple (or whatever other veggies you fancy!)
10. Pop it back in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle the parsley on top for an extra flavour boost!
11. YOU HAVE PIZZA. Enjoy!
I don’t know about you, but I am terrible at sticking to my New Year’s Resolutions. Disastrous. Last year, I resolved to go on a diet, and diet I did.
For two weeks.
As a result, I lost half a stone… And gained 10lbs immediately after.
It took me ’til the end of February to remember the whole lifestyle change thing, and actually get on with it – and since then, I’ve lost 70lbs. Not too shabby, you might think – but absolutely diddly squat to do with my resolution on January 1st.
Or rather, January 2nd. I – like a lot of people – was far too hungover to diet on January 1st. Much like yesterday, as it happens.
I think the trouble with New Year’s Resolutions is that for most of us, there’s a kind of inevitability to the fact that you’ll fail somewhere around the same time as everyone else. We’re all in it together, for the first couple of weeks – and then, mid-January rolls around, “Blue Monday” hits, someone brings the first cakes of the year into the office… And we all fall down.
That’s why – despite having the meal plan almost finished, and despite being very much ready for a detox after weeks of Mum’s home cooking, bubbly, advent calendars and selection boxes – I’m going to suggest you don’t resolve to start a diet in 2013.
Nope. Instead, I think there are other, more subtle changes that you can make over the coming months that will improve your life – and your chances of success.
Starting the new year by making a conscious decision to be kind to the people around you seems to me a pretty good place to start. I think if we all made the decision to be better friends, better family, and better total strangers, we’d all be a lot happier. That said, world peace isn’t really what I’m getting at here… Mostly because I’m saving that for my Miss Universe speech.
What I’m actually talking about, though, is the ability to be kind to yourself. Chances are, you’re busy enough dealing with all the other things life throws at you without having to dedicate valuable hours to beating yourself up – so making the conscious decision to be kind to yourself will alleviate that, rather than making things more difficult.
This sort of kindness is something you can offer yourself on an emotional and physical level. Giving your body the right foods, the right amount of exercise, and time to recover from your workouts, will do wonders for you physically – and looking at your positive points in the mirror, rather than just focusing on the negative, will set you on the path to all-round wellbeing.
When you’re kind to yourself, you’re more likely to be happier, and more fulfilled. And when you’re happier and more fulfilled, you’re probably too busy doing nice things to stomp around being mean to other people. You see how this works – eventually, your acts of kindness right there at home will make a difference to the people you meet… And Bob is your proverbial uncle. Everyone’s happy.
Or, rather, have courage. If you’ve ever struggled with the way you look, chances are that’s left a bit of a dent in your self-confidence. God knows, that stuff can spiral. In a perfect world, we’d all be able to be happy with ourselves regardless of our size, our shape, our skin colour or any of those other trivial external things – but alas, instead we live in a world where we’re actively judged on our appearance. That sucks, and it makes me mad. You know this.
But someone said to me once that the etymology of ‘courage’ is from the Latin word for ‘heart,’ and I think that’s a really important thing to remember. And that’s where bravery and kindness, it seems to me, are linked. Being kind will make you happy, and we all know that when you’re happy, you get that slightly gooey feeling that comes right from the heart.
Seems to me that’ll work pretty well alongside the whole courage thing.
And let’s face it: being kind to yourself, and forgiving yourself for the things that aren’t perfect – that takes courage, in a world where the odds are stacked right up against you and your own self-worth. It also takes some strength, and a sprinkling of compassion for other people who are up against the very same things.
Get that sussed, and chances are all the other things you encounter – and I say this as someone who’s just agreed to move to a new city and start a new job – won’t seem quite so terrifying. That’ll give you the strength to make the most of every single day, rather than just setting resolutions in January that you’ll resent by March.
Yep. I said LOL.
That resentment thing that happens with New Years Resolutions really gets my goat, because it’s the same schtick that the diet industry relies on to make you fat and miserable, so you keep buying their products. Personally, I’d much rather live a life where it’s not perfect – anything but, in fact – but it’s funny. I fail, and I fail often – but I don’t mind, because it gives me the chance to laugh at myself. And that’s a really, really good thing.
Not taking yourself too seriously, especially when you slip up, will help you to keep calm and carry on with the lifestyle change you want to make. And because you’re able to make mistakes, and fail, but keep on going, you’ll feel stronger, and more able to deal with whatever life throws at you… Because you’ve got that courage thing nailed.
I love it when a plan comes together.
Happy New Year everyone – and good luck with whatever you’re aiming to do!