I am sitting here about to write this post a little reluctant because the topic this week is on food. Now I know that this is something that people feel very passionate about so please, keep in mind that I am not giving advice or saying one thing is right and the other wrong. I am simply talking about what I have done over the last 4 weeks which has seen me drop a surprising amount of weight. So no jumping down my throat or anyone else's and I don't need to hear about how paleo is the greatest or we need to carb the fuck up and go vegan. This is not about diets or ways of life. It is a story. SO CHILL!
With that little disclaimer out of the way lets get into it... After my less than stellar performance at Sunny Coast in September and looking at my race photos compared with last year I realised that I had put on a bit of weight. I wasn't as slim as I thought I was and when I jumped on the scale I was surprised to see that I was 81kgs. While I do not think the number on the scale is terribly important and is by no means the best indicator of your health or your shape, I know I sit around 78 comfortably. So I said to my wife, we need to get on top of our diet. I train a lot and I train hard. So to me it seemed like diet was the obvious problem. The problem that I have with dieting is that I LOVE food. Eating is one of my favourite things and as such I need my food to taste good. Earlier in the year my soon to be sister-in-law gave me and Dez the recipes she had used from a particular calorie controlled diet. Typical Tim looked over them and declared "Rubbish, it all sounds crap and I wont eat it" so we didn't really use them. However what was undeniable was that both my brother and his fiancé had lost a noticeable amount of weight eating this food. This is where my wife's genius came through. There were a lot of recipes, I can only guess that there were anywhere between 50 and 100. So Dez had the brilliant idea of numbering each and every one of them, then drawing the numbers out of a hat each week to know which dinners we will eat. I was not allowed to know what the dishes were and each night Dez would simply ask me to choose one of the numbers.
Something that I am really happy that we do is one big grocery shop a week to cover our meals for that week. Not only does it encourage you to cook more because you want to eat what you have bought, it works out to be a lot cheaper. So every week Dez goes and does the grocery shopping without me. I literally cannot be trusted. I think as an adult the fact I can literally buy whatever I want is still too exciting for me and I buy the most ridiculous unhealthy stuff you can imagine. After our weekly ritual for the past few years though it has become an issue for us. Every Sunday, "What do you want for dinner this week?" had begun to cause a bot of tension as we tended to just recycle the same recipes. I was finding by Thursday or Friday I didn't really want to eat some of the meals we had planned. Ha ha! Dez cracked the code. By randomly drawing the numbers from a hat we had no say over what we ate and by me not knowing what was for dinner until it was put in front of me, I couldn't turn my nose up at it.
Now these recipes are very specific with their quantities. 60grams of this and 180 grams of that. That is not how I cook. I cook with no guides and consider recipes more a set of suggestions. So Dez has stepped up to the plate and is cooking all of our weeknight dinners. What a rock star. But as I mentioned everything is weighed and aimed for exactly 2 portions. 2 small portions. 2 portions for someone on a diet of 1200 calories a day.... Are you sensing a slight problem here? We quickly realised that there was not enough food for me. I was ravenous both before, during and after dinner. So with a little searching on the internet I discovered what was a good number of calories to aim for a day and we adjusted the quantity so there was a more reasonable amount. It is funny when I do venture into the kitchen while Dez is cooking. A few weeks ago she was making a version of mac and cheese. When I would cook that, the whole 500g box of pasta would go in. Instead, Dez weighed out a measly 60 grams. When I looked at it I literally laughed at her. She told me to get out of the kitchen and have faith.
We started this 'diet' the Monday after I returned from Sunny Coast. It was the start of a 2 week period where I would do no exercise. I hate not exercising but I was tired and it felt like the right thing to do. I of course assumed I was going to put weight on. At the end of the first week I had lost 3kgs. I could not believe it. Literally 3kgs down without any exercise, just eating smaller portions of healthier food. I was concerned that when I started training again, the extra demands on my body would make me even hungrier but since then it has not been an issue. We stick to the same numbers and low and behold, the number on the scale keeps dropping. I am starting to do some resistance training as well so I do not think the number on the scale is incredibly important but while I am writing this I weigh 74kgs. That is 7kgs lighter than when I got back from my last race. Now to say it is just dinner would be a lie. I have also stopped eating things I know I shouldn't like chips and pies. I am also striving to find healthy lunch options when I am at uni. It is surprisingly difficult.
We have been going with our new way of eating for about 4 weeks now. We relax on it on Sundays and eat some of our favourite food on those days. But the rest of the week we behave. As I said, when we started there was not enough food for me and even after we adjusted the amounts, I still constantly felt hungry after eating. The first 2 weeks were a little difficult. But now I am fine after every dinner and when we went out for dinner last week I ordered what I always do and I could not finish it. This told me that my body had adapted. But what this whole exercise showed me was how ordinary my actual diet was. I think one of the problems endurance athletes have is that we think we can eat whatever we want because we train so much and while there is some truth to it there is no denying that you cannot outrun a bad diet. On top of my weight loss I am feeling much more energetic and positive.
So what are some of my observations about the sort of food we are eating. Well firstly there are very few refined carbs like pasta or rice. When they are in a dish they are accompanied by other vegetables to give more volume. The mac and cheese I mentioned had cauliflower and broccoli in it too. There is some clever use of ingredients to turn some of your guilty pleasures into healthy dinners like baked mountain bread instead of chips. There are a lot of dishes which are meat and salad. Whether this is a marinated pork fillet with a salad or steak with veggies. The veggies always make up the majority of the plate. It is also interesting that in a lot of the dishes the vegetables are served raw. Not just in salads but added to a hot dish as you serve it. The biggest surprise for me though after being so sceptical at the start is that the food is really really delicious. After each dinner we give them a score out of 10 to know which ones we like the most. We move the numbers from one bowl to the other as they are drawn and we will continue with this.
The best part about this whole thing though is that both Dez and I are genuinely excited to come home and have dinner. We don't know what we are going to eat that night or how it will turn out it has become a bit of a game. We will literally go out with people and not eat so we can go home and make one of our mystery dishes instead. It really is a success for us. As I mentioned, food is something that I have always struggled with and I am sure I will continue to struggle with. I am constantly craving things I know I shouldn't. But I am motivated to up my performance and I know that what I eat is just as important as how I train. I am planning on visiting a sport nutritionist to make sure that I am being healthy and to maximise my performance as well.
So thats it. when I see how much I used to eat each night I am not surprised that I have lost so much weight so quickly. I am also not saying this is something that will work for everyone. But if you are struggling to lose that final bit of weight maybe look at how much you are eating and how much you need to. A food scale is a brilliant investment because it really demonstrated to me how much I was over-eating.
As to training, I am really starting to get back on track with it. I am finding my run form returning and have a half-marathon coming up this weekend. I have literally no expectations other than to try and focus on form and stay in control. Next weekend is the Nepean Tri as well. I have always wanted to do this race and will be excited to line up. In other tri news, I am very excited to announce that I have signed with Thanyapura as an ambassador. What this means is that I will represent Thanyapura when I race. My new kit has their logo on it and I will wear their clothes when I train. I am also going to be writing some content for their site. Now there are many products out their which sponsor age-group triathletes and I have had some approach me. But I am only going to agree to represent a product or brand which I believe in ( I know this is what everyone says) but I really mean it. So I would encourage you all to check them out on social media and have a look at what they do. They have got the best training facilities I have experienced. Some of the biggest names in global sports train there too. Not just triathletes. So if you are looking for a getaway to do some training or to lose some weight I cannot recommend it highly enough. Tell them I sent you!
That's it for this week.
Train hard, have a look at your diet and remember to TRI!