Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Fighting fat with fat

Eureka Machines
Week 9

This week's blog reading music is the Eureka Machines' cover of Walk Like an Egyptian. We went to see them last week in Camden, what a great band.  They're always really fun live, loads of great sing alongs to be had, seem to be genuinely grateful for the success they've had thus far and they're 100% independent.  I've got a lot of time for Eureka Machines, they've got a new album on the way too, happy times!

It's been a good week at 12 Rounds Boxing this week.  Been doing my two early morning bag work sessions, 1 weight session (new deadlift personal best, 120kg) a bit of swimming (another new PB, 54 lengths) as well as more actual boxing classes which I'm so happy to get back to.  Working on boxing technique is so much fun for me and when you're really enjoying what you're doing you get a work out in without even noticing, so much better than just forcing yourself to stay on the crosstrainer at Fitness First another 15 minutes.  Looking forward to doing much more actual boxing training next year now my fitness is starting to come back to a decent level, can't wait to get back to sparring.

This is week 9 on the 12 Week course and when I think of the difference from week one to now it's amazing.  Week one was a struggle to get in the gym at all and now I've got so much energy once I get going I don't want to stop.  Feeling worn out towards the end of a session doesn't make me want to slow down and wish it was over anymore, it makes me want to push harder.  Getting just a little bit fitter makes it a little bit easier to work harder, and working a little harder than last time every time makes me a little fitter, I like this momentum a lot and I can really feel the difference in how my body feels.

The 12 Rounds crew did the Men's Health Survival of the Fittest 10k obstacle course run thingy last weekend and while I'm probably too broken and injured to ever do that it looks like so much fun that it makes me want to get my fitness up to the level where it might me possible.  We'll see, that might be another blog.

Mmmmm fat.
Diet's a bit changed this week.  Kat's got us eating more protein and fat (healthy fats - coconut oil, butter, avocado, oily fish) which does a good job at keeping me full, stops me snacking during the day as much and I'm only eating carbs the night before training.
 Eating more fats seems like a strange thing to do when you're trying to lose fat and it's taken me a while to come around to it as a concept.  Makes perfect sense though, your body needs fats for essential functions all the time and any extra calories your body doesn't use will be stored as excess blubber, not just the fats we've eaten.  As far as I understand it in my new and limited knowledge of how this works is the worst thing to eat for extra blubber reserves are sugars and carbohydrates (which are basically sugar, who knew?) and low-fat versions of foods tend to be packed with sugar!  Have a look at the back of a flavoured 0% fat yogurt and see how much sugar (or any ingredient ending with -ose) is in there.  Horrendous.  Have a natural greek yogurt with fresh berries, much better.   In the last 9 weeks I've pretty much cut out all refined sugar, but a friend gave me a slice of birthday cake one afternoon, rude to resist, and Jesus Christ...  you get really sensitive to that stuff when you've not had it for a while.  Two minutes later I felt like I'd shotgunned 6 espressos, had to bin it.

I went end for an awesome Sri-Lankan curry and a beer on Saturday. Can't take this stuff too seriously can ya? Only lost a couple of pounds on the scale this week but more importantly the jeans I bought before this program started that I couldn't even get into now fall off without a belt.  Much more important than what the scale says.

Super healthy, includes fats.  Roast duck with plum sauce, cauliflower
 and parsnip puree and baby leeks. I love cooking ( and eating)

Thanks for reading, as a reward here's a chimp doing it's best to babysit and a teddy bear getting some treadmill work in.

Follow me on twitter @savageless

Check out the brand new 12 Rounds Boxing website here
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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Anchovies make everything better.

Week 8

Oh I love food.  If having to be on a health kick meant I had to be hungry this whole thing would be a write off from the very beginning.  I've not had any processed foods, bread, pasta or added sugar for 8 weeks now.  Starting a program like this starts off with the surge of willpower needed to stop myself picking up a bag of McCoys (king of crisps) but after a while it really stops being an effort and I'm actually craving healthy food rather than the sugary/salty/carbogeddon cravings I used to have.

This is true, but slightly disingenuous by the way.  I would still absolutely destroy a pizza and a stack of chocolate chip cookies, you just wait 'till after Christmas when I write my shame blog after all the horrible things I've done to myself.

So in that spirit, rather than just write a diary this week here are basic recipes of a few super-healthy things I've been cooking lately.

Cauliflower rice is the shit.  Seriously.
Cauliflower rice.  Not rice, just grated cauliflower, but this is so much better than that sounds.  Discovered on this program as it's a low carb alternative but seriously, if I'd known of it before I'd have been eating it forever.  Fry up mustard seeds and cumin seeds in some coconut oil and then add the grated cauliflower to the pan, salt and pepper and cook for a just a few minutes. Legitimately wicked and a lot quicker than rice. Might sound weird but try it, it's legit.

Oat bars
Oat bars.  I've got a sweet tooth so cookie alternatives are a must.  Blend bananas and dates (or mash with fork if you have soft, over-ripe bananas to use up) and mix in toasted seeds and chopped nuts, then add gluten free oats (could toast these too) until you have a nice thick batter. You want it thick and sticky so it holds together. Add the zest of an orange, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Bake in a tin lined with baking parchment and slice up when cooled on a wire rack.  They have a texture kinda like bread pudding.

Kale and eggs

Kale and eggs.  Another thing I started cooking as a healthy alternative and now love, I eat this for breakfast every weekend.  Coconut oil, garlic and a couple of anchovy fillets in a frying pan followed by finely sliced onions then chopped kale.  Once the kale is wilted a little add seasoned eggs and chopped tomato to the pan and scramble together.  Served with a handful of seeds and hot sauce.  Goes great with bacon.  Obviously.

The value of a being able to cook a decent tomato sauce cannot be underestimated.  I grew up on massive plates of pasta with bolognese sauce (explains a lot) so filling that gap is important to me now I'm off gluten. A rich tomato sauce with brown rice and fish or as the base for a quick chilli or a vegetable dish is perfect for easy midweek winter comfort food. Rules -  1. Use plenty of garlic. 2. Anchovies make everything better.  3. Cook it slowly, ideally twice.
A cheaters risotto with steamed salmon.

I love to cook so if you'd like some actual recipes with food amounts and and cooking times for healthy food, (y'know, ones you can actually follow), let me know in the comments and I'll start putting them in future blogs

Another 6 lbs lost this week.  I knew the scale would be back on my side after last week's snub. That's 30lbs lost since I started, still got a way to go though.

Thanks for reading, as a reward here's a cat being...  err, not cute.  Weird and a little scary really.

Follow me on twitter @savageless

Check out the brand new 12 Rounds Boxing website here
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Twitter @12_roundsboxing

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The awkward, creeping horror, NOOOOO!

Week 7

Welcome back.  Blog reading music this week comes from Coheed & Cambria, another all time favourite (I've got Coheed & Cambria tattoos even) with a boxing themed video, seems a perfect fit.  This it total LETSGETPUMPED gym music for me.

Remember a couple of weeks ago I did my weekly weigh in, hadn't lost anything and got pissed off? Same thing happened again this week but this time I shrugged, walked off and got on with my day.  It's weird, each week I either lose 7 pounds or nothing.  But it didn't bother me, one of the big things about this 12 Week program is self awareness and I remembered how I felt about this last time, how I rationalised it and moved right on with my day. Feels good to recognise that I avoided something that previously would have stressed me out.  Even without the weight loss I hit a milestone this week, 100kg deadlifts (almost my bodyweight), which seemed impossible when I started, Kat told me early on she'd have me lifting triple figures and I laughed at her.

My gym time since starting the 12 week program had been 2 sessions a week hitting the heavy bags and 1 session of weight training.  These have been doing the trick and I've wanted to step it up so have been adding in some more classes at the gym and doing a bit of swimming, classes where rather than hiding in the corner of the gym and hitting the bags I'm hitting pads with a partner and doing a more footwork & head movement (y'know, actual boxing stuff) in a busier class.

I've always struggled with social anxiety. When I had put on all the weight and not been to the gym in months the idea of huffing and puffing my way through a class I didn't think I could complete with a dozen other people filled me with dread.  But after easing myself in, losing a bit of weight, gaining a bit of confidence, get back in there I did. And it felt good to do so, working out in a group is so much easier than just trying to motivate yourself alone. Seriously, if you're struggling go to a class of somethinganything.

In the summer when I was injured and putting on weight and went along to a 12 Rounds event at the Clapham Grand to watch a fight and The Chimp (those niggling, irrational fears and responses that come from the primal parts of your brain) was powerfully in control. So anxious and uncomfortable, John & Kat from 12 Rounds are lovely, and the people from the gym I knew are all friendly but I spent the whole night crawling in my skin, stumbling through conversations, fighting to be a normal, social person but desperate to get away from crowds and I remember breathing a huge sigh of relief when I left and hastily made my way home utterly stressed out.  That old depressive black cloud following at my heels.  A couple of months later I had a talk with Kat and started this 12 Week Transformation program.

A few weeks ago we had a dinner with out little crew of 12 Weekers (social interaction with people I hardly know?  ARGHH!) which was really nice and helpful for keeping the motivation up, then a couple of weeks ago I met a load of complete strangers from the internet to go to gig in Manchester (Virtual strangers danger! The awkward, creeping horror, NOOOOO!) which turned out to be wicked late night fun.  Next spring I've arranged to go to a 3 day music festival with 1 person I knew years ago and a group of about 8 strangers and I'm not bothered in the slightest.  Obviously keeping on top of something like this is an ongoing process, but I feel much better equipped to do so.  It's amazing what a good diet, exercise and a bit of awareness can do for your self esteem.

I'll probably lose more weight next week.

Thanks for reading, here's an adorable video of a kitten and a great dane (WARNING Has caused two women in my life to cry this week) and here's another picture of my cat Bambo because he's awesome.

Follow me on twitter @savageless

Check out the brand new 12 Rounds Boxing website here
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Twitter @12_roundsboxing

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Deadlifts in the Mosh Pit

Week 6

Welcome back.  This week's blog reading music comes from my all time favourite, Ginger. **WARNING** Contains an exceptionally rude chorus that's so catchy you'll end up singing it without realising and offending loved ones or work colleagues.

What a great week I've had.  Ginger is this week's music because this past weekend was one I've been  looking forward to all year, the first ever, hopefully annual, Ginger Wildheart's Halloween Hootenanny, held in Wolverhampton with 6 bands (including the fantastic Eureka Machines) and an almighty piss-up with the great online community that surrounds the bands.  Diana came with me for Halloween and headed home to London the next day while I went on to Manchester to see Ginger and Eureka Machines play another gig and meet up with another group of people I previously only knew online.  Now, I made some provisions to make sure this wasn't a total write off health-wise, packing healthy snacks for the train, getting a good breakfast in before we left and hunted out healthy, protein rich salads for lunch but Kat does tell us it's OK to have a cheat day once in a while and if I was going to have one this was going to be it! Still I avoided beer (mostly), but did get a post-gig late night drunk-burger and a spectacular breakfast to smash the hangover both of which included *gasp* GLUTEN (Kat would tell us that gluten is more horrific than anything Halloween can dish up).
Not an opiate
Diana and I also went out to dinner on the first night and I finished with a coffee, my first coffee since this whole process started, a super powerful Turkish coffee at that, and it set me off like a rocket. What a beautiful brew it was, but after being off the stuff for a while a dose this hefty drove me giddy, felt like I was having palpatations.  That's what killed Dee Dee Ramone...  apart from it was with heroin obviously.

Muffins, poached eggs, chorizo, salsa, hollandaise. Breakfast of champions.

Possibly shitfaced
Now if you read Week 1 you'll remember that before I started this 12 Week fitness program I was in a pretty miserable state and it's amazing how the booze kicked me right back to it once it wore off. Not the hangover (I deal with that like a trooper) but for a day or two later the old familiar black cloud settled in.  One of the big things about this process is recognising how the choices we make are affecting us and it was clearer than ever to me after last weekend that alcohol really causes my mood to plummet (not at the time obviously, that's a picture of a happy chap above) and not for anything in particular, I'd just had the weekend of the year, just a general miserable bleakness.  Recognising that the after effect of alcohol had probably messed me up rather than just reacting to that fact that I was down really helped in turning it around quickly.  Also, no more booze 'till Christmas, I like being happy. 

So the weekend was a bit of a cheat but I was right back to it when I got home, off to the pool for a swim (44 lengths, a new record) and back in the 12 Rounds gym this week to hit pads for the first time in ages which was great fun and also our weekly weight training session with Kat.
Weight training I'm starting to really enjoy as I can see the improvements week on week as we add bit more weight to the bar, there's something really satisfying about moving something heavy around (not so much chin-ups, my body is still too much weight to lift).  I particularly noticed it this week when I headed out to see extreme metal band Anaal Nathrahk (here's their cover of a Specials song, not for the feint of heart).  Plenty of stagediving going on and the moshpit was full of people flying all over the beer soaked floor (I had water, told you I'm off the sauce 'till Chimbo), I was standing just at the edge of the pit so had quite a few people hitting the deck in front of me, I chuckled to myself as I leaned down to pick them up with my best deadlift technique, scooped 'em up and shoved them back into the swirling mass of bodies, piece of cake!  See?  Real world application of gym work.

Apart from the weekend blunders the diet has continued to be really good.  Just discovered cauliflower rice which is fantastic especially when spiced up and I think it's time to do some baking too, I love making bread and cakes so will be a challenge to make something healthy.  Will update next week if successful.  Another 7lbs lost this week even with the boozing so we're well on the way!

Thanks for reading, here's a kitten giving itself a hug..

Follow me on twitter @savageless

Check out 12 Rounds Boxing here
Twitter @12_roundsboxing