My lifestyle change story

When I was six years old, I was struck down by phenomena. It was caught late and I was really sick. I had a good couple of months off of school. It was so bad that it significantly reduced my lung capacity and left me suffering chronic chest infections every year around the beginning of autumn. As I grew older, I slowed my metabolism significantly with the introduction of alcohol from about the age of 15. By the time I was 24 my diet was mainly ready meals, fake meats and pasta based dishes and I was a good 4 stone over weight. Yet now at 27 I am running 5k races, lifting more weight than ever before and I’ve reached an optimal BMI, if you believe in such things.

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So how did I do it? Let’s rewind to January 2010. I had just started a relationship with the person who would become my ex-partner in 2012. She made me very happy, but I was still suffering from some pretty nasty depression. After taking anti-depressants for a while and not seeing any notable improvement, I decided that my diet needed to be looked at. I brought Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Diet book and followed it to the letter. I found that I was losing weight, I was less anxious and all the digestive stress that I had been experiencing dissipated. The Thrive Diet puts emphasis on vegan whole foods, raw foods and non-processed foods. It focuses on creating an alkaline environment in your blood, so that your body can function at it’s optimum state.

 

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So the diet started to make me feel better about myself, but it didn’t solve all of my problems. I’d still get really low in the evenings and in the mornings. I was working between 60 and 80 hours a week at the time, so didn’t think I could fit any exercise in. It seems however, that if you want it badly enough, you can fit anything into your daily routine. I started to go to the gym every other day for about 2 hours in the evening. I lost a lot more weight and got up to a reasonable standard of fitness, but what did I do? I let it all slip in the autumn of 2011 when I got one of my horrendous chest infections. I started eating rubbish food and exercising maybe once a week. Why? Well because my depression and anxiety took over every function of my life. I had a lot of time off sick from work and my friends suffered from me being in a state nearly all of the time. Now I look back on that time, perhaps subconsciously I knew that my partner was falling out of love with me and I couldn’t cope with it.

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I managed to get a grip again sometime around March 2012 and started to eat properly and go to the gym a few times a week. Then in May my partner left and my whole life turned to shit….again. I spent two months drunk every day. My depression literally ate me alive. I’m not really sure what clicked in me because I certainly wasn’t over it, but in August I picked myself up off of the floor. Those of you who came to Vegan Camp will remember me getting up at 6am every day and working out in the mud. That was the start of my journey.

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When I got back from camp, I decided things needed to change. I went back to following Thrive religiously. I started working out every single weekday morning and going to a class every single weekday evening. The weight started to fall off of me and the muscle started to become more defined. My personal trainer, Dave really helped me during this time. He had suffered a personal tragedy himself, but he was always there to listen to me and filter my anger and aggression into hitting personal best upon personal best.

 

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So here I am at 70.6kg and 25% body fat. I still have a little more body fat to lose to get the definition I truly desire, but I did it and you know what? In my adult life, this is one of two things that I’m extremely proud of. (The first being, buying my first flat at 23 and my 2nd flat at 25.)

I know you think you can’t do it, but you really can. I over came reduced lung capacity, depression and a rather serious breakup. I didn’t even have a chest infection in 2012 for the first time since I was 6. Here’s something to make you think: my fitness regime only takes up 8% of my day and I achieved this.

 

pROGRESS

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C.R.A.P!

Let’s talk about C.R.A.P!

Carbonated Junk

Refined Sugars

Artificial Shit

Processed Foods

One of the first things you can do is cut all the crap out of your diet. It’s a really small change and it makes a huge difference to how you feel and how you look.

Carbonated Junk

By this I mean fizzy drinks and yes, all of them:  Waters, colas, lemonades and other carbonated juices.

By cutting out the average 2 fizzy drinks a day (UK), you can save yourself up to 400 calories and you may be able to reduce the chances of obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndromes and cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure amongst others.

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What should I drink instead?

    • Herbal tea – This will give you a natural boost without caffeine and counts towards your 8 glasses of water a day.
    • Water – Will hydrate you, keep you focused and help keep hunger at bay.
    • Not from concentrate juices – As an occasional treat these juices are full of vitamins and minerals.

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Refined Sugars

White sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, and ALL artificial sweeteners are included here.

Studies suggest that because refined sugar is basically an empty calorie like alcohol, it should be consumed in moderation. Personally I’d get rid of it all together and here’s why:

  • It leaches minerals and vitamins from the body.
  • It is tough on the digestive system, often causing bloating and discomfort.
  • It is linked to type two diabetes.
  • It creates an acid environment in the blood stream, which will give prevalence to certain types of cancer. It also means the body is over working to try and alkalise the blood. (Cancer cannot grow in alkaline environments. Read acidosis theory.)

Scoop of Sugar

But I really like sweet things!

That’s ok. There are loads of ways to sweeten your food without adding refined sugar. Some natural sweeteners include maple syrup, molasses, stevia and agave. I like to add fruit to sweeten things. For example on my porridge I’ll add a chopped banana and some raisins. Fruit sugars will also give you more quickly available energy. I love to have a banana smoothie before a good workout.

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Artificial Shit

I’m really talking about sweeteners  and food flavourings here, with the most notable being aspartame. This is the sweetener used in squash and diet drinks. It has been known to cause immediate effects such as headaches, mental confusion, dizziness and seizures. It also forms harmful chemicals in the body such as formaldehyde which leads to metabolic acidosis and can cause kidney failure and blindness as well as creating an environment where cancer cells can thrive.

My advice? Stay well clear, always and forever.

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Processed Foods

Any food which has been canned, boxed or bagged is classified as processed food. For example an apple is not a processed food, but an apple pie is.

Processed foods are bad for your health because they often contain high levels of fat, salt and sugar. Over consumption can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and cancer.

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fruit and vegetable variety

 

 

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I’d say treat yourself to occasional (once a month) processed treat, but in the meantime try and make things from scratch. See what you think of this kidney bean burger:

Ingredients:

  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • Two large handfuls of cooked kidney beans
  • 5 cloves of peeled garlic

Method:

  • Blend all the ingredients in a food processor
  • Lightly fry in olive oil

Serve with a large, fresh salad.

So there we have it. Cut the C.R.A.P and start your journey towards a healthier you.