Sunday 13 September 2020

Planning the plan. Writing my golden rules.

If you read my last post (boring as it was) you'd know that I'm planning a plan. The plan is to create a healthier (not necessarily better, so please don't comment on my morals, behaviours, values etc) me. I'm kinda making it up as I go along and have decided to plan on a weekly or monthly basis. I think I'm going to create my own golden rules as I go along.

My first rule is 'eat healthier'. This does not mean that I am on a diet, does not mean I can't indulge once in a while and does not mean that Mc Donald's is off limits. It means that I have to eat healthier than I currently do. There is a need for me to improve my diet as I'm fat, weigh too much and have high cholesterol. I think I can improve my diet by cutting out a lot of fat and sugars I would normally eat, be more conscious regarding what I eat and by eating cholesterol lowering foods.

My research has shown that there are a whole bunch of cholesterol lowering foods and I'm eating much of them already. They are as follows:

  • Avacoda (This appears to be no.1 cholesterol lowering food). I don't like it much but will eat it alongside a poached egg on occasions.
  • Almonds and walnuts (which contains Omega 3). Love nuts and will snack on these at work.
  • Fatty fish - salmon, lake trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna (all of which contain Omega 3). Am liking fish more and more and tend to eat tuna most days at work.
  • Oats and barley. Am eating Alpen (no added sugar) most days for breakfast.
  • Fruits and berries including apples, grapes, citrus fruit and strawberries. Am tending to add berries to my Alpen and eat fruit most days.
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa. Hmm, don't tend to touch either much but nice knowing I can.
  • Garlic. This is good for keeping insects away too).
  • Vegetables especially dark leafy greens. I do like my veg and will try to eat more of it.
  • Tea. I drink lots (maybe too much).
  • Extra virgin olive oil. Ok, let's change my current spread.
Researching also informed me that fasting had a whole heap of health benefits too. Initially, I thought this would never be an option for me because I love food and can eat several times in a day. However, I also read that there are different types of fasting and 'intermittent fasting' sounded ideal - you can still eat, (lots potentially) just between a certain time frame. It doesn't specify which foods you can eat (I've kinda done that above) but rather when you should eat them. This fasting is clearly not a diet but an eating pattern. This fasting works in different ways and a once weekly (maybe moving to twice if all works out well) daily fast of 18 hours might prove of benefit to me. This fasting is really quite simple and essentially means I stop eating after my tea (say 6 pm) and then skip breakfast and eat again at lunch, effectively fasting for 18 hours. Simples. Apparently, when fasting, many growth hormone levels go up and insulin levels go down as well as genes doing something funky that leads to cellular repair processes. Articles suggest that this fasting may slightly boost metabolism and report its a very effective way to lose belly fat and weight. Better yet, research states that intermittent fasting may reduce 'bad' LDL cholesterol and a whole heap of other health benefits (such as brain health, cancer prevention, anti-aging). I'm in - golden rule no.2 'intermittently fast'. I will trial this and will plan to fast just once weekly whilst at work. 

Research on what may have caused my painful foot led me to create golden rule 3 'warm up before a big run' and golden rule 4 'stretch after a run'. If truth be told, I'm not exactly sure what caused pain to my foot, however, it may have been overload (too much to soon), plantar issue (common injury) or the fact that I didn't warm up and/or stretch. Anyways, my research clearly indicated that by warming up before a run it was 'one of the best things you can do to stay healthy, injury free, and improve your running performance'. Apparently, a warm up will get the blood flowing and loosen up muscles which will help you prevent injury and avoid pain during and after running. I've never tended to bother warming up before because basically have found it time consuming and too technical. A look at 'Running' for Sweets' blog though has provided me with 7 simple 'best warm up exercises for runners' which are simple, quick and quite fun. These exercises are as follows:
  • Standing leg extensions
  • Knee hug to chest
  • Forward leg swings
  • Lateral leg swings
  • Bent leg circles
  • Skips
  • Butt kicks
My rule is not implicit but rather a good idea and I will warm up before a big run - these exercises do not take long. I'd like to warm up before each and every run, however, time constraints might not allow and some times I just have to head straight out or risk not running at all. Busy lies and all that...

As for stretching after a run, well, my research stated 'stretching after running helps to decrease injury... If [muscles are] stretched appropriately... flexibility will improve'. Again, historically I have found such stretches quite technical and time consuming. After scouring the internet, I've found a bunch of quick ('hold for 15 seconds') stretches which in time might prove easy (just mostly unfamiliar to me at present time). These stretches are as follows:
  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Thigh stretch
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Illiotibial band stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Lower back stretch
  • Buttock stretch
On my previous blog post, I commented about 'Running Heroes' informing that it was a free website and app that rewarded folks for running. Golden rule 5 was easily created 'run weekly using Running Heroes as a motivator'. In a similar vein, 'Cycling Heroes' is another free website and app that rewards cyclists for biking with exclusive discounts and prizes. Again, it doesn't matter how good (or bad) one pedals. Golden rule 6 simply is 'cycle weekly using Cycling Heroes as a motivator'.

With my Golden Rules in place (eat healthier, intermittently fast, warm up before a big run, stretch after a big run, and run and cycle weekly using Heroes app as a motivator), I figured I had a good plan for the week. What could possibly go wrong? Would it all work out well.

Well, Monday started off ok. I went for a 8k run and warmed up before and stretched afterwards. My right foot was still a little painful but no major concern and did not hurt on any following days. Maybe warming up and stretching helped? This run also saw me complete the 3 x 6k runs from the Running Heroes app (carried over from week before). No prizes won. Cycled some distance on my fixed bike later same day which felt nice too.

Tuesday was a great day. I completed my first intermittent fast with no major issue. My 50k+ cycle commute saw me complete a Cycling Heroes challenge too. No prizes won.

Wednesday saw me complete another 8k run which felt good. I didn't warm up or stretch, simply because I forgot, d'oh! Took a short walk up the Malvern Hills with SJ and Melody which was nice. Visited Prezzo's in the evening and healthy eating wasn't so great.

Thursday saw me complete another run. Beginning to find difficulty in remembering warm up exercises and stretches and maybe completed just a few.

Friday saw me cycle over a 100k on fixed which felt awesome. My Greek lunch wasn't so healthy. Does cycling balance out the eating? 

Cycled further on Saturday and completed more Cycling Heroes challenges. Sadly, I binged and ate much chocolate pot and drank wine. Argh, so hard maintaining a healthy lifestyle!

Sunday saw me complete another run and hence complete another 'Heroes' challenge. I cycled a little more in the afternoon too. Sunday lunch was nice, however, dessert was probably not the healthiest.

All in all I felt I did relatively well. It wasn't flawless, however, I exercised a lot, are better than I have for a long spell and felt ok once the week was out. I nearly added 'lift weight weekly' as a golden rule but didn't - I tried lifting some and ouch it hurt too much. A step at a time, right?!
A lot of fun, not good for the tum
Jonny Java
The following week was awful. Mc Donald's called me and forced me to eat (twice). Purity called me too and made me eat 2 burgers and consume 4 pints stating it was the last cycle and drink for a while. I drank more over the weekend too and had fish and chips on both Friday and Saturday. Argh! Epic fail. I cycled little and ran little. I did manage an intermittent fast. 

Oh man, I will try harder over the next few weeks. I will. I'll blog at the end of the month and it'll be interesting to see if any weight has shifted and whether my mood and motivation has improved. Place your bets....

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