The Vitality Candidate – Introduction

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by my blog, in which I document my search for optimum health and vitality. I invite you to join me on my journey, to take myself from a junk food junkie-couch potato, to a fit, lean & active young woman, full of vitality.

For those of you who know me, this is going to be quite the challenge. It already has been quite the challenge! It’s not like I haven’t tried before, with varying degrees of success, only to lose motivation due to lack of commitment and/or setting unrealistic goals or stressful periods in my life (I’m a huge emotional eater!). A lack of understanding of our, as human beings, nutritional requirements, how to meet them and little understanding of fitness and its importance (the ‘Fundamentals’), didn’t help either. Neither did the exceptionally bad habit of relying, blindly, on pre-prepared, processed foods and drinks.

Over the years, however, my understanding and knowledge of these Fundamentals has increased greatly. Through research and fact gathering, I will be exploring the Fundamentals, increasing my knowledge base, and sharing my findings here with you. There is still much to learn on this journey, and I certainly don’t claim to be an expert. So, rather than take what I say on blind faith, I urge you to do your own research, check facts and draw your own conclusions during your own journey.

“Why not me?”

As a result of my increased knowledge of the Fundamentals so far, my desire and resolve to change my lifestyle to achieve peak health and vitality has shot through the roof! Knowledge is power, as they say, and I intend to use it! And after the Christmas period, my wardrobe is, quite frankly, laughing at me! The January sales are the only reason I will have anything to wear this month! This can’t go on. Things HAVE to change, and only I can change them. So, instead of that little voice inside my head saying ‘It’s too hard! I can’t do it! I’ll only fail anyway, so just give up now! I can’t ever look like that! I don’t have the right genes! I’m too tired! I don’t have time! But I’m so hungry and that smells so good!’ (you name it, I’ve thought it), I’m now hearing one that says ‘Why not me? Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I eat healthily, be active and have those gorgeous abs I’ve always wanted? I know what to eat. I know I need to exercise regularly. I know how to do both of those, so why am I not already doing it?’.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Now there’s a can of worms, right? There are actually a whole host of reasons why I haven’t been living healthily already! Some of them more prominent than others, but all of them play their part. And it’s about time I take a leaf out of Yoda’s book: “Do or do not. There is no try.”. So, I am not going to try and overcome the personal stumbling blocks I face. I simply am going to overcome them, and I am going to become a fit, lean & active young woman full of vitality. No more trying, only doing.

In order to accomplish this I need to explore each of the reasons I’ve failed before (after all, there are lessons to be learnt from every failure) in more detail. I need to understand them better, to understand myself better, in order to address and overcome each personal stumbling block and be successful in my journey.

For me, the three main stumbling blocks are my soda addiction, poor diet and lack
of activity. In future posts, I’ll explore each of these in more detail. I’ve also tackled each of these issues in the past, with success, but the bad habits have obviously crept back in so it’s time to tackle them again and make some PERMANENT changes!

Wanna join me?

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Only human

So, this was delicious!

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A simple baked potato with a small tin of beans, a little butter and a side salad. Delicious! It’s not exactly following the Paleo diet (which is what I am working up to), and nor is it, strictly speaking ‘clean eating’ (since the beans are processed), but it’s a heck of a lot healthier than fish and chips! And it was gorgeous! Another good day in the bag!

So, what is the Paleo diet. Well,  it’s based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, or Stone Age. Basically, it’s all natural, unprocessed foods and drinks. Lots of animal meats, fats, vegetables, fruits, salad leaves, herbs, nuts, seeds etc. As a result it’s very low in sugar. In it’s strictest interpretation (and people do vary quite considerably about how strictly they follow the principles of it), dairy is out too (since we wouldn’t have consumed it in those days, not to mention that so many of us are lactose intolerant). Grains are out too. It’s not an easy change to make at first, but it is one worth making, I think. Mark Sisson does a much better job of explaining it on his blog here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/#axzz2pk9wmG7n

I’ve tried it before, but didn’t fully commit. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it effective? Yes. Did I feel a million times better on it? Yes! So why didn’t I fully commit? Well, lots of reasons. I was busy moving from Holland back to the UK and then searching for a new job and adjusting back to UK life. It’s been a stressful time. I was able to get hold of all my favourite treats a LOT more easily once back in the UK. A temptation that I was not really faced with in Holland. The culture is, quite simply, very different. Treats appear to have become a part of everyday life here, whereas they very much remain just treats in Holland. And so, my willpower dissolved and decided not to make a reappearance until Sunday! And not a moment too soon either!

Will things be different this time? I hope so! What’s the saying? ‘If you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done.’. So that is what I am going to do. I’m going to ease myself back into the Paleo diet, but this time I’m also tracking my food via the FatSecret (http://www.fatsecret.co.uk/) app. It’ll help me to spot where my weaknesses are. I’m going to get back into doing the Shred workouts at home, like before, but I’m also going to go swimming with a friend once a week. In a moment of madness (or perhaps clarity – far too many friends have been affected by cancer recently) last year, I even signed up to do the MoonWalk in London in May this year, so training for that starts soon too. And, of course, this blog too. My tracker, my helper and my confessional, all rolled into one.

And if I mess up at all? I’m not going to beat myself up and fall completely off the wagon as a result. I’m only human after all.

PS. I know drinking lots of water is really good for me and all, but I wish it didn’t mean I needed to pee every half an hour as a result! Jeeez!

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Preparation is key!

Preparation is key. To anything. So I geeked out on Sunday. As usual. And made a batch of homemade soup (Bacon, Lentils and veg :D) for the week ahead, and some home made, herb infused, flatbread (damn you Gordon Ramsay!) to go with it. Nom! I even got all my healthy snacks together, and ready to go for Monday morning. Fab.

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I was already feeling super proud of myself, but then I went ahead and resisted the temptation of the party food buffet that my Mum laid out for the visiting family (using up the last of the Christmas party food). And it smelt good. Really good! It seems I do have some willpower. Who knew?! Sunday = success!

And as a result of all of the preparation, yesterday was successful too! I resisted all treats offered to me at work (there’s a lot of ‘naughty’ leftovers making their way into the office at the moment), drank plenty of water (and spent a corresponding amount of time peeing!), resisted the ‘feeding van’ (as we like to call it) and all it’s temptations, and even reduced the amount of caffeine intake via Tea (I can drink copious amounts of Tea, given half a chance!). I followed it up with an omelette and a side salad for dinner, without resorting to stuffing the contents of a multipack of crisps into my mouth when no one was looking. Bonus! 🙂

Now, of course, I’m feeling disproportionately proud of my achievements and feel like telling the whole world about my mundane, day to day activities. That’s where you readers (if there are any!) come in. Sorry! I’ll do my best to make this more interesting in future, but, you know, I make no promises. This blog is more for my own record keeping purposes than it is anything else.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this: I’m feeling much more confident about my ability to do this, and get back into those clothes that I banished to a different wardrobe on Sunday. I miss those clothes already, and want them back….like now! Alas, I must show a virtue that I so rarely have…..patience!

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The Wake Up Call

It’s Monday 6th January 2014. The day the media is touting as the ‘most depressing day of the year. Supposedly. Granted, it’s the first Monday of the year and we’re all suffering either an alcohol, food or financial hangover (or all three!), but my day really hasn’t been all that depressing. Saturday, however, well…the scales made sure it wasn’t all ‘happy, happy, joy. joy’.

It probably wasn’t the best idea to pig out on salted peanuts before weighing myself. But hey, the scales definitely spurred me into action. The number I saw was the highest I’d ever seen on the scales. To say I was unhappy was an understatement! Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t in complete denial about my weight gain, or the increase in my size, but it’s easy to dismiss it on a week by week basis if you avoid the scales completely. It’s just a lb here and a lb there, it’s not much, it’ll come off quickly, I’ve had a stressful day/week/month/year. I am an expert at making excuses when the mood strikes me. But that number on the scales was a bit of a wake up call for me. And so I have renewed my journey to be as fit and healthy as possible.

Yes, I started in the middle of the day and yes, I started after having already pigged out on a treat earlier that day. So what? This image just about sums it up for me:

Fitness slogan

Incidentally, I also want my butt to look like that too!

So Saturday, 4th January 2014 was the start of a new me. With that in mind, not only have I weighed myself, I’ve also taken measurements and some before photos so that I can track my progress and look back in weeks and months to come, and visibly see the difference.

This is me as at 4th January 2014 (I’m not showing my face just yet, as I am not exactly dripping in confidence) and this is the last time I’m ever going to look and feel this way:

Me 4th jan 14 1 v2 Me 4th jan 14 2 v2

Me 4th jan 14 3 v2

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