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The ‘You are what you eat’ experiment

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Alongside all the property programmes, singing / talent competitions and other reality TV formats are the (often compulsive viewing) shows which look at our health and diet.  They most commonly feature people whom I’d associate as being societies’ rejects.  Let’s face it, if you’re going to go on a TV show called “embarrassing problems you’re scared to talk to your doctor about” (paraphrased real title since appreciate overseas to UK readership won’t be aware of actual programme) then you can’t really be all that embarrassed about your “issue” since your body defects and ill health are filmed and broadcast for a nation of hooked viewers to be disgusted at.

For a great many years I was one of those people who was fortunate enough to be able to eat and drink what I liked without putting any weight on.  I’m not suggesting for a minute that this implies I was healthy, after all, it is said that, “we are what we eat“.  The turning point for me was when I hit my mid-twenties.  I started to become less active and went through a period of going out a lot, staying out to the very early hours of the morning, drinking lots, eating junk food and not getting enough sleep.  I wouldn’t consider myself to be a fat person.  Our Wii-Fit and the usual charts place me around a third of the way into what’s considered to be the overweight category.  Like most people, I would like to be slimmer.  I’d say that my drive to lose weight is for aesthetic reasons before overall health; however I am not stupid in that I realise this is the wrong focus of priority.

When I lived in Sheffield City Centre I used to be a member of a gym.  The usual scenario most people find themselves in took place – I joined for a year, went loads to start off with and then dropped into a very sporadic routine.  Of course, this made things worse because after each infrequent session, it’d knock me out for a few days because the exercise wasn’t undertaken often enough.  The only real exercise I’ve had in recent years was when I cycled coast to coast in order to raise money for charity.  That said, I suffered injuries as a result of cycling off-road 100+ miles a day, some of which still bother me two years down the line.

I go through periods of healthy eating.  By this, I mean my wife and I plan our meals.  We choose nutritionally balanced menus and then place on-line grocery orders to get our food in bulk so that we can ensure we don’t fail over to convenience foods or impulse purchases.  These efforts normally get interrupted by being invited out for meals, drinks down the pub and don’t always continue when we run out of meal plans.  If I really put my mind to losing weight, I know I can do it.  I’ve lost a stone over the course of a reasonable period of time before, but I can’t maintain my enthusiasm for the process.  I love my chocolate and large portion sizes too much.

One of the people I follow on Twitter (Caroline / @PatsyJ) recently re-tweeted the following comment, “Another lie obese clients tell themselves ‘My diet is not THAT bad. Write down what you eat, then we’ll both know!“  This inspired me to conduct a simple experiment.  I’m going to write down what I eat and drink over the course of a week.  I’ve asked Caroline to do the same and then we’re going to compare and contrast.  Whilst I work in IT, sit at a desk all day, then spend time with my son before he goes to bed before then most likely spending time either in front of the TV or computer, Caroline is what I’ll affectionately refer to as a gym-nut.  I’ll leave her to explain her typical day, food and exercise in a later guest post. Once the week’s details have been recorded we’ll post our findings.

In the next few days there’ll be a follow up post to this article by Caroline so be sure to check back soon.  In the meantime, please feel free to comment below.

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