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The Confidential Challenge: for her (Part 2)

Fistfuls of food and a very dry month...

Published on July 2nd 2010.

The Confidential Challenge: for her (Part 2)

Week 5
Five weeks in and it was weigh and measure time. We’re to have this done every two weeks going forward. More than slightly embarrassing (will hopefully be less so, when I’m ready to rock out my toned and honed bod in the future) I get to strip down to basics in the office.

I've had a few black tie events and work parties to go on and it is seriously testing. Gordo is hugely unimpressed at losing two of his drinking buddies but on the flip side our productivity has increased tenfold.

Firmly shutting all blinds to the boardroom (and Gordo’s adjoining hidey hole) I covertly cavort around in my bikini. Onto the scales that beam a bolt through my body to measure fat percentage. Blood pressure present and correct. A series of mug shots (that will not be aired until there are vastly improved after pictures to go next to them) from various angles. Confidential’s nominated personal trainer Darren Casey from Elite Fitness Training sits down and does the number crunching.

The Weigh In
It’s not all about what you read on the scales. Put in simple terms, Darren tells me to look at two identical objects on the table. “Imagine these both represent 12 stone in weight. One could be a super fit athlete, the other could be a new mum. Both would have entirely different body shapes and body fat. One would look significantly better than the other.”

And this is where us gals could easily spend our lives fixating on the scales and judging ourselves on that alone. Don’t do it. Body fat and lean body mass are what it’s all about and we’ll cover that off in more detail in the hot topics over the coming weeks.

So my results were as follows, click here.

Darren said: “In simple terms Helen has lost 3lbs of body fat, which doesn’t seem like much in that time, but it’s great.

At the start of a program, it’s not unusual for the body to go into a ‘shock mode’ and try to slow everything down as you are expanding a lot of energy very quickly. This is normal. It will adjust over time however, at Helen's body weight, 3lbs loss is around two per cent body fat. Losing the last few per cent body fat is much much harder due to the hormonal imbalances associated with under eating and storing fats (the body had got very good at this, pre-exercise program) an example for someone much bigger would look like this:

A 200lb person with 41per cent body fat. If they lost three per cent body fat that would mean they had lost 6lbs fat in total.

Meal Overview
So has it been hell on earth so far to see this difference? Quite the contrary. My diet has changed dramatically from how I ate previously. Gone are the binge and purge patterns of a previous haphazard existence. Now I ensure I eat breakfast religiously with small meals every two to three hours. I’d heard about this way of meal planning, but never understood the science behind it. I actually eat more now than I did before.

Without a doubt one of the best things about this experience is learning from Darren about all things body related. Put in simple (blonde, for me) terms, our bellies are a certain size. If you eat twice this size, you’re stretching your stomach and in turn will feel hungry once our digestive bits have worked their magic. Thus taking more food to satisfy and starting the ongoing circle of overeating. So if you took the same volume of food for a day, broke it up into 6 portions over closer together eating windows, rather than three spread out you a) don’t whack your system with gut-widening wedges of food resulting in the issues above and b) it keeps your metabolism at a steady rate as you are constantly grazing in effect c) keeps your blood sugar levels more consistent, avoiding sharp from peaks and drops. Simples. But it took having it explained to me to appreciate why and adopt it as second nature.

I think this is where many of us don’t take to certain suggestions, because we actually don’t appreciate why we should do things. (This also applies with my re-education on the exercise front. Will visit that in another week.) It did feel alien to me at first, as I rarely felt hungry and in my mind that equated to eating to excess which is not the case at all.

A typical day’s meals for me now consist of:

- Breakfast – bowl of porridge with a small spoonful of raspberry jam. I used to go for the pre-made with golden syrup variety, but Darren banned this after pointing out it had 23 per cent sugar in it which is essentially hidden fat. Often labels state 'low fat' rather than actually telling us what's good for us.

- Mid morning – Ryvita with a good slick of houmous (houmous is good as high protein but be careful to choose low fat and low sugar options i.e. less the five per cent saturated fat and sugars per 100g)

- Lunch – open salad of king prawns or chicken or fish and a toasted wholemeal pitta

- Mid afternoon – Muller lite toffee yoghurt as it is low in sugar (if I was craving something sweet in the afternoons to fill the role of the late Bournville bar) or a portion of mixed seeds if I want a savoury snack

- Dinner – poached salmon with roasted sweet potato, courgette, red pepper, red onion with some rosemary and olive oil

- Late evening – another Ryvita with houmus or yoghurt

General guidance is to get a good measure of protein in your portions, and look at size control – one fist is about the same as your stomach. No bigger than that. I’ve started eating off smaller plates to stem overeating. We also had a pattern of eating introduced each week that involved a low carb day and also a treat day on specific days. Treat day is the best thing since sliced bread. On this day we can eat anything as long as we stick to the 5-6 meal/portion size principle. Planned in appropriately, these work to trick your body so it avoids going into starvation mode and clinging onto those calories.

Hot Topic: Alcohol
Drinks wise we’re allowed a couple of units per week of alcohol on 'treat day'. Darren has been clever here in slowly getting us used to a gradual drop in alcohol consumption. He explained: “Alcohol is bad for fat loss as you're consuming a lot of sugar – usually in the evening when you're not doing much, one drink can have the same sugar as a piece of cake so imagine eating 5 or 6 pieces of cake, which is like having 5/6 drinks, and trying to lose body fat – it's not going to happen.”

Not hugely impressed with this given that I’d done a dry month in January and we’re in wine in the shine time, but I can deal with it. Just.

I've had a few black tie events and work parties to go on and it is seriously testing. Gordo is very unimpressed at losing two of his drinking buddies but on the flip side our productivity has increased tenfold. Even with friends the head pecking is apparent when we’re out encouraging us to have drink. I had a pass out to go to the races and after a day on the bubbles, having barely drank for a month, I not so proudly presented a decorating job across the train station on the way home.

Conclusion: your body changes fast if you're exercising effectively an your diet compliments your training. My big drinking days were to take a serious back seat. All day, every day, now I drink lots of water and plenty of green tea as this apparently burns calories in itself. A hydrated body performs better at everything, including losing body fat and maintaining concentration levels, Darren says.

Contributing to my results is this combined with a change from the initial exercise. More about that and my change in measurements next week.

If you’ve got any queries on any of this, feel free to rant and we’ll get back to you. If you’d like to be added to a list for regular updates on the body challenge, for health and fitness tips or have a specific query you’d rather not post to the world, drop us an email on challenge@manchesterconfidential.com . We’re looking to cover a wealth of health topics over the next twelve weeks and we’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any queries.

Darren Casey is Master Personal Trainer and Director at Elite Fitness Training www.eft-gb.com You can follow this 3 month plan designed for you online via his web site. Enrol via email waiting list. The next course launches on 21 June 2010.


Confidential Challenge for him (Part 2)

Confidential Challenge for her (Part 1)

Confidential Challenge for him (Part 1)

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