Saturday, June 1, 2013

Man vs Food

Food is a funny thing. Here in the UK and lots of other western countries, we have a funny realtionship with diets, what we like to eat and fashions through food. In other parts of the world, growing and sustaining food is hugely threatening to survival, and in other parts, there just isn't enough to go around.

Recently, I've noticed a lot of the beautiful women I follow on Twitter in the blog world, and those outside of it, fall into diet regimes to shed a little weight, fair play, I've been there too, except I'm noticing a deeply unhealthy trend developing. Super low calorie intake coupled with an exercise regime.

First up, these women, they're beautiful girls, successful in the things they choose, with everything to play for. Second, it's made me beyond sad to see such an unhealthy ideal sucking in these intelligent people. This super low calorie + exercise thing, it's all consuming, it isn't sustainable, and to prove that I'm not bias, because I also wouldn't mind being a little lighter and lot more toned, I tried it. Put my metal where my mouth is. 10 days. 1200 calories. Hard core exercise.

So- I used a calorie tracking app to log everything I ate and all the exercise completed. I bought scales, which was plain weird as I haven't ever owned them. My version of hardcore exercise is cycling approximately 20km across 56ish minutes 8 times in 10 days. I did a bit of research on a low sugar diet that I've had an interest in for a while, and decided to use this experience to spring board into it.

Want to know what I learned?

1. Eating this little leads to problems with energy levels, concentration and general good health. I spent days 2-10 feeling run down, suffering head aches, struggling to focus on my full time job or my hobby or a book or a magazine or a TV program. This is not my idea of fun. My app also broke down the intake of vitamins and nutrients, I ran deficient in calcium, vitamin B, iron, sodium and potassium. All very important.

2. If you exercise with regularity and proper whole-hearted effort, eating this little will leave you feeling leaden, slow, and all round below parr. I struggled to maintain my usual speeds when cycling, my muscles ached and I'm pretty sure my blood pressure wasn't doing so well judging by my pulsating eyes at the traffic lights.

3. I found using an app to track what I ate quite helpful in that it stopped me absently mindedly snacking, which was a valuable lesson to learn. Sadly, it also made me obsessive. I've never examined so many labels, and keeping within my limits of intake, became some kind of off challenge with myself. This cannot, absolutely cannot be healthy.

4. It didn't get me anywhere. I weighed EXACTLY the same at the start and at the finish of my 10 days. I wasn't measuring (according to me and my clothes) any different either. So just to get this straight- I spent 10 days being miserable, hungry and generally out of sorts for no good reason. Certainly no weight loss and absolutely NO health benefits.

I'm young, I'm relatively healthy, I want to exercise to a level that keeps me fit and healthy and keeps my body strong. I could do with drinking a bit less, curbing my enthusiasm for cake. My sugar free diet (during the week) is going well, I'm benefiting in all sorts of ways that do not compromise good health and nutrition. But I firmly believe that these are all lifestyle choices, that are sustainable. Please tell me it's time we moved on from cutting out, cutting down, cutting back and not taking responsibility for ourselves and maintaining our bodies to be the best they can. Life should never be a battle of us vs the nutrition that keeps us all going.
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