Nothing looks better than health and fitness, nothing.
Cut price food
It’s always worth keeping an eye on fresh produce that’s being sold off. The other day I spotted big lettuces on sale for 25p. I immediately thought of my Mum’s lettuce soup recipe – here it is:
- 12oz roughly chopped lettuce
- 2oz butter
- 1/4 pint milk
- 4oz spring onions, chopped
- 1 tblsp flour
- 1pt chicken stock
- salt and pepper
Put the butter in the pan with the lettuce and spring onions. Cook until soft. Add the flour, then the stock. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Cool a bit. Blend. Add milk.
I bought one of the lettuces which weighed nearly 2lb, plus a bunch of spring onions, and made a big pan of lovely soup which I froze in portions. I often eat soup and cheese for my lunch (no bread). There was still lots of lettuce left for us to have in salads that week so nothing was wasted.
Getting so many meals for so little reminded me of a student I know in Leeds. He goes to the market, buys whatever they’re selling off and makes soup. His mates spend a fortune on processed rubbish but he’s getting good, fresh, real food at a monthly price of <£30!
Read more about saving money – this is a joint blog post with my Survival Guide for the Skint blogsite.
There’s a management maxim that states, ‘what gets measured, gets done.’ Our brains love to measure and compare. It works for business and it works in our personal lives too.
It’s human nature to want to improve. Knowledge is power. If you know how much you do, you’ll want to do more.
For exercise there are tools like pedometers and fitness aps that measure your activity levels. Ask anyone with a pedometer how much they walk and they’ll tell you it’s more since they got one!
I’ve been keeping training records for many years using a chart I developed when I was first selected to represent Great Britain in archery – see my book Succeed in Sport to develop your own chart. Colouring in the chart lets me see immediately the training I’ve been doing.
Use a measurement method that appeals to you. Gold stars are great for kids – and for adults too; a client of mine has been successfully using stars. Some people like tables of numbers. I coached a man once who drew a graph when he decided to stop smoking. His motivator was the cumulative money he saved and it went up and up!
For eating well, how about giving yourself credit each time you snack on nuts, have a drink of water, eat some vegetables or cook unprocessed meat / fish. Be observant, catch yourself doing something right and measure only what’s good. Let your natural motivation increase it. By building up the amount of nutrient-rich natural foods you eat, bad foods will automatically get squeezed out.
Top Tip – measure what you do right
Super foods are ‘in’. People are going mad for all sorts of things from gogi berries to maca powder and cacao nibs. However, I was really taken aback when someone said their diet club had told them that pasta is a super food; it is not.
So what makes something a super food? 2 things. Firstly, it will have an unusually high nutrient content; things like vitamins, minerals, enzymes or good fats. Secondly, the nutrients will be in a form that the body can easily absorb and use. This is called bio-availability. I have some videos on different superfoods here (scroll down through top tips and testimonials to get to the superfood series).
Take the avocado, a true super food. This pear-shaped fruit is packed with amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and good fats. I base my breakfast smoothie on avocado. They’re also great as part of a salad. Contrast this with pasta which is just wheat starch. Like bread or Yorkshire pudding, it’s ‘padding’ with only a bit of protein, a few minerals, hardly any vitamins and no good fat. It will cause weight gain without boosting your health.
I’m quarter Italian and enjoy pasta as much as the next person but I eat no more than a handful in a meal. After all, in Italy pasta is not a main dish, it’s a starter. And what is this bizarre Cumbrian custom of serving lasagne with chips? That’s adding padding to more padding. Instead, have it with a large, mixed salad, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The goodness has diminished drastically in our modern diet. Super foods can help to fill the gap and give you a boost but a few gogi berries won’t make up for a poor diet. Build a solid foundation and always aim to eat well.
Top tip – Use super foods to enhance a good diet.
If you’re at one of our many country shows this year, you’ll find all sorts of treats for sale. Look out for freshly made frozen yoghurt by Sheila of Sheila’s Fruity Cumbrian Fro-yo.
Here are some dates:
Cockermouth Georgian Fair 2nd May
Langwathby May Day – 16th May
Ulverston Food Festival – 23rd and 24th May
Holker Hall Garden Festival – 29th -31st May
Cumberland Show – 6th June
Whitehaven Air Show – 19th and 20th June
Skelton Show 4th July
Penrith on a Plate 18th July
Penrith Show – 25th July
Ulverston Show – 29th July
Ambleside Sports – 30th July
Cockermouth Show – 1st Aug
Hawkshead Show – 18th Aug
Grasmere Sports – 30th Aug
Hesket-New-Market Show – 5th Sept
Westmorland Show – 10th Sept
Holker Chilli Fest – 12th and 13th Sept
Acorn Bank, Apple Day – 11th Oct
Sheila has been working on some new flavours over winter and along with all the
old favourites: plum and damson, raspberry, blackcurrant, strawberry,
blackberry and apple etc she now has gooseberry with elderflower and rhubarb
and ginger. Sounds delicious – I’ll be having one!
Jamie Oliver has started a petition for food education to be complusory, not just here in the UK – but world-wide.
The current trend of increasing weight and declining health is largely down to people eating processed food instead of cooking from scratch. People aren’t going to want to prepare real, fresh food if they don’t know how. We have a whole generation now that doesn’t know how to cook so they can’t teach their kids even if they want to. Schools can help – by teaching every child how to grow and cook real food.
I’ve signed Jamie’s petition.
I was heartbroken to watch a four year old girl having 8 rotten teeth surgically removed on Channel 4’s Junk Food Kids – Who’s to Blame? Also featured were a boy with fatty liver disease and an obese 13y old girl whose parents wanted her to have gastric band surgery in preference to improving the family’s diet. For all of these, typical fare at home was ready meals, takeaways, jacket potatoes with baked beans, piles of pasta, pizza, crisps, chocolate and sweet drinks – all guaranteed to pile weight on and rot teeth. The social media backlash accused parents of child abuse for letting their kids eat so badly but the parents were at their wits end. To them processed, sugary diets were normal and they didn’t know what to do to make them better.
Nutrition experts have campaigned many times for governmental control on sugar use by food and drink manufacturers. The government declined arguing that consumers can choose. Can they really? Manufacturers spend huge sums on advertising – and it works. Junk food is cheap, easy, quick and everyone eats it don’t they? Parents are left with a battle on their hands, parental discipline isn’t fashionable and a third of our children are overweight, many with bad teeth, both of which are entirely preventable.
What can we do? It seems the government isn’t going to help us and the manufacturers won’t so we need to support each other in raising awareness so that drinking water and eating real food become normal again. A dentist near where I live has created a Sugar Shock poster showing the amount of sugar in different drinks. It’s brilliant! I had no idea that flavoured milk is worst of all. A local cafe has a lovely Michael Pollen quote on their wall ‘don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food’. What can you do to help spread the message?
Top tip – for the sake of the children, lets help get each other back into real food
You’re smart and you know what real food is, so stop eating crap.
Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness
This is the distilled wisdom of the Nerd Fitness Diet – blunt, to the point and you can’t fault it! When people see my lunch, they say things like, ‘Oh, that looks healthy’ or ‘That looks good’. You know already what good food is. And you know that if you eat it, it does you good.
How did you get on with your New Year Resolutions? It’s common for people to start January by joining gyms and going on diets only to bail out by the middle of February. Why do we set resolutions? Possibly because we fear deep down that bad eating habits and inactivity are setting us up for a miserable existence of aches, pains, ailments and early death. That’s not a cheery thought so most of the time we sweep it under the carpet. No matter how we feel, we say breezily, ‘Oh I’m fine.’ But something about the arrival of a new year enables us to look at our lives and gives us a desire to make them better.
Change isn’t easy. New Year style change – switching overnight from a life of take-aways slumped in front of the TV to daily running and plates of lettuce leaves, is almost impossible. If we make things too difficult, we set ourselves up for failure before we begin.
The change equation states that to generate enough impetus to start making a change we need three things. 1) dissatisfaction with how things are, 2) a clear vision of the future, 3) some practical first steps. As a coach, I can help you to face up to reality (number 1) and to explore what you want instead (number 2). For the practical steps (number 3), I won’t put you on a diet because diets don’t help you long term and your body needs more than lettuce!
My Eat for a Better Life course includes gradual improvements. Squeeze out bad things by cramming in more good things. Each time you drink some water or have a bit of salad with your lunch, you can feel good about yourself for building better habits.
Top tip – take small steps towards eating well.