My food day.

There is a lot of press around these days about what you should and should not eat. Warnings about the levels of fat, or salt, or sugar or whatever else may have some negative effects; maybe. I will absolutely not argue that a diet of wine, cheese and processed meats is not great for you. What I will argue however is that there are benefits other than the easily measurable physiological ones. The joy of eating a grilled cheese sandwich, or some chocolate for instance; will leave you feeling happy. Something that has a high level of value, for me anyway. That isn’t to say that I don’t think you should try to be healthy with your food, just that there are more things to think about.

I eat a very small amount of red meat during the week in general, in part because of living on my own and the difficulty in getting reasonable portions for one person. But I have no issue in eating red meat, in fact I enjoy it greatly. Every Saturday my parents come around for chilli con carne, which of course contains beef.

Below is an example of a typical day’s food for me.

Breakfast

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on crumpets.

A glass of fruit juice and a cup of coffee.

Lunch

I rarely eat much for lunch when I’m not at work, I’ll usually stick to something quick and simple such as Soup and crusty bread.

Dinner

If I only had a small meal at lunch time then I will have something more substantial for dinner. Some sort of pasta dish is common, often with some variety of fish.

Snacks

I do of course get hungry between meals on occasion, and although I do like things such as chocolate I try to avoid eating them too often.

One of my favourite go to snacks is houmous with either carrot sticks or sugarsnap peas.

This is just an example of what I would eat on any given day. I’m not saying it is the best diet, nor is it something that would work for everybody. It just happens to work for me.

I think the best thing for anyone to do when looking at their diet is to pay attention to what your body is telling you. The recommended diet is designed for the average person, and in my experience the average person doesn’t exist. Eat and drink what you like, in moderation. If you notice yourself putting on some unwanted weight, change things. The same if you find you are not feeling well, or if your physical performance is suffering.

No one knows your body better than you.

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Christmas review and a happy new year!

I hope every one of you had a wonderful Christmas and spent as much time as you could with those that you love.

I had an amazing and relaxed Christmas this year, and received one of the best gifts ever. My older brother asked me to be the best man at his wedding. The question came with the tie that I will have to wear while carrying out my duties. This is now safely stored away in my wardrobe so as not to get damaged before the day.

Christmas day itself was a bit different to most years, this is because this is the first year that I have lived alone. My parents have recently moved into the house my grandfather left to them, so we had Christmas dinner there. I live in the house that I grew up in. This means that I had no decorations at my own house this year; something that I must remedy in 2019. The feeling of Christmas was a little bit missing because of this, right up until the big day at least.

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Having my older brother down for Christmas day was a nice change as well, he lives in the Midlands so I don’t see him that often.

On Boxing day my parents and I went to visit my younger sister in Chepstow, this is something that we all enjoyed; my mum in particular. We see her relatively often as it is only about a 45 minute drive from my house. The removal of the Severn crossing tolls has made this an even easier thing.

A couple of friends came around to mine on the 27th so that we could write some music; this is something I am really hoping to get back into in 2019.

I am about to pop out to see in the new year so I wish you all a happy new year and look forward to joining you in 2019.

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The benefits of water. According to science.

The human body is roughly 60% water. The common recommendation is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This particular figure does not have a great deal of science behind it, staying hydrated is however important.

Here are a selection of evidence-based health benefits of staying hydrated.

Maximum physical performance.

Physical performance can suffer greatly from a lack of hydration.

During intense exercise or while exercising in high heat this is even more the case.

Losing as little as 2% of your body’s water content can have a noticeable effect on you. It is not uncommon for athletes to lose anywhere up to 10% of their water weight through sweating, therefore adequate hydration is vital.

Even though the body as a whole is 60% water, muscle is around 80%, so water intake is far more important when the muscles are being worked hard.

Help with weight loss.

Drinking half a litre of water has been shown to increase metabolism by 24-30% for up to an hour and a half after drinking it.

That means that drinking 2 litres of water a day can up your energy expenditure by almost 100 calories per day.

Drinking water half an hour before a meal has been shown to decrease the the amount of food you eat at meal times by making you feel fuller. In one study, dieters who drank half a litre of water before meals lost an average of 44% more weight over the course of 12 weeks.

For the biggest benefit, water should be drunk cold. This way the body burns more calories to heat the water to body temperature.

Brain function.

Fluid loss of as little as 1.3% has been shown to impair brain function. Especially affected are concentration and mood. Other studies have shown that similar levels of fluid loss have had a detrimental affect on working memory and increased feelings of fatigue and anxiety.

Loss levels this low are to be expected in just day to day life, if putting high heat and exercise into the mix it is clear that improper hydration can have big effects on your health.

Further reading.

Below are some links to some of the studies and evidence mentioned in this post.

NCBI – Hydration and physical performance

NCBI – Water, Hydration and health

NCBI – Dehydration influences mood and cognition

NCBI – water induced thermogenesis

Nutrition.org – Healthy hydration guide

Fall in love with running.

So many people have told me that they hate running. This is something that is completely at odds with my view of the activity. I love running, though this was not always the case. I have always been good at running, but for a long time it felt like a chore. Like something that I knew would benefit me, but that I did not really feel like doing ever.

5 minutes into a run I would find myself looking at my watch, bored, wondering if I could just give up now there and then. The key to falling in love with running is to defeat this boredom factor.

I first found myself enjoying running when I started to properly challenge myself. I don’t mean setting myself overly difficult goals. Starting out with nice achievable yet challenging goals is a great way to add some interest into your running. Setting a time, maybe as little as 10 minutes, and trying to push to run further each time can be a fun little challenge. This sort of running has the added benefit of making improvement easy to follow.

Using achievable goals makes you feel great when you reach them. Setting goals that are too challenging has the opposite effect and is often what puts off new runners. When starting out, establishing a habit is the key thing. Use these small goals to help you make a habit of running, once you have that, committing to your first big milestone is the next step.

Some people also find that running in a group is a great way to add motivation. Group running has many benefits, the other members will help push you towards your goals and it is great from a social standpoint. I have personally always struggled with group running, I have found the differences in pacing to be difficult to get around. Group exercising of other types however, I have found to be very effective, so I feel that as long as the group members have a similar level of ability there is benefit to be had.

So, if you are someone that thinks they hate running, maybe give it another chance. Pop out with a group of people and set yourself an achievable goal and most importantly don’t give up.

Freezing shower – Update

A while ago I posed a question, based on research that I had read, weather there is any benefit with regards to mental heath of turning the shower to cold for a few seconds before getting out.

See the original post here: Freezing shower?

I have now been doing this for a couple of months at the end of every shower that I have. My initial response to doing this was that it was very uncomfortable and a wholly unpleasant experience. This view did not last long. I quickly began to love the initial shock that hits when the water first turns cold. This is such a good way to wake up in the morning, or cool down in the evening or after working out. The physiological benefits are, as far as my experience goes, huge. I have felt so much more awake every day since doing this, mornings have never been my thing but I am growing into them. My recovery from intense exercise has been far more effective and the instance of niggling injury has been far lower. I feel like I have been able to push myself harder, both in working out and in the workplace.

Going back to my initial question however; does this benefit your mental health, I am struggling to answer this. It could be the case that an improvement in my metal state has lead to these physiological benefits, in effect a psychosomatic benefit. It could also be the case that the physical improvements have lead to psychological benefits. It could even be that some other change that I have made has made all of the difference and that this exercise is actually pointless. Whatever the true cause of my improved mental and physical state, I cannot deny that the timing has coincided with me trying this.

I can honestly say that this is something that I will be continuing.


 

The information discussed in this post is based entirely on my own experience. I would always recommend anyone suffering from a mental health condition should seek the advice of a trained professional.