24 December 2011

Yummy things

Who would have thought being a veggie would make you want to cook? Veggie’s eat a bland diet full of pasta, cheese and lentils dont they?….NOT SO!
The free life nutrition plan ive been following for the last couple of years has taken its next turn…these days its no meat, fish nor wheat and the only dairy involved is that from a bottle of milk with a green top (raw milk)
Mainly still issues around morality for me on the meat and dairy thing, but the wheat thing has stemmed from an interest in the paleolithic eating movement thats growing in popularity of late…more on all that in another post.
With such constraints on what Im willing to ingest it became immediatley apparent that my familiar methods of procuring food were not going to be as possible and I have found myself having to organise my time a little more efficiently if it was going to work.
Lunches out of Tesco’s is not really an option unless you go for a bean salad…they’ve got some nice one’s in take out boxes but its soooo boring after a couple of days. I have made some corkers though and i thought id share a couple of my favourites.
I enjoy flavourful, heavily spiced foods. I also cannot cook following recepies so the following may turn out slightly differntly from mine if followed as the amounts are very approximate:

Spiced parsnip nut burgers:
1xsweet potato
1xfresh chilli
1xstick lemon grass
mixed spice (smallish teaspoon)
1xbunch corriander
4xcloves garlic
2xred onions
2xlarge bags unsalted mixed nuts
salt & pepper

Fry onions. Add crushed garlic, chilli, lemon grass and let it all soften. Peel and dice potato and parsnip and add with a small amount of water. Cover and let roots soften and water evaporate entirely. Crush the nuts in carrier bags with a hammer and add with the mixed spice, salt and pepper. Let it all heat through before you add the corriander. Take off heat and whizz it up with a hand blender then make the mush into burger shapes and place on a baking tray. Makes about 6 fat burgers.

Root vegetable and olive mash:
3xred onions
2xsweet potatos
1xsmall turnip
1xtub black pitted olives
5xsundried tomatos in olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1cm cubed root ginger
1xstick lemon grass
1xfresh chilli
mixed herbs
1xbunch corriander
1xbunch parsley
sprinkle of cinnamon
small teaspoon nutmeg
salt & pepper

Fry onions in oil with garlic, lemon grass, chilli and ginger. Add diced potatoes, parsnips, carrots and turnip. Add water and cover until veg are soft and water has evaporated. Add sundried tomatoes, mixed herbs, cinnamon, nutmeg and olives. Heat for a while before finishing with all the chopped herbs, salt and pepper. When its all a mush blend it with a hand blender, if you want a soup instead of a tapenade texture then add water. Makes enough for 10

24 December 2011

Brightonfit Summer Olympics 2010

On the 3rd July 2010 13 brave olympiads turned up with about 100 of their friends and families for support (A rather amazing number of whom had bad legs, backs and necks thus preventing entry!)
There were 8 events spread between the outside track and the two indoor arenas.
4 of the events were purely physical ranging from climbing the garage wall to dragging a punchbag with a rider on it down the garden.
1 was logistical.
1 was a coordination test.
1 was a test of visual dexterity
and 1 was a mental agility test.
The diversity of olympiads was beautiful; a 6ft5″ 55yr old gardner, an english student, a gym bunny, and a couple of chancers….
The crab race was the first event. It brought all competitors together at the start of the games after which they were split into groups. The start was staggered and olympiads were behaving sportingly:

At the first corner, a few olympiads began josteling for position:

And from then on the day brought out the competitive streak in everyone. The drag and ride prooved to be the deciding event for the leg muscles of a few the next day or two. The winner (in an amazing 9 secs) was the half man half machine Gareth Edge:

Caber tossing took place in a shaded corner of the stadium, but the judges were no less vigilant and measured to the millimetre each and every toss that got a white flag:

…And just when everyone was nearly spent….they had to collect in arena 2 for some flexing of a very different sort of muscle in the mental agility test:

Machine man took first but a galent second place was awarded to Chris Angell:

And as the day drew to a close many of the “injured and wounded” raced over to Gareth telling him they were going to de-throne him next year….lets see how their injury rehabiliataion goes first eh?
Well done to all who took part competing, serving food and drink, MC’ing, cooking, judging and playing music to help make the day a really good laugh!

24 December 2011

The way of the Homo sapien

Humankind gradually evolved during the Paleolithic era. Paleolithic hunting and gathering peoples ate primarily meat, fish, shellfish, leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts and insects in varying proportions.
The Paleolithic diet (also known as the paleodiet or the caveman diet) is a modern diet that seeks to eliminate diseases of affluence from contemporary industrial society, by replicating the dietary habits of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers. By this we usually refer to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, because they ate mostly lean meats and plants and frequently engaged in intense physical activity.
So the theory goes that since the homo sapien appeared about 200,000 years ago our metabolic requirements haven’t changed that much despite the obvious transformation in our lifestyles.
Try typing paleolithic diet into a google search and see how popular the movement has become….everyone from dieters and athletes through to the office worker and mum at home are trying this one. Its reaching Atkins proportions!
Personally i love the fact that people have recognised how to improve the foods we have to eat and are moving in the right direction to fix it. What needs to happen now is an equally popular yet much more sustainable safety net diet plan needs to be promoted to catch the people who fall off the paleolithic wagon and provide a stepping stone for those who want to try it. As i see it,the problem is that unlike the first homo sapiens food for us has turned into a pleasure rather than a functionality. Meaning we place emphasis on the way it is prepared, tastes and presented. And lets be honest a huge hunk of meat, with a side serving of grains aint exactly nuvo is it?
So its sustaining the diet which seems to be the problem, mostly the problem with most diets. Id like to see it not being called the paleolithic diet but instead something like “the way of the homo sapien” or how about “nutrition for humans” I think we should be re-educating the kids with this stuff….when the hell is that food pyramid going to go? everyone’s been talking about it for over a decade….but no ones got the gumption to screw the dairy industry and come to mention it the pharmaceutical industry either. Anyway staying on the topic of the day the following is a list of the dos and donts of the way of the homo sapien:

Meats and Eggs
Meats (including seafood) and eggs are perhaps the most important components of the Paleolithic Diet. Ideally, the animals from which the eggs and meat come from are fed a natural (to the animal) organic diet. That is, chickens have access to greens, insects, etc, as well as grain. Cattle eat grass and other pasture greenery. Fish should come from the wild, or at least be fed what wild fish eat.
In any case, meats should be free of breading of any kind.
Loren Cordain (The Paleo Diet) believes we should seek out low-fat meat sources, while others disagree. His reasoning is that today’s meats are much higher in saturated fat so we should seek out low fat meats and then supplement with fats from other sources.

Vegetables are encouraged, although some versions of the diet except green beans and peas as they are legumes. Some versions simply say that if it can’t be eaten raw, don’t eat it (though this doesn’t mean that it must be eaten raw, only that it should be able to be eaten raw). Potatoes and other starchy tubers (e.g. cassava) are not allowed.

Fruits are generally allowed. Audette (NeanderThin) advises that people who need to lose weight should limit consumption of high sugar fruits. He allows juices in limited quantities. Cordain suggests avoiding juices altogether and limiting dried fruits.

Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are generally allowed, though Cordain suggests that those who want to lose weight limit them to four ounces per day. Note that peanuts are legumes and NOT allowed. Audette doesn’t allow cashews since they can’t be eaten raw. Unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk are often used as substitutes for dairy.

Though authors vary on recommended oils, basically the consensus seems to be that the oils from allowed plants are fine. Olive oil, nut oils, and flax seed oil are universally endorsed. Cordain recommends canola oil, but not coconut oil. Fish oil supplements are often recommended.

Cordain is much more lenient about beverages than Audette. With Audette, it’s water and tea, and limited quantities of juice – specifically no coffee and no alcohol. Cordain anything other than water should only be drunk in moderation, with the following recommendations.
•Diet soda (very controversial in the Paleo community from what I can tell)
Also, although in one place Cordain says alcohol “should be limited to an occasional glass of wine, beer, or spirits”, in another place in the book he defines moderation as:
•Wine – 2 4 oz glasses
•Beer – 1 12 oz serving
•Spirits – 4 oz (which is more than is recommended by anyone else, Paleo or not)

24 December 2011

Aqua jogging……?

You’ve picked up an injury, perhaps you’ve run in bad footwear, or on poor ground, maybe you had an accident or are rehabilitating a bad back. Either way all signs are pointing in the direction of low or no impact sporting pursuits to avoid further damage. There are options; pilates, yoga, cycling and rowing to name a few but you want a creative, fun and exhaustive exercise session, something a little different to chop up the monotony of your injury rehabilitation. And the answer is…….run through water, the weightlessness of it takes the load off the joints and makes it low impact. Ideally you should run through water at shoulder height to provide enough support for your entire body, and better still wear a float belt to ensure proper running form. These vests or belts are made of a buoyant foam and come with an adjustable waist. The buoyancy belt should fit snugly so that your head and mouth stays above the water without tilting the head. A belt or vest will also help to support your lower back to provide good posture for running.

Once the vest or belt is secure, head to the deep end of the pool so that you are suspended in the water without your feet touching the bottom of the pool. Look straight forward and not downward. Make sure you do not lean too far forward. Instead, concentrate on having a good posture with only a slight forward lean. Mimic your land running form. Toes should not be pointed, but relaxed and flexible as in running. Focus on keeping a high leg turnover rate by driving the knees as in land running. Aim for a turnover rate of 76 to 80 cycles per minute (cpm). Due to water resistance, this would be equivalent to 88 to 90 cpm on land. Swing your arms as you do on land and keep them close to the body. Keep your hands closed. Do not cup or scull with the hands as this will tend to over exaggerate the upper body movement, avoid any bobbing……have fun!

24 December 2011

Addidas Mi coach review

Not best known as a fan of faff I dubiously set up the Mi Coach on my laptop. Id say my computer knowledge is of an average standard, perhaps my patience is slightly lower than average….however this task in itself presented me a few difficulties. The instructions that come with the product are vauge and assumptive, but with the help of someone a little more patient and a couple of huffs later I managed to acomplish the synchronisation.
My first run with it was what Mi Coach calls a free run where i was able to specify what data from a list of about 8 variables i wanted to collect. The foot pod is based on a stride sensor rather than a GPS and although I didnt have to enter my stride length it seemed to record the overall distance impressively accurately when I checked it on google maps later.
I noticed whilst running was that even though I didnt have a narrative in my headphones I knew my run data was being collected which in itself somehow pushed me on pace wise! It inspired me to program the thing for a coaching run.

Navigating the Mi Coach site was testing and there didnt seem to be a comprehensive nor user friendly help section, what i decided to do was use on of the pre programed race plans to work on my 5k time. The structure of the plan was brilliant I really really liked it.

Mi Coach bases either or in combination (I havent sussed this yet) your heart rate and stride rate on coloured zones. You go from blue to green to yellow to red zones with incresing intensity. Each run has a variable proportion of colour in it depending on your program specifics. You choose the narrative voice from a list of about 10 (too cute for my liking) and plug your MP3 player into it and off you go.

The narrative fades your music to zero when you need to change your pace and commands “speed up to green zone” for example or “slow down to blue zone” and then your music continues. You get a notification at a quater, half, three quaters and 5 mins before the end of your run.
I thouroghly enjoyed running like this, I never once had to look at a watch on my wrist, which I often find distracting as it seems to break my concentration plus I have to make some sort of mental calculation with the data. Having a simple “speed up”, “slow down” or “maintain” command really worked for me.

Synching the unit with the laptop post run couldnt be easier…you just plug it into the USB on your computer and it engages automatically, and directs you to the Mi Coach site where the data you can view is presented either graphically or numerically. Although once again finding what you need on the site is challenging I thought. I managed to stick to the plan for 97% of the time which Mi Coach told me was excellent…I hope i dont let her down next time! 😉

In short its great having someone in your ear pacing you, Mi Coach is light, small, portable and im very much a fan of the coloured zones rather than the raw data being the parameters to work within. Where I would suggest this product could do with improvement is the site navigation and useability

3 August 2011

From a woman’s point of view, Kickboxing interview with British title contender Kirstin Ahmed

Q: You hit and kick people in the head for a living right?

A: I used to get a small payment (larger if I won) whilst I was fighting towards the end of my career. I hung my gloves up in 2004 when I was 30, these days I just teach. It was unfortunately no way near enough to live on and I always maintained a full time job. There isn’t a great deal of money in the sport, particularly for women in the UK. If you can get onto the world stage it is a slightly different story although even then there are still very few full time female athletes.

Q: What kept you going in what must have been a very male dominated sport?

A: Luckily for me I am the kind of person who doesn’t really mind what others think of me or what others are doing around me. Often as the only female training I generated interest, some was useful as it meant I couldn’t shrink into the back of the gym unnoticed and had to perform every single session. The more chauvinistic or amorous attention I generated only fuelled my training to a more intense level to prove what I felt I was worth.

Q: So what does it feel like?

A: Full body mastery is one of the best feelings in the world. Kickboxing is a gruelling sport you have to be ultra fit, walking around in real life with that kind of aerobic capacity and musculature made me feel powerful from the inside out. I felt in control of my life and stable, I felt that knocks in life couldn’t penetrate me, more importantly I felt calm and peaceful….without wanting to sound like a hippy I imagine it to be as close as ill ever experience to a zen like state of mind.

Q: You must have to detest your opponents?

A: It’s easy to see why everyone thinks this to be. Take a look at the sport, the fighters involved and the very nature of the competition. Yes of course it hurts when you get kicked or punched, more so in your mind than through your body’s pain receptors. You are vexed that your opponent managed to outwit you to land a scoring blow on you, or that she found a way through your defence, or caught you out with a trick combination that you fell for. But you absolutely mustn’t lose your cool calm composure or show pain flicker across your face or get mad, you must stay in control keep your poker face and work out a tactical counter to score winning points back. As soon as you get angry and bring hatred amongst other emotion into the ring you will have shown her your hand and lost technical control and it won’t be long before she unpicks you. It is a fundamental winning rule of the fight game.

Q: What happens next?

A: As with any athlete who has given their life over to a passion I found it hard to walk away from the ring. I teach a women’s kickboxing class and run a project called Skilled Company with my friend where we open the boxing gym up for free weekly for 90mins to local youths who have been causing anti social behaviour and are known to the police. It is immensely rewarding on so many levels and I feel blessed to have finally found such a productive and effective release for my passion.

Kirstin Ahmed is a fulltime personal trainer based in the Brighton area. To contact her or find out anything more about women’s boxing and kickboxing go to www.brightonfit.co.uk