As I mentioned on Tuesday, I recently spent 12 days doing the Reset Programme where I gave up wheat, alcohol, dairy, sugar and caffeine. It was difficult, but I was prepared and organised and it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it would be. But completely changing my diet – even for such a short time – made me realise how much I would normally eat. I noticed all the times I would have eaten, when I would have snacked, finished off the kids food, grazed when I wasn’t hungry and eaten food which wasn’t good for me or when I wasn’t hungry. I concluded that a lot of my eating was habitual, it was lazy and not particularly mindful.
I love food, and I think about it a lot, so I do often enjoy and savour it while I’m eating. But during the Reset programme I noticed a lot of times when I was eating fast and not savouring my meal. It was often mechanical (I need to eat this food) rather than a pleasure sensation. Now I’m not saying that our every meal should become an exercise in pleasure sensation through the worship of food, but I think a few changes could be made. I found that if I ate smaller mouthfuls I could taste it more. I don’t really know why but maybe if I was concentrating enough to take smaller mouthfuls I was probably concentrating on savouring it too. Whatever it was, I found I enjoyed my food more this way.
I also became more mindful about what I really wanted to eat. Usually there is some point in the day when I eat without thinking. During Reset I was able to take a step back and think about whether I was really hungry or just worried I might be hungry soon – an anxiety that I’m afflicted with often. And also I was able look at food that I would unthinkingly eat (like a cold bowl of pasta that my kids had left) and say to myself that actually, that’s not very nice and I don’t want to eat it.
Wow, don’t I sound like a saint! I’m not of course, and I know myself enough to be pretty sure that when I come back from holiday in a few weeks these new ‘clean’ mindful habits will be consigned to the past. But at least I know that I can make changes in my eating habits, and I have faith that I can pick it all up again the next time I do Reset.
For my 12 day health and fitness plan I went along to a local ‘bootcamp’ run by fitness trainer Koen Bouckaert, in Cowfold, West Sussex. I’d been a few times before but obviously had not been committed enough to keep going on a regular basis. Now that I wanted to exercise 3 times a week his class was perfect for me. It’s on a Monday and Friday morning at 9.15 which is exactly the time I finish the school and nursery run.
The class is very relaxed, mostly mums, but not all, and you can turn up and pay on the day or book a block of sessions 3 or 4 weeks in advance. I recommend this because when it’s dull and raining, there is more chance you’ll turn up if you’ve already paid. And strangely, exercising in the park in the rain is energising, inspiring and more enjoyable than I’d ever have thought!
The sessions are like circuit training except they are not in a stuffy, soulless hall but with nature and wildlife all around. It’s amazing how uplifting exercising outside can be. Never will I go back to the gym. I have realised that I like this way of training. I like the short sharp bursts of effort, the mixing up of different types of exercises, running the short distances in between each set of exercises to keep your heartbeat up. It means I don’t get bored. It works, it feels good, nature is recharging me and it’s all very friendly. Koen works you without you realising he is. He’s not the bark out the command kind of instructor which is great because I don’t think I’d like that. He pushes and encourages you, but you can go at your own pace.
I’ve only been doing this for two weeks and already I feel fitter, my stomach muscles are more defined and perhaps even more surprising I look forward to going. I am definitely going to keep attending, even if some weeks I can only go once. With my Zumba class too, it’s all the exercise I need at the moment.
My cousin Tom Marien runs a training and fitness company in London called One Element. He has designed a 12 day Reset programme which helps you kickstart better exercise and eating habits, lose weight and become fitter.
Last year my husband and I did Reset, and I must admit I failed abysmally. My heart just wasn’t in it. I did change what I ate, but I bent the rules and didn’t do the exercise bits and I cursed my cousin everyday for making me do it. (Of course he didn’t make me do it, he’s a very nice man and it was my choice.) My husband stuck to it and lost 5kg in 12 days. I think I lost 1lb, which doesn’t count because I could have lost that overnight.
Anyway, knowing that the problem was with my attitude rather than with Reset, we started the programme again two weeks ago and this time my committment was completely different. I don’t know why. Perhaps I knew what was involved, perhaps I was just ready to make the changes this time, perhaps I had grown up a little. Either way, I stuck to the diet completely. Actually it’s not really a diet, you have to cut out certain foods and stick to some basic rules. I still didn’t make time for all the exercises but I did more than I normally would have so I’m going to focus on the positives. At least I have something to aim for next time!
The main rules of the programme (as I followed them – I’d lost my book so I was doing it from memory) are:
- no alcohol
- no sugar
- no wheat
- no dairy
- daily exercises
- four cardiovascular exercise sessions per week.
This time I lost 5 lbs and my husband lost 6lbs, and I have carried some of the habits on since stopping the programme at the weekend. I’m not drinking in the week, I’m not snacking so much, I’ve cut down hugely on the wheat , sugar and dairy I’ve eaten too. I’m sure this won’t last because we’re going on holiday in 9 days but I do feel I will start the holiday with more restraint than I normally do. And I can look forward to doing Reset in another couple of months to help keep me on track.
Luckily for those of you who want to give this a try, Tom has just relaunched the Reset programme this week and has made it available for free as a pdf download on his website. He recommends doing Reset 4 times a year, and One Element sets Reset dates 6 times a year where you sign up and are supported by daily emails. If you live in London you can attend their Training in the Park sessions too.
Have a go, I recommend it. And don’t worry if you don’t stick to it completely first time round. Who wants to be perfect anyway? Not me.
A couple of weeks ago – after the Easter choc-fest – my husband and I started a healthy eating and fitness drive. We’d both picked up some bad snacking habits, were too used to big portions at our evening meal and not doing much exercise. We’re both busy – he works long hours in London, while I work long hours juggling house, family and my own work. Healthy eating and exercise keep getting pushed down the priority list, so now, we decided, was the time to focus on them for a few weeks to kickstart a healthier lifestyle and to establish some better eating and fitness habits.
In 12 days I lost 5lbs and my husband lost…well we don’t know yet because the scales ran out of battery. He has lost some, and knowing him (he’s strict with what he eats when he’s decided to) he’ll lose more than me. So what did we do and how did we do it? Every day this week I will discuss one of the tactics we used to change the way we eat and get fit.
First though, why are we doing it? Because like everyone we know the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise but don’t practice what we believe. We wanted to start living with more integrity as well as more energy and vitality and less toxins and weight. But also, exercise is often cited by positive psychologists as one of the key daily habits that happy people commit to. And who doesn’t want to be happy?
So for us, making exercise a priority and a regular habit is what we were aiming for, while also being more mindful about what we put into our mouths. We had got used to not doing it, and wanted to get used to doing it.