I am doing the calendar month of November so we started on a Wednesday. I now have Friday, Saturday & Sunday in the bag. The second weekend. And I can contrast this against the first weekend only a few days in. When I pretty much felt like an addict. Which is either scary or silly – I am not really sure.
The Second Weekend
Weekends are the hardest. Not at work. At home. More spare time. Habitually when I would drink a bit more. Yada yada yada. Last weekend was very tough. This one… not so much.
Now, this is not to say that I did not want or crave a drink. But those cravings were not so strong. Also, they went away after a short period of time and I just kept busy.
I got more done around the house. I spent better time with the kids. Got back into some old hobbies, mainly playing video games.
I also did not work over the weekend. I actually relaxed. No checking emails. Nothing. My stress levels were lower. Did some work on the house but that is quite satisfying after spending my weeks attached to a computer.
I have also found I can read again. Really love reading. But have been having trouble concentrating and getting into a book. But… it seems that as my brain is calming down again. I am enjoying reading again.
I also seem to have had a cold for ages and that seems to have cleared up as well. Whether I was just under the weather or it was just a reaction to the booze – hard to say but again I feel
So, not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s not easy. There are times that I have a bit of a craving. But they are not so bad, they go quicker, and I am having more fun overall for not indulging them.
I felt clearer headed and feel I had a better weekend without booze than I would have had with it. This is important. It’s all too easy to focus on what you are losing but really, the wins here are what I am gaining. And I enter this week a lot more positive about this change and with some big ideas for how I will be looking to change my drinking habits after this 30 days is done.
Okay. One-third of the way in. That’s progress. Granted, one slip up. But, back on the horse now. The weekend approaches, which of course is the real challenge but… determined to get to the end of the month and hoping it gets easier.
I would like to take this through December as well all the way to Christmas but to be honest, it’s pretty fucking tough at the moment. A couple of really tough weeks at work. I have not been sleeping great and that is one of the things that I usually notice when I stop drinking during the week.
But, I am not out the woods yet and everything I have read indicates the magic happens after about 90 days. Which seems like a long time to commit to at the moment. So, 30 days done a day at a time is the mantra at the moment. And then review at the end of November and see how I feel.
There is this thinking that habits can be made or broken in three weeks. But from what I have read that only relates to enjoyable or easy things. So, in three weeks you can create a habit to go on Facebook first thing in the morning or have a few beers after work. But, when you have to break a habit that is a really well-worn groove over 20 years or so, three weeks will not cut it.
Hopefully, it gets easier after three weeks. And then hopefully, when I review at the end of November, I will be able to refer back to these posts, remember how I felt and think that I don’t want to go back there – I would rather move forward.
I read an interesting post by a health and fitness dude called Aadam on how it’s all too easy to make promises for our future self to live up to. You have to deal with things in the here and now and it’s best to not make huge promises you can’t live up to and then send yourself into a failure spiral.
You have no empathy for your future self, so it’s easy to heap things up without realising your future self is going to have all kinds of shit to deal with as well.
My wife put it well. She tends to do that. And I tend not to listen. But, a good way to look at this when making promises for your future self is “would I do that tonight? or tomorrow night?”. If the answer is no then you likely won’t want to do it then either.
Ultimately, you just have to deal with what you can in the moment. And that’s what I am going to do here. Get through this weekend and stop piling up this responsibility on my future self for now. Will review again on Monday hopefully after a 100% dry weekend!
Days 2 and 3 were tough. No doubt. This was a Thursday and Friday night. Prime drinking territory. Not going crazy. But I never do. But certainly, a few ciders or glasses of wine (or both) to unwind from the stresses of the week is usually in order.
And this was a really stressful week in the end. A client website got hacked. We don’t have anything to do with the website, hosting, maintenance or security. But it was our fault. It was something of an irrational witch hunt anyways but… So, I was kind of spun up on Friday night and really struggled without those few glasses of wine to win(e)d down.
I am guessing this is half psychological and half just some form of dependence. Mainly, in the way that I use alcohol to change gears from work mode to chill out at home mode. But, this strategy, whilst it works in the moment, often leaves me wide awake at 3am thinking about the issue, rather than processing it there and then.
So, I toughed it out. I felt a bit like an addict. Which is not cool. But it did make me think of a few interesting scenes from films which helped galvanise me to not give in. We just got busy, went to Ikea, ate out, got out of my normal Friday night environment. Not an ideal Friday, but a good way to help in this first weekend.
So, when you are struggling, just remember, you don’t want to be these guys. And it’s just booze. So get some perspective. So, tough it out and push on. 🙂
I say day 1, but technically, this is the morning of day 2, where I can at least assess the impact of day 1.
I am a fairly average guy I would guess. 41 years old. Pushing 42. Not an alcoholic. At least I hope not. But I enjoy a drink on the evening to wind down. And running a small business, with the stresses of that I have likely come to rely on my post work drink a little too much to change gears from work to relaxation.
The problem is, whilst it helps in that moment, I am pretty sure it’s not helping overall. Disrupted sleep. Feeling tired all the time. Eating crappy food when drinking. Less likely to exercise the next day. Ultimately sleep, exercise and nutrition are the three pillars of health and drinking, even just a little bit has a negative impact on these.
The offshoot of this for me is being grumpy, anxious, and just not my usual happy, positive self. So, it’s time to make a change. I have threatened to do a month, three months or even a year of the drink before to reassess.
This time I am going for a month and will review my feelings then. I would like to take longer but I will review at the end of November and maybe push it through till Xmas.
Certainly, I would like to embed some change to my habits as holidays are when it is all too easy to drink every day, volume goes up a bit and these negative side effects accumulate. This has the knock-on effect that I can end up feeling worse at the end of a holiday than the beginning – and that’s not ideal.
So, here we go. One month for sure. Maybe the best part of two taking me to Xmas. And who knows what else beyond that. I am just going to record my naked thoughts here and see what happens.
My main goal is to stop drinking for a month and review how I feel about it at the end of the month. My general thinking is to push it too Xmas and then really moderate over the holiday. Potentially then do three months in the new year with a thought to potentially take that to 12 months.
Secondary goals are all over the place:
Clean up my diet
Lose some weight
Get in better shape (fitter, stronger, more endurance)
Write my marketing book
Write on this blog every day
Be a happier husband and parent
However, a friend clued me to some research that states that if you make 1 change you have an 85% chance of sticking to it. If you make 2 changes then your success rate drops to 35% and any further changes and you have pretty much no chance.
So… my goal is just to stop drinking. Then, if other positive things grow out of that then great. But I won’t give myself a hard time if they don’t.
Day 1 – thoughts
So, 1st November out the way. No booze. How do I feel?
Certainly feel sharper and more alert this morning
Definitely slept better
Got up early and exercised this morning
Felt more positive
Less anxiety regarding the day ahead
Early days, but I feel good this morning. Not tired. Not cranky. Not anxious. I won’t reach for the champagne just yet but… oh yeah, I won’t reach for the champagne at all, but it’s a positive start.
In a months time I am going on holiday. There is a pool. I will spend a lot of time in my shorts as the kids love to swim. A month or so after the xmas festivities I am not exactly shredded!
I have about 30 days to combat this and get a little more pool ready so have put together a simple strategy to shed some of that unwanted timber. I am a big fan of simple so complex strategies will not work for me. I can’t weigh and measure etc (nor would I want to).
This strategy builds on my Paleo inspired diet that cuts out processed carbs and sugars whilst being highly nutrient dense so I have a good base. However this should work for anyone but diet will undermine
I am also being sensible with booze. I know from historical efforts that no matter what I do that drinking will undermine it. So, drinking is kept to weekends and only zero sugar, super low calorie drinks – basically vodka, lime juice and soda. Refreshing and does not have that sugar hit that pushes up calories but also has you reaching for another (and another (and another)).
Three Steps to Easy Fat Loss
I don’t want to over-complicate this so the basics are as follows
300 Kettlebell swings per day
Cold Shower in the morning
Reduce my eating window to 8 hours
Okay, that’s the basics for you TL/DR folks but those of you that want more information dive in below.
300 Kettlebell Swings Per day
The idea here is that this burns about 1000 calories per day but also builds strength, endurance and muscle – all good things for someone trying to look good with their top off.
There is a program out there that focuses on just this one change and folks get great results. Improves strength, lose weight, improve cardio – it’s a big win and very doable. I tend to think to get the best from any exercise or weight loss regime you have to further stack the deck in your favour thought with diet leading that charge.
It took me a while to get up to 300 but I know just tackle this in 10 sets of 30 swings. When I am tired I will start with a 10, then a 20 and then a 30 to get me going.
I usually aim to get around 90 to 120 done before I leave the house in the morning. The rest are just spread throughout the day. I am lucky here that I have a kettlebell at work that I can swing but you can aim to do five sets in the morning and five in the evening. It’s doable. It will take a bit of time and mental toughness but hey, that’s all good stuff.
I like to get a bunch done in the morning and then spread them out through the day. I have a sedentary job so I look at this as reestablishing a baseline level of activity throughout the day and not as my exercise regime. I also like to keep them going in sets spread over the day to keep my metabolism ticking over – rather than just letting my body adapt to sitting.
Men tend to use a 16kg bell for starters and the ladies can start at 12kg. I am a week or so in and looking at moving to my 24kg bell by the end of this week so results come pretty quick.
A tip is to keep your kettlebell in the most high traffic area of your house – typically the kitchen. For me where I cook, have coffee and just hang the kitchen is perfect.
Best advice I can give here is get your technique down (it’s a hinge and not a squat). Pavel is the KB master but there are loads of good videos out there so get a watching.
Cold shower in the morning
After I have had my coffee and done 90-120 swings I have a shower before I set off for work. I tend to have a standard warm shower and then go cold for two minutes.
There are many benefits to cold showers but the one we care about here is for fat loss. So, getting your metabolic engine running with some swings and then jumping in the shower and going cold for two mins all helps to get things going in the right direction.
Reduced Eating Window (Intermittent Fasting)
The 8/16 split is a common intermittent fasting technique made popular by Martin Berkhan at Leangains.com. The general idea is you reduce your eating window to eight hours so you are fasted for 18 hours rather than the typical 10 hours or so between your evening meal and breakfast.
You can split this however works best but most folks find skipping breakfast is easiest. Certainly, in the context of stoking the metabolic furnace with swings and a cold shower in the morning you then have a good fat loss window till your first meal at 1 pm.
I am swinging at about 6 am whilst hanging out and drinking coffee at home and tend to have my cold shower at about 6:30 am and then jump in the car to head to work about 6:45 am. I am then fasted till 1 pm so my body has plenty of time to tap into those fleshy energy reserves.
30 days & 9000 swings
So, I head off on this short holiday on the 17th Feb. I am a week or so in. I will report back on how this hack has helped and whether I managed to stay sensible enough with my diet (read as drinking) to get the results I am hoping for.
Hit me up in the comments if you are willing to give this a go. 🙂
Paleo style eating asks you to lose some quite specific foods: grains, dairy, legumes – all gone. This in turn then removes some of the foods that you have likely enjoyed throughout your life such as bread and cheese.
You also lose a lot of foods that contained said ingredients. Fortunately though, the Paleo massive are pretty good at creating versions of common foods using more nutritious, Paleo friendly ingredients.
One food though that we really seemed to struggle to replicate though was Yorkshire Puddings. Whether this is due to the largely US following of the Paleo diet not quite getting what a good yorkie should be like or something else entirely matters not – most of the recipes out there simply did not work for me.
So, I am happy to say, that after much struggle and experimentation I seem to have come the closest yet. These will be soft and stodgy or more crispy if that’s how you like them. They taste good, have the right consistency and are just generally a joy to have on your plate with any Sunday lunch.
Also with eggs & coconut milk at the centre of the recipe they will deliver a good whack of fat and protein along with some healthy fats if you use coconut oil, butter or grass fed beef fat.
Paleo Yorkshire Puddings
3 x eggs
1 x cup of coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 x cup of Arrowroot flour (also called arrowroot starch)
1 x tablespoon of beef fat / coconut oil / butter
fat for each tray (beef fat / coconut oil / butter)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
pepper (optional – to taste)
This recipe works for small individual Yorkshire puddings or larger single ones (toad in the hole anyone?). Larger ones tend to take a touch longer so just keep an eye on them as times can vary a couple of minutes each way depending on the oven.
You will want a good tablespoon of fat in the tray for a single large one and a level teaspoon in each tray for smaller ones.
Heat oven to 200 C / 400 F
Add fat to the tray and give it 5 minutes in the oven to get good and hot
Mix the dry ingredients: arrowroot, baking powder, salt & pepper
Mix the wet ingredients: eggs, coconut milk & fat (melt this first)
Combine the wet and dry ingredients
Add the mix to the tray
This can vary a little but as a general rule of thumb:
Cook for 20 minutes for small ones
25 for medium sized
30 mins for a large single one
There you go. Proper Yorkshire puddings back on the menu for Paleo, Primal, dairy free & grain free diets. Let me know how you get on in the comments. 🙂
Following a Paleo style diet should not have to mean that you never have any treats – likewise, it should not mean you only eat Paleo style treats. A big part of this whole game is reducing processed foods, carbs and sugars. And, hopefully replacing all these modern nasties with real, unprocessed, seasonal food.
However, there are times when you will want something a bit sweet – whether that is a Sunday or as a bit of a carb hit after exercise I will leave that to you to sensibly include such things. Personally, I have found the ‘I have to earn my treat’ mentality a good one in that it means I keep more sugary foods in the post workout window where those carbs will be sucked up by my muscles and help me recover.
Carrot cake pretty much seems like some good middle ground here. We have some paleo flour alternatives with almond flour and desiccated coconut. These have no gluten, more protein, less carbs and far improved nutrient profiles to standard flours. Additionally half of the mixture is carrots – win win. We also have healthy fats from the coconut oil and eggs. It’s still a treat but it is certainly a better one than a Starbucks Muffin!
Paleo Carrot Cake Muffins
Right then, this takes about 15 mins to prepare and 35 mins to cook so it’s pretty simple. Hardest bit is grating the carrots but I use a magimix. You will want to mix the dry ingredients and wed ingredients together separately and then combine it all together to ensure the fat gets evenly distributed.
I use the american cup measurements as it just makes life nice and easy – you can grab a cheap set of these here or just eye it up with a small teacup.
2 x cups of almond flour
1 x cup of desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
3 x cups of finely grated carrot
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of honey *
1/2 cup of coconut oil
5 x good eggs
* you can use less honey – all depends on how sweet your tooth is!
Note: grate the carrot finely and don’t be tempted to use more than 3 cups or it does not quite work as well.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3, 170 Celsius (UK), 325 Fahrenheit (US)
Mix dry ingredients together
Mix wet ingredients together
Combine the wet and dry ingredients
Add the ingredients to a muffin tray
Stick them in the oven for approx 30 to 35 mins depending on size of muffins
That’s pretty much it. Let them cool and they are great on their own, with a frosting of some kind for or even cut up and buttered with a good grass fed butter like Kerrygold. Just try not to eat the whole tray in one go and if you can keep them as a post exercise treat that you have to earn then all the better!