How to Drop 30 Kilos in 6 Months and Love Every Minute (Part 2)
How to drop 30 kilos in 6 months and love every minute
Part 2 - Mission Planning
I woke still remembering the super feed I’d had at Le Skipper, a fillet steak with crushed pea purée and dauphinoise potatoes that would serve as my fulcrum, I was still uplifted. I felt like I imagined I'd feel when I was down to my target twelve and a half stone again. It was wonderful. I'd hopped out of bed with a spring all since forgotten.
The morning after a revelation is a test of human willpower. If you fold at such an early point, there is literally no hope for you. If the stakes are this important and you fold, you, my son, are an idiot. As one lady said to me more than once, “It’s not a rehearsal, boy.”
I wasn't sure if I was still an idiot or not yet as all manners of sweet and savory things greeted me in the breakfast room at the hotel. Bacon, eggs croissants, jam, cheeses and hams, but hang on, my eyes focused on something else, like they were being moved by another force. The fruit section. Normally I'd be starting a three-course mini-marathon under the guise of getting the day some energy.
Today though, this first fine sunny morning of my revelation, I took a little bowl and filled it to the top with melon and orange, mango, cherries and all colour of things and I sat down with orange juice the machine had just created for me and I looked over at big people and little people alike and knew I was on a different level to them, just for now, in the light still shining on me.
Let me tell you, ladies and gents, your willpower gets a serious shot in the arm. I had more research to do about the exact food groups I'd need but I knew this was right.
Then the first glimmers of insubordination popped up briefly and reminded me that I had a fallback and that fallback was called lunch and every day I had a fallback plan to the next meal. Maybe fruit wasn't enough, surely a bit of bacon and cheese?
No, fuck off, I said, turning a head or two in the dining room. I gestured an apology and then I smiled at the last cherry in my bowl.
I munched that little cherry up. There would be no bacon or cheese or whatnot. Those dark little glimmers were crushed and squished and left pleading as I got up and left the room.
I was smiling as I approached Bordeaux. Today's destination was about six hours over the Pyrenees to Pamplona in northern Spain. This is where they do the bull run every July. Basque Country, and the Bordeaux signs told me I was about a third of the way there.
The night before had included two bottles of Fitou. Le Skipper was quiet and the staff had time to chat. After dinner, I was pretty much the only punter there so they wrapped it up and took me to Bar Kokot and their Austrian Rum. So, there hadn’t been time to do the work I needed but what a fine farewell to my old life it had been.
Yet another sign flashed my licence plate and said I was going too fast and I anticipated a box full of citations waiting for me whenever I got back to London.
But I didn't care. This mission was real. I couldn't wait to get to Pamplona and get the laptop out, make my plan. A few hours later I was in my room at the Pamplona Catedral Hotel doing just that.
I already knew how much weight to lose. Thirty kilos, almost 5 stone. One of the first results, I found out about the Okinawa diet. Okinawa, a little island off the south of Japan has the longest living humans on the planet.
Taxi drivers are ninety years old and still dance. People eat what grows near them and that’s it. One photo I saw was of this elaborate table. You could sit about ten people round it. The table was a tea making machine.
A few strips of bamboo were hooked up to an inlet and brought mountain spring water into the table. Most of the water would trickle out and continue down the mountain, unsure of why it had been put through the bother, but when you turned a little handle, the water would be diverted around a spaghetti of pipes and on towards the bowels of the table.
It would slip and slide through channels lined with fresh tea leaves and elements gradually heating it up as it traveled. Turn one of the eight little taps under the table edge and you have a steaming cup of the freshest tea possible.
So, these fine people from Okinawa told me how you could eat perfectly well and get everything a body needs. And you didn't need meat or anything processed to do it. My first culinary casualties. I also learned that my whole eating schedule had been wrong all my life. The best way to do it is to eat small but eat often.
I'd been so proud of myself some days when I was too busy to eat anything and had six tons of dinner at about 9pm.
Wrong. The body is a sensitive little baby. If it doesn't get fed often enough it throws its toys out the pram and truly believes it’s starving. It then converts what you do eat into fat, sensible storage for a rainy day when maybe you do starve. How a brain can fail to tell a body that it’s ok, no-one's going to save is beyond me but apparently it does.
So, by the time I'd showered and got ready to see what this former bastion of the Roman empire had going for it, I had successfully mapped out my new diet. And it was all the stuff I like to eat anyway.
I'd start with some fruit, in deference to the first successful morning. Then give it a couple of hours and a little low fat cottage cheese on a wholewheat crispbread, and a few crushed walnuts sprinkled on it.
Before what was probably the main mini-meal of the day, about two o'clock, exercise. Natalie’s brother had told me the body prefers to exercise then eat as it’s still burning away rather than the other way round.
Maybe A little tuna steak with bok choy, a bit of spinach, greek yogurt and some kidney beans or chickpeas. Amazing things chickpeas, fibre and protein all in one little pill. It wasn't a problem designing these mini-meals, the problem was there was too much choice.
If you're going to have pasta, have wholewheat pasta. If you're going to have rice, have wild rice or brown rice and not too much of either. Your 5 or 7 a day is so easy to achieve and better.
Let your milk be zero fat milk, let your greens be asparagus, broccoli, kale, spinach, artichoke, sprouts and bok choy. Eat nuts, almonds, walnuts. Eat pulses. Kidney beans, chickpeas. Prefer fruits of the forest over others, raspberries, blackberries and the like. Loads of antioxidants.
And let your booze be anything but beer, predominantly white wine and a glass of red a day comes straight from the doc.
All the stuff I already knew. Lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, celery, onion, garlic. Jesus, I could do a meal planner for a month without getting bored.
This was going to be tasty. The sky was the limit. Instant reward for doing the right thing. I could still love my food but carry that aloof grin that comes with a man shedding timber and having fun doing it.
I'd know exactly how many calories came with each mini-meal and how much exercise to do to burn them off.
The laptop was closed up and my phone map and I set off to explore Pamplona. The city is actually called Iruna in native Basque language and there was an ever-present but subtle show of the independence from Spain the Basque people had been after for a long time.
Basque flags were draped over balconies and stuck on cars but a local told me, do not take a flag out in public or you’d get carted off. One local comedian had added a bit of graffiti to a low wall, poorly translated as “Anything but a free state is just a load of bulls.”
Back in the hotel room, I tackled the exercise aspects. Swimming would always figure, especially living in Spain, but what else? Running can be high impact, shin splints and the like. It would be rowing. It’s got everything, loads of muscles getting tickled gently, great cardio and hang on here we go, I can get a machine for the house for a couple of hundred euros. I'd join a kayak club or some such thing but winter was on its way and even the Spanish winter doesn't lend itself to being in the sea.
And that was it, a meal for all moods and occasions and an all year round exercise regime. When it was too cold to swim, double up on the rowing.
I also learned how little anyone should need a gym (apart from my little rowing machine of course). We really do have pretty much everything we need around the house.
First of all, a running machine? What? Just run around the block. If you want to run uphill, run uphill.
Muscle tone is also important. If you’re shedding tonnage, you want what's left nice and tight.
Push-ups, pull-ups, weights, dips, pec toning, ab toning and your core. You can pull up on anything, couple of chairs, backs together, get your balance and your away. Climb something.
I'd start slow. An hour on the rowing machine, weights and core stuff and finally fifteen minutes of laps in the pool.
It was all mapped out.
That evening, I sat down in a little restaurant I’d spied earlier, down some steps to a little square, live jazz music in the middle. The menu didn’t have much of the stuff I needed and I’d definitely give the “grosse crevette” and “assaulted pasta” a swerve.
I wondered if this would be a problem going forward I remembered many menus and I wasn’t sure many of them were fit for my new purpose. But then I saw the celery and walnut salad. Fine, little glass of chablis to go along and my mission was still on track.
© 2020 Dominic Schunker