I ended my first diary entry mentioning that I was still experiencing discomfort in my left foot from a fall while running in June. Although the pain subsided initially, it had returned over the past two weeks and after consultation with a doctor and an x-ray, it was confirmed I had a hairline stress fracture on my third metatarsal (if you look closely at the lead image you can see the line).
To say that this news has come as a blow would be a big understatement given that it comes less than seven weeks before the Cape Town Marathon, the race for which I’d been giving my all in training this year to try and run a sub-3 hour time over the distance for the first time.
It’s also fair to say this injury setback will now realistically make it very difficult for me to compete on September 18 in South Africa. The theme and direction of this training diary will also have to change tack as a consequence.
I’ve been told that the recovery time for this injury can range from four to six weeks, to even two to three months. Rushing the recovery process will ultimately cause long-term damage and effect my ability to run well in the near future, so that’s something I need to be aware of.
David Beckham famously fractured his second metatarsal in the lead-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup. I’ve been waiting 26 years to have something in common with Becks so I may as well seize my chance now!
Jokes aside, for those of you not too familiar with metatarsals, they are the five long bones in the front of the foot and connect the ankle bones with those of the toes. They are located between the tarsal bones mid-foot and the phalanges of the toes.
The reason why the injury is so painful is that metatarsals act as the main load-bearing part of the foot and the most common causes of injury are over-use or a direct blow to the foot, which is more or less what I suffered having stubbed my foot into the base of a Dubai Marina pavement slab at speed last month.
I’m currently immobilising the injury with an Aircast boot and I’m hopeful this will help me get on track swiftly this week while stocking up on calcium supplements and boosting my diet with fibre.
I’ll be resting as much as possible over the next few weeks, elevating and icing my foot in the process. Having read around the injury, the first and fifth metatarsals are the worst and most common bones to break, mainly because they bare the bulk of the body weight.
So, the fact I have injured my third could yet be a blessing in disguise. Or at least I hope.
Until next week, over and out.
Lifestyle articles aren’t usually my thing but after losing a stone of weight in a week, I felt compelled to put fingers to keyboard. To be honest, I’m still totally gobsmacked.
It all started at the recent European Championship. Travelling around on a roving reporter brief for Sport360, a lot of football was consumed in France. Actually, a lot of everything was consumed in France. There was bread by the bucketload, copious cheese and pains au chocolat aplenty (replaced later in the trip with pain aux amandes, with layers of chocolate and almond paste– heavenly!).
Unsurprisingly, on returning to Dubai a first glance at the scales confirmed a couple of kilograms had been added. Weighing in at 102.2kg, it seemed a good time to dive headfirst into a new diet.
I had never heard of the Sirtfood diet until my wife’s parents embarked on it, achieving great results, earlier this year. Favoured by athletes including David Haye, Ben Ainslie, James Haskell and Anthony Ogogo, Sirtfood has emerged as one of the biggest diet trends of 2016.
Promising that participants will lose 7lbs in 7 days – a great slogan for starters – the holy book of this miracle plan is ‘The Sirtfood Diet’ by Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten, the pair of nutritionists who designed the programme.
“Wow, that’s beyond anything even we’d expect,” Matten said when I tracked him down to tell him about the stone I shed. “We’ve had some close to that but I think the highest I’ve heard is 10/11 lbs so you’re a record breaker. Amazing!
“To be totally honest, we never ever originally set this out to be a weight loss diet. We were interested in how the foods improve overall health, not prompt weight loss. But when we got all the data through from our trial we had that cartoon lightbulb moment as we saw weight loss coupled with muscle actually being gained rather than lost. It all started from there.”
The premise is quite simple: There are certain foods that can trigger proteins in the body called sirtuins, which influence our ability to burn fat and boost metabolism. Sirtuins are also activated by fasting and exercise but ‘Sirtfoods’ have proved remarkably successful at emulating the effectiveness of those more traditional methods of weight loss.
That’s the science, but more importantly, what can you eat? Well, actually some pretty nice stuff. Dark chocolate, red onion, coffee and strawberries are among the 20 recommended Sirtfoods.
There are others, of course. Kale, parsley and celery don’t feature too highly on many lists of favourite foods, but they play a central role in the Sirtfoods diet – a juice combining the three, plus matcha green tea, apple and lemon juice must be taken every day. And yes, it really is as horrible as it sounds.
Still feeling a little pessimistic about these ‘magic’ foods? I hear you. Cynicism comes naturally to me but when my wife brought home a juicer we were past the point of no return. Here’s how the seven days went.
DAY ONE – MORNING WEIGHT: 102.2kg
Three green juices and one meal – Asian King Prawns with noodles
Three green juices, THREE of them! I can see why the fasting proteins stir into life as although this combination is supposed to provide 1,000 calories, I feel sapped of both joules and joy. I find the juice so disgusting that my second glass, at lunchtime, comes straight back up. The promise of prawns at dinner drives me on, though evidently buckwheat noodles are gloopier and less tasty than the real thing. The one saving grace is that we get two squares of dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids) for ‘dessert’; usually I’d find it bitter but instead it’s just a beautiful, beautiful respite.
DAY TWO – MORNING WEIGHT: 100.5kg (-1.7kg)
Three green juices and one meal – Turkey escalope with capers and cauliflower couscous
Buoyed by a strong Day One weight loss, I’m determined to try harder to keep the juice down. In a genuine ‘Eureka!’ moment, my wife suggests using a little less celery – I think I may have some unresolved childhood issues with celery as being in its presence prompts an immediate gag reflex – and also adding a little more lemon juice. “Much nicer, right?” she says. “Sure, it’s bearable rather than abominable,” is my retort, accompanied by a sarcastic thumbs up. We couldn’t find any Turkey so chicken breast is our escalope. I want to love it, but it turns out parsley sits right next to celery when it comes to puerile repugnance. Like being caught in a primary school game of kiss-chase, ‘yuck’ is the overwhelming feeling.
DAY THREE – MORNING WEIGHT: 98.8kg (-1.7kg)
Three green juices and one meal – Chicken breast with tomato salsa and buckwheat
The fatigue associated with fasting is kicking in for both of us now, despite the assertion that participants should not lose their mojo. It’s the end of the working week, which is usually a time to feel energised, but instead I’m feeling negative verging on narcoleptic. The desire to reach for a glass of hops is strong but I resist; the reward is the best meal so far.
The buckwheat is of course bland and dull – it would stand at the side of a dancefloor with a drink in hand watching on, slowly tapping its feet, but never getting involved in the action. Fortunately the spicy salsa, on the other hand, is unshackled by inhibitions and throws shapes to N-Trance’s Set You Free like there’s no tomorrow. Basically it makes the dish more exciting. Enough of the nightclub analogies, I think I’ve entered diet delirium.
DAY FOUR – MORNING WEIGHT: 97.8kg (-1kg)
Two green juices and two meals – Sirt muesli and pan-fried salmon with caramelized chicory
The weight loss is slowing down a bit now but with less reward, the hunger pangs don’t feel as acceptable. However, this morning brings a real treat: Proper breakfast. If I close my eyes hard enough I can imagine the buckwheat puffs are actually sugar puffs – how I long for a warming, sugary hug from the Honey Monster. Overall, the muesli is actually really good – dark chocolate, strawberries and medjool dates conspiring to make something tasty.
Trying to take our mind off the diet, we go to the cinema. Turns out, the silverscreen just isn’t the same when you don’t shove large handfuls of popcorn into your mouth, washed down with a jumbo fizzy drink. The aroma of nachos and cheese is almost unbearable and to make it worse, we watch Me Before You with Emilia Clarke, which is an absolute cryfest. Valuable salty nutrients depart with each tear, though on the plus side, that’s a few extra milligrams lost right? Pan-fried salmon for dinner is okay – nothing to write home about.
DAY FIVE – MORNING WEIGHT: 96.9kg (-0.9kg)
Two green juices and two meals – sirt muesli and miso marinated cod with stir-fried greens
The weekend feels so much longer when you’re dieting – but not in a good way; the minutes eek by agonisingly slowly between juices and meals. Having only two juices a day now is a major relief, though as the week has gone on the green stuff has progressed from ‘eugh’ to acceptable. Today is the first day we ‘cheat’ on the diet. The recommended meal is strawberry buckwheat tabbouleh, which also includes tomatoes and capers. But the prospect is just too depressing so we opt for the muesli again.
A trip to the garden centre is designed to fill a few hours but stupidly we take a break from bonsai trees to visit the cafe for a black coffee – supposedly the day’s ‘treat’. There we find ourselves surrounded by cakes, flans, baked goods of different shapes and sizes. I feel more uncomfortable than a geranium in the Liwa Desert. On the plus side, the miso cod is the best main meal yet, with its welcome saltiness and garlic-heavy greens alongside.
DAY SIX – MORNING WEIGHT: 96.1kg (-0.8kg)
Two green juices and two meals – sirt omelette and baked chicken breast with walnut and parsley pesto
Heartened by the part-kilos continuing to fall despite upping the meals a day to two, I feel positive at the start of the working week. We’ve swapped things around again, deciding to end Week One with a meal more befitting of a celebration. It means Day Six starts with an omelette, which is not bad at all – eating eggs feels like a real novelty and it is also more filling to boot. The evening meal is okay, but let’s just say there’s definitely a reason Italians use basil rather than parsley to make their pesto.
DAY SEVEN – MORNING WEIGHT: 96.1kg
Two green juices and two meals – sirt super salad and chargrilled beef with red wine jus, onion rings & potatoes
The end of Week One is in sight. I have to say that one disappointing aspect of the diet is that my energy levels have remained low and one worrying side effect seems to be that I’ve started getting partial blackouts when I stand up too quickly. I imagine it’s just a blood-sugar thing but still, a little inconvenient. A sirt super salad for lunch isn’t all that super but the evening meal sure is. Actual steak. With onion rings (not battered ones, obviously). It tastes as brilliant as it sounds – a much-deserved, beefy pat on the back for a hard week’s dieting.
DAY EIGHT – MORNING WEIGHT: 95.8kg (-0.3kg)
So, a stone in a week and I can’t quite believe it. Sirtfoods promises seven pounds will be lost but I’ve seen double that drop off. My lovely wife congratulates me but her disappointment is clear. With a total weight loss of 1.7kg, for her the sacrifices – the small fortune spent on kale and all those green juices – just haven’t been worth the reward. She’s married to a magnanimous husband so I won’t big up my own weight loss too much but still, it feels like a dietary mountain has certainly been scaled.
WHAT THE ATHLETES SAY
“I’m healthier, more alert and in top physical condition. Sirtfoods are key for me reaching new peaks in performance to face my upcoming challenges.” Sir Ben Ainslie, four-time Olympic gold medallist
“A revelation to my diet: introducing Sirtfoods has allowed me to attain a body composition and wellbeing previously unimaginable.” David Haye, former World Heavyweight champion boxer.
“It has revolutionised my nutritional approach beyond anything I have experienced in the past. The Sirtfood diet is unrivalled, and was key for getting me into top shape and feeling and performing at my best for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.” James Haskell, England rugby player
“Following Aidan and Glen’s Sirtfood Diet was incredible; my body fat just melted away – I was sharper and had heaps more energy than before.” Anthony Ogogo, professional boxer
I was a little put out that I should have been so unwell recently, considering my healthy lifestyle. During the two weeks when I couldn’t see, I listened to the radio from time to time and one morning a farming programme came on which got me thinking about how much nutritional quality there is in the food we eat.
The theme was frozen apples and without getting into the economic complexities of this subject, the apples I bought have been well and truly rejected by my dogs, so they must be grim.
Our desire to have whatever we like throughout the year, even when we live in the pouring rain or a blazing desert, means much of the produce available in the supermarkets has been kept in cold storage until needed and sent halfway around the world.
Other options include frozen fruits and vegetables, but are these options going to fulfill our nutritional requirements?
This is what I found:
This is a complex procedure. Great care has to be taken during harvesting so as not to damage any produce as they will not survive storage so well. Issues with contamination also make this a complicated business and great care has to be taken to keep everything clean.
Getting the temperature correct is essential for the produce to be in good condition when it comes out of storage and the temperature varies depending on the type of vegetable or fruit.
Storage time varies considerably from one week to six months or more and shelf life once out of cold storage will be shorter.
Fruit and vegetables are picked at their ripest and flash frozen which locks in valuable nutrients. This means they have had a chance to absorb maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals.
A tiny amount of the water-soluble vitamins may be lost, but nothing to worry about.
Green bananas, half-white strawberries, hard avocados and tomatoes. Outward signs of ripening may still occur on fresh produce, but these fruits and vegetables will never have the same nutritive value they would if they had been allowed to fully ripen before being picked.
“During the long haul, fresh fruits and vegetables are exposed to lots of heat and light, which degrade some nutrients,” according to Gene Lester, Ph.D., a plant physiologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas.
It is picked before it has had a chance to fully absorb maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals. If it is picked when fully ripe, we often don’t like the look of it by the end of the day as it will deteriorate quite rapidly.
Frozen comes out pretty well. The fact is that valuable nutrients will be lost as soon as the fruit or vegetable is picked. Unless you are in the position to eat it immediately, frozen could be the best option.
Best of all, grow your own and eat seasonal produce only.