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Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 100!

RiK ! - Monday, April 10, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 100:  83.5Kg  (WEIGHTLINE 001: 95.5Kg) - 12Kg drop

This is it! The end of a 100 day, change my life, lift off my weight, public jaunt. It has been challenging, surprising, interesting, painful and ultimately rewarding. Woohoo! Time to celebrate, but not as in the past, an excuse to return to old ways! This was not a 'diet', this was a complete change of dietary lifestyle set over 100 days to try & ensure that habits were set in motion that I can now sustain.

Fireworks over Waitemata Harbour

100 today! Cause for celebration, if not quite fireworks over Waitemata harbour… I'm now lighter, trimmer, healthier & more aware of what foods are sustainable, how they are produced & what I should and shouldn't be eating. Result in anyone's language!

So, what have I learnt over the last 100 days? That I can change my eating habits, embrace some foods I thought I'd never consume and not have to be locked in to foods I don't like for the rest of my life! That it is possible to eat out, dine with friends & have an enjoyable social life without spoiling everyone else's indulgences. That it is possible to eat until you feel full and still lose / maintain weight. That you can never out-exercise your mouth - it will take you 40-60 times longer to lose, plus a great deal more effort, than it took to eat. That what you look and feel like is much more important than what you actually weigh. That if you are changing your diet to lose weight simply because others have made you feel like you need to look 'better', it will never work for you long-term. That the sun and sunshine and warmth are much more important in helping you maintain life changes than anyone gives them credit for. That most health professionals can only give you standardised advice, a bit like going on a standardised diet, that will never be absolutely right for you because everyone's body is completely different. That no-one knows your body like you do, if you can be absolutely frank & honest with yourself. That you must avoid ALL processed foods and ingredients & source only organically grown, organically fed, fresh natural foods. That you must avoid sugar, specifically, like the plague, because that is what it is, a modern plague in a sweet disguise. That food intolerances are on the rise & it has to be related to the way we are processing all our food. That price is completely the wrong way to choose food ingredients. That you must cover your ears when the 'experts' sound off about avoiding something specific - if it's natural & organic, it is very unlikely to be bad for you in moderation. That you should watch out for marketing parading as health advice - the whole 'milk is good for you & your bones' fiasco that is entirely erroneous, for example. That you should look at all the 'blue zones' around the world, where a great number of people live beyond 100, and look at what they are eating. That you shouldn't copy any one diet, but educate yourself about all the many good diets around the globe, find the ingredients you like and can source, and set up your own bespoke diet. That you should try and vary your 'good' diet to avoid getting bored with repetition. That you must never follow any fad diet without a very well-planned exit strategy about how to maintain your new weight long-term when the fad has run its course. That you must never eat or drink anything to excess - "a little bit of what you fancy does you good" has never been truer. That you must never feel guilty about having the occasional treat or blowout. That you must never allow the occasional blowout to be an excuse for slipping back into bad habits. That you must face up to why you want to change what you eat & be absolutely mentally prepared for what it means, long-term. That you must plan your strategy in the early days of change, when temptation will be at its strongest, and elect for isolation if necessary. That you must read all the ingredients labels fully, do not be taken in by any other slogans or words or brand names on the packaging, and decide whether to buy on ingredients alone. That you must start, or continue with, regular exercise; walking is fantastic, as is swimming. That you must take regular more strenuous cardiovascular exercise - pick any sport you like, or try some new ones - to get the heart pumping fully. That you must find sport or exercise that you can enjoy long-term - do not sign up for a gymn just to get fit, sign up for a gymn if you know you are happy going for the rest of your life. That signing up a personal trainer, especially in the early days is a great idea if they are happy to work with your chosen exercises, not just theirs. That you must check your blood pressure reasonably regularly & be aware of anything in your body that requires monitoring. That you must enlist the absolute support of your spouse or partner, because they will be sharing the change with you, whether it is their initiative or not. That water is the stuff of life - drink until you can drink no more, then drink some more. That you must watch out for & resist the triggers, the automatic responses to certain actions or times of day - like putting the kettle on or settling down to clear the email for the day or going outside for a midday break… That you mustn't set yourself unrealistic goals or goals that are too absolute, because if you miss one it can derail the whole enterprise; you must instead set the process steps as your goals & the targets will take care of themselves. That having a major, certainly public, goal a reasonable distance out is a great motivator, like the World Masters Games 2017 has been for me. That you must open your mind and heart to new experiences, both culinary and physical - try some yoga or pilates, go tramping or hang-gliding - because it is the mind that controls whether you stick to a new lifestyle diet, not the body and an active mind will not stagnate & yearn for the old ways so much. That you must become aware of where your food comes from & what is done to get it to your plate, and decide both ethically and morally whether you support it, even if it is fresh, organic & home-grown. That you must avoid, wherever possible, taking 'supplements' and 'additives' because it is far better if you lack certain elements in your diet, to find natural foods that contain them & include them in your regime. That banana & berry smoothies with almond or coconut milk are the perfect carrier for all those ingredients your body needs but you don't really want to eat. That portion size and overeating are crucial - if you don't need to finish what's on your plate, then don't. That you should decide when it suits you to eat & not be entirely controlled by those that insist you eat only at pre-determined historical meal times.

So what have I learnt? Quite a lot! But simply… We are spending enormous sums of money on experts and so-called experts who can only ever, at best, produce standardised guesses at what we should be eating. So, spend some time understanding yourself and your own body & what it needs. Do regular exercise and eat fresh, local, organic, free-range food, heavily plant-based with lots of fruit and veg & you can't go wrong…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 099

RiK ! - Sunday, April 09, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 099:  84Kg

Here it is! This is me! After 99 days of dietary change & good exercise, I've lost 12Kg and my body shape has changed. I've been taking pictures every Sunday since Jan 1st & it is quite fascinating - honestly! - for me anyway. I can track the plateaus & the losing weeks & the scales don't necessarily match up with the photos.

My 100 day weight lifting journey - think I managed to lift any weight?

This really is me! Before and after… The scales say one thing, but the photos are the real evidence. No, I did not hit my ambitious (and rather random) 20Kg weight loss target, but I'm satisfied and I'm not stopping.

Apologies for subjecting you to these photos, especially since a hirsute body is not really fashionable today! And if you are under 30, avert your eyes - oldie on display! I understand some of you might be half way through your breakfast & not prepared… However, I have to tell you that I feel so much better. This is probably the most rewarding thing. I'm not dragging around excess weight (or not as much, anyway) and so can bounce around a bit. I'm assuming I'm a bit healthier, or will at least not cause my body an extra burden as it ages… Probably the only obvious symptom I had before I started this was elevated blood pressure. Now, my blood pressure has always been higher than desirable, but it was interesting how it did drop with no medication & no change other than diet (and a bit more exercise). If your doctor suggests you go on blood pressure medication, I strongly suggest you look at your diet! Two weeks before I started, I recorded my blood pressure, 20 readings over 7 days & they averaged out at 126/93. Nearly three months later, I repeated the exercise & they averaged out at 116/86. Still higher than ideal, but nevertheless reduced.

I also swear that my cardiovascular fitness improved just by shedding a bit of weight. It became easier to breathe & I could certainly move more easily & for longer. I knew that I stored body fat in my torso and my belly was going to lessen and my cup size reduce, but I wasn't quite prepared for how much my neck & head shape changed. I am left in absolutely no doubt that I cannot hide any weight gain, even with clothes on, because it is so obvious from the neck upwards. Essentially I now know I store fat practically everywhere, except on my legs (modesty forbids me from showing you a full length photo, so you'll have to take my word for that) so I've gone from a barrel shape to something with a few slight contours! The biggest surprise of all for me was my arms. I am actually wearing my watch in the Day 099 photo, but my wrists have slimmed down so the watch rides even further down - a couple of links are going to have to come out…

I'm going to continue photographing myself, not every week now - probably every month - as I find it a fascinating picture of my lifestyle. Maybe in 10 years time I'll publish a visual bodyline! I highly recommend it as a way of keeping track of your health (but don't necessarily publish the photos), much more satisfying than the scales!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 098

RiK ! - Saturday, April 08, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 098:  84Kg

Tomorrow I will take the final picture of myself on my 100 day journey & publish a before and after, so today I thought I would give you a beautiful image! When we arrived in Auckland 12 years ago from London, we thought it was Paradise Lost. Now that everyone is discovering what a great place it is to visit, it is most certainly Paradise Regained!

Auckland - the view from North Head - a great place to live!

Auckland, as viewed from North Head above Devonport. What a fabulous place to live & host the World Masters Games - the largest sporting event in the World!

When the tens of thousands of visitors descend on Auckland in a couple of weeks time for the World Masters Games, between their events they will have a playground to explore. I'm certain many of them will have booked extra time to allow them to venture into New Zealand's beautiful scenery, but while they are in our largest city, they will not be short of something to do… Auckland's Tourism Department (ATEED) has put up a page especially for those coming to this event & it is well worth a visit, here! Since losing weight, I have discovered a new desire for physical exertion, a new sense of wonderment at how good I feel after some energetic activity. Now, I'm not into bungy jumping or anything quite so madhat, but I am partial to the odd hiking trail, as long as there are photo opportunities along the way, and when aren't there?

Now, I live in Auckland & I thought I'd explored and done a lot, but if you watch the video on the Visit Auckland site, I think you'll be surprised at how much you really can do, or perhaps it just seems more than you'd believe because it's all packed into one showreel. One of the reasons we have settled in Auckland is the climate. Yes, you can get better & we have had some of the worst of it in the past few weeks, but overall, on balance, it's pretty bloody good. Things like SAD aside, it is simply easier & more enjoyable sticking to dietary & exercise regimes when the sun is shining & the air is warm. Not sure why, it just seems that way to me. Getting out & about can be dangerous however, as great cafes are only just around the corner, no matter where you are. We were at a Paleo Café today & the organic food was divine. They don't serve soy milk, presumably because they don't believe its health properties, so coconut or almond instead. Honestly, I'm not sure about them for coffee, so I opted for a berry smoothie in which coconut milk works!

So, plan a day out. Watch the video & choose something you've never done or haven't done for a long time & get out in the fresh air. If you are hosting (like us) any World Masters Games participants, or know of any visiting, then be the great Auckland host & make sure they get the opportunity to sample its beauty and charm while they are here. Make them wish they lived here!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 097

RiK ! - Friday, April 07, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 097:  84Kg

World Masters Games 2017. Most of the sports will boil down to two opponents waiting to see who will blink first. It's about fitness (so weight control as well), it's about stamina, it's about skill and preparation, but at the end of the day it will boil down to who blinks first.

Face Off - exactly what you have to do to your opponents at any of the 28 sports at the World Masters Games in Auckland starting next week

these two gorgeous ladies love each other, but they could be competing against each other - this scenario happens all the time in practically every sport. Can you go face to face with your opponent & hold your nerve?

My son & I were talking on the way to badminton today about why people lose & he was saying that Lin Dan (for so many years at the top of world badminton) still wins against opponents who could beat him, simply because they are in awe of his reputation and lose their nerve when they face him. The reverse side of that I heard about today was Laura Seigemund, who I photographed last year, beat Venus Williams yesterday in the second round of the Volvo Car Open (and has now progressed to the quarter final). She faced down Venus, who is an extraordinarily powerful player with an even bigger aura. Laura has lost to Venus before, but now she has controlled her mental game, she is only going up!

You don't have to play sport to experience the 'face off'. Practically every day, at work and at play, people come up against other people - if not physically, then certainly mentally. We all reach out to people we trust to advise us on everything from what we wear to career decisions. But what about those people that offer unsolicited & often unwelcome opinions? How we deal with those is determined by our mental strength. How we react to people who cut us up on the road (and as a motorbike rider, I experience it a great deal) tells us about our mental state. The ideal is, of course, calm, rational, focused, to the point & with energy if required. The normal is quite often tears, screams, rage & physical abandon! So often you will hear people say, "well, they provoked me!" but the reality is if it was in the sporting arena, you've lost. Unfortunately, that's often true everywhere in life, but the outcome isn't usually so quickly obvious.

What's that wonderful phrase? Oh yes…"keep your shit together". The other, possibly more genteel, one is, "Keep Calm & Carry On". Whichever you subscribe to, the trick is to be totally in control & only lose it when you choose to lose it.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 096

RiK ! - Thursday, April 06, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 096:  84Kg

I wrote yesterday about mental focus. Easy to say, much more difficult to achieve. I'm lucky; I do a job I love & there is probably nothing on earth I'd rather be doing than taking pictures. But even I need to find some space & recharge the batteries occasionally…

training & preparing for the World Masters Games - you need peace & quiet & isolation - the West Coast beaches are just the ticket!

the West coast beaches on the North Island are magical. Mainly black sand, their power isn't in the beach itself, but in the environment. The vast isolation (on a school weekday, anyway) is refreshing.

The brain is an immensely powerful tool, but it can be difficult to clear your mind & focus your thoughts on one thing alone, so you can think it all through, from every angle and know at the end that you have decided on the right course. Everyday life crowds in & we think about issues spasmodically. I know women can multi-task better than men, but even they need the breathing space to clarify their position on important issues! Every time I go to the west coast, I relax. I feel relaxed enough to spend time really thinking things through. It probably helps that cellphone coverage is spasmodic at best, non-existent if you aren't with Spark, but there is quite simply something calming about arriving at the coast. I took this picture last week, when the weather was threatening, which I think kept everyone away; so we saw about 4 people all day! It's trips like this that keep me focused on the important things.

The sea air allows you to breath more easily, and there is no shortage of walks. Here at Karekare you can take a short walk to the bottom of a magical waterfall, or a longer walk to the top; you can walk through woods and grassed dunes down to the massive beach; or you can take a cliff edge walk up and and all the way to Piha. So exercise and fresh air in abundance, combined with tranquillity… there is nowhere quite like it to clear your head. It is no accident that I find it easier to keep focused on my new lifestyle diet and my sporting and other goals when I'm there. I'm no longer a runner (used to enjoy cross country in my younger days) but if I was, I'd also come here. I think it goes without saying I recommend the west coast beaches as a fabulous detox space. If I get to a point of starting to be tempted by sweet things, I shall plan a refresh trip. The trick is not to have anything to rush back to, otherwise you spend a lot of the time there with your eyeballs on your watchface - sort of defeats the object.

Take time out for yourself. Enjoy your own company and the feeling of your own thoughts without interruption. Get away from the crowded space that is other people's opinions and demands & learn what it is that really drives and motivates you. Then come back & make it happen.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 095

RiK ! - Wednesday, April 05, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 095:  84Kg

Determination. Stamina. Mental focus. Losing weight is about nothing else. So is competitive sport. In both arenas you can do all the preparation, all the research, all the training, but if you can't control your brain, you'll lose.

trying to concentrate in a competition as big as World Masters - some would say it's like sticking needles in your face

Amalia was afraid of needles, so determined that the best way of overcoming her fear was to face it, literally!

There is a phrase when playing sport - "in the zone" which refers to a state of total concentration; where no outside distraction can breach the defences, where things happen if not quite in slow motion, certainly at a perceived pace that allows for more time than you'd rightly expect. The 'zone' is an artificial environment that you create yourself & you inhabit on your own. Every move is carefully calculated, albeit in a split second, and all the training & preparation simply allow your body to work like a well oiled machine, sometimes at levels never before achieved. This is done in the brain. The trick is calling it up on demand & maintaining it because it requires a surprising amount of physical energy. No player, in any sport, plays at their best until they can get in the zone.

Maintaining a lifestyle diet, swearing off all that is unhealthy but oh so tasty, also requires sustained mental focus. Obviously not to the same intensity, but certainly for a much longer period. The point is that all these battles, sport, addiction, lifestyle changes are won & lost in the head I'm not a great believer in physical addiction (except for possibly hard drugs) but I'm a great believer in mental addiction. The reason you reach for that cake, that pudding is not because your body is demanding it, it's because your brain persuades you that you need it, or that you can get away with it. Train the brain & you've got anything beat!

So look that challenge directly in the face, ignore the distractions, bear a little discomfort & keep focused on the long-terms goals. Never forget why you started in the first place.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 094

RiK ! - Tuesday, April 04, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 094:  84Kg

Ever seen an overweight beach volleyball competitor? I haven't, and it's probably because it is a gruelling sport. Mairangi Bay is playing host to the beach volleyball competitions at the World Masters Games, starting on 22 April. All sport's schedules have now been published & you can find all the detail starting here: Find your Sport.

Beach Volleyball - just one of the 28 sports at the World Masters in Auckland next week

Beach Volleyball - just one of the 28 sports at the World Masters in Auckland - opening ceremony is on Friday 21st April

So, we are just a couple of weeks away from the event I have been training for. And just a week away from the end of my 100 day self-imposed deadline. I am nowhere near my original 20Kg weight loss target, but I'm actually comfortable with my (currently) 12Kg drop as I know it will probably go a bit further over time. My sport is badminton, but there are 28 sports in the World Masters Games here in Auckland. All registrations have now closed & some of the statistics are staggering. This is the 9th World Masters Games (and hopefully I will be talking to a pair of medal-winning badminton players next week, who have competed in every games so far) and it is the world's largest multi-sport event, eclipsing the Olympics! There are nearly 25,000 athletes taking part, with more than 16,000 participants arriving from over 100 different countries.

The sports are: archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, canoe, cycling, football, golf, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, orienteering, rowing, rugby, sailing, shooting, softball, squash, surf life saving, swimming, table tennis, tennis, touch, triathlon, volleyball, water polo, and weightlifting. I will be trying to get around as many of the different sports as possible to bring you photos & interviews with participants - that alone should keep me fit! Browsing through the World Masters Games website, I came across the anti-doping page. It appears that as an 'athlete' I could be drug tested at any time! Luckily I don't actually take any drugs at all, so unless the kale or quinoa I am currently eating a lot of contains banned substances, I should be ok. Or, of course, unless the corn I'm eating doesn't come from this region but is shipped in from the States, where Monsanto's GM corn is taking some flack, and it contains suspicious ingredients…

I heartily recommend getting involved in the games as a spectator. With so many Kiwis entering, you are bound to know someone, so pick your sports & book some dates.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 093

RiK ! - Monday, April 03, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 093:  84Kg

"Eat your veg, you'll grow up fit and strong!" Kids will never listen, well perhaps not until they have kids of their own! There were a few vegetables I actually liked when I was a kid, but it was never the ones that were really good for you. Carrots, peas, potatoes… well, that about exhausts the list actually! Never broccoli!

Broccoli - THE Superfood!

One of the recognised best vegetables, it seems broccoli has recently gotten a whole lot better!

It's not that this veg has suddenly gained a whole new lease of life or anything, it's just that new research is apparently shedding light on how it is actually good for you. (Which begs the question, were people just guessing before?) I honestly can't begin to try & simply explain what the research has found, because it uses acronyms of chemical compounds and phrases like "RNA and proteins noncoding RNA have emerged as key regulators of gene expression under both physiological and pathological conditions…" See what I mean? So, if you want to know more technical stuff, I refer you to the article, here. One of the compounds in broccoli known to have anti-cancer properties is sulforaphane, a naturally occurring organic sulphur. This compound fights cancer cells in colon, prostate, breast and lung cancer & has been shown to reduce the number of liver tumours in mice.

Apparently, three servings of broccoli per week may reduce your risk of prostate cancer by more than 60 per cent! Sulforaphane is not the only positive active compound in this friendly green vegetable. Glucoraphanin, phenolic compounds, Diindolylmethane… the list goes on. Frankly, I listen as little to these positive 'scientific' findings as I do to the quacks peddling the latest diets. However, my point in raising the topic is to mention that nobody ever said a bad thing about broccoli (apart from its taste, according to my kids!). There is so much debate over foodstuffs today that it is hard to decide what is really good & what is only going to be 'good' for a decade or so, until it is deemed, 'not good'. So, it is surely a no-brainer to eat something that everyone has always said is good for you & there only seems to be more discoveries about how good it really is! All you need to try & avoid is broccoli that is grown where pesticides are used & also try to eat it fresh, not from frozen.

So, get creative with broccoli & keep healthy! Try putting some in a smoothie if you don't like the taste, or blender it, then fry it in coconut or extra virgin olive oil… I just wouldn't recommend eating it raw!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 092

RiK ! - Sunday, April 02, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 092:  84Kg

When does the fuelling of your body start? We know that we sleep at nighttime to regenerate the cells, so is it after this that the cycle starts, breakfast time? Or should we continue the enforced fast that sleep provides us with & begin refuelling later in the day? The answer from most 'experts' is, predictably mixed, ranging from reasonably sensible to a load of hot air!

Balloons over Waikato - an annual event

Ballooning over the Waikato. An annual event that obviously harnesses the combined output of all dietary experts to get the balloons aloft!

The debate continues about whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As you will be aware, if you've been following my blog, I don't eat breakfast, or rather I eat it at lunchtime. My reasoning has not been informed by countless studies or expert opinion, just by me following my gut which tells me I'm not hungry first thing in the morning. Just like all the questions being asked, quite rightly, about our well-established food chain & 'traditional' food sources, so I am discovering are more questions being asked about the traditional view of meal times. An article just published in the Independent (UK), debates the issue without falling on one side of the fence or another. Essentially, it appears to support breakfast as a meal, just not with the modern fare. Because most people are now shifting focus from low-fat to sugar-free, the sweet foods that often accompany breakfast are being villified.

Recently, biochemist Terence Kealey wrote in his book 'Breakfast is a dangerous meal' that he believes quitting breakfast helped him reverse his type 2 diabetes. Marcela Fuiza, a British Diabetic Association spokesperson and specialist dietitician, maintains that 'breakfast is as important as lunch and dinner'. I think the truth lies in the middle. It is not breakfast as a meal that is a problem, it is the food that you consume. I personally am happy fasting for 4 or 5 hours early in the day, but this is simply because I found that by eating earlier, I ate more overall throughout the day. It may be that after a few more months, when I am happy that my new food regime has matured, I may well be able to eat breakfast, because if I then eat more, it will only be of foods that sustain me, not foods that inflate me! I would never advocate my regime for others blindly, because I think you need to arrive at a decision about whether to eat certain meals at certain times by really listening to, and understanding, your own body & your own metabolism. This is precisely why people follow expensive & faddish diets, though, because they don't know how to, or don't want to take the responsibility of making the decisions themselves.

How you power up your body is simple. Eat a wide range of good, wholesome, organic, natural unprocessed foods. When you should power up your body is entirely down to you. I would suggest settling on a routine that your body can accept without either inflating or deflating noticeably. And ignore the 'hot air' that comes from most experts!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 091

RiK ! - Saturday, April 01, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 091:  84Kg

The final countdown has started - just 10 days to go! A few of you have enquired about before and after photos? Well, I have been photographing myself every week since I started the 100 days, since weight is only one measure of success. Whether the world is prepared to witness my naked form in both pre-diet & post-diet forms, I am not so sure.

amazing what you can do to your body with a bit of gymn work

to create a body like this requires not just dieting, but serious gymn work over a reasonable period of time.

The reason for altering my diet is to eat more healthily so my body functions smoothly & properly, without too much maintenance, for longer. One of the ways that we measure success in this endeavour is to see how much body fat we are carrying, especially belly fat. It is of course entirely natural to carry some fat, just not too much. To get rid of practically all of it & develop visible musculature like this guy in the picture - wait, did you think that was me? Hahaha, nowhere near, I'm afraid - requires serious weight bearing exercise over a prolonged period, not just diet. I'm not aiming for an Adonis body, I just want to be healthy with very limited fat reserves, so I'm paying attention to the food I eat & simply doing the exercise I enjoy, not any that I feel I have to do. That is the key to complete success - find healthy food you actually like & do exercise you actually enjoy.

So I probably will show you my body, before and after, because it's actually quite fascinating how it has changed. But I need at least 10 days to prepare you for the shock of seeing a 'real everyday-type' body, not one designed for the camera! Luckily, everyone has noticed that I've dropped down in size (well, it would be pretty demoralising if no-one noticed!) so visibly I have achieved success. I am not going to get to the 20Kg loss I targeted, but I do believe my body is getting close to equilibrium, so I think I'm not far off my optimum weight now. After the 100 days, I'm not going to weigh myself regularly, I'm going to keep an eye on my size visually, my belt-size, my t-shirt tightness… Before I started I would describe myself as bloated. Now I think I am more normally shaped. Certainly I am more agile around the badminton court & as long as I can keep my knee joints in check…

Like or dislike of body shapes is a personal thing. I have always liked the idea of being in good shape, but perhaps because my body doesn't naturally reveal the edges of each major muscle group, I have never really aspired to being as fit & honed as this guy. I can definitely appreciate the aesthetic, but I have never felt the effort required was worth it for me. I'm happy being normal, you can judge for me in 10 days!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 090

RiK ! - Friday, March 31, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 090:  84Kg

A momentum is now building that is too strong & persistent to ignore. It is movement away from dairy. The evidence, the belief adoption, especially in the young, and the trends are now all too far advanced for the tide to be turned. It is simply a matter of how long will it take?

Is New Zealand's Dairy Industry destined for the scrap heap?

Will New Zealand's dairy industry end up on the scrap heap? This is no longer a question, more a statement that requires action.

In the course of examining healthy eating from a very personal point of view, I have been gradually turned off dairy for many reasons. Primarily, the benefits of milk & dairy products have been shown to me to be advertising falsehoods, decades old. But the other reason is the same reason people have fought against caged hens. If you look at the reality of dairy cows, and I don't mean the sensationalist videos that are there to scare you (however true they might be for some of the industry), we are treating cows so badly simply for our own selfish desire. How would any female of any species like to be kept artificially lactating simply to feed another species. How can we justify stuffing antibiotics & a mass of hormones into our foodchain just to keep the cows 'healthy'? Forget caged hens, we now apparently have caged cows!

Now, I love milk. I was brought up on milk. The milk marketing board in the UK did such a fantastic job of persuading my parents of the health benefits of milk, how could they not ensure I had a plentiful supply. This belief, now disproven, will take a long time to filter through people of my generation, but the plentiful supply of milk may have gone long before that. The younger generation, even here in New Zealand & even amongst young farmers, are realising that dairy farming may not have many benefits & it sure does have a whole host of negatives. Watching a TV program the other day about how breeding from selected bulls could possibly reduce the nitrogen in bovine effluent by as much as 20% in 20 years, put me in mind of the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke! Ridiculous! We probably won't have a dairy industry to speak of in 20 years time. Can my generation not wake up and smell the coffee! The younger generation is about change & they don't much care if it's massive & immediate!

This topic is massive & requires much longer discussion, so I'll probably return to it in more detail in a fuller blog soon. But it is so important & so relevant to my current timeline that I had to touch on it. Bottom line? Just like solar energy, the New Zealand government needs to wake up & take the lead in driving change & handholding those massively affected along the way.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 089

RiK ! - Thursday, March 30, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 089:  84Kg

Browsing through the Ian Potter Centre of Australian art, part of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne on our recent trip, I found a great deal of the indigenous art both compelling & completely baffling. Partly because I have no background, experience or knowledge of aboriginal art or culture, and partly because some of it has been given a modern art context which adds further impenetrable levels for someone 'not in the know'.

painted skateboards at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne

Decorated skateboards in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. Aboriginal (or aboriginal-inspired) art meets modern objects.

I have an eye for pattern, for arrangement, for colour; for beauty if you like. I can photograph something for its visual identity without any knowledge of the context or meaning. I can appreciate the beauty of form & the artistry of craftsmanship without being embroiled in social or political debates. This is why I find it hard to appreciate art that demands a knowledge of context, that has little meaning outside of its own time bubble. I loved these skateboards for their colour, their presentation. I have no idea if there are deeper meanings or if they were just a bit of fun, but I enjoyed them. So, although as a photographer I prefer to remain outside of political & social debates so I can observe independently, I was intrigued enough to look up the dietary history of aboriginal people. It will surprise no-one to know that their diet changed dramatically with the colonisation of Australia, much to their detriment.

I found an excellent article on the Weston Price Foundation website that gave some interesting historical perspectives. Weston Price was a travelling researcher in the 1930's & for him, the Aborigines represented the paradigm of moral & physical perfection. Their skills in hunting, tracking & food gathering were unsurpassed. Their social organisation allowed for schooling children from very young & respect and care for a sizeable number of old people. Price's photographs of Aborigines on their native diets illustrate dental structures so perfect you might suspect they were wearing false teeth. But they soon succumbed to rampant tooth decay and disease of every type when they adopted their coloniser's modern foods - white flour and sugar, jams, canned foods and tea. Children born to the next generation developed irregularities of the dental arches with conspicuous facial deformities…

It is our stubbornly held belief that our ways are best that has led to our current dietary crisis. We have lost touch with the land, with the source of our food, with an appreciation of what elements provide what fuel or flavour in our foodstuffs. There is so much we should have, and still could, learn from indigenous people around the world, if we simply stopped judging & started listening, observing & learning.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 088

RiK ! - Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 088:  84Kg

Meet Jack. Jack is an African Grey parrot, more accurately a Congo African Grey. His feathers are ruffled because he's been encouraged to flap his wings, which he simply does not want to do. He's very talkative, generally quite placid & well behaved, and obviously very, very beautifully put together.

An African Grey, called Jack

Jack, the African Grey parrot had his feathers ruffled yesterday in my studio. A beautiful creature, I kept my fingers to myself!

Parrots are fussy eaters. We tried to feed him some apple, but because I'd kept it in the fridge, it was too cold for him. However, there are some things you simply never feed them because they are toxic. Avocado is top of the list, followed by chocolate, coffee, rhubarb and, surprise surprise , high-fat, fried, salty or high-sugar foods. Photographing this bird really made me think about how man has manipulated the food chain for profit, disguised as increasing yield to satisfy a burgeoning population. We are so greedy, that as long as the food manufacturers provide food we love, we will buy it. We don't eat for survival, like every other species, we eat for satisfaction & the joy of excess. We are so clever, we have moved so far away from the natural cycles, that we can no longer see our way back. We are consumed with maintaining our supply of the tasty goods that we have man-made, primarily from sugar & salt, so all our efforts go into that, not into balancing out a healthy food supply.

Yes, my feathers are ruffled! Make a list of everything you eat over the course of a week & divide the list into two columns. On the left, list all the foods that are organic, non-processed, with no added ingredients. On the right, list the remainder. It might shock you if you do it honestly. Read the ingredients list of everything. This is how I started my plan for a new way of eating, by really reading & absorbing the limited information on ingredients lists. What really ruffled my feathers were the 'brands' that called themselves something healthy sounding, like "Be Natural", which I didn't realise at first was a brand, like Coca Cola! People pick up this brand of protein nut bars, emblazoned with slogans like "Plant Power" and "Source of Fibre" and "8g Plant Protein" and "Nutritious Uplifting plant-based foods" etc & think they are buying healthy protein nut bars. Should they read the ingredients list, they would discover they are eating 20% sugar! Sorry, which nut or 'plant-based' product produces vast amounts of sugar? No, none…

Take a careful look at each purchase you make from the supermarket & if you are feeling really adventurous, add a column to your list & tick every item that is locally produced & sourced (so transport is not an extra burden on the environment)… Haha, fooled you. No need for that column, is there?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 087

RiK ! - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 087:  84Kg

Just because it's on your plate, does not mean you have to finish it! This is a crucial lesson I am trying to learn, but boy, is it difficult! From my upbringing where I was instructed that I had to finish everything on my plate, to my natural greediness (which frankly is much more powerful than my early years), I have always stuffed myself if what was on my plate was to my liking. Not good!

never finish what's on your plate if you don't need to

it's always better to stop eating once you have had just enough & leave food on your plate & a small empty space in your tummy.

Examine the issue of deprivation. This is actually how it was sold to me as a child. "Think of the poor starving people of Bangladesh / Biafra / Ethiopia (depending on the year)," said one or both of my parents as I pushed my greens away. (I always ate what I liked, just not what I didn't like - which was anything healthy.) I've never understood how stuffing my face was supposed to make me feel better about starving people? It actually just made me feel more guilty. Then there's the major issue of waste. Back then, it boiled down to the same thing. How could I waste food when half the world did not have enough to eat? Now, it is the more important issue of over consumption driving too many valuable food resources into too few hands & then going to waste. Change that habit & more of the world could easily be fed. So the answer is reduce demand, stop over consumption & eat only what you need to; easy!

Reducing over consumption of food starts by leaving food on your plate. Yes, I know, counter-intuitive. Most important things are when you are battling very long-held beliefs. If you do not over eat, no matter what you are served, no matter whether it is a treat or a staple, you do your body a service. Continue to do that & you will slowly adjust your portion sizes until you are loading your plate with only the amount you are comfortable eating. So, yes, there will be waste initially, but in the long-term… And while we are on 'waste initially', can I ask the question? Where does excess food do the most damage? In the waste disposal, or in your stomach? Put it like that, the answer is easy, isn't it! So, throw it away until you learn to control what goes on your plate without you feeling deprived.

Crumbs! A myth destroyed! Always eat what's on your plate. A simple phrase that does everyone huge damage. Almost as bad as that incredible money-making advertising line, "And then repeat." Doubled the market for shampoo overnight & is entirely man-made & superfluous…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 086

RiK ! - Monday, March 27, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 086:  84Kg

I talked yesterday about weight being more directly related to food than to exercise. The NZ Herald this morning highlighted a study that was just published in the international journal 'Nutrition and Diabetes' called 'The Gisborne Study'. It showed an average weight loss of 11.5Kg in one year, the largest weight loss of any randomised control trial where the participants had no restriction on calories & did not have to exercise.

French patisserie treats - Melbourne

So these delicious treats, which I photographed in a 'patisserie' in Melbourne (luckily because I live in Auckland) are either forbidden or severely restricted in anyone's diet!

The Gisborne study targeted those who were overweight, obese and had heart disease or diabetes. In addition to weight loss, the participants reported improved self-esteem and quality of life, plus a reduction in the number of medications taken across the group from 94 (on an average day) to 67. One out of four with diabetes were able to stop taking insulin and two out of four diabetics improved their condition to the point where they no longer met the diagnostic criteria for diabetes. So what were they eating? A whole-food, plant-based diet of foods such as potatoes, pasta, beans, bread and spreads, soups, salads, stir fries and rice. They were allowed to eat whenever they were hungry & until they were full. Animal foods, including meat, eggs and dairy, and refined oils were excluded in favour of unlimited amounts of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit.

So, a focused control of good, healthy food with no restriction on quantity, no exercise required & they lost over 11Kg and improved their health. I think that is pretty definitive proof of food affecting our weight and of course our whole body's health, don't you? Now I have chosen to be a bit more controlled on quantities as I wanted to try & train my body to want less (although today is a bad day for that, so copious quantities of fruit have been consumed!) and I am also specifically trying to get fitter for World Masters Games, so it's not too surprising that I've hit their annual weight loss amount in just 85 days. The trick will be ongoing maintenance. Those in the study appear to have managed a long-term change & I'm sure will now continue with it as it has probably become habitual. I need to ensure I'm in that position too. Having temptations like the cakes pictured here does not help, but I do find a certain kind of private perverse pleasure in depriving myself of my previous delights. Hopefully that will endure.

So by all means treat yourself to a cake occasionally, as long as it is not too frequent, and as long as you have enough self control to limit yourself to one. I could never reward myself with just one in the past, but I believe, like Auckland transport, I am getting there…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 085

RiK ! - Sunday, March 26, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 085:  84Kg

It took a day longer than I'd hoped, but I cracked another kilo this morning! So, 12Kg down with only just over 2 weeks to go. My target of 20Kg was a bit ambitious & I said at the start I'd be more than happy with 15Kg off. But honestly, I'm happy now because I know that as I'm going to be continuing with my regime, I will lose whatever weight my body doesn't want to carry, in whatever time it takes.

kite surfing off takapuna beach

Walking along Takapuna beach today, the weather was wild & the kite surfers were out. Good exercise!

It sounds odd, but in the last three weeks my weight on the scales has remained consistent at 85Kg, but my watch has been getting looser and looser. Now, I can actually turn it all the way around without much effort. My arms have never been particularly where my body stores fat, but obviously there was some. I think, and I have no real evidence for this, just a gut feel, that my body has been burning its reserves of fat from everywhere - internally, externally from the hard-to-see deposits around my body - everywhere except my belly. My gut has diminished but not much in the last few weeks. So I do feel tremendously confident that I will continue to lose fat and weight if I stick to not eating sugar and processed food. Co-incidentally, a good friend sent me a link to a video this morning - an American lady, Isabel from BeyondDiet talking about the basics of weight loss (and selling her book) - and one of the core messages she focused on was how to lose belly fat! As it happens, I am doing everything right (according to her) and she did talk simple sense, for a change!

Losing belly fat is a key priority for most people, but the one thing that most people either don't know, or can't accept, is that exercise will never shift it. You cannot lose your stomach by exercise alone. You have to eat right. You must exercise to keep your body functioning well, but if you want to carry less weight, you must resist the modern temptations. As my wife pointed out, our grandparents generation & before did not have snacks to reach for & if you were hungry between meals, too bad! Probably something we need to return to… Have you ever seen overweight athletes, perhaps someone who was kite surfing this afternoon & wondered how they could be so athletic & still carry so much weight? It's because the two aren't directly linked, until the excess weight forces the person to slow down & the problem becomes exacerbated (that was me!). I acknowledge that most people being hauled by the wind this afternoon were fit and trim, but this is because they care & look after their bodies, not only by exercising but also by eating sensibly!

New Zealand is a land of sports mad people, but until everyone properly understands that weight gain & health is more directly related to food than to exercise, we shall continue to be one of the most obese nations on the planet. Hey, Nigel Latta, perhaps an episode pointing this out directly? So stop eating processed crap, start cooking real food & teach your children to eat properly. Then they can kite surf into their seventies & beyond!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 084

RiK ! - Saturday, March 25, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 084:  85Kg

I was rather poetically hoping that I could record 84Kg against Day 84, but didn't quite make it. Nearly. At my morning weigh in I was 84.5Kg, but as my own rules state I can't report any change under 1Kg, I have to report 85Kg. 4 hours later, after 2 hours of badminton I was 83.5Kg, but I was cheating looking then! Most of this challenge is a mental game. I have to keep focused & not allow myself to cheat or even be distracted by thoughts of how to 'bend the rules'!

Laura Siegemund - international tennis professional

Laura Siegemund is an international tennis professional who I was honoured to shoot when she was on our shores for the ASB Classic tournament last year. She is currently World No. 39.

Professional sports people, like Laura Siegemund here, have to not only excel in their chosen sport through physical prowess, they also have to conquer the all important mental challenges. Once you have done everything possible to hone your skill, you have to make sure your mind doesn't let you down. I was standing waiting for the kettle to boil today (yes, I lead an active life!) and I suddenly started thinking about what I might be able to eat. I wasn't hungry, it was association & habit. When in the kitchen making a cup of coffee, I habitually used to graze. So I had to force myself to think it through, understand what I was doing & start the process of re-programming my brain to disassociate kettle in kitchen with snacks. Whew! Who thought changing your diet could be so complex! The brain controls absolutely everything, so never ever underestimate the power of thought.

One of Laura's listed interests is psychology & as a professional tennis player, that does not surprise me. The challenge of staying focused, positive & ignoring all distractions is immense & without some training in this area, it is virtually impossible to conquer the world in sport. I can quote a myriad of examples from my own life, although they are not at Laura's level. I made in quite close to the top in junior squash, captaining a county side in England & being on the periphery of the junior international squad, but most of my mental strategies in those days were based on ignorance. Not even thinking about the mountains I was trying to climb helped because I then never worried about failing! A simple strategy but not really possible nowadays with the Internet & full information at our fingertips. I have witnessed world class players crumbling at serving simply because they were over-thinking. We used to call it nerves, but actually it is just a failure to quieten all that noise in your head shouting about how so many things can go wrong.

Stopping yourself eating foods that you have eaten all your life is partly a physical thing; I can close my eyes & almost taste the chocolate & sweet things I used to eat. But it is primarily a mental thing, just as with most addictions, so focusing on ensuring the brain stays on course is the key. Focus, focus, focus…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 083

RiK ! - Friday, March 24, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 083:  85Kg

They say timing is everything. Well, it certainly is in a sport like badminton. I was having a debate today & I wasn't believed when I said that badminton was one of the fastest sports in the world (when it comes to shuttle speed). Of course, Mr Google had to be consulted & even I was blown away! The fastest shuttle speed ever recorded from a smash is, wait for it… 493 km/h!! This was from Malaysia's Tan Boon Hoeng while testing a new racquet. The fastest recorded hit during a competition belongs to China's Fu Haifeng at 332 Km/h. No wonder I keep missing some smashes!

Vicki Copeland - a rather special NZ player

Vicki Copeland (NZ) smashes during training. I don't know if she can break 300 km/h but it wouldn't surprise me!

There are some people who think badminton is a bit of a prissy sport. A second cousin to tennis. Come & watch some at the World Masters Games next month & you might be surprised (if you can actually follow the shuttle!). Timing is critical in sport (& photographing sport) & apparently in your eating habits as well. Good old Dr Oz has some sage tips for when you should eat as the times have an impact on how your metabolism copes. His first tip had me smiling as he says you should eat breakfast 12 hours after you've had dinner, because your body needs a break to function efficiently. Well, I normally eat breakfast about 14-15 hours after my dinner, but as I quite often don't eat dinner until about 10pm, that means 1pm is my breakfast time. Not quite what he had in mind, I'm sure. It's my badminton that's to blame. I'm so often playing in the evening & I can't eat before I play as I then wouldn't be able to move! Oh well, I think it works for me.

Lunch time is when you should the largest portion of your total calorie intake (that's such a dietician's phrase!), while your body is most active & has the best chance of burning it off. So my breakfast is at most people's lunchtime, but I do have quite a number of eggs… Best time for a snack is around 4pm (assuming dinner at 8pm). So actually I nearly conform to Dr Oz's timetable, allowing for a later dinner, if I treat my first meal as lunch not breakfast. This means I miss breakfast ("the most important meal of the day") completely. So much for expert advice! I simply find that if I eat too early, I'm eating when I'm not actually hungry & the process of eating activates my appetite so I end up eating much more during the day - lose lose as far as I can tell. Well, given my training schedule & my desire to eat less, I have to throw the good Dr Oz's advice to the wind & carry on doing it my way.

What do you think? Follow an 'expert's' advice to the letter, or adapt to the way your body works & work out a routine that not only works for you, but one you can live with long term? I think you know by now what I'm doing…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 082

RiK ! - Thursday, March 23, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 082:  85Kg

My son has recently expressed an interest in adopting a Vegan diet. But his main concern is to be healthy & he's worried that he can't eat some of his favourite foods any more. So he is starting to be driven down the "you will follow this dietary regime absolutely or we will shame you into thinking you are a failure" type route.

the West coast of NZ's North Island - beautiful, rugged and free

the west coast of the North Island is wild, unconstrained and free. It's a beautiful place to be yourself, naturally.

This is the thinking that has got so many of us, including me, into trouble. And this is why 'diets' are such huge business around the world. Apart from becoming vegan or vegetarian on conscientious grounds, which I cannot argue with, there is absolutely no reason to be hounded into only eating, or not eating, specific things for the rest of your life. So many of us have problems controlling our weight & it is mainly because we like the wrong types of foods & eat them, too much of them. Not exclusively, as there are medical reasons for obesity, but giving in to temptation is the majority issue. So don't follow a 'diet' whether it is vegan, vegetarian, mormon or atkins. Create your own personalised diet that really works for you. OK, this entails understanding what is good for you & what is not & this is a complete minefield as there is so much conflicting advice & very strong opposing opinions. So you need to read, absorb & make up your own mind.

The advice I gave my son I think works for most people, although the starting point might vary a bit. I told him to start with a vegan diet because that was his starting point anyway (which is probably the simplest, but not necessarily the most healthy) & then work in two different elements. Discover all the things that his body would be lacking following that diet (protein is supposedly quite a big one for vegans) & then find foods that he liked that would add those elements back into his regime. So, in his case, eggs and / or fish would give him the protein he needs. Note that neither of these are vegan, but that is exactly the point. Then examine all the foods he liked to eat & if they weren't particularly bad for the body, add them back in. Lastly, don't worry about occasionally having 'bad' foods as a treat, so long as they do not become habitual in any way. Please note, the key issue here is foods he enjoys eating, irrespective of whether they 'belong' to a defined dietary regime.

As long as we avoid processed foods & sugar & eat mainly fresh, local, free range, organic & well-nourished food sources, we'll be fine. But the key element to the success in all of this is enjoyment. Do not force yourself to eat things you don't like. You'll be unhappy and / or it won't last. Don't give in to the 'Dietary Regime' monsters, do it yourself. Be free!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 081

RiK ! - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 081:  85Kg

Now that I'm in my last 3 weeks, I have to concentrate on my fitness. This whole 100 day exercise was both to change my diet for life & regain a healthy weight, and to get fit for my participation in the World Masters Games 2017. A few were, and probably still are, a bit sceptical, just like this performance artist I shot in Melbourne last week, but I set out to do it & I will… dodgy knees notwithstanding!

Mime artist in Melbrourne CBD

A street performer in Melbourne's CBD. To do this you need a great deal of skill, but also masses of confidence in yourself (and the moustache helps!). He has both & I certainly have the confidence in what I'm doing (if not quite as impressive upper lip hair)!

I am now playing badminton up to 5 times a week, and that may be a bit too much! My knees really are starting to complain & although I had hoped that losing weight would relieve some of their burden, it seems that it is just not enough. So, I have to strap them up each time I play & hope that they last! God, what it is to grow older! My sons (just like me at their age) have absolutely no conception of what it's like not to be able to rely upon your body to do simply what you ask it to do. My diet is under control, I'm lighter & fitter, but now I'm starting to be undone by my joints! Well, badminton at World Masters Games is in just over 3 weeks, so I have to both continue to train & survive the final journey.

My exercise bicycle in the studio (real bike on a stand) is proving to be a bit of a flop. This is partly because I've always hated cycling just for the sake of cycling, but mostly because my knees actually hurt more doing that than they do playing badminton. The unkind would say that it's because I don't move my feet enough in badminton, but either way it hasn't worked as hoped. The pull up bars are more of a success as I can't do too many of those anyway so the duration is short & together with planking my exercise routine is short & to the point. For those that think this isn't enough, believe me when I tell you that I do it until I can really do no more. This, plus walking practically every day & badminton is it for me. Like my diet, I have pared it down to what I can do & what I can stand. In the past, just like diets, I have given up exercise routines because I get bored or disinterested, so this time, just like my diet, I have created my own. I recommend it heartily. Ignore those paid-for routines & do what you enjoy - a mantra for life!

We're hosting a couple of Canadian swimmers for the duration of the games & if you haven't realised it already, accommodation in Auckland from 21st - 30th April will be in desperately short supply. I will hopefully be doing some photo essays & interviews with other participants on my blog, so subscribe & keep in touch!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 080

RiK ! - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 080:  85Kg

Woohoo! I survived 5 days on holiday without putting on a single kilo! Well, if truth be told, I weighed myself when I got back to NZ yesterday morning & I was a bit more than a kilo over, but as I'd established day 80 to recommence weighing & that gave me a day of abstaining plus a badminton evening, I'll take it as a success…

A delectable boulangerie / patisserie in central Melbourne - too tempting

Laurent boulangerie / patisserie in Little Collins Street - authentically French & serves the most divine anti-diet sweets & pastries!

Melbourne is a city of many things, and food is one of them. Down the alleyway from our hotel was this gorgeous French establishment, obviously a lunchtime favourite with locals. How anyone can keep a decent waistline with this place on their doorstep, I don't know. One thing I have learned, and it was a pleasant lesson, is that it's ok to have an occasional treat as long as you keep excesses in check & then ensure you at least go back to good eating, or ideally a bit of fasting. Variety is the spice of life, isn't that it? As well as food, and the fabulous tram network, Melbourne is, unexpectedly for me, the city of street musicians. They were all over the place & most of the performances were excellent. They create an outdoor festival atmosphere in the centre of the elegant shopping areas.

There are also the oddities. The stationery clay men who only move occasionally, the 'modern' digeridoo player, the mime artist, and the sculptures. But they weave into the rich tapestry of street life. I intend to put together a short video of our trip to Melbourne to see Adele in the next month, so hopefully you'll soon be able to see some of which I speak. Already the warnings have been issued in Auckland to expect severe travel delays around her concerts at Mt Smart… And there will be 20,000 fewer people than there were in Melbourne. So glad we made the trip! So now there is no more lemon meringue pie for me & reduced portions again, because I have to return to 'normal' and keep my cravings under control - much easier in Auckland, strangely.

So I only have 20 days to go & I'm only just over half way along on my target weight loss. Well, what will be will be. I am feeling so much healthier, but having watched a video of myself playing badminton with some youngsters & seeing I still look like a heffalump gallumping (technical terms) around the court, I think I have to press on!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 079

RiK ! - Monday, March 20, 2017

WEIGHTLINE (on tour) 079: TBC on day 80

We arrived back from Melbourne at 5am this morning, snatched a few hours sleep, then got on with the day. Good to be back, shame it was such short trip, but oh so worth it to see Adele in such a great venue. So my sugar free diet took a massive hit while we were away. When you are travelling, sugar gets thrown at you from everywhere!

Lemon Meringue Pie

At this great little Italian bistro we went to a couple of times, the Lemon Meringue Pie was to die for!

For our last meal in Melbourne, we returned to a little Italian bistro we had been to before. Honestly, one of the main reasons was that we were slowly boiling from the inside out walking along the South Bank in 30-plus degree heat, so the prospect of a friendly little place down a shadowed alley was immensely appealing. How do people live in such extremes? And I'm sure it wasn't actually that hot for Australia. I couldn't resist a pudding this time, knowing it was going to be my last time there, but I could not have expected the mammoth portion of pie that was presented. OK, two forks & plates were delivered as well, but my wife hadn't ordered anything & wasn't going to eat much anyway. It was delicious & I was actually quite proud of myself because unlike what I would have done in the past - eat everything no matter how full I felt - I actually left a fair sized chunk!

We shall see if my tactic of not depriving myself completely paid off or absolutely backfired when I get back on the scales tomorrow morning. I decided that since I was on holiday, I was entitled to a couple of small treats. A dangerous tactic when still in the early stages of a life changing dietary plan. But the temptations are never going to go away. I shall have to deal with them all & still stay on track, which of course is the essence of the whole endeavour. I walked through the whole of Melbourne airport, past probably about 12 opportunities to buy candy, which I would always have done in the past, and reached the plane with only some pieces of fruit in my bag. Yes! Then of course they handed out a goody bag on the plane including a couple of small M&M packets. No! Oh well, can't be too bad, surely?

So today I've been good, back to the old new routine & I even played badminton tonight. So tomorrow I'm back on the scales… I'll just hold my breath & cross my fingers… and my legs… and my toes…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 078

RiK ! - Sunday, March 19, 2017

WEIGHTLINE (on tour) 078: TBC on day 80

OK, so today I can't talk much about food, because I've eaten too much & that's about all there is to it. Last night I saw a fabulous performance in a fantastic stadium from one of the all time great female vocalists, Adele. So my choice was to put a picture of the most enormous lemon meringue pies I've ever seen (that I nearly finished!) or one of the Adele concert… Well, neither!

Melbourne's art & grunge - ballet dancer with graffiti

A ballerina poses in front of graffiti at the Flanders Lane end of Hosier Lane, which is renowned for its end to end wall art!

Melbourne is an intriguing city, full of contradictions but growing & emerging as a great place to visit, perhaps to live? Walking around the CBD, you come across alleyways, like Hosier Lane that are full of graffiti, with deep doorways displaying evidence of drinking if nothing else. Yet, at the end, you emerge on to stunning wide boulevards, flanked by swish department stores & global brands with a regular & efficient free tram system running through. With pleasant cafes & restaurants of many hues dotted around the city, and concentrated dining areas such as those in Laneways, you are never far from your next coffee or meal (unfortunately for me!). Of course bars as well. Knocking back some Charlie Chaplins in Chin Chin's on Flanders Lane this lunchtime set us up for a great nap in the park this afternoon!

We took a direct tram ride from outside our hotel to the Etihad stadium last night (although we needn't have bothered, as we walked back at the end in 30 minutes from our seats to the hotel). It was a beautiful, calm, balmy evening with absolutely no need for the retractable roof to close! Adele was down-to-earth, stunning, funny, captivating, charming & what a voice! You don't realise how good she really is until you've heard her live. No electronic magic to cover up any weaknesses; just a glorious pair of pipes! Can you tell I'm a fan? The atmosphere was relaxed, excited & everyone loved her - you could just feel it. Our seats (pot luck as we didn't choose them directly) were fantastic - slightly elevated (about stage height) with great visibility & very comfortable!

What a long weekend in Melbourne. We fly back tonight. This image simply summed up Melbourne for me - the arts and grunge co-existing happily. We'll be back…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 077

RiK ! - Saturday, March 18, 2017

WEIGHTLINE (on tour) 077: TBC on day 80

We all put on different heads in different circumstances. Usually work & leisure, but it can be with friends or family or acquaintances. People see what we want them to see, usually. The Australian sculptors who created these characters summed up 'people' beautifully.

St Kilda's beach suburb - wonderful statues 

Sitting outside a bar/restaurant complex in St Kilda's, a beachside suburb to the south of Melbourne CBD. Gillian & Marc Schattner, a husband and wife team created these signature pieces.

One thing I really love about Melbourne is the public art. Usually quirky, often stunning, always large, it creates intrigue, beauty & discussion. Walking around today, I came across several great pieces, but I was particularly taken by the Dogman & Rabbitgirl sculptures. I have seen them before, in ceramic form in a gallery in Noosa, but they are particularly striking in bronze. Also, particularly relevant to my current quest to change my lifestyle diet. Am I merely putting on a different, but possibly temporary face, or have I changed my persona completely? I can't answer that, yet, but I think seeing these pieces triggered my conscience after devouring a gorgeous but rather large lasagne. If you are in Melbourne, I can't recommend Café Andiamo in Laneways enough.

However, I'm putting all dietary thoughts out of my head, because I'm about to go & see Adele perform. Melbourne is abuzz & the Etihad stadium in the Docklands is the perfect place. The weather has come to the party as it is the perfect evening too. I promise not to eat anything more than an apple or a banana before tomorrow! Adele is probably a good example of someone who doesn't have different faces. She wears her heart on her sleeve & she appears to be exactly the same person wherever she is, whatever she is doing. I (and probably quite a few million other people) love her for it.

So when you decide to gin on that next 'diet', ask yourself whether the diet is you & will continue to be, or is it just a mask you are pulling on to hide your real self?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 076

RiK ! - Friday, March 17, 2017

WEIGHTLINE (on tour) 076: TBC on day 80

The next challenge I have while on holiday is alcohol. I normally drink hardly anything - just the occasional glass of wine. But so far today I've had a beer, shared a jug of sangria & I'm now onto apple cider…

National Gallery of Victoria...

This is how I feel if I drink too much! Not quite sure who this fella is, but he was on the wall of the sculpture hall at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne

There were some exhibits at the National Gallery of Victoria where I felt I should have had a reasonable amount to drink in order to understand them! But I do like the galleries in Australia. My favourite so far is actually the one in Brisbane, but Melbourne was interesting. They are very accessible, cameras welcome & the buildings are well designed specifically as galleries. Today we walked a long way, meandering through the extensive park spaces, ending up in the massive Botanical Gardens. I needed a drink after that!

The choice of where to rest up, have a coffe or a drink, a snack or a meal, is extensive in Melbourne. We are staying in a very central hotel, so we don't even have to make use of the free trams in the central city. Although we'd walked so far, we did take a tram back the last two blocks. Hopefully the walking will have counteracted the amount of food (& drink) we've consumed so far!

The age old question. How much exercise do you have to do to work off excess consumption. I already know the answer, unfortunately. A great deal, probably too much to be physically possible…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 075

RiK ! - Thursday, March 16, 2017

WEIGHTLINE (on tour) 075: TBC on day 80

What to do? I'm in Melbourne for a few days, taking a break & seeing Adele singing to a packed stadium on Saturday. But that means I have no access to a reliable set of scales. How many hotels, let alone the central but definitely budget establishment we've landed in, do you know that have weighing scales in the bathroom? So, a brief hiatus on the weight…

Melbourne Italian restaurant, squeezed into an alleyway

One of the joys of Melbourne is that it is a very cosmopolitan city, so this Italian restaurant, huddled in an alleyway, was a joy & the food was superb!

It will be interesting to see how I cope, on holiday, with no kitchen, surrounded by temptation in the form of beautiful cuisine everywhere. Oh how easy it would be to slip into old habits. Tonight, I ate until I was fit to burst. Not that we had that much, but the portions were good & it was so delicious we really couldn't leave anything. I had a carne pizza on a thin base & my wife had lamb kebabs with a Greek salad & tzatziki. She couldn't manage it all, so I had a kebab and a half of lamb that just melted in your mouth, as well as my pizza. I haven't had that much meat in a long, long time! To cap it all, we were eating at almost midnight NZ time, having been delayed travelling over.

We didn't eat anything particularly fattening, just a lot! I'm already missing fruit, though. Amazing how difficult it is to get something simple like an apple. Provision shopping tomorrow for fruit for the next few days. I am going to have to develop a travel strategy & prepare more things to carry with me to keep me going through unusually long & awkward break times. However, for the next 4/5 days I'm really not going to worry about it, but eat well but generally sensibly.

 

I'm prepared to put on a kilo or so, but also hoping I won't. I shall know next Tuesday morning once I'm back on my normal scales - can't wait!

 

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 074

RiK ! - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 074:  85Kg

Apparently sit ups will not give you a flat stomach! Thank goodness for that, because I hate sit ups! I have spent many an hour in the gymn over the years & sit ups in different guises have always played a part. Only recently has planking come to the fore & I actually quite enjoy the simple challenge of staying up… the masochist in me, probably.

Come on, you're supposed to be doing sit ups! Why? I'd be better off planking...

"Come on, you're supposed to be doing sit ups!" 'Why? I think planking is much more effective. Turn me over, will you?'

According to 'celebrity trainer' Nicola Addison, writing in the Daily Mail, you first have to build muscle. And to do that, you have to learn to love weights. Most calories are burnt in the muscles (specifically the mitochondria). The greater the mass of muscle that is active, the more calories you will burn, not only in a workout, but throughout the day because you've helped boost your metabolic rate. That also means compound workouts so you must incorporate exercises that challenge numerous muscle groups & multiple joints. Doing regular planks will help compress the abdomen & flatten your stomach. So for me, translated into my studio, that means that my planking is fine, but the only weight bearing exercises I do are really for my arms as I hoist myself up to a bar hangiong from the ceiling, using my own body as the weight. So should I be looking to do more weight bearing exercises when my legs don't need it, just my abdomen? Not sure…

In her final section, Nicola then switches to the real issue by saying that "sadly, abs are made in the kitchen. You simply cannot out train a bad diet, no matter how much work you do." This was the conclusion I had to arrive at & believe before I started my journey. Until recently I always believed (or hoped) that I could train out my bulging stomach. Sadly, no. The only dietary advice she offers is the crucial stuff - cut down on refined sugar and carbohydrates, remove processed food, salt, saturated & trans fat from your diet, up your protein intake & you might see that one, two, three pack emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis. Ok, so that last poetic part was me, not her!

The message is clear. To get a six pack you have to eat the right foods, avoid the bad ones & do some regular simple exercise. Simple stuff a baby could understand, right?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 073

RiK ! - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 073:  85Kg

You can imagine how irresistible the article was, headlined: "How to diet in your sleep" even though it was accompanied by a healthy degree of scepticism. And yes, the headline was there to draw you in & the promise was never fulfilled, but the article in the UK's Daily Mail (never my favourite rag!) was actually full of common sense advice.

The sun setting over the Kai Iwi Lakes

The sun setting over Kai Iwi Lakes. When you are in a place like this, it's easy to adapt to nature's natural cycles of sleep & wake with the sun rise.

As I near three quarters of my way through my 100 day challenge & I appear to have stalled, I'll read anything that promises snippets of new key information to get more weight off. The key message in this article, apart from healthy eating appears to be fasting. The author, Dr Jason Fong, is a great fan of this "missing link" in diet control. Essentially, long-term weight gain (like mine) induces a condition called 'insulin resistance' which occurs when high-sugar diets crash into stressful modern lives & you end up with far too much insulin in your system & your cells no longer react properly to instructions. Dr Fong reckons that if you're stubbornly overweight there is every chance you've got insulin resistance and your insulin levels are stuck on a fat-storing high, no matter how much kale you eat! The only way to break the cycle is to allow your insulin levels to drop very low & the only way to do that is to completely abstain from food & get a good long sleep, regularly.

So when the sun starts setting, no matter where you are, stop eating & get ready for bed! Sleep long & well & you'll be fasting for over half the day before you know it. Of course, the cycle starts again if you wake up & do what you've been told to do - eat the 'most important meal of the day'. Trouble is, this advice was perfect when breakfast foods were not sugary snacks but real food like porridge & oats. If you want to lose weight, eschew the fast breakfast food & choose eggs or plain natural yoghurt. Avoid anything instant as it will inevitably be heavily processed - which means it will be high in sugar & have no nutritional value. However, if choosing eggs, choose them carefully. With the recent caged hen eggs being passed off as free range, it's difficult to know. The shells will be slightly thicker, they will be less uniform & if (a big if since what the chickens are fed is not part of the free range specification!) the chickens are corn fed, the yolks will be big, thick and very yellow. Oh yes, and tasty! Finding really good free range, natural foods is a joy & you'll never go back!

So not so much of the dieting in your sleep, just the don't eat for a while before bed & sleep well… I think we should start to take note of the sun's setting & rising to regulate our sleep because it must be much better for us than our artificial, digitally controlled body clocks. Says he, writing at ten minutes to midnight…!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 072

RiK ! - Monday, March 13, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 072:  85Kg

There's something inspiring about a collaboration. Teamwork can be so productive as you work together, egg each other on & support each other in bad times as well as good. Doing anything alone is always harder than doing it with someone else, so find a supportive partner & it will become much easier.

Coastguard / Air Force Rescue Manouevres

the Coastguard practising marine rescue with Air Force support. Teamwork.

As well as people, it is important to find your partner foods. Those that will support you in your quest to lose excess weight. My approach was to find foods that I enjoyed that were not unhealthy, rather than to concentrate only on foods that were deemed healthy. This was because I have taken the latter approach before, often struggling to eat things that were undoubtedly good for me, but were difficult for me to stomach. I honestly can't imagine why it would pay to go on a diet eating foods that are good for you if there is no way you can continue with them long-term. So, I took the likeability approach & have not looked back. I have not eaten anything (apart from taste tests) that I would not be happy to continue eating. Losing weight has never been more satisfying!

But it is also important to focus occasionally on cleansing your body of toxins, regulating your metabolism & giving major organs the occasional WOF. This can sometimes involve ingesting foods or ingredients that deviate from this likeability chart. My solution to this problem? The smoothie. Include all the ingredients you need, add a banana & some almond milk & suddenly everything gets added to the chart. There is a good article in Mindfood about natural detox foods that help the liver to function at peak efficiency. Things like Chlorophyll (in Kale, spinach, parsley), Betaine (in broccoli and beetroot), Sulphur, Turmeric, Garlic… You get the picture. Simply add what you need to a smoothie & you don't have to worry about taste testing. My least favourite are things like beetroot & artichoke, so I'm glad there are ways I can get past them.

So find those partner foods you are happy to co-exist with long-term (that are not sugar-filled or processed), use smoothies to cover the taste of those healthy things you can't stand and you're set for some great teamwork going forward.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 071

RiK ! - Sunday, March 12, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 071:  85Kg

"A scientist and a chef walk into a bar. The scientist turns to the chef…" Well, it's not really a joke when they get together to write an article for the Guardian on how to try & trick your brain into eating healthily. Fascinating actually & I can attest to some of the tricks personally. Have a read, it's short & worth it.

You can't always believe your eyes!

Your eyes can play tricks on you. What at first glance may look like a picture of the Auckland waterfront has different layers…

Scale is a relative phenomenon that the brain uses to interpret information it gets through your eyes. So eat with smaller crockery & the brain thinks it is eating more - seriously! I know it seems idiotic because you know the crockery is smaller, but that information is processed differently from the stuff coming in through your eyes. The Delbouef illusion is an established optical illusion theory of relative size perception. It is thought that it is caused by the same visual processes that cause the Ebbinghaus illusion. Essentially, two objects placed side by side will appear to be different sizes depending on what is around them. So, place the same amount of food on a much smaller plate than normal & it will appear to your brain that you are about to eat much more than normal. Similarly, serving food in a bowl instead of on a plate can give a greater sense of volume & depth.

The latest research also shows that the weight of cutlery & crockery has a significant effect on our appreciation for meals we eat, with heavier plates, knives and forks offering greater satisfaction. Equally, if we are forced to eat with a non-dominant hand, we'll generally consume less. A bit like it taking much longer (with much falling over!) if we have to pull our trousers on over the 'other' leg first - try it! So, if you can't use chopsticks, try them - you'll eat less! The good old TV dinner must go too. Messaging, checking social media, watching TV & other similar distractions will ensure you are not focused on your food, so you'll appreciate it less, which will inevitably lead to a reduced sense of fullness & so to overeating. Multisensory tasting also helps appreciation, which can be as simple as taking the time to sniff your food & really appreciate the aromas. Apparently, up to 90% of what we perceive as flavour comes from our sense of smell.

So eat with smaller & heavier crockery & cutlery, experiment with chopsticks, turn off the TV & smell your food. You'll end up appreciating your food more & eating less. Oh yes, and chew properly as your Granny always said. Focusing on the texture of your food because our brains use the amount of sensation we receive from texture as one of the cues to tell us when to stop eating.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 070

RiK ! - Saturday, March 11, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 070:  85Kg

Breastfeeding. Still seems to be contentious. We've been through the 'breast is best' & come to the 'fed is best' to ensure women don't feel pressured. For goodness sake! What's wrong with 'mum knows best' & leave women to decide. And the poor, misguided, uptight misogynists (Misogyny is typically an unconscious hatred that men form early in life, often as a result of a trauma involving a female figure they trusted) who throw up their hands in horror at anyone even thinking of breast feeding in public! Don't they realise this reveals a great deal about their upbringing & moral certitude - and not in a good way.

breastfeeding - why does anyone object to it?

Breastfeeding is natural, normal & part of the cycle of life.

I'm afraid I could write tomes on this topic because I simply believe in self-determination & nature above all else. Humans (and unfortunately men in particular) have introduced artificial boundaries & standards that simply go against the natural order of things & are usually there to protect men from their own inability to control themselves. Ho hum, not the subject today! I have photographed many pregnant ladies & new mums & it is perfectly natural during the course of a session for them to feed a young baby. It then also becomes perfectly natural to capture that moment. These shots never fail to please & frankly, you'd only object if you saw in them something other than a young mother providing sustenance to a beautiful new baby. Think about it. So, I was a bit disappointed, but not surprised, to read an article on mothering.com about sugar in breast milk causing unhealthy growth in babies.

Michael Goran, the founding director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the Keck School of Medicine, says that the exposure of higher amounts of sugar to infants and children during periods of growth and development could produce lifelong risk for several diseases including: obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease. More, Goran says that sugar exposure could even affect a baby’s cognitive development. Goran suggests eating and drinking less sugars while pregnant or breastfeeding, and if choosing formulas or baby foods/snacks, to consider ones without added sugars or sweeteners. So the advice to cut out the sugar starts before you can even feed yourself! The facts: "A single microgram of fructose, which is about the weight of a grain of rice and equivalent to what is found in an average day’s serving of breast milk could increase a baby’s body weight and fat five to ten percent. Lactose, which is the main source of carbohydrate energy in breast milk was 1,000 times less than the amount of a microgram of fructose, and its benefits can be compromised by the presence of fructose in breast milk."

So, although this must be obvious if you think about it, a baby ingests only what its mother has to give it, both in the womb and afterwards. Sorry mums - you have an additional reason to give up the poison sugar!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 069

RiK ! - Friday, March 10, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 069:  85Kg

If you are driving up to the Bay of Islands, or even further, at the junction where you'd turn off to Russell is a small town called Kawakawa. It is best known for its public toilets. They were decorated (entirely) by an Austrian artist / designer and are such a good example of the long-lasting interest you can create with art in a public space. A bit like (albeit more temporary) Fierce Girl, the new statue on Wall St.

Hundertwasser public toilets in Kawakawa, Northland

Hundertwasser public toilets in Kawakawa, Northland. A popular tourist attraction as well as a convenient stopping point on a road trip north.

It is the artistic / alternative lifestyle / hippy / spiritual communities that have for years been showing the way in terms of how to eat & how to live. Many people look down on those not so concerned with material goods, and more interested in the ecology of our planet & the wellbeing of our bodies and the spiritual harmony of our souls, but they really shouldn't. This life is not about how much wealth you can accumulate (and leave behind), it is how you can live well and in harmony with your environment & fellow man. Imagine this planet without creativity, without art, without design - well, I don't really have to imagine having visited East Germany before the wall came down. In a word, or two: soul-destroying. The same souls whose wild & creative spark lights up our lives also understand balance and harmony inside the body. How many burger-munching, soda-swilling artists do you know? Ok, maybe one or two, but don't get carried away. Sensitive souls are usually sensitive to most things, including health.

Directly opposite the Kawakawa toilets is a café, that used to be called the Trainspotter Café, but has now been rebranded '39 Gillies St Café & Boutique Catering, so what I'm about to say may have been swept away in the sale. Anyway, it was simple, honest food without anything processed or 'fast'. It went well with the toilets & I have spent many a breakfast occasion there on trips. When you remove the veneer & polish of 'modern' living, life becomes so much more immediate & real. This applies to everything, including food & even toilets! Thinking about what you are putting into your mouth takes you so much closer to the real cycle of life, as does artistic expression. The current 'debate' about food labelling in New Zealand is a joke. I don't want to eat anything if I don't know where it came from & just as importantly, what's in it. For example, beef. How the cow was fed & the environment it was in & how it was treated will dramatically affect what the beef actually consists of & therefore how it will affect my body. The current debate is just scratching the surface.

So the link between art, architecture & good food? Awareness. Being truly aware of your environment & your body will lead you down different paths - real paths. Be aware. Be alive. Be happy.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 068

RiK ! - Thursday, March 09, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 068:  85Kg

Milk is not just a drink, it's a cultural phenomenon. It is rich in calcium and protein & has forever been the essential drink to help growing kids, strengthen bones and, as far as I know, heal the world's problems. Except this is all wrong! It is high in fat (and there's another story if we take the low fat or 'skinny' version) and it actually depletes calcium from our bones!

What is it about milk? Or milky coffee...

Latte's or milk-rich drinks have long been a favourite of mine. I'm swearing off them now, choosing just the occasional soy flat white.

Apparently, and don't shout at me I'm simply reporting what I found here on saveourbones.com, many scientific studies have shown an assortment of detrimental health effects directly linked to milk consumption. The most surprising is that we not only barely absorb the calcium in cow's milk (especially if pasteurised), but it actually increases calcium loss from our bones! Ironic, or what! Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body's pH which in turn triggers a biological correction. Calcium is an excellent acid neutraliser and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is the bones. So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is used to neutralise the acidifying effect of milk. The surprising net result of this interaction is an actual calcium deficit. This makes sense of the statistics showing that the countries with the lowest consumption of dairy products also have the lowest fracture incidence in their population.

I found this astonishing. What I found less surprising was the statement that 'today's milk is a processed food'. Pasteurisation and homogenisation alter milk's chemistry and actually increase its detrimental acidifying effects. But, in addition, milking cows are given antibiotics and many are injected with a genetically engineered form of bovine growth hormone (rBGH). A man-made hormone used to artificially increase milk production, rBGH also increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in those who drink it. And higher levels of IGF-1 are linked to several cancers. What goes into the food chain has to come out! Organic milk is from cows that are not given any hormones, but there is still the calcium myth.

If you shouldn't consume cow's milk, what can you have. I now tend to drink soy flat white's, but after reading this article, I think I'll be asking if the soy is organic. However, I don't drink that much! Unsweetened almond milk is probably the best alternative & that is what I now use in my afternoon smoothies… The more I read (and I'm a natural sceptic) the more I realise how much pap we are fed by big business who simply want to keep the coffers filled up - no interest in our health at all.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 067

RiK ! - Wednesday, March 08, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 067:  85Kg

There's an article on Mindfood.com (from December) which essentially tells you why you should not stop exercising. Of course it was timed to encourage you not to sit on your backside all Christmas, but the points are valid any time. And when someone says exercise I think of two things - firstly my current sport - badminton, and secondly anything outdoors. Surely exercise & fresh air should be synonymous?

Life's a beach - and then you discover the south island!

Life's a beach (or should be!): you've not quite tasted the great outdoors until you've walked (or run) along a South Island beach

I've said before that I find it harder to keep off weight in winter, because it's harder to get motivated. Increased sunlight levels & higher temperatures somehow combine to make it easier to keep away from the comfort food and get into the great outdoors. Then, keeping up regular exercise allows us to manage our cravings better. In the article, Dr Richard Keegan, an associate professor in sports and exercise psychology at the University of Canberra, says, "When people are exercising regularly, they have more healthy food cravings. When people have an active lifestyle they don't crave fatty foods as much." Fitness of any kind has an enormous effect on your mood and serotonin levels and changes in energy regulation occur quickly when you stop exercising. If you stop your regular fitness routine, you can experience dips in mood, heightened anxiety levels and more noticeable irritability.

According to Dr Keegan, exercise can "reduce most of the negative mental states and some symptoms of depression and anxiety, and you have better sleep regulation. Usually, you'll see an improved mood, slightly elevated energy levels and you do get some cognitive changes in self-esteem." And according to Professor David Luban from the University of Newcastle, the social and spiritual connectedness you receive from exercise is really important. "We know that there are benefits of doing exercise outdoors that are above and beyond doing exercise in a gymn. When you're outdoors your brain relaxes and you're distracted from your troubles," he said. "When we live in a built-up environment you get stimulus overload, but when you go running outdoors your body and brain unwind a bit and connect with nature."

So, there you have it. Official stamp of approval to get out into our beautiful New Zealand landscapes & commune with nature. You can run, bicycle, swim, fly or simply walk. But just do it (do I have to put copyright Nike after that statement?)!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 066

RiK ! - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 066:  85Kg

Milestone passed! 10Kg lost as of this morning. So half my weight target in exactly 2/3 of the stated time. This means, of course, that I won't achieve a 20Kg loss without doing something different & possibly a bit drastic. Am I going to do that? No. Am I worried about not hitting my original target? No. Am I feeling gooooooodd? Yeeeessss!!

Kiss my Ass!

2010 "Ass Kisser" Shiraz: some great Australian (sorry!) wine following in the wonderful modern tradition of cool labels that have absolutely nothing to do with the content! (thanks, Al...)

So all of you nay-sayers & doubting toms, you know what you can become now - just look at the picture! It's amazing how much pleasure the minute movement of a bar on a scale can generate & how it can affect your viewpoint. Yesterday, I was feeling empty. Today, I'm feeling 'healthily light'. Same feeling, different perspective! Now, in the past, I would celebrate by treating myself to a carrot cake or bag of maltesers or some such 'delicious' treat; today, I'm celebrating by enjoying the feeling & having an extra helping of red grapes… That's because I know the real challenge lies ahead. I've always been able to lose weight when I needed to, because that requires will power & stamina short-term, which I have. But, I've never been able to sustain it, gradually piling on the pounds afterwards. Now is different & I know it.

I was talking about this with a friend this morning & managed to articulate succinctly what I've tried to write about before. Losing weight & maintaining it is a mental challenge because everything you do is a mind game. For example, when you reach for that chocolate bar, the mind switches off so you can't properly analyse the fact that you will get 3 minutes pleasure from the bar, but it will take you more than an hour and a half exercise to get rid of it from your body. Now who in their right mind would line up that kind of payback, and probably multiple times because sugar is so addictive? I used to. Go figure! Of course, the other thing the mind closes down to is accepting you are an addict. Like all addictions, it controls your conscious thought because if it didn't, you'd kick the habit immediately. How insidious is that?

Mind control. It's not just for the X-men. Wrestle your mind back from your alter ego because it really doesn't know what's best for your body. I have. And for those of you still thinking that I'll never sustain this, you can just kiss my very tasty 2010 Australian Shiraz!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 065

RiK ! - Monday, March 06, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 065:  86Kg

Two thirds of the way through my 100 day challenge, I feel quite empty. That's not necessarily a bad thing, in fact it's probably as it should be, but it's an unfamiliar feeling. Given that I've spent most of my life stuffing my face & enjoying the comfort of feeling full, I am still acclimatising to this new shell of a body.

An abandoned cicada skin. Adults live only 2-4 weeks above ground

An abandoned cicada skin I found this weekend. I am always amazed at how they can be so utterly complete.

The life cycle of our cicadas is fascinating. The female lays her eggs on grasses or trees & cream-coloured nymphs hatch & claw their way about 40cm down into the earth. Underground, they shed their skin several times as they grow. Most species stay there for 3 years or more before burrowing back up and, at night, climbing a tree & shedding their final skin (pictured). The adult emerges with crumpled wings & lives above ground for just 2-4 weeks. All that gestation & effort for up to 4 weeks of life! Why am I telling you about cicadas? Simply because finding that empty shell poignantly reminded me how empty I was feeling. And given that summer weather has finally arrived now that autumn is officially here, the cicadas really are the official soundtrack to summer.

How do you get used to feeling empty, to feeling slightly hungry all the time? One pearl of wisdom that is undoubtedly correct from the dieticians is always get up from the table feeling that you could eat a little more. Well, I feel like that all day now. It's not desperate, but it is a nagging feeling that I have to combat & overcome, especially since it is so unfamiliar. Why else would an empty cicada skin remind me of it? It's sort of like learning to resist & reverse muscle memory feeding actions by really listening to what your body wants instead of your mind. I'm sure as more time goes by I'm going to discover many more different ways my mind can try & trick me into filling my stomach again. I don't think I've ever lost this much weight before or kept to a healthy diet for this period of time before - ever. Scary thought that - which is just another thought & emotion I have to push aside, otherwise what I'm doing might just overwhelm me.

Given that my history suggests after losing weight I can reward myself with a little bit of crap food - that always leads to more crap food - I have to fight to accept, understand & enjoy this empty feeling. Perhaps not quite as empty as the abandoned cicada skin, but that's just how it feels right now…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 064

RiK ! - Sunday, March 05, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 064:  86Kg

As we were walking along beautiful Ruakaka beach this afternoon and I was pondering what to write about today, my wife imparted a pearl of wisdom: "we are what we eat." So true - why has no-one else thought to coin that phrase?! I had been wondering how to talk about our food chain & the fact that we are so divorced from our food sources. It is no wonder we pay so little attention to the ingredients, they mean nothing to us in real terms!

"We are what we eat" French toast used to be one of my staples

French Toast. Used to be one of my staples when we were out at a café. But how were the pigs that produced the bacon treated, and the chickens?

When I was a young kid, around 6-7, my parents were living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. As expatriates, we had a young local family who lived with us & did all the cooking, cleaning etc. They had several kids about my age, so I spent a great deal of time with them. It was only natural that the mother would show me, as she was showing her children, how to kill & prepare a chicken for dinner. So, at age seven I was duly instructed on how to break the chicken's neck, pluck & eviscerate it. This I did & was also given clear information on how we should only do this to feed ourselves & as the animals were making a sacrifice for us, we should look after them well while they were alive. Although I remember being a bit hesitant at the time, it seemed logical to me. After all, we enjoyed eating chicken. Probably because of this experience, I feel it is a good idea for people to understand what exactly goes into their food & where it comes from. My aunt & uncle ran a farm in the UK & so later on I was also exposed to the raising & slaughtering of other animals.

Probably a large number of people would give up eating meat if they had to kill & prepare, or possibly even watch the process. But this is a large part of our food source. Those who do not eat free range eggs, should spend some time at a battery farm, caring for the chickens. Only by getting up close & personal do most people actually register the import of what is happening. Perhaps guided tours of abattoirs? Why do our children not learn about food at school? Every single food related class is optional. Kids should be taught where our food comes from, how it is processed, what is good for our health & what is not & they should all be taught how to prepare & cook simple meals. How many of you eat sausages at the good old Kiwi sausage sizzle? The cheapest sausages are always used & if you knew exactly what was in them, I guarantee you'd swear off them. You wouldn't even finish a mouthful! Most importantly, our kids should be taught to respect the animals that give their lives for us & help ensure they are treated well. Otherwise, that's just barbaric, isn't it?

How is it we have become so divorced that big food manufacturers can dictate what we eat simply by producing processed c**p cheaply. We choose what to eat simply by what it costs & how all the additives taste - madness!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 063

RiK ! - Saturday, March 04, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 063:  86Kg

Most mornings I walk Mairangi Bay beach & along the coastal pathway linking it to Campbells Bay. If the friend I walk with has his dog, then she accompanies us. Why walk? It gets me out of bed at a good hour is the primary reason. It stretches my limbs aching from a good workout on the badminton court the night before, for two. I enjoy the companionship, thirdly. And it makes my body & soul feel alive to see this sight at the start of a new day.

Mairangi Bay Beach, North Shore, Auckland

Mairangi Bay beach with Rangitoto rising from its night bed of mist.

Of course, it's not always as fabulous as this every morning. A bit like watching what you eat. Everything can't be easy & perfect all the time. Winter does come, but even in winter there can be many great days! Most mornings we declare how lucky we are at living in such a fantastic part of the world. Most days I can resist temptation & the day passes without incident. Some days are just difficult. Today was difficult. Weather was great, morning walk was great, coffee & company were fabulous; it was just that I woke at the crack of dawn with my stomach feeling the effects of something I ate that was obviously not quite right. I threw the ham away. Feeling under the weather added that little bit of strain to my mental effort, which meant I actually craved comfort food. I wasn't specifically hungry, I just wanted to feel better & comfort food has traditionally been what I've turned to.

I was good, I was strong. I resisted. Well, I ate a few more apples than normal & an extra banana, but I confidently count that as a resistance day! I am going to have to think of what to replace my normal comfort foods with for next time, assuming I'm feeling back to full strength tomorrow. Hot chocolate, cereal, sweets, toast & marmalade, rice pudding… all banned forever. I suppose I could look at porridge? Trouble is, I associate porridge with lots of milk & a ton of brown sugar! Sushi? Not exactly something you can keep in the larder. Is there such a thing as comfort food in the world of healthy eating, or is it by definition unhealthy as well as comfort? Ideas, anyone?

The final reason I walk in the morning is that it is a good substitute for breakfast. Exercise always makes me think less about & desire less food, so a good brisk walk, followed by a soy flat white is a great way to start the day!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 062

RiK ! - Friday, March 03, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 062:  86Kg

We are all the same aren't we? We are all one species. There is so much in the news about the 'T' man & the bigoted views he spouts, that it would be easy to think that the human race has diversified into multiple species, each vying for supremacy (or possibly craving isolation). But we really are built from identical elements, with simply a few variations for appearance. Cultural history & norms and language all contribute to making us appear different, but strip those away & we are one.

All the same, but different

All the individual elements are identical & made & displayed identically. There is just a small (colour) element that distinguishes these lipsticks. The same, but different.

The French phrase captures it perfectly. "Vive la difference!" Celebrate all the differences we have because the similarities are too many & we would not enjoy being a species of identical robots, would we? How many people have you met that try & change the way other people think to their way? Listening & understanding a different viewpoint, or looking properly & trying to understand a visual presentation from the point of view of the presenter. These are the skills we should be encouraging in our children. Listen, Look, analyse, understand, query, discuss, conclude, present. In that order. Entirely the opposite to argue, bully, harass, argue more, browbeat, shout down… In which world would you prefer to live? Of course weight is not a major factor in international relations, but it is in individual societies. Weight is one of the most obvious visual factors we take note of when we meet someone, especially for the first time. How we react is usually conditioned by our upbringing and how our society views weight as presented in the media. Plus, of course we are influenced strongly by our friends & immediate social circle.

Where does negativity start? How do we break the cycle? How do we breed a generation of people who accept & embrace differences; who encourage diversity & reject boundaries & borders? First, I think we have to like ourselves & be confident that who we are happiest being is who we must be, irrespective of whether that is a 'popular' position or not. I don't actually believe that we are heavily influenced by the media, I think we get the media we deserve. If we stopped being interested in which celebrity tripped, then so would the media. So if we stop making any issue about who is carrying 'extra' pounds & who isn't, the issue would go. I do believe, because that is why I'm on my 100 day quest, that too much weight is unhealthy, but I also believe that there is so much debate & disagreement over how much is too much, that it has to be a personal choice for each individual.

Let people be. Let them be the people they really are. Let them be themselves unencumbered by your opinion. Let them be able to make the best choices for themselves. Let them be. After all, we are all fundamentally the same, just beautifully different, aren't we?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 061

RiK ! - Thursday, March 02, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 061:  86Kg

Image. That's what it's all about for some people. People want to lose weight so they can conform to the media-generated expectations of their peers. This is real. It's not about health, definitely not about health when some people lose so much weight it's decidedly Unhealthy. And don't go thinking the problem is restricted to one sex.

Robbie Williams at the Vector Arena, Auckland

Robbie Williams performing at the Vector Arena, Auckland. Robbie is all about image, and his weight has fluctuated quite a bit over the years.

The thing that really gets me about weight and image is how so many people feel that they have a right not only to comment, but to instruct, direct and abuse someone just because of their weight. And often, they have no image themselves to shout about either. Weight has become one of those polarising issues that everyone is an expert on. As a photographer, it is expected that I will only photograph skinny women. Wrong. I photograph beautiful and interesting people, and in my experience they can be virtually any size. When a publisher chooses to buy into the stereotypes & adjust images so that the models fit the 'expected' size, they are really only taking the lazy & easy route. Much harder, but much more rewarding is to choose carefully & shoot creatively with real people that match the mood & atmosphere required. When done well, these images are truly the most powerful precisely because they are real & not obviously manipulated.

For the record, I am not losing weight because I want to change my image! I think a few too many years have passed for me to worry about that, as if I ever did! No, I'm losing weight because it is a natural by product of eating healthily & health is my main driver. But the key thing here is that it is my personal choice & mine alone. No-one should feel forced or coerced into making life changing decisions to satisfy anyone but themselves, and absolutely not to pander to something as nebulous as an 'image'. All of us must stop propagating the myth of the 'perfect' size & image & start to embrace real human beings in all their glorious sizes. If we start to insist that the images we see must be real & not retouched, we have the power to adjust society's visual parameters. Simply tell the company / magazine / shop that you want to see real images & you will not patronise them until you do. Now there's a bit of revolutionary thinking!

One size fits all? That's what the media have most of us believing. But with at least, oh say 2 seconds thought, we realise what bull**** that actually is. So why can't we accept the obvious truth & love people for who they are, not what size they are?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 060

RiK ! - Wednesday, March 01, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 060:  86Kg

I spent some time travelling around Europe when I was young, usually by car, even though the public transport system is excellent. Then I was skinny, reasonably fit & healthy and small lifts, cramped stairs, small cars didn't figure once in my thoughts. Now, I can't really imagine doing what we used to do, partly because I'm so much larger! Oh well, on the road to fixing that.

Place des Vosges, Paris - 1980's

My (now) wife by our car in Place des Vosges, Paris. We were staying at the Hotel de la Place des Vosges - the very definition of 'boutique'.

Starting off our tour around Europe, we stayed at a tiny boutique hotel in the Place des Vosges. It is the oldest and one of the finest planned squares in Paris, built by Henri IV between 1605 and 1612. So the walls of the hotel we stayed in were nearly 400 years old. I know with absolute certainty that the people back then were smaller than us. The spiral staircase was miniscule & I'm not sure I could negotiate it now at all. They had installed a lift, but it could only just accommodate both of us at the same time if we breathed in! Our car was a Fiat X19, fabulous to drive around the continent, but zero space. The roof came off & stored under the bonnet & it was a mid-engined car, so there was room for a small bag in the front & a tiny boot (two other small bags) at the back. On our return, we couldn't resist buying a case of wine from a chateau we stayed at overnight & so my wife spent the rest of the return journey with her knees up by her chest as the case of wine filled her footwell (together with other goodies like cast iron French cookware and Italian ceramics!).

We adjust our outlook on life according to the size we are. It's not particularly conscious thought, it happens more by instinct. Planning a holiday now, I would of course be more practical generally, but I would also make choices based on my understanding of the size I am. My first car trip to the continent was aged 18 with a friend in my sister's Hillman Imp. We just set off to the South of France. Apart from the fact that it took us until the return journey to realise that French traffic lights weren't where the English ones are, we also only took one small tent, minus a flysheet. Of course, the solution was to sleep in the car, which I did quite happily, curled up on the parcel shelf in the back, above the massive 875cc engine. (And if you don't know Hillman Imps, look them up!)

I crave that lightness of foot, that agility. I accept that I'll never be as resilient & athletic as I was in my late teens & twenties, but I already feel it's easier to move around having lost just 9Kg. I can't wait to lose the next lot to see if I would want to plan a foreign excursion in a small car again!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 059

RiK ! - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 059:  86Kg

I don't know about you, but summer for me makes it generally easier to resist temptations, food-wise, as the whole warm feeling, with possibly the hint of a cool breeze, pushes me towards iced water, if anything. I do believe the weather, and particularly the light & temperature, have a direct effect on our mental state, which in turn affects how strong we are in adjusting our lifelong habits.

Boat Shed Cafe - Nelson

Can you imagine many more beautiful spots, without travelling by jet? The Boat Shed Café in Nelson. Simple, relaxed & why aren't there more ameneties like this on the water in NZ?!?

The sun. The lifegiver. Warm weather, bright light, blue sky, there is nothing much better to raise the spirits. It is easier to concentrate, easier to focus, thoughts are clearer, goals are more attainable. If I was to attempt this 100 day challenge in mid-winter, I really don't think I'd make it; and I'm not sure why. The environment I'm in, my studio, doesn't really change. I can heat it if it gets too cold & cool it if it gets too hot. But somehow there is nothing quite like opening the doors & windows & letting the fresh air in. I'm so much more productive & energetic in summer, so maybe that also helps in burning off the fat! Don't you wake up in a more positive frame of mind (generally) in summer? I do. With a challenge like this that is so much more mental than physical, the weather is on my side. I'm on Day 59 & I haven't been seriously tempted by any sweet thing yet. I'm hoping I'm already past the pain threshold, but I can't relax until I've been massively tempted (and succeeded in resisting) at least once. I'll keep you posted.

How do you increase your mental strength to get through life changing journeys like this one? I find it is a mixture of tunnel vision and compartmentalisation. Whenever I think my mind is moving towards trying to persuade me to stray from the path, I force it to focus specifically on an image of me, much lighter, stronger, fitter, healthier and, as it happens, this image of me is always in the sunshine! Once I'm a bit more focused, I can then allow my mind to move between several different compartments, each containing a (true) scenario. This first one is a healthy me that is now, more & more how I am feeling. In another one, I am fat, tired, bloated, munching on giant bags of maltesers, loving the chocolate but feeling decidedly uncomfortable. I don't suppress the love of the chocolate, because I've found that as soon as I lie to myself, the scenario is destroyed. I focus more on the reality of not feeling great. A third one is me playing badminton and as the late, great Muhammed Ali said, 'flying like a butterfly & stinging like a bee'. Playing is so much more pleasurable when I'm not carrying around 4 or 5 bags of sugar of excess weight!

If only there were more spots like the Boat Shed Café to hang out in Summer. There's something about being on / over the water that is so relaxing & at the same time stimulating. My best ideas are usually created in environments like this. Mind you, they wouldn't make much money out of me, on my current quest…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 058

RiK ! - Monday, February 27, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 058:  87Kg

How many years should humans live? We certainly live far longer than even our recent ancestors. Is it because of our diet? Or simply that we have got better at combatting disease? Or perhaps we live far more comfortable lives so our bodies are not put under too much strain? Whatever it is, we live longer, but some far longer than others.

Tane Mahuta

Tane Mahuta. Lord of the Forest. It is difficult to estimate the age, but it's possible that this tree seeded at the time of Christ, over 2000 years ago.

So why do some bloodlines regularly live to well over 100, whereas others cannot make it much past 70? Is it just DNA, or does diet have something to do with it? Common sense would say that it is primarily our DNA that determines how long our 'engines' will run for, but equally, if treated with care, it must be possible to extend the expected time a bit. Just like a car designed to do 200,000 Kms can easily surpass that if never stressed & properly maintained. I don't believe we can conquer our pre-determined lifespan by decades, but I do think that if we look after our bodies, they will last longer than possibly expected and be much more reliable getting there. So, I am changing my diet, not because I want to live longer, but I want the time that I have to be as active and trouble-free as possible. Don't you?

In Maori cosmology, Tane is the son of Ranginui the Sky Father and Papatuanuku the Earth Mother. Tane tore his parents apart to bring light, space and air and allowing life to flourish. Tane is the life giver; all living creatures are his children. Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest is the largest living kauri tree in New Zealand. In around 2000 years it has grown to over 50 metres, with a girth of nearly 14 metres. But the roots of Kauri trees are shallow & delicate, so it has survived against the odds. Living in the Waipoua Forest on the Western coast north of Dargaville, this majestic tree stands as a testament to the preciousness of life. If you haven't visited it, you should take a trip, it's worth it.

Life needs sustenance, just like an engine needs oil. Depending on the quality of the oil, parts may need replacing early or may last longer than expected. Depending on the overall care, the engine may break down early, or be nurtured well past its due date. Tane Mahuta has been nurtured & although I personally wouldn't want to live much longer, a little bit might be good; just a little, healthily!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 057

RiK ! - Sunday, February 26, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 057:  87Kg

The key question is whether you can eat what you like if you do enough exercise? I've been trying to do this for years, but for some reason it has never worked. I always thought that if I simply did more & more exercise, I would keep the weight off. Sorry folks, it simply doesn't happen!

Enough light to see where you are going?

Shedding a bit of light on the role of exercise in having a healthy diet is important.

The bottom line is, you can never out-exercise your mouth. I'm not a great believer in BMIs or calorie measures or things like that, but I'll use calories simply to illustrate how ridiculous it is to think you can exercise your way out of obesity. (And I blanked the truth of this for years!) It takes time to burn calories. Watch this video. Say an average chocolate bar contains 200 calories. It will take you over 1 hour of walking to burn that off. Or how about 30 minutes of serious running to burn off two cans of coke. Recent studies of children found definitively that their level of exercise was in no way related to their weight. Studies comparing industrialised & developing countries found that the level of activity was fairly comparable between the two, making diet the only real culprit for the obesity epidemic. Of course, it's much, much easier to simply say no to the bar of chocolate, which you don't need, because then you don't have to burn it off…

Exercise will help you lead a longer, happier life, but it simply won't help you lose weight. Exercise has been proven to be as effective as (or more than) many drug treatments for common health problems like diabetes, heart disease and depression, to name but a few, so it is definitely crucial in leading a healthy life, it just won't help you make it a skinny one! There are not enough hours in the day to burn off all the calories you can eat on an unhealthy diet, so simply stop eating the calories in the first place! I don't advocate a calorie counting diet specifically, but I do advocate being much more aware of the bad things & simply avoiding them. So what was that term I coined a while ago to describe the type of diet I was moving to? Oh yes, 'Fresher'. Become a 'Fresher' like me & it won't matter if you are not doing massive amounts of exercise or not, the excess weight will start to melt…

Illuminating eh? Who would have thought that losing weight was as simple as not putting as much fat-generating food in your mouth!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 056

RiK ! - Saturday, February 25, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 056:  87Kg

Oops! I went up a Kg! Not sure how or why as I haven't done anything different. Maybe it's my body muscle getting heavier? Well, I can dream. I have been preening myself recently, so this was an overdue warning about how I cannot lose focus. I can't really explain the gain as I haven't been slipping, so I'll just have to monitor it over the next week and see. I might slip a bit tonight though, as I'm going to the movies!

A Cockerel

This cockerel lives in a vineyard, free to roam wherever he pleases. I must remember not to preen myself quite as much as him!

So if you maintain the same reasonable diet and do the same amount of exercise as usual, why would you put on weight? I've been fluctuating mildly ever since I started, but this is the first time I've moved up a whole Kg. Well, muscle does weigh more than fat & they do say that your weight is not the most important measure, how you look and feel is. I am photographing myself every week & I have to say the difference today from a week ago is visually very striking. I am seeing a slowdown in the change of my body shape as well, though, so I suspect my body is adjusting to my new regime. That means I need to shake it up a bit. I think eating less, semi-fasting, might just make it more protectionist of the fat stores it has, and I can't really do very much more exercise than I do, so I guess the only alternative is to adjust my diet a bit. Try a few new things & vary it a bit.

Having spent ages trying to refine what there is that is both good for me & that I like to eat, trying to re-invent that might prove a difficult challenge, but I will try. Maybe instead of the fish, ham & eggs that I generally get my protein from, I should eat more meat & nuts? Not sure, but I will need to alter it around, I think. I am getting better at trying out new things, so if anyone has any suggestions of great foods that I might like, do let me know what they are. I probably can't do much more exercise, but I can mix it up as well. I played 18 holes of golf today; I play rarely nowadays but am always exhausted at the end & it does test out muscles I'd forgotten I have. So, I have to continue with badminton as my core form of exercise, but I think I'll adjust the extras a bit.

So, a cock-a-doodle-doo wakeup call today. Can't get complacent, got to keep focused & got to find new ways to trick the body into thinking it has to burn fat!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 055

RiK ! - Friday, February 24, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 055:  86Kg

Nicky Crocker is a geomancer. Not a weight-loss guru, a geomancer. She reads the magnetic lines that criss-cross the globe & pinpoints where they lie & where they intersect. Nothing to do with losing weight, but everything to do with keeping healthy. She has helped countless people simply by advising them to move from where they are sleeping or sitting for long periods.

Nicky Crocker - Clear Energy Homes

Nicky Crocker of Clear Energy Homes at the launch of her latest book, "What if it was that easy?", available from Amazon.

Nicky is a friend & a fellow member of our local business group - B2B Network - who introduced me to geopathic stress a couple of years ago. By the way, as an aside, if you are local to the North Shore & want to meet every fortnight with a group of friendly, interesting & diverse business people (free), just let me know or check on the Group's website. What Nicky says makes absolute sense, even if you have to shelve that innate sense of scepticism you may have (and I did) reserved for all those things in the 'magic and wizardry' category of life. I wrote a blog on her which you can read here, together with a video introducing herself. It is more than evident, looking at Nicky's work, that it is not just diet and exercise that are the keys to remaining healthy. There are some forces that are simply not that apparent. Nicky can cite examples of quite serious illnesses and afflictions that have been exacerbated, if not caused, by the power of geopathic stress. But, I suspect it is the more minor problems that might always go undiagnosed because they never become serious enough or warrant 'drastic' action and my guess is there are a huge number of them. Problems sleeping, irritability, headaches, depression, lack of appetite. You can see an exhaustive list of potential symptoms on Nicky's website.

Your immediate environment (work and home) are also critical in helping you keep at your optimum best, ensuring great quality of life. There are so many ways an environment can drag you down. You'd be amazed what a professionally designed space can do for you. I trained as an architect in the UK & I have nothing but sadness in my heart whenever I drive down most new New Zealand residential streets. Houses being chucked up with absolutely no professional design consideration, which will ultimately contribute absolutely nothing to elevate people's lives. Oh how people underestimate the contribution of design in their lives & usually always live to regret it. The argument for architecturally designed homes is a government level one, but you can bring in a professional interior designer! I heartily recommend Catherine Byrne of Byrne Design, a rising star in Auckland who really can transform the way you live, if you let her! And if you don't want to go that far, the least you can do is ensure your home is spotlessly clean. In our group we have a professional housekeeper, Rachael, aka The Housekeeper, who will come & do whatever needs doing, regularly. So your home is healthier & you have more leisure time to enjoy your health!

It really is fascinating if you take your day-to-day life apart, how we fall into (usually not great) habits, both from a culinary perspective and from a living angle. There are things that can be done to improve your mental as well as physical health and I'd recommend you to look at them all. We only have one life, so why not make it the very best it could be?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 054

RiK ! - Thursday, February 23, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 054:  86Kg

I started reading an article in the NZ Herald today. Titled, "Man gets revenge on bullies by losing half his body weight". Not one I would normally get pulled into, but I started watching the accompanying video and after skimming through it, I happened upon a section where his mother was saying that obesity should be regarded just like any childhood illness or disease & it got me thinking.

family - that's the thing!

Surely one of the driving factors about staying in shape & healthy is family, and equally it must be a parent's responsibility to ensure their children start life that way.

This guy, Andy, weighed nearly 150Kg & his size started ballooning from an early age. His parents took the attitude that they came from 'solid stock' and so it was simply normal & expected. His father was brought up on 'biscuits and gravy' and was delighted when his son loved that as well, so encouraged him to have more. They were patently blind to the impact his weight was having on his life & saw nothing really wrong with the fact that he was always the largest child in his class. In fact, he was so embarrassed about his weight that he would arrive early so he could sit at the back & no-one could watch him walk into class. His parents simply thought he was diligent! When he gave up his baseball, they started to get a bit of an inkling…

Most of us have a problem with weight at some point, but the real issue is how many of us are becoming obese. It really is a modern epidemic. And it must surely start in childhood? I'm not quoting any scientific studies, I'm speculating, hopefully reasonably intelligently! Certainly my problems started or were nurtured very young. I was always stuffing my face with anything sweet & sickly I could get my hands on. And my hands were very good at getting hold of stuff. I think I just naturally have a sweet tooth, but I was never taught to manage or control it. Now, good nutrition was not exactly topic of the day back then, so I can't really blame my parents, but if my kids have bad eating habits, then it's got to be my fault, hasn't it? They certainly can't know any better if they are not taught.

So there are several direct reasons to lose weight, get fit & stay healthy. For yourself, of course, but also to set a good example for your kids, because no matter how often we tell them to "do what I say, not what I do", they all learn by example, don't they?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 053

RiK ! - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 053:  87Kg

One question persists as my 100 days ticks on. "What are you going to do when you finish the diet?" Everyone is either confused or disappointed, or equal measures of both, with my answer. "I'm going to carry on, because I'm not on a diet, I'm working out how to eat for the rest of my life."

Been on this spiral before? don't diet - eat better!

the problem with 'diets' is that they never work long-term & you always end up taking the very same steps you took before - groundhog day!

I have done diets. I have done diets to death. I have dieted very successfully, losing tremendous amounts of weight. I have followed weight watchers, I have calorie counted, I have done the Atkins diet… At the end of each, I am slimmer, happier & healthier. It normally takes between 2 and 4 months to resume normal overweight service. This is because diets do not prepare you for what to do next. Diets do not change your habits, only you can do that. The reason I chose this time to embark on my 100 day lifestyle change is because I was completely mentally prepared, having worked my way around to it for at least 5 years. I kid you not. The trouble is, people think making up your mind is just that, making up your mind. It's not. To make up your mind to the extent that you can change your entire life's habits & make the change stick, you need to play the scenarios in your head, over & over & over, until you know, with absolute certainty you will be able to resist all temptations thrown at you; until you know that you really, really want this. I do.

I could not effect the changes I want with any short-term diet, then move on to something else. This is because the major issue is in my head. Trying to deal with one change of foodstuffs is bad enough, to deal with two - one at the beginning of the 'diet, then one at the end - would put too much stress on the process. So, I made up my mind, I decided what foods I was going to avoid & why & I switched. That's it. I have put a 100 day wrapper around it because I need a target for weight loss, not because day 101 is going to be any different. This is what people find so confusing. They then say, "so you're going to be on a diet for life!" No, I have simply decided to eat well, avoid all processed foods & buy food as close to its natural point of origin as possible. Ask yourself, if I can lose a good amount of weight by eating well, why on earth are there diets to follow? Answer, because people want to make money out of you. If someone other than me, an eminent dietician (or celebrity probably) came out with the ultimate 'diet' plan which simply consisted of eating organic, fresh fruit and vegetables with some simple unpolluted protein (and of course it's a lot more extensive than that otherwise it would be boring!), there would never be a need for another diet fad again & the obesity epidemic would be over.

So, step off the spiral, ignore the fads, turn the volume down on all those get slim quick ads, and just eat good food…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 052

RiK ! - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 052:  87Kg

OK, back to water! There are so many ways this simple, pure substance can help you. Why we don't recognise its worth & protect it everywhere & drink it all the time, I really don't know! I've been reading an article on Ornish.com (US lifestyle medicine site) about how keeping hydrated is very good for your heart & how bad the converse is…

Pure Water - New Zealand style!

When it is protected & nourished, New Zealand water is some of the purest in the world. Sadly, this is getting harder & harder to find :(

I personally know several people who, in the last year, have had heart problems seemingly out of the blue. Fit, healthy guys who seem to suddenly develop serious conditions. Well ,it's possible that lack of hydration could have been a contributory factor. A bold statement in this article is: "the more water you drink, the less likely you are to develop heart disease". If everything I'm reading on this site is accurate, this could well be true. A minimum of two glasses of water a day should be consumed & preferably a lot more. When your body does not get enough water, your blood gets thicker; your blood clots more easily; the blood vessels constrict; and blood vessels form plaque (for protection) more easily.

A study conducted in Japan in 2005 looked at people who drank two glasses of water a day, compared to those who drank five or more. It found a decreased risk of heart disease in the group that drank more water. Now what I usually do with these 'studies' is take them with a pinch of salt (not so good for your health, by the way!) because they are often easy to criticise & tear down. However, the underlying simplicity of the message speaks to common sense, doesn't it? We have to drink water, we know it is good for us & we know it has no downsides & fabulous life saving properties. So, it stands to reason that if it is that good for us, it must surely help oil the most basic bodily engine - the heart. Now please do not assume that because you are drinking a lot of fluid that may contain water, you are doing it right. You really need pure water without additives and coffee really does not count!

So I choose to believe this research & I hope, no I know, my heart will thank me in a few decades time! This really isn't a difficult one to adopt, so go on, have a glass now!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 051

RiK ! - Monday, February 20, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 051:  87Kg

Leah put on 2 stone but didn't know why. After taking a new gut test, she discovered the bizarre reason for her weight gain. She had the wrong kind - calorie-conserving - of bacteria in her gut. The article was published, on Valentine's Day of all days!, in the Daily Mail & Leah, the subject, was the author.

not quite microbacteria in your gut, but about as close as I could get photographically

not quite microbacteria in your gut, but about as close as I could get photographically!

I've touched on bacteria in the gut before, but this is a look at the whole ecosystem of microbes in our gut, known as the microbiome. It is now thought that this community acts like an organ, performing various vital functions. A healthy, balanced microbiome helps us break down foods, protects us from infection, trains our immune system & manufactures vitamins. It also plays a role in regulating blood sugar & metabolism and sends signals to our brains that can affect mood, anxiety and appetite. A bad diet, stress, alcohol and lack of sleep can upset it & create imbalances that are apparently being linked to a range of conditions, from irritable bowel syndrome to diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and , of course, obesity.

Read the article to understand the range & effect of different bacteria & the test to discover it, but leaping ahead to the important, and non-too-surprising conclusions… You can improve your microbiome diversity in weeks, by altering your diet and lifestyle. The answer for Leah and, I suspect for most of us, was to shun sugar and processed carbs and adopt a high-fibre, fairly low-fat diet. Leah was told to avoid fatty foods, except for extra-virgin olive oil - the darker the better as it's rich in polyphenols, compounds on which the gut bacteria thrive. Two portions of fruit a day, ideally berries, which also contain polyphenols, and red grapes, as research suggests these help boost levels of (obesity-fighting) akkermansia & at least five portions of veg a day.

It is an interesting read, but call me an old sceptic, it seems just another way to get money out of you to then tell you to eat all the good stuff you know you should be eating anyway (& I am now!).

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 050

RiK ! - Sunday, February 19, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 050:  87Kg

Half way! Technically, I have lost 9Kg so far, because I was actually 95.5Kg when I started & am now 86.5Kg, but I decided to report only whole kilo changes… So my target was 20Kg in 100 days - will I make it? I doubt it, but if I reach 80Kg I'll be more than happy.

LaLa Land

Am I living in La La Land to think I can keep the weight off? I don't think so, this time!

Some people think I live in La La Land if I believe I won't simply put the weight back on, as I have done many times in the past. The key difference is that I'm not on a diet. Since a major part of my 100 day challenge was to alter my mindset, perception, taste & desire for what I put in my mouth, I think I'm well on the way to succeeding. There will always be temptations, but I'm hoping that it really will be a case of mind over matter. Generally speaking it takes me quite a long time to mull over issues & make up my mind (years in this case), but when I do, I'm quite persistent. Quite often, it takes a goal, a challenge, a target, like the heart-warming article in the NZ Herald recently about Don Junior Sa'u who always dreamed about being a rugby professional. At 17 years old, his weight stood in his way, so he took part in a Cook for Life course & lost 50Kg in two years…!

On the programme he was taught how to cook nutritious, affordable meals and they developed an eating plan for him, which his mother then adopted for the whole family. Porridge and banana for breakfast, with lots of fruit and chicken breast and veggies for dinner. His advice to anyone thinking about changing their eating habits was "just think about your future". I don't really have a challenge, although I created one for myself by entering into the World Masters Games, so once that is over, just beyond the 100 days, the real challenge will begin. As far as I'm concerned, my new way of eating is my plan for life, not La La Land, so unless I have a hysterical breakdown, I shall continue on this course and will, in time, achieve that targeted 20Kg weight loss.

I have been photographing myself every week & will continue to do so & the visible change in my body is the real prize, the real motivation. The scales are not really the main story, just the headline.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 049

RiK ! - Saturday, February 18, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 049:  87Kg

On Friday, I didn't eat anything until a late dinner at 9:45pm. I had a few coffees and some water during the day, but nothing else. It wasn't deliberate, I was busy doing some overdue work & carpentry around the house, and it wasn't until I went off to play badminton at 7pm that I realized.

Not eating can make you feel like you've been cut off at the knees

No point reaching for your shoes if you don't have any feet! Exactly how I feel about eating - no point in reaching for food if you aren't hungry!

My wife was horrified & was convinced I'd return from my exercise a quivering wreck. But no, I didn't even experience moments of physical weakness that I have done in the past when feeling hungry, or more likely when in a downturn sugar cycle! I was absolutely fine & ate heartily. So why wasn't I hungry during the day? I naturally don't eat breakfast at breakfast time. I usually get up, have a cup of coffee & don't eat until around 1pm, or possibly slightly later, so I suppose I was busy enough to just keep going & not notice I'd forgotten to stop for food. So was this bad for me? Is my practice of not eating breakfast ("the most important meal of the day") bad for me?

An article on sharecare.com expresses opinions that are becoming quite prevalent - 'Intermittent fasting can add years to your life'. Essentially, I don't really subscribe to the 'three hearty meals a day' regime & never have. I tend to eat when I'm hungry, especially in the last 48 days. I'm rarely hungry when I wake up & so I start my food when my body asks for it. I've always found that if I start eating early, overall I always eat much more during the course of the day. The human body can survive , indeed thrive, on very little food & our bodies have evolved to cope with feast & famine. Only in the last few thousand years, if that, have we started to eat regularly.

Recently, 'scientists' have begun to notice that our bodies do extremely well when we starve them occasionally. I've begun to notice that without the massive sugar intake in my diet, I'm finding it easier to ignore those gentle food pangs & instead either abstain or drink some water. Now, that can't be bad for me, surely?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 048

RiK ! - Friday, February 17, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 048:  87Kg

So I think it's quite well established that eating less meat is better for you & better for the planet… Well, I'll continue on that assumption because I've looked into it quite extensively over the last couple of years & if I, a dedicated carnivore, can be persuaded…

d'Arenberg - McLaren Vale - the Love Grass Shiraz

Well, you don't exactly have to love grass to eat less meat, but a drop of this certainly helps wash down a bit of prime… lettuce!

If you are a dedicated meat eater, like me, how on earth do you manage to wean yourself off & migrate to join the grass eaters?! Not easy, but baby steps. Firstly, you have to be convinced that eating too much meat is not good for you - that took me more than a few decades! Second, don't go cold turkey (forgive the pun!) because that will only drive you bacon into the arms of the cows. (Couldn't resist that!) There is a good article on exactly this subject written by Tracy Spark half way through last year & published on 1millionwomen.com.au. Have a read. Its focus was not weight loss, but animal & planet welfare, but essentially there is nothing wrong with being kind to animals & the planet while being kind to yourself, is there? So go free range, corn fed, born free, all that good stuff. This is a minefield, however, so do read things very carefully. Marketers are very good at making you believe the products are free range, when in fact they aren't exactly!

Once you've limited yourself to good produce, including locally grown organic veg, then the article advises, invest in some quality cookbooks. Vegetarian recipes are really coming into their own, so find a a good, recent one. Experiment! Keep some meat in your diet, but garnish it with fabulous vegetarian fare & try some things you probably never thought of doing. Take it from me, the only way to discover whether you find something palatable or not is simply to try it with an open a mind as you can. For years, forever in fact, I have avoided sauerkraut believing that it was disgusting. I had never even tasted it! I did, recently & it is actually more than quite nice, it's delicious & has brought some welcome flavour into my new diet. So push the boat out. You will not like everything, but you will discover new things.

No, you won't start growing your hair below your shoulders, experiment in flowing cheesecloth robes and beads, or automatically reach for the hookah, but you will feel better by reducing your meat consumption by at least half. You've got nothing to lose by trying it, have you?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 047

RiK ! - Thursday, February 16, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 047:  87Kg

Ooh, that was close! Since I decided at the start of this journey not to report any weight change unless it was a whole kilo, I can still report my weight as 87Kg. But, it was nearly back up to 88Kg! We'll see tomorrow… You may not want to eat anything after I tell you about the cover article in the latest edition of The NZ Listener.

Injectable doughnut - chocolate filling

injecting a doughnut with delectable chocolate filling at the Foxtrot Parlour in Ponsonby Central (not mine, btw!)

Titled 'The Fat Bugs', the standfirst reads, "Could poo pills reverse obesity? Auckland scientists are about to start a clinical trial of a radical new treatment - transferring gut bacteria from healthy, lean teens into their overweight counterparts." There are a few associated articles, one of which reveals that the treatment is not so radical after all. Apparently "gut microbiota transfers have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years." But not until now to treat obesity. Ok, so have I got this right? Fit, lean teenagers who presumably have reasonable diets & probably lead fairly active lifestyles are going to lend the bacteria in their gut to overweight, probably quite sedentary, most likely poor eating youngsters. Now I know that obesity is simply chemical or DNA or some such thing with some people - they can't help it. But I doubt research like this would be taking place to treat just them. So, it's being pursued, I assume, with the goal of producing the ultimate slimming pill?

Why is so much time, money & brain power going into finding a solution to a problem that only exists because people can't control themselves (medically stricken individuals aside)? And why is the government not helping people to help themselves with tighter regulation around foodstuffs that can be marketed & sold to youths? And by better labelling - just adopt the teaspoons of sugar system for goodness sake! People understand that! Better yet, simply legislate for the maximum amount of sugar you can put in any product before it's put in the X-rated aisle! One in three kids in this country are overweight or obese! Frankly, you can't exactly blame the children, can you? They are still at the stage where they are learning. From who? Parents, family, peers. So that group needs to buckle down & teach their children some good nutrition. What? They don't know what that is? So, government, back to you. You let tobacco into our lives & now you've let sugar. How many other seriously harmful substances are going to be sold into our lives before the government realises that they are there for the protection of our society, not for big businesses!

So, unless you want someone else's poo bacteria 'introduced' into you, for goodness sake, cut the sugar & get moving. Moreover, if you've got kids, show them the right way!

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Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 046

RiK ! - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 046:  87Kg

I've got to admit, I was convinced I'd blown it last night. Having just managed to drop another Kg on the scales, it was off to a Valentine's night dinner. Italian! Well, I decided not to worry & had a main course AND tiramisu dessert. My main course didn't spare the calories either - chicken breast stuffed with ham & cheese (with veg) in a creamy Galliano sauce - bloody delicious! I'd recommend Al Forno in Takapuna any time for fabulous, good value food.

Mountain Water in the South Island

the water I drank last night (I avoided the wine) was shipped all the way from Italy. Do we not have any naturally sparkling mineral water in New Zealand or is it all too sulphuric?

So how could I not have added a kilo last night? Might have had something to do with the badminton games, three days in a row… Playing competition again tonight so although I'm hopeful I'll be able to keep it off, I'm not holding my breath. The body can take a while to catch up! I hope you all had good Valentine's evenings? But don't people really take advantage of it! We don't often eat out on the 14th as the seriously steeply priced fixed menus are a complete rip-off. So are the $12.99 single roses! Thank you Al Forno for simply serving up your usual.

My wife keeps telling me I must blowout occasionally otherwise my body switches to starvation mode to preserve as much fat as possible for the long famine ahead. I think there must be some truth in that, but I'll see for real over the next few days. I was intrigued by the San Pellegrino water last night. Sorry to keep bringing it back to water, but I drink little else nowadays! Does New Zealand not have any naturally occurring sparkling mineral water it can bottle at source, like in several places in Europe? Or is it that Kiwis don't generally drink sparkling water so the demand isn't there? I would imagine an export market might work for that product at the moment (until we completely stuff up our clean green image through lack of action!).

So if it's your birthday or anniversary or some other laudable occasion, don't panic! Just enjoy what you want to enjoy as long as it's not to excess & your body will cope fine; just remember to keep your mind in check.

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Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 045

RiK ! - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 045:  87Kg

Sometimes we simply need rescuing. We are lost in an endless cycle of habit & repetition. Like me with sugar. My wife just fed me a delicious chocolate because she said I deserved it! Well I might, but it is still like giving an alcoholic a shot glass of his favourite as a reward for staying off the booze! So, I need to work my brain overtime to eradicate the thoughts circulating around about how one or two simply won't matter...

Surf Lifeguards - essential to our communities

Surf Life Rescue. As a small nation surrounded by water, I'm amazed by the work these guys do, as volunteers!

It is the little treats that are dangerous if you are trying to change, but it is the ongoing habits that you believe are ok that are deadly. Take something as simple as your everyday breakfast cereal. The whole cereal aisle is laden with items that simply taken on their own, in normal amounts, will exceed your recommended sugar intake for the whole day! I know you don't want to think about that, but it's so easy to brush a fact like that aside because if you did think about it, you'd have to do something about it! And 'no added sugar' does NOT mean there is no sugar in it.

Unless you can see one of our real life heroes in yellow in red charging down the supermarket aisle, grabbing that packet of breakfast cereal out of your hand, you simply have to save yourself. Just changing your breakfast habit will dramatically reduce your sugar intake, and hopefully start you on the right road. Starting your day with sugary cereal is a sure fire way to kick off an ongoing cycle of sugar highs & lows (which then demand more sugar which leads to the next high etc etc). Try eggs, porridge, natural yoghurt or even sourdough bread, anything but sugar. There are a huge variety of choices you can make & all it requires is a little bit of planning & the willingness to experiment & suspend your horror at no sugar for a while. Remember, it is better to overeat on good food than continue with sugar, so you really needn't go hungry. Oh, and while you're working on your breakfast food, pay heed to that sugar, cream or syrup that you use. There are alternatives to that as well…

So put on your own yellow and red outfits and get fit and ready to start your own life saving mission!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 044

RiK ! - Monday, February 13, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 044:  88Kg

Just in time for Valentine's Day, the New Zealand Herald has published a little article from the UK's Daily Mail citing the 10 most common mistakes people make when dieting. Most are common sense, but since when did that play any part in trying to lose weight!?

Gannet Colony - Muriwai

the Gannet colony at Muriwai. When did 'gannet' become a term for consuming too much? Do they really?

Top of the list is eating 'low fat' and 'diet labelled' food. Registered dietician Nichola Whitehead, who came up with the list says a healthy biscuit is still a biscuit and may contain as many calories and as much sugar as a standard version. Check ingredients lists & focus on eating wholefoods. Avoiding weights in favour of cardio. Weight lifting or resistance training can help boost metabolic rate, increase muscle mass and promote fat loss, including belly fat. Not sure I'm doing enough of this. An hour on the treadmill over a shorter high intensity routine. I've discussed variable intensity interval training before… Not enough sleep. Sleep more than 7 or 8 hours a night & you consume less calories. Setting unrealistic goals. Well, I think I've done that! Luckily, I'm not focused on the goal of 20Kgs loss, more the journey.

A key one is focusing on weight loss rather than fat loss. Muscle is much denser than fat, so as your definition improves you may even be putting on weight. Luckily, I've been photographing myself each week & it's actually the results in these that keeps me motivated. No, you can't see them! Not drinking enough water. Water helps you to stay in tune with your true hunger signals (and helps fill you up). Weighing yourself too often. Don't! Once a day, after you get up & before breakfast is enough. Eating too little is an interesting one. Our bodies do not like being hungry & if we don't consume enough calories, our bodies can start to slow down to conserve energy. And the final mistake is not eating enough protein. Our bodies require protein daily & if we don't eat enough of it then our lean muscle mass may suffer. Wise words & well worth paying attention to.

So, apart from the fact that you have to stop eating like a gannet to lose weight, rise up above the morass of clamouring information & clarify for yourself the plan you have & how you are going to implement it and, most importantly… why.

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 043

RiK ! - Sunday, February 12, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 043:  88Kg

Ok, time to fess up about why I'm on this challenge. I've entered myself into the 2017 World Masters Games in April, which happen to be in New Zealand this year. I've entered into Badminton, of course. Unlike the Olympics, the World Masters is for athletes over 35 & anyone can enter, although there are age & grade categories.

World Masters Games 2017 - in Auckland

the 2017 World Masters Games are being held in Auckland this year - set your calendar & support or even enter!

The chronology wasn't quite in the order of enter, then decide to lose weight & get fit. I knew the World Masters was on & had even briefly discussed it, but rejected it without much thought about three quarters of the way through last year. I have been planning to properly re-evaluate my sugar habit & how I eat for some time. My foray with a trained nutritionist was disastrous, so I've been formulating an approach that I think will work for me for 6 months or more & after deciding I had to do it, I had to make sure I was in the right frame of mind to carry it through. Everything came together towards the end of last year & although I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, I decided to go for broke, write a blog, make my aims public & go for it in the new year. The World Masters came up again at that time & since I had already decided that 100 days was the right sort of length of time to establish a new dietary regime, it was pure co-incidence that the Games started a few days after the end of my 100 days. Serendipity!

I have entered into the Social Grade for Badminton, which apparently can still contain some excellent players who simply don't want to compete in the top grades. Either way, I don't actually hold out much hope for progressing beyond the first rounds. Still, entering into an international competition to try & win a game or two seemed like a great idea & an opportunity that probably wouldn't come round again in my lifetime. The games are hosted in different countries each year & I suspect I'll be past my playing days by the time it returns here. Why don't you enter yourself? All you have to do is lose a bit of weight, get fit enough to play well in your chosen sport & pay the entry fee…

Since entering I have lost my chosen doubles partner, found a new one (who I don't know, so time will tell whether we gel together), realised I have a gammy knee that will probably restrain me from going all out in Singles, been invited to join a team (there are team events as well as individual) who are missing a player & am still searching for a mixed doubles partner. If you know of any ladies in the older age categories who'd like a partner, let me know! Oh, and I've lost 7Kg to date. My target was 20Kg & I'm still trying!!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 042

RiK ! - Saturday, February 11, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 042:  88Kg

Doesn't it feel like everyone tells you different things about losing weight & eating well, yet they all end up looking & feeling the same? We get bombarded by conflicting information all the time, so much so that they all end up as one homogenous mass!

Hotel Rooms - are they all the same?

Repetition may make sense for a commercial hotel or apartment block, but not for diet or lifestyle changes.

I saw yet another ad for foods men should not eat on FaceBook today. I didn't watch the entire promotional video because they are so tedious. They all end the same way, buy my book / blender / seminar courses / bull@**t. It's such a shame there is no good advice without commercial apron strings. What is the government doing about giving us good solid food & health advice? After all, they are the ones that have to pay to fix us when it all goes horribly wrong (via our taxes, of course). But some kind of government department or agency is what it needs because everyone else just wants to find a new angle to make a buck. Having said that, if the government gets involved, we really will end up with the equivalent of identical rows of apartments…

I suppose it's a game of combinations. Some foods are good for you, but only if you don't overdo it with certain others. So certain foods go together easily & others have to be kept apart to save you overdosing on a certain carbohydrate, or protein, or sugar… But maybe it is simpler than that. If you ate only fresh food, non-processed, would you have to only eat certain combinations? Well, I guess yes, because you couldn't exactly survive on just fresh fruit, now could you? So no matter which way you cut it & whether you move to non-processed foods only or not, eating is a combinations game. So, why not simply make up a chart of all the basic foodstuffs & which ones can be eaten in combination with others? Well, I suppose that is exactly what all the good dieticians & food gurus are doing. They just happen to be selecting their own slice of the food chart pie to push.

So, essentially all the diets in the world are the same, just with varying combinations from the food chart. A bit like getting the key to room 105, or 106, or 107, or 108…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 041

RiK ! - Friday, February 10, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 041:  88Kg

Variable Intensity Interval Training. What a buzzword! But the principles have merits. Now, I'm not a gymn junkie, but if I was, this is probably what I'd be doing. Mixing it up makes it automatically more interesting. Just what the Shotover jet boats do - high speed, turning on a dime & stopping on a quarter!

Shotover Jet - a Queenstown thrill ride!

The Shotover Jet boats - one of Queenstown's many thrill rides. Not into it myself, but loved watching from the safety of the banks!

Changing your diet & restricting your intake is essential to lose weight, but so is exercise. Walking is good & well, but you also need cardio, which is why I play badminton. However, neither combined will give you the toned body of an athlete, so if that's what you're after, a VIIT program at your local gymn is probably your answer. BTW, I spell gymn with an 'n' at the end, because it's short for gymnasium, so no apologies for not adhering to our American cousins' habits! So, the gymn. There are any number of different routines & paths you can follow, depending on what you want to achieve. You can stick to weights to just build muscle, or you can cycle or run your way to perfect slimness. Honestly, I just can't bear being cooped up in one big room with nothing more to look forward to than the next exercise. That's why I choose sport.

I was going to give you a quick summary of what VIIT was, but frankly just reading about it bored me to death! This is why I always choose exercise I love. If you are into gymns & dedicated fitness training, then do look it up, because it's probably the best all round program you can follow. Me, I remember trying to push myself in sweaty, cramped hotel gymns in Europe, while on business trips & feeling utterly demoralized because of the spaces. I just couldn't do it. I loved swimming & I often could bear to do lengths in hotel pools either. The environment just didn't do anything for me. So, I stick to sport. I'd defy anyone to tell me that a few hard games of badminton isn't the equivalent of a good VIIT workout, and it's fun & sociable!

So whatever form of exercise you choose, make sure to copy the Shotover jets. Long spurts of energy, followed by some hard stops, brief rests, quick turnarounds & repeat. Just make sure the engine is your own!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 040

RiK ! - Thursday, February 09, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 040:  88Kg

Today I was feeling weak. For probably the first time since I started on this journey I was feeling physically weak. Is it because of my new way of eating? I have no idea. I do know that I didn't get much sleep last night (working late / up early) & I suspect that might have more to do with it than anything.

Lupins. On the road to Milford Sound

Lupins on the road to Milford Sound. Biking along, we had to stop & spend a good hour wandering amongst them.

I see it as another challenge on the road I am taking; my path to a purer, cleaner way of eating. Just as lupins are a challenge to environmental purity in New Zealand. To get to where I am going, I will have to discard many things I perceive as desirable, to strictly adhere to a focused plan to eradicate bad habits. Lupins are weeds; beautiful weeds but weeds nevertheless. Quoting from the DOC website: "…Lupins negatively impact on the habitat of threatened braided riverbed birds such as wrybill/ngutu parore, black stilt/ kakī and banded dotterel/ tūturiwhatu. Dense stands of Russell lupin in braided riverbeds stabilise gravels, forming fast- flowing river channels that are unsuitable for wading birds to feed in. The dense vegetation stands also take over the open gravel habitat that these birds require for nesting."

So to ensure the purity, and survival, of native New Zealand fauna, we have to sacrifice some flora. Are the principles worthy of the end goal? I can't possibly comment on the lupins as weeds argument, but as far as my journey is concerned, absolutely yes. Of course I will never be able to return to my days of gluttony on the sweetest & most gorgeous of desserts; of course I will have to forgo many delights in sociable company; of course I will forever be doomed to desire but remain unfulfilled, but if it means health & quality of life, it's worth the sacrifice. A bit over the top, theatrical? Ok, but I'm just trying to explain that my journey is worthwhile. However, there are always dissenting voices. Look up lupin as a weed on Google & you will find some people - Mackenzie basin run holders love them as pasture for merino - who don't care if they are a weed or not.

So feeling weak today is just another challenge to be overcome, to be ignored even. It may be lack of sleep or it may be my body's way of dissenting from its new nutritional direction. Or something else entirely. Either way, we plough on towards a worthy goal, just like DOC. Let's hope I'm more successful than they are at eradicating lupins!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 039

RiK ! - Wednesday, February 08, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 039:  88Kg

Our sun is life giving, we know that. But we also underestimate its health-giving properties. Of course, too much exposure to our harsh sun, with our thin ozone layer, is extremely detrimental, but some people have gone too far, shielding themselves from any solar exposure whatsoever.

Light. Highly underrated... And it's not just its majestic beauty

Sunset on the west coast of the South Island. There is always something magical about this because it's about the only time you get to look directly at the sun.

Have you heard of S.A.D? Seasonal Affective Disorder. If we don't receive sunlight at the correct times and in sufficient quantities we can upset our body clock to such a degree that we start to see the common symptoms of SAD. Examples are lethargy, sleep problems, loss of libido, anxiety, irritability, depression & craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods. The human body responds to light & our bodies are tuned into daylight hours in order to maintain our circadian rhythms. These rhythms regulate many important bodily functions & if you don't receive the correct daylight signals at the correct time this can have a significant impact on your wellbeing. Check out SAD.org.uk. Circadian rhythms help to regulate and control food digestion, appetite, energy levels, sleep quality and mood. Ever wonder why your tummy gets a bit upset if you have just a couple of hours sleep on one night & why it's difficult to get back to a normal sleep pattern?

Light dictates the rhythm of our lives. So if you spend many hours indoors & rarely get sunlight, one of the pertinent issues is you will probably find it difficult to lose weight. No, it's not just the snacks you have to hand! UV light is directly germicidal to many microbes, and UVB exposure specifically helps your body produce Vitamin D. In fact, vitamin D is a biological marker for UVB radiation exposure. When your body has enough, your Vitamin D levels go up. Taking a Vitamin D supplement helps, but it's naïve to believe you get the same benefits from an oral supplement as you would from bodily exposure to the sun. In fact, this is a strong argument for naturism, because the more surface area of your body is exposed to natural light, the better for you!

So, if you want to lose weight, strip off & dance in the sunlight, regularly!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 038

RiK ! - Tuesday, February 07, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 038:  88Kg

Most of us know, don't we?, that water is not only good for us, but essential. But do we really know why? After air, water is the single most important life ingredient. Yet, we treat our rivers & lakes with disrespect. We assume it is always going to be there, but one day, it won't be…

A South Island mountain stream - pure water!

A South Island mountain stream - pure water! Except that even here there are pollutants hiding in its depths.

Our bodies are roughly 60% water & when we are dehydrated (and thirst is a sign of that) nearly all of our systems function less than optimally. So, the most important reason to drink is because if you don't you die. But did you know that staying hydrated can apparently reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and possibly reduce breast cancer as well? Slightly less life-threatening, dehydration can affect your mood & make you grumpy & confused, so drink more to be happy & clearer thinking! Also, to perform better if you an athlete (water is 75% of our muscle tissue). Reduce joint pain by drinking water which keeps cartilage soft & hydrated (which is how glucosamine works, by helping cartilage absorb water).

And yes, drinking water can help you lose weight! Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty, but if we always turn to water first, staying hydrated can also act as an appetite suppressant & help with weight loss! Of course, if you get to drink from that mountain stream, you've already done your bit through exercise! Our digestive system needs water to function properly, helping to flush out waste & bacteria, and water is essential for the proper circulation of nutrients in the body. Water serves as the body's transportation system & without it, things just jam up! Do you suffer from headaches? I certainly used to years ago & the cause of mine was almost certainly partly down to dehydration. I never used to drink enough, but thanks to the watchful eye of my beloved, I do now (and rarely get headaches any more)! Water helps your skin glow. As a photographer, I regularly advise models to drink large amounts of water in the couple of days before a shoot. It transforms the tone & texture of the skin when seen under the microscope that is the modern lens.

Apparently, you should drink half your bodyweight in fluid ounces of water, so I should be drinking about 100oz of water a day. According to my handy little conversion app, that's about 3 litres. Not too much to ask, really! And if you are thinking of drinking water from that pure mountain stream in the South Island, well DOC advise not to, mainly because they have to, but there are some risks & I'm sure without increasing environmental control those risks will only, unfortunately, increase…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 037

RiK ! - Monday, February 06, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 037:  88Kg

If there is one thing I'm forcing myself to learn, it's that embedded prejudices, especially when applied to foods, can block you from appreciating or even trying healthy foods. Not many weeks ago, it was a standing joke amongst my friends that I would turn my nose up at anything that was 'green'. Now, I'm eating kale…

Egg White Scramble at Cornwall Park Cafe (with added yolks!)

Egg White Scramble at Cornwall Park Cafe (with added yolks!) I've not enjoyed such a healthy plate for a long time, if ever!

I was going to order scrambled eggs as it is simple, healthy & taste-wise without complication. But I spotted egg white scrambled egg on the menu & after some discussion with the lovely waitress, decided I would give it a go as long as I could have the yolks as well - no problem. It was, frankly, quite delicious. Egg & avocado were the only things on the plate I would have willingly eaten in the past, but the tastes were exquisite. The kale was fried in olive oil & had a bit of sea salt & overall added a 'yumminess' to the lunch. OK, that's the good bit. The next part is the question. Given that all the ingredients are (I think) freshly & locally grown & produced, how much of the pesticides that are regularly used in our farming & horticultural industries has remained with the food to be consumed by me? In other words, once we have made the decision to eat healthily, how far are our efforts being scuppered by industry-wide poisoning practises?

A couple of weeks ago, Dr Mercola (US) published an article on the insidious presence of glyphosate, the most heavily used agricultural chemical in history, in our food chain & the disastrous consequences it has on our liver. A recent study by researchers at King's College London demonstrates "a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup (whose active ingredient is glyphosate) consumption over the long-term and a serious disease - namely non-alcoholic fatty liver disease." The World Heath Organisation performed its own independent analysis in March 2015 and determined that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen. Read the article, it's illuminating. How much glyphosate is used in New Zealand? I have no idea, but my guess is probably quite a lot.

So, we can do a great deal to re-educate our bodies to accept only 'healthy' foods, but until we ensure our politicians are listening to us & not to large horticultural business, we are abandoning one bad practise simply to have another one sneak in the back door…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 036

RiK ! - Sunday, February 05, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 036:  88Kg

Uretiti Beach. Sandwiched between Ruakaka & Waipu. Fabulous long white sand beach & no better place to spend a beautiful Waitangi holiday weekend. I think the horses enjoyed it too. I find it so much easier to walk for exercise when the scenery is so fabulous!

Horse Riding at Uretiti Beach

Horse riding along Uretiti beach. You'd never guess there is an oil refinery at the other end of this beach. Only in NZ!

It's so much easier to keep your mind off food & on exercise in the fresh air of a northern beach when the sun shines! I don't ride, but if I did, this is where I'd do it! But talking of exercise, apparently I'm a complete narcissist, or at the very least I have psychological problems… There is an article in the Independent (UK) which has published research done by Brunel University on people who publish their fitness routines on social media. "Ran 15 miles before work! Yeah" can be motivating to read in the morning, or incredibly annoying, depending on how much you hate that painfully overused flexed-biceps-emoji. The results of the study are unflattering, to say the least.

People who are always keen on documenting their gym activities (or every time you simply go for a good, old-fashioned run) tend to be narcissists. According to the researchers, the primary goal is to boast about how much time you invest in your looks. Apparently, these status updates also earn more Facebook likes than other kinds of posts. "Narcissists more frequently updated about their achievements, which was motivated by their need for attention and validation from the Facebook community", the study concludes. The high number of likes doesn't necessarily mean everyone loves seeing those bragging posts, though. Dr Tara Marshal goes on saying, that "although our results suggest that narcissists' bragging pays off because they receive more likes and comments to their status updates, it could be that their Facebook friends politely offer support while secretly disliking such egotistical displays."

So there you have it. Do not post your every exercise movement on social media, unless you're riding horses. Oh well, I've only got 64 days to go before I stop! Forgive me…?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 035

RiK ! - Saturday, February 04, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 035:  88Kg

I got an email just now - junk. The subject was "No Diet or Exercise AND Still Lose Weight". I don't know where the links actually went because I never click through on those, but are they sent out because people actually believe them enough to click?

Seals at Milford Sound - just lazing around...

Milford Sound. Now why, in such a beautiful part of the world, would a seal do anything but laze around?

I suppose there are many people looking for that miracle cure, that pill, that easy solution that means they can eat what they like, do what they like, never exercise and keep the weight off. Well, there are some people with incredible metabolisms that really can eat anything & not put on weight. Usually it catches up with them eventually, but unless you are one of those very rare individuals, I'm afraid there are no short cuts. It is normally perceived as very, very hard work. But this is precisely why I refuse to follow a 'diet'. I am avoiding sugar generally, because I know that is my particular poison, but other than that, I'm eating fresh fruit, vegetables, fish & the very occasional bit of meat. I'm making excursions in to food areas I have not tried before, like Quinoa & I'm avoiding bread. I'm eating a lot of eggs & generally half an avocado a day with a bit of balsamic dressing. In essence, I'm not depriving myself of anything other than that which I really shouldn't be eating - processed foods… And, for the observant ones among you, I have dropped another kilo this morning.

So, if you can find good foods that you like, stick with them & just try not to gorge while you're trying to lose weight. As for exercise, I've covered this before - just find things you enjoy doing. Don't worry about this muscle group or that; don't fret about trying to achieve the body of a nineteen year old; simply do enough to work out most, if not all, of your body & you're good. If you walked 5Km a day, that would probably be enough, although you would then be told that it doesn't exercise your upper body - that's the reason behind Nordic walking (using poles) but I could never get into that. I play racquet sports, so upper body exercise isn't a problem for me. Muscle building would be if I wanted that type of body. Luckily I don't, although I'm sure my wife might appreciate my abs making an appearance from behind that firewall that I've told her for years is protecting them from harm!

So, unless you are a seal, you don't get to laze around. Go for a walk! And for goodness sake don't click through any of these ridiculous emails that claim the impossible!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 034

RiK ! - Friday, February 03, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 034:  89Kg

My wife keeps me supplied with an endless stream of interesting articles on weight, health & related matters. Yesterday she sent me a New Zealand Herald article asking how fit should you be for your age? I wasn't sure if it was an admonishment or encouragement, but after reading it, I feel quite enthused! I can't quite manage synchronised flying, but I can certainly do some of the exercises listed for people 20 years my junior!

Synchronised flying - not advised for those over 30!

Synchronised flying. Not recommended for anyone over 30! Unless you're a bird...

Some exercises sound quite easy, but I know from experience that they are deceptively hard. Working with Tim Wright, the creator of Beyond Movement, Virgin Active has devised a checklist of simple exercises. Wright says: "Regular exercise, reducing chronic stress, quality sleep and a balanced diet can have enormous health benefits in your 20s and in the future. While late nights are tempting in your 20s, try to aim for on average seven hours of good quality sleep per night.' OK, so the exercises might be simple, keeping to the overall regime might be much harder! In your 30s you should be able to run a mile in under 9 minutes, hold a plank for 45 seconds & deadlift more than half your body weight. That doesn't sound too hard does it? Well, I suppose it might do if you don't really do any exercise.

By the time you get to your 50s, you should be able to run at a moderate pace for longer than 60 seconds (as long as the knees hold out!), do 5 burpees without stopping and, the killer one as far as I'm concerned, lower yourself into a cross-legged sitting position on the floor (without using your hands) and then return to standing. I couldn't do that one in my teens! So these generic exercise routines might work for some people, but I have worked out my own routines over the years that work for me. I hate gyms, I hate exercise for the sake of it, so I play badminton & I walk. And yes, at the moment I cycle with my bicycle stand in my studio & I pull myself up on a bar hanging from the ceiling, but I'm under no illusion that those will stop as soon as I have reached my desired weight!

You have to keeping moving & pushing yourself. Whatever you can do easily, do just a little bit more & do it regularly…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 033

RiK ! - Thursday, February 02, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 033:  89Kg

I'm constantly amazed at the re-inventiveness of our food industry or our foodie pundits. It's become like fashion. Each year, there is a new trend with new accessories which we absolutely have to adopt or be hopelessly out of date & 'unfashionable'. I'm quite comfortable being unfashionable, but it appears many of us aren't.

The South Island Kea - the world's only alpine parrot & one of the most intelligent birds

The South Island Kea - the world's only alpine parrot & one of the most intelligent birds.

In an article originally published in the Daily Telegraph (UK) & reposted on goodfood.com.au, they 'predict' (and therefore almost assure) which superfoods you'll be eating this year. Firstly, I have a problem with the term 'superfoods'. What does it actually mean? Well, according to Wikipedia, "Superfood is a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits. The term superfood is not in common use by dieticians and nutrition scientists, many of whom dispute that particular foods have the health benefits often claimed by advocates of particular superfoods." So each year we have to be bombarded with marketing messages to get us to move on to the next marketing meal. So this article - how much are we supposed to believe, especially when something is hyped as the "best" or the "most"? Before even reading it I'm sceptical. It contains some good information, to be sure, but frankly very little that is new. If anyone believes a single 'lost' ingredient is the magic solution to their particular health or weight problem, then they might as well be living in La-La Land (a film that in my opinion was not quite as good as its hype, unfortunately).

The Kea, from the South Island also has a problem. Apart from the good old possum threatening its existence (there are reckoned to be less than 5,000 left), one of their biggest problems is people feeding them human food. Firstly, some of it simply is not good for them, and secondly it is so convenient it makes them too lazy to go & find their natural foodstuffs. From doc.govt.nz: "Because these kea don't have to spend a large amount of time foraging for low energy natural foods, they have plenty of spare time to explore the many and varied new objects placed in their environment by people. Juvenile male birds seem to make up the majority of these loitering groups." Sound familiar? As I have two young adult sons, it resonates far too much! So not only are the kea getting poor nutritional substitutes & being tempted away from their natural healthy foodstuffs, it makes them vandals!

It seems that not content with confusing & manipulating people's health for the benefit of a few people's pockets, we are also very expert at dragging a few endangered species along with us…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 032

RiK ! - Wednesday, February 01, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 032:  89Kg

Losing weight is like watching a glacier move! It is so slow, no wonder people give up… At this rate, the Fox glacier will have melted before I reach my target weight. Unfortunately, it is melting, thanks to global warming, thanks to cows, thanks to - no we've covered that one!

Fox Glacier - losing weight can seem as slow as the ice moving!

the Fox Glacier on the west coast of the South Island. Fabulous walks, stunning scenery. If you haven't done it, you must!

Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier falls 2,600 metres over 13Km from the Southern Alps to the coast, ending its journey among lush rain forest only 300m above sea level. It is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, an easy walk from the local town. Walking is one activity that should be everyone's staple. Easy, free & entirely adjustable according to your health & condition. I've been walking more recently, despite nursing an aching knee & I've found that as long as my knee is strapped up, exercise seems to do it good. All the doctors & physios tell you to keep everything moving. It's rare that they advise complete rest for long, because if you do things seize up & it can be a long painful journey back to fitness. Some people never make it back. Now, if you want a change of scenery for your walk, you don't necessarily have to go to the Fox Glacier, there are any number of places within very easy reach of wherever you are in New Zealand.

We have stunning beaches where we are & although most people take them for granted, they shouldn't. I've lived in many places around the world & nowhere has it been so easy to get to a fabulous beach, or forest walk - just minutes away. Mountains, ski resorts or tramps depending on the season, wild water & yes, glaciers, all within a relatively short distance. This is why New Zealand is my home for life. You can go outdoors & forget the mayhem that Tramp, sorry Trump, is causing currently; forget the debacle commonly known as Brexit; forget even the newly announced upcoming election later this year, and enjoy the good clean air & beautiful landscapes. How much do people pay to come & enjoy what is on our doorstep? Well, quite a lot actually as New Zealand is also now one of the most expensive places to visit. But we live here & so many great amenities are free to us. In my journey to shed weight, I simply have to look outside & I'm inspired to do some more exercise to keep me moving at my (currently) glacial pace!

I know I'm from England, but does anyone know if Fox Glacier Mints were anything to do with New Zealand?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 031

RiK ! - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 031:  89Kg

"Ok, here's the heavyweight statement. From Albert Einstein in 1921, no less! "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." If anyone could work it out, he could!

Cows are apparently one of our biggest environmental problems

A kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days (New Scientist magazine, 18 July 2007, page 15 )

Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth's entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as reported on timeforchange.org. Agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide (more than the whole transportation sector) and cattle breeding is a major factor in this.

So not only is meat not the best ingredient for our dietary health, it is also one of the worst ingredients for our planet's health! Double whammy! So why do we continue to eat so much meat? Habit & history, of course. It is hard to change the habits of a lifetime, but according to goodfood.com.au it is happening. Chucking a few steaks on the barbie may become a historical cliché, as the number of Australians who eat "all or mostly vegetarian" has risen from 1.7 million to 2.1 million in just four years. And 9.9 million Australian adults now eat less red meat than in the past. The rising price of meat does, unfortunately, have quite a lot to do with the trends, but they are being driven pretty robustly by lifestyle & health factors. Why the young especially are not screaming about the environmental factors, I don't know, but I think people are only just beginning to realise. Correction, the information has been there for some time, but the climate has not been favourably receptive to it until now.

So, cut down on red meat & save your own health & the planet. Don't & be responsible for everyone's declining health. Pretty strong & clear message, I think!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 030

RiK ! - Monday, January 30, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 030:  89Kg

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." The opening words by American food writer Michael Pollan introducing his 10,000-word essay in the New York Times Magazine, summarising nearly 10 years of research. I came across this in an article by Donna Chisholm in noted.co.nz. Unlike a Guardian article I looked at a few days ago, this was considered, well-written, balanced, informative & ultimately very sensible!

Pigs are omnivores, but we give them a mainly vegetarian diet

Pigs are omnivores, just like us. But most farmers use corn or soybean meal as the main ingredient in a pig diet. We could probably learn a thing or two from this…

The article by Donna Chisholm is called 'Diets on Trial' & essentially summarises & ranks the most popular current diet plans. If you are thinking of looking at your diet & want to know what's in favour & what's not, you could do a lot worse than read this. Full of useful information, then identifying each main diet including the pluses & minuses, and with a sample day's meal plan, it is exactly the sort of useful journalism I have been bemoaning doesn't exist in this arena! Have you heard of the Blue Zones, for example? They are areas throughout the world with a higher ratio of centenarians & so their diets are obvious examples of food to help you live longer. Looking at all the areas, the diets are not the same, in fact they vary widely. However, the theme is the same: real food, not processed; not too much & mostly plant based.

There is some scepticism from Auckland University professor of nutrition, David Cameron-Smith, not so much on the nutritional advice, but on how practical it will prove to be in our modern world. I have an issue with this. If you are not interested enough to investigate how to adopt a healthy way of eating & are not prepared to put in a bit of work to achieve it, then frankly you deserve the processed rubbish that is the staple diet of most modern societies. Food is our fuel & we worry hugely about the fossil fuel we burn because of our planet's health, but pay little attention to the fuel we consume ourselves. Healthy eating is more expensive because we have chosen to make it so. We can equally choose it to be the only way to eat & costs will fall…

Why is it that our pigs probably have a healthier diet than we do?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 029

RiK ! - Sunday, January 29, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 029:  89Kg

We're all on holiday & when on holiday, you should be able to kick back, forget about worldy affairs, drink a bit too much, enjoy the sun setting over glorious hills, eat a bit too much… woah! Stop it there! You can't eat too much! Small indulgences maybe, but if you abandon healthy eating altogether, getting back ain't going to be easy!

Tairua - sun sets over the Coromandel ranges

Sun setting over the Coromandel hills & Tairua. A perfect holiday spot.

It's so easy to forget that a change of diet is just that, a change of diet. You can't treat it like a fad diet, there for a while then gone, you have to accept that the new foods you've adopted are going to be with you for life. And the reason is why you started in the first place - too overweight! It's simply too tempting to persuade yourself that it will only be one ice cream, so what's the harm. Before you know it, it becomes one ice cream a week, which is easy to work off. Then maybe a couple a week. Before long, another bad thing creeps in, because if an ice cream is ok, then surely this next thing must be ok too… and so on. There are simply some things that cannot be let back into your life. How often have you sat & watched a sun set over the hills? I mean watched it completely, without distraction? So often there are other things competing for your attention. I don't mean other people, I mean other things. You may need to have a drink in your hand, or a cigarette, or something sweet to eat. If a sunset takes say, half an hour, what is it you crave when you are sitting there alone with absolutely nothing else to distract you? Try it, it can tell you a great deal about you & your body.

Meditation, yoga, there are many forms of exercise that are designed to bring you closer to your self & further from the (often meaningless) distractions of everyday living. Our modern world is a world of distractions that bring mostly stress until we learn to allow them to wash over us. Eating can be simply a retreat, a comfort & something we don't want to confront or change because it adds new stress into our lives instead of being a (artificial) means to alleviate it. There is nothing better in my opinion, especially when on holiday, than to sit, perhaps with a cold drink in hand, and contemplate the scale & beauty of our world as the sun dips below the horizon while listening to your body for real & realising how insignificant your worries & stresses are. If you can get to this point, and I know sometimes it's hard to even get that space of time alone, you are beginning to be ready to maintain good change in your life, including diet.!

So listen to Dr RiK. Take a break, do not have a kitkat, but make some alone time & use it well… :)

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 028

RiK ! - Saturday, January 28, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 028:  89Kg

Now I'm depressed. I discovered today that my 20-year-old son, who is almost exactly my height, is precisely the weight I've set out to get to - 75Kg! How can I compete with that!

Fabulous fruit juice at St Heliers Bay Cafe

A summer holiday treat. A fresh fruit juice from St Heliers Bay Café

As I've dropped another kilo, I was feeling quite good until I discovered my son's weight. So what did I do? I went and played an hour's badminton with him this morning (having played for 1.5 hours last night) & then walked 6.5Km with my wife. I didn't really set out with the idea of walking a long way, she just suggested we walk from Mission Bay to St Heliers for a change. It was a gorgeous day & as the traffic was predictably bad, we parked up on Tamaki Drive & walked through Mission Bay, Kohimarama & on to St Heliers. Beautiful seaside boardwalk on a fabulous day! We ended up at St Heliers Bay Café & Bistro where I was offered a freshly made fruit juice with watermelon, strawberries & another fruit, that I can't for the life of me remember. But it was fabulous. I'm afraid to say I had two!

It remains to be seen tomorrow, but I've decided that there is no reason why I can't be the same weight as a 20 year old. Indeed, if I keep increasing my exercise regime, I may even end up better toned! OK, well I have to have a few delusions, don't I? What I didn't say was that we also shared a bowl of handcut chips & aioli - but they are vegetables, right? That was my only indulgence for the day though, as I'd had a healthy lunch & then a careful dinner. That end of Tamaki drive is a great walk, and it was good to see so many Aucklanders out enjoying the sun - those that stayed in town & avoided the long jams! Just a shame that the whole seafront is marred by the stormwater outlets that so often contain more than just stormwater! Let's hope Phil gets his finger out & sorts out our antiquated plumbing pronto!

A couple more days of holiday, a short week, then another three days of holiday & another short week. Lucky the weather has arrived! Unfortunately, so have all the summer temptations. How I resisted my traditional ice cream, I have no idea!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 027

RiK ! - Friday, January 27, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 027:  90Kg

What's the current emerging 'eating program'? Well, vegan is, I'd say. It is stretching beyond its hippy roots into the mainstream, backed by food science & environmental awareness. More & more restaurants are catering for a vegan diet, even in New Zealand!

Riding the wave of the current eating fad

riding the wave of popularity is a great way of changing your diet, but consider what's going to happen when you reach the beach…

For me, I don't really have an issue with eating meat or fish or dairy. I abhor ill treatment of animals and the poisoning of our environment & for quite a while now I have bought only "free range" and "organic" where possible. I know that is not enough, because current legislation simply doesn't go far enough & there is an argument to say it never can. It is in the court of popular demand where the battles will be won or lost. If everyone went vegetarian, then our industries would have to adapt, fast! It is always the poorest in our society who suffer the most, because bad food costs the least. I think we need a healthy eating subsidy program to feed those who can't afford it. Having said that, for those who have followed Jamie Oliver's career, he has proved that you can eat healthily for not too much money. The biggest problems he found in the UK were national institutions (schools) providing the cheapest possible food (where they did at all) & parents not knowing how to cook. So any healthy eating subsidy program would have to have education at its heart.

Industries will follow us. If we stop eating the worst foods, they will stop producing them. That could happen literally in a matter of months if everyone really did stop. I know, fantasy land! But this is how to do it. Demand better, do not accept no for an answer & you will get what you deserve. I don't believe I will ever be a vegan, because I do not have the moral qualms that true vegans have. I don't think I will ever be a vegetarian, for similar reasons. I am going to be a "fresh, non-processed, a little of everything, sugar-avoiding, quite a lot of oily fish, just a little meat", eater! Doesn't have the same ring as "Vegan" does it? If you're thinking of riding the current vegan wave, good on you, but remember when something else becomes flavour of the month, will you be enamoured enough to sustain it, or should you try & work out your own diet instead?

Become a "Fresher" like me! Now I know that's a title that's going to catch on…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 026

RiK ! - Thursday, January 26, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 026:  90Kg

Sugar, how it is used & what it represents doesn't exactly marry up with the clean green image we all want to have of New Zealand. Nature at its softest, finest & most glorious is what NZ should represent, and tons of sugar in processed food jars with that image.

Our clean, green image should be of ourselves as well

New Zealand's green credentials should really be made to extend to people as well.

I can conjure up an picture of an overweight person (probably me for this scenario) standing admiring a fabulous natural landscape with mountains, forests, lakes & waterfalls all in one view, simultaneously stuffing my face with, alternately, a massive cheap burger & a huge bag of lollies. I might as well be smoking as well! Sugar does as much harm, and will arguably do more harm, than smoking. How can these two images go together? Seriously! We are concerned about our wildlife, our waterways to the extent that we have legislation to protect them. We are taxing the hell out of tobacco. Why, when it is potentially the worst of all, do we do nothing to stop the inexorable march of the sugar monster?

We protected our children from tobacco many, many years ago by simply banning them from smoking. Sugar attacks our kid's fundamental health, not just their teeth as is often thought. Not only do we do nothing about it, we actually use sugar, in the form of sweets, as gifts; tokens of our friendship & love. So sugar is embedded in our culture in a way that tobacco never could be. But it's gone beyond sweets & it's in practically everything, that's the real issue. There has been debate over whether we should have a sugar tax on drinks. Just on drinks! There should be a sugar tax full stop. How many decades has it taken to get to the point we have with tobacco? And we haven't banned it yet. How many lives have been lost because we took no action. And how many will be lost, at considerable cost, because we refuse to wake up to what sugar is doing? For goodness sake, it's as if the government was a naughty schoolchild, secretly enjoying their sweets so they couldn't possibly admit the real truths…

If we want our garden of Eden at the edge of the Tasman, we have to get a healthy population & that means protecting it from itself, shielding it from temptation. Sugar is the modern apple & I'll leave it up to you to decide who the snakes in the grass are… You can really sense I was tempted today, can't you!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 025

RiK ! - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 025:  90Kg

One quarter of the way through my hundred days & I've still only lost 5Kg! Well, badminton ramps up from next week, so I should be able to increase my training & exercise. And I've bought an exercise stand for my bike! More on that later.

Too much weight costs us big time!

We carry excess weight at quite a cost, both to ourselves & our community.

I came across some (UK-based) information on sugar and obesity the other day & thought I'd share some tidbits. First of all, how is obesity defined? Well, if your BMI (Body Mass Index) is greater than 30Kg/m2, you are considered obese. To calculate yours, click here. When I started my hundred days, I was obese; now I am overweight. If I achieve my target, I will be a healthy weight. The World Health Organisation has estimated that there are 1.9 billion overweight adults in the world, 600 million of which are obese. This equates to 13% of the population. If recent trends continue, it is estimated there will be 2.16 billion individuals classified as overweight and 1.12 billion obese by 2030. Obesity costs the National Health Service in the UK more than £5 billion every year, with indirect costs estimated at £22 billion. The McKinsey group recently estimated (2014) that the total annual economic cost of obesity globally is £1 Trillion. So being overweight has a financial cost to our communities. Health aside, it also has a financial cost to ourselves personally. Excess grocery bills, new clothes when we grow out of smaller ones, furniture wearing out faster…

It is believed (UK government report 2015) that limiting our sugar intake to 5% of our energy intake would halt the increase in obesity. Since obesity is such a multi-faceted problem, this is quite a claim & simply underlines for me the central role that sugar is playing in ruining our diet. 5%, by the way, is equivalent to 7 teaspoons (or 30g) of sugar per day for an adult (less for a child). Try measuring that against one can of coca cola! Interestingly, one of the main recommendations to reduce obesity, along with reduced sugary fatty foods, increased intake of vegetables & starchy foods & increased exercise, is to join a counselling or support group. You don't see that advice in most diet books, do you? Admittedly, weight watchers I believe is an integral support group, but certainly the fad diets don't mention mental support. I get mainly teasing & abuse from friends (joking!) but good support from my wife, who of course has been trying to get me to amend my eating habits for several decades. It is crucial to have support if you try & do this, because going alone is quite simply mental torture!

Well, I've also got all of you to help keep me going haven't I?

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 024

RiK ! - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 024:  90Kg

I read an article today from the Guardian (UK). I have never before read something so well written with so little meaningful content & absolutely no conclusion or connection to the title words. If I was still on the production desk of a publishing house, it would have been sent back with so many scrawled marks & comments she wouldn't have been able to find the original words. Dreadful!

Going on a cruise is like dieting

Going on a cruise is in some ways like dieting. There are many options to choose from but the overall framework is the same for everyone & there's no escaping it…

Have a read for yourself & see if I'm not wrong… It is titled "Bad fad - Ruby Tandoh on how clean eating turned toxic". The standfirst then reads: "The backlash against a 'wellness' diet is in full swing - and leading chefs and writers associated with it are doing their best to ditch the term. It's time we called it what it is." Now, reading that you'd expect it to be either an article on how the dietary premises of modern diets are mistaken, or how the very idea of fad diets is becoming unfashionable. So, either a marketing or a nutrionist angle. Neither. Or both. I'm really not sure at all. And the idea of calling it what it is goes completely unnoticed in the main body of the article. Perhaps Ruby was a victim of the vicious pen of an eager sub-editor, who was still learning English? I'm trying to be generous to her here. Otherwise, I have to believe she got lost in her own words & simply forgot the tale she was telling. I've read the article three times now. What is it, Ruby?!?

The shame of it is that I know I would probably agree with her if I could follow it. Taking simple phrases from the article such as: "If it promises salvation on a plate, it is a fad diet" is so true. But wellness? What's wrong with that? Apart from the fact that it has been misappropriated by a few, it is a perfectly simple & solid term. Isn't it? It is, as far as I'm aware, a term to describe a healthy balance of mind body & spirit that leads to an overall feeling of well-being. Exactly what I'm trying to achieve. Of course every element there is subject to manipulation & misdirection by the kooky few, but if you are sensible & do your research, you can keep sane & steer clear of the madness. Except that your research will lead you to articles like the one written by MsTandoh!

The dietary express is like a cruise liner. We are all headed in the same direction in the same timeframe. On board there are so many different options & temptations that we can plough our own course & decide between excess & exercise, food or fad, wellness or witchcraft. Ok, that last one is a bit of a stretch, but I needed a rhyme! How do we decide? We are influenced by friends, family, health professionals, public figures who are held or hold themselves as experts. Rarely do we take the time to digest all we have been told or learnt & absorb it all to see how we really feel ourselves. Everyone is different & everyone should eat what they like as long as it is in moderation & primarily fresh. There! Dietary advice ala RiK, the new expert on the block. As if!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 023

RiK ! - Monday, January 23, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 023:  90Kg

I learned how to make a healthy smoothie today! Almond milk, banana, strawberries, blueberries, with turmeric, cinnamon & kale. The strawberries were my addition, but it was much nicer than I expected! There is, apparently, very little limit as to what you can put in a smoothie & the banana covers up most unwelcome tastes…

You can choose where your food comes from!

Your food isn't handed to you, you can choose what it is & where it comes from, an opportunity not always provided to seagulls.

I also watched the first couple of episodes of a series I've been recording, called "How to lose weight well". Not so much to try & find a diet, I'm quite content where I am at the moment, but more for interest's sake. Amazing where your interests take you when you are changing how you eat! Wow, people do some odd things to lose or keep their weight under control. Have you ever heard of a coffee enema to cleanse your inner tubes & keep your cravings away? Well, this guy had a setup in his bathroom & self administered one each week. Essentially, it was a plastic bag hooked over the top of the shower door, into which coffee (green unroasted) was poured, with a plastic tube leading down to a small tap, beyond which was more tubing that you inserted into your bum - quite a long way up from the look of it! Open the tap & have your morning coffee delivered hand free! After the bag was empty, various yoga poses were demonstrated, presumably to move the liquid around into every internal crevice, after which the entire contents were then ejected into the waiting toilet. Colonic irrigation, eat your heart out! Unless you're offering accompanying muffins, I'm ordering coffee…

It's always fascinating to see the people they choose, or who choose themselves, to go on these programs. There was one guy who was severely overweight, so much so his health was definitely threatened who was put on a raw food diet for 4 months. His companion (they teamed everyone up for support) was given a fast food diet. The fast food diet was essentially a calorie counting diet which meant you could eat practically anything - I don't think healthy was a prerequisite - as long as you restricted calories. The raw food diet was uncooked (only heated to 48 degrees celsius, if at all) food, unprocessed & no dairy, bread or pasta. The result after 4 months? He'd only lost 11lbs, while his companion on the fast food diet had lost double that. Conclusion? He was lying through his teeth & cheated all the way to the scales! It was interesting to see the difference between crash diets ( 7 days), shape shifters (6 weeks) and life changers (4 months). Crash diets can be the craziest. For example, the Master Cleanser, made popular recently by Beyonce who claimed to have lost 20lbs in 2 weeks, which was first invented by Stanley Burroughs in the 1920s. It is a pitcher of water, lemon juice, maple syrup & cayenne pepper, drunk 6-7 times a day. That's it!

My goal to eat sensibly & in a way I can enjoy & sustain for the rest of my life suddenly seems very mundane & boring compared to the direction I could have gone in. Oh well, always time to sneak in a week or two of crazy crash diets yet! Ha ha, he he :)

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 022

RiK ! - Sunday, January 22, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 022:  90Kg

Relax! Take it easy! One little slip isn't going to make much of a difference! It will if you let it get to you, but if you're in it for the long haul, just accept that you are not perfect & get back on it!

Peace & Tranquillity - South Island Lakes

The South Island lakes are one of many places you can go to in New Zealand for pure peace & relaxation. Everyone needs that, and more often if possible.

The trouble with 'diets' is they put immense pressure on you to adhere to an alien routine, not being able to reach for your normal food and drink. My approach is to try & reprogram the 'normal', so I become used to 'good' food. Then my diet will never end because it will become the new normal. Hopefully less intense pressure & so less chance of abandonment. Of course everyone slips at some point, and then it's usually the start of a slippery slope. Whether it means that you continue or regress can mostly be down to your frame of mind. If you are frazzled & stressed because of the removal of all familiar foodstuffs, the natural reaction would be to abandon all changes. Relaxation must be a part of everyone's lives, especially those trying to steer a different course.

Have I slipped yet? Well not really. I went to the cinema last night & decided to share a bag of salted popcorn with my wife. Of course, popcorn is not on any diet, anywhere. So why wouldn't I call it a slip? Because I am determined to make my way of eating long lasting, so I am allowing myself the very occasional treat. If I hadn't had the bag of popcorn, I would have driven myself mad during the film imagining the large bag of maltesers, the caramel popcorn & undoubtedly something else I would 'normally' have taken into a film. My stress levels would have gone through the roof & that ultimately would probably be responsible for driving me back into the arms of mother sugar. Everyone de-stresses & relaxes differently. I have not (yet) found the yoga route works for me, I am at peace when I'm miles from anywhere or anyone, photographing a beautiful landscape or biking along fabulous twisting roads; or exercising hard. My blood pressure reduces dramatically when I have hard games of badminton, I'd recommend it to anyone.

Stay calm, remove as much stress from your life as possible & visit some of New Zealand's phenomenal landscapes and you too can lose weight!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 021

RiK ! - Saturday, January 21, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 021:  90Kg

Haha! Got rid of a kilo! It only took near starvation & 3 hours of badminton to shift it finally… I twisted my knee during the first hour of play with my son, so it was touch & go, but heavily bandaged I persevered!

The Decision Tree

The Decision Tree. Life is full of choices. Depending on which path you choose, you open up new ones & close down others. But you only have one life, so live it long & healthy!

That kilo really was bugging me & although I'd nearly got rid of it (I'm not reporting the loss (or gain) of part kilos) the blowout on Thursday put me back at least half a kilo! However, it is possible that it helped stimulate my body… So the real challenge is to eat less. Rose Hayes write in Sharecare online about the good old 80-20 rule, reapplied to food consumption. Okinawa, Japan is one of the regions of the world where people live the longest. "Hara Hachi Bu" literally means '80 per cent stomach' in Japanese. If you eat slowly & stop eating when you are 80% full you'll reap the benefits. It apparently takes about 15 minutes for signals to reach your brain to tell you that you are full, so eat slowly & you won't accidentally overeat because your brain hasn't been told yet. Not quite sure how they worked this one out, but the other part makes real sense to me.

Eating slightly less that you naturally would, means your body has 20% fewer calories to burn, but it's not really enough to make you feel really hungry. Unless, of course, your brain is addicted to that complete fullness feeling! I think mine is… But it basically comes back to portion sizes. Reduce what you are used to eating by 20% and the results are entirely logical! So, the path one has to follow to lose weight & keep it off is: choose good, simple, unprocessed foods that you like eating; train the brain to accept a change of lifestyle; eat slightly less than normal of the 'good' foods; exercise well.

If only someone had a map to guide everyone down the right paths on the decision tree!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 020

RiK ! - Friday, January 20, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 020:  91Kg

OK, enough is enough! I've stayed the same weight for 10 days now while eating sensibly & reasonably frugally. Alright, so I had a bit of a blowout last night, but really?

Never give up!

When life seems to roll over you, just clean yourself up & get back on the ride again. The feeling when you crest the wave is fabulous!

Setbacks are part & parcel of changing anything in your life; your weight, your job, your next project… The real question is whether you can roll with the punches & keep going. How many successful entrepreneurs does it take to tell you that you learn the most from your mistakes, your failures, & that success does not come easy, it is always very hard-won? How difficult is it to shrug off that disaster, those last personal comments, the failed interview? You only succeed if you believe in yourself & success, otherwise you might as well roll over now. As a creative person, I am particularly sensitive to negative, or even vaguely perceived negative comments. But I have trained myself to smile & let them pass over me (well, most of the time). You have to keep focus on your goals & allow distractions & contradictory opinions wash past. Remember that most people speak before they think & even if they do think they are rarely empathetic enough to make the right remark!

So I am the same weight I was over a week ago. Small setback. I do believe I am on the right course for what I should eat, so I will continue. I know I can ramp up the exercise, so today I shall play an hour of hard badminton with my son in the afternoon, then a couple of hours again in the evening. This has two effects. It gives me more exercise & it distracts me from feeling like I have to eat. It doesn't distract me from feeling hungry, which is what I was about to write, because I'm not generally feeling hungry, I'm just missing the actions of eating… it's that mental game again! Also, I drink tons more water when I play a lot which is never a bad thing.

Looks like a bicycle stand might be on the cards after all…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 019

RiK ! - Thursday, January 19, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 019:  91Kg

My wife claimed that it was ok to have a bit of a blowout once a week because it stimulated the body to get out of starvation mode. So we went out to dinner… Not a real blowout, mind you, just a semi-it's-all-got-to-be-good-stuff-style-blowout!

Don't raise your head above the parapet

What's that wartime phrase? "Don't raise your head above the parapet." Well, I'm barely keeping my head above water at the moment!

I think it was because she couldn't be bothered to cook, rather than any deep-seated concern over my mental wellbeing, but I have to say I enjoyed it. We went to a local Turkish restaurant, Taksim that has been in Mairangi Bay for a while but I just haven't got round to visiting. Apart from the fact that we didn't book so had to sit outside on this rather chilly summer's evening, it was delicious. We shared some crumbed, fried Camembert with plum sauce & I then had a minced lamb & beef kebab type dish with tzatziki & salad. No dessert, no wine, just slightly too much volume. Not too much of a blowout then! I'll give you a link reluctantly, because their main web page is dedicated to their Epsom branch & they simply direct you to a FaceBook page for this branch, which has no menu & is light on detail. Sloppy! It annoys me when companies do that & they've had probably 9 months to sort it. It makes it look like the Epsom website has stagnated & they don't really care about Mairangi Bay. Somebody needs to point them in my direction to sort them out properly!

Back to the blowout. Dr Oz reckons it's ok to blowout once a week, so it's got to be correct, right? Somehow, because I feel pretty stuffed, I'm not so sure. The scales will tell me tomorrow though & since they have stubbornly sat at 91Kg for over a week, I'm not looking forward to the story they are about to tell. Although the scales haven't shifted for a while, I am feeling a bit lighter. I am taking pictures every week & it will be interesting to see if there is any visual progress this Sunday. If not, I will not only have to step up the exercise I will certainly have to curtail the portions.

My mind was wandering this morning (coming back from my morning walk along the beach) & I was contemplating whether I should invest in a bicycle. Could I imagine myself pedalling around the bays in Lycra? Well, possibly but just not in Lycra just yet! I do have a bike, a 25-year-old mountain bike which has not seen Tarmac for probably 22 years. Perhaps I should get a rear wheel stand for it & try out some stationary cycling first? I shall certainly have to increase my exercise choices if I want to have more Turkish blowouts! And if I want to be able to lift more than just my head above the parapet…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 018

RiK ! - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 018:  91Kg

It's funny how one lives life through snapshots. Most of 'living' is just 'living' & is not memorable in any way. Walking to the car, getting up to get a glass of water, doing the washing up, brushing your teeth; all these things & many more do not generate memorable slices of life.

Life is sliced up into snapshots

Snapshots of life, especially previously unimportant events are thrown into the spotlight when you change your diet.

Of course, it would be impractical to remember everything & also the way we prioritise our memories is generally by highlights & lowlights, not the middle layer of just living. This pattern repeats itself in real time when you change your life and, in my case, your diet, but priorities are suddenly scrambled. Mechanical, mundane tasks like buying a bag of maltesers from the garage are suddenly imbued with an importance & urgency that is both unwarranted & unexpected. You go from one food related event to another, with the rest of life that used to be important, now blurring out in between. The mere act of avoiding certain foods that you used to consume regularly scrambles your view of life which alters priorities away from important things & towards the mundane; that which used to be the background tapestry.

Wow! How can a diet change how you view life? Well, it does because as soon as you deny your body that which it fundamentally desires, it fights back. Your mind plays all sorts of tricks on you to try & restore the balance it is used to. Mental dependency; that is the basis of addiction & in my view far more powerful than any physical dependency. When I gave up smoking, more than a few decades ago, I got very few physical effects, but the mental game I had to play (I went cold turkey) wasn't a battle, it was a war. I won that war, but it took a long time & I suspect I'm starting another one now. I've given myself 100 days, but the reality is that if I'm going to make a life change work, it's going to go on a lot longer.

So, to change your diet permanently, you need to develop mental strategies that allow you to reject the priorities & slices of life that are presented to you by your reacting body & replace them with a more balanced forward-looking set. Still working on that!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 017

RiK ! - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 017:  91Kg

"Two heads are better than one"; "many hands make light work". The adages encouraging you not to do anything alone are many - for a good reason. You really shouldn't try & fly solo when there are people who can help.

Two heads are always better than one

 When you combine age & experience, then double it, you surely have a better chance of doing the right thing…

I could not change my lifestyle on my own. Every decision I make impacts others. My wife does most of the cooking, so all of my changed eating habits affect her. In turn, not being able to cook one single family meal, it affects my sons too. Granted, as they are adults (or sort of pretending to be!) it affects them less than it would have done 5 years ago. Nevertheless, change ripples. My habitual coffee in the morning with a friend, after we walk his dog on the beach, has changed. I started the year moving from a large flat white to a long black. Didn't stay there for long, luckily. My wife drinks soy milk & suggested I try that. I did & I liked it more than black because it's slightly sweet! But there are potential issues with drinking too much soy, so I only have one a day, in the morning.

Going to friends can be awkward. There can be very little I can eat or drink or worse, a surfeit of sugary desserts paraded in front of me. Of course, everyone appears happy to support my attempt at change, but it does require an effort from them, especially if they don't want to go down the same path. I have friends who have become vegan & I think they are facing a similar dilemma, only worse. I am trying to stick to any good food that doesn't make me fat. They have changed their menus entirely which means that although I can usually find something to nibble on at friends, they most likely can't. They changed for health & moral reasons. I am doing this for entirely health reasons & trying to minimise the impact on those around me. Not sure it's going to be possible!

One thing I have learned is that it's good to talk. Telling everyone what I'm doing & why makes it easier because otherwise it seems like I have a dark, dirty secret. Of course, telling everyone also makes it harder for me to stop. Not that I'm afraid of public humiliation, but it does give me some pause for thought…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 016

RiK ! - Monday, January 16, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 016:  91Kg

Changing your diet is like moving through life on a tightrope. Everywhere you look, there are delicacies to tempt, sweet and sour. It's a mind-game, primarily. Train yourself to look at life differently & you've got it beat. Easy to say…

A Balancing Act

Sometimes I feel like this guy, trying to balance what is good with what I like, all the while being chained by decades of habit & tradition.

As encouragement, my wife keeps sending me articles on how to lose weight. All methods are different, all advice is different, all timescales are different. They all have one thing in common. They don't tell you what to do when you've lost the weight. If they expect you to carry on eating exactly what they've specified for the weight loss, then they have failed miserably in addressing the mind. It doesn't really matter how you lose weight; in fact you will almost definitely lose weight following any of them. What matters is how you live once you've lost it. What do you choose off the menu when you're out with friends? Are you able to just very occasionally treat yourself to an ice cream without reverting to form? If you didn't really enjoy what you were eating on your diet, what do you eat now?

I've been very careful so far not to starve myself, although the fasting diet does have some merits. I've been trying to shift my eating habits towards different types of foods to see if I could survive on them long-term. If not, I move on & try something else. Overall, even though I'm eating sensible foods, I'm probably consuming too much quantity & not doing quite enough exercise (badminton season doesn't really start again until next month). This is undoubtedly why the scales aren't lowering faster. However, I'm not putting anything on & I am (very,very slowly) dropping weight. So, I will once I have a reasonable menu choice to select from, reduce quantities to lose more weight!

There is a small cupcake shop in Takapuna (Bondie Designer Cupcakes) that very nearly broke my resolve yesterday! Cute & delicious, they were so, so tempting… Check them out, those of you who are not currently on a mission to eat no sugar. That's what I meant by my life is one big balancing act!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 015

RiK ! - Sunday, January 15, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 015:  91Kg

Yesterday, I wrote about Jay Rayner from the Guardian being angry about some food issues. Today, I'm angry! I heard a 'healthy' popcorn food stall vendor actually say to a customer, there is such a thing as "good sugar"!

Coromandel Gaelic Market

I know I keep banging the drum about sugar, but honestly it is THE modern poison. This is Coromandel Gaelic market, just the sort of place you find some great homemade & healthy products. Unfortunately, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Having walked along Takapuna beach & back, I was wandering through the market, which was set up to accompany the music festival there today. I spotted a popcorn stall with names & signs indicating that this was 'healthy' stuff. So I walked up & stood behind a lady who was chatting to them, ready to enquire & possibly try some of the samples there. Since the prime bad ingredient in popcorn is sugar, I sort of expected there to be some alternative. I didn't even get to talk, as I overheard the girl behind the counter saying that they didn't use white sugar, but only 'good' sugar & that there really was such a thing as good sugar! OK, so I probably should have stayed & argued the case, but I was honestly taken aback at such a confident display of ignorance!

This reminds me of a 'qualified' nutritionist I went to see last year. She came highly recommended, so I went & asked her if she could construct a diet for me, a sugar addict, that I might enjoy & be able to live with, that pretty much excluded sugar. Well, she immediately put me on a minimal diet to lose weight - not what I asked for, even if I did need it - and got me to try a few things to fill me up. Several of the products she pointed me towards I would certainly have not chosen myself & frankly I doubt their goodness. The icing on the cake came, however, when she suggested I eat Special K Honey Almond variety. This is 20% sugar! So, I got hooked on it & it's taken me nearly a year to give it up! Traditional nutritionists need to wake up & realise that the methodologies used in the past cannot be used in the future if they simply ignore sugar. Calorie counting is fine, but it doesn't work long-term in the real world! And it really isn't good enough to say that in only small portions sugar is fine, because that ignores the hugely addictive nature of it, that food producers have been exploiting as well as the tobacco companies have exploited nicotine for many years. Except sugar is even more damaging!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 014

RiK ! - Saturday, January 14, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 014:  91Kg

I'm very much in tune with the sentiments of Jay Rayner writing in the Guardian (UK). Definitely an article to read if you are confused or annoyed by some of the current 'fads'. Read it here.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jan/12/7-things-to-stay-livid-about-in-2017-jay-rayner

Jay Rayner is angry & has listed seven things about food to be livid about this year. I could easily add another 10!

The section on sugar particularly resonates. Being a sugar junkie, I get equally pissed off with people who try & persuade me (themselves) that there are good sugars & bad sugars. Someone suggested honey in my coffee instead of sugar. As if that was any better. Honey may be good for you, but it's not the 98% sugar, it's the 2% other ingredients that might have some beneficial effect. As Jay says, just because it's not 'refined' doesn't make it 'good'. The refining process of anything adds no goodness & introduces issues in food that weren't there before, including sugar. So unrefined, or 'natural' sugar is bad for you (in anything other than very small doses). Refined sugar is even worse because of the refining process, but the body deals with the sugar content in exactly the same way!

Jay takes a swipe at pseudo-science, but I would go a bit further. Good science acknowledges that the positions it takes are only as good as the information available to it at that moment in time. We have to acknowledge that practically everything science tells us will be amended, altered, superseded or simply proved plain wrong in 10, 50 or 200 years time. So, I'm therefore the ultimate sceptic. I have to believe that simple, natural, local food & a good mix of it is what is best for my body. Who can dispute that? So why are we bombarded with all the theories, diets & fads that exist today, when anyone wishing to get to a healthy body state simply needs to exercise well & eat simply & naturally?

Money. My theory wouldn't generate much income for those in the diet industry would it? So, my advice to anyone wanting to recreate the body of their youth? Simple good exercise that you gradually increase; simple good food; and throw out those fetishistic books & guides!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 013

RiK ! - Friday, January 13, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 013:  91Kg

If you aren't used to strenuous exercise, it's a good idea to check out the medical facilities available where you intend to stretch your lungs. Fit & healthy individuals have been known to have been struck down unexpectedly.

First Aid at a swimming pool is essential

If you are going to swim to get fit, make sure there are lifeguards & some medical facilities - especially if you are of more advanced years than your third decade!

I know there is a defibrillator at the badminton courts where I play, although I'm not sure yet who knows how to use it. However, in the club I play with there are several trained medical professionals, although I think the orderlies & nurses are probably going to be more use to me than the brain surgeon! Seriously, though, if you are over forty & haven't been used to exercising much, don't just try & relive your youthful achievements, ease yourself into it. I know four people personally who have had heart surgery - bypasses or stents, or both, in the last 4 months. None of them over 55, all of them generally healthy & reasonably fit. With three of them, it was genetic cholesterol that caused build ups in the arteries. All of them were unaware until they had a serious problem.

I find it very hard to ease back, so when I play, I do tend to go for it. Luckily I am reasonably fit, although I'm hoping to be much fitter soon. Also, I play a team sport, so there are always people around me when I exert myself. If you do solitary exercise, like running or swimming, please take precautions! The whole idea of taking exercise & getting fitter is to avoid nasty health problems, so it is ironic that doing that very exercise could cause some. But like most things, it's all about balance; don't go extreme on anything & it will all be alright. In case you hadn't realised it, I'm talking to myself, because I do tend to single-mindedly go over the top on something I'm concentrating on. Ah well, you don't get nowhere if you don't try!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 012

RiK ! - Thursday, January 12, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 012:  91Kg

Body image. We are all sensitive to it, but are we all trying to fit into a stereotypical mould, are we trying to impress other people, or are we trying to do the best for ourselves?

My Junior School Swimming Team

My junior school swimming team. I swear they got the birth certificate of the guy middle centre wrong, but the back row were all within 1 year of each other.

Looking back at old photos, I came across this one of my school swimming team. Yes, the swimsuits age us, I know! The little K badges sewn on some of the trunks represented freedom. If you could swim 1Km non-stop (& I think we had a 10m pool), you were awarded your badge & were allowed to swim, unattended, any time you like. Imagine that for a 10 year-old today… Well this was England & the pool was unheated, so that did knock out 9 months of the year.

My point in showing this photo is to demonstrate that from a very young age, we are completely different body types, shapes, sizes. We all bulge in different places, we all store our fat differently, even if we share the belief that our own fat is stored in the most inconvenient locations around our person. How can we conform to a stereotype when we all start from such different places? I never had a flat stomach, I never had a six pack or anything resembling it. Perhaps it was because I was addicted to sugar from a very young age, or perhaps it was because that is how I was built & without severe exercise & near starvation & dehydration to bring all muscle definition to the surface, I never will. That's ok, because that's not my goal, luckily. I just want a relatively flat stomach that doesn't roll over my belt when I stoop down! No, I won't tell you which one I am. I bet you can't guess!

I'm relatively lucky.; I'm a man. Women have it so much harder (although that is starting to change a bit, but not for men of my advanced years!) because the stereotype is so dominant & omni-present. As a photographer I am strongly in favour of natural imagery. I am definitely not a fan of heavy-handed retouching & I wish people didn't feel under such pressure to perform it. They do because they are both creating & pandering to the majority view. I cannot tell you how many gorgeous women I have photographed that have such low self-esteem for the most invalid of reasons. Why anyone would want to walk around looking like an airbrushed doll is beyond me, but that is what the pressure leads to.

So my goal is to lose my excess fat, strengthen most muscle groups & be fit enough to play competitive badminton. I care not what my body will actually look like. I will not do specific exercises to change the balance of my body, but I will celebrate it as it was intended to be when I was born. (Let's hope my wife is with me on this!)

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 011

RiK ! - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 011:  91Kg

Beware the trigger trap! Just putting the kettle on triggers an instinct to reach for the milk & cereal, especially late at night! So trying to change how I eat means I have to change how I live!

Jessikah will launch a new jewellery business later this year

It's after photo sessions when I have to sit down at the computer for long stretches that I'm most vulnerable to urges for inappropriate food. This beautiful lady who I photographed a few days ago is about to start her own business - watch this space!

Your whole life of bad & sometimes peculiar habits is exposed when you try & change what you eat. Our dietary habits are so ingrained in us, they trigger and are triggered by other actions. When I visit a café, I automatically look for the carrot cake; when I walk along Takapuna beach I yearn for a delicious ice cream that is served at one end, even in mid-winter; when I fill up with petrol, I have to drag my hand away from the sweet treats by the counter!

Probably the worst for me is sitting in my studio editing photographs or video. When I have had a long haul ahead of me in the past, I have stocked up on chocolate & biscuits or other easy snacks to sustain me. Now, I have carbonated water - love it that I do! I shot this gorgeous lady a few days ago, together with some of her friends - she is starting a body jewellery business so watch out for her later this year - and had to spend many an hour at the computer. I love it, but I have yet to despatch the 'body criminal' thoughts that come into my head all the time. Seriously, it's as though my arm is possessed sometimes. I'll actually be reaching for something (that isn't there) before my conscious mind realises that my unconscious mind is controlling my arm, incognito!

I can't say 'dieting' because I'm not actually following an diet, but changing & restricting my 'bad' food intake is made much more of a challenge due to learned behaviour that I have to unlearn, and that is not a quick process. I'd go so far as to say that the trigger trap is responsible for every lapse in past diets. I can be quite strong-minded and determined, but I seriously think it is putting myself into situations that demand a learned response for which I am not sufficiently aware or prepared that is responsible for all my previous relapses! So, if you want to lose weight, all you have to do is take pictures of gorgeous girls & resist the natural impulse to reach for sweet things afterwards!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 010

RiK ! - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 010:  91Kg

Belly fat is a sign of success! You've made it, you're comfortable & you are at ease with enjoying your leisure. No? No. You're just fat & possibly dangerously so apparently.

Belly Fat - there really is a measure

Luisa Dillinger writes in the Guardian (UK): Visceral, or belly fat, clings to our internal organs and is particularly nasty, being linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer 

Surely a little bit of a belly is entirely natural & can't be dangerous? Well, apparently only to a degree. Luisa in the Guardian relates a handy tip: "measure your waist and then your hips (around the largest point) and divide the waist by the hip. If the resulting number is more than one for men or 0.85 for women, then you may have too much." How on earth does anyone come up with such a calculation. Obviously it is based on approximation & will differ for every individual. This is a key problem for people trying to lose weight, because as the saying goes, "give them an inch & they'll take a mile". I can find any number of justifications for my girth!

OK, so I'm specifically trying to lose weight & get fit, but apart from a general message of don't get too overweight, what does an article like this one in Guardian do for me? Well, it confuses me for starters. Reading it several times I'm not really any clearer whether it's the belly fat just under your skin that's the problem, or whether it's the fat around your internal organs that's the issue. If it's the organ fat (inside your abdominal muscles) as I think she is saying, how can such a rough measure of your hips & girth make sense? Surely most big bellies are made up of subcutaneous fat?

I am one of those people who collects fat in my middle. My arms are ok, my legs are ok, but from my multiple chins down to my waistline, I carry too much. It really doesn't matter to me if my belly is statistically too big, I know I'm too fat. That's lucky, because I can overlook the often confusing messages out there & simply get on with not eating as much, avoiding sugar & exercising more!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 009

RiK ! - Monday, January 09, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 009:  92Kg

Badminton will kill me! Well, playing singles with my son will at some point, I'm sure of it. This evening I played with him for over 100 minutes solid. He was cruising a lot of the time, I was kneeling by the end!

the accomplished Dylan Soedjasa - one of North Harbour's finest

When played properly, badminton can be an exciting sport to watch! This is Dylan Soedjasa & he really knows what he's doing!

I was a squash player in my youth , having had a cut down racquet thrust into my hand at age 7. Over my school days I achieved a few things, winning a few tournaments & ending up training at youth international level. But you have to be fit to play squash & I lost that privilege a long time ago. Coming back to it over the years simply proved how my body couldn't cope without proper training. So I took up tennis again about 10 years ago, having not really played since school, but that only lasted a couple of years before my elbow started complaining vociferously!

So, as a racquets player who could no longer survive on the squash court & couldn't swing a tennis racquet without wincing, what was I to do? Badminton of course. I had only ever played occasionally, socially, but as my eldest son also seemed keen, we enrolled at Badminton North Harbour. He went on to train with the harbour junior squads & I slowly adapted my squash technique. He is now 20, fit, strong, fast and accomplished & I really don't know why I put myself through the agony!

Well, I do. It's the only way I can enjoy trying to keep fit. I'm not a treadmill at the gymn type of guy, I have to actually enjoy what I'm doing. So, my main cardio workout is on the badminton court. I thoroughly recommend the sport, because you can play & enjoy it virtually any level & there are always good coaches to help you on your way at the north harbour centre! (Dylan, pictured, can help you on your way when he's not taking part in international competitions.) My slightly elevated blood pressure comes down dramatically (to what it should be) after a tough workout on the court, proving that rugged exercise really is good for you!

If I survive the night, I'll touch on badminton a bit more tomorrow…

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 008

RiK ! - Sunday, January 08, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 008:  92Kg

Water is the stuff of life. Eau de vie. Not only do you need it to stay alive, but if you drink a reasonable amount of it, you won't want so much food. Magic! Fill up with a totally calorie, sugar & fat free substance & you'll eat less & lose more.

No water was harmed in the making of this picture

No water was harmed in the making of this picture! Well, it was consumed straight afterwards…

Hydration. Wonderful word. It conjures up images of smooth, plumped up skin or, if you are a gardener, images of healthy wholesome leaves & fresh fruit or flowers. Every living being on this planet is dependent on our water supply, but we still don't take enough care. In the end, it will probably be water that takes retribution when global warming really takes hold.

Our bodies are about 60% water. This water has many purposes but as I'm not a scientist, you'll have to look them up! Water is essential to life & helps you lose weight, that's enough to know. So I started drinking water, but there was a problem. I was so used to flavoured water, sweet water in the form of carbonated drinks, cordials, even so-called 'energy' drinks, that I found pure water boring! Once you start looking into drinks, there actually aren't many that are good for you. So I got a SodaStream. Not to add flavour but just to add fizz. Amazing how much more interesting plain water is with some bubbles. Now I drink a lot because it stops me wanting to eat or crave sugar! The downside, of course is that with so much water in my system, the 60% balance is upset so my body needs to get rid of some. Amazing how fast excess water goes through you!

My wife, and some friends, swear by hot water. Just ordinary hot water sometimes flavoured by lemon. I have yet to get into that but I think it's coming… I did read somewhere that drinking really cold water helped you lose weight because the body had to burn calories just to heat it up to body temperature. I don't know if that's true but I suppose the same logic could apply to hot water, just in reverse. I do like cold carbonated water, so I'll continue with that. If I end up in hot water, I'll let you know!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 007

RiK ! - Saturday, January 07, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 007:  92Kg

Will this small, beautiful, incredibly sweet, delicious piece of homemade fudge be my downfall?

Homemade Fudge! How could anyone resist!?

Homemade fudge! How can anyone resist? Let alone someone with a genetic sweet tooth!

I went to a celebration tonight. The daughter of good friends has been accepted onto a postgraduate clinical program to become a clinical psychologist - congratulations Esme! The only problem was that there was loads of delicious food & sweet things. A bit cruel… I resisted for most of the evening until my head persuaded me that I could have just one as a treat & it would be ok because I wouldn't need any more!

Well, I had one; only one, you'll be delighted to hear, but it was not easy! Wow, the argument that was raging in my brain. Which camp would come out on top for wresting control of my hand-mouth reflex was in severe doubt for a while. In fact, the only way I managed to overcome the craving was to sit down & write this blog on my phone. If you've tried writing anything of any length on a phone, with one finger, you'll know how much of a sacrifice that was!

Moral of the tale? Isolation is the best defence. If you are desperately trying to resist something, don't go into any environment which lays out temptation on a platter. Still, I had to go to congratulate Esme, so it's not always possible. In which case, either get the support of a strong partner, who can forbid you from straying, or tape your mouth shut! Make the right choice, won't you!

 

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 006

RiK ! - Friday, January 06, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 006:  93Kg

Why are we always on the lookout for new diets? There are major fads that get adopted, get discredited & replaced by the next one. As new 'scientific' evidence emerges, people take advantage & make a quick buck.

Meerkats... always on the lookout!

On the lookout for a new diet? Look inside yourself for what you like & don't over indulge on anything. Concentrate on natural, unprocessed foods & that's all you need.

I'm a complete sceptic when it comes to the latest & best advice, even from doctors & qualified professionals. That doesn't mean I think they are all incompetent & wrong. It simply means that I'm a realist when it comes to the 'latest' information. In my experience, the latest advice is always overturned at some point, usually quite radically. Ancient wisdom is so sensible! Eat your greens; 'a little of what you fancy does you good'. I move very slowly when it comes to dietary advice & I try & listen to my body. Granted, so far that means there is much more of my body to listen to…

So, at the moment, my key steps are:

  1. Cut out sugar as much as possible
  2. Eat much less
  3. Eat more protein than usual
  4. Eat less or no foods containing high fats (even good fats, since I have difficulty working out which is which)
  5. Eat eggs, oily fish, avocado, vegetables, Kumara (or is that still a vegetable?)
  6. Drink lots of water

That's it! This is how I intend to lose up to 20Kgs. This, plus regular & escalating exercise.

I played badminton for 2 hours tonight. Because of the holidays, I haven't played for nearly 2 weeks. I've been walking, but nothing too tough. It was good to start up again & as long as my knee holds out, I'll play for longer & longer. Tonight, I was told of 2 people who are having / have had coronary angiograms & stents fitted. Relatively healthy, not too old, but genetically inclined towards the build up of cholestoral. Did you know some people get this despite careful diet & exercise? Most others do it to themselves. Get regular checkups, folks & keep that weight down. It's not an aesthetic thing, it's a health thing!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 005

RiK ! - Thursday, January 05, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 005:  93Kg

I'm hungry, really hungry. Ravenous, even. The initial impetus has started to wear off & my body is reacting to being fed far less than normal. I can't quite work out yet whether it's purely a mental thing or a physical one, or both.

Anise Private Chef & Catering

Paul's speciality is Asian fusion cuisine… blending Asian & European flavours

A while ago I took some pictures for a private chef, Paul Duncan of Anise Catering. Fabulously talented, his is just the sort of expertise you want in your home for that special occasion. Today, I found myself browsing through my database of images, lingering on all those containing food. Mad! I was literally salivating when I found his, so it's definitely physical then.

But the mind plays a major role in this lifestyle change thing. I find myself thinking about food & mentally persuading myself that it will be fine to just have a small portion of, a few mouthfuls of, just a tiny bowl of… Of course it will make hardly any difference, so why not? Having been here before, I of course know that this would be just the start of the slippery slope, quite apart from the fact that I have to 'starve' my body to the point where it expects much less food before I can even consider small indulgences.

Why is it so hard? We feed our bodies so much more food than they need to survive & function at peak efficiency. We eat for pleasure, for social interaction, for pure indulgence; we certainly don't eat just to live. And so there is a penalty for this 'misuse' of our bodies & it comes in the form of fat. Of course, fat is essentially the body's way of storing reserves for lean times. But we don't really have lean times any more, so we really should take that into account. There should be mandatory food labelling that states: "only eat when a 3 day famine is imminent".

So, I am condemned to being almost permanently hungry for, how long? Several weeks I reckon, but then my cravings are probably making me a tad pessimistic. Luckily I have badminton tomorrow night; hard physical exercise is always good to take my mind off food. In the meantime, I have to switch my mind to looking forward to breakfast, just to take the focus off the now! Aaaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhhh!@@!! Why did I stop biting my fingernails!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 004

RiK ! - Wednesday, January 04, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 004:  93Kg

If you've got a dog, take longer walks. If you haven't got a dog, get one or find a friend with one! That's what I did & there's nothing quite like early morning walks on the beach.

It helps if you have a gorgeous dog to accompany you! This is Eva

We are so spoiled in Auckland. There is a fabulous beach within easy reach of most people. And even better if you have a gorgeous dog to accompany you! This is Eva.

Together with a simple, natural diet, exercise forms a key branch of 'wellness'. I'm quite lucky in this respect as I've always done a fair bit of sport. Until recently, I was convinced that doing more strenuous exercise would allow me to shift the weight so I didn't have to watch what I ate. Wrong! Unless you are under 30 with the constitution of a fit young adult, a bad diet will load the weight on no matter how much exercise you do.

I generally play badminton 2-3 times a week, for several hours each time & walk most days. I have a fairly physically active job, so unless I start doing Pilates to stretch my (rather taut) muscles, I get a reasonable degree of exercise. By the way, is it true that men are generally less flexible than women? My muscles simply won't behave in the way that my wife's will, but I'm not sure it is something to worry unduly about? She does a lot of Pilates, but not enough cardio, so I can always survive better when climbing the steep stairs by Campbells Bay beach. (Hah! Lick forefinger & chalk up the number one in the air…)

So I do a reasonable amount of cardio exercise, but I will need to start toning up when I've lost a bit. Gymn? No, not again. Too expensive & you usually have to sign up for far longer than you can bear, or I forget to cancel the direct debit & end up paying for months for nothing! So, this time, I shall be creative & employ what I have in the studio. Luckily I have high ceilings which are strong enough to take my weight (even now). So, with a bar I can do pull ups & by simultaneously raising my legs I can tense my abs. Notice I said abs because they are there, even if they are currently hiding inside a barrel! I shall work out more routines as I go - like planking…

If anyone has any good exercise routines that can be done at home, let me know. I'm already getting dietary suggestions which is fantastic - keep them all coming!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 003

RiK ! - Tuesday, January 03, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 003:  95Kg

Resisting the urge to record my weight in tenths of a kilo is hard, really hard. I so wanted to put 94.75Kg this morning! It really is like watching paint dry.

sugar content is through the roof!

Sugar is the modern poison, my poison. It is insidious, silent & deadly!

As I drove my son to work this morning, I reflected on where I could stop to buy something to eat that was actually good for me. Nowhere! Not on that route anyway. Dairies are crammed full of yummy high sugar rubbish; petrol stations (I refuse to call them gas stations :) ) likewise; bakeries are wolves in sheep's clothing, they just wrap dough around the sugar content.

Sugar is my poison, just like most other people, only some aren't aware of it. Even if you don't have a sweet tooth like me, you'll be hard pushed to find virtually any foodstuffs that don't contain sugar. To do that you have to limit your intake to completely fresh & unprocessed food. It's the ones that are not so obvious that hurt the most. Cereals can be 30% sugar or more, but how many people realised that the 'healthy' whole grain or multigrain bread you were eating to feel good about yourself was probably up to 5% sugar? Have a look at the sugar content of so-called healthy snack bars, you'll be appalled…

Food labels show the per 100g amounts, but liquids are more awkward as they show the gram amount in 100ml of liquid, so as I'm not a mathematician I can't tell you if your healthy bar has more sugar than Coca Cola. Coke has 10.6g of sugar per 100 ml. Nice & Natural roasted nut bar (chocolate apricot) has 29.9g of sugar per 100g. Anyone want to tell me which has more? Either way, the 'healthy' bar is 30% sugar!! And, by the way, Just Juice Orange & Mango which blazens 'No Added Sugar' on the front, contains almost as much sugar as Coke - 9.7g per 100ml…

I had a trawl through the supermarket to see what I could eat avoiding sugar. Not much was the answer! Milk is nearly 5% sugar; bread likewise. Tomato Ketchup is 30% sugar, while 70% dark orange chocolate is slightly less - 29.5%! Of course, concentrating on sugar ignores all the other elements like carbohydrates & sodium (salt to you & me). So choosing a very low sugar product may not be best in the long term as it probably contains too much of 'the other'. This is where nutritionists win, because there are too many factors involved in a good diet & too many different opinions about what is best.

If you want to eat well for life, become a vegan. Seriously! But if, like me, you don't want to go that far, then keep it simple, small, fresh & as unprocessed as possible. That is what I'm trying to do, anyway. I'll see after my 100 days if I have found enough food ideas that fit into this scheme to keep me happy, healthy & not so fat!

By the way, if you want to join me, simply text me (contact number is on my site - www.RiKmedia.nz) your name & weight each day & I'll add you to my blog. Alternatively, I can put 0 against your name, then each day record the movement, -1, -2 etc. Nothing like a public audience to incentivise you!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 002

RiK ! - Monday, January 02, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 002:  95Kg

Bugger! I hadn't actually thought through the ramifications of going on a day trip on my bike, one day after starting my new eating regime.

the Bugger cafe kept me on the straight & narrow with simple scrambled eggs

Slimming down is extraordinarily hard when you visit a cafe with a great menu. I had to eat & run!

Before we left on our bike trip, I had a long cup of black coffee. Well, it's going to take a while to get used to that. Farewell, flat whites! And no breakfast. I know that's slightly controversial - 'most important meal of the day' and all that. Well, I simply don't believe I should eat unless I'm hungry & I know that I'm not hungry because I possibly eat dinner too late, but adjusting that will have to wait until, or if, I adjust my eating times.

What do you order at a café when you can hardly eat anything? Well, the Bugger Café came to the rescue, serving up fabulous simple scrambled eggs. Eggs are a magical food & probably the main reason I couldn't become a vegetarian. Well, apart from the fact that I don't like salad or most green healthy things. At the northern gateway to the Coromandel, the Bugger Café is a delight.

Riding on an empty stomach isn't much fun, but then simply having an empty stomach isn't either. I know I have to go through the process of training my body not to crave for quantities of food, but this is the really tough bit! When I've done this before, I've filled up with water - always a good trick - but, of course I forgot to take any with me today… duh!

We ended up at a vineyard on the far side of the Coromandel peninsula. Suffice it to say, that was an 'oh bugger' moment. More later, but I don't recommend the trip just for them!

Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 001

RiK ! - Sunday, January 01, 2017

WEIGHTLINE 001:  95Kg

If anyone would like to know what it's like to live inside the body of a fat, balding middle-aged man, feel free to come & talk to me, I'm an expert!

coffee without milk

Milk is the first casualty! I love my milk, but at the rate I consume it, I don't think there is any doubt it contributes to my weight.

How I got here, I have no idea. It really did creep up on me, like most changes in life. I didn't do anything dramatically different, I didn't change the amount of exercise I took or change my diet. In fact I probably have done more exercise in the last few years.

I'm getting older; I'm resistant to 'well-meaning' advice; I love sugar. Yes, that's the killer - the sweet tooth.

So how can I fix it? No idea really, but I'm going to try. You are welcome to come along for the ride. I promise not to give dietary 'advice' or tell you what you must do. Weight is a very personal issue & I do believe it is different for everyone. I intend to 'lift' around twenty kilos, if that's humanly possible. Oh, and I'm not going to give you any 'before and after' photos; not until the very end anyway & that depends on whether I get there!

I'm a great believer in traditional wisdom, like "a little of what you fancy does you good" & I'm not very receptive to so-called 'medical wisdom'. OK, so I'm a man, but the male perspective is quite misunderstood. People would have you believe that men avoid going to the doctor to their own detriment. Some do, but mostly we are pragmatic & don't wish to rub ointment into small wounds that we can self medicate for.

So when my doctor says my blood pressure is 'elevated', I say ok what can I do about it without taking any pills? Answer: exercise & weight loss… So here we are. At the start of a new chapter in my life. Over the coming days I'll let you know what I have decided to eat & not eat, and why. It's work in progress, so feel free to pitch in with suggestions & if I think they have merit, I may try them along the way.

Should I be a cultural legend expert to enjoy dance?

RiK ! - Friday, July 08, 2016

I saw a performance by the Atamira Dance Company last night. Entitled 'Manaia', it was three separate pieces, all bearing a relationship to the Maori mythological creature, usually depicted with the head of a bird & body of a man. The Manaia is believed to be a messenger between the mortal world and the spirit domain, and its symbol is used as a guardian against evil. The three set pieces, Pito (maternal connection), Te Waenganui (trinity of birth, life and death) & Mā (sexism & speciesism - their word!) were beautifully performed.

 Image credit: taken from the Atamira Dance Company's FaceBook page  photographer: the very talented Charles Howells

I went to see a modern dance show & hoped to be visually enthralled. I was. The power, control & skill of all the performers was evident. Last week I went to see the Nederland Dans Theater & was entranced. Given that NDT are an internationally acclaimed touring company, I was not expecting that quality last night, but I'm certain that at least a couple of the performers could have held their own in that environment. They were excellent, and if you haven't experienced dance up close & personal, there are still a few tickets available tonight (Friday). Tomorrow is sold out. The show is at the Q Theatre Loft, an intimate venue perfectly suited to these short works.

Here's the thing. I am not steeped in Maori culture, myths & legends. I am very interested & curious, but I am not a student of Maori traditions. Like probably most non-Maori people, I will learn & absorb what I come across, if well taught, but I'm not signing up for night classes; much as I think that would be fascinating, I simply do not have the leisure time to indulge myself. So should I have researched the Maori myths behind these dance pieces before I saw them? Would a deeper understanding of the source inspiration have enhanced my experience? Having seen them, I think so; particularly the last piece, Mā. Was it my responsibility to do this? I don't think so because it was not signalled as a requirement or simply a good thing to do. This perhaps is my naivety, or more possibly the promotional team's lack of understanding of their full audience. Are the team so fully immersed in their culture that it is impossible for them to step outside & view the work from a non-Maori viewpoint?

Of the three works, Te Waenganui was the most accessible. It was a beautifully choreographed piece, performed to perfection by three (or was it four?) very accomplished dancers, Paige Shand, Tyler Carney, Imogen Tapara & Cushla Roughan. I don't know if all four were involved as only three were on stage at any one time... It was a synchronised visual treat & because it did not labour complex messages, it was the simplest & easiest to appreciate. Yes, I know, I'm shallow like that. I'm a photographer so I look for the visual first & foremost! Ask me to think too hard about what I'm seeing & I may be able to do it, but it certainly takes the edge off my relaxed enjoyment, because then it becomes an intellectual exercise, which is not why I've paid for tickets. One observation I do have to share. A single dancer stood out for me because her movement, especially in complex, rapid transitional set pieces was beautifully smooth. I found it difficult to concentrate on the others because her liquidity demanded my attention. Checking the dance company's FaceBook page, I'm pretty sure it was Tyler Carney. Impressive.

I really enjoyed the other two works, but I believe I could have enjoyed them more had I known more about the symbolic connections they were referencing. I must state now that this Rant has nothing to do with the performers. They could not have done more. Sean McDonald & Hannah Tasker-Polland were so committed to the performance, their passion shone through & Nancy Wijohn's strong solo opening was an impressive demonstration of her obvious dance skill & experience. Forgive me guys, I'm not a dance critic, so if I'm using the wrong words, I apologise. I loved the shows & was impressed by you all! Given that it was a dance show, this may sound odd, but I have to reserve special mention for someone who did not dance, Milly Kimberly Grant. It was only when the spotlight slowly revealed her standing in front of a microphone at the edge of the stage that I realised this soundtrack was not recorded, but live. A virtuoso performance, it held Mā together.

So my problem is with the show's publicists. If you had prepared me by giving me more background, not in a detailed history lesson way, but in a selected, show-relevant way, I think I would have been able to relax into the performance more. As it was, I was slightly on edge, with part of my brain trying to work out the meaning being expressed instead of relaxing to enjoy a portrayal of a point that had already been absorbed. Would that be dumbing down the show? I think not. The show is in danger of becoming slightly elitist, in the same way that Opera was, with its own language, culture, and performance dialect. As I mentioned, I went to the NDT last week & could enjoy every distinct performance without referencing any historical, cultural or social influence. I am sure there were strong influences & markers available should I have had the education to see them, but my point is that it was easily accessible pure modern dance that I could appreciate without being made to feel I was missing anything.

The modern dance performances by the dancers of the Atamira Dance Company was excellent and at that level I enjoyed it immensely. But add in the (important) ingredient of the cultural source of the choreographic inspiration & I was lost because I was not prepared. If one of the aims of this type of performance is to keep alive & extend Maori myths & legends into a new age with new art forms & with wider audiences, then that audience (or could it really just be me!) needs to be more prepared. It boils down to empathy. If the publicists could sit in the centre of the middle row & imagine they had no real knowledge of Maori culture & then view the performance through those eyes, they might add some important educational elements to their promotion. Without that, they are in danger of turning people off the cultural aspects, because you leave the performance feeling slightly inadequate & just a little bit more on the outside of Maori culture than you were before. Surely the opposite of what is, or should be, intended?

Be quick. Go and see the performances because they deserve to be seen & make your own mind up.

p.s. a quick side rant. I used an image from the Atamira Dance Company's FaceBook page to illustrate this blog, but I cannot credit the (excellent) photographer because there is no mention of who they are! If it is you or you know who they are, please let me know & I'll put up a credit...

Auckland's Blue Bins Fiasco

RiK ! - Thursday, June 23, 2016

Really?!? We are told we can keep hold of our old recycling bins to use for the Council's new 'paid for' rubbish collection service. Great! How much? no information. When? No information. And we have to choose now, with no information, whether to keep the old bins to use for the new service or not...!

 


This was the extremely informative letter the council sent out. We are encouraged to keep our old bins so as not to pollute our environment with more plastic, despite the fact that the council have done just that...

We are being blackmailed into keeping our bins so that we really have no option but to pay the council more money sometime next year to collect our rubbish. There is no information about how much it will cost. The only option is to choose whether to keep the bin or not. So, if I might want to use the new service, but it depends on the cost, should I keep my bin? If I do & it turns out to be too expensive, will the council then collect & dispose of my bin, or will I have to pay for that to happen? If I choose not to keep my bin, does that mean I am forever barred from using the new collection service, or will I have to pay through the nose to get a blue bin back again? Click on the image, or go here: aucklandcouncilsbluebinfiasco and you can see for yourself. Have a wander around the site, you'll find any time you think you're getting close to an answer, you'll be back where you started!@!

If I choose not to keep my bin, will the council pick it up soon, or leave it hanging around for months in the hope I'll give in & keep it to pay for the new service? So many unanswered questions that would have been really simple to answer. Not to mention the waste of paper sending out a more than useless letter! Come on guys, electronic communication with those that want it will save millions! The council, let's face it, have a rotten track record of replacing one thing with another cost effectively. It seems that I am now paying almost as much for just water as I used to pay in total for rates (including water), plus a much larger rates bill as well!

So, excuse me Auckland Council, and Mr Ian Stupple (if you were the architect of the fiasco or simply had to lend your name to the letter); I will not be blackmailed so collect my bin now please! And please, Auckland Council, put some common sense into your next initiative...


Why do we ignore nature's power house?

RiK ! - Wednesday, October 07, 2015

We are immigrants. We came to New Zealand for many reasons & with a host of expectations. We were determined to fit in, to assimilate local culture & try not to be too “but where we came from…”. We have been here over 10 years now and it is our home. Our children have grown up here & we are going nowhere else. There are many, many good things about New Zealand & equally, many that should be fixed. Above everything else though, there is one issue that I feel really disappointed and let down on - renewable energy.

Now, we all know (or should) that the 100% pure marketing campaign is just that, a great marketing campaign. We shouldn’t be persuaded by our own propaganda that it is entirely true, because if we are we will fail to actually do anything about the lack of purity in certain areas. But above and beyond the reality of today, we should, indeed we must, look to tomorrow. Being a small country on the edge of the world we struggle to cost effectively keep up with the rest of the world. How many times have you heard the “we are not big enough to attract…” or the “we have to import everything which is why it is so much more expensive…” arguments? Those are subjects of possible future rants, but the reality is we are perfectly positioned to begin to dominate the world in key global issues, if only we had the courage and conviction.


We have bountiful sunshine and isn’t Wellington one of the windiest places on earth? Not to mention flowing water on land & strong currents in the sea. This is where future energy is going to come from. We are falling into the same energy trap as American gun laws. Change is impossible because we don’t want to change the status quo. It is not only big business, it is individual apathy. As long as we get water & electricity delivered to our doors, what incentive do we have to drive change? Well, Donald Trump’s answer to the senseless & gut-wrenching slaughter of innocent children is to arm them…

New Zealand should invest in the best researchers, build world-beating test laboratories & drive us all to adopt 100% pure energy. In addition to software, this is an area that New Zealand can lead the world in. There is no disadvantage to being remote, nothing needs to be continually imported and indeed with our resources, we have some huge advantages. We don’t even need another cable to connect us to the world (although that is going to be essential for the technology side, if we ever get our act together there). I have been looking at this issue for a while & it seems that the main hindrance is apathy & a lack of a clear incentive. We have been talking about climate change for decades & only this year, the US starts to recognise it as a major problem? Well, it is here to stay, so what is NZ doing about securing a future for our children and grandchildren? I have dreams about power units that take in water, split the hydrogen atoms from the oxygen creating energy, then collide two hydrogen atoms with one oxygen to create more energy & expel water. Simple, fanciful & entirely possible…

Trade agreements are great & will hopefully allow our commercial enterprises to continue & flourish in our export markets, but that is just maintaining, or possibly slightly improving the status quo. Let’s do something real for this world & get NZ to lead the way! Drive existing technology into new homes. Insist on, and contribute to, massive investment in the technology behind creating safe, clean power. Force the power companies to drive the change so that they are not marginalised in the near future, and they can sell their developments to the world - no trade agreements will be required for technology that everyone wants, and needs. We are short of State Housing? Well, develop & build a self-sustaining house & allow the people with the most need in our society to live with power they generate themselves, for free.

Solar power is getting massively cheaper in most parts of the developed world, but not in New Zealand. We are still transfixed by that importer’s Gorgon gaze. “We have to ship in product from thousands of kilometres …” Well, Mr importer, I can bring in an individual product from New York, faster than some companies can ship it from Auckland, pay the correct tax & import duty & still save 40% on the local price & do you think the US company is not making a profit on that sale? The stranglehold that importers have over us, well that’s another long rant, but it has to be broken in this case. Make all renewable energy goods subject to competition by allowing (indeed, mandating) State-owned power companies to import & sell renewable energy products until we have our own developed.

Yes, it all boils down to money, right? Well, money is vital, but no, wrong. It boils down to will. Political will to make it happen, despite the short-term sacrifices; personal will for each of us to stand up & demand that the power we use comes from real clean sources; collective will for all of us to insist that New Zealand becomes the pre-eminent researcher and developer of renewable energy, for the sake of our children’s commercial as well as environmental future. After all, if we don’t, we might as well let Trump arm children all around the world, because effectively that is what we are doing by doing nothing.

Should restaurants close early?

RiK ! - Thursday, September 24, 2015

I have to say, up-front, that I have since been persuaded by my much-better-half to give this restaurant a chance & eat there, and it was fantastic - food & service! But I can't rant about that; I can about my first experience (which due to some delay in launching this new site, was a couple of months back, now).

The Food Truck Garage in the City Works Depot on Wellesley Street is a simple burger joint. After long disagreements with my family over what to do & where to eat on my recent birthday, I was persuaded that a place that puts beetroot into its burgers was the place to go! Being a man-food type of guy, I was dubious, but it seemed it was easier to accede than to push for a more obvious type of burger - you know, one with, well meat!

All the planning was done. We were going to eat, then a film. That was until we found out that the film everyone could agree on (yes, I know it was my birthday, but hey, we are a democratic family - my wife decides) finished too late to visit the chosen establishment. So, with a quick switch around & careful checking on the Food Truck Garage website, we calculated that we could see the earlier showing, then get to the trough with 25 minutes to spare before closing time. Sweet!

Passing quickly over the film - does the cinema on Queen Street ever think of putting more than two tills on when the queues go down the escalator? - we finished & rushed back to the car. Should we have driven, or walked? Well, that was democracy in action again. We drove around to the Garage & walked in with plenty of time to spare, or so we thought.

"Sorry, we're closed" greeted us (with a smile).

'But you don't close for another 25 minutes - it's on the door'

"Yeah, sorry, the chefs have decided to close early"

'But it's my birthday & we have come to eat here especially!'

"...Happy Birthday"


That was it. We couldn't persuade, cajole, appeal to anything or anyone. Now, I ask you, is that right? Is that a way to treat your customers just because you're feeling tired? And we weren't alone, there were others wanting to come in as well, so it wasn't as if it had been a slow night. Come on guys! If you publish times on your website, stick to them! You're not just media luvvies now! If it wasn't my wife's love of beetroot I'd never have come back & I would have told everyone I met to stay away...

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