What it’s really like, how to do it without taking out a bank loan, and, most importantly, is it worth it?
“So one week into my Nemesis Dress 4-week challenge and it’s been a breeze…..”
That’s what I hoped to be able to say to you (and perhaps I could) but it wouldn’t be the honest truth. It’s been quite hard; I’ve been grumpy, have had to overcome cravings and develop will power, plan my meals and, worst of all, give up my daily flat white.
My nutritional plan, set by Sarah Lindsay, sounds simple but in practice, it isn’t as easy as it may appear, especially if you tend to be spontaneous, lack self discipline and have to leave the comfort of your own home where all temptations can otherwise be avoided.
So, this week I have been mostly eating:
- Green vegetables
- Caffeine (OK this isn’t strictly “on” the list but it’s not on the next list!)
The ABSOLUTELY prohibited:
- Sugars and carbs of any description
- Non-green vegetables
So, What’s It Really Like To Follow?
The first couple of days were OK; probably more to do with the novelty of what to eat, rather than the challenge of the monotony. But by Day 3 or 4 (which was over the long bank holiday weekend), I was struggling… meat, fish, greens…. followed by more meat, fish, greens… followed by a handful of nuts…. and then more meat, fish, and greens…. you get the picture. I found the battle against the desire to snack when bored or the temptation to be lazy when preparing meals is unbearable. In addition, although extremely supportive (having given up alcohol in solidarity and happily eating meat, fish and greens on a daily basis…because that’s the only thing I’m serving), it doesn’t help that my husband can eat whatever he likes because he’s trying to put muscle and size on for the rugby season. The waft of melted cheese throughout the house can sometimes be excruciating.
Preparation is the key to success. I am lucky that I don’t have to rush into work at the crack of dawn and have time to cook a good breakfast and prepare my lunch before I set off. It’s easy to understand why some clients can struggle to fit this in before their early morning starts.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
So, green vegetables… think broccoli, savoy cabbage, spring greens, green beans, pak choi, watercress, rocket. They’re great in small doses but it’s hard to get excited when you’re on Day 5 of nothing else. I dream of once again eating ripe red tomatoes, crispy yellow peppers and sweet beetroot. The key is to eat enough green vegetables to make sure they don’t taste like green vegetables:
- Stir fry with garlic or chilli or, best of all, both
- Add a lemon dressing, made up of lemon juice, mustard seeds, olive oil and white wine vinegar to steamed vegetables
- Add bacon to savoy cabbage or spring greens for an absolutely winning combo
- Cook with lashings of butter
- Go crazy with fresh herbs
If you’re on the go, the best lunch I’ve found is at Chop’d: get the mixed leaves base, add green beans, broccoli and spring onions, chicken, mixed herbs and lemon dressing. Delicious.
These Tastes, They Are A-Changing
Since starting the ND challenge, I have developed a penchant for fresh mint tea, fruit tea (I’m assuming minimal frucose seepage into hot water), and sparkling water with lime (yes, amazingly I get excited about the prospect of drinking this with my dinner!). I’m not really missing alcohol and, after a couple of days, black coffee doesn’t seem so bad either. However, eating good quality fresh meat and fish can be very expensive so here are some of my top (money saving) tips to help keep me on track:
- Watercress is my new found green friend, especially as it’s currently on 3 for 2 at Tesco.
- A pack of cured meat in the fridge awaits me as a pre dinner snack after cycling home from work.
- Chicken drumsticks are a handy daytime snack; I roast them with black pepper first thing in the morning while I’m having breakfast.
- Smoked salmon trimmings may not look as pretty but are miles cheaper than smoked salmon slices and just as tasty.
- Grilled mackerel is surprisingly good and quick to cook.
- Roast a joint of meat for dinner and then have the leftovers for lunch the following day. Buy it on the day from the reduced price section of the supermarket and roast it that night to save you a fortune.
- Avoid spontaneous supermarket trips; use the Click and Collect or home delivery service so you buy exactly what you want and don’t get tempted by those special offers.
- Grow fresh herbs – in pots, in the garden, on the window sill, wherever. At the cost of just a few pence for the seeds (or for free if you get cut offs from your friends), these add much needed flavour and are so much better than dried herbs.
The Slip Ups
They say “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. That’s not wholly accurate. I’ve never been disciplined with myself nor über competitive therefore, even if I plan, there’s always the temptation of instant gratification in the face of failure.
No one’s perfect, and I certainly don’t claim to be. Despite my best attempts, I did have a couple of slip ups even in my first week:
- A sliver of pork pie – Day 4, I was getting grumpy. I needed something, anything, to give me hope and Melton Mowbray’s finest (literally) stepped up to the plate.
- A glass of prosecco – out with friends for a celebratory dinner, I chose to avoid the socially awkward conversation as to why I was not drinking and potentially come across as overly neurotic.
- Scrambled eggs with a little cheddar – well, why wouldn’t you?
The Good News
There are things I have missed: cheese, fruit (particularly grapes or berries with yoghurt and oats… heavenly), lattes…. but it’s not all bad.
To be honest, I haven’t missed the big No No’s: pizza, pasta or bread. I miss the convenience these foods bring but am enjoying the fact I don’t bloat up or feel heavy in the stomach after eating. My energy levels are more consistent throughout the day, I’ve been sleeping incredibly well and, having been through and come out of the grumpy phase, feel a lot happier than usual.
The Proof Is In The (Non-Existent) Pudding
I was quite nervous and slightly torn as to how I would feel about the results. If they were great, that’s awesome and it’s good to know I’m making progress; if they weren’t, never mind, it was worth a shot and I could go back to my non-green vegetables and fondues.
At the beginning of the challenge, I weighed in at 55kg and an estimated 17.2% body fat. Sarah retook my measurements one week later and I was astounded: a drop of 2kg and 1.8% body fat to 15.4%. The most astonishing part was the measurement on my hamstring (my first priority) which nearly halved! HALVED!!! I mean, that’s just ridiculous.
So, it looks like this nutritional plan is working and I’m on course for my ND challenge. The pork pie and prosecco slip ups weren’t too disastrous but next week will be harder. The biggest gains are often made initially and keeping to the plan and avoiding even more pitfalls won’t be easy.
Pleased with my progress, Sarah has allowed me to celebrate with one cheat meal; ah, decisions decisions… it’s too difficult to choose!!! Let’s just hope it doesn’t knock me completely off the wagon and back to square one.
Finally, for anyone who’s interested in giving this a try, here’s a snapshot of my daily eating plan:
Breakfast: bacon, poached eggs and spinach (alternating bacon with salmon or mackerel)
Mid morning snack: handful of nuts (brazil, pecan and macadamia are my favourites)
Lunch: Chicken and prepared green salads (or salmon or mackerel or roaast pork)
Mid afternoon snack: cured meat e.g. parma ham, bresola
Dinner: Salmon with steamed greens (or chicken, prawns, white fish)
Post dinner snack (if required): handful of nuts
Sparkling water (with lemon or lime)
Fresh mint tea