Jan 25

Eating Clean

One of the Facebook groups I belong to is a running one.There are over 13000 members and people post for all sorts of reasons, to report good races, to get motivation to get out there, for general support. One of the common themes is about losing weight, a common reason for why people want to start running. Whenever the topic comes up, you can guarantee one thing, there’ll be a few people who think the answer is one thing only – eating clean!

Now, first of all, they never explain what that means. It most definitely does not mean that you are irradiating everything to remove any possibility of biological contanimation – which it could do :-) The most common definition seems to be this (from Fitness Magazine) – “clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.” But this has become a mantra that is being said without any understanding of the question!

One poster this week talked about looking to lose weight and that she needed to belong to Slimmer’s World to help her. Immediately came the call to ‘eat clean’ but a moment perusal of the food suggested would confirm that seems to be a philosophy the company follows. No, it was dismissed as a fad diet and all you needed to do is eat clean. There was no recognition that the peer pressure or support of belonging to a group – even if commercial – provides incentives for people to manage their incentive.

The other assumption is that if only one eats clean, then one would lose weight. I can guarantee that if I did nothing but eat fast food I could eat weight – I just have to eat a lot less calories than I’m using. I wouldn’t necessarily be the healthiest, but I’d be losing weight. And the opposite would also happen, I can eat as clean as I like,but if my portions were huge then I’d be putting weight on. It’s not just about the food you eat, it’s about how much.

Taking up a exercise will not, on its own, lead to weight loss. Eating clean will not, on its own, lead to weight loss. You need to eat less calories than you use in exercise, and have the right balance of food types to be the healthiest you can be. Luckily, I’ve always loved cooking and creating meals from scratch, so I’ve also tended to ‘eat clean’. But now, I just eat slightly less of it.

Jan 24

2015 week notes 3

Activities

  • I had nothing planned for this week (well, I was supposed to be on holiday), so it was a quiet week apart from work and running. So today I went for lunch at La Trompette, a local restaurant, for a little treat.
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Reading

  • Although I seem to be reading 4 books concurrently, I’ve only finished one and that was read just today. The Last Runaway, by Tracy Chevalier would not be my usual choice but is one I need to read for book club. And I’m happy to have done so. It’s a story of a Quaker girl emigrating to Ohio in 1850 and her involvement with runaway slaves. There’s no doubt Chevalier can write and this kept me involved all the way through (hence being able to read in half a day)
  • Of Smell Tests and Sanity Checks. Thoughts by JP Rangaswami on how all senses come into play, even when not expected.
  • Why Japanese don’t use LinkedIn An exploration by James Riney on the cultural reasons why LinkedIn is not used much in Japan. Business and social is far more mixed, so Facebook (or equivalent) is used more – and using LinkedIn is a sort of statement that you are looking for a new job, which would be disloyal to your current employer.

Running

  • I hate winter, even worse, I hate winter and travelling on public transport, where the germs float around and it’s too easy to catch a cold. Couldn’t manage the long run last Sunday, but got into gym on Monday, then run to work Wednesday and Friday, with treadmill and weights Thursday. Got out of the train at Putney and Friday and discovered Wandsworth Park has no lights at all, so progress was slow, hoping I didn’t hit ice or run into a bench!. But early mornings do give you wonderful sunrises.

Sunrise over Battersea Park

Jan 18

Restaurant Review: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Another big one of the list. Heston’s Bray restaurant’s are definitely on my list, but let’s start off with a London one. The Dinner restuarant connected to hotel, like quite a few of the top starred restaurants, this hotel being the Oriental Mandarin near Hyde Park. I wonder if the hotel connection means the chef (or his company) has less investment with the hotel taking a higher risk?

I actually started the experience over the road, at Harvey Nicholls, managing to grab a bar stool for a little glass of house champagne. The plave was full of pre-Christmas shoppers, with shopping bag to person ratio pretty high.

Pre-lunch champagne at Harvey Nichols

In the hotel, I had to ask to find the restaurant, as it’s not well signposted (it’s straight up the 2nd step of steps and then to your left). The welcome was good and I was led through to my table with a view of the park or a window into the kitchen. I was given my choice of view, I chose the park.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Dinner does not have an ever changing menu, depending on what is available, but has a pretty fixed choice that, looking at reviews, seems to rarely change. I’d spent some time thinking about what I was going to eat and decided that I was just going to go with the top recommended food, the signature dishes for starter and dessert. So first up was the Meat Fruit – a liver parfait in a mandarin jelly skin, with toast.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I’ve read that they get through so many of these that there is a form of assembly line to prepare them, so there could be a chance that care gets reduced. I have no idea if that was the case, it tasted great. Rich and smooth with the orange providing the citrus cut through. I was disappointed with the bread though. The menu said toast but it seemed to have been fried, there was a fair bit of fat on it. For me, the rich pate with the oily toast was too much, it went far better with the plain bread.

I went for the Iberica Pork chop next, with smoked cabbage, confit onion, apple, mead and Robert Sauce (i had to look this up – onion, butter, wine, pepper and mustard). The pork was cooked perfectly and the sauces were just right for me. I’m happy the sauce was not too mustardy, it’s never one of my favourites, it needs to be subtle (why do pre-made ham sandwiches almost always have mustard on them?). The smoked cabbage was the best surprise, loved it, especially how it worked with the grilled pork, bringing out the charred flavour.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Finally, the tipsy cake. Pre-ordered at the start, this was just as everyone else says. Lovely pineapple and a bready doughy pudding that swam in the creamy sauce. I could have done with another one!

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

My closed the meal with some port and the ‘free’ course, chocolate ganache (or was it mousse) with a carraway biscuit. I’d been surprised there were no upfront additional courses, but the extra dessert was worth not having that.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Service throughout was excellent. I was addressed by name and the guy in charge of the section came by to chat a fair bit, talking about the restaurant, running, other restaurants and a quick guide to sauce making – my view of the kitchen was right in front of the sauce man with about 20 little saucepans all being managed. When I slipped out, via the bathroom, he even chased my out to say goodbye and check if I had enjoyed it! I never felt that my eating alone was unwelcome, which I have had in other places.

Excellent experience, not as expensive as I expected, mainly because I only had 2 glasses of wine and I’d recommend for special occasions.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon

Jan 18

2015 Week Notes 2

Activities

  • A birthday lunch started the week, the buffet brunch at Flesh and Buns is a brilliant value for money deal that they handle very well. A good catch up with Wine Club 😉
  • Monday was marked by the arrival of new mattress. Considering the previous one was about 20 years old, I was amazed at how much material science had changed the mattress industry. One big question was why are they all now white? My old one had that classic blue stripe on it and there is nothing like that now. Anyway, one week sleeping and a weekend of lie-ins and the new one is definitely a hit.
  • I was supposed to have been flying out to San Francisco on Thursday, but due to work had to cancel. Not that happy, but it’s done. So onwards!
  • But because there was no holiday, I did get to go the the F1 Zoom Auction, which was a lovely evening bidding for photos taken by various F1 personalities. I bought one of them again….

Zoom Auction

Reading

  • A slow week this week, illness and too much work restricted reading time. I did finally read this – You’re 16, a paedophile, You don’t want to hurt anyone, what do you do. A hard and uncomfortable read, illustrating that more support is needed on early prevention, not just punishment.
  • Only 1 book completed, but a classic one. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman, published in 1974, is a reflection on the futility of war (in the context of Vietnam) when the cause is pointless. It considers what happens to the people who would fight an interstellar war when subject to relativity and how they could cope with home that is never the same. Most scifi – especially the visual media – never considers this, assuming somehow that FTL will make relativity irrelevant.

Running

  • A mixed week of running. Sunday was a planned 14m run, with 6-7 miles at marathon pace – so working hard for this stage of training. The Mp went well, but on the cool down, tired, caught my foot and down I went. SPLAT! Glasses bent, cuts on face, pouring blood and a very sore finger. Thanks to the nice man who picked me up and did his best to help me! I ended up jogging the rest of the way home (just over 2 miles) and after the birthday lunch spent the rest of the afternoon at A&E getting x-rayed and sorted out. One dislocated little finger was put back in place and strapped up for the next 4 weeks.
  • Managed another 7 miles on Tuesday, and then another thing in my bad week – a cold. Full aches and pains and then cough, cough, cough. So nothing happenning! It’s 12 weeks to the run, and there are plenty of 12 week training plans, so I’ll keep telling myself it’s still OK, despite the setbacks.

DSC_0910

Jan 10

2015 Week Notes 1

Shall we try these week notes again? Let’s see how far into the year we get :-)

Activities

  • Had the final checkup at the eye hospital following the detached retina last year. Discharged from there, although with warnings that because I now have a high probability of cataracts, I need to have regular opticians checkups. At least I can now get some new glasses!
  • I was supposed to go on a treasure hunt this week, but it got cancelled due to work issues, we’re now trying to get it rearranged. There was no easy first week back, we were hard at it, as the big project that I’ve been working towards for the past year finally kicked off. So expecting a lot of hours to be put in!

Reading

  • Only 1 article of note this week. Boing Boing’s How image board culture shaped Gamergate. Fascinating read about how a niche culture, where argument is currency, does not translate into mainstream where people don’t always care to argue.
  • Only 3 books finished this week, all fiction, all thrillers.

Running

  • 30 miles managed this week, still not quite up to the miles I need to have in my plan but slowly getting there. Not having much luck getting up and going running to work, it’s just too dark!
Jan 04

2015 Ambitions and Challenges

Having thought about this, read the articles, looked at my previous plans, I’ve decided I’m just going to make a list that includes things that are already on progress or has been booked and add more things over the year. So I’ve made a page for this – my Things to Do in 2015 – and will be tracking progress there as well as adding new things. So always open to suggestions!

Jan 01

A review of 2014

Before I look ahead, surely it’s time to take a quick look back, even if just for a reminder for myself. For the first time in a few years, I did not set any new year ambitions for 2014. I’d been made redundant and really, was not in the mood! I was focusing on finding a new role, not thinking beyond that. So I can’t do a review and see if I achieved them. However, they would have been the usual – fitness and expriences. it’s all about that. So what did I get up to? Time to take a look at the photos.

January was a quiet month – it was looking for jobs and going for interviews. But I did take advantage of a sunny day to visit Kew Gardens for the first time in the year. I go there quite a bit, as I have bought membership – definitely worth looking at if you live in the area and want to support plant research (you know, the stuff that may keep us fed as the climate changes)

Kew January 2014

Once I’d got myself sorted, I too advantage of the opportunity to take a long weekend and popped over to Naples, primarily to see Pompeii. Having read reviews about visiting the preserved city in the summer, with the crowds and the heat, I was quite happy to have a dry winter weekend and the place almost to myself.

Pompeii

Pompeii

I got a couple of F1 events in during the early part of the year. First, the Zoom auction, which sells off signed photos from F1 stars to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. There’s another one this January and you can buy some from the online store. I also went along to watch a filming of the Sky F1 show, something I did a couple of times. It’s always fun watching TV being made. Finally, the Not a FOTA Forum, an event run for fans by the ex-Secretary of the FOTA org, who got along some F1 insiders to talk and entertain.

Zoom Auction

the F1 Show

Not A FOTA Forum

Running went well in the first part of the year. I completed a couple of half marathons and then the big one – the London Marathon. I was very happy to get round in 4:30. No entry for me in 2015, but I’ve decided to run the Paris Marathon, so training is full speed ahead for that

London Marathon

The week after the marathon, I got the chance to go skiing, through a friend. Last time I tried skiing was when I worked in Scotland and dry slope lessons were part of the social club activities, but I’d never tried on snow. I think that’ll be my last skiing holiday though. It turns out I don’t do the mix of mountains and skis very well, or rather skis and edges. I’m not afraid of much, but I experienced physical terror on a couple of occasions. I did not like it!

Val d'Isere

June brought a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix, via a few days in New York and then Toronto to see old friends. Loved this trip, good catchups, good food and a great time in Montreal, which has to be one of the best places to hold F1, with the circuit right near the city with plenty of public transport.

Canada GP 2014 Friday

The summer had a few of my regular events. I officiated at the Joint Services Regatta again, went to Kew fete and visited Goodwood and the British GP – it was a bit rainy for the latter, but the sun was out for everything else

JSR 2014

Goodwood 2014

Silverstone Saturday 2014

In July, I ended up in hospital having emergency surgery for a detached retina, followed by 2 weeks bed rest before slowly getting back into things. All my running got put on hold and the autumn plan of 3 half marathons in 3 weeks did not happen, but I did manage to squeeze in a local 10k and half marathon in September,before heading up to Birmingham to run the Great Birmingham run, another half, with my sister. With minimal trianing over the summer, I was quite happy just to get round!

A few local events in the autumn, with the Tall Ships Festival visting Greenwich and the amazing installation Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red at the Tower of London. I went fairly early in the process of building this and it was relatively quiet, but I’m not surprised at the corwds that developed over the weeks, via word of mouth as it was just an amazing site. I bought a poppy too. I managed to get to watch the Lord Mayor’s show for the first time (the problem with living in London is doing London events!). And I won the Army Rowing Club Player of the Year cup, for all my help over the past 19 (?) years

Tall Ships Festival, Greenwich

Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Player of the Year award

The year ended with a bit more F1, with a trip to Abu Dhabi GP (having won tickets at Silverstone) and also a prize trip to take a tour around the Mercedes F1 factory. I always say that if you never enter competitions, you’ll never win, so you always have to take a chance!

Sunday Abu Dhabi 2014

Mercedes F1 Factory Tour

That’s it! A pretty full and fun year. I’m already got my plans for 2015 for holidays, but it’s the bits between them as well that make the year interesting.