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2012 in Review, 2013 The Year Ahead

Happy New Year to you all!

New Year’s Day seems like a good day for me to assess where I am and how I’m doing.

I have lived on MotherNaturesDiet for most of 2012. I was formulating the rules during the first half of 2012, and living by them fully in the second half of the year.

My aims since the start have been to live on an all-natural diet, adhering to my 12 Core Principles, and it has always been my hope that living this way will prove that this is the best, healthiest way to live, eat and exercise, and that living on MND will help me achieve my best health and best shape ever.

So how am I doing?

My measurements haven’t changed drastically, but then I didn’t expect them to. I gained some weight (muscle) over 2012, and have pretty much stabilized over the last few months. The last month, with Christmas and the holidays, has seen me add a couple of pounds of fat, as I have been pushing the 90/10 rule to the limit!!!

As at 1st Jan 2013:

  • Weight – 12 stone 11 pounds (179 pounds, or 81.2 kilos)
  • Waist – 32.5 inches
  • Chest – 45 inches
  • Right biceps – 13.5 inches
  • Left biceps – 13 inches
  • Body fat level – 11.5% to 12% (skinfold calliper tested at supra-iliac crest, consistent measure used all year)

If I compare these stats to my mid-year-2012 measurements, the main changes are:

  • Weight up 8 pounds
  • Waist up an inch and a half
  • Chest up 2 inches
  • Arms up half an inch each
  • Body fat no change

My body fat measurement has not changed at all, so this weight gain is mostly muscle. My chest and arms have grown, confirming that’s where the extra muscle is, and I think the chest measurement is recording growth in my back. I am a rock climber, so I focus a lot of my training on pull-ups and chins, so my back has grown, pushing the tape measure on my chest measurement.

In fairness, my waist has gone up to…I was training my obliques a lot back in the summer, and they are notorious for widening waist measurements, but the extra half inch on the tape measure in the last 6 weeks is…flab! And I can feel it. I have been working too many hours, not sleeping enough, not exercising enough and eating way too much chocolate in December, and it’s cost me 3 or 4 pounds of fat and a chubby ring around my waist that I can feel, even if the calliper-test doesn’t show much change.

Tested inside and out

Over the last 6 months, I have had myself pricked, prodded and tested in a variety of ways, and the results seem to show I am in great health on the inside. I have had my metabolic age pegged at just 26 (I’m 42), my blood tests all suggested I am in excellent inner health, and my visceral fat tested as very low, suggesting that I am not hanging on to much ‘nasty hidden fat’ inside, clogging my arteries and organs.

Beyond measurements, I am feeling fit and strong, although niggling muscular injuries persist. Since I stopped running back in Oct/Nov 2011, I have had a year off running, I am now fully recovered from knee surgery, and I have slowly started running again. I am learning to run barefoot, and my technique and stamina is steadily improving…it is a long slow process. I have niggling calf injuries slowing me down, but things are getting better. I also have a niggling right arm muscular injury that’s been plaguing me for some months, and is hampering my upper-body training, so I must get that sorted out before the weather improves and the climbing season begins in the spring!

Fitness wise, I am in great shape, and my fitness has noticeably improved this year. I use a number of circuits-based workouts that I use regularly as a way to test my fitness level, and I have improved my speed and strength performance on them all over the last 6 to 9 months.

Significantly, as of today, I have now not had a day ill for a full year! I started 2012 feeling ill, just a head-cold, on Jan 1st and 2nd last year, but today I feel great, and I have completed the whole year without a single sniffle or problem. Yippee!!!

Also, as of today, I have not had a sip of alcohol for 365 days! Last night was my first New Year’s Eve in 27 years that I stayed sober! Yippee again!!! I was a heavy drinker as a younger man, and I never would have thought the day would come that I was tee-total, and I am very proud of myself for this achievement!

Assessing the evidence

Ummm, let’s see now:

  • Eating a natural healthy diet
  • 12 months without a drop of alcohol
  • Refined sugar almost completely banished from my diet
  • …and…
  • 12 months not sick for 1 day - I wonder if there’s a connection????

So now my goals for 2013 include – 365 more days without alcohol, and 365 days more without a day feeling sick. Bring it on!!

I have noticed over the last 6 months or so, that I am now enjoying an improved and heightened sense of smell, and I can’t really put this down to anything other than my improved clean diet, free from additives, chemicals, preservatives and sugar.

In terms of sticking to The Rules, my 12 Core Principles, that’s been mostly pretty easy. Giving up alcohol was much easier than I thought it would be, and giving up refined sugar was surprisingly easy too, though I had already banished most of the sugar from my diet before this project began. Quitting all carbs was easy, quitting dairy was easy, and though I thought I would really miss cheese, it has not been hard at all.

The two things I have struggled with – my morning cup of black decaf coffee, and the odd square of dark chocolate. I did manage a few months without either, but over November and December (I blame work stress and Christmas build-up!! Laughing now!) both have come back in. Hey, I promise the truth on this blog, that’s what this is all about, and I am only human after all! Wiser and stronger people than me have pointed out before that resistance to chocolate is futile! They might be right…

For all the coffee and chocolate, and any other minor sins, I have still stuck well within Rule 12 – the 90/10 principle. I would say my diet over the last 6 months has been 96% or 97% ‘to the rules, by the book’, so well within tolerable and acceptable limits. Not quite the 99% I would have liked, but close. Remember, a big part of MotherNaturesDiet is finding a realistic way NORMAL people can live a more healthy lifestyle. I am always trying to find out what is realistically achievable for a busy person in the ‘real world’ who wants to life this way.

Time constraints

There are many more things I would like to do within the scope of MND if I had more time. Foraging in the countryside and woodland for free food. Make nettle soup and gather mushrooms and berries. Learn to identify and gather edible roots and leaves. Try to find time to hunt and kill and prep the meat myself - rabbit, pheasant, deer, duck, squirrel, etc. I would love to learn more about cooking with herbs. Learn more about seasonal veggies. Track my shopping costs more closely. Track my packaging waste more closely. And so on…there is a long list.

However, the truth is, I work 13 to 18 hours per day, I have young kids who deserve my free time at weekends, and frankly it’s all I can do to shop, cook, workout AND blog a few times each week, so I am just doing the best I can, and I hope that’s enough that you are all learning something from this too. I will still try to achieve as many of those other things as I can, and eventually I will fit them all in.

To summarise 2012:

  • This is a great way to life, it’s easy, healthy, natural, I eat a lot of meat but feel no guilt as I try my best to source as much of it as possible from ethical sources.
  • I am in great health and good shape for a man of my age, and I enjoy the productivity of never being sick and always have more energy than most people. I work 80 hours per week all the time, rarely take any time off and rarely run out of energy.
  • I lead a very full and busy life and don’t have time to fuss, but the basic principles of MotherNaturesDiet are easy to follow and I am never hungry, never wanting.

In 2013, I want to focus on getting lean. 2012 was all about building muscle (I gained a stone from November 2011 to November 2012) and now 2013 is all about retaining that muscle while stripping away the fat. Strict diet, regular training, plenty of sleep, those are my goals for 2013.

With 2012 behind me, and 2013 looking challenging and exciting ahead, I firmly believe that MotherNaturesDiet is a great way to live.

Why not try it for 2013 yourself and see how it works for you?

Happy New Year!

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