MARK'S (NOT SO) DAILY BLOG

Mark Pilgrim Kia

Whipping my body back into shape

I've always been someone that looks after myself. I generally watch what I eat and go to gym a few times a week, but over time the food rules relax and before I know it I have an extra 5cm around the waist. It's so easy to say "yes" to the fries when you order out. About once a year I get a bee in my bonnet and get really strict with eating and lose those darn unwanted centimetres.

I am not some amazing fitness guru or health expert, but simply an average guy doing the basics. If you feel like losing a few kgs this is what I do:

Equipment

Opti Grill
You have to have the correct tools in your box. First up, I always use my Optigrill to cook meat. It's like a George Foreman griller on steroids. It has intelligent settings so you don't have to keep opening the grill to see if your meat is done the way you like it. It measures the thickness of the cuts and knows how long the timing should be according to whether you want your meat rare, medium or well done.

It's great for steaks, chops and chicken. My tip though, if you're cooking chicken breasts (which are renowned for being dry), take them off the grill when it says they are cooked "rare". They are not under cooked, but you are able to catch them before they turn into the bottom of your shoe.

Cleaning it is easy as the grill plates just pop off and you can put them in the dishwasher.

Nutri bullet
My next little bit of magic is the NutriBullet. I use this if I feel like a mid-morning shake. The advantage of the NutriBullet over a traditional blender is that it doesn't remove any of the fibre, so you retain a lot more of the goodness. You can blend almost anything in this thing (I usually have a smoothie at about 9am, made up of a banana, carrot and almonds). It takes a few seconds to make and without too many loose bits, you can pop the container in the dishwasher afterwards. I normally make the smoothie in the morning and keep it in a flask until I feel like having it.

The trick to any healthy eating is to be prepared. If you're hungry and have nothing but junk food around you, you're gonna eat it. I am a tupperware king. If I know I'm out for most the day I'll make sure I have my smoothie and packed lunch with me.


Food rules


So what is lunch? In fact, what is breakfast and dinner? Let me say right off the bat, that I am not banting. Why, you may ask? Because I don't want to. It's as simple as that. I find that a lot of banting people try and indoctrinate you as if on some evangelical mission where they have to convert 5 people a day.

So I have no prescriptive eating plan, I just use some simple guidelines.

1) Gone is nibbing the girls' food (they often eat healthy, but also love things like chicken nuggets and mac & cheese).

2) Gone is the wine. Shit, how I miss that. They say a glass of red wine a night is fine, but my problem is, one glass is just enough for me to be happy enough to relax the rules and have a second glass, and a third. And then, after 3 glasses of wine, I want chocolate. So, no wine. Instead I drink about 3 cups of decaf green tea each night. It might not be wine in my hand, but at least I'm still sipping something in the evening.

3) Chocolate and all other forms of candy gone too

4) No sauces. If I want to juice up my meal I use olive oil or some apple cider vinegar

5) I'll sometimes have avo on cracker bread, but won't tuck into normal bread

By sticking to these rules I find that I can see a difference after 2 days. I wouldn't have dropped body fat that quickly, but that bloatedness disappears around my gut.

Some meals


Some people want examples of meals I eat so here are one or two things. It's by no means prescriptive and I'm not saying this is all you must eat. Just be sensible.

Woolies egg whitesBreakfast is always a double plated affair:
1) Small bowl of instant jungle oats (mixed with water and tiny splodge of milk). I sometimes add a squirt of honey

2) Egg whites mixed together and scrambled in a frying pan (use spray and cook, not oil). There's a lot of debate around eating the yolk, with latest research saying all is good as it contains a lot of the good fats and vitamins. I just prefer not to eat it when being strict, simply because that's what I've always done and I'm a creature of habit.  A good buy is the Woolies egg whites, which works out cheaper than buying the full eggs and tossing the yolk.

Mid morning I tend to have my nutri-bullet shake. I also carry 2 or 3 hard boiled eggs with me for those moments I want to pop something in my mouth (I squeeze the yolk out like a ripe pimple, but once again not saying YOU mustn't eat it).

Lunch/dinner is often the same thing:
1) Grilled chicken (cooked on the Optigrill)
2) Mashed sweet potato (it tastes just like normal mash. Simply buy the sweet potato in the packet from woolies, cook it in the microwave and then mash it will a little milk, salt and pepper)
3) Broccoli (once again, just steam a whole packet from Woolies and keep it in tupper ware)

Be creative, change the broccoli for cauliflower. If you're craving something like french fries, buy whole sweet potato, cut it into slices and grill it on the Optigrill. Have some avo on cracker bread. It's not about eating so clean that you might as well prepare for a bodybuilding competition. It's just about being sensible with your choices.

I still have a cheat meal and a glass (or 3) of wine once a week, and I'll lose a few kg over the next 2 to 3 weeks.

I'll post a before and after pic!







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Thanks Cape Town!

There's something so magical about Cape Town. I could point to specific things, but it really is about the collective. It's a magical city with breathtaking views and great to go to for a few days to get away from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg.

Did I mention we left the kids behind with gran? So it was Nicole and I along with some close friends for a weekend of wine, laughs... and more wine.

Mark & Nicole Pilgrim

I love Johannesburg, but what makes Cape Town appealing is that there is so much to do within close proximity of each other. You're encouraged to simply walk from one spot to the next and if you don't feel like walking, UBER is always there (and extremely affordable as the distances are so short). We decided to hire bicycles and use a bit of pedal power.

Mark Pilgrim

We opted to stay at the Radisson le Vendome in London Road, about 50 metres in from the main promenade of Sea Point. It's bigger than a boutique hotel, but still small enough to care.

Le Vendome Radisson Blu

The staff were always there with a smile on their faces, which makes a huge difference when you're in a "home away from home" for a couple of days. It's one of these hotels where they welcome you every morning by name. Their attention to detail with the food was amazing (and probably the best chicken wrap I've had in years).

Le Vendome Radisson Blu

Le Vendome Radisson Blu

If you're looking for a great hotel in Cape Town, it's definitely worth checking out.

Thanks for a great weekend Cape Town. We look forward to coming back again very soon. A big thank you to Mark and the team at Tourvest Destination Management for assisting with the weekend (www.tourvestdm.com)!

As I write this blog, we're sitting at the airport waiting to go back home. I miss my girls and my boys (my chihuahuas) and look forward to getting back to Johannesburg. As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz... there's no place like home.
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Our new rules at home... breaking the smartphone obsession

No matter where you are these days (in the shop, gym, or office) you can see almost everybody has their smartphone in their hand. And most are browsing it. Sometimes it's to respond to an email, but often it's a quick glance at Twitter or Facebook. We've become obsessed and I'm probably the most guilty.

I hate being chained to my phone, yet it's an addiction. At home in the evening my daughter could be asking me a question, but I prioritise a quick tweet over answering her. Sometimes I'll be chatting to my wife and she doesn't respond. She'll be looking at her phone, smirking at some photo meme that's doing the rounds on Facebook.

The time has come to break the habit... and as a family we're starting right now.

The Phone Box


There's only one way to not look at your phone and that's to not have it on you. Nicole has implemented the "phone box". Come 5.30pm every evening we place our iPhones in the box (that's left upstairs so we don't dip our hands into it like a cookie jar). 

iPhone obsession

I've got to be honest, when I put the phone in I can almost hear it whispering in my ear to be picked up again, but moments later I feel quite chuffed I broke the spell and wasn't sucked back into the vortex. 

We're not suddenly becoming Amish. If a phone rings, we can hear it downstairs and will answer it. The box just stops us from being unsocial as a family.

Dinner is at the table


Our kids (4 and 6 years old) have been raised eating dinner in the playroom while watching TV. It wasn't a conscious parental decision. It just landed up being that way. Not only has it created a war zone as the girls fight over what should be watched on the screen, but they become sullen at the end of the evening when it's time to go up and bath. That came to an immediate stop as of yesterday.

family
Now, Nicole sets the dinner table and we all eat dinner together at the same time. Nobody leaves the table until all of us are done eating. The girls still have ants in their pants and ask about watching TV, but already after 2 days I can see them accepting the situation and becoming more engaging and chatty at the table. Nicole is giving them roles such as laying out the place mats. Also, they each get a candle they can light when they sit down to eat, and get to blow it out when dinner is over (oh, the small things kids love doing).

After dinner, if they have some spare time between bathing and bedtime, they've traditionally watched more TV. Now, no more. They're allowed to play for a bit, and already they're being nicer to each other and playing with their dolls etc. 

Morning school bell


This one we've had for a while, but are being quite disciplined with it again. At 7.30am each morning the kitchen computer sounds a "school bell" alarm. This means the playroom TV goes off (no moaning allowed) and it's time to make their way to the car for school.
School clock

It might sound like we're being militant, but it's about just wanting to be a traditional family that engages with each other, laughing and crying together.

I'll keep you posted how it goes! If you have any other suggestions, pop a message at the bottom of the blog.

Cheers!
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