THE ADVENTUROUS PATH .... CONTINUED

 

In November last year, we were fortunate enough to hear from the amazing Tania Noakes who approached us with one of the craziest of challenges we had heard of yet. Tania had a mission to complete the “Norge På Langs” which is roughly translated from Norwegian as “Norway from end to end”. The journey is approximately 2500km extending from Lindesnes the most southerly tip of Norway to Nordkapp in the extreme north and Tania wanted to be the first British woman to complete it solo in a single winter.

We were so intrigued to hear what makes someone want to undertake such a feat?  (Part 1 here) However, now Tania is back with the mission conquered! After taking some time to truly reflect and narrow such a vast trip into a few paragraphs. Here is little flavour of Tania's tale.

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Sitting in the sunshine outside my apartment in Chamonix feels a world away from the endless snowy landscapes I journeyed through this winter.  I can stretch out my legs and wriggle my toes; savouring the suns warmth on my skin and the return of summers freedom.  My dream to journey on skis from one end of Norway to the other, to experience “Norge på langs” has become real.  What was intense and vivid for a time now settles into memory and I can feel the seductive pull of sadness at something once lived that begins to recede with the passage of time.

But when I close my eyes, I can return to a world of frost lined eyelashes and cold burning cheeks; where I’m wrapped up tight against the fierce cold and skiing alone from dawn to dusk.  At times I battled fierce winds, deep snow and fatigue, at others navigated in poor visibility to reach the next shelter before darkness fell.  I still remember the feeling of my chest so tight with emotion that it leaked out in humble, happy tears; grateful simply for being alive and able to experience such a magical journey.  Although I was alone with my thoughts I never felt lonely, and despite being unsure as to whether I would ever reach my goal I was content to be on the right path. 

My head and heart remain full of unforgettable moments.  Arctic sunrises painted sparingly from a winter pallet, acres of untouched shimmering snow, mountains extending endlessly to the horizon, the sound of my skis sliding beneath me, softly shattering the surface frost, the northern lights shimmering and dancing to an alien music, the rhythmical squeak of my pole tips as I kick and glide along forest tracks, pine branches cloaked and bowed with snow, vast frozen lakes and sinuous turquoise rivers,  the feathered imprint of outstretched wings from a bird landing, days lived in black and white under foreboding overcast skies,  flat two dimensional light playing tricks on my eyes, a white deeper and brighter than all other colours, skies that come alive with sunlight from an over-saturated blue sky…  

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It took me 82 days and 2533km to ski from Lindesnes to Nordkapp along a route that weaved through some of the most remote mountains and valleys of Norway.  Every day brought some unique new experience or encounter and taken as a whole the journey is one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences of my life.  When I set out from Lindesnes lighthouse, despite my planning and preparation I was far from certain that I would ever reach my destination.  There was no way of knowing in advance what the winter season would bring in terms of snow and weather conditions.  Though I felt physically prepared, I knew that even a small injury could prevent me from continuing.  I focused on making the best decisions from moment to moment, concerning my capacities and the prevailing conditions. My strategy was to travel as far as I could when the weather was good and be prepared to take a rest day in poor conditions.  More than any other time in my life I was able to live one day at a time and I was rewarded with the simple satisfaction brought by living wholly in the present.

When I look back on my journey I feel fortunate in many ways.  I am fortunate to live in a time and place where taking on such a challenge is possible, fortunate to have the strength and skills to make it happen.  I am grateful to the companies who were inspired by my project, added fire to my enthusiasm and supported me materially. 

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I also recognise that this winter had near perfect conditions for such a traverse.  Compared to recent years there was more snow, particularly in the south and early on in the season.  More importantly the temperatures stayed consistently cold, preserving the condition of the snow through to early April.  Over the course of my journey I had to ski across hundreds of frozen lakes and yet I rarely had concerns about breaking through the ice because it was so cold.  For a solo skier this had the potential to be a serious risk.

This winter Norway was battered by remarkably few westerly storm systems and as a result I rarely had to face storm force winds.  The prevailing air system stayed largely from the east (Siberia), which was why there was such a prolonged period of low temperatures.

I was able to start skiing on the third day of my journey and stayed on skis all the way to Nordkapp.  Of the 2533km I only had to walk about 2%.  For the most part the snow conditions allowed steady progress, despite tiring trail breaking.  Snow can be impossibly difficult to make progress through, under certain conditions, as I found out north of Abisko.  But despite minor setbacks and frustrations there was always another way through, and with the help of friends and a positive attitude I was always able to find it. 

Perhaps it is unsurprising that I should arrive at the end of such a journey feeling somewhat philosophical.  In the constant clamour of day to day life we don’t always have time and space for much reflection.  One thing I take pride in is that despite many hours alone, at times in difficult and uncertain conditions I was always able to focus on something positive, and I honestly say that I enjoyed the lows as well as the highs.  

Since returning from Norway the breathing space that I created in my life so that it could happen has disappeared.  Like a fragile bubble that has burst, collapsing that precious space and returning the reactive struggle of daily life.  But those moments of clear contentment out on my skis in Norway have ossified into something firm and solid inside; a determination to fight to keep things simple; to be clear about my priorities and keep space for them, accepting that the remaining decorations of life will fall as they may.

I would like to thank Fori for their enthusiasm and support for my adventure.  I hope that reading a little about my experiences will help inspire you to make the time and space to make your dream project happen too.  Happy adventuring! Tania

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If you would like to see a record of my journey then I posted a photograph and short piece of text each day on Instagram.  https://www.instagram.com/tania.noakes/?hl=fr

 

WHOLE30

 

What is it? Who's behind it? Is it for us? Just a few of the questions we have about the Whole 30 Programme a phenomenon that is sweeping across the US and looks set to hit the UK in 2018.

A huge advocate for Whole 30 in the UK, is the tireless; Aly Harwood, A.K.A. @whole30ukchallenge so we thought we would pick her brains.

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We feel tired just reading about Aly's normal week. It is a combination of running from Waterloo to work 4 mornings a week, 2 or 3 land training sessions for rowing (the dreaded ergs and core sessions), 1 horse riding lesson and then 4 hours rowing on the Thames each Saturday and Sunday! And if that wasn't enough also working a full time job ... and cooking (almost) everything from scratch!

"It's a little manic! I love it and I do not want to change how active my life is, but I need to fuel it with a diet that keeps me going".

So how did Aly adopt the Whole30 programme?

18 months ago, Aly's eczema was driving her mad and it got to the stage where she was having restless nights sleep due to it waking her up during the night. Aly was fed up of the doctor prescribing steroid creams and tablets which worked whilst using them, but as soon as the course finished, would just lead to her skin flaring up again. Aly therefore, thought a trip to the dermatologist was the only option and this led to her looking into her lifestyle and diet and whether this was having an impact on her skin. As a result, Aly started eliminating certain foods out of her diet, which after some research came across the Whole30 eating programme. And when we say programme, we really do mean programme and not a diet, as Aly says -

"Note: I always use the phrase eating plan NOT diet - this plan is not designed for weight loss which the word diet is associated with. It is working out what foods work for you and ensuring you have a healthy relationship with food".

What are the basic rules of the whole30 programme?

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) you are unable to consume during the programme. These are seen to have a potential negative impact on your health and fitness. In theory, the Whole30 Program has been devised to eliminate these food groups from your diet for 30 days to see what effect this has on your body.

So,

  • Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial
  • Do not consume alcohol, in any form
  • Do not eat grains
  • Do not eat legumes
  • Do not eat dairy
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
  • Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients
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So essentially, Aly (self quoted) became a cavemen. It wasn't all easy though.

"It took me a while to work out how much I needed to eat to get enough energy. 4 days into round 1, I came up in a red, lumpy rash and on day 10 I nearly threw up on the tube! The detox for my body was intense! I didn't realise just how much sugar I consumed and my body was not happy about me going cold turkey. However, by day 30 I was sleeping so well, my skin was clear and smooth, I had plenty of energy, I had lost some weight and I was loving experimenting in the kitchen to develop new compliant meals. For me dairy is a no-go".

18 months later, how is Aly getting on?

I have completed another round of the Whole30 plan but my training has increased, so I need a lot more calories! I'm a sucker for a challenge; I have signed up for a 100km ultra challenge and the Great North Run. Fruit and nut bars are great but just not enough to get me through, this is where FORI bars stepped up. They fill me up and now i'm hooked. 20g of protein and it's not a boring chicken breast, or several boiled eggs. They're quick, easy, guilt-free and everything I need in a bar.

To follow Aly on her journey check out: @whole30ukchallenge, good luck keeping up! 

 

 

 

Meet Mr Average

 

Our mission is to fuel the "outsiders" and that's not just those people rowing the Atlantic or skiing across the Arctic. It's people who inspire others to get out of their comfort zone to where the magic happens. Self-titled Average Geoff is one such person. Discover what motivates Geoff to motivate others via his rapidly growing social profile.

I've been asked on several occasions if I’ve always been fit and crazy (I think in my case the two go hand in hand). The honest answer is no!

I was not a very active child or teenager. I’ve messed about with fitness for most of my adult life but never really focused on anything until about 6 years ago. Like many others, I had a realisation that despite lifting some barbells and drinking protein shakes I was far from being fit. I couldn’t run a 5k, I would be nearly dying after any sort of sprint and my ability to move my own bodyweight was nearly non-existent!

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I decided I wanted something different. I wanted functional strength, to be a role model for my son....and to look good with my T-shirt off. Finding the balance of family life, fitness and full-time shift work hasn’t been easy. After 6 years of successes and a lot of lessons, here I am.

I’m proud of the progress I’ve made and what I’ve accomplished and my social media presence is my way of motivating and inspiring others to find their balance. So get up, get out and get it done.

 

IT ALL STARTS WITH CHICKEN DINNERS

 

When young gymnast, Ben Goodall got in touch to thank us for developing Fori, we were intrigued to know more. In just 19 years Ben has grasped more about nutrition than many manage in a lifetime. Here's, Ben's story about how he got in control of his diet and his journey to represent team GB.

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OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

With obesity statistics and "overweight Britain" appearing in headline news most days, there is a constant reminder to shape up our diets and move to living a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, on the other hand with social media dominating most of our lives, young millennials are facing increasing pressure to have a perfect body.

Ben was a 15 year old, trying to juggle friends, GCSE revision and devoting 90% of his time to gymnastics. As with most 15 years olds, Ben was poorly informed about nutrition and adopted a typical Western diet, which unfortunately led to bloating and gut issues. Combined with the pressures of stereo-typical images, Ben felt insecure and developed body issues, eventually becoming clinically underweight. Unaware of the impact Ben, went to the British Championships which sadly finished in a disaster.

"I was unable to complete any of my routines and missed out on the finals"

Left very disheartened, he sat down with his National Coach to hear the words -

"You need to eat more chicken dinners"

Of course, this wasn't easy for Ben to hear, but it was the light bulb moment Ben needed. Ben realised he wasn't treating his body the way it deserved and nourishing it with the right nutrients needed to preform gymnastics to this level. Therefore, Ben got back to a healthy body weight and went back to the British championships the following year to prove to himself he could do it and not only did he prove to himself, he also tumbled his way to a silver medal in the 2015 British championships.

ONE STEP FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK

Even though Ben had overcome his nutrition problems, injuries sometimes are inevitable. The stress of training for bigger moves left Ben struggling with his spine and was unable to compete for the whole of 2016 and losing his spot on the British team. Ben was gutted, but true to his spirit he stayed upbeat and wouldn't let his injury define him, he would come back and this time stronger.

Ben did just that, securing his place back in the British 2017 championships coming home with another silver. This meant he could now finally go to the World's in Bulgaria, in which he did earning himself a PB and 8th place!

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REFLECTIONS

Learning 1

"Sorting out my nutrition was one of the most important steps in getting me to where I am today; it boosted my performance and helped me recover from my injury"

Now that Ben understands the importance of nutrition and furthering his knowledge on what diet is optimal for him, Ben has decided to adopt a Paleo inspired diet. However, one problem Ben faces on a daily basis is trying to maintain good nutrition whilst being on the go.

"Portable, clean, tasty and ambient nutrition is hard to find"

As even though Ben is a fan of sardines, they are not the most convenient and very smelly to take on a plane. Therefore, this quest led Ben to our bars which is music to our ears as our one mission when creating Fori was to make the ultimate snack without compromise.

Learning 2

"Life is not a journey that happens to you, you have to get out there! Play an active role in shaping the way you want your life to be. Take the bad with the good and keep going. But most importantly have fun and enjoy it"

The admiration we have for this young Foriger is up there and it has been a pleasure to help him on his quest to eat clean and punch above his weight!

#DEVOUR&CONQUER

 

TAKING ON THE ATLANTIC

 

We created Fori to fuel the pioneers, those people who take themselves and often others out of their comfort zone to see where the magic happens. For Will Whitehead and his crew, the magic will happen somewhere between San Sebastian in the Canary Islands and Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour in Antigua.

Turning his back, temporarily, on a career in creative advertising Will has turned to the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge to see if it can make him "feel alive". It takes a certain kind of person to keep going when faced with blisters, salt rash, sharks and sleep deprivation. To this day, many more people have climbed Everest, reached the North Pole or ventured into space than have successfully rowed the Atlantic.

Read on to discover what motivates this 23 year old to take on one of the hardest sporting challenges around.

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"I saw the Atlantic rowing race on TV during my final major project at University. I was heading to London to start a career in creative advertising but ultimately I felt it wasn't the right path for me. I saw the Atlantic project as an opportunity to really experience the feeling of 'being alive' as you'll hear people describe it; I don't want to be an old man one day to look back on my twenties as if I hadn't made the most of them."

How the thought came a reality 

"The thought of 'feeling alive' was enough, it gave me the drive to go out and make it happen. Fortunately too, I always knew that Mark, another team member had been interested in taking on the challenge too, so together we started to make it a reality"

the row is only part of the challenge

"I haven't even started the row yet but the past two years have been the hardest I've ever faced mentally. The project is massively time consuming, testing your entrepreneurial spirit to raise 100K to fund the expedition."
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What keeps you going?!

"As hard as it is on times, I think this is that kind of experience that can only help you grow. Also, if I settle for a life of Sunday walks and cooking, I hope the achievement will vanquish any doubt of my own capability!"
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Will and his team; WIGHT LIGHTENING set off on the 12th December. They will also be raising money for two charities too, the Ability Dogs for Young People and Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. We will be documenting their trip throughout and look forward to touching base with Will after, will this be the start to many adventures?

 

The Adventurous Path

 

What leads people down the adventurous path? Is it nature, nurture or is it just fate. In January Tania Noakes will set-out to complete the “Norge På Langs” which is roughly translated from Norwegian as “Norway from end to end”. It is a journey of approximately 2500km extending from Lindesnes the most southerly tip of Norway to Nordkapp in the extreme north. In order to complete this winter journey in 80-90 days, Tania will have to ski an average 30-40km each day. If successful Tania will be the first British woman to complete “Norge På Langs”, solo and in a single winter. More information click here.

So what makes someone want to undertake such a feat?  Here is Tania's tale.

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This summer I lost my father to brain cancer. It has been one of the most difficult and soul-searching periods of my life. It has been hard to see the good things, the happiness and the hope behind the depth of sadness that losing a parent brings. My father always loved hearing about my adventures. He encouraged me forward with a belief and love that lit up my life from my first tentative steps into the mountains through to qualifying as a Mountain Guide and beyond.

The Challenge: Norge På Langs

It is wonderful when someone else is inspired by your dream and I am grateful for Fori’s belief and support. They have agreed to sponsor me with their savoury snack bars to help keep me going through the dark, cold winter months ahead. In return, Fori invited me to share with you some of the reasons why I take on challenges like this. It’s a good question… so here goes!

In January I will set out to ski the classic Norge På Langs. This is a journey of over 2500km that will take me from one end of Norway to the other through some of Europe’s’ most wild and remote mountainous areas whilst they are locked in the grip of winter. Alone and without mechanized transportation I aim to complete my traverse in around 80-90days.

As I write these words a mixed swirl of emotions rises within me, bubbling up and expanding in pace with my imagination; curiosity, excitement, hope, love, happiness, nervousness, doubt, disappointment and sadness. A kaleidoscope of feelings that wash over me and cause me to take a deep breath and reflect for a moment.

Nuggets of truth

Life contains many challenges. We can only ever control how we respond to them.

I’ve just got in from a run up high on the Chamonix valley trails. It’s a bright sunny day, vibrant with autumn colours. There’s a crisp chill in the air that breathes a freshness and clarity into you. Days like these wake you up and make you feel truly alive. I find time and space to think whilst out running. I can sift out the sand from my cluttered thoughts and discover shiny nuggets of truth.

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What an adventurous path has taught me

I live in Chamonix, in the France Alps, and I work as a professional IFMGA Mountain Guide and Ski Instructor. I grew up in Essex, which is one of the flattest counties in the UK and far removed from the world I’m immersed in now. A life of taking on challenges has helped me develop the courage and self-belief that I needed to qualify as a Mountain Guide and to create the life I dreamt of whilst growing up.

This is what adventure has to offer us, the opportunity for personal growth.

The outcome of an adventure is never certain; there are always unknowns and often difficulties. The physical journey is matched every step of the way by an even tougher mental journey. In terms of how you respond to the unexpected and how you manage your emotions. I look ahead to this winter and the up swell of emotion forces me to look directly at my fears and recognise them for what they are; reminders that nothing is permanent, and that our lives are changing around us whether we want them to or not.

Each of us will face difficulties at some point in our lives, set-backs, frustrations, and disappointments. How we respond goes a long way to defining our character and our future. Significant events; an unexpected failure in school or in your career, the breakdown of a relationship, the loss of a loved one often shake us to the core, and force us to look inside ourselves for answers, for a way forward, for strength and hope.

By choosing the adventurous path I have encountered many set-backs. I have risked failure, been frustrated and disappointed many times and I have learnt to pick myself up again, and again. I have learnt to look again from a different perspective, to save the grain of gold, and move forward into life, not withdraw from it.

My adventures remind me to embrace life to the full, for it is fragile and too short. To value each day I share with family and friends, to focus on the things I can do rather than regret the things I can’t, to be grateful for the rich wonders of the world, and the depth of kindness and compassion that others often show us in times of need.

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My life in the mountains, learning to respond appropriately to a constantly changing environment with real and immediate consequences, has helped me to better understand and stay calm in the face of my most challenging fear; that despite all our efforts there will come a time when we must let go of everything. Even those things that we hold most dear, even the things that define who we are.

I have wanted to ski the length of Norway for many years. This year I started planning to make it happen. So that I could have a bright star of hope on the horizon, something positive that my father and I could share and talk about during our last months together; something that would extend forward into an unknown future.

I know that he would have loved to have shared this journey with me in person. I also know that he would want me to let go of my sadness, to stay open and curious about the world, to keep learning, to keep adventuring and above all to be happy. For me this journey is special, and I will not be alone.

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Tania is a writer, adventurer and IFMGA Mountain guide. She is a mentor and role model for young athletes and mountaineers, particularly young women and aims to inspire and develop them through both her writing and speaking engagements.

Alongside her journey she is raising money for the “The Ulysses Trust”. This is a charity that provides a source of funding for young people in the UK Cadet Forces to enable them to undertake adventurous outdoor experiences and expeditions aimed at personal development. To help the engagement and development of young people in society, individually, and as effective contributors to their communities and as citizens. To help Tania with a donation click here.

 

Trail Food - Energy That Lasts

 

If you're like us, from Wednesday onward you're planning your weekend escape. Our thinking often goes like this - Who's up for it? How long have we got? What kit do we need? How much cash do we have left? How will we fuel it?

Often overlooked the 5th question has been the route of several adventures gone bad. So to make sure we're better prepared in future we've recruited the help of performance nutritionist Rebecca Dent. We thought we'd walk before we run and ask Rebecca to tackle how we fuel for a day walking in the hills.

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For all day energy it’s best to pack whole foods and ditch the sugary snacks. When out hiking the hills your body will generally use a mix of fat and carbs for energy. Adding some protein will not only add flavour, it’ll also help slow how quickly the food is digested, prolonging energy levels, whilst kick starting the recovery process at the end of the hike.

Ditch the sports drinks, bars and gels. They're simply not needed for a hike in the hills. Although tempting Solely relying on sugar-laden drinks, bars, gels and sweets can reek havoc with your stomach and likely lead to spending the day chasing energy crashes.

How many calories?

Old School = The exact amount of calories per hour depends on your size, gender, fitness, the terrain, the load you are carrying, distance and so on. It’s not an exact science but using MET minutes (1) can provide a guideline. A 75kg person for one hour hiking cross country will burn 450kcals per hour, for the same person hiking hills it’s 550kcals/hour

New Tech = If you track your energy expenditure using wearable technology (Garmin, Sunnto, Tom-Tom, Fitbit)  this can be used as ‘rough’ guide to calculating energy requirements for the day, if repeating similar hikes. Research and experience shows that energy equations and technology can both over or underestimate on ‘calories burnt’ (2). So take heed of this and your gadget’s limitations (3).

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Sample food ideas

Wholegrain sandwiches with tuna/egg/cheese/chicken, Peanut butter and banana sandwich, small cheese portions, sweet or savoury oat cakes, home made trail mix (salted cashews/almonds, dark chocolate, apricots and prunes), boiled eggs, oat cakes + cheese/peanut butter, peanut butter sachets, oat, seed and protein based snack bars;

From around 60-90mins into your walk, to keep energy supplies steady, drip feed taking small mouthfuls of food every 30mins (e.g. 1/4 sandwich, 1 handful of trail mix, 1/2 cereal bar).

Being prepared and planning your nutrition and hydration to take on the hill, is the best idea to make sure you have enough food and will also save you money, especially if you frequently go hiking.

It’s always worth packing some jelly sweets, gums or a chocolate bar for those ‘just in case of an emergency moments’, you get lost, weather comes in, an injury occurs or you are out for longer than expected. At these times you'll thank me for a quick energy hit or a sweet treat for that psychological boost!

Calorie Deficit

If you are going for a social day on the hills you don't need to worry about meeting your exact requirements. Burning more calories ahead of the evening feast is the reward for many! Aim to eat approximately 150-200 calories per hour (e.g. large handful of trail mix, 1 cereal bar, 1/2 sandwich, 2 oat cakes + mini cheese portion).

To choose your hiking foods aim for about 50:50 carbs:fat ratio (4,5) , https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11579177

Now you’ve decided where you are going hiking and approximately how many calories you will need for the day, it’s time to plan your hiking menu!

#Fat rich energy foods

Nuts (cashews, macadamias, brazils, almonds), seeds, avocado, dark chocolate (75% cocoa or more), nut butters, nut butter sachets (e.g. Meridian, Pip&Nut), chorizo, mini cheese portions.

#Carb rich energy foods

Whole grain bread (rye, granary, pumpernickel), oat based cereal bars, fruit bars, oat cakes,  dried fruit (prunes, apricots, dates, figs).

#Protein rich foods

Boiled eggs, jerky (salmon, chicken or beef), cheese, mini cheese portions, chorizo, Fori bars, nuts and seeds, tinned fish.

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References:

1)   Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Aug;43(8):1575-81. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31821ece12. 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Ainsworth BE1, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett DR Jr, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-Glover MC, Leon AS. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21681120

2) Accuracy of wearable devices for estimating total daily energy expenditure. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2500062, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4683756/

3) Wearable technology for athletes information overload and pseudoscience? http://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/pdf/10.1123/IJSPP.2016-0486

4) Regulation of endogenous fat and carbohydrate metabolism in relation to exercise intensity and duration. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8214047,

5) The effects of increasing exercise intensity on muscle fuel utilisation in humans.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11579177

 

DISCOVER YOUR HIDDEN GEMS

 

We're always looking for new places to explore. So we thought we'd ask expedition expert, Rebecca Coles for her hidden gems, in the hope that she would lead us to some uncharted territories. Unfortunately, Rebecca wasn't as obliging as we'd hoped!

The first thing I’m going to tell you is that I’m NOT going to tell you about my hidden gems. If I were to tell you, to publish them here, allow search engines to pick them up, they may quickly no longer be hidden gems, and that defeats the point. Sorry to disappoint you.

FIND YOUR OWN GEMS

Instead, I’m going to tell you something much better; how to find your very own hidden gems, that you can keep just for you, your own secret to revisit any time you wish. Here are my tips on how to discover your own hidden gems.

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To begin you’ll need to think creatively, harness your inner inquisitiveness and be prepared to be unsuccessful. For every hidden gem you find they’ll be ten failed missions, but I guarantee that those failures will have been fun nonetheless, and you’ll be recounting stories of how you got the bramble scratches on your legs and went up to your waist in bog.

GET A MAP OUT

If you’re a visual person and love maps, like myself, try getting hold of a map of your local area and looking for intriguing places. It may be a strange place name, a lake that you didn’t know existed or hidden cove that catches your eye. The next step is to go on a mission to find it.

Get a map out

People are drawn to the highest, biggest, longest. Everyone knows the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales but do you know the second and third highest? What I can tell you is they have a tenth the amount of people on them and are magnificent in their own right. But don’t listen to me go and discover them for yourself.

What about long distance paths? How about making up your own long-distance walk? Or linking peaks by train, or bike, or packraft? It’s often by approaching something in a different way, both physically and metaphorically, that we discover hidden gems along the way.

IT'S ABOUT THE JOURNEY

Finally, remember to keep your wits about you when trying to find hidden gems. Sometimes it’s not what’s there that is the hidden gem but a feeling we get, someone we meet or a shaft of light through a glade that creates a special moment. Remember these, keep them close, as they can’t be recreated, instead they become a precarious memory. Keeping all your senses alert will give you best the chance to experience these moments, which could be the smell of the Autumn leaves, the sight of an otter print in the mud of the river bank, the sound of the first cuckoo of the year, the apple fresh taste of wood sorrel leaves, or the feeling of cool, wet sand on the soles of your feet.

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To find hidden gems, you must explore, get outside and experience. A hidden gem could be right on your doorstep, waiting to be discovered.

 

Know your why

 

After a leap of faith that has taken him from sponsorship consultant to CrossFit trainer and fitness instructor at Ministry Does Fitness discover the importance of knowing your "Why" for Nik Naidoo.

nik naidoo fori

When it comes to training, I have slowly but surely discovered that consistency built with purpose breeds longevity. It doesn’t help that nowadays society has been programmed to expect results quickly. Technology has made information so readily available. Our actions and reactions move faster than even our brains. And often, we are left dissatisfied rather than satisfied when things don’ go to plan, quickly! However, sometimes it’s good to strip back to the bare basics, sit down with nothing else around you, start searching for answers and know your why.

This is a phrase I learned from my coach who has been an incredible mentor for me in not only my training progression, but how I tackle my goals, in fitness and life. Perception and understanding are fundamental factors to discovering what you are training for and why, but also allow you to fully buy into your chosen philosophy and subsequent training programme. I guess ‘knowing your why’ can be applied to almost any context in your life. Finding purpose is often going to create contentment. It’s when we aimlessly do things that causes concern for a lack of consistency and therefore happiness.

Compound Movements & CrossFit

When I sat down with Jamie six months ago, I had clear goals in mind, which was to build structural strength through my midline, increase muscle endurance, and improve mobility. I wanted to be a more complete athlete. Not your regular goals some might say, i.e. Improve 1RM or better my 2k row time. However, a deeper thought process in finding my why allowed both Jamie and myself to create more defined long-term targets which would get me to where I wanted to be – which in more lemans terms, increase strength through major compound movements which would transfer over to clean/snatch/jerk, and thus moving moderately heavy weights consistently.

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I came into CrossFit a very fit athlete but not the biggest, and whilst I was able to blast through a 30 minute metcon, when anything remotely heavy came up, the alarm bells started ringing. Whilst I was still progressing thanks to the training methodology of CrossFit, it was still mostly damage limitation in a lot of areas. I was getting left behind (or at least not catching up).

However, it reached a time where I just wanted move. Training for me is a chance to express myself and find out what kind of person I am and want to be. To some that might sound incredibly cheesy, but for me, a lot of things start from good health, and the mentality you have when you’re inside the gym and about to give up on a workout that is crushing you, but you just keep on going. I love the feeling and endorphins that working out gives me, but also the mental application too. If you don’t know what I am talking about, sit down on a rower, plug 2k into the machine and go as hard and fast as you can. I guarantee you’ll find out some things about yourself!

But going back to what I said earlier, I was at a point where I could continue plodding on and going through the motions, or just do more. And I did want more. To me, it doesn’t matter if you are not a professional athlete. We are still all athletes, competitive in our own right, and want to push ourselves to our limitations. As a result, I got serious, found out my why and the rest was pretty much history.

Training with purpose

Training with a purpose can often be quite a daunting task to tackle for a lot of people. If you simply want to enjoy exercise and use working out as a tool to keep fit, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The more people who exercise, the better. But if you, like me do want more, it’s important to find a purpose and settle in for the long-run. Seeing true results in your training requires an incredible amount of patience, like most meaningful things.

With a quarter of the year already done, and the CrossFit Open behind us, I’m looking to really knuckle down and just keep to the grind which will hopefully get me to a stronger, more mobile and all round better athlete than I was last year. I haven’t really put any ‘numbers’ on my training goals, however since November my Deadlift is already up 10kg. So, to put myself out there for some public accountability (I might regret this down the line!) I’m going to set myself a target for this blog, to hit these numbers by the end of the year:

  • Back Squat: 150kg
  • Deadlift: 200kg
  • Strict Press: 65kg
  • Clean & Jerk: 105kg
  • Snatch: 80kg

I’m currently also due to compete at the European Inferno in Cardiff in August, which is a pairs competition. However, I’d like to put myself under some pressure and sign up for an individual one too, so watch this space.

MY TOP 5 TIPS

Apart from that, I’m going to summarise with 5 tips on how to find and know your why. I hope you get as geeky as I do with your training, and get at it with a purpose.

  1. Talk to people – confide in people you trust, ask questions, listen, and seek out what is right for you
  2. Follow the six-month rule – I always like to ask myself, am I still going to be doing this in six months? If the answer is no, these goals are probably not right for you. I’m not talking about doing a 4-week summer shred now, I’m talking about long-term goals. Remember, consistency = longevity! This is also a great thing to ask yourself for any nutrition principles you might follow too
  3. Have fun – I see so many people not enjoying their training. And if you’re not, you haven’t found the right why! It should be the best part of your day, so make the most of it.
  4. Accept failure – Like anything, plan A might not always work. If you need to change something down the line for the benefit of the long term, then that is cool. Don’t get mad if certain things don’t work out. They’re only going to lead you onto the right path
  5. Get a mentor – Find that someone you can lean on. Build a relationship with them and know you are in it together.