Tag Archives: nutrition

Dripping In Chocolate Pt.I

Sucked in!

Here you are thinking I’ve written an article on my love of chocolate and the sexually deviant things you can do with it, when in fact it is an article on nutrition. That is not to say that chocolate is not good for you in moderation, though a jar of chocolate body paint can cause all sorts of …outcomes, the least being weight gain.

Diet and exercise, diet and exercise! Don’t people like me love to bang on about it! Hardly a day goes by where at some stage you are not going to run into those three words. They are becoming a modern day dictum, and with the increase in morbid obesity (well, obesity in general really!) in modern society, expect to hear a lot more. It’s all well and good to roll your eyes, let your belt out another hole or two and start buying your clothes from the Big Men’s department in “Target”, but sooner or later you are going to have to pay the devil. If you are slim, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you will stay that way forever. Gravity will eventually have its wicked way, and it’s not going to be pretty!

A lot of the blame for our current move towards junk and fast food fixes is media and advertising driven. They keep telling us how time-poor we are, how busy our lives have become, and how we need to make things easier for ourselves. Fast food chains upsize deals and give you more and more junk for your buck (look for the healthy alternatives if you find yourself in one of these establishments.Everyone has them now). Cooking programs tell us that to be good in the kitchen we need a degree in Frnch cooking, every kitchen appliance that has ever been made, three hours to prepare a simple dinner, and a cuisine vocabulary that would befuddle the best of us. I’m a qualified chef and I wouldn’t (or couldn’t) be bothered with a lot of the kitchen antics that we are subjected to on television. Quite simply, the pure joy of food and cooking is being taken away from us.

And we can’t overlook the obvious…our food culture is tied into tradition, and our families. One is left feeling that the advent of “meat and three veg” as a basis for our meals arrived with the convicts, and hasn’t changed a lot since. Fortunately as a counter-balance our love affair with Asian food ever increases, and it is perhaps here we will find our way to a healthier diet.

For those contemplating a healthier lifestyle, especially losing weight, are unfortunately going to find that it is useless to exercise without changing your dietary habits, and vice versa. There is NO easy fix, so the desire to move forward and improve your lifestyle must first and foremost be a positive drive and desire on your part. Diets are, at their best, a short term solution to weight loss and at their worst are capable of actually damaging your health. They are alsounsustainable in the long term. The whole key to healthy eating is very simple…common sense, and not depriving yourself of the things you enjoy but eating them in smaller quantities at longer intervals. You may not believe me now, but eventually you will lose the desire to eat a lot of these things at all. Good, healthy eating is about variety, what you cook, what you put in it, how you cook it and how much you serve. Recent advise suggests that we are better off eating 5-6 small meals a day instead f the three large meals we currently eat. And don ‘t forget; breakfast IS the most important meal of the day!

HIV people face a number of problems as far as nutrition goes, and like the condition itself varies from person to person. We are beginning to understand that long term dosing with our medications can potentially have serious health implications. You dan’t take the number of pills we are prescribed over a long period of time (for many of us it is going to be a period of 40+ years) and not expect some problems, especially coronary, renal, mental, and the possibility of cancers. It worries me, so I’m sure it worries you! I have made a lot of drastic changes to my life, albeit at this late stage when I’m approaching 60. It is no longer good enough to shovel in the meds, put on heaps if weight, eat unhealthy food, sit around doing nothing and expect everything to tick along nicely forever. You simply can’t live from blood test to blood test, and expect things to get better if you don’t take the actions to help improve the situation.

So as an ageing HIV demographic, what are the things we need to concern ourselves with, and keep an eye on? Well, the sme old culprits that we have all been trying to pretend aren’t the problem. High cholesterol (the bad type); too much fat, sugar and salt in our diet; too much processed food especially in the form of quick-fix meals, canned and bottled pantry items; way too much fast food of the unhealthy kind; and a tendency to see cooking, especially just for yourself, as a chore. Few people stop to think that it takes about 15-30 minutes to heat a ready-made meal. You can make a healthy salad with grilled or pached chicken and oil-free dressing, or a stir fry in the same time…and be a lot healthier for it. I know from personal experience in the past that a daily intake of cigarettes, alcohol and shit food is not going to give me the nutrition to lead an active, fulfilling life…yet still we do it – or at least USED to do it. So I’m her to give you some strategies for change, simple effective ways to shed the kilo’s, and get those blood test results scoring an A+…and it ain’t gonna hurt a bit. Well, maybe a little bit!

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

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So Can You Cook? 38

Saturday is Takeaway!

nu⋅tri⋅tion  [noo-trish-uhn,
–noun
1.the act or process of nourishing or of being nourished.
2.the science or study of, or a course of study in, nutrition, esp. of humans.
3.the process by which organisms take in and utilize food material.
4.food; nutriment.
5.the pursuit of this science as an occupation or profession.
Origin:
1375–1425; late ME < LL nūtrītiōn- (s. of nūtrītiō) a feeding, equiv. to L nūtrīt(us) (ptp. of nūtrīre to feed, nourish ) + -iōn- -ion


Related forms:
nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅al, nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅ar⋅y, adjective
nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅al⋅ly, adverb

So, now that we know what nutrition is, we can cast all that aside, and make some decisions about it for ourselves. We are adults…right!

It doesn’t matter whether you watch the morning programs on tv, or the so-called current affairs programs at night, there is bound to be someone, at some stage, telling you what you should, or more often than not, should not eat. I don’t know about you, but I get a bit sick of it. Okay, I don’t eat the super diet that I supposedly should be consuming, but my diet, by and large,isn’t all that bad. I do cook my own meals 4-5 nights a week, and they do usually involve salads, meat, poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables, so they are what I consider to be reasonably balanced. I eat breakfast, I have a light lunch, and that on its own is pretty good going as far as I’m concerned. However, I refuse to be a food nazi, someone who views food as ‘just fuel for the body’, or an out and out vegetarian or vegan. I like meat, and no one with a sense of rightious superiority is going to tell me that I shouldn;t eat it. I don’t believe in diets (and aren’t there some idiotic diets out there!), nor do I believe in stupid trends like ‘detox’ diets. Anyone with half a brain knows that the kidneys and liver are there specifically to do that – detox. If they are working properly, they don’t need any help, though those making money out of the products probably don’t agree.

But what it really boils down, anda point that is often ignored, is to enjoy eating, making it a pleasure and something that can be used to help you wind down and relax. My lazy night of the week is Saturday night. I don’t cook – full-stop. It can be a pizza, or hamburgers, or fish & chips or even – heaven forbid – one of the three or four times a year when I will say “let’s do Hungry Jacks”. But we do it, and we enjoy it because we are not doing it all the time. And as for comfort foods, well they are just that, as are junk foods provided they aren’t the be all and end all of your diet. I enjoy my “Krispy Kremes”, and my potato chips and chocolate (Mmm), and during winter my hot chocolate with a couple of ‘Tim Tams’,
and nobody is going to make me feel guilty about it. I drink full-cream milk, eat full-fat cheese and have about 4-6 eggs a week (not to mention the bacon I often have it with). And it is the enjoyment aspect of it that I like to emphasise. I eat healthy meals on most occasions, and I can see absolutely nothing wrong with a treat or a comfort food being thrown in there when I feel like it. It is all about balance, and not feeling guilty about having a little extra something here or there.

So, the following recipes are for for the 4-5 nights a week when we do eat healthy, nutitious meals – what we do the rest of the time is nobodies business…so enjoy.

A couple of these are from my favourite Aussie chef Bill Grainger.

Toasted Grain & Nut Cereal:
125g unsalted butter
¾ cup honey
1½ teaspoons vanilla essence
500g rolled oats
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
¾ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup rye flakes (try Health Food stores)
1 cup chopped, dried fruit such as sultanas, apricots or apples

Preheat oven to 170°C. Place butter, honey and essence in s small saucepan. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until honey and butter are combined. Place remaining ingredients, except fruit, in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Slowly stir in the butter mixture, making sure that each grain is evenly coated. Spread the cereal over a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the grains are crisp and very lightly browned.. Stir occasionally to stop mixture sticking to the baking dish.
Remove cereal from oven and allow to cool. Add dried fruit, and stir through evenly.
The muesli can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
MAKES 1.5 kg

Goat’s Cheese and Lentil Salad w/Roasted Beetroot
4 medium-sized beetroots
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
! Cup of Puy lentils
¼ cup diced Spanish onion
¼ cup seeded and diced tomato
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
To serve:
Mint leaves
8 asparagus spears, blanched and cooled
200g goat’s cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Preheat oven to 220°C. Place beetroot in a small baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, salt & pepper. Cover with foil, place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Set aside.
Placelentils with 1½ cups water in a medium saucepan, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain.
Place warm lentils, Spanish onion, tomato, extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt 7 pepper in a bowl, stir and set aside.
Peel beetroots by rubbing gently with your hands (I recommend using gloves, and wear an apron) until they come off. Slice beetroot vertically into 1cm thick slices.
Stir mint & parsley through lentils.
To serve, Divide lentils amonst 4 plates, top with a few sprigs of mint and the asparagus. Slice goat’s cheese into generous slices and place on top. Add beetroot, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
SERVES 4

Spicy Chicken Salad with Lime:
4 Chicken breast fillets
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cucumber
1 cup coriander
1 cup mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns (spice section of supermarket)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
To serve;
2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in a frying pan, then transfer to a baking dish. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until the juice runs clear when pierced with a knife or skewer. Remove from the oven, and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Shred chicken into strips.
Slice the cucumber in half lengthways, and remove seeds using a teaspoon and discard. Slice thinly on the diagonal.
Place chicken, cucumber, coriander and mint in a large bowl. Sprinkle with Szechuan pepper, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and spring onion and toss until well combined.
To serve, divide iceberg lettuce among 4 plates and pile chicken mixture on top. Serve with extra lime wedges.
SERVES 4

Fresh Tomato Pasta:
1kg vine-ripened tomatoes
1 tablespoon sea salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
300g spaghetti
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves, torn
To serve;
Parmigiano Reggiano

Score a cross in the base of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drain after 10 seconds, then peel the skin away from the cross. Halve the tomatoes, and squeeze to remove the seeds and excess juice (or use a teaspoon to scoop them out). Chop tomato flesh roughly, place in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes.
Place drained tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and zest, garlic chilli and pepper in a bowl and stir. Leave for 20 minutes for flavours to combine.
Cook the spaghetti in rapidly boiling salted water according to packet instructions, Drain well. Toss through the tomatoes with torn basil leaves and serve with freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
SERVES 4.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

  

Reclaimations

Getting older is one of those things that seems to have caught up with me very quickly. One minute I was 40, then 50 and now at 57 rapidly approaching 60. I’m not complaining. I’ve survived AIDS (with a couple of disabilities but nothing to hold me back), and when all is said and done I am really enjoying the experience of getting older, the quietening down of life and the intuitiveness that seems to come with it. HIV is no longer something I feel concerned about – in fact, it is very much a backwater in my life. Everything is under control, and has been for a long time, so as far as I am concerned it is no longer an issue. It is just something that is, and is so integrated into my life that it is not a seperate issue.

However, there are aspects of ageing that I have not liked. I may be approaching 60 but there is much about the contemporary world that I love – like the latest music (and I still collect dance music) and technology and all the wonders it brings for starteres. I still like to dress well (though I try to avoid the mutton dressed as lamb scenario), I still groom myself well and like the fact that despite my age I can still look pretty good when I hit the streets. However, 12 months ago I started to notice things about my body that were in stark contrast to what I liked to think and feel about myself. Having been blessed with good genes that have allowed me to keep all my hair (most of it in its original black shade) and for most of my life a slim profile I was disconcerted to find that gravity was finally having its wicked way and changing – for the worst – my body shape. I was becoming flabby with a very discernable spare tire waistline, flabby tits, mishapen arse and bad posture. I was actually starting to look so “old” that it was starting to depress me and really knocked my self-esteem around. It also didn’t fit in with how I dressed and groomed myself and I was really aware of the fact that I wouldn’t go out in anything that clung to me, or in anyway showed off my body shape. To make matters worse, I started to go up in clothing sizes (from SM to M in shirts, and from 32” trousers and shorts to 34”. I wasn’t happy! Other nasty things that were happening were finding myself sitting on the edge of the bed to put on trousers and shorts, having my partner comment on how bad my posture was getting (that was a real “shit – is it” moment), and the doctor had started me on cholesterol meds, which was an additional pill that I really wasn’t happy about having to take.

Like others that I know, when I lived in the Eastern Suburbs in the 80’s and 90’s, I made a decision (despite the fashion for toned bodies at the time) to avoid going to the gym. They were places full of gay guys who were there not to get fit but to mould themselves into an image of what it was preceived that gay men looked like. They posed, preened, plucked, depilated and fake-tanned, and when they went oiut to the bars, only ever hung around with, and picked up, guys who looked like themselves. I made sure I hung around with the scrawny brigade so as not to feel out of place. It was a form of body fascism that I disliked then, and still do. However, a move to the outer edges of the Inner West brought about a change in my thinking and perceptions. With the body rapidly getting out of shape, with my self-esteem taking a beating, and with the prospect of 60 looming (and a potentially rickity ride into an unhealthy mature years) it was time to do something about it, so it was off to the gym in Marrickville. The fact that I added the word ‘gym’ to my vocabulary was a good start.

I loved – and still do – the gym, which sort of came as a bit oif a shock to me. From the word go I was made to feel comfortable, and a lot of the fallacies that I attributed to going to the gym were dispelled. To start with, no one else cares about what you are doing, and nobody is actually watching and assessing you (except yourself). Everyone else is too busy doing their own thing, and are too much in their own world to care about what you are up to. I had an initial assessment with a personal trainer who in no way criticised how I
looked, but she did help me to set some goals – the major ones being that I wanted to get fit, I wanted to loose excess fat, generally tighten my whole body up, fix my posture and inprove my general health. I wanted to reclaim my hips and arse, both of which had long ago disappeared. In other words, I had a determination to transform myself. And at 72kg, I wanted to do all this without losing weight, as weight wasn’t the problem. The other encouraging thing I found about just going to a local gym was the number of other mature aged men and women who were there, and really working hard and doing their best to get fit and healthy. There is now a few older role models around to encourage us to do something about being fit and older. Actors like Rob Lowe (God, how hot is that man), Rick Springfield (who despite his demons looks fabulous for someone in his 60’s), and dare I say it – Tony Abbott (hate his politics but admire him for his committment to fitness) – have given us a new way of looking at ourselves as we get older.

So, having set goals, and having been given a regime to follow, it was off to the beginners studio for a 10 week starters program. The first week…I suffered. Every muscle ached, and I looked at the piss-weak weights I was starting with, and wondering if I was ever going to be able to do things at the heavier end. And don’t think it doesn’t get tedious! Doing the same routines over and over again can get very boring. I started to vary things myself, made a lot of changes to what had been set out for me and found that helped me to get through the boredom barrier. I started going three days a week, for 1 hour each visit. And I bloody worked hard! Nothing was going to deter me from my goals. Within 7 weeks of starting, the miracles began. I was using a lot of resistance equipment, and found that the weights started to increase. The spare tire didn’t just reduce – it disappeared. I noticed my pecs tightening up and starting to show a firm profile, muscles appeared in my arms. My energy levels also increased, as did my flexibilty. My self-esteem started to go through the roof, and in turn this promted me to work harder, to really start to challenge myself. At the end of the 10 weeks, I looked fantastic. I couldn’t believe just how different I looked and felt. It was noticeable at the gym how regular I was and how hard I worked, and the gym staff gave me a lot of encouragement.

So, after the 10 weeks in the beginners studio it was time for another assessment, and a harder program of work, starting in what I jokingly called “the big boys room” where all the weights and serious resistence equipment are. I continued to flog myself three days a week (still for a total of three hours a week), and the changes continued. I was still having some problems getting a flat stomach (I wasn’t after a six-pack…I could probably get one but at my age it would be a constant battle to maintain it) so the tweaking of our diet at home started. Now, I’m sure everyone knows from my last column that I cook, so doing a diet tweak wasn’t a big issue as I knew that I had the recipes to over-ride any chance of blandness or boredom. I should point out that I don’t approve of diets, especially fad ones, but I do believe that you can create a healthy diet for yourself without going to extremes, without adding supplements, and without cutting out carbs and proteins. Your body needs these things to function properly – it is all a matter of proportion and balance. We cut out a lot of fatty foods, a lot of sugar (I have a terrible sweet tooth so this wasn’t easy), and increased the amount of raw vegetables, fish and poultry in our diet. This helped a lot, as well as a lot of repititions on the Ultimate Abdominal machine at the gym, and a lot of suspension work (whereby you suspend yourself, and lift your legs as high as you can for as long as you can, or hold your legs out at a 90° angle – you can really feel the pull on your abs). So I pulled, and pushed and strained and grunted through the main weight floor of the gym for the next 3 months.

By this stage, I have to say that I was starting to find it harder and harder to get myself to the gym to go through the routines. I realised that I needed to add some sort of variety to my program, so at New Years weekend this year I decided to do my first class. I looked at all the alternatives, and assessed what I thought I could do, and couldn’t do. I have done yoga before (and enjoyed it) but felt that it wasn’t dynamic enough to maintain the body profile I was aiming for. I still haven’t tried pilates, but it is on my list. Anything that involved balance was out (I have peripheral neuopathy…the numb type, not the painful. This means I have no feeling in my feet and ankles), anything involving too much co-ordination was out (I’m unco-ordinated at the best of times), and anything done in dark rooms – such as Spin – was out, as I’m partially blind and have night-blindness. So, this left me with Body Pump, a class that involves work with weights, and is very dynamic and very muscle and cardio-orientated. You really push your heart rate up doing these classes. I found I really loved Pump, and have stuck with it right through to now. I avoid lunges (for balance reasons), and do squats instead, which means a double session of squats every class, which can really push you to your limits, especially when you have 25- 28 kgs of weight sitting on your upper back to add to the challenge. The routine (all Les Mills classes are done in most gyms these days, so it doesn’t matter where you go, you will always know what to expect from a class) changes every three months, so just as you are getting bored with it, it changes. So, I started doing two morning classes a week (on Monday and Friday, and usually the token male in the class at that time of day), and did one day a week in the weight room to work whatever muscles didn’t get worked in the class. Having just moved from Sydney to Brisbane, I found the break in routine, and to a new gym and environment a bit unsettling.I have just got back into my two Pump classes, and will probably get back to my resistence work sometime in the next couple of weeks.

So, what has the end result of all this been. To be honest, the result has been staggering. I still look in the mirror and think to myself “Is that really you?”. I have my hips and arse back big time, and can walk around in a singlet without feeling embarrassed. I have pecs, I have muscled arms and legs. My posture has improved, as has my energy levels and my flexibility. I have gone off my cholesterol meds. My self esteem has gone through the roof, and I can honestly say that I feel absolutely fantastic, and that is reflected in how I look and dress. I have come to realise that there is more to me than I ever thought there was – I can set goals and challenges and achieve them, I can push myself beyond my limits when I have a reason to, and that I can establish routines and stick to them when I have an end objective. I now feel that I can go into my elder years truly fit and healthy, and that in many ways that is going to help cut back the risks that I would have faced without going through this metamorphisis. I can move forward knowing that I am still flexible, that high blood pressure and cholesterol aren’t going to plague me, and that problems that result from being over-weight have pretty well been eliminated.

What would I recommend to other guys my age? If you smoke…STOP! If you have a bad diet…FIX IT – it’s not rocket science. Don’t think that walking the dog is all you need to do – if you are over-weight, do something about it. Look at the long-term, not the short. It is not about having the body beautiful (though it helps) it is about being fit and healthy, and prolonging your prospects for good health and wellbeing as you progress through the years. Don’t think (like I did) that looking fit and healthy is just for the young. The flow-on affects of a good exercise routine are endless, both in your public and private life. Look good and feel good – you’ll thank yourself for it.

Tim Alderman.
Copyright 2010

  

Eat To Your Health

In my last column I talked about starting out at the gym as a way to start getting your fitness on-track, and since that was written there have been several articles out in HIV journals stating that diet and exercise are important for guys (and girls) in an ageing HIV population to promote a longer and healthier road to old age, and as a way of fighting off problems associated with obesity and bad diet. As a population in general, obesity is a big problem, especially as we get older, and lazier. One of the things that prompted me to get off my arse and start doing something about my health was observing people around me who were my age or older, and telling myself “that is NOT how I want to end up” as an older person. I don’t want to be fat, and wear my trousers up around my nipples; I don’t want to be stooped and crippled, relying on Zimmer frames and mobility scooters; I don’t want to have to rely on others to help me get about and just get through my everyday life; and I don’t want to be shuffling around and taking all day to move from one place to another. I saw a LOT of this in elderly people, and for me…it’s just not on!

Okay, so hopefully we have prompted some of you to start looking after your weight and mobillity. I brushed over diet in the last article, but in reality exercise and diet go hand-in-hand, even more so as you get older. It is such an easy matter to tweak your diet from unhealthy to healthy that I often wonder why people think it is so hard. There is very little that you have to give up in a balanced diet, though the emphasis does change from one of ‘oh, that is too much trouble’ to one of ‘okay, I’ll give that a go’ if you know you will achieve positive results.

I would like to think that we had all moved on from the diet we were presented with as we grew up, especially those of us brought up with the “meat and three veg” mentality of the 50’s and 60’s, though I do know of guys my age who still stick to that prescription, and have NEVER ventured outside the box. The move from ‘bad’ eating to healthier eating for me occurred with the discovery of Asian cuisine.The entire Asian approach to cooking (despite being a bit preparation – intensive, though fast to cook) with using all the proteins, plus fresh herbs and vegetables and sauces that were both tasty and healthy appealed to me from the very beginning. It is strange how my foods have changed over time, from a heavily red meat orientated style of cooking to a more poultry, fish and almost, on accasions, vegetarian styled cuisine. This was never intentional, it just seemed to happen, especially enhanced by the new exercise regimes I was putting myself through. As I mentioned in my last piece, I have a severe sweet tooth. I am one of those people who reads the dessert menu first in a restuarant, then decide what else to order from there. I have a weakness for potato chips, donuts, finger buns, cheese, chocolate and little cakey things from cafe’s. Have I given all this up in the rush for a better diet? Not on your life, though I do eat them in moderation these days. I have had finger buns twice this year – quite a severe deprivation for me, though I can’t say the same for chocolate. Full of antioxidants (I love really dark, bitter chocolate) is my excuse. So, what have I done to improve my diet? Nothing terribly radical, I have to say. To start with, I have never really followed diets, though did give the CSIRO diet a good bash, though I found it a bit too heavy with protein for my evolving tastes. I have to say it did work, and both myself & my partner lost weight while on it. I am currently personally promoting the Weight-Watchers recipe books, which are available from most newsagents. They started putting recipe books out about 10 years ago (originally only available through the WW organisation), and even then I was impressed with the variety and range of their recipes. I don’t follow their points system, though you can if you like – I just like theirrecipes, and they cover everything from breakfasts, to light meals, to main meals, desserts and snacks. They are one organisation that has moved with the times. There is a heavy emphasis on vegetables in their recipes which I personally like. So, what else can you do to help improve your eating habits? Eat a lot of fresh, raw leafy vegetables. With summer coming on, our diet will shortly go almost totally salad. It isn’t boring – there are many recipe books around now that just concentrate on healthy and interesing salads. Cut down on the amount of sugar and fats that you use for cooking. Use “Splenda” if you require a sweetener (it can be used for baking): substitute wholemeal plain & SR flour in baking: swap over to other oils for cooking such as Azalea, rice bran or grapeseed oils; use yoghurt and oil as substitutes for milk or cream in cooking; don’t overcook vegetables – vege cooking is one area where microwave ovens are great. Vege’s should still be a bit crisp when served; dry fry where possible, or grill; gives things like tofu a go – ignore the bad press, and make decisions for yourself (though I still hate soy milk). Cut back on coffee and drink tea instead. Limit alcohol consumption without going ‘dry’. All this will not cause miracles, but will be a good start and will give you the impetus to trial things yourself. A good, well-balanced diet will mean that you shouldn’t have to take supplements, though it seems to be very fashionable to do so. It is true that some ARV’s do cause depletion of certain vitamins and minerals in the body, though discuss this with a doctor or dietician before starting up on any supplement regimes. Don’t do things just because your friends do!

Now, for the big question! Do I believe in Superfoods? The short answer is…yes! The term “Superfoods” is used to denote foods that are packed full of nutrient and cover the gammit from exotic to mundane. The latest list includes Acai and Goji berries (it is well-reported that ALL berries are good for you and jam-packed full of goodies to help your skin, brain and heart, as wel, as helping to lower cholesterol; Coconut water which doesn’t taste half bad, and comes with some yummy additives these days – considered fashionable, especially amongt gym junkies; Probiotic cheese though I’d rather stick to a good sharp cheddar or a gooey brie myself; Omega-3-rich milk though there are other ways to get Omega-3, such as fish or fish oil capsules. If you do go to gym regularly, taking these fish oil capsules can help with your heart health as well as joint protection (not to mention assisting memory); Maitake mushrooms (yes, you read that right), though mushrooms in general are very good for you; Vine-ripened tomatoes, though the health benefits of tomato-rich diets are well known now – and how can you hate tomatoes!; Blue-Green Algae (Spirulina) is one I’ll pass on, thanks!; Yerba Mate (a South American tea) is something I’ve tried, but haven’t developed a taste for. There is quite a ritual involved in preparing it; Pomergranate juice expensive but oh so gorgeous and addictive it;s worth going into credit card debt for; and brazil nuts, which fortunately for me come in blocks of chocolate, so yeah, I eat them. I highly recommend you doing some internet research on superfoods, then pick out the ones you enjoy and include them in your diet.

So, the rules for good healthy eating are:
• Keep it fresh – fresh vegetables are not expensive, so stock up and learn to be creative. USE RECIPE BOOKS, don’t just steam and boil things…boring!
• Don’t deprive yourself of treats, just cut back on how often you have them. Keep health bars or trail mix in the cupboard for when you get those junk cravings – it works.
• If you get that ‘do I have to eat that’ thought when you are cooking a meal, then don’t cook it. If you don’t enjoy it you are not going to want to eat it. Nothing worste than making meals a chore.
• Cut back on fats and sugar – don’t cut them out, just rethink them. Remember that fruit juices are not always a healthy, sugar-free option.
• Don’t overcook foods like proteins and vegetables – you cook all the nourishment out of them by overcooking.
• Shout yourself a take-away occasionally – even I go to Hungry Jacks 2-3 times a year.
• Don’t cut out carbs and proteins from your diet – your body really needs them to function properly. If like me you go to gym early in the day, have a bacon and egg toastie after, and don’t feel guilty about it. Without the carb & protein hit you will go home and hit the wall. You burn a LOT of calories when you exercise.
• Eat as many raw vegetables as you like – they are so good for you.
• Don’t knock frozen and canned vegetables and pulses. Most vege’s are snap-frozen, and are often healthier than cooking them yourself. If you buy tinned beans and lentils, rinse them thoroughly before eating.
• Look at vegetarian options – you may be surprised. It is no longer the 70’s and 80’s, and slabs of eggplant with a melange of bland steamed vegetables.
• Buy wholegrain bread instead of white. Your body needs to work to get through all those seeds, so you feel full for longer. Also, rye breads and malted breads.
• I still like my full-cream milk, but there are plenty of options now. Don’t get caught up with all the trendy additives etc in milk now – these are things that are present in a balanced diet, and they really shouldn’t be in milk

Whatever you do, enjoy your food. It is one of life’s pure pleasures. But, like sex, think before you put it in your mouth!

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

  

Body Work

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According to the 2013 report from the Bureau of Statistics, 63% of Australian adults are overweight or obese. An estimated 280 Australians develop diabetes every day. The 2005 Australian AusDiab Follow-up Study (Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study) showed that 1.7 million Australians have diabetes but that up to half of the cases of type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed. By 2031 it is estimated that 3.3 million Australians will have type 2 diabetes (Vos et al., 2004) – stats from Diabetes Australia. Throw an ageing population into the mix, and you have a nightmare. These statistics are nothing short of frightening. Every day we are inundated with conflicting impressions – both in reality and in the media – of body image. On the one hand we have a population becoming so obese it is bordering on terrifying. If the trend is not halted, the cost of health care is going to spiral up at a frightening rate. On the other hand, we are also inundated with images of sculpted 6 and 8 packs, biceps and pecs that are almost impossible for us to obtain, let alone maintain. They fill my newsfeed with promos from gyms, supplement companies, models, celebrities, health and fitness magazines, clothing and underwear companies. What seems to be missing is a healthy norm. And gay and HIV+ people we are not exempt from the fat/thin dialectic. And some of it seems to be based in history. There is some research into the problem that indicates that for many long-term survivors the problem is a flow-on from the dismal days of the 80s and 90s, when emaciated bodies were a common sight. To them, over-weight means healthy. It appears that the longer people are healthy, the more common it becomes to end up over-weight or obese. This trend signals a need for doctors to change their approach to caring for HIV positive people. It’s time to shift the focus to the prevention of heart disease, high blood pressure and weight gain. The problems of being at both extremes affects us as a population in general, and I think it heeds to be tackled from as many angles as possible.

Getting older is one of those things that seems to have crept up on me very quickly. One day I was 40, then 50 and now at 59 rapidly approaching 60. I’m not complaining. I’ve survived AIDS – with a couple of disabilities but nothing to hold me back – and when all is said and done I’m actually enjoying the experience of getting older, that quietening down of life and the intuitiveness that seems to come with it. HIV is no longer something I am concerned about – in fact, it is very much a backwater in my life. My health is under control, and has been for a long time, so as far as I am concerned it is not even an issue. Some things, even disabilities, become so integrated into your life that you just carry on regardless.

However, there are aspects of ageing that I have not liked. I may be approaching 60 but I live very much in the contemporary world. There is a lot about it I love, like the latest music – I still collect dance music; technology and all the wonders it brings; the sheer quantity of goods available for sale, and I am unashamedly a consumer. I still like to dress well, though I try to avoid the mutton-dressed-as-lamb scenario. No skinny jeans for this boy! i still groom myself well, look after my skin, and like the fact that despite my age I can still look pretty good when I hit the streets. However, 4 years ago I started to notice things about my body that were in stark contrast to what I liked to think and feel about myself. Having been blessed with good genes that have allowed me to keep all my hair – and still all black – and for most of my life a slim profile I was disconcerted to find that gravity was finally having its wicked way and changing – for the worst – my body shape. I was flabby with a very discernible spare tire waistline, flabby tits, mishapen arse and bad posture. I was actually starting to look so “old” that it was beginning to depress me and really knocked my self-esteem around. It also didn’t fit in with how I dressed and groomed myself and I was really aware of the fact that I wouldn’t go out in anything that clung to me, or in anyway showed off my body shape. To make matters worse, I started to go up in clothing sizes, from SM to M in shirts, and from 32” trousers and shorts to 34”. I wasn’t happy! Other nasty things that were happening were finding myself sitting on the edge of the bed to put on trousers and shorts, having my partner comment on how bad my posture was getting – that was a real “shit – is it” moment. The doctor starting me on cholesterol meds, which was an additional pill on top of what I was already taking, was a real eye-opener.

When I lived in the Eastern Suburbs in the 80’s and 90’s, I made a decision – despite the fashion for toned bodies at the time – to avoid going to the gym. They were places full of gay guys who were there not to get fit but to mould themselves into an image of what it was perceived that gay men should look like. They posed, preened, plucked, depilated and fake-tanned, and when they went out to the bars, only ever hung around with, and picked up, guys who were mirror images of themselves. To ensure I never felt out-of-place I hung with the scrawny brigade. I viewed the gym bunnies as body fascists, and in some respects still do. However, a move to the outer edges of the Inner West brought about a change in my thinking and perceptions. Then I had my “mirror” moment! Stepping out of the shower one morning, I caught sight if myself in the mirror, and the first thing that crossed my mind was…who is the tubby old man in the bathroom. That was a provocative moment, and the impetus for change. Burdened with the prospect of the body rapidly getting out of shape, with my self-esteem taking a beating, along with the prospect of 60 looming, with a potentially rickety ride into unhealthy mature years imminent, it was time to do something about it. The word “gym” entered my vocabulary.

I loved – and still do – the gym, which sort of came as a bit oif a shock to me. From the word go I felt comfortable, and a lot of the fallacies that I attributed to going to the gym were dispelled. For starters, no one gives a fuck about what you are doing, and nobody is actually watching and assessing you – except yourself. Everyone there is too much in their own world to care about what you are up to. An initial assessment with a Personal Trainer helped me to set some goals – the major ones being to get fit. I also wanted to loose excess fat, generally tighten my whole body up, fix my posture and improve my general health. I aspired to reclaim my hips and arse, both of which had long ago disappeared. In other words, I had a determination to transform myself. And at 72kg, I wanted to do all this without losing too much weight, as weight wasn’t the problem. The other noticeable thing was the number of other mature aged men and women who were there, really working hard and doing their best to get fit and healthy. There is now a few older role models around to encourage us to do something about being fit and older. Actors like Rob Lowe (God, how hot is that man), Rick Springfield (who despite his demons looks fabulous for someone in his 60’s), and Robson Green, who looked so hot in “Being Human” he almost gecame a masturbation fantasy.

So, goals set, and with a regime to follow, it was off to the beginners studio for a 10 week starters program. The first week…I suffered. Every muscle ached, and I looked at the piss-weak weights I was using, wondering if I was ever going to be able to do things at the heavier end. And don’t think it doesn’t get tedious! Doing the same routines over and over gets very boring. I started to vary things myself, made a lot of changes to what had been set out for me and found that helped me to get through the boredom barrier. I started going three days a week, for 1 hour each visit. And I bloody worked hard! Nothing was going to deter me from the goals. Within 7 weeks of starting, the miracles began. I was using a lot of resistance equipment, and found that the weights started to increase. The spare tire didn’t just reduce – it disappeared. My pecs tightened up and I started to show a firm profile. Muscles even appeared in my arms. My energy levels also increased, as did my flexibility. My self-esteem started to go through the roof, and in turn this prompted me to work harder, to really start to challenge myself. At the end of the 10 weeks, I looked fantastic. I couldn’t believe just how different I looked and felt. I started getting encouragement from others, and that really started me pushing the limits.

So, after the 10 weeks in the beginners studio it was time for another assessment, and a harder program, starting in what I jokingly called “the big boys room” where all the weights and serious resistance equipment was. I continued to flog myself three days a week, still for a total of three hours a week, and the changes continued. I was still having some problems getting a flat stomach – I wasn’t after a six-pack…I could probably get one but at my age it would be a constant battle to maintain it – so the tweaking of our diet at home started. Thankfully I love cooking, so doing a diet tweak wasn’t a big issue as I knew that I had the recipes to over-ride any chance of blandness or boredom. I should point out that I don’t approve of diets, especially fad ones, but I do believe that you can create a healthy diet for yourself without going to extremes, and without cutting out carbs and proteins. Your body needs these things to function properly – it is all a matter of proportion and balance. We cut out a lot of fatty foods, a lot of sugar – have a terrible sweet tooth so this wasn’t easy – and increased the amount of raw vegetables, fish and poultry in our diet. This helped a lot, as well as a lot of repetitions on the Ultimate Abdominal machine at the gym, and a lot of time in the suspension frame. So I pulled, and pushed and strained and grunted through the main weight floor of the gym for the next 3 months.

By this stage, I have to say that I was starting to find it harder and harder to get myself to the gym to go through the routines. I realised that I needed to add some sort of variety to
my program, so at the New Years weekend I decided to do my first class. I looked at all the alternatives, and assessed what I thought I could do, and couldn’t do. I have done yoga before, and enjoyed it, but felt that it wasn’t dynamic enough to maintain the body profile I was aiming for. I still haven’t tried Pilates, but it is on my list. Anything that involved balance was out due to peripheral neuropathy in the feet…the numb type, not the painful. This means I have no feeling in my feet and ankles. Anything involving too much co-ordination was out as I’m unco-ordinated at the best of times, and anything done in dark rooms – such as Spin – was out, as I’m partially blind and have night-blindness. So, this left me with Body Pump, a class that involves dynamic work with weights, and is very muscle and cardio-orientated. You really push your heart rate up doing these classes. I found I really loved Pump, and have stuck with it right through to recently. I avoid lunges for balance reasons, and do squats instead, which means a double session of squats every class, which can really push you to your limits, especially when you have 25- 28 kgs of weight sitting on your upper back to add to the challenge. So, I started doing two morning classes a week on Monday and Friday, and usually the token male in the class at that time of day, and did one day a week in the weight room to work whatever muscles didn’t get worked in the class.

Having just moved from Sydney to Brisbane, I found the break in routine disconcerting, and it took time to get back into the rhythm. But a deal from our local Goodlife gym got me back into the groove, and I returned to my Body Pump class. Having done this weights class for four years now it has its disadvantages. Because of the pace of the class, you don’t really have the opportunity to challenge yourself, as you don’t have the time to swap and change weights. It had reached the stage where I was really using the class for its cardio benefit, and boy don’t you get a cardio workout! I have had three different resistance workout programs on the main floor, including a isometric/fitness ball/body weight program which I derived a lot of benefit from.. However, we have moved on again.

I have now gotten so tied up in the fitness and health lifestyle that this year I decided to get my Certificate III in Fitness at Southbank Institute of Technology. This has had an incredible influence on how I now view fitness in general, and exercise. A dispute with my Goodlife gym when they ripped me off when canceling my membership – DO NOT USE GYMS THAT TIE YOU INTO CONTRACTS – has meant I have moved on to a new gym and now use my local Jetts’. So, no group fitness classes any more, but with my new knowledge I’ve also moved on from that style of exercise. Having used gyms now for four years to just get fit and maintain it, it’s time to up the ante. There is nothing wrong with just staying fit, but without a real challenge it can be demotivating. Personal Trainers are affordable through Jetts. If you can workout unsupervised, you pay them a monthly “retainer”, and once a month they do your body fat and muscle mass measurements, do a fitness test and set you up with a new program. I am now moving on from general fitness, into the world of hypertrophy – building up muscle strength and mass. This really is starting to push my limits, and is really inspiring me to challenge myself. Six weeks in and big changes are happening already. I am slowly starting to bulk up, and my strength has increased considerably. I’m starting to pump weights that really surprise me, and every time I think to myself “I’ll never get through more than one set at this weight”…I get up to three sets. Limitations really are in your mind. I am also now doing what I said I would never do – supplements. I use a pre and post workout amino acid supplement, and mid-workout boost supplement. Why…well, I’ve been researching, and the consensus seems to be that they are beneficial. And they really do give you a boost, aid the prevention of muscle fatigue during my workout, and help with muscle recovery after. They only seem to last for the period of my workout, so no lingering affects. However, I had stipulations; they couldn’t overtax my system, had to have some ongoing body fat burning benefit – called thermogenesis – and no side effects. I have around 8% body fat that I shouldn’t have, and it is sitting around my stomach and hips – typical male – and just will not go. Time to get the big guns out! My goal for this summer is to appear at the pool in Speedos, and not feel self-conscious. I don’t feel the need to have a six or eight-pack abs, but I would like a “V” shape, and a flat stomach. I feel that goal is within reach at this time.

So at this point in time, where do we sit? Our diet continues, but no longer to lose weight. It is now being used to maintain it. We have lived low fat/low sugar/portion-controlled for a couple of years now, and it has been very successful, and easy to maintain. With my new routine there will be some changes as I need to increase my calorie intake to about 2000 kilojoules a day so the body gets enough energy for the now tougher workouts, and I need to add in more fruit – I have never been a big fruit eater – so have started adding bananas and berries into my diet. I look great. I’m trim, have full flexibility, heaps of energy, and some body definition now. The cholesterol meds have gone bye-bye, one of the great benefits of being fit and healthy. I am now hopefully looking forward to a progressive ageing that will see me avoiding most, if not all, of the illnesses and crippling conditions currently associated with getting older. No walking sticks, Zimmer frames or mobility carts for this boy! I intend to be still pumping out sets of squats when i’m 80 – just watch me!

What would I recommend to other guys my age? If you smoke…STOP! If you have a bad diet…FIX IT – it’s not rocket science. Don’t think that walking the dog is all you need to do. You need to exert some energy! you need to sweat! If you are over-weight, do something about it! Look at the long-term, not the short. It is not about having the body beautiful, though it helps. It is about being fit and healthy, and prolonging your prospects for good health and wellbeing as you progress through the years. Don’t think, like I did, that looking fit and healthy is just for the young. The flow-on affects of a good exercise routine and good diet are endless, both in your public and private life. Look good and feel good – you’ll thank yourself for it

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2013

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