When I got involved in this research program with Oxford Brooks University, I was told what they’d discovered during the previous study. In layman’s terms; when they tested Robin after the Indian Ocean row in 2018 it showed that his body didn’t utilise carbs, but fats instead, there are a lot more technical things which go hand in hand with that, but put simply, carbohydrates are not used in my body.
So I took this information back to my physical trainer Kevin, who, knows everything about everything about exercise and nutrition, and that’s not just me being biased…he really does! With this information, at the beginning of May, we embarked on a completely different diet and exercise program. I cut out all carbohydrates, even unrefined carbs and started to add strength training which I had never done before and apparently was what was missing in my exercise program.
I know its a bit of a cliche when people say “it changed my life” but starting the change in nutrition and the difference in exercise made me feel fantastic, more or less straight away. I had loads more energy, I slept better, just generally felt a million times better than I had done. I didn’t realise how bad I felt until I felt so good. I eat a lot of nuts, seeds, butter on everything, my favourite snack and my lifesaver in all this has been clotted cream with peanut butter…I LOVE it!
A typical day starts with full fat greek yogurt with nuts and seeds, then mid-morning my favourite snack of clotted cream and peanut butter. Lunch, often is an omelette usually with cheese, an avocado and some type of fish, usually tuna or salmon. Then a snack of quark, occasionally mixed with clotted cream. My evening meal will be some sort of meat, chicken, steak, anything really with veg, cheese is usually involved somewhere as well. All finished off with some more clotted cream and peanut butter.
People say to me “Do you not miss pasta, bread and potatoes?”, but I just look at these things as though I’m allergic to them. So no, I don’t miss them, I’m not denying they look good, but I just know how they make me feel, so I don’t want to eat them. So for seven months, I’ve felt brilliant, my skin has looked amazing and I’ve just radiated energy, until now!!!!
Unfortunately, the food that we have to take on the boat with us to eat is very limited and has a very high carbohydrate content. I’ve tried to source other food but to no avail, so on the 1st December with just over a month to go I started re introducing the dreaded carbs and even though I was excited for things like roast potatoes and toast, I was a little apprehensive, as to how my body would cope with it.
On the first evening I had roast potatoes and let me tell you, they were delicious, and I didn’t really feel any adverse effects, other than going to the toilet about 3 times more than I have been, sorry this is where this blog gets a bit basic. But other than seeing the inside of my new bathroom more than I have been doing, all was good. The next night I had spaghetti with a bolognese sauce which is what I often have but without the pasta. This was a whole different kettle of fish, almost within the hour my stomach bloated up and I was extremely uncomfortable. This carried on through the night, and into the next morning. I didn’t have breakfast as I couldn’t , I felt so bloated. This continues through the rest of the day, but I still had to have more carbs that night…
I had some toast with avocado, bacon, eggs and cheese, by morning I felt better than I had the day before but still bloated and absolutely starving!!! As soon as I put food in my body the bloating began, until my evening meal which I had chicken and rice. I can’t describe how I felt, but bloated is a definite, sluggish and lacking energy, just overall horrible. My clothes are uncomfortable as my stomach is so bloated, I have found myself calling carbohydrates the devil food. I never realised how they affected my body and how bad I felt.
At this moment in time I want to have the row over and done with and get back onto eating the correct food for me.
I’m hoping that over the next few days/weeks my body begins to get used to all these carbs, because I don’t have any choice in the matter. I’m just hoping that all my months of eating right and exercising will pay off and I’ll do the row justice. Everyone keeps telling me that its more about mental strength than physically being fit, but I say that if I didn’t get to the start line as physically fit as I could be then I wouldn’t be mentally fit.
I’ve enjoyed every minute of the training I’ve done in preparation and it has changed my life both physically and mentally. I have the body I’ve wished for all my life and I’ve mentally changed. I’m more determined. I don’t believe there is anything I cant do. Which sometimes isn’t always the best way, but I love the new me.
Despite the dietary setbacks, I’m looking forward to the row now with a short while to go, I can’t believe its nearly here and that I got myself involved in this mad crazy adventure.