120 Day Fat Loss / Muscle Gain Competition

Burn fat and build muscle

Burn fat and build muscle

Welcome

Thank you all for joining the 120 Day Fat Loss or 120 Day Muscle Gain Competitions. That’s right there are two categories… I started with the idea of doing a 120 Day Fat Loss Competition following the festive period but the first person to respond to my Facebook invite was Tsvetan who was more interested in gaining muscle rather than burning fat. So if you haven’t already joined but are interested in burning fat or are more focused on gaining muscle, join us and compete with us to see who can make the most gains over a 120 day period.

Towards the end of January 2011 more than 40 people are participating! What a great response! Welcome and thank you for taking part!

Getting started

Some of you may have agreed to take part or were thinking of taking part but haven’t yet committed. In that case, if you needed a little encouragement, then here it is! Join us! It will be lots of fun. You can benefit from the competitive spirit or from the sense of community to help propel you towards your goals for your physique.

Body weight is not enough

Usually people track their overall weight when trying to lose fat. The problem with this approach is that body weight is composed of many things e.g. fat, organs, muscle, water, bones etc. When people say they want to lose weight, in most cases what they mean is that they want to burn the excess fat. Body muscle is good, while excess fat is bad. There are many ways of losing weight. We want to avoid ways that will eat away at our body’s muscle. Instead we want to focus on losing excess fat whilst keeping or gaining on our muscle.

What to measure for the competition?

For this competition I’d like you to track 3 things which will give us an overall picture of how your body is changing over the 120 day period:

  1. Your weight in kilograms (kg)
  2. The diameter of your waist in centimetres (cm)
  3. An estimate of your body fat in percentage (%)
My scales always seem to be telling me to Go Run

My scales always seem to be telling me to Go Run

Using bathroom scales to measure your weight

This measurement has been a standard that we have all measured all our lives. As you’re probably weighing yourself anyway we may as well track this as usual in the spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is only visible to participants who have received an invite via email. If you’re participating but don’t yet have access send your email address to either myFacebook inbox or mail me ali.m.zaidi [at] gmail [dot] com.

To get consistent reliable results I recommend weighing yourself with no clothes on, at the same time of day in similar conditions. I for example weigh myself in the morning 30 minutes after drinking a litre of water and relieving myself. If on one day you were to weigh yourself on an empty stomach with no clothes on and then the next time you weighed yourself with winter clothes and boots on after just having consumed a 2kg steak – you would obviously weigh more on the second day…

How to measure your waist size?

How to measure your waist size

How to measure your waist size

Why am I asking participants of the fat loss competition to track their waste size as well as body fat percentage? Like me a lot of you will be using Bioelectric Impedance Scales to estimate your body fat. These are great for convenience, but unless you have a high end one it most likely will not be taking your visceral fat into account as much as one would like it to. Visceral fat is in the abdominal region. Over the last few weeks I have been tracking both my waist and body fat percentage via a BIA (Bioelectric Impedance Analysis) Body Fat scale. Sometimes I’ve noticed that I feel thinner, though when I measure myself on the scale it hasn’t shown a drop in bodyfat percentage. But then I measure my waist size I notice a drop in centimetres. This shows to me the possibility that I may have lost belly fat but the BIA scale hasn’t picked up on it yet. By including waist size in your tracking you will get a broader picture of how your body is responding to your change in lifestyle.

Use an Accu-Measure MyoTape to accurately and easily measure your waist, bicep or any other part of your body

Use an Accu-Measure MyoTape to accurately and easily measure your waist, bicep or any other part of your body

Use a Sequoia OrbiTape to measure your waist reliably by yourself

Use a Sequoia OrbiTape to measure your waist reliably by yourself

To measure your waste size you can either use an ordinary tape measure or you can use an OrbiTape from Amazon.co.uk(Amazon.com) or an MyoTape from Amazon.co.uk(Amazon.com). I’ve just ordered both from Amazon to see which is better – a more detailed blog post on this topic coming later! These products allow for an accurate measure of different parts of the body without the need for someone else to help you measure yourself. They’re great for single people! They also cause a standard tension in the tape, so there is no more cheating involved by subconsciously holding the tape measure too tightly in order to improve your results!

I’ve tried to find the best place to measure the waist. Some people say about a centimetre above the belly button, others say one centimetre below the navel, while others still, recommend around the belly button itself. I personally measure about a centimetre below the belly button. It’s up to you to choose how you want to do it. Just make sure each time you do it you do it at the same place in order to be consistent and get a better idea of your progress.

How to measure your body fat percentage?

I leave this decision totally up to you. Choose whatever works best for you. In this section I will explore some of the methods available.

So what’s the best way to measure body fat? Well there are many ways. The problem with all methods is that they are only estimates. I personally think the only reliable way to really know how much fat there is in your body is to have yourself dissected; have all the fat removed; placed on a super accurate scale in a vacuum and then weighed. As none of us want to be dissected any time soon, all we can do is go by estimates. Some methods of estimation are more accurate than others. But the more accurate methods also cost a lot more.

The more expensive, less convenient ways to get a body fat percentage estimate

The more expensive methods (but probably more reliable) are:

  1. Ultrasound / BodyMetrix (over £2000 for the kit)
  2. BodPod – Middlesbrough Football Club has one. Sessions can be arranged from £30 per session.
  3. Underwater Weighing – used to be the “Gold Standard” for estimating body fat percentage
  4. DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) – is increasingly being considered the “Gold Standard” and can cost from £137 per session with a Doctor’s referral
  5. X-ray CT
  6. MRI
BodPod from £30 a session in the UK

BodPod from £30 a session in the UK

The cheaper, more convenient methods of bodyfat percentage measurements

The cheaper methods include:

BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) Scales

I find this the most convenient way of getting a body fat percentage estimate. If you get the right model it can act like a bathroom scale (therefore also give you your weight) whilst giving you estimates for body composition (body fat, body muscle and body water). I use a body fat scale I bought from Wilkinson on a whim. I walked past it, thought wow and just bought one. I didn’t do any research into it before buying it. If I had, I would have probably gone for a Tanita model. Tanita were the first company in the world to invent a weight scale plus body fat measurement in 1992. Tanita also supply hospitals with similar technology. It seems to me that their products may well be better than the rest. I haven’t tried one myself though so I can’t vouch for them on the basis of personal experience. They have some advanced models which can go so far as to tell you the body fat composition in different parts of your body as well as a visceral fat reading (abdominal reading). The Tanita BC545 Glass Electronic Bathroom Scale with Body Fat Analyser from Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com model is currently on offer at Amazon and is down from the original price of £199.00 to £154.62. It doesn’t just put an electric current through your feet, but also your hands so that it can also give you a visceral fat reading! Awesome!

The Tanita BC-545 Advanced BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) Scales sends electricity through your hands as well as your feet to give you a segmented body fat reading including visceral fat

The Tanita BC545 Advanced BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) Scales sends electricity through your hands as well as your feet to give you a segmented body fat reading including visceral fat

Other cheaper options include Wilkinson (where I got mine from) or as suggested by Zar Yusaf, Argos. I personally wouldn’t recommend Argos as I have boycotted them for appalling customer service and inaccurate website. But as Zar has taken the time to share the link with participants of this competition on my Facebook Wall I’ve shared the link onto you!

The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss

Timothy Ferris 4-Hour Body BEI (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) recommendation to drink 1.5 litres of water 30 minutes before using scale

Timothy Ferris 4-Hour Body BEI (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) recommendation to drink 1.5 litres of water 30 minutes before using scale

Again with this method of body fat measurement estimation I recommend keeping things consistent. Measure at the same time of day, and make sure your hydration is similar each time you measure too. In order to keep consistent hydration Timothy Ferris in his book The 4-Hour Body: An uncommon guide to rapid fat-loss, incredible sex and becoming superhuman: The Secrets and Science of Rapid Body Transformation on Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com (currently on sale for half price via the links I just provided) recommends drinking 1.5 litres of water first thing in the morning, waiting 30 minutes, taking a pee and then getting on the BIA scales. I was a bit concerned about drinking so much in one sitting – I didn’t want to drown my body with too much water (as tragically happens with some ecstasy pill consumers). After speaking to my doctor and double checking with Timothy Ferris via his blog – I’ve been drinking 1 litre of water rather than the 1.5 litre and the technique still seems to work well for me.

Callipers / Calipers
Accu-Measure Fitness 3000 Personal Body Fat Callipers Tester

Accu-Measure Fitness 3000 Personal Body Fat Callipers Tester

You may decide that you would prefer the use of callipers to estimate body fat percentage. It’s best to have a professional do this for you, or get callipers that are designed for self assessment like the Accu Measure Fitness 3000 Personal Body Fat Tester on Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com. Like cheap BIA scales the drawback to this method is that it won’t take into account your visceral fat – where a lot of us tend to deposit our fat!

Bodyfat percentage calculation

A completely free way to get a body fat estimate is to use the webpage shared by Sohail Anwar on my Facebook Wall. All you need is a bathroom scale to measure your weight and a tape measure to measure your height and waist. You input the data into the web form and hit the “Calculate!” button. And just like magic it gives you a body fat percentage estimate along with other stats. To convert kilograms into lbs for the web page use Google. Likewise, to convert centimetres into inches use Google! Don’t you just LOVE Google!

I personally use a BIA Scale, a tape measure to measure my waist and this calculation on a daily basis. I find doing this gives me far more insight into how my body is behaving. The great thing about this calculation is that it is highly sensitive to the fluctuation in waist size i.e. visceral / abdominal fat. Sometime I find that my scales have not picked up a drop in body fat, yet my waist size has decreased and I feel thinner too – and this calculation picks up on it. You cansee my daily spreadsheet and a graph of all the factors I am tracking below. I highly recommend doing yourself a graph like this as it helps you visualise your progress – (very good for motivation!). Head over to Google Docs and sign up for a FREE account and set yourself a spreadsheet! Also if you haven’t done so already start tracking your weekly progress on the spreadsheet I have designed for the participants of this competition (message me for access!).

My progress so far during the 120 Day Fat Loss Competition

My progress so far during the 120 Day Fat Loss Competition

How often to measure?

Bare minimum to be part of the 120 Day Fat Loss / Muscle Gain Competition

For the purpose of this competition you need to measure yourself at least once at the beginning and once at the end of the 120 days.

For the Google Docs Spreadsheet

However I encourage you to measure and track your progress at least once a week on the spreadsheet designed specifically for this competition. It’s really easy. I’ve already entered your name and designed the rows and columns. All you need to do is start entering your data. You will find that it WILL motivate you immensely to see your progress compared to other participants. At some point I will also allow the spreadsheet to create a chart so that you can see your progress in a graphical format. If you’ve only been measuring your weight, or body fat – it’s not too late to start tracking your waist size too. Start doing it today. You won’t regret the enhanced insights you will gain about your own body! I promise!

The best option is to track your progress every day!

I personally measure myself everyday and you can follow my progress via this spreadsheet. I find that the more often I track my progress the more insight I get into how my body responds to different things (food, exercise etc) and highly recommend you do the same.

If you need help with either the weekly spreadsheet, or creating your own daily tracking spreadsheet – just give me a shout and I’ll be happy to help!

Your chance to be part of an academic study

Eddie Bradley is a researcher at Durham University and is interested in using the data we collect to potentially write an academic paper on the results we achieve. Here’s a message from Eddie describing the kind of information he would like from us:

Hi.

If possible it would be good to get a measure of weight (kg) every week, including initial and final. Also a measure of body fat % once a month.

If this can be recorded in excel or something similar and then collected after 2 months and at the end.

Alongside these measures, can you record a general outline of what you have done each week to lose weight/fat. This does not have to be in great detail, more along the lines of what diet you have been using or type of exercise and overall durations. This can be recorded as a short summary in word and collected as with the above data.

Thanks

Eddie Bradley

If you have any queries in regards to the paper please contact Eddie at: eddiebradley [at] gmail [dot] com.

If you track your progress weekly on the spreadsheet I’ve provided, half of what you need to track for the paper will already be done. All you’ll need to do on top of that is keep a track of what you’re doing in terms of diet and exercise to achieve the results you’re getting.

Tools to help you track your diet and exercise

To help you track what you’re doing you can do the following:

  1. Blog like me and Tvsetan: You can get a free blogging account at WordPressBlogger, or blog.com
  2. Start a fitness, exercise and nutrition journal: Hamzah Malik recommends Body Space. I tried Fitday last year. I found it a little time consuming but worthwhile. It’s also fantastic for tracking the nutrients you take in every day – to see if you’re nourishing your body properly. Others to consider include: MyFitnessPalSpark People,DailyBurn and loads of others (just Google: “free fitness and nutrition journal”)

Connect with each other

You can connect with other participants of the 120 Fat Loss Competition or 120 Day Muscle Gain Competition via:

  1. The 120 Fat Loss Competition / 120 Day Muscle Gain Competition Facebook EVENT Page
  2. I’ve just set up the 120 Fat Loss Competition / 120 Day Muscle Gain competition Facebook FAN Page where there is a discussion forum for participants to share tips, gloat about progress and egg each other on.

Contribute!

Would you like to contribute to the group? I’m looking for guest bloggers (participants or non-participants). Were you once fat or chubby and now have the body of an Olympian god / goddess? If so, share your experience, inspiration and tips with the group. Are you a personal trainer? Are you a fitness freak? Are you a reservoir of knowledge on nutrition and health? Are you a power-lifting or bodybuilding champion? If so, I’d like hear from you! We can do with all the tips, tricks and long term health advice we can get! Leave me a comment below and let’s get the ball rolling…

As participants you can also contribute by sharing information and support on the Facebook Events and Facebook Fan page. Paul Higgs recently offered participants a free e-book on burning fat. Contact Paul on Facebook for the free booklet.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

DISCLAIMER: I’ve started this competition in good faith. I realised the New Year was coming up and Christmas had just passed and I knew people would be making New Year Resolutions to get fit. I thought I and others could increase our motivation and resilience by starting a competition that lasted for a significant period of time. If we keep at it for the 120 days we’ll be in much better shape for May… just as Summer will be starting. Please don’t be stupid like the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” woman and kill yourself trying to win the competition! Also if you see any advice on this site check with your Doctor first if you are in doubt. And please don’t sue me if things go wrong! :-p Other than that best of luck! :-D

 

40 day detox: overview, effects and conclusions (Day 43+)

Overview

40 Day Detox Graph

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

My Body Fat Percentage increased in week 1

It’s been an interesting journey. As you can see from the above graph and from the spreadsheet here overall, I did eventually see a drop in body fat. However, the first week started with an increase, starting at 18.8% on day 1 and increasing 1.8% to 20.6% on day 7. I put this down to a mixture of:

  1. prolonged exercise on an empty stomach in the morning, which forced my body to go into starvation mode and thus burned muscle rather than fat;
  2. exercising too much too frequently – the body needs days off to rest so that it can build the muscles you’ve torn during exercise (more muscle equals more calories burnt even whilst resting);
  3. finding my feet with the new detox foods e.g. eating too much fat in the form of cheddar cheese and eating too high a quantity of the new vegetarian food.
The Fat Vegetarian (well almost) photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/juliastarkey/3838295291/sizes/z/in/photostream/

The Fat Vegetarian (well almost)

This first week is good evidence showing that a person does not become thin simply by becoming a vegetarian. There are many vegetarian foods that can contribute to an increase in body fat e.g. carbohydrates in starchy foods, fat in dairy products and calories in nuts! A vegetarian still needs to carefully plan what he/she is going to eat, when to eat it and how much to eat. In fact to stay healthy, vegetarians need to put more thought into what they eat than meat eaters as they have to figure out where to get all the nutrients they would normally get from meat. Vegans have to be even more thoughtful with the elimination of all dairy and all animal products. Becoming vegetarian or vegan without properly planning and putting thought into what your body needs is a very bad idea. Start your research into nutrition and what your body needs here.

Factors that contributed to a drop in Body Fat Percentage

As I gradually made the following changes I noticed better results in terms of fat loss:

  1. smaller meals
  2. more frequent meals
  3. eating more slowly
  4. reducing nuts (reducing calories)
  5. doing resistance training less frequently to allow muscles to repair
  6. not exercising on an empty stomach
  7. rest days
  8. socialising to reduce stress (stress releases cortisol which encourages fat to be stored in abdominal region)
  9. drinking more water
  10. not eating carbohydrates after 6pm
Smaller Meals

Smaller Meals

During the 42 day period my highest body fat percentage was 20.6% on day 7 and my lowest body fat percentage was 16.6% on day 39. That’s a range of 4% in 32 days! Two days after my detox (day 44) I reached my lowest body fat percentage of 16.3%.

A slight rise in Body Fat Percentage towards the end

Towards the last few days of the detox (day 40 to day 42) my body fat percentage started to rise again. I put this down to the psychological impact of reaching day 40 and thus realising that there was no way I was going to be in shape for a topless photo on day 42 for an “after” picture. This caused me to have a more relaxed attitude to how much I ate.

Other benefits of doing the 40 day detox

Other than fat loss there were many other benefits from doing the detox:

  1. I learned about my body and how it responded to detoxing, improving nutrition and exercise
  2. I learned about nutrition – an awareness that will stay with me for life
  3. I learned about other eating cultures and discovered different delicious foods
  4. I learned that I could write daily if I wanted to!
  5. I found that my body could have potentially healed old wounds
  6. I gained an almost supernatural sense of smell (I’ll be taking it easy with the cologne from now one)
  7. I appreciated the ethical position of vegetarians and vegans
  8. I discovered the benefits of drinking filtered water
  9. I was able to think with more clarity
  10. My sexual health vastly improved
  11. I noticed a drastic increase in positive moods and emotions
  12. Visualise in HD (High Definition) Source: http://punktlos.deviantart.com/art/imagination-71353483

    Visualise in HD (High Definition)

    I felt fresh / awake

  13. I gained fresher breath
  14. I had increased energy levels
  15. I gained a renewed desire to be creative
  16. I increased my ability to remain focused on a task and a sustained ability to work towards goals
  17. I noticed that I could visualise imagery in my mind with a crisper higher definition quality
  18. I noticed clearer more vibrant looking skin with a lighter tone
  19. I increased in confidence
  20. I discovered the significance of 40 days
  21. I came on TV the day after my detox completed!

I was on prime time Television!

Yes that’s right, on the 16th September 2010, on day 43 or one day after the completion of my 42 day detox, at 20.00 I appeared on BBC1 Watchdog. Here’s my bit:

And here is the full Argos feature, plus a follow up of what happened afterwards on the BBC website.

The Universe opened doors for me on day 40, day 41 and day 43

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell

So as you can see, day 40, day 41, and day 43 were all highly eventful. Coincidence? Or is there really something to the significance of 40 days that seems to be recognised by mystical and religious traditions all over the world? Why don’t you do your own 40 day experiment and let me know what you experience by commenting on this post? Commit to doing something for 40 days (even a detox of your own if you like) and let me know what happens!

Effects of going back onto non-detox foods

Once the detox was complete, I didn’t start consuming everything that was forbidden all at once. I gradually re-introduced different foods to see how my body would react.

Day 43: The Omega 3 fats in fish healed my inflammation symptoms but I was highly sensitive to the caffeine in chocolate!

Cod with vegetables

Cod with vegetables

I was still in pain and suffering from the symptoms of inflammation since day 40 so the first non-detox food I ate was fish (Cod). It was ok to eat (not amazing as I find cod one of the smellier fish), but heavy on my digestive system after eating. About 10 minutes after consumption I felt as though my face muscles were twitching. I then checked myself in a mirror and could see my face muscles twitching. Though, I didn’t sense any trauma. I did seem to sense trauma (as if I was sensing the pain and suffering of the slaughtered animal) a couple of times after eating food contaminated with meat in Syria when I did my first detox/vegetarian experiment. However I did notice that my headache decreased and finally disappeared and the inflammation in my nose eased and I could breathe through my nose with more ease. I believe it was the Omega 3 in the Cod that did the trick. Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory. That’s one of the reasons it’s recommended to eat fish twice a week. I do feel gutted that even though I went out and bought flaxseed oil this day I didn’t use it to see if it got rid of my inlfammation symptoms. Next time I will consume flaxseed oil (which is a vegan source of a type of Omega 3) when I feel similar symptoms and see if it cures the problem. Let me know if you have or haven’t experienced relief from inflammation symptoms by using flaxseed oil by commenting below.

Turkish sesame halva with cocoa - an addiction for me like Iranian dates!

Turkish sesame halva with cocoa - an addiction for me like Iranian dates!

In the evening I had chocolate flavoured sesame halva and two small cubes of strawberry flavoured Milka chocolate. I couldn’t get to sleep at night. I felt full of energy. I was puzzled because it felt as if I had drank some caffeine, even though I hadn’t. It was only the following morning that I found out that there is caffeine in cocoa products. I was quite surprised at how sensitively my body responded to the caffeine present in two small cubes of Milka chocolate and some Cocoa flavoured Turkish Halva! I don’t ever recall noticing the caffeinated effects of chocolate before. Incredible!

Day 44: Fight Fat with Fish and how DECAF Green tea got me high

Fish oil with exercise equals fat loss

Fish oil with exercise equals fat loss

Following the introduction of lean meat (cod) yesterday, my body fat dropped to the lowest since I started taking recordings 44 days ago to 16.3%. Does this mean that in order to lose fat it is more efficient to use lean meat as a form of protein rather than a mixture of vegan sources of protein? I think it’s possible. I think with lean meat you can avoid eating carbohydrates if you want to, whereas with vegan sources of protein, the forms (e.g. legumes, rice, bread) are almost always packaged with accompanying carbohydrates. I have experience of buring fat to the thinnest I’ve been when I was consuming fish daily with steamed vegetables for a bout a month. While writing this I’ve also just discovered that maybe the connection with buring fat isn’t just with lean meat, but specifically with fish.

Decaf green tea, stoneground wholemeal bread with peanut butter

Decaf green tea, stoneground wholemeal bread with peanut butter

The non-detox foods I experimented with today were a mug of Decaf Green Tea and two slices of Stoneground bread and a free range organic boiled egg (not all at the same time).

My heartbeat was racing after drinking the DECAF green tea. I couldn’t believe how sensitive to caffeine my body was post detox. I found it hard to focus and concentrate on my work too until later in the afternoon, by which time the caffeine probably had left my system.

I noticed no side effects from the bread.

The free range organic boiled egg was very light while eating. It didn’t taste eggy in a bad way. It tasted and felt fresh, wholesome, good clean food. Again no side effects were noted after eating the egg.

Setting the cricket free!

The cricket had been in the flat for over a week now. It seemed to me and my wife that its colour was becoming less vibrant than when we first noticed it. There was insect repellent on the windows so it couldn’t get itself out if it was clever enough to work its way out, and no other insects were coming in. Part of me wanted to keep the cricket as in Chinese culture, cricket’s are considered to bring good luck if found and kept as a pet in one’s home and also because it seemed to extend a hand of friendship towards me earlier. The other part of me was concerned that it would die if it stayed in the flat. We captured it (ok not we, my wife captured it – yes, I know, bit of a wussy moment for me) and tried feeding it lettuce. When I looked into it, if it was what we suspected, a female tree cricket, it turned out they eat other small insects not plants. Though I wasn’t 100% sure it was female tree cricket because I couldn’t see any wings! Dilemma, dilemma, dilemma! In the end we decided to free it in the hope it could survive. According to Sods Law, it was probably trodden on by one of our neighbours or eaten by a bird moments later…

Facebook Status Updates on the effects of non-detox foods

Too much caffeine made me feel like crap

Too much caffeine made me feel like crap

The following are status updates expressing how I felt after consuming different non-detox foods.

Day 46

“Ali Zaidi feels like crap”

September 19

I had my first cup of coffee after 7 weeks that morning.

Day 48

“Ali Zaidi caffeine is the evil that runs in the veins of zombies”

September 21

I continued trying to get used to caffeine for the next few weeks. For a good couple of weeks I felt constantly “high” from being on caffeine. I couldn’t concentrate and certainly couldn’t focus on writing new blog posts.

Day 49

“Ali Zaidi is wheezing after consuming the leg of a lamb. First piece of red meat in almost two months.”

September 22

Nihari

Nihari

I went out to a local Pakistani restaurant to eat one of my favourite meat dishes of all time called Lamb or Mutton Nihari. Oh my God! It is a seriously delicious dish. Even though at the time of writing this I’ve just eaten a delicious beef fillet steak, I could kill a Nihari right now! I will definitely have to go and get me some this Saturday on my day off! Anyway, after eating it, on my way home I started to wheeze, and struggled to breathe properly. I also felt quite upset about eating a mammal. It didn’t feel ethically right.

“Ali Zaidi What do vegans feed carnivorous pets (like dogs)? This is perhaps the point where moral veganism falls flat on its face…”

September 22

This status was partly inspired by my experience with the cricket. If I kept it as a pet and it needed to eat other creatures for its survival, how would I deal with the moral dilemma of feeding it other creatures if I was a vegan or vegetarian on ethical grounds? It was also probably my mind justifying to myself the renewed eating of meat which I had recently started experimenting with again.

“Ali Zaidi the nicotine in Shisha makes your heart beat faster”

September 25

Me smoking my shisha

Me smoking my shisha

Well I had just smoked tobacco in the form of Shisha for the first time and noticed my heart beating incredibly fast. It was so fast and pronounced I felt anxious. I also noticed this effect when I smoked a cigarette whilst waiting for a friend outside a tube station. I had never noticed these sensations from smoking tobacco before. It turns out, like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant which is supposed to have that effect on you. Did you know that nicotine is a natural pesticide that the plant it is found in, uses to keep insects from eating it? Did you also know that in some places nicotine smoke is blown onto plants to acts as a pesticide? So in effect an addiction to nicotine is an addiction to pesticide! It might be one of the reasons we can get lung cancer from smoking tobacco!

How my eating habits 3-4 months after completion of this detox have changed

The Yo-Yo effect

Yo-Yo mama so fat

Yo-Yo mama so fat

In the first couple of months I gained an addiction to Turkish Sesame Halva. I was eating loads of it everyday. Needless to say within two months, regretfully, I regained the 2% body fat I lost during the detox. This has made me realise that in order to keep fat off permanently I need to make some sort of permanent commitment to my diet and lifestyle. If I just go on diets for fixed periods of time and then revert back to old or worse behaviours I will experience the Yo-Yo effect of dieting. The funny thing is, as soon as I reached my pre-detox body fat percentage of 18.8% I completely lost my addiction to Sesame Seed Halva. When I tried eating it again, I didn’t care for the taste anymore. Very strange.

To eat, or not to eat animal products is the question

Pescatarian anyone?
Stealing Eggs

Stealing Eggs

When I first started eating meat again, I initially made a move to organic meat, eggs and dairy. My moral and ethical leanings were still quite strong. I wanted to only consume meat from animals that were treated well and fed naturally. However the sheer expense of organic meat (4-5 times the price of normal meat) has made it an unsustainable option for me at present. If I were richer I would only consume organic foods. I did play with the idea of becoming pescatarian where I would eat only the meat of that which I felt I could kill myself i.e. fish and eggs. I can’t imagine slitting the throat of a cow, lamb or chicken but think I could handle stealing an egg or going fishing… I think. I figured what right do I have to eat something if I would be unwilling to kill it myself? Also my whole experience with inflammation from day 40-42 made me wonder if the Omega 3 from fish was important for my health. I also figured I’d be able to get my vitamin B12 from this source which vegans tend to miss out on.

Hold on a minute …what if I’ve become a domesticated human?
Vegetarian: Ancient tribal slang for the village idiot who can't hunt, fish or ride

Vegetarian: Ancient tribal slang for the village idiot who can't hunt, fish or ride

Alternatively, I have noticed that if an animal is taken out of the wild and domesticated it can forget its ability to hunt and survive in the wild. It seems to me that city-life is much like living in a zoo, and I wonder if I myself have become domesticated and for this reason I feel unable to hunt and eat other animals for survival. Could my moral leanings towards vegetarianism and veganism be a product of this process of domestication? I am also not convinced that I’d be able to get enough iron from vegan sources so I wonder if eating red meat every now and again would be better for me.

Organic eggs and reducing my “dairy footprint”

I have to this day retained the eating of organic free range eggs. The taste is just so much better than ordinary farmed eggs. I’ve reduced the amount of dairy in my diet. I pretty much always use vegan alternatives to cow’s milk (e.g. rice milk and oat milk). Only on rare occasions will I have cow’s milk in tea and coffee. When I have bought milk, I buy organic if the option is there. I still indulge in chocolate, ice cream, cheese every now and again. After watching a video on youtube on dairy farming my idea has been to reduce my “dairy footprint” (much like reducing one’s “carbon footprint”). Give the poor cow’s breast a rest!

If I find vegan alternatives to dairy products like Vitalite I generally do use them. However some things I have not been able to replace, like Häagen-Dazs Vanilla ice cream. Nothing compares!

Vitalite

Vitalite

Only wholesome wholegrain will do

Cranks organic stoneground wholemeal bread

Cranks organic stoneground wholemeal bread

In terms of grains, for breakfast I’ve been having bran flakes and muesli with fresh fruit, nuts and vegan milk. For bread I’ve moved to Cranks Organic Wholemeal Stoneground Bread. I can’t recommend it enough. Absolutely delicious dipped into a soft boiled organic egg. Mmmm… I also only eat wholegrain basmati rice, and pasta. My rule of thumb when choosing something to buy is: how much nutritional value does the food provide? Will I be getting vitamins and minerals as part of the deal or will it just be empty fat causing calories?

Fresh fruit and vegetables: if you were to make only one change in your diet …increase these!

Even since the end of the detox I have kept up eating a large variety of fruit and veg daily – and continue to see the benefits in my sexual health and speed of recovery from colds and flu. When I get a cold I increase the intake of fruit which does wonders for me. Much better to help the body recover by equipping it with vitamins and minerals to enable it to fight disease than to just wade out the problem with only using pain killers.

The £1 fruit and veg bowls I keep talking about! Ilford

The £1 fruit and veg bowls I keep talking about! Ilford

Alcohol: a switch to the richness of red wine

I do like a glass of Merlot red wine

I do like a glass of Merlot red wine

Since the detox, I’ve almost exclusively restricted my alcohol intake to red wine as it seems to me the healthiest alcoholic choice. It helps me digest red meat easier. But as I feel a lot dumber (mentally) since drinking it, I am thinking of quitting alcohol outright. By quitting I will certainly avoid embarrassing Facebook updates or comments via my pesky mobile phone!

My new selfish attitude to nutrition: personal long-term health outweighs moral, ethical and philosophical dilemmas

If I could conclude that being vegan is the healthiest option for me I would choose veganism as it matches my moral leanings. If I found ovo-lacto vegetarianism was the healthiest for me I would choose that. If I found pescatarianism is the healthiest I would choose that. If I found being an omnivore is the healthiest I would choose that. If I found being exclusively carnivorous was the healthiest option I would choose that. I think more experimentation on my part is necessary before coming to any final conclusions for myself. For now I choose to be an omnivore with increased use of fresh fruit and veg, the use of wholegrains rather than highly processed grained foods, twice-weekly consumption of fish (not much more due to fears of mercury poisoning), the eating of lean poultry (e.g. chicken and turkey breast), and occasional consumption of lean red meat (I prefer beef fillet steak as it’s the leanest – and most expensive!). On occasions I may also indulge in fattier meat (other parts of chicken and lamb chops for example).

Conclusions and Recommendations

It’s been a wonderful journey. The results have been so good that I am considering doing a permanent version of the detox. It won’t be as restrictive as I’ve done for the 40 day detox, but cutting out that which I know for sure provides questionable benefits (e.g. smoking and alcohol). I will definitively consider coming back to doing some form of experimental detox on a yearly basis. Next time perhaps I will experiment with raw veganism.

Pregnant man

Pregnant man

If you’ve never done anything like this, I do highly recommend it. It was really amazing to discover the kinds of things my body was capable of doing – e.g. super smelling sense, ability to visualise in HD etc.

I intend to continue with experimenting with different approaches to nutrition until I find something that works optimally for my body. I recommend that you do your own exploration to find out what works best for you. Our bodies are all different: what works for me, might not work you, and what works you might not work for me!

The nutritional project I have just started is the 120 Day Fat Loss Competition. There are over 40 people participating! Join us!

 

Filming for BBC1 Watchdog UK (Days 41-42)

Day 41

I spent a good 3 hours filming with BBC Watchdog today during the morning and afternoon! Wow! Another eventful day for the 41st day of the detox (like I said before special things are supposed to happen on the 40th/41st day according to my Mum’s 40 day prayers formula). Watchdog were considering including my bad experiences with Argos on their feature on them which was going to be aired one day after the completion of my detox (Day 43)! They filmed me at my home, on my computer, in my kitchen, playing the Wii with my wife, walking in and out of Argos, Ilford and outside on my street. They even did an interview with me. For a few hours I felt like a celebrity and had fun. What more can I say?! 

After filming I snacked on corn on the cob with lime. 

Corn on the cob with lime

Corn on the cob with lime

In the evening I ate Chana Dal with Aubergine. Yep! That’s right! It was a dish inspired by my meal at Tayyab’s earlier this week! 

Chana dal with eggplant

Chana dal with eggplant

My headache and symptoms of inflammation continued today.

In the evening, the cricket which has been in our flat for the last week started to follow me every where I went. I was puzzled… Could the cricket sense that I was a herbivore, and therefore befriendable as a result of my 41 days of being a vegetarian/vegan? Or was the cricket a carnivore and did it see me as a delicious piece of herbivore meat to devour? I didn’t let it jump onto my foot even though it seemed determined to do so to find out! Alas I shall never know its intention… :-(

Day 42 

I did my usual morning routine with the hot lemon juice and quinoa breakfast with coconut milk, blackberries and plums. 

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

For lunch I had the chana dal with aubergine curry with buckwheat and lettuce, cherry tomatoes and black olives. 

Chana dal and aubergine with buckwheat and salad

Chana dal and aubergine with buckwheat and salad

A few hours later I had chana dal with black olives again. 

Chana dal with aubergine and olives

Chana dal with aubergine and olives

In the afternoon I snacked on some prunes. 

Prunes (dried plums)

Prunes (dried plums)

For my evening meal I had the same as lunch – chana dal with salad. 

Chana dal with bhaingan and salad

Chana dal with bhaingan and salad

My sharp headache and symptoms of inflammation continued for a third day the last and final day of my detox.

This was the last and final day of my 40 day (6 week or 42 day detox). It’s been an adventure! And tomorrow there is the chance that I will be on BBC1 Watchdog! I’ll guess I’ll only find out for sure when the show comes on. There is always the chance that I got edited out and didn’t make the final cut. But my fingers are crossed!

 

Why detox? (Day 34)

I definitely over did the nut stuffed dates last night. While my weight stayed constant on 3 consecutive days at 67.7kg, my Body Fat rose 0.2% to 17.0% while my Body Water and Body Muscle dropped 0.2% to 57.0% and 43.1% respectively.

Inca red quinoa, plums, blackberries coconut milk and agave nectar

Inca red quinoa, plums, blackberries coconut milk and agave nectar

I had my usual hot lemon drink in the morning, followed by breakfast consisting of Inca red quinoa, plums, blackberries, coconut milk and agave nectar. 

Watermelon

Watermelon

Mid morning I snacked on some watermelon. It’s a really refreshing and hydrating kind of snack, great to help you cool down on a hot day. 

Red lentils and buckwheat

Red lentils and buckwheat

For lunch I had red lentils with buckwheat. 

Red lentils with organic gluten-free pasta

Red lentils with organic gluten-free pasta

For my evening meal I combined the red lentils with organic gluten-free pasta made from rice, spinach and tomato. 

Corn-on-the-cob with lime and black olives

Corn-on-the-cob with lime and black olives

I got hungry again in the evening so I ate two corn on the cobs, some black olives and half a lime. 

BBC Watchdog

BBC Watchdog

One of the photos of the 2.0L vs 2.4L Aqua Optima jugs I sent to BBC 1 Watchdog as evidence

One of the photos of the 2.0L vs 2.4L Aqua Optima jugs I sent to BBC 1 Watchdog as evidence

I had a busy day sat at the computer today. I wrote my favourite post so far on blood sugar and also spent some time preparing the evidence that BBC Watchdog asked me to send to them. It seems my earlier appeal on this blog to boycott Argos may have had some impact. BBC Watchdog are thinking of doing a piece on Argos and they may include a section of the show on my bad experience with them! I was up until stupid o’clock in the morning doing my research, writing and evidence gathering. As I was going to bed I noticed a green insect on the ceiling of my bedroom. It looked incredibly beautiful with a bright vibrant green colour. As it was beautiful I let it be and went to bed. 

I'm no expert, but I think it was a female tree cricket on the ceiling of my bedroom. What do you think?

I'm no expert, but I think it was a female tree cricket on the ceiling of my bedroom. What do you think?

A question that I often come across is why do a detox? What’s the point of a detox diet? What is a body detoxification trying to achieve?

Malnutritioned Britain - In Ilford, London, wherever I turn I see people looking like this. I can see the effects of a malnourished nation. In TS1 Middlesbrough I saw the same symptoms.

Malnutritioned Britain - In Ilford, London, wherever I turn I see people looking like this. I can see the effects of a malnourished nation. In TS1 Middlesbrough I saw the same symptoms.

After facing the abyss of nothingness for so many years I was ready to take the plunge into it

After facing the abyss of nothingness for so many years I was ready to take the plunge into it

The first time I did a detox was earlier this year in January 2010. There were numerous factors that made me commit to that detox. First of all I had been suffering from depression for a good couple of years. My psychological state got so bad that I tried to hang myself towards the end of 2009. Lucky for me the hook on which I tied my scarf couldn’t hold my weight and it fell on my head along with a load of dust and debris that was wrenched out of the wall with the force of my weight. The sharp contrast between the utter despair and finally taking the plunge one second, followed immediately by the ruining of the wall, streching  my brand new John Lewis scarf beyond repair and dirtying my rather sexy coat the next few seconds created a moment of divine comedy. I stood there with dust on my head, smiling. I was drunk. Very drunk. I had been out for a regular night out. But as I stood in the club and looked around, I thought about my life, it felt like I was in a deep dark hole from which there was no escape. I couldn’t see how I could get out of this rut. Existence made no sense. I could not see the point in anything. And so I decided to finally go home and finish it once and for all. 

Cannabis Crop Circles

Cannabis Crop Circles

During the days, if I wasn’t self medicating with marijuana, I would be filling the void of meaninglessness with documentary videos on Google and other videos on all kinds of things that are “out there” (e.g. I saw the whole of The X Files from Series 1 to Series 9 plus the two X Files Movies back to back). Marijuana didn’t cure my depression it just made me so apathetic, that I couldn’t even be bothered to tie a shoelace let alone a noose around my neck. Human life made no sense to me. I couldn’t understand why people do the things they do. Why do people go to work? Why do people obsess over money? Why couldn’t I be like them?  But my disillusionment wasn’t limited to humanity. It extended to existence in general.

The leaf-cutter ants from Costa Rica, Central America. Worker ants carrying leaves and the larger soldier ant protecting the workers. But seriously, why do they bother?

The leaf-cutter ants from Costa Rica, Central America. Worker ants carrying leaves and the larger soldier ant protecting the workers. But seriously, why do they bother?

Why did ants, bees and birds do what they do?

Why does God do what He does?

What’s the point in any of it?

A test? What’s the point in that?

Evolution? What’s the point in that?

Self discovery? What’s the point in that? 

Trying to escape reincarnation? What’s the point of that?

Trying to escape suffering? Hey that’s a good idea!

In the search for enlightenment, sometimes the thought of hanging oneself seems like a bright idea

In the search for enlightenment, sometimes the thought of hanging oneself seems like a bright idea

Why bother with sitting under the Bodhi Tree and hoping for enlightenment when you can just end the suffering right here right now? Or can you? This is the dilemma faced by one hoping to escape suffering famously articulated by William Shakespeare:

 

“To be, or not to be– that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep
No more – and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to – ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,

A trip into the afterlife? The Ascent into the Empyrean - Hieronymous Bosch - 1450-1516

A trip into the afterlife? The Ascent into the Empyrean - Hieronymous Bosch - 1450-1516

The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.—Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.” 

Hell: an eternity of suffering and suicide?

Hell: an eternity of suffering and suicide?

What if what follows this existence is far worse upon death? What if death isn’t just ceasing to exist (which is more than often the aim of the suicidal)? What if it’s a transformation into something far worse? If I transform into another form of existence, what if I get depressed there? Will I continue trying to cease existing and therefore attempt suicide in these other forms for the rest of eternity? What if the theists are right after all and suicide leads to an eternal damnation in hell? Or, even worse, what if its a union with God who’s existential suffering may well be far worse than our own? At least we can attempt to end it with suicide. God has no such option, for He is doomed to eternity. We think we have it bad. We think we had no choice into coming into existence, but did He? No He didn’t. Not only did He not choose to exist nor is He able to not exist, he gets blamed for the suffering that we all face too. At times like this, it must surely suck to be God. 

The Despair of God

The Despair of God

I tried to see if self help books could help. I read Napolean Hill’s Think and Grow Rich hoping that it would help me to be a bit more “normal” and influence my thinking into embracing the meaninglessness of capitalism by making it a bit more meaningful. While many people who have read Think and Grow Rich will swear that it turned their life around and made them into the millionaires they are now, for me it had the complete opposite effect. In one of the chapters it said that in order to be rich you must cultivate an intense burning desire for money. One must create an obsession for money. One must become Augustus or George Agdgdgwngo.

 

 

Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill

Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill

I could only respond with many curse words and gestures involving my index and middle fingers to such advice. There was no way I was ready to become like that! Not for now anyway. I had more fundamental issues to deal with first. However, if you are someone who does seriously want to be rich and make lots of monies then I do highly recommend reading Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. It could well change your life.

The dark cloud of depression - a physically percieved phenomena by the depressed

The dark cloud of depression - a physically percieved phenomena by the depressed

Other than this state of affairs, overall, I always felt tired and I was always physically ill. I would walk around and literally notice a dark grey mist in my vision. It felt as if a dark cloud was following me wherever I went. Even if I went outside into the sunshine I’d notice a grey cloud surrounding my person. I’m not speaking metaphorically here, literally it appeared as if there was a grey mist in my vision. On top of these symptoms I would end up contracting some sort of flu virus: the effects of which would last a month or two, and then I would get better, be well for a week and then contract another flu type virus and be ill for another couple of months. This cycle continued all year round. It seemed my health, both physically and mentally couldn’t be worse.

Our parmo's mint!

Our parmo's mint!

Diet wise I would eat whatever was convenient and cheap. Lot’s of takeaway shops were close to my place in Middlesbrough. I’d eat takeway quite frequently (3-4 times a week). When I was really depressed I couldn’t be bothered to go shopping as it was too much effort so I would eat only when I was starving and it would be in the most convenient form i.e. a take away or a delivery. The famous Boro Chicken Parmo (my favourite Parmo’s in Middlesbrough were from 1. Montanas/Malones, 2. The Halal Centre and 3. Europa Restaurant), Fish and Chips, Chicken and Chips, Pizzas, Donar Kebabs, McDonalds, KFC, Chinese… you name it. We’d eat it! Much of the time money was really tight, so I often opted for Sainsbury’s Basics brand of crappy processed food for the poor, stingy or uninformed eater. Sainsbury’s Basics Cottage Pie was regularly on the menu. These Basics meals were often a treat as 10p ASDA noodles were a staple for us for quite a while. Great for the wallet and relatively convenient too. But what exactly was it providing our bodies and our minds in terms of nutrition? I’d eat a lot of junk food too and my junk food consumption doubled or tripled during the munchies after smoking the good shit. No thought went into what I ate. I grew fatter and fatter by the day. And as I had lost faith in my religion only a few years earlier, where once what I ate and did was governed by strict religious restrictions now I felt liberated. I could finally explore what the world had to offer and not worry about upsetting my Creator in the process. I welcomed the experience of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and the flesh of every animal I could have the opportunity to consume with open jaws. I thought I had liberated myself, but little did I realise that I was poisoning myself. I have now come to realise that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. 

Absolut bacon (vodka infused bacon) and no I haven't tried this!

Absolut bacon (vodka infused bacon) and no I haven't tried this!

Shrine of Ali ibn Abu Talib in Najaf, Iraq. If paradise is real and there is a spot on earth from paradise then it is here. I recommend every mystic and aspiring mystic of any or no religion to visit this place and share with me what they feel

Shrine of Ali ibn Abu Talib in Najaf, Iraq. If paradise is real and there is a spot on earth from paradise then it is here. I recommend every mystic and aspiring mystic of any or no religion to visit this place and share with me what they feel

My parents knew I was going through a rough patch and searching for meaning. Their offer of help came in the form that they knew and were familiar with. They were going to go on a Shia pilgrimage to Syria and Iraq and my Dad offered to pay for me to accompany them. They were hoping that I converted back to the path I was once an avid proponent of. I was open to experiencing these places of pilgrimage, but wasn’t sure I could handle travelling with emotional crazy Shi’ites to their most holy of holy places. I more than welcomed visiting the resting place of Ali ibn Abu Talib (who’s sincerity I still could find no fault with despite my loss of faith), however, hanging around with a load of fanatics for a whole month whilst avoiding being detected as a non-believer in their midst? It was a tough call. But I agreed anyway. I thought I’d give it a shot. The change in scenery might do me some good. And at the time I was open to experiencing something out of the ordinary even though I was convinced it wouldn’t be something that would make me believe in the same old way of thinking I used to believe to be the Truth. The potential of experiencing something spiritually sublime was worth the risk of being found out and potentially being executed (apostates get the death penalty according to the majority interpretations of Islamic law).

My faith-losing process wasn’t a horizontal movement from one faith to another, it was more like a vertical ascension, which would start in me losing faith in faith itself and in the end help me to rediscover FAITH anew. I warned my parents that it was unlikely that I would convert back and that they shouldn’t pay for me if they thought that is what was going to happen. They agreed (but still hoped).

Me and my dad and Ali ibn Abu Talib (Outside Imam Ali's Shrine in Najaf, Iraq)

Me and my dad and Ali ibn Abu Talib (Outside Imam Ali's Shrine in Najaf, Iraq)

Fantastic! A free holiday to places of historical and spiritual significance to millions of people with no catch! A couple of days later my dad called and informed me of the fine print… As he was paying for me to go to a place of pilgrimage, he wanted me to “purify” myself from the things Islam forbade. i.e. no alcohol leading up to the trip and no pork, oh and start praying namaz. What? As if it wasn’t bad enough that I was agreeing to accompany them to a place I knew I would be surrounded by suffocating Islamic culture he wanted me to abase myself to rules set by him prior to the trip?!! I can’t tell you how angry my initial response was (which I didn’t express to my dad). This is what really bugs me with the Islamic way of always asserting itself on people into behaving in a way that it thought was appropriate. It is proudly explained to people that Islam means “submission”. This is true. But another word which expresses this philosophy is “domination”. For submission is meaningless unless there is someone doing the domination. Ironically this rebellious streak I have against being dominated by others may well be due to my Zaidi and Fatimid genetic heritage. My ancestors never accepted that anyone other than they had the right to lead the Muslims (literally means ”those who submit”) after Muhammad, their forefather. Most of the Fatimid Sayyids took a non-violent approach to what they deemed was the usurpation of their divine right. However, the Zaidis (a branch of the Fatimids) made it a part of their religion that a descendent of Muhammad could not be an Imam unless he rebelled violently against the usurping government of their times. I digress, where was I? Yes! How dare anybody try to control how I behave!

A Muslim prostrating in namaz

A Muslim prostrating in namaz

After thinking about it for a bit, I agreed to cutting out the alcohol and pork but informed my dad that it was nonsensical asking me to pray 5 daily prayers like a Muslim as I was no longer one. In fact I had been thinking of doing a detox for a while, and my dad’s insistence that I should cut out alcohol and pork leading up to the trip felt like a good opportunity for me to finally commit to a detox and see what effects it had on me. I decided to experiment and cut out five things: 1) All Meat including fish and eggs; 2) Alcohol; 3) Tobacco; 4) Granulated Sugar and 5) Caffeine. I didn’t know what to expect. Little did I know that ten days from the start of the detox that I would feel how I can only describe as “ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!!” I felt so good I wanted to proclaim the Gospel of Detox to all my family, friends and the whole world! For someone who had been in the depths of depression for years, who had not yet deciphered the meaning of life, yet feel such intense joy, surely it was worth sharing with my fellow man? This amazing feeling didn’t require expensive drugs, a fad diet, a belief in any particular religion or cosmological perspective, nor the purchasing of products of any particular brand. All it seemed to require was stop poisoning the body with poison, giving it the nourishment it needed and making use of the limbs it was born with physical activity like exercise. Simples.

Like Jamie Oliver, I'm on a Nutrition Mission

Like Jamie Oliver, I'm on a Nutrition Mission

Some medications can make you feel really spaced out

Some medications can make you feel really spaced out

I should point out that pretty much immediately after my attempt at topping myself, I finally sought medication in the hope of dealing with my situation. My sister had been encouraging me to get on medications for a while. I tried a few medications. The first few were horrendous, with unacceptable side effects (like becoming asexual and being so dazed you can’t do anything anyway). It was the third type of medication I tried that finally suited me. It helped me sleep at night (which was fantastic as I used to suffer from sleep apnea). And it worked without de-philosophising my mind and turning me into a non-thinking machine. At first it did make me feel a bit doped out during the day, but after a few months of using it I felt normal during the day. Starting the medication was a crucial decision in helping me to recover. However it was only after I started the detox did I feel “ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC”. I started the detox about 3-4 months after starting the medication. I kept up my medication during both detoxes. I would not recommend coming off medication for a detox without the supervision of your Doctor. So if you suffer from depression (i.e. do you have regular thoughts of killing yourself?) then I can’t recommend enough the use of medications prescribed by your Dr to help kickstart your recovery. For most of my life I inherited the opinion that depression was my fault for not thinking “properly” or thinking too much. Many people who have not experienced depression think that you should just “be strong and pull yourself together.” This is utter rubbish. Seek medical help immediately and do not be ashamed or embarrassed to seek help particularly if your thoughts have a suicidal pattern to it.

I feel fantastic!

I feel fantastic!

A PET scan can compare brain activity during periods of depression (left) with normal brain activity (right). An increase of blue and green colors, along with decreased white and yellow areas, shows decreased brain activity due to depression.

A PET scan can compare brain activity during periods of depression (left) with normal brain activity (right). An increase of blue and green colors, along with decreased white and yellow areas, shows decreased brain activity due to depression.

Taking medication helped me get to a level where I could have the motivation and the will to commit to a detox. I believe the detox took my physical and mental health to another level beyond just prescribed anti-depressant medication. I do wonder if a person who is suffering from depression is able to be cured by the healthy diet a detox encourages. I guess it would depend on what is causing the depression. If it’s due to bad brain chemistry as a result of poor nutrition or toxins/stimulants then maybe it would. However if there is instead a physical malfunction in the brain then I doubt it would cure it. But then again what if the good nutrition was combined with a strong faith and reprogramming of the brain as well as influencing other factors which impact on a healthy mind and body? Then maybe it could. I haven’t tried this so I can’t comment from experience. It would be interesting to see. Perhaps this could be a focus for me next time I do a detox…

Going on the kind of detox I have been doing seems to create the conditions that boost the body’s and mind’s ability to perform optimally. The basic principle of the detox is very simple: cut out the crap and give the body what it has been designed/evolved to consume. If it requires synthetic packaging and a massive marketing budget to persuade you to consume it, it’s more than likely a load of rubbish. Of course there are exceptions to any rule, though it is true most of the time. If it’s natural  and comes in biodegradable packaging (I’m thinking an Orange for example) then its more than likely good for you. Of course there are poisonous natural things out there too like poisonous mushrooms and berries that you shouldn’t eat, but you hopefully get the point I’m trying to illustrate!

Processed food: throw it in the bin

Processed food: throw it in the bin

As a result of going on a detox I notice: clarity of my mind; enhanced physical senses; significantly improved sexual health (e.g. increased libido; increased sensitivity; more intense orgasms; increased semen volume and trajectory; more solid erections); drastic increase in positive moods and emotions; a feeling of freshness and increased energy levels; a renewed desire to be creative; increased ability to remain focused on a task and a sustained ability to work towards goals; a reduction in body fat; fresher breath; clearer more vibrant looking skin; increased confidence and charisma. Need I say more?

Detox your diet and become healthy

Detox your diet and become healthy

I can’t recommend going on a detox enough. I invite you to give it a go!

Please share your detox experiences with me. If you blog your experience let me know and I’ll put a link to your blog on mine.

Good luck!

 

Shop for it! Don’t Argos it! Boycott Argos NOW! (Day 18)

My weight stayed the same at 68.3kg. My body fat dropped 0.3% to 17.4%. My Body Water rose to 56.7% and Body Muscle rose 0.1% to 42.9%. 

Quinoa, soy milk, straweberries, raspberries and agave nectar

Quinoa, soy milk, straweberries, raspberries and agave nectar

For breakfast I had my usual hot lemon drink followed by quinoa with soy milk, strawberries, raspberries and agave nectar. 

Channa dal, whole grain basmati rice, salad and vegetable juice

Channa dal, whole grain basmati rice, salad and vegetable juice

For lunch I had whole grain Basmati rice with a Channa dal, red kidney beans, corn and green peas curry and salad. This meal was accompanied by a vegetable juice (cucumber, ginger, celery, beetroot and carrot). 

I had intended to do my new additions to my resistance training before heading to the park today (squats, lunges, shoulder press) however I was running out of time and so went to the park for my laps. I got a new record today! 54 min and 30 sec! I then followed this with an 11 min 15 sec HIIT session on the cross trainer. 

Pakistani Anwar Retol mango and watermelon

Pakistani Anwar Retol mango and watermelon

Post workout I treated myself to a high GI treat of Pakistani Anwar Ratol mango and watermelon followed by a glass of soy milk and some peanut butter. 

Kenwood BL450 Blender with mill

Kenwood BL450 Blender with mill

Earlier today I went to Argos to buy myself a blender. After checking a few reviews I decided to go for the Kenwood BL450 Blender. It is rated 4.5 out of 5 on the Argos customer reviews. I asked to view it first as I wanted to check its user manual to see if it could blend/grind nuts. For now I want to be able to make smoothie/protein shakes, but in the long run I want to be able to make the kind of shakes you can buy at Tinseltown. The instruction manual said that you could put nuts in it, particularly in the mill. So I went ahead and bought it. 

False advertising on the Argos website of the Kenwood BL450 Blender shown with mill

False advertising on the Argos website of the Kenwood BL450 Blender shown with mill

When I got home, the Mrs unpacked it, gave it a rinse and left it out to dry. I wanted to make a soy milk and peanut butter shake after my workout. So I sat down and started to read the instructions. As I went through the diagram outlining the different parts, I got to the bit that described the mill. It said, if provided, it looks like such and such. I had all the parts in front of me, and there was no mill. I checked the box, no mention of a mill on the outside of the box. What gave me the idea that it came with a mill? I checked the Argos website. Well see picture with the blender? See that small beaker like thing with a lid on it next to it, that’s the mill that is missing. It was only on my last visit to Argos that I had bought a 2L Aqua Optima Water Filter Jug  thinking it to be 2.4L as it was advertised on the Argos website. After I was treated very rudely by Leytonstone Argos staff, I wrote four letters of complaint. Three to different Argos complaints addresses I found online and one to Strix, the manufacturer of Aqua Optima. Strix  swiftly responded with an apology and a 2.4L Water Filter Jug free of charge courtesy of Strix. Bravo! Now that’s what you call fantastic customer service. They also spoke to Argos and got them to amend the mistake that Argos had made on their website and corrected the error. In response to my THREE letters, Argos has responded with Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Bravo Argos! What a wonderful company you are! (British sarcasm

Aqua Optima by Strix

Aqua Optima by Strix

This review of the Kenwood BL450 Blender on the Argos website mentions how good the mill is (click to enlarge)

This review of the Kenwood BL450 Blender on the Argos website mentions how good the mill is (click to enlarge)

I looked closely at the Argos section promoting the Kenwood BL450 Blender. I went through the reviews and found no less than three reviews specifically mentioning how great the mill was. So was it my mistake to think that the product came with a mill? Clearly the impression the website is giving is that it does come with a mill. Once again I have been duped by Argos into buying a product that does not meet its description on their website. I was outraged. So I thought I’d do the helpful thing and put a review on the Argos website warning other customers that the mill is not supplied with the blender even though the website gives that false impression. So I went on the review section and looked for the link to click on to add my review. I looked everywhere. Nothing. My wife suggested maybe you have to register with the website first and log in. So I created an account, logged in and went to the review section. Still no option to add a review! I Googled: “How do I add a review to the Argos website?” It turns out this is a common query. Apparently the only way you can add a review to the Argos website is when Argos send you an email about two weeks after you’ve bought a product from them. How would they email me without knowing my email address? I don’t recall providing them with an email address upon buying the product. Also it seems even if you do get to write a review, if your review is overly negative they might not include it

It seems I’m not the only one appalled by Argos as a company. According to the impartial Review Centre, at the time of writing, from 2 ratings and 124 reviews Argos has a staggering overall rating of 1.3 out of 5

Shocking! Argos is rated 1.3 out of 5 by Argos customers on the Review Centre website

Shocking! Argos is rated 1.3 out of 5 by Argos customers on the Review Centre website

I personally am fed up of being misled by incorrect information on the Argos website. I’m fed up with the appalling customer service I receive within their stores. It seems their product reviews are not reliable (for example, I’ve not managed to find a single product that has an overall rating of less than 3 on their review site – I doubt this is a coincidence.) I’m astounded that I have received no reply to three separate complaints to Argos when I have taken the time write to them. This company needs to get its act together and stop pissing its customers off! Until they do get their act together I am boycotting them. From now on I shall stop buying any products from them. I’d rather pay another company more money for better customer service then get a cheaper deal at Argos. 

Boycott Argos

Boycott Argos

If you have had similar bad experiences at Argos I encourage you to boycott them too. Shop for it! Don’t Argos it! 

If you have suffered at the hands of Argos business practices there are other proactive steps you can take to encourage change. Share your bad Argos experience with BBC Watchdog, they seemed interested in what I had to say when I contacted them in regards to my dreadful experience with Argos. If enough people contact them with their stories maybe BBC Watchdog will do a feature on Argos which will no doubt force Argos to improve its service. 

Also join the Boycott Argos As They Suck For Quality And Customer Service group on Facebook. Every little helps.

No.

Wait.

That’s Tesco.

You know what I mean.

 

Search

Enter Search KeyWord:     

Sponsors

Calendar

January 2021
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Archives