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The power of self belief

15 Mar

I made a small video of myself after climbing to the top of the Kogelberg for the first time. Tonight I will climb to the top of Lion’s Head for the first time. 

Being A South African Male

14 Mar

Being SAM, a website decided to South African men so that we can live longer, healthier, more fulfilled lives did a great interview with me. You can read it by following this link. See www.BeingSam.co.za

This pic of Japie Swanepoel and I was taken at The Taj Hotel, Cape Town by Stacey Klerck.

This pic of Japie Swanepoel and I was taken at The Taj Hotel, Cape Town by Stacey Klerck.

Find a happy place and go there often

12 Mar

Every time I visit Pringle Bay Beach I see something new around me and in myself,

Every time I visit Pringle Bay Beach I see something new around me and in myself,

The Palmiet River feels like a sacred place to me.

The Palmiet River feels like a sacred place to me.

Undeserved recognition is like meringue – briefly sweet and then gone.

11 Mar

Probably more than other babies, I was born wanting to be famous. This led to lots of tantrums and a precocious childhood. I think what drew me to working in media was this need to be seen by many. And, over more than twenty years working in the media, I’ve had a lot of attention. In most cases, it was because of who I worked for, rather than what I personally achieved. Recognition was a bit like a meringue – large and lovely for a few moments in the mouth, a few seconds of lingering sweetness and then hunger for the next one.  The recognition I’ve received recently for shedding 70kg and transforming my life is, by contrast, a huge steak dinner – the feeling of satisfaction stays and stays.

The long lasting pleasure of being recognised for something that I have actually achieved is worth so much more to me than just being recognised. Although the debate about the appropriateness of commenting about the way people look is for another time, I get a buzz being told how good I look.

Perhaps the scale is different but you, like me, could feast on the positive attention you’d receive if you got yourself into better shape. The risk is pretty small as few people, in my experience, anyway, will tell you when you aren’t looking good but the reward, if you believe you deserve it, is wonderful.

Change is not easy. But it isn’t impossible and it begins with a decision that you will make your health your first priority. The rest, and the accolades, follow from that first decision. Once you decide to do it, you find the route that best suits you – will you take a zero-cheat approach as I have or go for the 80/20 rule – eat and exercise optimally for 80% of the time and allow 20% cheats.

This weekend past, while not cheating in my book, did come with more calories than usual and the scale proves it. More important for me though is that this morning’s mountain hike was more difficult than before. I think it will help to keep more stringently to my eating plan if I remember that the impact of living off-plan is greater than watching the needle move on the scale – the real impact is not feeling as strong and well as I can.

 

 

Achieve small goals to re-educate yourself to what you can achieve.

4 Mar

Pringle Bay path and handklip in distance

The most amazing thing about the experience as I was running up the mountain (yes, I said running) is that never in my wildest dreams did I believe it could ever be possible.

Let’s face the truth: if change for the better were easy, everyone would do it. It isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible or as difficult as I imagined it would be.  I think what shifted for me which allowed me to keep to my weight-loss plan was that I had a clear short-term goal to lose 10% of my body weight in anticipation of the planned surgery. I was motivated by the possibility of reducing the risk that I would die during surgery. Of course I “knew” the risk my obesity placed on my health but I continued to lie to myself that I had no choice in managing it.

When I realised that I could lose 10% of my body weight, 15kg at that time, I knew that I could lose more. I am so grateful that fate dealt me the delays to the intended surgery dates that it did which allowed me to make this transformation myself, without the need for bariatric surgery.A YouTube clip of me on top of the mountain

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) I am able to make life-affirming decisions rather than life-threatening ones.

2) I am able to shake off the need for any prescription medication by eating and exercising differently.

3) I am able to not only endure but also to enjoy physical challenges.

4) I’m not a wuss.

5) I can still enjoy eating and preparing food even though I don’t eat starch, sugar or drink alcohol.

Please find me at www.BrianBerkman.com

25 Feb

I’ve moved my blog to www.BrianBerkman.com, Please join and follow my healthy-weight story there.

A Troll in Silk is a Troll No Less

25 Feb

 

To paraphrase Rodriguez, the man of the moment, A Troll in Silk is a Troll No less and if you are committed to reaching or maintaining a healthy weight, it is essential you know this. Sometimes trolls also wear pretty dresses and warm smiles but if they apply pressure on you to eat or drink something you don’t want to, in my book that makes them a troll. And, forgive the mixed metaphors, but just like Rumpelstiltskin, you have to name them, if only in your own mind, to take back your power.

I am pretty resolute when it comes to what I will or won’t put into my mouth but just last week I experienced the power of the troll. The troll is the one who makes you feel bad because you aren’t joining in in what they are eating or drinking. The greater power the troll exerts on your life (the example that is top-of-mind is a work colleague that I need on my side), the harder it is to refuse.

The trickery is in the way in which trolls behave. They hide beneath the bridge and just the moment you are about to cross it they threaten you with pleas like “Oh, go on, have a glass of wine,” or “Stop being such a stick in the mud, a little piece won’t kill you,” or “Just taste this!” or “But I made this especially for you”. These are some of the ways trolls behave. I don’t believe they know they are trolls nor the quantum of pressure they exert upon us but these are the people to watch out for. The boogieman is not under the bed, she is at the table with you.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) Nobody who loves or respects me will want me to break such a life-affirming commitment (to stay healthy) and if they do, it proves they don’t love or respect me.

2) It is possible to refuse even the most insistent person by asking them not to put pressure on me to eat something I don’t want to.

3) You could (I haven’t yet, to be honest with you) identify the trolls behaviour. In my mind’s eye I’ve said things like: “The only reason you are putting pressure on me to join you is so that you don’t have to be the only one drinking or eating junk at the table – if you want it, enjoy it, but leave me out of it.” I can’t really see myself saying that to someone who has power over me but I can and do think it and that makes it easier for me not to capitulate.

4) A psychological truth is that what drives me crazy about people is also something I do myself. So, let me place the following on record. I get so much pleasure from baking that despite the evils of sugar and carbs I will continue to do it and continue to offer it to my guests. I offer what I bake to everyone, even if they’re on a healthy eating plan, and I will continue to do so as, for me, it is an expression of my affection. Happily though I don’t mind a jot if you refuse.

 

Feeling on top of the world! Took this pic today after climbing the mountain behind the house.

Feeling on top of the world! Took this pic today after climbing the mountain behind the house.

SleekGeek did a wonderful profile on my journey.

21 Feb

SleekGeek did a wonderful profile on my journey.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

11 Feb

Know Yourself.

When I was an active Freemason, one of the central tenets was to Know Yourself and now that I’m on this healthy-living journey, this advice seems more relevant than ever. I’m a worrier – always have been and probably always will be, but fortunately I know this about myself so I can manage the impact. Being such a scaredy-cat was quite an impediment growing up and I think I missed out on a whole bunch of exciting things because of it. Anyhow, among the many things I’d worry about was my obesity but, true to form, I’m now worrying that I’m too underweight.

My weight dipped below 82kg which, given that my dietician said 90kg should be my goal weight and that people as obese as I was typically carry between five and seven kilos in excess skin, that means I’m actually about 75kg. Rather than worry – I’ve had a whole bunch of bloods done to confirm that I am a picture of health and am seeing Judy Kotze to discuss my lightness on Wednesday.

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The great thing about overcoming challenges is that it gives me courage to take on even bigger things – whether I worry about them, or not.

Great healthy dining experiences at pulp kitchen & deli and Treat

7 Feb

When you ask nicely, I find people overwhelmingly obliging.  Take pulp kitchen & deli at Willowbridge Mall, for example. I was so impressed with the chicken salad (R49), a good-sized portion of peppery rocket, creamy, perfectly ripe avocado, shaved carrot ribbons, feta and seeds along with other greens served with Willowcreek Director’s Reserve Extra Virgin olive oil and Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar, that I looked for something else on the menu.

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Great, fresh salad ingredients and excellent olive oil.

They get their coffee from Deluxe Roasters and I like that they say so on their menu. I feel like a little more action than my usual black Americano and spied a Cool Beans (R22) smoothie. I ask Deonette who was serving me if she could tell me how many calories were in the frozen yogurt used in the smoothie. She returned in a heartbeat to say the owner was going onto Marcel’s Yogurt website to check. Next, I assumed, was the owner to tell me she couldn’t find the information on their site but had called them. Turns out the only person at Marcel’s with that info was not there. The owner then suggested I might prefer a Frozen Latte which is the same thing but without the yogurt.

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Frozen Latte made with Deluxe coffee at pulp kitchen & deli

I would have been satisfied had said she couldn’t get the information I asked for and appreciated her trying to. However, the levels to which they climbed to provide me with what I wanted, not to mention that my salad was delicious and good value for money, means I will make a beeline for pulp kitchen & deli. I will again skip Kauai, which is directly opposite them, because despite calls and two emails to Kauai HQ last year, I still don’t know the nutritional content of the Peanut-butter Bomb if I skip the chocolate.

 While I think this experience was exceptional, the other day at Treat –my other go-to spot for a salad lunch, the chef assuming I was gluten-intolerant because I avoid carbs, said she could bake me something with gluten-free flour. Isn’t that great? I had made no special requests but she drew a conclusion, incorrectly but that doesn’t matter, and offered me an alternative.

All diners, those of us on limited diets or not, are better off with restaurants like pulp kitchen and Treat around.

www.pulpkitchen.co.za. www.treatpatisserie.com