Mark Chapman from Brentford's media team is taking the fanActiv challenge
It’s been two weeks since my first blog post so I’m bringing you up to date. My challenge, aided and abetted by the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust via their 2017 fanActiv programme, is to use the power of football fans to turn my overweight body into something more streamline - alongside a dozen or more others - over a 12 week programme.
The previous Monday we learned from our expert of the evening, Buvana Ailoo, about the dangers of snacks and the potential they have to aid to your waistline - and as one participant commented: “no packet of crisps is worth six laps of the track to run off”. For most in the room, they were probably shocked by what alcohol, sandwiches, crisps, and chocolate could do to the body, I was well aware by working at the Training Ground. That made it all the worse for me by not acting on it.
Additionally, we were all handed our Fitbit Flex 2 activity tracker. This is the device that will, by GPS, track our movements throughout the day, noting our daily walk count and sleep patterns, amongst many other things. It’s a truly ingenious device. One of the great things about fanActiv is that all the fans from participating clubs will compete against each other in a competition to find out who has the most steps per team. Not only that, seeing a league table of where you are among your fellow Brentford fans puts you in the mood to try and ensure you keep your step count high.
Well, Fitbit problems [my fault], birthday celebrations [my fault], and illness [not my fault] ensured my first few days were not going according to plan in terms of attaining my daily step targets, so our weekly sessions at Osterley Sports and Athletics Centre would be my first chance to step it up. I’ll be the first to admit: I find running extremely boring on my own; there's not much worse than jogging though the streets with just headphones as company. This is where the camaraderie of the Brentford fanActiv group comes into play. Running round an athletics track with ten or so souls on storm Doris day felt good and the hot bath in the evening a nice reward for the good work out in the wind and rain.
My job on home matchdays keeps me fairly busy, and the 10,000 steps I needed [the recommended guidance] was achieved without too much fuss, not to mention nearly having a cardiac arrest watching Brentford defeat Rotherham United; it’s exciting seeing them play at the moment but nerve racking! What I could have done without was an Indian meal later that evening that nearly blew my heart out. Those in the know tell me that when you normally go for an Indian meal, the food is cooked to a Bengal or Pakistan flavour or temperature, which is milder. Well, this restaurant was 100 per cent Indian and considerably higher in cooking temperature. Consequently, the whole of Sunday was spent in bed with heartburn and an iffy stomach plus DOMS from a long walk on the Friday afternoon. Gaviscon to the rescue!
Come Monday and a scheduled day off; it was time for a trip outdoors. Instead of a short bus ride, I took a brisk walk instead from Brentford to Chiswick. That polished off around 4,000 steps in one go. There is no way I would have considered this before having a Fitbit and being in the fanActiv programme, which has been set up to nurture competition between us. We’ve all been getting on well and encouraging each other - and having so much in common - we’re all overweight, male, over 30, and Bees fans - it’s impossible not to.
We are what what we eat
Another thing we have been asked to try and do is note down what we eat and track this too. I use the My Fitness Pal app to scan barcodes of food packaging so it gives a breakdown of how many calories consumed and what’s in the food. It might make me think twice before picking up a bar of chocolate. The app also syncs with the Fitbit app so it knows what I'm consuming.
One thing that has to be dramatically cut down is alcohol. I’ve learned from others that one pint of beer equals seven slices of bread. That kind of fact should mitigate having a cheeky glass of wine after a long day at the office. It’s all too easy to crack open a beer or wine to relax but if I want the belly to go - that routine has to also.
So the weekly Monday evening football at Goals in Osterley arrived. I purposely went outfield instead of my normal position of goal to pick up the step count and was rewarded with one goal and less so with three shots that hit the post. I don't think Dean Smith will be calling my services yet. The exercise worked, as I slept like a baby.