What inspired you to become an ambassador for The Noakes Foundation, and how do you see yourself contributing to the mission of promoting a low-carbohydrate, high-fat lifestyle?
I have always respected Prof Noakes and after reading “Challenging Beliefs”. I questioned everything and started to make the changes to improve my health and other aspects of my life. The challenges that he and others continue to face, by going against the mainstream narratives needs to be supported. As he mentions in his book, the global changes that are required will only come from society and I feel in my own small way that I can help in making that a reality. By becoming an ambassador for The Noakes Foundation I am hoping to make a difference by promoting the foundation and healthier eating through LCHF.
Can you share any personal experiences or success stories related to adopting an LCHF lifestyle? How has this way of eating impacted your health and wellbeing?
Weight loss was my primary reason for adopting this lifestyle, losing 16 kg’s in the first year and generally maintaining it at my goal weight for the last 8 years. Later in my journey, the health benefits become more evident, including the removal of all medication relating to ongoing chronic sinusitis that I had always struggled with. I was previously on 6 to 8 courses of antibiotics every year, and would generally fall sick after any major race I participated in. Now I am hardly ever on antibiotics and I do not fall sick after events. In fact, my recovery from races seems to be much quicker even though I am older.
What advice would you give to someone who is new to the concept of LCHF eating? How can they get started, and what tips do you have for making the transition as smooth as possible?
It is a lifestyle and you cannot go back to your old eating habits, although you most probably won’t want to.
Each person needs to find their own way, however, you must cut out all processed foods, especially sugar, and products high in sugar. Using the food lists (green) is an easier transition as it still creates a lot of variety, however, I try and keep it as simple as possible.
- Don’t outsource your health.
- Have someone to help, guide and support you
- Get the support of your family especially if you are not the one preparing the food. Talk to them about what you want to achieve and why it is important for you to change your lifestyle.
- Remove all foods that you should not be eating from your home. Don’t tempt yourself.
- Plan ahead. Know what you are going to eat and prepare before hand. Don’t get caught by being “starving” and not having good food ready.
- Don’t snack
Did you try other methods of dieting before a healthy, LCHF diet?
I tried almost everything, from calorie counting, Weighless, Weight Watchers, Mary Anne’s diet, Herbalife, Blood analysis diet, FitChef prepared meals, sorry attempts at raw foods/plant-based and juicing. These are just some of the ones I remember. It was not that I was not doing exercise, as I was doing marathons, ultra-marathons and Ironman’s, yet I could still not sustainably lose weight. After starting an LCHF lifestyle I came to realise that the saying “you can’t outrun a bad diet” is accurate. It’s all about what you eat.
How did your peers/family react to your change in lifestyle? Were they understanding? Uninformed? Sceptical? Supportive?
My wife was supportive but it did create challenges with preparing meals for the family. I would pick and choose what I wanted to eat and then add anything else if what was available was not enough. A further challenge was having easy access to foods that I did not want to eat, as I have come to realise I display addictive tendencies towards certain foods, so that was very difficult.
After my children saw my transformation they decided they also wanted to eat the same way and my wife reluctantly agreed and decided to also come on board. That took about three years though. Now food, diet, lifestyle, sport and exercise tend to be the main topics of discussion around the dinner table and any get togethers, with the sharing of information, debating and challenging each other on what works and what doesn’t. We all continue with our learning journeys, as and when new information or studies become available. The extended family have accepted our lifestyle to an extent but it still creates some challenges. They are still sceptical despite the results they can see and acknowledge.
What is your main/favourite physical activity and why did you choose it?
Riding one of my bikes is my primary physical activity at present. I also incorporate walks with my family and our dog, Bella. I am slowly incorporating more strength training and natural movement as this is very important for preserving muscle mass and flexibility as I get older.
Have you been involved in other community projects? If so, please elaborate.
I have a passion for improving education outcomes and do various fundraising initiatives related to that. Most of my fundraising activities revolve around cycling, including creating the Wild Dogs Cycling group riding for a cause in the 94.7 Cycle Challenge and raising funds for the Endangered Wildlife Trust which we did for three years, when they decided to take over the initiative.
I completed the 1965 Ride with my wife in 2022, riding over 800km in 9 days to raise awareness and funds for the Queenstown Education Trust. I also raise funds for the Qhubeka charity (www.qhubeka.org) and will be doing a 5 day, 1000km ride on one of their single speed Qhubeka bikes to raise funds for them. This charity provides bicycles to learners to cut their commute times by a third versus walking and is proven to improve their educational outcomes.
What upcoming events do you have?
In April 2023 (26th to the 30th) I will be doing my Qhubeka 1000 ride of 1000km in 5 days on a Qhubeka single speed bicycle . You can follow my rides and progress on Strava (https://www.strava.com/athletes/183691)
Once that has been completed I am organising our family holiday event which is the Joburg to Blouberg ride, 1000 miles on gravel roads which I will be doing with my wife and three children although they are all young adults. You will be able to follow the planning, training and progress on our family website/blog www.successnourisheshope.org (launching soon/ April 2023)
Is there any sporting event that you would one day like to take part in?
The Tour Divide, a 2,745 mile race from Banff in Canada to New Mexico on the southern most border of the USA. Not that I want to race it but I would like to ride the route someday, and hoping that my wife will join me. https://bikepacking.com/event/tour-divide-2023/
The Munga, a 1000km 5 day MTB race, which I am thinking of doing in 2024. https://themunga.com
What does it mean to you to be healthy and fit?
Health is about our ability to function, not just about escaping illness or disease. Being physically active and able to do what I want to do without any physical strain. It means adding years to my life and adding life to my years, that is adding productive and healthy years to my life. I want to increase my health span as long as possible. I am seeing the physical and mental deterioration in my in-laws and my parents and based on what I have read I can see that it is something that is not inevitable. I want to give myself the best possible chance of a life when I am older, I don’t just want to be alive.