Sunday 19 November 2017

Cooking while exercising, dreams of dessert: Everything is food now

By david looby

Robbie Farrell showing your truly the proper exercise technique on the plank
Robbie Farrell showing your truly the proper exercise technique on the plank


Calories jump out from the hitherto unseen back of packets in the press and fridge. I even had a dream in which the world's best dessert chefs were coming up with fantastical pastry creations: Croquembouches, impossibly giant lemon meringue pies, Valrhona chocolate pies.

Like a man deprived of one of his senses, I have a hyper sensitive nose to compensate. Little snacks and 'sins' in Slim World parlance are avoided, but sometimes scoffed. Berries, nuts, dried fruit, nothing bad, but each one feels like a defeat especially when you're not hungry.

What's happening to me? The latest culinary treat, the Creme Brûlée French toast, two of my favourite things, pops up on my Facebook feed as if to mock me.

I am in a battle and I can't see daylight.

What did I do with my time before this?

What a difference 90 minutes exercise a day can make.

The food part is way harder than I imagined. A disappointed feeling slakes my tongue as I resist, resist, resist, while Wilde's famous quote: 'I can resist anything but temptation', rings in my ear.

Buoyed by my trainer Robbie's assessment that I had a healthy diet, barring the buns, ice cream and cakes that I fall prey to in moments of weakness, I was sure I could cope, but I forgot one other, indelible side of my persona: my hatred of waste.

I'd sooner lick my daughter's abandoned half-full plate clean than see a scrap of food wasted, and as for chocolate, I can never bring myself to empty the neatly-wrapped Christmas biscuits into the bin, even the horrible ones 'in case the guests arrive'.

There is a fine line between being naïve and being an idiot: a line I thread daily.

While on my blue yoga map one night during my 'Feel the burn: Saison en Enfer', I had the brainwave to cook some food that was nearly going off.

As I'm supposed to eat kidney beans, red meat and onions, I decided to make a pot of chili con carne.

Having prepared the veg, added some spices and opened the tins of tomatoes, I threw the meat in and bob's your uncle, back to the mat located around the corner down the hall - about five feet away as the nose smells.

My olfactory senses on overdrive even on Robbie's very forgiving diet, I caught a whiff of the bold aromas emanating from the La Creuset as I tried to do a plank manoeuvre.

For the uninitiated this involves raising yourself up off the ground while lying on your forearms and staying put for one minute, all the while feeling your stomach shake like mad.

30 seconds in I couldn't resist the urge to tamper with my recipe, having picked up an off-note in the densely scented air.

I reached for the Bournville chocolate tin with its reassuring warm colours, redolent of childhood, and tipped a bit in. Unsatisfied with my increasingly Mexican creation, I tipped some more in, but a block of cocoa managed to end up submerged in the gloopy mixture.

By now all this cooking was eating into my exercise time.

Having remedied the situation by throwing in loads more stuff: black pepper for heat, lime to counteract the heat and turmeric, because it's good for you, I returned to my mat and attempted a side twist plank on my weaker side, collapsing under the strain.

I stuck at it, (the exercise that is), licking my lips, and left the food to cook having learned a salutary lesson.

WHL Consultants are located at Northgate Medical Centre, New Ross; call Robbie Farrell on 087 7759716 or see

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