News, Culture & Society

DR XAND VAN TULLEKEN on how the Daily Mail’s health diary is changing his habits 

Our Good Health For Life series of pullouts began earlier this month with a free Wellness Journal. 

You can use the 28-day planner to focus on areas to change, then fill in the daily sections as you go. 

Here, doctors Xand and Chris van Tulleken, who helped devise the journal, and Mail columnist Andrew Pierce share their own progress so far… 

Dr Xand van Tulleken

Filling out the Wellness Journal this week has really exposed my weaknesses.

After two weeks I’m doing well at getting to bed on time, and strength-wise I’m doing the set of five daily exercises I committed to (one-legged yoga poses and some old physio exercises I was given previously for my hips and bum).

My downfall is calories: too many going in and not enough going out.

On a big day I easily eat 4,000 calories. I’m fairly healthy during the day — I’m easily hitting my ten-a-day fruit and veg target — but dinner is often massive, especially if I’m out.

I really enjoy food and can spend a whole day looking forward to dinner. Since I live alone, I don’t have anyone keeping me in check in the evening. 

Here, doctors Xand (left) and Chris van Tulleken (right), who helped devise the journal, and Mail columnist Andrew Pierce share their own progress so far

And, since I’m writing a lot at the moment, on a typical day I walk as few as 300 steps. That’s basically just trips to the loo.

I’ve been stuck in the trap of thinking that I’ll go for a walk when I have time. But unless you create time, it doesn’t happen.

Suddenly it’s 8pm, I’m hungry, it’s dark out and there is zero chance I’m going to pound the streets. 

I need to force the time into the planner, so yesterday I created a 30‑minute slot for a walk at midday.

I covered 4,735 steps and was way more productive in the afternoon. I felt so good having done it that I had fruit for dessert not ice cream.

Planning tomorrow’s good behaviour today makes it so much easier, and I’ve organised this week so I should be able to do 45 minutes to an hour of walking on four days. Wish me luck.

Dr Chris van Tulleken

It was going so well. 

Monday through Thursday this week I did ten minutes’ strength-building exercise — 20 press-ups, 20 sit-ups and 20 squats — each morning (OK, I admit it was, in fact, just five minutes, but still enough to keep me feeling good). 

I ate sensibly, and with my phone safely charging in the kitchen overnight, I didn’t surf the web until the small hours. I woke up each morning feeling as well rested as anyone can with a child alarm clock set for 0600 hours.

I managed a 20-minute jog and a couple of long walks. My calorie intake was down (to around 2,500 per day), step count was up (averaging 9,000 per day). 

My weight had also dropped, from 84.3kg down to 83.8kg — not much (just over a pound) but in the right direction.

Our Good Health For Life series of pullouts began earlier this month with a free Wellness Journal. You can use the 28-day planner to focus on areas to change, then fill in the daily sections as you go

Our Good Health For Life series of pullouts began earlier this month with a free Wellness Journal. You can use the 28-day planner to focus on areas to change, then fill in the daily sections as you go

But on Friday night I had a talk to give in Oxford to a group of academics about how the alcohol industry influences drinking guidelines. 

Talking in Oxford is always a sweaty experience; audiences are never afraid of making even the best speakers feel unprepared (or, frankly, dumb).

But it went OK, and, having spoken for an hour about the dangers of drinking, I was so relieved I drank a heroic quantity of red wine. 

I’m normally pretty good at drinking ‘mindfully’, planning my maximum intake, but I just totally forgot. Between the physical and existential hangover symptoms, the weekend since then has been more or less a write-off.

I’m heading toward a Sunday night takeaway, which I’m not going to even try to resist. 

But I’m trying not to get involved with the regret; Monday is a new day, I’ve laid my trainers out and packed a healthy lunch for work. 

Andrew Pierce 

Finally, I am getting better at this Wellness Journal!

Aware that the scales were going the wrong way this week, I’ve been weighing myself every other day.

It has certainly focused the mind on staying strong when faced with temptation of the food and drink kind.

Finally, I am getting better at this Wellness Journal! Aware that the scales were going the wrong way this week, I’ve been weighing myself every other day. Pictured is Andrew Pierce

Finally, I am getting better at this Wellness Journal! Aware that the scales were going the wrong way this week, I’ve been weighing myself every other day. Pictured is Andrew Pierce

The week before last I’d only weighed myself once — and the week was a disaster from start to finish.

It kicked off with a party, and my resolve to drink only water melted the moment I arrived and saw trays of chilled peach Bellinis. I had two.

One large glass of white wine and too many canapés later and I scrounged a ride to the Tube. Apart from falling off the wagon, I hadn’t even managed to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps as I had pledged to do each day. I managed only 4,500.

The week continued in the same vein — another party, more white wine and I managed to wolf down roast beef and Yorkshire pudding canapés. Lethal for the waistline. By Friday, horror of horrors, I’d put on 4lb.

But this week I have been stricter with myself. No more canapés. No more Bellinis. I’ve had porridge for breakfast and haven’t so much as looked at a packet of biscuits.

I got to the gym and stuck at it for a 40-minute workout. The trouble is, I struggle to get myself there as often as I would like to. This week it was once.

I know I should do more, so I’m now debating whether to throw myself at the mercy of a personal trainer for the last two weeks.

On other matters I had another go at meditation, but I simply haven’t got the patience or the will-power.

A clearer mind was never the big aim for me — what I want is to get back to 11st (I’m slightly under 5ft 10in tall) and to shift that unsightly midriff. I’ve got 5lb to go. I am not going to go up a trouser size.

Now, to find that personal trainer… 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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