What’s your body type? Are you skinny? Muscular? Plump?
Are you a shade the wrong side of your ideal weight, and if so, how much are we talking – fat, fucking fat or morbidly obese?
Are you a ham beast, a ham planet or a land whale?
I’m not having a go; I’m just curious. Fat may not be on me but it’s all around me. Everywhere I look, I see the stuff: hanging off single mums as they gorge on McFlurries; oozing from tradesmen scoffing Quarter Pounders; rippling on McWorkers as they field orders for the very food that made them fat.
Which suits me. These days, a blogger can’t even use the f-word (not that f-word, the faggot one) without first having to explain that it’s not being deployed as a homophobic insult, which somewhat ruins the joke.
Fatties, however, are fair game. It’s all self-inflicted, right? They chose their body type when they chose to say yes to everything. As I noted in Part II of The McWorkout, four weeks and a lifetime ago, “Eating junk food is easy. Anyone can do it; most people do.”
Raised on the mean streets of /b/, my first instinct is to laugh and point. And yet, to invoke the standard defence used when castigating a minority (or majority in this case), “Some of my best friends are fat.”
Is it possible to rip on fatties without being a total hypocrite?
Probably not, but in saying that, I like my fat friends for who they are, not what they are. If you are overweight, I’ve got one final question for you – one serious final question:
When did you become fat?
Srsly, when did you realise that you were fat? No one was born fat and no one became fat overnight. That’s the thing about fat – it’s insidious. The odds are you made it through childhood without carrying excess chub. Then, somewhere between your teens and now, you piled on the pounds.
Do you remember the day you woke up, peered in the mirror and thought “Fuck me I’m fat”, or was it a gradual process?
How does fatness feel anyway: does it bother you? Is it something you intend to remedy one day, in the same way that one might make plans to clean out the loft when the opportunity presents itself?
In a moment, I’m going to revert to making fat jokes, but first, a serious point: last Friday was Food Revolution Day. It’s easy to dismiss the event, organised as it is by Jamie Oliver, a man who looks like he hasn’t missed a hot dinner in years. Still, there are a couple of sobering (slimming?) points to consider:
Children today are the first generation predicted to live shorter lives than their parents because of diet and inactivity.
Type-2 diabetes, previously considered a disease specific only to adults, is now becoming prevalent in children as young as eight.
Obese children are much more likely to remain obese as adults, increasing their risk of disease later in life.
While The McWorkout isn’t a moralistic kinda challenge – that’s not my style – I’d like to think it will have prompted all of us, fat, thin or somewhere in between, to contemplate the effect that fast food and exercise has on our bodies.
And now, after that sombre interlude, it’s back to my usual programming…
Fat of the land whale
One of the toughest aspects of The McWorkout hasn’t been forcing myself to eat McDonald’s four times a day – it’s been doing so while surrounded by some of the most offensive sights imaginable. I’m not talking about plump people. I’m not even talking fat. I’m talking Full Ham Beast. Sure, everyone – regardless of body size – has a right to eat. Even when it’s McDonald’s. I’m not gonna lie though: eating in the presence of such fatness hasn’t been easy.
To provide a taster of what this month has been like, here’s an extract from the notes I took in the days prior to The McWorkout:
As I glance around at the land whales devouring their super-size meals, a jolt of fear pulses through me. I feel like a scientist armed with a geiger counter and sent in to Chernobyl. Will I emerge from this challenge sporting two heads and six stomachs?
Everyone seems averse to exercise round here: even the window cleaner does his job sitting down.
How much McDonald’s can I absorb before I turn into one of them?
14th April: I spot my first genuine ham family: mum, dad and teenager so fat he waddles to the toilet. This tubby bitch can’t even walk properly. I sit down and try to enjoy my Sausage & Egg McMuffin with no cheese.
Lunchtime approaches. “Eat your chips. Eat your chips,” urges the fat woman admonishing the 12- and 18-month-old toddlers in high chairs, nursing bottles of Formula and gumming on McFries.
“Num, is that tasty?” she coos as she starts spoon-feeding them a Creme Egg McFlurry.
14:00: I return for a coffee and a Skype. An oompa loompa with eyebrows drawn like thunder clouds is sat at the table. Every time she bites into her Big Mac, her orange chin wobbles, one roll at a time.
16th April, 16:30: HB mum, dad and kid who looks like he was breastfed McFlurries. In fact he was probably conceived inside McDonald’s while mum was screaming for dad to super-size her cervix. I bet her vagoo smells of chip fat and bad life choices. That poor kid doesn’t stand a chance. Still, that doesn’t stop him from tucking into his fries like they’re the last carbs on earth.
17:30: All three tables around my usual spot are occupied. All of the adults are obese. So is one of the kids, who’s well on her way to going full Honey Boo Boo.
Weight to go
This morning, as I entered the final week of The McWorkout, I took my penultimate weight and body fat readings.
When I began this challenge, my body fat stood at 15.1%. After a week of McDonald’s, it dropped to 10.6%, before rising slightly to 11% in week two.
Today, it’s risen slightly again:
Why the sudden drop in week one followed by consecutive rises? In the first week, I did a lot of cardio and ate the least worst items on the menu (while still fulfilling my obligation to eat at least one burger and one side every day). In weeks two and three, I’ve focused on weights over cardio and have also eaten a lot more carbs as part of my commitment to consume every item on the McDonald’s menu – including their sugarific desserts.
When The McWorkout turns into The Workout in a couple of weeks’ time (same fitness regime but with healthy eating), I’ll be able to cut a lot of the carbs, whereupon I’ll hopefully get my body fat into single figures.
tl;dr: Body fat readings are consistent with the food I’ve eaten and the exercise I’ve done.
As for weight, I tipped the scales at 72.2kg at the outset. A week later that had dropped by half a kilo, then by another half in week two. In the past week, my weight has stayed constant: this morning I’m still 71.2kg.
The McWorkout ends on Sunday, incidentally, but there’ll still be three blogs to follow:
Monday 26th: Final McWorkout Diary, final body stats, final errthing
Thursday 29th: The ‘after’ pics: taps aff time, plus reflections on the month in general
Monday 2nd June: Blood results. What has a month of McDonald’s done to my sodium and cholesterol levels?
There’s a good McWorkout Diary coming up today, but first, Dr Chris Fenn would like to talk poop. Finished your lunch? Then let’s do this:
Oh to take a peek inside Kai’s guts! After almost a month of eating foods from the McDonald’s menu it would not be a pretty sight! Digestion begins in the mouth – food needs to be chewed as this sets off a cascade of reactions further down the gut, which is part of the digestive process. McD’s food is designed to be cooked, served… and eaten quickly. Simply lower your teeth over lumps of soft, highly processed burger and bun and swallow. These wedges of mince, cheese and dough will linger in the stomach, causing heartburn, indigestion and bloating until they finally dissolve into a slurry of liquid which can be squirted into your small intestine, where any nutrients can be absorbed.
What is NOT absorbed is also important for gut function. Fibre is the part of food which is specifically not absorbed but travels the length of your guts, acting as an internal bottle brush to sweep your intestines clean, before being pooped out – along with all the grot and grime which is collected along the way. McD’s meals do not provide fibre. Don’t think the odd piece of lettuce or slice of tomato will help. These foods are 99% water and so cannot contain much in the way of fibre. At the end of The McWorkout, Kai’s insides will need a good clean out. Until then, he has a lot of burping, belching, indigestion and constipation to endure.
Th-thank you Dr Chris. I’m not sure how to respond to that, so let’s just plunge into My McWorkout Diary…unless you’d prefer a 1,000-word discourse on my digestive tract? OK, the diary it is.
My McWorkout Diary
Friday 16th May (Day 19)
On Thursday night, my five-year-old stays over, the two of us squished into my single bed. I awaken in the night to find her half in the bed, half on the floor, still sleeping blissfully. Friday begins with the pair of us bouncing around the room on Swiss balls.
Despite amassing a hodgepodge of exercise equipment for The McWorkout, I’ve scarcely had a chance to use it. They may only be getting deployed as space hoppers, but at least the exercise balls are seeing some action.
8:30: “Can you take me to McDonald’s?” asks E.
“I don’t have any money,” I confess, “but I should get paid in about two hours.”
“I’m staying here for two hours!” she exclaims.
3pm: I’m sat in the office typing up Friday’s blog while I watch a ham couple tuck into a super-sized meal, their large fries supplemented by portions of McDonald’s Crisscuts.
6pm: It’s time to collect my oldest daughter, whose turn it is to stay over. This is a good thing. Due to work and blogging, I haven’t had time to make the gym today. This is a bad thing 🙁
Without fitness, The McWorkout is just a guy eating a bunch of fast food.
“When you drop K off at her dancing tomorrow, you’ll need to put her hair in a bun,” explains her mum.
“H-how do I do that?”
“You just put it in a high ponytail and then wrap it round.”
“A high what?”
“It’s easy – look, I’ll show you on E’s hair.”
Mum demonstrates while I take notes on my phone.
“I think you’ll still be bad,” says E. I think she’s right.
Mum hands me two hair bands which I inspect curiously. Right now, they look as alien to me as a square meal.
6:20: An email arrives.
Why has my mate sent me £16? An explanatory email soon follows, noting “I’ve shot you a day’s eating into your PayPal account.”
This is an unexpected and most welcome development. One of the things I hadn’t bargained on during The McWorkout was the kindness of friends. When they’ve not been sending me McDonald’s horror stories, they’ve been downright generous. Thanks Dave and everyone else who’s helped out during my self-imposed month of madness.
It’s Friday night and suddenly everyone…
…is getting in touch:
I can’t tell whether my mates have been missing my company or merely the opportunity it presents for getting hammered.
8pm: After taking K rollerblading along the beachfront (she skates, I jog), we stop for an ice cream at Captain Jax. She elects for Irn-Bru and bubblegum, while I have a scoop of Snickers.
Later, at the flat, I drink a bottle of Bud, just as I did the night before. Aside from all the McDonald’s, I’ve been living like a normal person this week: you know, one who isn’t supposed to be baring their chest in a week to show the results of training hard for a month.
I really need to get my shit together.
Back at mine, I invite K to try out my digital scales – for entertainment, rather than to give an eight-year-old body issues.
Her body fat comes in at 7.2%. “Y’know, there’s professional athletes that would be jealous of your stats.”
Friday 16th May
Total spent: £9.17
Total calories consumed: 2,200 (inc. 800 ‘other)
Total calories burned: 0
Saturday 17th May (Day 20)
E didn’t get a McDonald’s yesterday but her big sister will get one this morning. It’s not favouritism – it’s just that I actually have money today. I completed three weeks of The McWorkout without taking my kids to McDonald’s; I think today’s breakfast is allowed. Besides, my daughter has 7% body fat – she can eat whatever the hell she wants.
K’s too lazy to walk across the car park, so I grab breakfast for both of us, demolishing mine before polishing off the remainder of hers. It’s not just greed, I tell myself – I needed to drink a Banana Shake this month anyway.
12:00: I pull up outside the dance studio and whip out the hair bobbles I was assigned the night before. K manages to put a high ponytail in. Then I attempt the bob, weaving the hair around the ponytail, just like it says in my notes. I manage to get some of the hair to go in. Apparently some isn’t good enough.
K shoots me a look that says “Dad you’re retarded”.
1:40: Following a burger and fries at my regular gainz station, I stroll to the Tate, passing fat people in cars licking Big Mac sauce from their sausage fingers. There’s an unsightly bulge in my car too: a Swiss ball. K wants it to play with and given that I’ve two, neither of which has seen any action, I can hardly demur.
2:15: The weights area at Pure is stowed with gym bros as usual so I jump on the treadmill instead. I hadn’t been planning on cardio, but any exercise is better than no exercise. It’s probably time I had a go at beating my 5k anyway, which stands at a little over 19 minutes.
I smash it, blasting through 5km in 16:49. At the start of The McWorkout, I said I’d be chuffed if I could run a sub-17-min 5k. Now that I have, well guess what? I’m chuffed. Chuffed and too sweaty to attempt anything else.
This might be my shortest workout ever but it was also one of the best.
In theory, all those gym bros lugging dumbbells could kick my ass. In practice, I’d outrun every last one of them. If only respectable cardio times could impress grills 🙁
15:30: “I can judge your moods by how quick you are to shout at the cat,” says my mate.
You know those yappy little dogs that won’t stop barking until you dropkick them over the neighbour’s fence? My mate owns the feline equivalent of one of them.
I like cats, but I’d strangle hers in a heartbeat.
We finish watching a YouTube video when a suggested vid pops up: “10 Shocking Facts About McDonald’s”.
“Oh look,” says my mate.
“I don’t wanna see it,” I aver.
I’ve lost count of the amount of McDonald’s scare stories my mates have sent me this month. I haven’t read any of them because I’d rather not know. Not right now anyway.
5pm: My legs feel like jelly and I have to drive to Edinburgh. ‘Arsed. Perhaps some fast food will help.
I’ve been putting it off for a while, but it’s time I bit the bean burger. “Can I have a Vegetable Deluxe?”
“A what?” asks the girl. My thoughts exactly.
After paying, I realise that I haven’t requested side salad and so, for the second time today, I’ll be eating fries. Fuck sake – my 5k was for nothing.
Oh well, that’s what The McWorkout is all about, isn’t it? Making gains and then stifling them in junk food. I’m not lovin’ it, but I’m certainly doinitrite.
Apparently McDonald’s have launched a build-a-burger promotion. I can’t believe those cheeky fuckers have copied Hack My Mac.
I type in the link. It leads to this:
7pm: I stop at McDonald’s Forfar, but only for coffee. I’m still on a sugar high from the White Chocolate & Raspberry Muffin I bought in Aberdeen.
7:15pm: I open a WhatsApp. It contains six seconds of Bob whistling the tune to “I’m lovin’ it”.
22:30: Following a decent chest workout at Pure Edinburgh, I’m in McDonald’s chowing down a Sweet Chilli Crispy Chicken Wrap. I’ve eaten a lot of shitty McD’s today but I’ve also ticked a few more items off the menu. Oh, and did I mention that I ran a fast 5k? I should probably bang on about that some more.
Next week I’ll tick off the final menu items and try to beat my 10k running and 1500m rowing times.
For the second time in a week, I’ve visited three McDonald’s in a day. This entitles me to a day of zero fries. The only trouble is I’m so skint I’ll probably have to use Spree vouchers tomorrow, which dictate a burger and fries.
I open a WhatsApp from my mate:
I’m still hungry and am debating getting more to eat. Then I check my daily calorie total and realise that I’m at 3,500. Fuck. How did that happen?
Ah, that’s how.
23:30: I meet Patrick in Cellar Monkey and down three Glenfiddichs while we catch up. In front of me, an annoying group of drunk people are cutting into a birthday cake. I could eat the fuck out of a birthday cake right now.
3,500 calories and I’m still starving. McDonald’s desserts taste great but they’re just not worth the calorie hit.
Saturday 17th May
Total spent: £16.17
Total calories consumed: 3,700 (inc. 200 ‘other’)
Total calories burned: 780
Sunday 18th May (Day 21)
10am: Two Snack Wraps see me on the verge of completing the breakfast menu. Three hours later and I’m back in the gym, this time joined by Patrick. Following an hour on shoulders and biceps, it’s back to McDonald’s to fuel dem gainz.
Patrick does the honours, kindly saving me £5 I don’t have. At 5:30, I visit McD’s Princes Street for the last time, grabbing a Peri Peri Snack Wrap to sustain me till Aberdeen.
21:45: I’m in my local, ordering a Grilled Chicken Salad. The cashier glances over his shoulder. “I’ll just check if we’ve got any…”
My salad and three Chicken Selects comes to £6.18. This is why I’ve had to cut down on salads during The McWorkout.
For the past fortnight, lack of funds has forced me to eat the shittier items on the McDonald’s menu: more Snack Wraps and Double Cheeseburgers, less salads. The increase in calories and fat shouldn’t be a problem for me as I’m exercising and only doing this for a month.
For ‘normal’ people though – y’know, people in need of cheap food – it’s crap. I’m not implying that poor people would order McDonald’s salads if they were cheaper – no one orders them except me – but it would be nice if they had the option. Imagine, alongside the £1.49 Double Cheeseburger, if the Saver Menu contained a Mediterranean salad with basil, mozza and olives. Just imagine. I’m pretty sure that’s what John Lennon was banging on about all those years ago.
Sunday 18th May
Total spent: £13.05
Total calories consumed: 2,634
Total calories burned: 420
7 Days of Training Dirty
Monday: 549 calories, 70 mins
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: 373 calories, 60 mins
Thursday: 160 calories, 35 mins
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: 780 calories, 80 mins
Sunday: 420 calories, 60 mins
Ave. calories burned per day*: 456
Ave. time spent exercising per day*: 62 mins
*Rest days not included
7 Days of Eating Filthy
Click on the day of the week for a complete breakdown of the filth I’ve shovelled into my body.
Monday: 2,800 cals (inc. 170 ‘other’)
Tuesday: 2,560 cals
Wednesday: 2,795 cals
Thursday: 2,240 cals
Friday: 2,200 cals (inc. 800 ‘other’)
Saturday: 3,700 (inc. 200 ‘other’)
7 Days of Feels
Read My McWorkout Diary for the corresponding day to link the feels to the activity I was performing at that moment in time.
On Thursday we’ll have:
Fat-Burning v Muscle-Building (aye, that’ll be right)
The penultimate McWorkout Diary
Plus some other cool shit I haven’t thought up yet
21 days done. 7 to go.
Missed any previous episodes of The McWorkout? Catch up here.
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