The McWorkout is a public fitness challenge that’s conducted in solitary. I’m sharing my progress each Monday and Thursday, but I’m training and dining alone.
It’s probably for the best: I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Eating fast food is fun…up to a point. When you’ve consumed so many fries all the spring water in Evian won’t quench your thirst; when you know the nutritional content of every burger on the menu; when you get panicky the further you are from a gainz station, well, that’s when it’s probably time to call for help.
So here goes: I’m asking for your help. For my sanity and my sodium levels, I could use some support.
You don’t have to eat burgers with me. (Though you can if you ask.) You don’t have to train with me. (Though you can if you ask.) All you have to do is Hack my Mac. Pimp by burger. Sex up my supper.
Do I need to drop more buzzwords, or do you get the idea?
Hack My Mac
1. Choose a McDonald’s burger.
It doesn’t have to be a Big Mac. In fact the plainer the better – QP? Hamburger?
2. Choose ingredients and condiments to enhance it.
Add proper cheese? Add proper meat? Smother it in chilli paste? It’s your call; get creative. Or gross. Gross is good.
3. Send me your suggestion to try.
I accept Tweets, FB, Snapchat (yeah they now do messages – whisperednothin) and email. If you found my number on a toilet door then hell you can even text me. The medium doesn’t matter: it’s your message I want to consume.*
*As noted last week, this feature is intended to liven up The McWorkout rather than to sneak in a bunch of nutrients. I’m not about to switch the patty in my bun for rare steak and the gherkin for spinach.
The best Mac hacks will be tested next week. Keep your mods simple; you’re dealing with an equally simple chef here with few cooking implements and no fridge.
Need an incentive to get involved? Fine. I promise a pint for everyone whose recipe is used during The McWorkout. There’ll be a night out when all this is over, with lots of alcohol and zero burgers.
I’m going to do nice things to bad food. And you’re going to help.
My McWorkout Diary
Monday 5th May (Day 8)
Following the morning weigh in (YES I DID LOSE HALF A KILO AND A THIRD OF MY BODY FAT IN A WEEK), it’s off to McDonald’s for more wifi.
Thirst and energy spikes aside, week one has gone better than expected. By 3pm on the eighth day however my stomach is hurting. Is it the coffee? The fast food? The proximity to fat people?
Should I fall ill during The McWorkout, visiting the doctor is out of the question.
“Has your diet changed at all lately?”
“Will my answer determine your willingness to help?”
Before I can focus on getting fit or ticking off the next monstrosity on the McDonald’s menu, there’s the small matter of my potatomobile to resolve. I left it spewing in a field near Dundee on Friday and it’s time I pillaged the carcass before callously replacing it.
After borrowing enough money to source another potato, I phone my occasional McWorkout partner who agrees to give me a lift to the locus. Alex is in a hurry and hasn’t had time to eat. “I’ll be at yours in ten minutes. Get a Chicken Nuggets meal for her and a meal of some sort for me.”
I trot inside McDonald’s and fulfil my side of the bargain. I don’t mind ordering filth for myself but purchasing it for others just feels wrong.
Moments after disposing of his Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal, Alex pops into the garage to pay for fuel. He emerges chomping on a Wispa Gold. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t in The McWorkout.
Thanks to some surprisingly potent bud, I’m feeling pretty blazed by the time we arrive in Brechin. The perfect state of mind then for buying a car.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve bought or sold a motor: the paperwork is always a mind fuck. Who keeps which slip of paper? I’ve no idea and neither does the seller who’s sold more cars than I’ve had Snack Wraps. We pass documents back and forth a dozen times before clinging onto the slip in our hands when the music stops.
The new Tate is bigger and louder than its predecessor, but like Tate One, the lighter socket doesn’t work and it doesn’t lock properly. There’s also something funny going on with the brakes. There’s no disputing it: my car’s a fully certified potato.
Upon inspection of the Tate’s nooks and crannies, I learn that I’m not the only one with a penchant for eating filthy: there’s a Happy Meal toy in the glove box and I discover this in the ashtray:
Ten miles further down the road lies the remains of my old car. Still feeling pretty mellow, I park the new Tate alongside while I port over my McDonald’s wrappers and CDs. Then, in a neat move, I arrange for the Brechin seller to pick up the old Tate and dispose of it.
I may be completely broke, but at least I have wheels again. It’s time to get The McWorkout back on track.
I drive the Potate-two to Aberdeen with all the care that a man who may/may not have insurance can muster and head straight for the city centre. It’s 6pm but I still have to fork out £4 for parking. That’s the price you pay for picking a prime spot that’s equidistant from PureGym and McDonald’s.
After wolfing down a Grilled Chicken & Bacon Salad, I vow to get my money’s worth from this workout. I don’t like eating just before exercising, but as usual there’s no time for resting up.
The session that follows is as satisfying as it is intense: a 100 calorie warm-up run followed by a savage 55-minute chest workout.
As predicted, the Biggie dance track gets rinsed hard: I blast it on repeat for the first 25 minutes and then return to it for a 100-calorie sprint to round off my session. By the time I’m done, the treadmill is struggling to keep up.
Two hours since my last date with McDonald’s and I’m back there again, this time devouring a Double Cheeseburger while the post-workout euphoria courses through me.
Ordering McD’s filth rather than McD’s health does have one advantage: the burger is handed over instantly. No searching for salad or staring blankly at touchscreens.
Afterwards, I head to my mate’s where the pain of purchasing a new car is mildly alleviated by the Spree vouchers she gives me. Cheap junk food FTW!
I arrive home at 10pm feeling great. It’s all thanks to exercise rather than the Grilled Chicken Wrap and Classic Chicken Snack Wrap I’ve ordered to round off the day.
Monday has been a success – I even got a chance to use my home exercise equipment:
Monday 5th May
Total spent: £17.03
Total calories consumed: 2,910
Total calories burned: 540
Tuesday 6th May (Day 9)
During The McWorkout, I have to sample everything on the McDonald’s menu – including the sickly Pancakes & Sausage with Syrup. My styrofoam plate of diabeetus contains a whopping 104g of carbs, half of which is sugar. Do not want. Must eat.
Afterwards, I nip home for a quick tidy up. There’s the possibility of a flat inspection later and I’m taking no chances: the fast food wrappers need to disappear. They make Channel 4 documentaries about guys like me – hoarders. After going AFK for weeks, my disappearance prompts concerned neighbours to break down the door, only to find me smothered beneath 20 years of McDonald’s wrappers. Little do they know it was just a fortnight’s supply.
I stash the evidence in cupboards and behind saucepans but still the wrappers keep coming.
With the evi concealed, it’s back to McD’s for a second breakfast. I’m not even hungry, but I gulp down a tub of porridge anyway, figuring it should get me through the next few hours while I’m with my 4-year-old.
“I wanted your car to be pink,” says E, staring at it in disappointment.
Her mum buys her a pink donut which goes some way towards atoning for my oversight. The last couple of bites are thrust in my direction and I gratefully gobble them, because I clearly haven’t had enough sugar today.
12:40pm: The McDonald’s queue is huge and everyone around me is fat. I take my 1.99 Big Mac and fries and, weaving past a throng of school kids, find a seat opposite a pair of lesbian ham planets. I’ve seen heaps of supersized lesbian couples in McDonald’s this week. Does being a lesbian make you fat, or is it being a lesbian in McDonald’s? I’m too scared to ask.
My afternoon is spent being dad, but not just any old dad: a multi-tasking, gains-enhancing dad. First, I use the Swiss balls at KC Kangaroo’s to work my abs.
Then, at the park, I perform sets of pull-ups followed by 40 minutes of pushing my kids (and everyone else’s kids) on the swing. I alternate arms and stance, ensuring that lats and deltoids are worked thoroughly while the girls scream for the swing to go higher. I do my best to oblige – for my sake, not theirs. I won’t be including it in my workout total, but I probably burned 200 calories at the park. Not bad.
When The McWorkout’s finished, I ought to bring out an exercise DVD to help parents get fit while playing with their kids.
“I’m so shattered from running around after my little ones all day, I’ve no energy for exercise.”
Seriously, shut up and get off the couch. It’s not just your own health you’ll be improving: you’ll also be giving your kids a better life thanks to having a parent they can chase, climb trees and caper with.
“My mum doesn’t play with me. She just sits and watches TV,” remarked one of the P4 boys at swimming last week.
What can you say to that?
I’m no model parent, but at least I’m trying.
Insanity is mental
My best mate also has two daughters, one of whom still lives at home. Despite our schedules, we still find time to run through an Insanity workout in the evening while her youngest looks on in amusement.
Following 40 minutes of intense circuits, I drive to McDonald’s and return clutching a Spicy Veggie Wrap and a Grilled Chicken & Bacon Salad Meal. When I get in the car, I realise that I’ve forgotten to request a side salad and have been given fries instead. It’s a carbs and sodium whammy I could have done without, but I devour them anyway.
After an evening spent writing articles and smoking joints, I arrive home at 1am feeling hungry again. I’ve already consumed almost 3,000 calories today; another 300 won’t hurt. I pop into McD’s and grab a Classic Chicken Snack Wrap.
My car is full of McDonald’s wrappers. My life is a mess.
Tuesday 6th May
Total spent: £16.61
Total calories consumed: 3,214
Total calories burned: 400
Wednesday 7th May (Day 10)
I awaken to a bank balance of -£13 and a pocket of shrapnel.
I can’t even afford to drink coffee while I plunder McDonald’s wifi. Unless…wait a sec.
I fling open the kitchen cupboards and begin ransacking the McD’s bags I stashed there the day before. Soon I’ve enough peel-off stickers to claim a free coffee. It pays to be a hoarder.
When the hunger pangs become too great to ignore, I borrow a fiver from my mate and hit up McD’s for a £3.47 breakfast, followed at 12:00 by a Double Cheeseburger.
By 2pm I’m hungry again but have no money left. I’d been hoping to make it a week of 100% McDonald’s but hadn’t bargained on running out of dollah.
I’m gonna have to invoke a cheat meal.
There’s a can of tuna in my cupboard which I mix with a dash of light mayo and some chilli sauce. It’s only 150 calories all in, making it more of a cheat snack, albeit the healthiest thing I’ve consumed in quite some time. In mitigation, it was also the only food in my flat.
At 3:45, my eight-year-old arrives home and declares “I told C in my class that you lost weight from eating McDonald’s and now he’s asked his parents if he can eat McDonald’s all month!”
Jesus Christ. What have I started?
As if inspiring a wave of copycat fast fooders wasn’t disturbing enough, I receive an email from the doctor. Ten days ago, I had a blood test prior to The McWorkout starting. Now the results are in.
Three pages of data list everything from my red cell count to my potassium level. When I’m tested again at the end of the month, it will be interesting to see what’s changed after 28 days of constant McDonald’s.
I’ll be paying particular attention to my cholesterol and sodium levels. Ten days ago, my cholesterol sat at a respectable 4.4 mmol/L; below 5.2 is desirable. (Moar info here.)
The normal range for blood sodium, meanwhile, is 135 to 145 mEq/L. (Lower than 120 or higher than 150 is a cause for concern.) I’m at 141 – or at least I was before The McWorkout saw me consume my annual fries quota in just ten days.
My blood results may be reassuringly normal, but there is nothing reassuring about the notes appended to the top of page two:
Patient is not known to have a what? A sensible diet? A brain tumour? I don’t know and I’m not sure I want to know.
16:00: I’m skint, overworked, haven’t made the gym and now the home page of my wesite’s gone full potato. Wednesday is turning to shit.
19:00: I last ate hot food six hours ago and I’m starving, but working at my mate’s is comfier than McDonald’s, and not just cos I can smoke joints. When the hunger becomes a rumble of discontent, I decide to take the 20-minute round trip to re-up. I might not make the gym today, but if I can make McD’s at least I’ll be able to focus on getting some work done.
19:20: I’m working my way through a Big Mac, fries and Classic Chicken Wrap when my mate re-enters her flat, having just finished removing a tick from the neighbour’s dog.
“That was a fucking massive tick by the way.”
“Yeah, no doubt,” I mutter in between mouthfuls.
“It’s not often you see them that size,” she continues. “Here, take a look…”
I put down my burger and wait for her iPhone to be thrust in my face, but oh no. She doesn’t have a photograph for me: she has the actual fucking tick.
I gaze at the fleshy bastard. Suddenly dinner doesn’t seem so appealing.
I’m way behind on my work. I’ve smoked way too many joints. I have no money and I haven’t been to the gym in two days.
What is it with Wednesdays?
Wednesday 7th May
Total spent: £9.93
Total calories consumed: 2,650
Total calories burned: 0
If there’s any chance of rescuing this week, the next four days will have to be the toughest yet. No joints. No excuses. No slacking off.
Ideally, I’d like to spend them locked in the gym, emerging only to eat McDonald’s. There’s just one problem with that plan: on Friday night, I’m meant to be flying out to Barcelona.
Can I survive 48 hours in Catalonia without touching alcohol? Will I have time to train? (And if so, where will I train?) Oh, and then there’s this to consider….
See you back her on Monday for My Mediterranean McWorkout.
Also on Monday:
Hack My Mac: I review your burger-pimping suggestions
Fat-Burning v Muscle-Building: this feature seems to have degenerated into a running gag, so let’s keep it running
The Halfway Stage: After two weeks of McD’s, how’s my body shaping up?
Ten days done. 18 to go.
Missed any previous episodes of The McWorkout? Catch up here.
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McWorkout logo & graphics: Kaiga Design