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Couch to Camino: Andrea Smith attempts the Baby Food Diet ahead of her Spanish challenge


Andrea Smith is embarking on a healthy eating and walking programme.

Andrea Smith is embarking on a healthy eating and walking programme.

Andrea Smith is embarking on a healthy eating and walking programme.

I have begun a love affair with the FitBit, mainly because it appears to be suggesting that I'm not quite as lazy as I suspected. If you were to have asked me before I snapped the all-knowing pink band around my wrist, I would have guessed that I walk maybe half a km around the park with the dogs early in the morning. It turns out that our normal jaunt actually covers 2km and almost 3,000 steps for me - the dogs must easily do about 20,000 as they zip around the place off-lead.

I brought a different dog with me every morning to get the papers at the nearest garage, and was stunned and delighted to see that I'd covered 5.6km each trip. It was a relief that I felt great after it, as I had inexplicably agreed to do a 5km in Carlow the following weekend and was worried that I might show myself up by being a physical wreck after it.

The 5km was also in aid of The Rise Foundation, which was founded by singer Frances Black to help families who have a loved one in addiction, and she assured me it would be easy-peasy. By the time you read this, it'll be done, so I'm hoping I didn't disgrace myself by coming in half an hour after the second-last person. Full report next week.

As I mentioned last week, I bought my first pair of proper trainers, and I also forked out an eye-watering €14 for socks that promised not to let my feet blister. For that price, I wondered if they were woven from gold thread, but I have to say, they did the job and my feet were pristine.

I spent the first few days of the week religiously filling in the food section on my FitBit app and tracking my sleep, but my enthusiasm waned somewhat around that aspect of it.

I'm sure it would be really useful if you were a serious athlete, but all I care about is doing my 10,000 steps every day, and it's really gratifying to see the distances lengthen and times decrease.

I still find all the exercise a crushing bore though, and Judge Judy is undoubtedly missing me madly, but I know I need to get my fitness levels up now or else at the beginning of October on the Camino will be hell on earth.

Another problem is that our summer has been very bloody wet, and since I'm not planning to paddle a canoe to Santiago, this is a real bummer for someone as easily put off getting out and about as me. I've been thinking about renting a treadmill, because that way I could build up a few km over the course of the day without ending up miles away from home.

As a freelancer, who has to make deadlines and answer calls and emails all day, there is something attractive about getting fit at home at your convenience.

While I lost 14lbs on the Atkins diet over the past two weeks, this week I decided to try out the baby food diet. This diet first raised its mushy head in 2010, when Jennifer Aniston was reportedly using it to get in shape for her romcom, Just Go With It. She was allegedly eating 14 baby food purees per day, with a proper meal of grilled fish and green vegetables in the evening. So if the diet is good enough for our favourite Friend, I had nothing to lose by giving it a whirl.

I'm pretty sure you're meant to puree the baby food yourself, but as there was no way I was doing that, I went out and bought a range of pre-prepared jars. They all averaged 100 calories per jar, so I reckoned that eating 14 of them plus an evening meal would bring you right up to a normal calorie intake for a woman.

I decided instead to eat six jars a day, and bought every brand from Heinz to Cow & Gate to own brand, just for variety.

Replacing adult-size meals with a few small jars of mushy veg or meat is a good wheeze really, because I found that I literally couldn't eat more than one every two hours. Most of them were pretty bland, and because they're easily digested, well let's just say they speed right through your system.

For the purpose of this diet, I decided to stick to those little 120g jars aimed at babies from four-months-old for the first half of the week. I started off with creamed porridge in the morning, had cauliflower and broccoli or cheesy fish pie for lunch, and then banana custard or fruit cocktail for dessert.

It was really weird having such pureed food and I missed having something to crunch on, but there is such a range of options out there when it comes to baby meals that I had plenty of choice.

By the second half of the week, I had moved on to the bigger 200g jars designed for older babies around seven months, and they were a bit more adventurous, and had names like Mum's Own Sweet and Sour Chicken or Very Mild Chicken Curry. I only had four of them per day as they were like mini-meals.

While they were perfectly palatable, I was heartily sick of baby gloop by the end of the six days. The good thing was that there was always a mini-meal coming up, and by embracing so many flavours and brands, I didn't know what was coming up next so I could kind of look forward to it. The little tastes, particularly the dessert ones, kept my palate interested and satisfied my sweet tooth, and as they were for babies, they were all very carefully prepared with no additives or gluten or any of that kind of thing.

And at the end of the week, I had lost three pounds, which brings the total to 17 lbs.

I dunno, it looks like I might be getting a bit fitter and leaner after all, despite all my protestations. I certainly won't be doing any triathlons or ironmen in the near future, but maybe I might look less like an apple on legs as I trundle over the Spanish mountains. therisefoundation.ie.

Health & Living

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Andrea Smith is embarking on a healthy eating and walking programme.