Category Archives: Coaching

Alcohol Unit & Calorie Calculator

Wondered how many units and calories are in your drinks? Drinkaware has an easy unit and calorie calculator to input what you drank and it will work out the number of alcohol units and calories you consumed.

Here is a link to the Unit and Calorie Calculator you may be shocked at the results!

The Mail Online also did an article on this MailOnline Article which is well worth reading and could be a wake up call.


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How Easy is it to Notch Up too Many Alcohol Units?

Group of Three Friends in a Bar Having DrinksIf we logged our drinking each week and added up the number of units consumed would we be within the recommended amount?





The NHS recommends:

  • Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day but no more than 21 units a week.
  • Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day and no more than 14 units a week.
  • Men and women should have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
  • If you’ve had a heavy drinking session, avoid alcohol for 48 hours.

“Regularly” means drinking this amount every day or most days of the week.

Read more at NHS Choices – Alcohol Units

According to Drinkaware, the simplest way to understand the government’s lower risk guidelines is to see what they equate to in common types of drinks. Knowing this makes it easier to stay within the guidelines.

This means, each day we should not drink more than:

  • One large (250ml) glass of wine (13% ABV) for men or medium (175ml) glass of wine for women, or
  •  A pint and a half of lager or ale (4% ABV) for men or pint of lager or ale for women, or
  • A pint and a half of cider (4.5% ABV) for men or pint of cider for women, or
  • 4 single (25ml) spirits (40% ABV) for men or 3 single (25ml) spirits for women

As a guide these are the units of some popular drinks:

  • Small 125ml glass of wine (ABV 12%) – 1.5 units
  • Medium 175ml glass of wine (ABV 12%) – 2.1 units
  • Large 250ml glass of wine (ABC 12%) – 3 units
  • Pint of lower strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 3.6%) – 2 units
  • Pint of higher strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 5.2%) – 3 units
  • 330 ml bottle of lager Bottle of lager/beer/cider (ABV 5%) – 1.7 units
  • 440ml can of lager/beer/cider (ABV 4.5%) – 2 units
  • 275ml alcopop (ABV 5.5%) – 1.5 units
  • Single small (25ml) shot of spirits (ABV 40%) – 1 unit (standard single measure in England and Wales)
  • Single large (35ml) shot of spirits (ABV 40%) – 4.4 units (standard single measure in Scotland)

How easy is it to notch up more than the recommended daily and weekly units?

Well I for one can’t have one glass of wine and then put the bottle away for another day. Some people can but the majority I suspect have a ‘stop’ button that kicks in a few drinks further into the drinking session.

PubScene_07.03.14A couple of large glasses of vino after work or at home in the evening is 6 units a day and 42 in a week more than double the recommended guidelines. Increase this to 3 large glasses (or a bottle) of wine we are up to 9 units a day or 63 units in a week which is around 3 times the recommended guidelines.

Those of us that prefer 3 or 4 pints of 4% ABV beer, lager or cider each day after work or at weekends can be looking at 7.5 to 10 units a day or 52.5 to 70 units a week. This is two to three times the recommended guidelines.

If we drink 6 to 9 units a day Monday to Thursday and boost it a little at weekends with more wine, beer and a few shots thrown in we could soon be knocking on the door of 100 units a week!

Add to the total the extra drinking at weddings, parties and other celebrations and our consumption may be frighteningly dangerous.

If pubs, restaurants and hotels had a decent range of alcohol free beers and wine rather than the token Becks Blue alcohol free lager it may help us cut down on alcohol. I for one have decided to go AF (Alcohol Free) and party sober.







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How to Party Sober

I have just read How to Party Sober: A Step by Step Guide to Socialising Without Alcohol
Author: Rachel Black

My rating: 5 Stars (Amazon combined rating 4 plus Stars)

Socialising without alcohol is feared by many who wish to remain sober. Will they ever have fun again? This step by step guide shows you simple techniques to use in all social occasions to avoid the temptation to drink while enjoying yourself too. Without alcohol your social life will never be the same again; it will be so much better!


Rachel Black lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. At the age of 40, she suffered the opposite of a mid-life crisis and decided to do things properly for once and for all. Blogging and writing all the way, Rachel tackled the wine first. An increasingly ‘normal’ habit of drinking wine most nights had taken a firm grip. Her first book ‘Sober is the New Black’ details this acknowledgment, the desire to control her drinking, and finally, acceptance that she cannot moderate her intake of wine and she embarks on a journey of self discovery as she stops drinking for good.One year later her diet demons take centre stage. Having previously been held in check to allow copious amounts of calorific wine, they now rampage free. Cakes, biscuits, chocolate and desserts have gone from occasional treats to daily indulgences and now the scales hover at dangerous heights. The time to change came one day when Rachel was afraid to wash her jeans, knowing they would return to their original size and no longer fit. ‘Sweet and Sober’ is her second non-fiction book and details of decades of disordered dieting and chaotic eating. This heart wrenching account examines her past, from anorexia to binge eating, and tries to understand why we can control many many desires, except that to eat.

Rachel still eats cake and continues to try to moderate it. She is pleased cake does not make her drunk or hungover and her favourite is Carrot Cake, because it’s healthy, right?

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Timeline of Tea

Although the great British cup of tea was not introduced in Britain until 1669, it’s history dates back to 2,737 BC, over 4,750 years ago!

I will be doing an ongoing series of blog’s on tea, the different kinds, health benefits, history, tea regions, how to brew and so. This first blog shows the timeline of tea from it’s discovery until the beginning of the 20th Century and will be edited and added to as a result of ongoing research.

2737 BC
Tea was accidentally discovered by Emperor Shennong in ancient China

Late 6th Century AD
Tea is introduced to Japan

780 AD
Tea is taxed and the first Book of Tea is written by Lu Yo of China

1368-1644 AD
Green, black and Oolong teas first appeared in the Ming Dynasty

Early 1600’s
Tea first arrives in the West

Mid 1600’s
Tea arrives in the New World
(New Amsterdam, a Dutch settlement at the southern tip of Manhattan Island that became New York city)

East India Company brings first tea shipment to England

The Boston Tea Party took place
(This was a political protest against the Tea Act of May 10, 1773 in which demonstrators destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company)

First planting of Taiwan Tea

The birth of Indian Tea
(The Assam tea plant was found growing wild on the side of the Brahamaputra in North East India)

The Tea Committee was formed by Lord William Bentinck
(This was a new charter focusing on the administration of tea production in India)

The first consignment of twelve boxes of Assam Tea were exported to England

The first consignment of eight chests of Assam Tea was auctioned in Calcutta

Tea cultivation was expanded to south-west India in the state of Kerala and the district of ilgiris in the state of Tamil Nadu

Formosa Oolong tea is first exported

The Indian Tea Association (ITA) is launched to promote the interests of the Indian tea industry

Imports of Indian tea into Britain exceeded that of China and continues to the present day

United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI) was formed
(UPASI is an apex body of planters of tea, coffee, rubber, pepper and Cardamon in the Southern States of India, namely Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka)

The US Tea Act is passed to ensure quality standards of all tea imported into the States

The Tea bag was invented in the United States

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Good Pasta Bad Pasta

With the 2015 London Marathon taking place on Sunday, the runners will now be ‘carbing up’ on pasta prior to and on the morning of the big day. Indeed, the London Marathon organisers hold pasta parties on the weekend of the race.

Does that mean that pasta must be so good for us and a great provider of energy?

The answer is yes and no.

White Refined Pasta

The pasta that is generally sold and eaten is made from white refined durum wheat semolina, which is mixed with water, made into shapes, and then dried. Sometimes pasta may contain optional ingredients such as eggs or vegetables.

Unfortunately any white refined carbohydrate such as pasta, rice, bread and sugar contain a lot of empty and unsatisfying calories.

This means that eating refined white pasta does not give your body the nutrients it needs. Additionally, white refined pasta does not satisfy you for long and actually leads to more carbohydrate cravings and overeating.

Refined pasta and indeed any refined carbohydrates are likely to lead to weight gain and therefore more likely to be overweight or obese, which puts you at risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer and digestive issues.

Whole Wheat Pasta

The main difference  between white and whole wheat pasta lies in the processing. Whole wheat contains 3 parts of the grain:

  • The bran (the outer layer of the grain)
  • The germ (the sprouting section of the seed)
  • The endosperm (the large starch centre)

During the refining process of white pasta, the first two parts, the bran and the germ, is forced out of the grain, leaving just the third part, the endosperm behind.

Although the endosperm has a lot of nutrients, a lot are lost after the refining process due to not retaining the bran and germ.

Whole wheat pasta on the other hand, provides the most nutritional benefits including the bran and germ’s vitamin E, the major B vitamins, antioxidants, appetite represent fibre, protein and healthy fats. As it is an appetite represent you are less likely to put on weight by overeating and your energy levels will be boosted for longer.

A number of studies have shown that eating 3 x 118 ml portions of whole wheat pasta a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer and digestive issues.

Eating Whole Wheat Pasta

I find whole wheat much more flavoursome with its strong, nuttier and grainy consistency. I switched my step-children from white refined pasta to whole wheat pasta without telling them and they have not noticed a change, they simply like it!

Whole wheat pasta is readily available in all forms from major supermarkets as well as health shops. Look out for 100% Durum Wholewheat Semolina on the label ingredients.

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I must get fit!

Up to six years ago I completed marathons in under three and a half hours and regularly ran 20 to 40 mile off road races over the hills.

At that time I was physically fit as you can see here:

Me in 2008

Me on stage at age 50 in early 2009 – 11 stone and low body fat

Things changed in the Spring of 2009 when, as a result of a rugby injury, I had a total knee joint replacement that meant that I could no longer run to keep fit (so that the artificial knee joint wouldn’t wear out too soon).

With less exercising, eating the same and having a drink or two when I would normally be training, I’ve gone from 11 stone and low body fat to 13 stone 10 pounds. Basically, I put on nearly three stone of fat in six years. Imagine that extra weight being a pile of sugar and having to lug it about.

Bags_of_ Sugar_Piled_Up

 Every kilo of extra weight is a bag of sugar being carried around!

I don’t believe in the blame game. It is easy to blame my knee replacement, but that did not cause me to eat and drink more than I needed. Neither did it stop me from going swimming, riding a bike or going to the gym.

No, if there is going to be blame, there is only one thing responsible for the weight gain and lack of fitness – ME!

Today, the 20th April, 2015, I am starting to put things right with eating and drinking sensibly and commencing an exercise programme to get fit without damaging my artificial knee joint.

You may wonder why I am publicising this? The answer is that by going public I will have to achieve my goal as I will not put myself in a position where people say that I am a loser without will power and strength of character.

I will post updates on my ‘back to fitness journey’ each weekend below. I hope it encourages others to look after their health.

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