Mark Wright reveals his secrets to get fit – and you don't need to sacrifice takeaways or your social life

ONE thing that I hear a LOT from people who don’t know me is this: ‘I bet he spends his life in the gym, never goes out and lives on salads.’ 

I have to laugh because the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.

I generally work out about four or five times a week, but it’s usually from home and for just 30 minutes each time. (I’ve recently returned to playing professional football, so my training levels have increased.) 

I love cooking and eating healthy food, but I can’t remember the last time I had a salad and most of all, I NEVER sacrifice my social life.

I love ordering a takeaway with Michelle on Saturday night

I love ordering a takeaway with Michelle (my wife) on a Saturday night and watching Netflix, or having a pizza and beers with my mates while watching footy at the weekend.

That’s what life is all about and any diet or fitness plan that tells you to give these things up is only setting you up to fail. 

Obviously I don’t eat like this every day, but I make sure I practice balance, and that is what my new book, Get Fit, Get Healthy, Get Happy is going to teach you. 

I’ve been on a hell of a journey but one that – I believe – can help you to make small changes that will lead to you achieving huge benefits to your life.

Of course, I’ve made all the classic mistakes along the way.

Depriving yourself of the things you love doesn’t work (believe me, I’ve tried); thinking you can eat and drink what you want and not see it impact your figure doesn’t work (believe me, I’ve experienced it); believing that spending money on expensive gym memberships and diet products will give you results will only leave you disappointed (believe me, I’ve learnt this too).

But I’ve always made it my mission in life to learn from my mistakes, and that’s what’s led me to developing the Train Wright way of life and why I know it’s the best way to achieve long-term goals.

I’ve made the mistakes so you no longer have to. 

I cannot wait for you to join me because I know how amazing you are going to feel as soon as you get started. Let’s do this.

I’m a visual learner, so I wanted to simplify my philosophy into a nice, easy, graphic.

Not one of these things is any more important than the other because, as the graphic shows, the minute you let one of these go, the circuit is broken.

Of course, no one is perfect and you can’t do all of these things in a perfect balance every single day, but over the course of six weeks, you need to make sure you prioritise each of these things and not place all your efforts in just one or two.

EAT WRIGHT

I have always had a big appetite.

To me, food is just pure enjoyment, which is why my friends say I’m a ‘fat boy waiting to break out.’

Dieting doesn't mean missing out on the food you love

The reason I tell you this is because I want to make something clear really early on: NEVER GO HUNGRY.

‘Diet plan’ doesn’t mean starving yourself or missing out on the food you love.

I want you to see your diet as an exciting part of this journey in which you will reap the benefits of balancing the healthy with the less-healthy.

My wife Michelle introduced me to so many different ways to eat healthily – swapping regular pasta for gluten-free and incorporating more fish into my diet.

She’s an amazing cook and it opened my eyes to the ways you can bring more flavour and texture into food.

I’ve blended her cooking skills with my favourite cuisines, to bring you recipes that are dinner-party worthy, without hours of effort. 

What I’ve learnt about food:

– Healthy eating doesn’t mean going hungry

– Healthy eating doesn’t mean boring food

– Healthy eating doesn’t mean expensive ingredients

– Healthy eating doesn’t mean spending hours in the kitchen

BREAKFAST

Speedy Homemade Bircher Muesli

Serves 2, Prep: 15 minutes

Soak: at least 1 hour, or overnight 4 tbsp unsweetened apple juice 250g (9oz/generous 1 cup) natural or vanilla low-fat yoghurt, plus 2 tbsp for topping 100g (3½oz/1 cup) jumbo porridge oats 2 red apples, cored and chopped or thinly sliced 2 tbsp chopped almonds or hazelnuts 1 tbsp dried cranberries

You can make your own muesli in a few minutes, and it’s cheaper and healthier than buying it.

Porridge oats are the perfect breakfast because they’re low-GI (glycaemic index) carbs.

Your body breaks them down slowly, so your blood sugar levels rise gradually, helping you to feel full for longer.

1. Beat the apple juice and yoghurt together in a bowl, and stir in the oats. Set aside in a cool place for at least 1 hour, or even overnight in the fridge, until the oats absorb the yoghurt and soften.

2. Divide between 2 shallow serving bowls and top with the rest of the yoghurt. Put the apples on top and sprinkle with the nuts and cranberries. Serve immediately.

Tip: You can soak the oats in a screw-top jar in the fridge overnight and then add the toppings the following day and take your breakfast to work with you.

Or try this… • Top with chopped pears, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or whatever fruit is in season. • Sprinkle with coconut flakes or chia seeds. • Add a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter.

LUNCH

Smoked salmon tortilla wedges

This smoked salmon tortilla is a variation on a traditional Spanish omelette.

It’s really versatile and you can eat the wedges warm or cold for breakfast, lunch or supper.

They are perfect for packed lunches and picnics. And another bonus: you can enjoy a wedge (160 kcals each) as one of your daily snacks.

1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a low to medium heat. Add the potatoes, spring onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown and the onions are tender.

2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl until foamy then stir in the dill, smoked salmon and peas. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the egg mixture into the hot pan and turn down the heat as low as it can go. Cook very gently for about 10 minutes, or until the tortilla is set and golden brown underneath and the top is starting to set, too.

4. Meanwhile, preheat an overhead grill until it’s really hot. Pop the pan underneath the grill for a few minutes, watching it carefully, until the top of the tortilla is set and golden brown.

5. Slide the tortilla out of the pan onto a plate or board and set aside for 5 minutes or so, until it’s lukewarm or completely cold, depending on when you want to eat it. Cut into 6 wedges. If you’re not eating them immediately, store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Or try this… • Use cold poached salmon or flaked hot smoked salmon. • If you don’t have dill, try parsley, chives or even coriander. • Cook some diced carrot and celery with the potatoes, or add some frozen peas.

DINNER

Piri piri chicken with fruity coleslaw

Serves 2, Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 25–35 minutes

2 medium sweet potatoes (approx. 200g/7oz each) spray olive oil 2 tsp paprika 1 tsp garlic powder ½ tsp cayenne a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme 1 tbsp sriracha (or hot sauce) grated zest and juice of ½ lemon 2 garlic cloves, crushed 2 x 125g (4 ½oz) skinned and boned chicken breasts salt and black pepper

Fruity coleslaw: 100g (3½oz) white cabbage, thinly shredded 2 carrots, grated ½ red onion, grated 1 red apple, cored and diced 2 tbsp chopped walnuts 2 tsp mixed seeds a handful of flat-leaf parsley 2 tbsp light mayonnaise 2 tbsp 0% fat Greek yoghurt juice of ½ small lemon

This delicious dinner for two is nearly as quick as ordering a take-away.

I love cooking from scratch at home. It’s much healthier, lower in calories and there are no surprises – I know exactly what’s in it.

If you’re in a hurry, you could cheat and use supermarket coleslaw but it won’t be half as good.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6).

2. Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges. Spray lightly with oil and sprinkle with the paprika, garlic powder, cayenne and black pepper. Place in a roasting tin and sprinkle the herbs and some sea salt over the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 25–30 minutes, or until tender and golden brown.

3. Meanwhile, make the coleslaw: mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. In another bowl, mix the sriracha, lemon zest, juice and garlic. Add the chicken breasts and coat them all over in the mixture.

5. Lightly spray a griddle pan or non-stick frying pan with oil and cook the chicken breasts over a medium heat for 15 minutes, turning them over halfway through, or until golden brown and cooked right through.

6. Serve immediately with the coleslaw and spicy sweet potato wedges.

Tip: Make the coleslaw the day before and keep it in a sealed container in the fridge.

Or try this… • Use red cabbage or some kale instead of white. • Use spring onions in the coleslaw. • Add some thinly sliced fennel or celery to the slaw

MY MOTIVATION TIPS

• Always have healthy snacks on hand: When a pang of hunger hits us, it is so easy to give in to temptation and reach for an unhealthy option if there isn’t an obvious healthy alternative.

I always make sure I’ve got healthy snacks in the house or in my rucksack when I’m out and about. Nuts, fruit, boiled eggs, chopped veg and dips are some of my favourites. 

• ‘One, two, three, go’ This is something I do regularly. I know I need to exercise but I’m lying on the sofa and I just can’t be bothered to get up.

I literally take a deep breath and say to myself, in three seconds I’m going to get up and go work out. I say ‘one, two, three’ and get my ass up and go and do it.

 • Lay out your kit: For those who procrastinate in the morning, this one’s for you.

I always have my gym kit out and ready the night before. It’s so easy to get up and just potter around making excuses not to get moving.

If you kit is there ready, it’s one less excuse.

Put your exercise clothes on first thing in the morning, even if you don’t plan to work out straight away.

This way, if you have a small gap in your day (baby is asleep, a work meeting is cancelled) you are dressed and ready to go.

• Plan ahead: My weeks are often very different, so on a Sunday I look at my schedule and plan my exercise and meals so I know when I need to set aside time. 

• Buddy up: If I’m struggling, I’ll draft in help from friends. Whether that’s inviting them over to mine for a workout, or even just telling my wife the night before that I’m going to get up and go for a run the next day. Involving other people makes you accountable and drives you to see things through. 

• Line up banging playlists: Sometimes just knowing I’ve got a cracking playlist lined up, or a podcast I really want to listen to, will help get me excited about exercise. Spend some time finding yours. 

• Little boosts: Another simple but effective tool is treating yourself. A new gym tee, a takeaway frothy coffee post workout, or even telling yourself you’ll buy that new pair of headphones once you’ve done 10 workouts. These little rewards can end up being a big boost.

Get Fit, Get Healthy, Get Happy: The ultimate guide to being in the best shape of your life by Mark Wright (Harper Thorsons, £16.99) is out on May 27.

 

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