Boxing Blog

    How a Flourless Chocolate Cake became the 28-Days Later Challenge!

    Hi Everyone – and welcome to another week,

    School holidays are here – and a long weekend has welcomed us all to the last ‘break’ before the Christmas holidays arrive…yes, 2018 is – as unbelievable as it might seem – nearly done!  I have had a bit of time away from the gym over the weekend – thanks to Kiz, Alex and Elie for holding the fort on Sunday and Monday – which has been a bit of time for reflection…hopefully I can maintain a bit of ‘coherence’ as I tap away this afternoon.

    Before going any further with this, a big congrats to all of the supporters of West Coast and Collingwood (and the Storm and Roosters) who have made their way through to the AFL and NRL grand finals next weekend…it would be a  great time to be a fan of one of those clubs.  I am in the group of people just praying for a good game – but also pretty happy for a few of my ex- players – Dom Sheed, Elliot Yeo and Tommy Barrass – who will play in the game for West Coast.  If you think that makes me a WCE fan for the day, well, that isn’t going to happen…but those 3 are amazing people and deserve every success!

    My gym life has been split neatly in THREE (3) over the past couple of weeks.  There has been the ongoing work to keep R1 going, plan the sessions, make sure we are keeping up with all of the ‘maintenance’ and other such things (first the bike-ergs and now the Body Scanner have been causing more than a couple of headaches).  Then there has been the ongoing work to get the gym expansion moving along – in the next few weeks there will be a hole cut in the wall and all of our new equipment will begin arriving (speaking of which, do you know we have spent more than $15000 just on 20kg weight plates?  Not on plates…just on 20kg ones???  How is that even possible?)…and lastly, there has been the work to put together Summer Slam, write/test all of the new recipes (30 new recipes!) and put together the booklet.  Life has been a bit chaotic (to say the least) and much of my weekend reflection has been about exactly that…I have been thinking a LOT about our gym challenges and the methodology behind them – I will try and provide some background behind what drove the initial 28-days Later…

    Now I know I have told the story about the first ’28-days Later’ challenge a million times – but with ‘Summer Slam’ only a week away, it bears re-telling.  I was driving up the freeway to Subiaco trying to figure out how to best structure the ‘next’ gym challenge (it would have been mid January – the first ever 28-days later had no recipes and pulling it together was not quite the effort it has now become!)…my recent viewing of the 28-days Later ‘ZOMBIE Apocalypse’ movie played a large part in the theme of the challenge (the whole idea of changing ‘everything’ in 28-days – particularly given February had 28-days in it seemed very synergetic) but there was a bit more to it than the fact that the Zombies in that movie looked to be in pretty good shape!

    The family and I had been down in Margaret River for a few days in December the year before and – whilst down there – we had caught up with one of our old staff members – Jason.  Jason was with us from the time we opened and was a really important part of the gym before he moved to Margaret River to be with his then girlfriend/now wife Brooke.

    He was working at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory – I know, I know, from a gym to a chocolate based café! – so we headed down there for coffee and cake and chocolate.  Sounded like an awesome idea.  Our conversation was one I will never forget.

    Jason:  “How’s the cake?” (pointing at the flourless chocolate cake Vanessa had ordered).

    Vanessa:  “It’s so good.”

    Jason:  “That’s the last one of those cakes we will ever have here.”

    Vanessa:  “How come – it’s delicious.”

    Jason:  “Well.  Normal people don’t eat stuff like that.”

    Vanessa:  “What do you mean ‘normal people’?”

    Jason:  “I mean ‘non-gym’ people.  What I have learned since leaving the gym is that people don’t want healthy food – and they 100% don’t want a healthy cake.  What people want is a triple chocolate gateau and that cake you ordered is taking up space in the fridge that could be filled up by something that WILL SELL.  Since leaving the gym, I have learned that we are all crazy obsessed – not compared to other people in the gym, but compared to the rest of the world!”.

    I remember that.  I can also remember back – way back – when at the very end of our first ever ‘Life Plan’ challenge (this would have been in 2012) we all celebrated at the end of a month of ‘abstinence’ by eating hotdogs in the gym…not that I object to eating the occasional hot-dog but if I did it again in 2018 my end-of-challenge message would sure as hell not be “now that is done let’s get back our eating back to ‘normal’”.  It would be more along the lines of “cheat meals are OK – but let’s keep this plan going…it isn’t a 1-month thing, it IS a way of life”.

    When I reflect back on all of this stuff – and my own journey which has seen a slow and gradual shift to an eating regime that the ‘old me’ would have thought was completely unsustainable – I realise how hard it is in today’s world to try and live a life where eating simple meals consisting of foods that are fresh rather than ‘made’ is.  Events like ‘Summer Slam’ are a window into this – but for people who (like me) grew up eating toast for breakfast, having sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner – well, trying to move yourself across to a ‘fresh meat/fish + veggies’ meal plan…it’s really, really hard.  Not only do we all have to fight our own personal history – that’s hard enough.  To eat a diet similar to that demanded by the rules of the challenge brings you into conflict with what all of our friends and families believe is ‘normal’…and therefore makes them think you are weird…and subtlety pressure you into changing!  After all, it doesn’t comply with what they do…and they (of course) are doing the RIGHT THING!!!

    I really believe in the benefits of the ‘28-days Later’ and ‘Summer Slam’ challenges not only because they provide you with a pretty proven way to lose a few kilos in a month – but because they provide a strong pointer to a lifestyle change that, once you have gotten through the challenge process 2-3 times, pretty much becomes your new ‘normal’.  And once you find a way to stick on the new path – without all the added sugars and refined carbs – well, the weight management dramas that so many people in society today seem to struggle with…well, they aren’t YOUR dramas!

    If you are interested in making one last push to improve your fitness/body comp during 2018, well, Summer Slam starts next Monday…the sign-up link is here:

    Let me know if any of this sounds good (or not) with an email to

    See you in the gym,




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