Keeping Up With Jonesy: Staying On Track

Tue 1 Apr 2014

Dan Jones, the mastermind behind your favourite cycling videos including Backstage Pass, the #OGERocks music videos and My Piece of the World, has embarked upon a personal challenge to get healthy. These weekly posts are Dan’s attempt to share his journey with you. Five weeks in and Dan takes us through what he has learned so far and how he is managing to keep his lifestyle on track whilst on the road for the spring classics in Belgium.

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The ORICA-GreenEDGE train has moved into Belgium for the classics. To be honest I find Belgium a fair bit easier on the food stress levels than Italy. Even though they are passionate about their potatoes (especially double deep fried chips) here, they also eat a lot of meat with salads which is straight from the Andy Gerrans text book for a trimmer gut line.

Each year the OGE team stay at the Hotel Lepelbed for the classics, which is about 5km from the centre of Ghent.  The place is run by a guy by the name of Norbit, who looks a bit like a short Sean Connery. Norbit’s signature dish is his omelettes. Usually he just makes them for the riders in the morning but I have spent years greasing up to him and we shared a room once before Paris Roubaix in 2012, so I can usually squeeze a ham and cheese omelette out of him. I also think he felt bad about his snoring.

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The program is still on track. The clothes are starting to get looser, and the belt line is shrinking by the day.  I thought to mix things up a bit this week I would quickly list the top three things I have learned on the lifestyle plan so far that have really worked for me.

1.  Stay consistent - Sometimes it hasn’t always been possible to stick to the overall lifestyle plan 100%.  The first time I ate a bit of pasta in Italy a couple of weeks ago I instantly got the guilts.  I thought to myself: ‘Oh man. Andy is gonna kill me when he hears about this!’  But by sticking to the general rule of eating plenty of veggies and salads, meats, fish, nuts and seeds and laying off the heavy stuff (bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, processed sugars) then it’s ok every now and then to slip of the track a bit as long as it’s in moderation and things get back on course the next day.

2. Cut back or cut out alcohol - I have mentioned it before but doing Feb Fast and then limiting the alcohol since has been a big key in supercharging the program. Not only do I feel sharp, but the wallet also looks fatter. The only downside is peer pressure on a night out, and I haven’t generated as many funny stories to share with the team in the couple of months.

3. Change the mindset - I have obviously had a lot of time on my own during my walks, and that’s when my mind is at its clearest. I’ve realized during these walks that my focus has started to shift from ‘this is about losing weight’ to ‘this is about gaining a better quality of life’. Eating healthier and being more active each day I now feel that it will be harder to break these new habits than to go back to my old ways.

Oh and as a bonus here’s a link to a great recipe for my favourite little treat at home.  I made them for the lads at home Catalunya and again here in Belgium  - and they didn’t last long!  I just got rid of the black beans and subbed in a pack of dates, enjoy!

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 This week with Dan on the road again I thought I’d go over some of the tips I’ve given him to keep on the straightened arrow when he’s away from home. As Dan mentioned already, the key is moderation. In my opinion the biggest achievement we’ve had with Dan in the last month is that he now realises this. Understanding that the odd indulgence or poor food choice does not mean the whole lifestyle has come crashing down. If you slip, recognize where you have gone wrong, pick up the pieces and keep going.

I have to say though, in the first few weeks of Dan’s program, I was pretty strict with him. To make the transition from a high sugar, high carbohydrate diet towards a low carb, high fat diet, you have to be prepared to make a few sacrifices and stay disciplined, particularly in the first few weeks. Dan’s lifestyle was a fair way off balance, to say the least, for nearly ten years, so I wanted to make sure he really understood how to make the right food choices and was 100% committed to this change before we allowed some of the ‘finer’ things back into his diet.

Dan is still restricting his alcohol intake perhaps more than he would like at the moment, but as he is committed to losing more weight it is really important for him to minimise any unnecessary calories in the form of processed sugars and low nutrient density foods and beverages. Down the track when he simply wants to maintain his desired weight but still have a few stories for the boys then we’ll need to find a happy medium.

Another thing I’ve tried to help Dan with is how to cope at parties or social settings where there may not be a lot of healthy options.  Some people go on the theory that if they have a really heavy training session before they go or eat very little all day then they have earned their night off.  In my experience this tends to lead to excessive eating and drinking often well above any extra calories you’ve ‘earned’ during the day.

My advice to Dan is to try not to arrive hungry.  Having something light before you arrive makes it all the easier to avoid over indulging when you’re there, and you’re not forced to eat things you wouldn’t normally just because you’ve starved yourself and have to eat something.

The body has an uncanny way of making sure you don’t starve yourself, and will naturally compensate by either lowering your metabolism or otherwise ensuring you replace those calories in moments of weakness.  This is just one of the reasons why severe calorie restricting diets rarely work in the long term.

I will say though, if you’re someone who does not eat out regularly, then when you do go out it’s important you really enjoy it!  If you deprive yourself completely all the foods and drinks you love, then you have to ask yourself, how sustainable is this?  It’s all about moderation.

As promised last week, I’ve attached the links to a few of the recipes we’ve attempted at home over the past month:

Basil-avocado baked Salmon
Zucchini Spaghetti
Feta and prosciutto stuffed chicken breasts
Cauliflower rice
Sweet potato salad

We also poach a few ideas from ORICA-GreenEDGE Chef Nicki Strobel. You can follow what he is cooking the riders on twitter @Nicki_Strobel.

Until next week, thanks for the support via twitter @ozdanjones and @Andrew_Gerrans and particularly to those who have donated to our Everyday Hero’s page - Keeping up with Jonesy.


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