A cuppa with… Wouter de Haas

Occupation?
I run a marketing business.

What county do you live in?
Overijssel, the Netherlands.

What made you choose fitnat?
Well, I didn’t really choose it. I more or less gravitated to it. Sally has been a Facebook friend of mine for a few years (mutual love of dogs) and in late 2016 she called out for some SEO help (Search Engine Optimisation, it’s a form of internet marketing). I had already had a couple looks at the fitnat website, reading some of her brilliant blogs and liked everything I saw. A good and sound business with a sensible business model selling products/services that were 100% in line with my own uneducated ideas on healthy eating and living. So I decided to offer the requested SEO help and soon enough I was added to the fitnat team as marketer of service. Couple months later I figured it was about time I got back into my old running passion and when Sally got wind of that she immediately offered to write me running plans. To add a nutrition plan to this package was only the next logical step.

How long have you been with fitnaturally and had you tried other diets?
Thirteen months by now and no, no other diets. I was rather overweight a few years back but always believed that the answer lied in eating sensible food and less of it and exercise more. By the time I enrolled with fitnat, I had already shed the bulk of my excess weight, pretty much on those simple principles. But to get those last KGs off and to stay at a healthy weight, that’s where the real challenge lies, doesn’t it. So, I am actually very grateful fitnat came on my path the way it did. It’s the first “diet” I ever committed to, and the last I’m sure. But this is not really a diet. It’s more a way of life, if you like. Within the family I grew up in however, I have seen them all. All the stupid diets and even the dangerous ones. As I predicted at the time (certainly no expert but it’s common sense isn’t it), all utter failures.

What inspires you?
Many things actually. But I suppose alternating views is a big one. You can look at a problem for what it is and try to solve it accordingly. But if your solution doesn’t work, you’re going to have to approach it from a different angle, take an alternative view. Try something new. Experiment. Tinker with it. Give it a good shaking. It’s where shock effect, creativity and perhaps some disproportionate violence need to be applied that I tend to thrive. Throw high pressure and tight deadlines into the mix and I’ll be squealing with joy even. Yes, I’m a bit of a madman, not gonna deny it. 😀

What’s your desert island food?
Put a plate of Dutch cheese souffles in front of me and I will  eat them all. Google for “kaassouffle” and you’ll understand. Goodness gracious me I could kill for those greasy *%$*^*^s! And they’re the primary reason I ditched my deep-fryer many moons ago. Nothing good can come of that.

What are the joys and benefits of fitnat?
For me, it’s the running plans. I’m running distances and paces now I never ever dreamt possible for a plonker like me. And I’m doing all that without breaking myself. It’s magic! I’m anything but a foodie, so the food plan will always come second to me but fact is that as a single guy working round the clock, you easily get stuck in a rut and cook yourself the same old set of dishes week in, week out. Not gonna happen when you let fitnaturally sort out your nutrition.

So, variation is another benefit. I also see that as a huge health benefit btw. It’s crucial that we humans get a wide variety of healthies in. And yeah, not a foodie and primarily just interested in properly fuelling myself, but of course I do appreciate a good tasting meal. I’m not a robot. And golly are the meals on the plans tasting goooood! Even if I cook them, hahaha. It gets even better though. The amount of meals I had on my plan this past year that took me more than 20 minutes to prepare can be counted on the fingers of one hand. So, to summarise: I’m becoming a better runner than I ever imagined being, I’m doing that on the best, healthiest food in perfect balance, it all tastes perfectly wonderful and it all takes no effort worth mentioning on my part. I don’t even need to think about it. Just follow the plans, easy!

Last one I’ll mention is education. You don’t just get a nutrition plan and get told: eat this and lose the weight/body fat or eat this and consider yourself properly fuelled for whatever you intend to do. No. You also get explanations as to why certain foods are at a certain point on the plans and what exactly those foods do for your body. You learn which are good alternatives to meals in case you happen to be missing ingredients for a particular dish. You learn what the essence of each meal is and cook accordingly if you’re so inclined. A lot of fitnaturally clients hang out in the facebook group, the nutritionists are there all the time too and anyone can ask literally anything there. Whether it’s something nutrition-technical, something logistical, something sports- or exercise related or anything pertaining to motivation, it all gets answered. Very warm, open, friendly and educational place, that facebook group.

Result is that once fitnat clients reach their goals, whatever that might be (could be weight loss, a healthier body composition or to get ready for a major sports event) and cut loose from fitnaturally, more often than not, they’re all set up to stay healthy for the rest of their lives. Because they learned everything they need to know about the food they consume and how their bodies function on it. Those people have been “fitnatted” for life. You can recognise them by their extremely fit and healthy appearances. 😉 fitnaturally is effective, no-nonsense, fair, honest and just plain beautiful.

One piece of advice for anyone living with you?
Adore my dogs and you’ll be fine.

Most interesting thing you’ve learnt this week?
Since I can’t imagine anyone really wants to be bored out of their wits by a lengthy essay on the latest developments in Context Marketing I’m going to slightly alter the question to: “Most interesting thing you learned during your first fitnat year?”. Why, now that is an interesting question, how good of you to ask! 😛 Turns out the human body actually has two, yes 2, systems of burning stuff in order to keep you going. When we propel ourselves in a low-intensity kind of manner, we burn fat. I call this system “my inner Diesel” but by all means ignore me. But when we step it up a bit and go faster and thus do stuff on higher intensity, system #2 kicks in. Instead of fat, we now burn … difficult word I can never remember… say Kerosine. Anyway, we get that stuff out of carbohydrates. So, ever since I learned this and I look at a sarnie or a tater for instance, I think: “fuel for my inner jet fighter, ohmnomnom”. The really fascinating thing about all this, to me at least, is that both systems are triggered by your heart rate. So, if your heart rate starts to get fast-ish, people who are really in the know call this “Threshold” (to me it’s just a word that says: “this is where the fun starts”), boom! you’re breaking the sound barrier now, better have enough carbs on board otherwise you will crash and be forced to slow down and game over and back to dull fat burning with you, ner ner, etc. Ehrm. Yes. That. Ask a pro for a more comprehensible explanation. I just find this part of the human body utterly fascinating. Thank you for your time. Next question? COUGH!

What’s your food nemesis?
Celery. Take an end of reed, stick it in a bucket of bleach overnight and you have celery. Bleurgh.

Favourite fitnat meal?
Ooh! Tough one. Uhmm… flatbread pizza! With blue cheese and many healthies on it. Takes 10 mins max to prepare, it’s brill.

Favourite form of activity?
Running. Open water swimming in summer. Sailing.

What’s one of family’s speciality dishes?
My last name translates into “the Hare”. On my Dad’s side of the family they sure knew how to cook one of those gorgeous animals. #weirdirony And the homemade “bitterballs” and “kroketten” were quite a thing too. All very labour-intensive food, so I haven’t had the pleasure for many years. Am a 95% vegetarian nowadays anyway.

One big thing you’ve learnt from fitnat?
Two things but very closely related. The human body doesn’t really need all that much food. Even if you exercise a fair bit on a weekly basis. Second is using your hands for portion sizes/control. Extremely useful things to know. Life skills even.

Last thing you ate?
DUTCH CHEESE SOUFFLES! Nah. Kidding. It was fitnat’s athlete’s porridge. I’m not big on porridge (Daft Dutchie, I know) but golly do I run well on that stuff. Every time I’m in a race and I see competition struggle with side stitches or other food related issues, I inwardly grin and think: “thank you, fitnat!” 🙂

What one piece of health advice would you give people?
Stress, food intake, exercise. Tackle your issues in that order. Stress is the enemy, kill it before it kills you. Then look at your food and how much you’re eating. Then get yourself outside and do something, anything that tickles your fancy, but get out there and do it.

Tell us something about yourself that people will find riveting?
I’m also an amateur military history scholar! -yawnnnnnnn- Of course the most exciting bit about me is that I share my life and home with three enormous dogs. They’re Stockard, Pasha and Aubrey and we go for walks in nature twice a day. Here’s a picture of us scary but quite harmless lot:

Wouter de Haas

 

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