A lamb to the colonial slaughter

So, I’ve posted the first 3 weeks.

I’ve demolished duck, croc, quail and counting….

We’ve delved into food, exercise, and lifestyle. You haven’t heard the half of it yet….

As soon as the first week ‘went live’ (sounds ridiculous really), I was nervous and anxious. Did I spell anything wrong? How much shit will my close mates give me? Sure enough, a private joke comes straight through as a comment. I rejected that one…

But before I knew it week one turned into week 2 and each week I would wander off up the road to do my weeks shopping and somehow gravitate straight to the butcher, where a chat has become a habit. Typically, I share news of my ‘blog’ and, of course, I buy some meat. Turns out having a little project or aim can be exciting and fun, something I’ve always known and try to promote as a trainer when I am encouraging my clients to prioritise a healthy lifestyle with purpose.

Over the years, as a Personal Trainer, I have seen a range of people come…… and go, from athletes to bankers to housewives. They’ve all come for different reasons, but I can almost guarantee that the majority of people that stick around and succeed have set goals. You may have come across the simple concept before (he writes sarcastically), and the reason you’re seeing it again now – is because it works. If you make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed then you have something that you can actually work towards. And when you punch that goal, you won’t know yourself.


If you want to achieve anything, for example, getting leaner or gaining muscle mass in order to get fitter & stronger and subsequently increase your athletic performance or if you want to simply improve your overall health, then setting goals that you can and are motivated to achieve is key.

For example: By the end of the calendar year 2011 I had a goal to dead lift 200kg for one rep.

I didn’t quite manage this. I made 175kg for 3 and 190kg for 1 (see Mike’s Training Vids for those of you who don’t know what a dead lift is, or just simply interested, but then broke a couple of key bones (as opposed to the very unimportant ones, of course) in my left hand which stopped me in my tracks, and soon saw me dead lifting with one arm. Looks pretty funky, sure, but exactly like the majority of female comedians, it’s just not right is it… ?

However, before I busted up said bones, I was working towards something, making massive gains all the time and achieving personal best lifts. My training had purpose. And with that came purpose in my lifestyle.

I eat well and I time the quantity and kind of nutrients I imbibe around my training sessions. I train hard and I train specifically for what I am wanting to achieve. I get enough quality sleep (refreshing and recharging) which is no doubt complimented by my diet, training and supplementation. All of these things, as well as my general mood and approach to life; e.g. optimistic, positive, motivated and calm, allow for a balanced lifestyle and it is the balance that makes achieving my goals that much easier and realistic.


It’s all about creating an equilibrium in your life – one your body and mind will thank you for now and in the years to come.

Speaking of personal bests, I also had the aim, by Xmas in 2011, to be able to hold a human flag for 5 seconds (unsure what that is? See the attached picture. NOTE: updated picture September 2012). Funnily enough this involves something that looks pretty hard, in practice is very hard, and well – it just plain does not happen with only one arm. But, this is a new year, so, if all of my time isn’t taken up with meat, who knows… ?

Just as I was progressing with the lifting, so too do people who set realistic goals, maintain some degree of focus and really apply themselves to work towards them. With the right advice and guidance, some actual application and some respect for your body and overall health, most day to day goals don’t have to be so far off and unachievable. The amount of people I see day in, day out slogging away in the gym, sometimes for years, without making any progress is staggering. Why do this to yourself? Exactly what is your aim with your day in, day out slogging on the treadmill? Why settle for stagnating? Why settle for no result?

Make a goal, take it seriously and make a change.


If you don’t know what you’re doing, ask someone who knows more than you. Admittedly that theory hasn’t exactly paid dividends for me at the horse track. But then perhaps perceiving someone with a folded race form and grey hair as one who ‘knows what they’re doing’ is a leaky theory… Who knows?

Clearly, I have at least one goal for this year. It’s going to be interesting and it is already great fun. (And there are quite a few people who know about this one already, so there is some real accountability there).

I also have a couple that I am slowly working towards. I aim to be able to dead lift 200kg for one repetition before Xmas this year, and squat 180kg on my back. Check my training vids above for some recent videos of my progress, 175kg dead lift and 155kg squat. In the scheme of things I’m just getting back into some proper strength training, but with these goals and current numbers I’m excited about making constant progress and hitting those year end marks.

Goal setting. You’d have to be hiding under a rock for a good part of your life to not have heard it mentioned, especially when the likes of Anthony Robbins all make constant reference to it. However, the fact remains that chasing a goal, (an exercise goal or otherwise) will have an empowering effect on your life. And you’ll be admired for the discipline and achievement. Besides, it’s all relative, e.g. improving your non alcohol days to 5/week or running a half marathon in less than 1hour 30minutes, the effect will be profound if you can commit to it. Sacrifices are necessary but they needn’t be intrusive.

Perhaps what matters the most is having honest conversations with yourself about what you want for yourself and weighing it up with the prospect of your reality if you do not pursue your goal.

You need to stop bullsh**ting yourself, set your benchmark and then raise it twice as high – now that’s a goal.

It’s that simple.

Don’t cringe, if you’re concerned I’m trying to ‘evangelise’ you by spraying you with some indulgent pyscho motivational vomit, I can assure you that’s not my gig. I’ll leave that to Kanye West who did just that when I saw him on Friday at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. It was a pretty wicked gig up until the final 30 minutes, when he lost himself in a self-absorbed, crazy style rant along the lines of “Set your goals as high as you can, aim for the sky, shoot for the stars”, over and over, ad nauseum… I don’t want to sound like such a ‘douchebag’.

So, that’s goals for you – in a nutshell.

In the words of Mike Campbell, (not Kanye West) just set some realistic, achievable goals and commit to them. Then work at it and enjoy reaching them, because if you do, you deserve it.

For the curious, let’s get to the meat I savoured this last week.

I don’t know where you were living if you missed the significance of last week in my corner of the world. It was, of course, Straya Day (Australia Day to those of us who speak English), and what with the BBQ dude (Sam Kekovich. Check it out) pushing lamb so hard, as seems to be the case each year, I thought why not get in the spirit and do some Lamb. Has to be covered at some stage. Plus I might be able to inform any Australians out there how well Kiwis do lamb. Change that: COOK lamb.

So I decided on a recipe of my dad’s, Tony Campbell. Someone who has been indelibly involved in the lamb industry in New Zealand for every year that I’ve been alive (and on Straya Day that made 30 full years).

This recipe uses a piece of the lamb that isn’t very commonly bought or butchered so it’s often only available upon request. But asking is easy enough aye. We’re talking about the Chump. The Butcher had got me two pieces of boneless chump roast. I have run into a slight bit of confusion as to what the technical term is for this cut, but if you have a chat to the butcher you should be able to figure it out (the uncooked photo below should help too).

The recipe is pretty easy really but makes for a beautiful piece of eating.

First slice the meat through the middle, making a pocket horizontally.

Then stuff the meat with fresh basil leaves and gruyere cheese.

Roll the meat in a mixture of rock salt, cracked black pepper, paprika, ground chilli powder, and turmeric.

Heat the oven to 180°C, then put a pan on the stove. Brown the meat on each side for about 1 minute, then remove and put the meat into the hot oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on how you like it.

Remove the meat and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Trust me now- this is seriously tasty!

With this meat dish I added cubed and roasted Kumara (sweet potato) doused in herbs and spices. This was coupled with some sautéed green beans and asparagus.

This is just a simple, healthy accompaniment with this meat.

Hands down, this was quite an exquisite dish. Admittedly, the chilli oil used for the greens packed an Atom Ant sized punch, but it never threatened to overshadow the lamb.

If you have any questions about the cut of meat feel free to ask me.

I recommend getting your hands on some and trying this recipe. You can have it good to go in 30 minutes! Why wouldn’t you??

Next week I’m going to be in New Zealand, so I will be making the most of what The Land Of The Long White Cloud has to offer on the meat front as well as reluctantly attending a close friends wedding I suppose….

Tune in around this time next week…

Bring your goal.


30 year old

PS I know these last few have been quite, ah, wordy… So I’ll try to shorten the length on the next few. Try.

A Quail of a time

So I’ll crack back into Part Two of last week’s rant then hey?

Exercise is a tricky concept for many people. Questions such as, “What do I do?” or “where do I start?” Or excuses like, “My back’s no good”, “But I’ve got dicky knees” are all very common problems that could have been avoided and rectified. The solution would be to use a trainer who knows what they’re talking about (this is the ideal situation), to get into regular resistance training to build lean muscle and get strong. This is crucial. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Keep it simple with these movements: squat, lunge, bend, push and pull. Do what you can, start with your own body weight  and aim to progress as you get stronger. It is important to note that High intensity training (such as stair running, sprint 1 minute/walk 1 minute. 20 minutes at a high intensity should be enough) needs to be included in order to have a positive effect on a healthy body composition.  However your body needs to be able to handle this, so getting strong in order to prevent injuries is a must.

I’ll get more specific with this as we chew our way through the weeks – and the meats.

The fitter, leaner and stronger you are, the healthier you are and the healthier you can become. Having low overall body fat is a major player in someone’s health. Having strong muscles, bones and connective tissue are crucial to being a healthy person, especially as we age. Proper resistance training plays a big and important part in this.

And so does food.

I recall reading of the experiences of a former US Surgeon General (whose name I cannot remember nor can I locate the source which does piss me off.) But, I wanted to share this. (Bad start on the referencing, I know, I know.) The Surgeon General said that when he started his career as a young surgeon after the First World War, to cut through ligaments and tendons he required a saw and substantial effort. However, after seeing highly processed and nutritionally poor food take over his country’s dietary intake, by the time he finished his career many decades later, he argued that to cut through most people’s connective tissue was like taking a hot knife to butter. That, to me, is pretty frightening and is indicative of the kind of rubbish food most people eat. No wonder so many people have ‘bad knees’ and ‘crook backs’, they’re made of rubbish. Or in other words, to quote a mentor of mine, “you can’t make chicken salad from chicken shit”.

Unnecessary stress on the other hand is also no good. That’s hardly ground breaking news, but so many people are stressed, a lot of the time. It has a massive negative effect on many things, including sleep. The hormonal response in the body from constant and long-term unnecessary stress is slowly making us unhealthy and fat.

My main piece of advice here would be: take control of your time and dictate when you leave the office and get to bed, make time to chill the f*ck out and enjoy your life and the things you’ve worked so hard for. Importantly, try and do things that scare or exhilarate you from time to time. You might start to drastically change the hormonal balance in your body for the better and actually start sleeping well, feeling better, have more energy and lose some weight.

Ahem, anyway…

I’ve had a bit of an interesting week, on the meat and blog front. The feedback has been good, and convincing enough to upload another cheesy photo… On Tuesday I had a call from Dave the Butcher at The Butcher And The Chef which is where I have been getting my meat thus far. (NB: They are situated inside Harris Farm in Potts Point, and they also have a store in Manly). This phone call led to 3 more in the space of 10 minutes whereupon I requested a great variety of meats. Some diligent work from Dave ensued as he then attempted to source these meats (and we’re talking the sublime to the ridiculous here: Camel, Emu, Possum, Wallaby, Snake…) from their supplier. This group of calls was ended with Dave saying “the owner has just told me to get a list from you, whatever it is, we’ll get it and store it for whenever you need it”. Ideal!

So, Thursday rolled around and I went to the butcher to see what they had come up with. I was hoping for an eclectic collection for me to choose from. I approached the counter in the usual way and then began with “Hi, ah, I’d spoken to Dave…”. Before I could continue the young guy cut me off and somewhat excitedly replied with “Mike?” Clearly they ‘know me’ now at The Butcher And The Chef. We then chatted about what had actually been ordered in, and in the process, my eye wandered to the wall where I saw a rather large note pinned up. In A4 sheet with black marker pen the note stated “Before any order is made- call Mike Campbell”. Maybe I need a batman torch. Another one anyway. Obviously they do know me. I fear I’m becoming the annoying guy that hangs out at the butcher (I don’t hang out at the butcher. In case you were wondering. I have window shopped on occasion, however). While I’m waiting on word I try, and subsequently buy, some handmade Sardinian Salami. Wow, that was some tasty stuff.

And it turns out they have Quails in. Nothing else was really happening with the list I gave Dave. I think the company that ‘will get anything’ (not the butcher, their supplier), was having trouble getting, well, anything… Who cares, I’ll cook some quails. Never had them before, only their eggs, in what was possibly the single most impressive unintentional animal take down I’ve been involved with.

I was in Budapest and found an all you can eat Hungarian buffet. I went a little loopy and ate myself to a standstill. Literally. I had to go home after it and lie down. Uncomfortable. However, upon finishing my meal (realising I just couldn’t stomach anymore), I did a tally of the ‘animals’ I’d just eaten and it totalled a ridiculous 8. This did irk me as if I’d thought about it I could’ve easily made double digits. I took down about 5 marinated duck breasts alone. (For the curious, I devoured lamb shank, venison, beef, duck, turkey, chicken, quail egg and pig. This also included ham, pork and bacon. It makes me sweat thinking about it again).

This time, however, it would be a few small birds. They were butterflied and marinated with a couple of spices, and at only $4.50 a pop, to ask the butcher to de-bone, at peak time as well, seemed a bit much. Even for Mike Campbell… Although he did tell me a story about his dad de-boning one through the cavity at culinary school in the 70’s without breaking the skin. That’s pretty cool. Even more so as I bet he had a moustache at the time.

So I followed his advice of firing up the pan and attacking them skin side down until a crispy skin had formed. He suggested I flip them and kept an eye on them until they look, ah, good enough to eat. Easy enough. And they were good enough to eat, luckily, as I was hungry. I drizzled the quail birds with a dressing of lime juice, apple caramelised balsamic, fresh garlic and olive oil (hmmm, sounds very similar to the crocodile marinade… don’t judge me) and they were ready to be eaten, albeit slowly…

This is how it went; they looked pretty good, but my nagging child’s voice (the one that prevented me from eating anything that required a lot of effort as a child) was letting me know that they looked way too annoyingly delicate and fidgety to eat.

Coincidentally that’s exactly what happened. They were tasty, but hard to deal with. I had to exercise, as best I could, restraint and take my time. Which, of course, is all part of the experience of eating a quail.

But I think, in the end, the fiddling outweighed the tastiness for me.  This would not make for good first date eating.

I started at the legs and did my delicate best, but for the first time in my life, or not the first time, (I can’t quite decide which joke works best here, too much quail perhaps), I couldn’t wait to get to the breasts. Boom, dad joke for everyone to enjoy!

Overall, it was an interesting experience this week with the purchasing, cooking and eating of some little quails. They certainly cook easily and quickly, so if you happen to have some around and you are hungry and possibly without any suitable meal options, then they’ll be ready to go in no time. Unless, you decide to de-bone through the cavity without breaking the skin. That sounds like it’ll take ages.

Next time I think I’ll go for just the breasts and perhaps make some little quail kebabs. Yum. The whole bird, however, for now, is sitting at Number 3, below the crocodile and the duck. Haven’t decided on their order yet, croc at Number 1 I think, for now. Can’t get that at a Hungarian all you can eat buffet though…

Keep the questions coming. Dig into the meat. And get amongst it with the resistance training this week. You know, if you want to be strong, lean and healthy…

More to come next week, what will it be? Off to the butcher right now actually…


Lords of the river

What’s the meat this week? Do you eat the meat all week? I can’t believe you put a photo up with your shirt off!

A lot. That’s how many times I heard those sentences this week.


Let me clarify: I won’t be eating the meat all week, just once a week. Unless there’s some very keen and generous sponsors out there…

That could get interesting, trying to have lobster all week could get expensive.

I do eat a lot of meat. Clearly.

But why do I?

Well I touched on this briefly last week. Health and taste. Health is a pretty broad subject, but it doesn’t have to be vague and confusing. It’s quite simple really:

  • Eat well.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get plenty of sleep and minimise as much unnecessary stress as possible.

I’ll attack this health and nutrition philosophy in two parts over this week and the following week, you know, to save you time for other important things like clocking the internet.

What food we eat directly affects what our body becomes. If you eat crap, no wonder you’re soft, struggle with any exercise you do and can’t seem to lose fat. If you eat well, you give yourself a decent chance of being healthy, and strong.

So what do we eat? Simple, just eat simply. Whole foods, non-processed, natural and as ‘organic’ (grown or fed naturally, without chemicals, hormones and antibiotics) as possible or affordable. Just like nature intended.


  • Eat meat, (clearly), eggs, raw nuts, vegetables (especially leafy greens), small amounts of fruit (berries and dark fruits mostly), limited amounts of low GI carbohydrates (mostly root vegetables: sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, radish, artichokes, yams, squash, pumpkin, small amounts of rice {brown/black}, cous cous), limited amounts of dairy products (yoghurt – natural and pot set, full fat, milk preferably only raw milk – unhomogenised and if possible unpasteurised, ie: from the cow without being messed around with by harsh processing. Want some more info? Check out: http://www.realmilk.com/)
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, coffee up to twice a day with full fat milk (and limited amounts), plenty of green/white tea regularly. Limit alcohol and eliminate sweet/sugary drinks and packaged foods.
  • Try to eat fresh fish at least once a week and take a high quality fish oil each day (essentially what we’re after here is Omega 3s).
  • Listen to your body and how it reacts to certain meals/foods.
  • Learn to plan your eating (don’t get caught unprepared) and know your amounts. If you’re unsure about something, ask those who do.

That’s pretty simple isn’t it? Stay away from processed foods, in particular sugars and processed carbohydrates. If you want to read some in-depth and ground breaking (to most people and in comparison with most government pushed shit) then set aside some (a lot of) time to read ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ by Gary Taubes. That will give you enough information to avoid that sugar in your coffee, forever! Otherwise make sure you get plenty of protein with every meal as well as veggies.

Hence where meat enters the realm of importance for me. Besides taste and enjoyment, I eat a tonne (not literally now) of meat each week in order to stay lean, maintain muscular size and generally give my body what it needs to do its thing.

So I put the shirtless photo up last week (and I copped some shit for it), but it proves a point doesn’t it? If I can stay pretty lean and have a reasonable amount of muscle bulk, then I must have some idea of what I’m talking about right?


Keep watching on that one I suppose. Trust me, I’m cringing as I write it. Phffft. Significantly, regardless of whether you have the genetics to eat crap and stay lean, as some of us do, eating sugary foods just isn’t good for you.

Right, that was a slight rant. I’ll endeavour to limit those, but it’s nice to start on a roll and and set the scene.

More health advice to come next week, Part 2 you might say.

Anyway, do you know what I did this week?

I cooked some meat (among other things, of course. Some sleeping, training, and running sometimes. Talking too, I did some of that).

On Thursday night I cooked two fillets of Crocodile tail. What about that, hey? Looks like we are the top of the food chain after all.

I had a little panic when I realised I’d missed an order at the butcher for something I had my mind on, but I went down there and bought 600g of tail fillet. At nearly $60/kg my initial thought was, this is going to be hard to justify on a regular basis. However, after demolishing the finished croc I can easily see me throwing some pocket money on the occasional bit of croc tail from time to time.

I began the prep by searching the internet for recipes and tips. I’ve cooked crocodile once before, on the fateful night that this idea came about. It tasted like shit (not actual shit). It was fresh from the butcher and a small piece of tail fillet, literally the pointy end from what must have been a small animal. I searched then for advice on how to cook the croc and most cooks said to limit any ingredients, perhaps a simple marinade using citrus. The general theme was to treat the crocodile like fish and pan fry gently. I’ve never really cooked fish much so that caused a few nerves.

I tried, but to be honest my elements are pretty rubbish and a consistent heat was hard to manage. Basically, it bombed. What I was left with was a reasonably tough piece of meat that tasted like a combination of pork and chicken, which confused me. How do they get together and make crocodile? Maybe it ate them both and somehow produced this hybrid croc-chook-pig thing. Hmm…


Not this time. As soon as I opened the pack and saw the meat I knew it was going to be a different ball game. Nice big fillets with the shape of a piece of beef rump, kind of.  This time I found some contradictions in the advice. Some argued “it’s a flavoursome meat so use few ingredients”. However, most recipes (and there are not that many really) had loads of ingredients, which reeked of effort and didn’t sit well with my stubbornness. So I decided to marinate the crocodile in some chilli infused olive oil, fresh lime juice, fresh garlic, rock salt and pepper. I also had the use of gas this time- big help. I let the meat soak up the flavour of the marinade for a couple of hours then fired up the gas, got the pan hot and cranked up Crocodile Rock by Elton John. There was an alternative- Crocodile Song by Janice Ian. It failed to inspire so was binned for something much more flamboyant and, at the very least, recognisable.

About 3 minutes each side and I had some good looking meat ready to go. A little garnish for the photo and it got buried deep within my stomach, in no time. This was some very tasty meat! It seemed slightly tough on cutting (may’ve been the knife, can’t remember actually) but not on eating. It was medium rare in red meat terms and the texture of swordfish.

It just tasted good, really good.

My recommendation to everyone is to recognise your position in the food chain (perched mightily on the top. Not sitting on the ground with fallen fruit looking all anaemic.) Eat some damn crocodile, before one eats you. Keep the cooking simple, a light marinade like I used, and enjoy eating the tail of something.


I’ve touched on food here, but I will come back to elements of this in future weeks (he says anxiously as he realises he has 50 more of these to do…)

I’d like to discuss my take on vitamins and supplements. Otherwise, next week I’ll look to cover exercise, sleep and unnecessary stress and how these impact on our health.

Oh, and some more meat of course! Yum…

Any questions about food or nutrition? Feel free to ask.