SWINDON TOWN: Ward committed to his "Stone Age" lifestyle

Darren Ward is a big believer in the Paleo diet

Darren Ward is a big believer in the Paleo diet

First published in Sport The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy sports editor, awarren@swindonadvertiser.co.uk, @AndyWarren_

THE level of commitment and sacrifice it takes to be a professional footballer is something the majority of fans are well aware of, but Swindon Town defender Darren Ward takes dedication to a whole new level as he strives to extend his already impressive career.

Following a nasty shin injury while a teenager at Watford, the dominating defender has endeavoured to look into ways he could better himself - which has seen every area of his life transformed in one way or another over the last 15 seasons.

For the last two years the 34-year-old loanee has been living a Paleoithic lifestyle, also known as the caveman or Stone Age diet, which is based around foods traditionally hunted or gathered by our forefathers.

With treats like ‘poisonous’ chocolate at an absolute minimum and alcohol a no-go, the defender leads a structured existence as he consumes a diet of yams, sweet potatoes, vegetables and lean meat and fish, all eaten in the correct order to improve both his physical and mental well-being.

Before games and at half-time he consumes beetroot juice to improve his stamina, undertakes personal stretching routines before first-team training, and also administers trigger point self-massage to make sure his muscles are also at their peak for both training and matches.

Far from being preachy, pushy or domineering, Ward believes the way he lives his life could have benefits for everyone, and credits it with extending his career well into his 30s.

“It is important because it is all a part of everyone’e life, but so many people don’t realise it,” he said.

“It is all about lifestyle, and it is not a diet. You don’t diet your body, you look after it and have a lifestyle for it.

“I live a Paleo lifestyle, so I eat a lot of yams, sweet potatoes and vegetables and things like that, and I also come off wheat and dairy products and things like that.

“I do have them occasionally, and I do that to make my body realise that these things could come into my diet, because if I am completely off them and then I start eating them again I could get ill.

“I am very passionate about it because I know how important it is, and in the future I have plenty of aspirations to achieve and targets to reach, and I would love to help people improve their diets and live a healthier lifestyle.

“It is my life, it is no dress rehearsal, it is the real thing. I don’t want to live like ‘oh it’s going to be okay’ through to 40 or 50, and if I can carry on playing right into my late 30s then I would class that as having done very well.

“I am 34 now, and I could not have all that much time left, and I am certainly in the back-end of my career in the bigger picture, and it is not just about that. It is about my life too. I want to be playing with my children and going to the park and things like that, and I don’t want to be on crutches or in a wheelchair and unable to do it because of football or because I haven’t looked after my body.

“If you don’t change things in your life and do things for the right reasons then you could be in trouble.”

With life after football already at the forefront of his mind, Ward believes more professionals need to pay closer attention to what they are putting into their bodies during their careers to avoid issues in later life.

“Ex-footballers have issues all the time, weight-wise and health-wise, and everyone is genetically different although metabolism-wise we are all very similar,” he said.

“It is quite often something that is overlooked, and there are a lot of players who work very hard in their careers and in some cases earn big money, but they still don’t eat well, even though it is your body that enables us to do what we do.

“One thing I can’t understand is why you would neglect your body, but it is something which stems from very early on when you are at school, where you learn to cook and eat good food.

“Advertising doesn’t help either, because the bad foods are advertised here, there and everywhere, and it is cheap and easy and also very convenient with the manic lifestyles a lot of people lead now.”

Comments (7)

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9:33am Thu 6 Dec 12

Dover Red says...

After a poor start he has looked like an excellent player, and he certainly does look after himself !even Grim likes him now, which shows how much he has improved !!If you want to see a player who has let himself go look at the large lad who plats for Northampton, Akinfenwa, though he still seems to find the net !
After a poor start he has looked like an excellent player, and he certainly does look after himself !even Grim likes him now, which shows how much he has improved !!If you want to see a player who has let himself go look at the large lad who plats for Northampton, Akinfenwa, though he still seems to find the net ! Dover Red
  • Score: 0

9:33am Thu 6 Dec 12

Dover Red says...

Plats !! Plays of course
Plats !! Plays of course Dover Red
  • Score: 0

10:02am Thu 6 Dec 12

Stilloyal says...

The late great, legendary Sir Stanley Mathews was exactly the same and he played at the top level when he was fifty. I'm not saying Wardie or any modern day footballer would be able to continue until he was 50 but this lifestyle could prolong the playing carer without doubt.
Well done Wardie , I hope you get another contract at STFC.
The late great, legendary Sir Stanley Mathews was exactly the same and he played at the top level when he was fifty. I'm not saying Wardie or any modern day footballer would be able to continue until he was 50 but this lifestyle could prolong the playing carer without doubt. Well done Wardie , I hope you get another contract at STFC. Stilloyal
  • Score: 0

4:16pm Thu 6 Dec 12

smirg kcab says...

Dover Red wrote:
After a poor start he has looked like an excellent player, and he certainly does look after himself !even Grim likes him now, which shows how much he has improved !!If you want to see a player who has let himself go look at the large lad who plats for Northampton, Akinfenwa, though he still seems to find the net !
Yeah at the start he struggled, thought the Oxford goal was still his fault and flint got the blame,
Then he had a few more bad games, and I could never see what all the fuss was about, but since the stevenage game he has become class and would be one of mine first on the team sheet now.
Like to say the same about the two upfront but games are running out for them, but hope I'm wrong as I always am (not)
Where's sue?
Onwards and upwards
[quote][p][bold]Dover Red[/bold] wrote: After a poor start he has looked like an excellent player, and he certainly does look after himself !even Grim likes him now, which shows how much he has improved !!If you want to see a player who has let himself go look at the large lad who plats for Northampton, Akinfenwa, though he still seems to find the net ![/p][/quote]Yeah at the start he struggled, thought the Oxford goal was still his fault and flint got the blame, Then he had a few more bad games, and I could never see what all the fuss was about, but since the stevenage game he has become class and would be one of mine first on the team sheet now. Like to say the same about the two upfront but games are running out for them, but hope I'm wrong as I always am (not) Where's sue? Onwards and upwards smirg kcab
  • Score: 0

4:19pm Thu 6 Dec 12

smirg kcab says...

He drinks beetroot juice before the game?
I drink hops,yeast,sugar with lashings of water, now that's what I call healthy
Onwards and upwards
Can't find sue
He drinks beetroot juice before the game? I drink hops,yeast,sugar with lashings of water, now that's what I call healthy Onwards and upwards Can't find sue smirg kcab
  • Score: 0

5:59pm Thu 6 Dec 12

Oi Den! says...

"Wilmaaaaaaa!" (although he looks a bit more like Barney than Fred)
"Wilmaaaaaaa!" (although he looks a bit more like Barney than Fred) Oi Den!
  • Score: 0

6:17pm Thu 6 Dec 12

DarrenSTFCRomain says...

Stilloyal wrote:
The late great, legendary Sir Stanley Mathews was exactly the same and he played at the top level when he was fifty. I'm not saying Wardie or any modern day footballer would be able to continue until he was 50 but this lifestyle could prolong the playing carer without doubt. Well done Wardie , I hope you get another contract at STFC.
Im like Wardie...
My bodie is also a temple !!!
TEMPLE OF DOOM
[quote][p][bold]Stilloyal[/bold] wrote: The late great, legendary Sir Stanley Mathews was exactly the same and he played at the top level when he was fifty. I'm not saying Wardie or any modern day footballer would be able to continue until he was 50 but this lifestyle could prolong the playing carer without doubt. Well done Wardie , I hope you get another contract at STFC.[/p][/quote]Im like Wardie... My bodie is also a temple !!! TEMPLE OF DOOM DarrenSTFCRomain
  • Score: 0

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