To Gym or not to Gym

You may remember that for several months I followed the 5:2 diet. It worked for me.  Losing over a stone (over 6 kg) I felt better about myself, had more energy, clearer skin, smaller waist. It wasn’t only the diet of course, I was walking three or four miles at a time and swimming regularly. Without so many bulges to manoeuver, my yoga practice improved no end. I slept better, and apparently my snoring stopped (I still dispute this – I don’t snore, I just breath a bit heavily). I flounced about with more confidence. It was great.

Until we went on holiday.

Oh yes, the bikini came out.  I know bikini’s on a sixty odd year old woman is unseemly, but believe me, this sixty something rocked it. No bingo wings to worry about when wearing skimpy cotton summer frocks. Swanning about in sarongs. Eating.

Oh yeah, the eating. We were in India. I love Indian food. What can I say?

It wouldn’t have been so bad, if we hadn’t spent the time we weren’t eating lying about in the sun, relaxing, chillin’, exerting no energy whatsoever. At all.  Consequently the pounds piled on.

Of course, when we got home my tubbier tanned body wasn’t up to doing much exercise.  I found excuses.  I couldn’t do so much walking because I’ve been suffering with plantar faciitis (still am, but getting better with the help of steroid injections), I’d got fed up with the weekly battle for parking, and the grim facilities of the local leisure centre – not quite the same as the infinity pool in Kerala. Even yoga got to be a bit more of an effort.

Then it was the food fest of Christmas.

Things have been going downhill ever since. I’ve put the weight back on. Energy levels are low to non-existent.  I’m not sleeping so well. The baggy belly is back.

So…. I’m tentatively back on the 5:2, but I still can’t walk the long distances I could, and I still don’t care for swimming at the leisure centre. So I’ve been considering joining the local gym.

There are one or two problems with this option though.

  • It costs money – lots of money
  • Other people, fit people, will be there
  • It takes a biggish time commitment to be worth joining
  • You have to commit for a whole year, yes, a WHOLE YEAR, and pay up front

I used to belong to a gym, when the kids were at school. It didn’t have a pool, but I’d go and use the equipment a couple of times a week, doing less and less on the murderous machines that I didn’t like, and more and more on the things you can sit down on.  I actually quite enjoyed it, but at the time I didn’t need to lose weight, I was more focussed on toning up a bit (this was before my yoga days).

The gym I’m thinking of now, is swish, like, really swish. It has a beautiful pool, sauna, steam rooms, Jacuzzi, fitness suites, lots of classes…oh and a café so that you can have a nice hot chocolate with marshmallows after your workout. It is so very tempting…


Whilst a big chunk of me wants to join, believing it is my key to becoming svelte and energetic again, there is a growing niggle that I shouldn’t need to join a gym to keep fit.  I should be able to run about in the fresh air, garden more, yoga more, dance more…eat less.  This little voice keeps telling me that I am very privileged to be able to afford to eat more than I need to keep me going each day. I should be thankful that I am healthy if chubby, rather than skinny and sickly, and that I can afford to even contemplate joining an exorbitantly overpriced gym full of narcissists.  It is whispering that I should be content with who I am, be less vain, embrace old age with it’s niggly aches and pains and penchant for daytime naps.  Enjoy the fact that a bit of padding fills out the wrinkles. After all, I’m not actually overweight for my build, by BMI standards, I am apparently at a healthy weight for my height and age.

So I am torn. I know I would feel better about myself if I was fitter, slimmer, but I’m not sure I can do it on my own, or even whether I should want to.

Oh, but how I would love to wallow in that fancy Jacuzzi a couple of times a week… oops, sorry, I mean swim, and run, and lift, and stretch, and…

ooh now I’ve thought about it, I need a hot chocolate and a lay down!

It’s all a matter of taste

‘Can’t eat ’em. Don’t like the look of ’em!’ the checkout blokey said to me at the supermarket the other day (yes, it was an older gentleman on the checkout, we’re very pc  ’round these parts ya’know).  He was referring to some mussels that I’d bought for our tea.  I love mussels, funny looking bits an’ all.  In fact I like pretty much most sea food, although on further discussion with said blokey, we decided whelks were overall a bit too chewy, unless you’d got the odd half hour or two to eat them.

I’ve always thought you shouldn’t be put off of trying anything by the way it looks.  Seafood in particular can look a bit, err, shall we say, challenging (come to think of it, so does a lot of my cooking… you should have seen my summer pudding the other day.  The special effects team from ‘Bones’ would have been proud).  It got me to thinking about likes and dislikes, foodwise, though.

We all have things we don’t like.  I have two brothers-in-law (brother-in-laws?? well, you know what I mean). Even though he’s 50 and should know better, one of them won’t touch any veggies except the odd teeny bit of a carrot, and is a proper carnivor, the other one doesn’t like meat all that much, much preferring to pile his plate with the green stuff.  My little niece rejects practically everything she is offered, except sweet things and…. black olives.  How weird is that?  My daughter’s wouldn’t touch olives until they were in their twenties.  They seem a grown up sort of taste.

Is there such a thing though?  We tend to give children bland uninteresting food, or sweetened stuff, or things in funny shapes – alphebetti spaghetti etc and then wonder why they are fussy.  I never did make different food for my children, they had what we had, and on the whole they ate it…curry’s, cous-cous, stir-frys, chilli – olives were one of the exceptions.  We didn’t give them much in the way of sweets (I know, I’m a cruel mother) but they are thanking me these days as, at the age of 26 they are still filling free, and they are open to trying all types of food both here and when they are in foreign parts.

Personally, there are two  things I really don’t touch (three if you count coffee…see previous posts).  Steak and jelly.

I have had an aversion to steak since seeing my dad’s plate graced with a whopping piece of meat that was oozing blood – he liked it rare.  Put me right off it did.  I’ve no doubt that if I tried it again now, I might like it, as long as it was cooked gently and not too chewy. I just can’t be bothered to try.  However, jelly is a different matter.

Apparently, when I was just a few months old, my mum tried giving it to me as one of my first steps towards solid food. I spat it back at her with contempt.  It was revolting then, and it is revolting still.  All jelly.  Strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, that gelatin stuff that holds the fruit together in flans, that grey wobbly stuff that makes a perfectly good pork pie into something totally inedible for me.  Any of it.  All of it.  Yuck.  Don’t know why, just, well, yuck.

My mum always insisted we had jelly and blancmange at my birthday parties.  I used to look at the hideous wobbling monstrosity, and was often tempted to push it from the window sill where it sat setting in the sun, but the thought of gobbets of the ghastly stuff splattered across the garden path, and me probably having to clear it up, stopped me.  The blancmange was equally bad by the way.  Basically thick milky jelly.  Yuck, yuck, yucketty yuck (to paraphrase Hugh Grant in Four Weddings).

Anyhoo, next time you invite me ’round, remember, I’ll eat most things, but for goodness sake don’t serve jelly, you might get it spat in your face.


Fast but not that fast #2

So, we are on our third fast day.  Its actually ok.  If we get peckish we have a cup of fruit tea or oxo to take the edge off, and we really look forward to our light evening meal.  I think its doing us good already.

I looked in the mirror the other day and thought ‘blimey my skin is glowing nicely’.  Ok, I’d been out for a walk in the snow, which does tend to give you rosy cheeks, but my skin really did look clear and bright.  I can’t say I’d ever noticed any such thing before. I’m feeling quite energetic too – actually got the wii zumba out yesterday, something I usually think about doing but refrain from as being one of those things that may very well be the death of me.

It’s not all down to the fasting either.  The strange thing is that, although we really can eat and drink what we like the rest of the week, we have started eating healthier all the time.  We’ve eaten couscous and lentils, chickpeas, salads, great quantities of vegetables and fruit, with little or no meat.  In fact we’ve only eaten meat twice for over a week.  And no we are not vegetarians, nor are we ever likely to be.

Chris has even snubbed bread and biscuits in favour of a plate of couscous. (my world is upside down!)

Of course, there is a down side.  There is always a down side to everything.  The downside to the 5:2 fast diet is that the days seem endless.

Even when I’ve been really busy, I’ve always tried to stop and eat some lunch at some point.  At the weekends we’ve always sat down and gorged on a good lunch (though we don’t go down the traditional roast route as a rule) and then needed a rest afterwards – often in fact, a nap. Sunday lunch can take upwards of two hours – and that’s without the time spent in the kitchen cooking the thing.

This Sunday we sat and drank a cup of oxo, which took approximately five minutes. Not being over full our bodies don’t demand a shut down to digest, so no need of a nap.  I guess we ought to be pleased that the weekend seems longer. After all, we’ve always complained about them going quicker than weekdays.  But all the same, I miss that break.

Otherwise, so far, so good. I don’t know yet if its leading to any weight loss, but at least I feel better about myself.  Of course, I can’t guarantee we’ll stick with it for months, but I think maybe for a few more weeks. After all, one of the great things about it is that I can look at all the food in my kitchen, and know I can eat what I like tomorrow.

Only a few more hours left….


Fast, but not that fast

The day my husband weighed himself happened to coincide with the day this article appeared in the Saturday paper.  It was tucked away inside the ‘real’ paper, not the magaziney supplement, so I didn’t see it (gloom and doom in the real paper, food and fashion in supplement – no contest!).  However, he did and I was presented with it, and told ‘we should try this’.

Now, my husband has never, no, absolutely never, dieted before. He has occasionally, after visits to the doc decided to ‘do a bit more exercise’ to keep his blood pressure down, but that is usually short-lived.

‘We should definitely give it go’ he said waving the paper in my face and sounding surprisingly enthusiastic.

Now the article, for those of you who can’t be bothered to read it, is by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who is a ‘celebrity’ chef.  His recipes are all about fresh produce and usually heaps of meat and cream. Yum. In this article though, Hugh is extolling the virtues of the 5:2  Fast diet.

No, not fast, like you lose weight quickly without any effort whatsoever fast.  No.  Fast like you don’t eat anything at all for whole days fast.  Two whole days a week to be exact.  They shouldn’t be consecutive and you can eat 500/600 calories depending if you are man or woman.

To say I was surprised by my husbands enthusiasm for the idea would be an understatement.  This is a man who eats a full roast dinner and then has a ‘doorstep’ of bread to fill him up.

Nonetheless, we have started our joint dieting journey.  We decided that Sundays would be a good day to fast. He doesn’t have to grab something on the move (usually a pasty and sandwich) like he does on weekdays, and its easier for me if we are suffering together.

Sunday morning we both had a small banana and a cup of tea for breakfast as part of our allowed calorie intake, and then nothing except clear drinks until the evening.

We didn’t starve.  It was actually fine.  Who’da though it?

In the evening we were ready for the rest of our calories and had smoked fish with veggies and couscous.  It was possibly the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.  Small but perfectly formed.

Apparently this diet is going to slow down ageing, as well as lose fat.  On top of that there is no washing up for a whole day.  I save electricity.  I save on food. There’s very little tiresome cooking involved.  And you get to eat and drink all you like on all the other days. Sounds great.

We’ve decided Friday will be our next Fast day.  I’ll let you know how it goes, in the meantime, I’m off to the fridge –  must be time for a snack!