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…

But…

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!

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Juicy Thirsty Thursday

DSC_0042 (2)For the last seven days, since I bought my juicer, I’ve been replacing at least one meal a day with veggie juice. Today though, I feel I have graduated in my juicing career by going green.  Yep, I’ve made my first green juice. Up until now its been all nice reddy, orangy ones made from carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and that sort of thing, But today I’ve faced my green = yuck fears and produced the handsome looking ‘broth from the bottom of the pond’ you see in the picture.

It actually contains three apples, a wodge of kale, a few leaves of spring greens, a couple of celery stalks and a bit of ginger root…  and, yes despite being quite disturbing to look at, it is really quite yummy!  In fact this is my second glass.  I should be fighting fit for my yoga class this evening.

Of course, the reason I bought the juicer in the first place was not quite so health conscious.  I bought it to make cider, and there’s 23 litres of it busily brewing in the kitchen.  Unfortunately that’s not ready to drink yet though, so in the meantime, here’s to a new healthy me!

Lechyd da! (that’s cheers in Welsh.  Gosh this blog is getting so educational!) (and no, I’m not Welsh) (nor am I vegetarian).

Tone up Tuesday

Well, you already know I dance ’round the bedroom on my own singing into my hairbrush, what can I say, it’s part of my exercise regime. I figure if I dance about for just three or four minutes everyday it must burn off a few calories (mustn’t it?) and justify eating that extra biscuit with my mid-morning cuppa.  My song of choice (thanks to Chris Evans at Radio 2) this morning was the one I share below.  Join in with all that arm pumping and pretty soon you’ll have biceps like…well, ok, like me.  Anyway, for your health and enjoyment today I give you Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.  And by the way, yes, I do love rock and roll!!

Me, the poser

Downward facing dog

Downward facing dog. Not me. If you think I’m going to put a picture up of my efforts you are much mistook!!

Sooooo, since Christmas, in addition to my weekly 90 minute class, I have religiously been doing at least half an hour’s yoga practice every day.  My husband leaves home at about 7:20 in the morning and by half past, I’ve started.  Usually I use one of the standard classes in the Yoga Studio app on my ipad – either intermediate or if I’m feeling ambitious, advanced level.   Its a good, though sometimes challenging, way to start the day.

karnapidasana ear pressure pose

Karnapidasana – Ear Pressure Pose. This is not me, this woman has no tummy….

With all that stretching and bending you would think that by now I would be ready, flexibility wise, to join Cirque Du Soliel, but sadly not.  Ok, I’m probably much more bendy than some others of my age, but my left knee still lets me know quite clearly when it’s over flexed in Fire Log or Head of the Cow, my badly feet make Warrior a lot more challenging than it should be (have I mentioned I’ve got Plantar Fasciitis – it’s a right pain!), and my tummy, though somewhat diminished through over a year’s worth of 5:2 diet, still gets in the way in Ear Pressure Pose (lie down, lift into shoulder stand, drop into plough with your feet behind your head, and then bend your knees and push them against your ears – it’s not pretty, at least not when I do it) and I admit my composure isn’t all it should be when I attempt it – I’m not sure you’re supposed to giggle so much!

Crane Pose - Bakasana

Bakasana – Crane Pose. Also not me…! I doubt I look this good, just as well I can’t see myself!

I guess an hour every day might produce more results, but nonetheless I have felt a massive improvement one way or the other.  Yes, I am a lot more flexible, and my balances have improved in leaps and bounds (can one balance in a leap or a bound…no didn’t think so, but you get the gist).  The real mega improvement though, has been strength wise.  I can hold the plank position for, well, what seems like ages, but is probably no more than a minute or so – much better than the 10 seconds I used to  manage though.  Even better, I’ve been practicing hard and can now, to my delight, get into Crane and hold it for a bit.  Ok, still only seconds rather than minutes, but I’m impressed with myself anyway. Carry on this way, and I may end up like Madonna who’s arms were once described as ‘like dog chews’!!

I’ve probably said it before, but yoga is the one exercise regime that feels like its doing me good rather than killing me off.  I feel like I can achieve anything, and because it is progressive can find some improvement with practically every session.  When I finish I can feel every muscle and sinew, so I know I’ve still got ’em and have not turned to putty just yet.  And without wishing to sound all new age, and arty farty, it’s good for the soul too, a bit of inwardlooking meditation or mindfulness really does give your mind a rest from problems and hum-drummery (no, I don’t think that’s a real word either, but hey, I like it).

Pigeon pose

Pigeon with forward fold – nope, still not me. Though I love this pose even though its a bit hurty!

Oh, and the other thing, all those Downward Dogs and Pigeons with Forward Folds are really good at stretching me ol’ feet, and the faciitis is slowly getting better.  Win win I’d say.

Savasana - corpse pose

Savasana – Corpse Pose. Ok, not me, but I’m really, really, proficient at this one, and a picture of me in this pose would look very similar I promise you!

Well I’m off to practice my favourite pose – Savasana (corpse pose) for a bit. After all, it is the bit at the end that we all like best, don’t we?

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….

 

It’s just killing me

I walk, I practice yoga, I do housework, I garden (a bit, in fine weather) I occassionally have a go on the wii too, but apart from that I don’t do exercise. We do have a cross-trainer sitting dustily amongst the books and papers in our study, and every now and then I’ll have a spurt of enthusiasm and go on it every evening for a week or two. If I haven’t started feeling the benefit, or losing a pound or two after that, and I never have, I give up and months will go by before its pedals are turned again.

I have this theory see, that once you reach a certain age, too much exercise stops doing you good and starts killing you off. It certainly feels that way. After ten minutes on gym equipment, of any sort, I am puffing and sweating, and frankly, just need a lie down. My heart is a muscle that works hard enough keeping me alive, anything over and above that is just wearing it out quicker! That’s why I appreciate yoga so much. It makes me feel stronger rather than weaker. My brain isn’t addled by my lungs failing to suck in enough air like it is for five minutes after a gym workout. I feel good. I feel invincible. I believe I am a warrior!

Trouble is yoga alone isn’t keeping me in shape. I might feel like a warrior, but I certainly don’t look like one. I’m guessing I should cut down on calories, deny myself wine and sweet things, and then I might revert back to my young slim self. It is a cruel fact, that in my youth I hated being thin. Hated my scrawny limbs, and my shapeless torso. I still cringe when I remember being fitted for a bridesmaids dress, which to start with I was so excited about, until my aunt, who was the dressmaker, said she didn’t need to measure me all over because I was just straight up and down. And I was. Twiggy was a chubster compared to me!

The truth is, I believe we all look better with a bit of chubbiness, certainly as we get older (I give you Victoria Beckham vs Nigella!) It fleshes out the wrinkles, and makes us look robust and healthy. Many oldies get bent and boney, their faces sunken. Well I’m blowed if I’m going to let that happen to me.

No, its alright, I’m not going to get obese, and I’ll do enough to keep healthy, but just maybe I’ll be satisfied to stay a little bit bigger than I’d really like to be, so that should I ever be graced with grandchildren I’ll be a proper, cuddly grandma.