Before I left regular work I was aware that my waistline was expanding and I vowed to do something about it so I’ve joined a gym. Normally, gyms aren’t my thing. They’re too artificial. I prefer ‘real’ exercise like cycling and walking, but not when the weather’s bad, so in the Winter months I do less exercise and put on weight.
Last year I bought an exercise bike, which I’m using regularly. Unfortunately, after ten minutes I’m bored to distraction. At least at the gym there’s a selection of equipment to try. The stepper and the rowing machine are my favourite. I find rowing therapeutic. It’s easy to get into a rhythm and it feels good, like doing an honest day’s work. On the other hand, the stepper is Escheresque: forever climbing and never getting any higher. Metaphor or irony? It’s strange the things you think when you’re exercising.
An almost daily 2km walk rounds off my fitness regime. To keep motivated I’ve enlisted the help of a friend – actually, it was her idea. We email each other when we’ve completed an exercise and respond with suitable words of encouragement. It sounds daft, but it seems to be working. Also, I’ve installed a phone app called Simple Workout Log to keep a track of my exercise and my weight.
Thanks to the work-outs and a new diet, I’ve lost several kilos. The diet is nothing special. Apart from cutting down on sweet stuff, alcohol and bread, I’m simply eating less. It sounds, but it’s effective. I’ve also reduced my caffeine intake for no other reason than I thought I was drinking too much coffee and tea.
The upside of all this is that I feel like I have more energy. There isn’t a downside. I thought I might miss the caffeine, but not one bit and the same goes for alcohol and puddings. Once I’d made the decision to cut back, I lost any urge to indulge. Of all the things I’ve given up, bread is the most difficult. I’ve removed it from my diet as, for various reasons, I thought I might have gluten intolerance. Avoiding gluten is difficult. No cereal, no beer, no cakes and no biscuits. Gluten-free substitutes are available but they are significantly more expensive. I’ve resorted to making my own bread from buckwheat flour. It’s not bad, a bit more crumbly than ordinary bread, but quite tasty. Surprisingly, unadulterated oats don’t contain gluten, so my morning porridge is unaffected.
Before I started exercising regularly and dieting, I took my health for granted. Now, after only a few weeks of looking after myself, I’m seeing the benefits. I’m fitter and I have more energy. It’s meant forming new habits, but it’s surprising how quickly that can be done. If I overeat or miss an exercise, I feel bad about it. I know from experience that it isn’t good to be too obsessed by targets; being too strict on yourself is a recipe failure. Finding a balance and making sure that you’re heading in the right direction is the way to make progress.