The Health Kick

by Steve

Women in pool exercising

Time to get in shape. That is not to say that I’m massive. That is not to say I have a completely unhealthy lifestyle. But there is scope for improvement, hence this week has seen the start of a health kick.

The summer seems the best time of year for this kind of thing. In the colder months I just want to eat stodgy, carb-heavy foods. In the colder months it is not easy to find the motivation for a new exercise regime. In the colder months I can wear enough layers to hide the beginnings of middle-aged spread.

So, August is a good time to work on some better eating habits and think about some regular exercise.

Now, I get through plenty of vegetables, hitting the ol’ Five A Day target more often than not. However, I do also eat my fair share of rubbish. So, stage one of the health kick has been attempting to follow a diet. I’m generally pretty wary of diets. I’m a great believer that eating less and exercising more is probably the best diet there is. I don’t think many diets are really sustainable. Yet, this particular diet suggests it will help repair my metabolism, which seems a good thing, and is time-limited, so I don’t have to worry too much about failing to keep up with it in the longer-term.

It is not the hardest or weirdest diet, but it is still a challenge for me. Dairy, wheat, refined sugar, alcohol and caffeine are all ruled out. They make up a significant amount of my normal diet, so it is taking some getting used to. There are also a couple of protein-heavy days each week that I’m finding particularly hard. It seems like a protein-heavy diet, even for a couple of days, turns my brain to mush and makes me feel exhausted. I may have to rethink that part…

But apart from my protein worries I can see how cutting out diary, wheat etc, or at least cutting down, will help me lose some bulk. I’m a pretty healthy cook most of the time, but this has helped me focus on being even healthier, and it generally hasn’t meant compromising on taste – which helps makes this feel more sustainable.

I’ve also started exercising again. I went swimming, which was good fun and reminded me how much I enjoy it. I stuck to the slow lane but was fast enough and made sure it was a decent workout. Lane etiquette bemused me, though. Despite being the slowest of four lanes there were still people overtaking, even though nobody was going really slow. Odd. Maybe they were intimidated by the slow-medium-laners. Maybe they like being the big fish in the slow lane. Apologies. That line was painful.

I’ve also got back on the exercise bike, which suits me more than real cycling as I have no sense of balance and think I would probably be a menace on the road. I had my earphones in (another bad move if I took to the roads) and the time went reasonably quickly and it felt like I was making progress.

Tonight I face the weights. This will probably be a pitiful sight. And I always struggle to find enough different variations to keep the workout interesting. Anyway, I guess it all helps.

I don’t expect to become a healthy-eating, regular-exercising machine from all this, but hopefully I’ll shift a few pounds and more importantly pick up enough good habits so that some of these things become second-nature. I could already live off of spelt bread rather than the evil wheaty stuff. I can see the swimming and cycling being at least semi-regular activities.

I’m not getting any younger. I should start looking after myself. But I could kill for a biscuit right now.

Image from the US National Archives, via Flickr