A massive effort this week where I managed to walk an extra 50 miles… As always, these miles are in addition to the normal day-to-day steps one takes by walking around the house or office.
Significantly this week, yesterday I did a 17 mile walk through the scenic Goyt Valley in the Peak District. The link shows several short walks… a group of friends and I combined some of them into a big circular trek and spent 7 hours walking to and past some of these features.
Today I completed a 12 mile walk with a local walking group. Tonight I have aching muscles but a sense of achievement!
I haven’t made so much progress during weeks 5 and 6 and just as well I gave myself a head start the previous weeks! I’ve just been to the Maldives to celebrate my 50th birthday and, while I did have an active week of yoga, gym, swimming and cycling, there wasn’t too much walking involved!
I didn’t do any extra walking at all during the weekend of my birthday and basically spent the time getting ready for my party (Saturday) and recovering on the Sunday! I’m keen to get back to more walking next week…
Yoga became popular in the UK in the 80’s as a form of exercise although it has been around as a spiritual practice in India for hundreds of years.
I didn’t know much about yoga or what it entailed until last week. And, other than a few months or maybe even a year of weekly aerobic classes when I was 15 I haven’t taken ANY form of exercise class since then… Not a single one… I don’t know what Pilates is… I think Zumba is some kind of modern day aerobics and I had never been to yoga…
Well, this has now changed! A combination of a desire to try new things this year together with my attempts towards a fitter and healthier start to my new decade stirred an interest in trying yoga. Of course this is old news to many people… When discussing this at work just before Christmas it turned out that most of the people I work with have tried or still practice yoga. This conversation happened to take place after work in one of the outdoor bars along London’s South Bank which led to an impromptu and somewhat drunken display of yoga moves by one of my 6 ft male colleagues!
So with one of my 50@50’s being to try yoga, I took the opportunity while on holiday in the Maldives where our hotel offered a free 50 minute yoga session each morning! What a place to start doing yoga… I felt immediately relaxed in the serene environment as I sat on my yoga mat on the soft powdery sand with the sounds of the gently lapping sea in the background.
Each morning the instructor took the small group of 10 or so through the initial relaxation and breathing exercises before the more complex series of stretches. Stretching muscles that have possibly never been stretched before! Literally tying my upper body in knots with him giving my arms an extra pull just to make sure!
I can certainly say I felt incredibly relaxed at the end of each session and I’m keen to do more. Being strong, fit and supple throughout life and particularly as you get older is important.
Compared with others even though I am almost 50 I was pleased I am still fairly bendy and supple as, for example, I could diagonally interlock my hands behind back where many others couldn’t reach.
However my stomach muscles need toning big time! I was one of the worst of the group with the stomach moves. For example, laying on my back and lifting and holding my feet at 6 inches above the ground then at 75 degrees was tough! This is something I am keen to improve.
And also I found my balance is rubbish… I toppled over the most when we did standing up stretches… I’ve noticed problems with my balance when trekking along narrow ridges so I wonder if I practice each day if this would help my trekking too?
Having joined the gym we have at work on 4th December 2017, and having completed my induction on 5th December I have since then attended a gym session on each occasion that I’ve been into the office.
This has averaged at 2 x gym sessions per week although as I didn’t go into my main office during the third week of January (Mon – Wed I was in Portugal; Thu in a different office and Fri I worked at home) I had no choice other than to miss this week…
I did however compensate by walking an extra 39 miles so was able to maintain my programme of fitness and activity.
As I combine the gym with walking and swimming I tend to focus more on weight training while in the gym, particularly exercises for my upper arms and shoulders… as I approach 50 I need to try to prevent the appearance of the dreaded ‘bingo wings’… heaven forbid!
Incidentally… on the matter of bingo wings… I found this article which suggests that women who lack the male hormone testosterone are more prone to bingo wings! It says you can boost your testosterone levels by consuming more protein and less cakes and biscuits. This is a little worrying too… if you eat more protein you might reduce the likelihood of bingo wings… but does this mean you end up with a moustache? I’m not sure I like the idea of increased testosterone levels so will focus on exercise to combat the bingo wing effect…
Anyway… the good thing is that I have now been a gym member for just over two months. After about 6 or 7 weeks I began to notice a significant difference. I had a bit of a fitness breakthrough and found myself increasing all of the weights on each piece of equipment together with increasing the resistance levels on each of the cardio machines. This is incredibly motivating… I’m really starting to feel so much fitter and more energetic.
A little late for my February weigh-in as I’ve just returned from the Maldives, a special holiday to celebrate my 50th birthday which happens to be tomorrow! As I didn’t have any scales with me I was unable to weigh myself on 1st February, i.e. the first day of each month being my planned 2018 weigh check days.
Throughout January I remained highly focussed and committed to achieving my goal weight of 9 stone (57 kg or 126 pounds). I did extra exercise when possible and stuck to an average daily calorie intake of 1100 – 1200 calories. Some days I burned an estimated extra 600 – 700 calories, for example, by walking 5 miles in addition to spending an hour at the gym. On these days, rather than eating more I stuck to my 1100 – 1200 calorie regime which I think must have accelerated my weight loss.
Almost every day I either went swimming, went to the gym or walked for several miles. When I went out for meals I chose salads or low calorie dishes and mostly had either no wine or one glass of wine. Rather than drinking cappucino’s I now drink fruit flavoured tea when in coffee shops.
So a huge effort was exerted throughout January… I even managed to have a healthy holiday! Rather than a complete blow-out I went to the gym, did yoga, went snorkelling and swimming every day and was careful to eat healthily for example by sticking mainly to proteins, vegetables and lots of tropical fruit. I also had 6 alcohol-free days!
These are the results…
Weight on 1st January 2018: 9 stone 10 lb (62 kg)
Weight on 9th February 2018: 9 stone 0 lb (Hurrah! Bang on and just in time for my big 5-0 birthday tomorrow!)
Another good week to finish off January! This week I’ve looked for additional opportunities to get a few more miles in; for example, rather than taking the car to the local supermarket yesterday I set off with my backpack (in the rain) and walked there and back which added another 3 miles to my total! My husband thought I was mad… and needless to say, he stayed at home!
I also did 10 miles today with a local walking club which is a good way to increase my mileage in a social way. This is a different walking club to my usual one but there are a few to choose from in my local area.
Throughout our year of travels in 2016, my husband Chris and I got a real taste for vegan food. It can be difficult to stay healthy while on the road long term particularly as we mostly stayed in budget accommodations. Often breakfast would be a piece of cake and a coffee! We discovered many vegan restaurants, often in unlikely places, and always offering delicious healthy food!
For example, the above picture was of a delicious meal served in the vegan Cafe Vida in La Paz, Bolivia. As mentioned in our La Paz blog post, this delightful little cafe was, according to Trip Advisor, the then number 1 of 324 restaurants in La Paz! Incredible for a country well known for being large consumers of meat.
We found other amazing vegan cafes and restaurants in places such as Peru, Prague, Thailand and Cambodia. They were all able to create delicious vegan masterpieces without the need for a single animal to be involved.
So, while I already have a taste for lovely vegan food, I haven’t yet committed myself to trying a full month of being a vegan.
I’ve missed Veganuary, a concept which has a website with loads of information to help people to try a vegan lifestyle in January. There are recipes and a list of popular restaurant chains who offer vegan food as part of their menu which will be really helpful.
I’m planning to try a vegetarian month in March, then a vegan month in April. I’m really looking forward to both!
For the last few years I’ve gradually eaten less and less meat. The more I see awful videos of the abuse suffered by animals the more I’ve gravitated towards a semi vegetarian and vegan diet. I’ve also been influenced by my husband Chris, who has only eaten organic chicken (rarely) and fish since I’ve known him. And my daughter, Zoe, who became a vegan in 2016. Zoe has a point when she says “there are so many alternatives so why do you have to eat an animal?”
Many people become vegetarian for health benefits although as Harvard Health explains, you could eat a diet full of pizza, ice cream and cakes which is still technically vegetarian but not the healthiest!
So I have decided to try a vegetarian diet for the month of March just to see how things go and to consider whether this is right for me. Will I miss eating fish? Are there plenty of alternatives? Will I end up eating too much cheese and gain weight? Will I be sick of vegetable lasagne by 1st April? Will report back in due course…
I’m pleased I managed to walk 39 miles this week which is quite a psychological boost as it has given me a few miles in the bag towards my target. As well as 2 x 5 or 6 mile treks in Portugal on Monday and Tuesday, I did two walks at the weekend; an 8.5 mile local trek with a group of friends (in the rain) and a 10.5 mile trek with a local walking club (in the snow).
Rather than listing every time I walk anywhere I have been keeping a separate record and will just update the progress in order to keep track.
Total for week 2 = 21 miles
Average per day for this week (21 / 7) = 3
Running total = 25 + 21 = 46 miles
Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 46) = 1004
Keeping such a record and being conscious of this challenge has had quite an impact on my motivation to achieve this. I am constantly looking for opportunities to clock up these miles which is having a positive impact on my resolve to get fitter!
For example, offering to accompany my father when he took his dog for a walk every morning in Portugal recently and making a point of refusing lifts to and from the station from my husband!