2018 final summary

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Local wooden bench where I sat in July pondering about the point of doing this blog…

The final day and my final post of 2018 so time for a little reflection…

Producing a ‘doing 50 things bucket list’ to mark the year I turned 50 is a form of goal setting with personal development and self improvement in mind.

I had something of a kick up the backside during a health check in December 2017 when I was basically told I was overweight, drank too much alcohol and had a borderline high cholesterol! And this was just 2 months before my 50th birthday… Staying fit and healthy so I can continue to travel and live my best life is a priority for me so several of my 50 goals were related to improving my health. Thankfully a health check in August revealed my cholesterol was down to ‘normal’ levels!

One of the most positive outcomes of maintaining this blog for the last 12 months has been the sense of achievement I’ve felt. Never before have I kept up a gym membership for longer than 2 or 3 months; I have rarely kept my weight under control and I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t have pushed myself to walk over 2000 miles had I not blogged about it. Publishing regular updates has made me feel accountable and has pushed me towards achieving my challenges. I might well have been tempted to cheat on my vegan month or sober October if it were not for this blog!

Walking was a significant and an immensely positive aspect of my life throughout the last year. Walking over 2000 miles has:

  • Certainly helped me to keep my weight down;
  • Kept me fit and healthy;
  • Most likely helped me to stay positive;
  • Continued to enhance my social life (I’ve met several lovely new friends this year);
  • Enabled me to see beautiful scenery (Switzerland, the Peak District and even local scenery around my home town);
  • Saved me quite a sum of money (by not paying for public transport or using my car);
  • Helped to build relationships with my husband Chris and my friends;
  • Given me little ‘light bulb moments’…

In relation to the last point above, walking is almost like a form of meditation. While I didn’t achieve my meditation goal this year, I found walking is great for switching off and clearing your mind. And I did have several moments of inspiration while walking.

Other than the meditation goal I didn’t achieve, I also didn’t do a cooking class, or watch Greg Braden or get another job or complete the first draft of a book of our 2016 global adventures! Never mind… 45  / 50 isn’t bad… and its best to settle for 90% than try to achieve everything and get stressed about it! Rather than force myself to do a cooking class I just accepted this wasn’t going to happen this year.

Plans for 2019 and beyond: 

While having 50 goals and challenges has been fun and has enabled me to stay focussed, at times it has been quite exhausting! I have several travel plans for 2019 but will maybe spend a little more time at home and a few less weekends away… I have applied for another job and I’ll definitely aim to lose the extra 4 lb’s gained over Christmas!

I read somewhere earlier today something along the lines of “tomorrow marks the first day of a set of 365 blank pages… make sure the story you write is a good one…”. How exciting! Life is what you make it and who knows what will be written in the next 365 pages…

Finally, thank you for reading my blog posts and traveling alongside me on the journey into my 50’s… I’m now nearly 51 so here’s to 2019 and the next 9 years until I’m 60!

Happy New Year! 

Marc and Angel: “You have to make yourself happy. Its not selfish, its called personal development”

 

Week 38 walking update

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Makarska sunrise

Running total (to week 37): 1,512

Miles walked in week 38: 48

Total walked so far in 2018: 1,560

46 of these 48 miles were walked in Croatia this week, mostly in and around Makarska, our base for 7 days. We stayed in an apartment and while close to bars, restaurants and the sea it was about 1.5 miles to walk into the Old Town and marina. Some days we did this 3 or 4 times which soon racked up extra miles! And most mornings I got up an hour or two before the rest of my family and went for a 3 – 4 mile walk.

The above photo was taken during one of my early morning strolls where I could see the sun rising above the mountains behind Makarska. This was a lovely time of the day before the resort became busier with holidaymakers!

 

 

 

August book reviews(s)

Book number 14

Book read: The Little Princess by Casey Watson

One of the most powerful and emotional books I’ve ever read was ‘One Child’ by Torey Haden which I read sometime around 2004. The contents of that book were horrifying and humbling and caused me to take a different approach to life and really appreciate my own upbringing.

This short book was also sickening and also described the abuse of a 6 year old girl. The girl had been removed from her own evil parents and was taken in to spend Christmas with a foster family. While only a short story I feel full of admiration and respect for families such as Casey’s who consistently give generosity and kindness in such tragic circumstances.

 

Book number 15

Book read: Thunder and Sunshine: Around the World by bike Part 2 by Alastair Humphreys

Wow… another superb book which I read quickly as I found it difficult to put down! Having travelled pretty much the length of South America in 2016 I could closely relate to many of the places Alastair visited on his epic adventure from the tip of South America or ‘El Fin Del Mundo’ (the end of the World) to the top of Alaska.

OK… so Alastair cycled and I took the soft luxury option travelling by plane, bus and cruise liner however I was able to visualise many South American places as well as LA, Seattle and Alaska.

The book continued with Alastair’s incredible cycle journey through Siberia… in the winter and then through Asia and back into Europe inspiring me to do something more adventurous and push a few more boundaries… I’m not yet sure what…

Alastair had some awesome quotes in his book too, particularly towards the end as he reflected on his fantastic journey:

Page 341: How mad we are to neglect our body, the very machine that carries all our thoughts, emotions, ambitions, dreams, fears and our life itself. And yet we still expect to live smoothly, healthily and happily to a ripe old age.” So very true and something I am very conscious of… especially now that I am 50…

Page 339: I decided to see some of the world and to escape from England and the conveyor belt of my life” most people probably do live on a conveyor belt of a life and conform to a similar pattern without even questioning they could be doing something different…

 

 

 

Kinder Scout… hill or mountain?

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Chris and me on Kinder Scout

As the highest point in the Peak District in Derbyshire I had always thought of Kinder Scout as a peak or a hill rather than a mountain. However, as Wikitravel and other websites classify Kinder Scout as a mountain, I’ve added it as the third mountain climbed in 2018! (And at 636 meters it was actually higher than Slieve Tooey last Saturday which is a mountain…)

Chris and I had a great weekend with 5 of our friends where we camped in Edale and climbed Kinder Scout last Saturday in lovely sunny weather.

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Torrential rain the following day

By complete contrast we climbed another two peaks the following day in torrential rain, temperatures not much above freezing and high winds!

 

 

Segway experience

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Chris and I recently did a segway experience, a thoughtful joint Christmas gift from my lovely step-daughters Annabelle and Charlotte!

We spent an hour doing some initial training and then riding around a track while balancing on the segways. The concept was easy:

  • Lean forward = go
  • Lean backward = reverse
  • Lean left = go left
  • Lean right = go right

And it didn’t take long before we were both whizzing around on the segways 🙂

 

 

August weigh-in

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‘Before’ picture (Nov 2017)
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‘After’ picture (May 2018)

Comparison pictures! The top picture was taken during a holiday in Antigua in November 2017 where I was enjoying a pina colada and just about to tuck a pizza! At this time my weight would have been around 10 st 7 lb.

The picture underneath was taken in Montenegro in May 2018 shortly after reaching my (now) usual weight of 8 st 3 lb. I found these two pictures where I was wearing the same top… one of my holiday tops 🙂

One of the main reasons for this particular challenge began on 4th December 2017 when I had a health check at the gym at work. I was dismayed to find my weight had crept up to 67 kgs (10 st 7 lb) and my cholesterol was 5.67 which was bordering on ‘high’!

This kick started my personal health campaign and I was determined to start the next decade of my life as a fitter and more energetic 50 year old! I don’t want to get to the age of 60 or 70 and have to take medication because I hadn’t taken responsibility for my health by looking after myself now.

From 4th December I successfully lost an average of half a stone each month and reached my 9 st goal just in time for my 50th birthday in February. I continued with my exercise routine and watching my calorie intake beyond February and by the beginning of May I was 8 st 3 lb. I’ve managed to maintain this weight for the last 3 months and this is where I feel happy, healthy and comfortable.

Weight today: 8 st 2 lb

Losing this weight as a result of healthy eating and a considerable amount of exercise has been an incredibly positive experience. I’ve got far more energy, I’m almost always in a good mood, I’ve suffered hardly any annoying little minor illnesses and I’ve gone from a size 12 to a size 8. I am determined to stay at this weight and not allow my weight to creep back upwards again!

Eager to find out if all of my efforts have reduced my cholesterol levels I had another health check at the gym at work today and these are the results:

  4th Dec 2017 2nd Aug 2018
Diabetes (glucose) 5.2 mmol/l 1.5 mmol/l
Weight 66.8 kgs (10 st 7 lb) 51.8 kg (8 st 2 lb)
Cholesterol 5.67 mmol/l 4.47 mmol/l
% body fat 32.4% 18.9%
BMI 26 20.2
Metabolic age 43 35

Yay! I was really pleased with these results and particularly my cholesterol level! This is the first time I’ve had it checked since 4th December last year when it was borderline ‘high’ but now I’m within normal range. Achieving this with hard work and commitment will motivate me to keep up my healthy eating and exercise in order to retain good health and without the need for mediation.

The fitness instructor suggested I needed to gain a few lbs as my ‘ideal’ weight is 56.3 kgs however I am happy with my current weight and I’m still within the healthy BMI range (a BMI of under 18.5 would indicate an unhealthy low weight).

And according to http://www.nhs.uk the weight range for my 5′ 3″ (160 cm) height is between 7 st 6 lb and 10 st 2 lb… so I was definitely a bit of a chubster at the end of last year..

The glucose test is a blood sugar test for diabetes. Like the previous time I didn’t fast in advance of the health check (having had a bowl of muesli a couple of hours before). ‘Normal’ 2 – 3 hours after eating is between 4 – 8 mmol/l. However this time was much lower so this seems pretty good too!

Finally my metabolic age has reduced from 43 to 35! This is an indication of the speed your body is ageing and basically the lower, the better… woohoo…

 

 

Dusting down the bike…

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Having done a huge amount of walking and trekking this year I was keen to do some cycling and get some practice for a more lengthy bike ride later on. Chris and I hadn’t ridden our bikes for about 3 years and they sat forlornly outside under a cover slowly rusting away and getting covered in spiders webs!

We recently dusted them down, oiled them up and have spent some of the recent gorgeous summer evenings out and about exploring our local countryside. With our mountain bikes we always stick to tracks and try to avoid roads as much as we can.

One of our favourite expeditions is a 4 mile trip across the fields where we stop and dine in a fabulous local Indian restaurant before cycling the 4 miles back across the fields again!

We are hoping to go further afield later today with a 24 mile round trip to a larger town! I say ‘hoping’ because we are currently experiencing the first rain in about 3 months on this Saturday morning. In contrast to most years the UK has experienced an ongoing heatwave with many records being broken for example, the hottest London Marathon in April, the hottest May Bank Holiday and one of the driest Junes and July’s, as explained by Wikipedia.

I’m happy to hike in the rain but I don’t fancy riding a bike for a rainy and possibly thundery 24 miles not when more sunny weather is forecast for the next couple of weeks into August!

 

 

 

Cuba holiday

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So… a shared celebration with my best friend! We’ve just returned from a wonderful and relaxing holiday in Cuba to celebrate that we are both 50 this year! My lovely friend Bridget and I have known each other since we met at school when we were about 13 and through the ups and downs of life we have remained good friends ever since!

A full update on our Cuba fun and frolics are available on my travel blog frombluetogreen.com 🙂

 

 

July weigh-in

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A delicious Cuban meal including spicy prawns, rice and beans and pumpkin

Having just returned from a week of all inclusive indulgence in Cuba I was a bit anxious about this month’s weigh-in… however… I have managed to maintain my weight of 8 st 3 lb!!! Yay!!! How did this happen???

I spent last week consuming numerous cocktails each day, lazing around reading books on a sunbed and doing virtually no exercise… on the basis that any excess calories over the 1650 necessary to keep my weight at 8 st 3 lb, and given I was probably averaging a calorie consumption of around 3000 a day, in theory I should have put on about 3-4 lb… but no! I didn’t put on a single lb!!! Hurrah!!!

I’m not sure if this is a delayed reaction and I’ll suddenly expand at some point this week so I’ve gone back to my usual routine of not over eating and doing lots of exercise… all is good so far… and this was my gym weight this morning i.e. on heavy duty ‘proper’ scales, after breakfast and with my clothes on…

Given that I’ve managed to stay at 8 st 3 lb I’ll soon amend this challenge with the aim of sticking to 8 st 3 lb throughout the rest of 2018. This is a weight I am comfortable with and while I either have to stick to 1650 calories each day or do a large amount of extra exercise to enable me to eat more, it is all manageable at the moment…