Monday, August 19, 2013

For the record

I don't expect this post to interest our general readers much, but I include it here for my own record.

I stepped on the bathroom scales this morning to see my weight at 11 stone 9 pounds. That's a whole stone lighter than on the day we took ownership of Kantara. Now I know that some people lose a lot more than a stone in two years, but the thing is that I've not done this deliberately. It has happened simply as a result of a number of changes we have made in our eating habits, and of my exercise routine, aided to some extent by the physicality of life whilst cruising, with locks, walking and so on.

Neither of us is on "a diet", but we have changed the way we eat. For a start, we have changed to eating organic food as much as possible. This is often noticeably tastier than conventionally grown foods. Fruits and veg are not prone to contamination by pesticides or manufactured fertilisers. Meat is free from the antibiotics and chemicals often found in animal feed. We are careful about what we eat, but not faddy. We eat less meat, and more vegetables and fruit, lightly steaming the veg, and often adding them raw to salads. We avoid polyunsaturated fats, and replace them with butter, coconut oil and cold-pressed rapeseed oil. Much of what we do food-wise has been evolutionary, because it felt right, not always because of conscious decisions. But we have been very influenced by one Dr Joseph Mercola, whose web articles on health matters are very convincing, and backed with considerable research.  We still eat out fairly frequently, eat chocolate, drink wine. We usually avoid eating biscuits, cakes and other sugary foods simply because we usually don't feel the need for them. On the occasions we do, we don't have guilt trips.

My exercise routine has changed over the past year. Where I used to do a 15 to 20km cycle five days a week, I now do 10km twice weekly, and High Intensity Interval Training on the other three days - on the exercise bike, a 5 minute warm-up, then 6 repeats of 30 seconds of intense cycling followed by 90 seconds of "normal" cycling. The whole routine takes just 17 minutes, plus a few for muscle stretches and "warming down". Taking expert advice, I do no special exercise for the remaining two days.

This has resulted in a number of changes. It has improved my metabolism, such that I continue to burn calories at a faster rate for some hours after my exercise, especially after the HIIT. It has increased my stamina, and built muscle. It has lowered my resting heart rate to about 60bpm, and my blood pressure to around 120-125 over 62-68. My acid reflux condition has improved to the extent that I have stopped medication, and I have had no colds or flu for the whole two years.

I do need to build some strength training into my routine, and more limbering.

I went to see the doctor when we were back in St Albans the other week. For over a year, I had experienced occasional swelling of my feet and ankles. I had asked the doctor about this, and she said it was because I wasn't walking as much as I had been when I was teaching - and this was true, despite my habit of taking occasional long walks. But lately, I had noticed that the swelling was mostly in my right foot, and I was concerned that this might be symptomatic of something that needed treatment.

When I walked into the doctor's surgery, she said, "My goodness, you look well! What can I do for you??" 

The swelling of my foot turns out to be because of the presence of some small varicose veins, the result of years of ignorantly rubbing my legs in the wrong direction when drying them.

"Younger Next Year" had a profound effect on me, and I continue to follow its principles, although my exercise routine is now different from that of the author. I certainly do not feel my 62 years! and I'm told I don't look it.

I think a lot of how I feel is down to being retired, not having the stresses of work. But I think also that for us it's a lot to do with the change to living on the boat, a major change in our lives, doing something new. The change itself has been, is, beneficial to us physically and psychologically.

It's not everybody's idea of a way of life, but we recommend it!

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