I don’t know whether I am proud or ashamed to admit that in my 6th decade I am the fittest I have ever been! Is that a testament to a lazy misspent youth or great achievement in my oldish age? Renovating Mum was born out of a desire and need for me to do new things coupled with the renovation of our home that I am overseeing. The renovations have started so I feel it is essential that I look after myself in body and mind otherwise I will allow the building works to swamp me and its no good ending up with a lovely renovated house if my own body and mind is not healthy and happy. And spending time on myself is a good excuse to hide from the builders!
I started getting fit when we moved to Cairo. Initially my husband moved abroad and so I had time to fill. I started walking and I took part in some overseas treks – the Foothills of the Himalayas where we went to Tembouche, which is I think the highest Buddhist temple. Then the Wadi Rum in Jordan, Stromboli in Sicily, the Atlas mountains in Morocco, a walking holiday in Slovenia. Then fate intervened and I hurt my back which led to two back operations and basically the loss of 2009. After that I moved to Cairo and started going to the gym because basically I had nothing else to do. Whilst we lived abroad in Egypt, the US, Mauritius and South Africa I continued going to the gym and taking classes – Zumba, Body Combat, Pilates. However, it was only when I came back to the UK in 2014 that I started exercising in an efficient manner.
Coming back was hard – fitting back into my old life when the children were no longer at home, when there was no more hanging around the school gates and people had moved on with their lives was difficult. Somehow I felt that I had lost control. It became easy to sit around, not venture out and just lose days. I comfort ate and therefore felt horrid. I wasn’t fat – but I was neither fit nor healthy and most importantly I was not happy.
So I decided to take control of my life. I got a personal trainer – Ashley Bishop of Expert Bodyology and started going to him twice a week. Often it was in a group of 4 which was nice – I get bored easily and its nice to have others around to puff and moan with. I discovered the joys and rewards of HIIT – the dreaded High Intensity Interval Training beloved by the Bodycoach and others. It’s an efficient, relatively quick and more importantly successful way of training. Added to this I mixed in Pilates for my back with the amazing Kirsty Bermingham and some Les Mills classes – I love Body Combat, CX Works and Body Balance. I discovered Les Mills On Demand – I can put up the videos on my Smart TV, iPad or even iPhone and exercise when I want – OK it isn’t as sociable as the gym but it’s really cheap and I can fit it into my life.
I attacked my eating – I have always eaten well – very little processed food or ready meals – but I am not mindful of what I eat – I have no idea how some things get in my mouth! So to start with I did a months elimination diet. I cut out coffee, sugar, alcohol and wheat. I upped my consumption of vegetables ensuring that they made up the largest portion of what was on my plate. I stopped skipping meals – which often resulted in me being ravishingly hungry and grabbing any old thing. I upped my water intake – evidently I should drink between 3 and 3.5 litres a day – I don’t always achieve that but I try. I admit that most of the things I eliminated have crept back in – I like wine, I like coffee and I love the odd scone, or two. But sugar makes me feel horrid – especially things like butter icing, cheap chocolate so I try not to eat them. Too much wheat makes me tired so I try not to eat too much bread – and definitely not white bread from the supermarket. I bought a loaf before Christmas so I could make breadcrumbs. I used half of it then forgot about it. I found it a month after Christmas and it still looked like new albeit a little dry. It is now April and it is still sitting on the shelf – there is no mould on it at all! And it’s still going strong. What an earth has it got in it? I’m going to hang on to it and see how long it takes to disintegrate!
Quite quickly I lost weight, toned up and my energy levels increased. More importantly I felt in control of my life and I felt proud of what I had achieved and how I looked. In total I have lost approx. 10kgs from when I was at my heaviest – not a huge amount compared to what some people achieve but to be honest I don’t have 4 stone to lose. I have managed to lose most of the ‘last half a stone’ that everyone moans about.
I admit keeping it off is not easy and I have fluctuated by a couple of kilos but I try not to get too het up by my weight. My body measurements have stayed the same and although there have been times that I have felt a bit yuk mostly I feel healthy. I have discovered that losing weight is not really the aim, feeling good about yourself is. Creating new habits that bring long-lasting results is important. And that little changes can make a huge difference. One thing I have learnt is that the – “I will start tomorrow” school of exercise does not work – don’t keep saying that you will start your diet (and that is rubbish anyway because we are all on a diet all the time – it is what makes up our diet that counts), on Monday – just start adjusting your eating and exercise now. Small steps, minor adjustments all add up.
That said I have found that my exercise has tailed off a bit. I still go to my trainer but my class attendance has slipped a bit – except for Pilates and a bit of CX Works and Combat. But I have upped my walking – its handy living a couple of miles from good pubs! So to boost my exercise and give myself a new challenge I have signed up for a Macmillan Charity Mighty Hike. 26 miles walking along the South Coast of England. I have never done anything like that before – long walks yes in difficult terrain but never 26 miles in one day. I have short legs which means I have to do more steps than the average person to cover the same distance – I’m really not sure how they will cope!
In order to help motivate myself I am going to do a lot of training walks in beautiful places – the Suffolk and Norfolk Coast, the Fens of East Anglia, the Tames path – my only requirement is that there is a coffee shop at the beginning and a pub at the end! I will be writing about my training and the areas that I am walking in – hopefully popping in some reviews of coffee shops and the surrounding villages and towns. All in the name of Renovating Mum!