It’s That Time of (New) Year Again

A long, long time ago I used to dread Thursday nights at the gym.

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Because that was Boring Couples night.

The protagonists would dress up in gym gear (so far so good) – and sometimes they’d even use the equipment! But most of the time they’d just sit on it chatting.

The whole impression was that of a Cocktail Hour in Lycra.

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Had any one of these wretched single units that comprised the whole entity of the Thursday night invasion at any one point thought for itself and formulated the dreaded New Year Resolution?

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I’ll never know. But I’m pretty sure that now, yes right now* – years later at the very start of 2017 – gyms, keep-fit classes and the like across the UK will be simply bulging with the predictable influx of people who simply wouldn’t be interested at any other time.

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I am fully expecting to be struck down in the most Karma-like way imaginable for what I’m about to say next.

But in January my aim is always to avoid these New Year Resolution types if at all possible – if only to protect my sanity.

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Anyone who reads this blog knows fitness is one of my coping strategies,  a way of controlling the bits of my body I’m no so keen on.

And those wobbly bits  need tackling 365 days a year – they don’t just suddenly appear on New Year’s Day like a late delivery from Santa!pejo3hh7nq2dsjlkgmhpImagine then, what it’s like to suddenly have to compete for time/space in what’s often a very personal fight.

So let’s say you do normally do an evening class and you rock up as usual….

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Welllll, in January  suddenly you can’t because it’s full – OR you’ve wised-up to the fact that too many sets of flailing arms in a limited space where you’re all holding hand-weights is just a tad dangerous.

(Trust me I have experience of both – and I hope the latter stays back in the nineties!)

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As already said, I expect to be sent blazing to Hell for my arguably uncharitable opinions regarding what almost feels like a fight for territory but if YOU exercise regularly here are some tips to handle the New Year Resolution brigade:

10 New Year’s Resolution-ers To Avoid At The Gym including “Smart phone dummies”, “wannabe fitness models”, my pet-hate “the couples” and the inevitable “temps” (though hopefully all these characters will be temporary!)zoolander-the_look_you_have

And then there’s Men’s Health’s Crowded Gym Survival Guide – maybe a bit more brutal than I’d be but then hey, I’m not a body-builder…

I have no problems with anyone wanting to get fit (and I’m pretty sure the vast majority are not stereotypical pains-in-the-backside)  but, when it’s a significant amount of people at the same time, then – well, I’m just going to have to shut up, aren’t I?!

My tactics?this-guy-at-the-gym-just-did-four-sets-of-selfies

Remember that, for most, the keep fit good intentions are as seasonal – and as short-lived, as the Festive Period itself

Plan around it – go to the earlier, less popular classes. Do more solo running

Be philosophical – it’s not that bad

Remember the reason I started this blog in the first place – I broke my foot. It’s mended!

For any people trying to avoid the gym hoards in the Bronx, NY, there’s GoJimgo on Twitter – which states: “Know before you go. We tell you how many machines are available at your gym. In real time.”

I’d love to know if this can work in practice – or in the UK!

*”Now”? Yes now! There are gyms that open 24/7!

Smashing it up North

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The cartoon Jon is ALWAYS on the move!

My last post was a play-around on the word “South” – so this one’s shooting up North – to Greater Manchester!

Tower FM Breakfast presenter Jon Holling has around two stone so far – and is bravely charting his progress on the station’s website.

 

Now trust me, it takes real self-discipline to work out after an early shift!

Take a look at him in action in the vid below at his gym in Bury.

Hats Off To Larry

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Larry’s mission was to shrink obesity worldwide – starting with himself

A man who inspired many people on FaceBook with his weight loss journey died earlier this morning.

 

Larry Evans, from St Louis, US, once weighed 800lbs (just over 57 stone) but his work-out videos on social media offered hope to many who, arguably, couldn’t be reached any other way.

His passing was confirmed by family on FaceBook. Subsequent press reports said Larry had died aged 40, and friends relatives confirmed he had been battling pneumonia.

Larry founded Let’s Shrink Obesity/Team Larry and charted his progress, and his exercise regime, via short videos. Some were watched as many as 27,837,900 times!

In doing this, his mission was to inspire everyone to GET UP, GET OUT & DO SOMETHING. He wanted to shrink obesity around the world – starting with himself.

Avoiding fad diets and weight-loss surgery, he managed to lose 11 stone over a two-year period through sensible diet and exercise alone.

All Larry asked was that nobody judge him.

In an earlier post, where I described how he inspired meI mentioned how I hoped to interview him for this blog at some point. Sadly this will never happen.

RIP Larry.

And let’s remember him how, I imagine, he’d like to be remembered – working out!

 

 

 

Does this mean I have to DIET?

I’ve been putting off this post for a lonnnng time – but it’s time to grasp the nettle and do it!

I must apply myself - and it's not a happy situation (posed by model)
I must apply myself – and it’s not a happy situation (posed by model)

From that first shoot of pain after I hit the floor, from the moment I saw the clear break on the X-ray, I knew I faced losing a vital coping strategy – exercise.

Not least in my war against weight.

I like that satisfying feeling of sore muscles as I relax in the evening after a work-out.

I have bad memories of going-on-a-diet
I have bad memories of going-on-a-diet

I like knowing how rock-hard my muscles are – whether that’s looking at my sharply-defined calves in a mirror or even running my hands down my thighs.

I like that clarity of mind – and even the “high” that running gives me.

I like that sense of achievement and satisfaction gained from exercise.

Couch potato status is looming large (posed by model)
Couch potato status beckons (posed by model)

And – arguably, most of all – I love the fact that it means I don’t have to religiously watch what I eat.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not what would be described as overweight – my BMI is about 24 and I don’t even own a set of bathroom scales.

You’ve gathered I’m a driven person – I’m certainly not a coach potato.

Nice, comfy slippers for my new lifestyle?
Nice, comfy slippers for my new lifestyle?

Yet Failure is inviting me – it’s like a big, soft, cushy armchair, calling my big, soft, flabby body (so it seems) to settle down.

I’ll freely admit that my eating regime is not meticulously healthy – but then exercise has always been my “get out of jail” card.

Just think – I used to avoid a flabby midriff by doing the “plank” – but now I can’t because that puts weight on my foot too.

The plank used to take care of my abs - now I can't do it
The plank used to take care of my abs – now I can’t do it

Now it seems I must apply myself to disciplined eating – and it’s not a happy situation.

Of course I’m familiar with the regime of “eating sensibly” – and, believe it or not, when I was a member of Weight Watchers that regime was very welcome (and successful!) indeed, not least because it caters for those of us who live in the real world.

Navel gazing; Obsessing over my bikini bridge belongs in the past!
Navel gazing; Obsessing over my bikini bridge belongs in the past!

So, wanting to get an angle on reality, I approached the cook at my local pub –  she’s lost a couple of stone with Slimming World – and she put me in touch with her leader.

Paula, who runs the Slimming World group at Abbey Hulton, Stoke-on-Trent, told me; “I’ve got some members who can’t exercise – and they’re still losing weight every week.

“One lady broke her leg last year, she put on weight with comfort-eating, but she’s lost two stone so far.

I know! I know!
I know! I know!

“It can be frustrating sometimes if you can’t exercise, but if you get the food on plan you’ll lose weight for sure.”

She did, however, go on to say: “I think that once members have reached Target, the ones who maintain it tend to be active”.

I cannot fault all this – in fact I applaud it.

It is just I have what can best be described as a “hang-up” about dieting.

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Doesn’t a picture like this just make you want to scream?!

Without going into gender politics, the psychological aspect bugs me.

Dieting is part of female life, so it seems.

I remember my mother preparing what she happily described as a “skinn-ee lay-dee” salad for herself.

From my teenage years I was acutely aware that the “naughtiness” of eating something that tastes good can give me the type of body I detest.

And now, of course, it’s time to grow up.

Nine weeks since the break and – instead of calories – I’m counting down the weeks ’til I can run again.

Honk That Duck

I’ve finally grasped the nettle – and visited ParkRun.

They're off!
They’re off!

Basically, for the uninitiated, it’s a 5km (just over 3 miles) run which is timed – all you have to do is register on the website and print-out the barcode it gives you.

I could see the runners rounding the first bend even from the road.

Despite it being nearly a month since the fracture I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever run again!

When you get a Personal Best you get to squeeze the duck and make him honk!
When you get a Personal Best you get to squeeze the duck and make him honk!

In the band-stand I joined Natalie, who’s studying Sports Therapy at university.

“You’ve got to take your time, with the healing process,” she told me.

 “It is difficult, but it’s nature isn’t it? You’ve just got to let it take its time, because there’s no point you going back too early – you could fracture it again.”

Do You Feel It Too? (Photo by Peter Morgan)
Do you feel it too?
(Photo by Peter Morgan)

She added that I’d need the help of physiotherapists too; “Once the bone has knitted you’re going to have damaged areas, (around it) you’re going to have to work on those.”

Another woman – Sarah – appeared at my side – “Where’s the ParkRun duck? I’ve got a personal best!”

Despite having done around 14 ParkRuns, I wasn’t aware of this.

When I get my next Personal Best I won't be celebrating alone
Honk me!

Yup, you grab that duck and you honk him!

Once this was done, I joined Sarah in the ParkRun café, on this occasion a church hall.

Exercise has figured very prominently in her weight loss regime: “I don’t think I’d have lost as much as I have without my running. I’ve still got two stone to go, but I’m hoping if I just keep running it’ll come off eventually.”

So how would she cope if she couldn’t run? “I would be devastated! I’m just starting to get to that point where I’m actually feeling fit – so I’d feel well gutted.”

Alison, another runner, has had problems with shin-splints and, since having her two young sons, sometimes has issues with her hips and back (“It’s very frustrating when you’ve got very limited time, and you’re a busy mum and working, then that’s the one thing that you’ve got and you realise you can’t run”).

Dogs can join in too
Dogs can join in too

She has this advice for those who, like me, have been told that rest is the only cure: “It depends on what the rest is. It could be rest from any physical activity, the jumping up and down stuff –  so, although I’d be resting, I’d still be doing Pilates, I could go for a swim. You know, it’s finding the alternative activity and having the flexibility in your own mind.”

Feeling decidedly more positive, I’ve now resolved to remain part of the ParkRun community through marshalling.

And one day, well, I’m determined I’ll get another PB – and honk that duck!

For more ParkRun info click here

Mistaken Identity

I need to summon my inner super-hero!
I need to summon my inner super-hero

If one more person refers to me hobbling I will scream. Whatever happened to limping?

A broken bone in my foot has catapulted me to OAP status. (What next, incontinence pads?)

Bear with me. I’m wondering if I’m alone in all this – and I know I’m not! (And more to the point, it’s hardly life-threatening).

I feel as though I have positively morphed from an independent person who could influence their identity through exercise to what I perceive as a flabby invalid to whom the very option of exercise is denied.

Detail from The Hostile Forces, Beethoven frieze, by Klimpt
I don’t want to look like this!

At what point was the moment of transition? The moment the fracture actually happened? Or the actual diagnosis?

Was the huge-breasted, flabby-armed, big-bellied entity I dread becoming born in the snap of the bone?

I was in denial until diagnosis.

It came hours after being X-rayed in A&E – initially in the form of an apologetic-looking nurse calling my name and telling me I needed “a shoe”.

Carrie Bradshaw wouldn't like the latest addition to my footwear collection
Carrie Bradshaw wouldn’t like the latest addition to my footwear collection

A doctor met me in the corridor and took me to a consulting room where she showed me the X-ray – and the fracture.

The good news was I didn’t need a plaster-cast – just the goddamned shoe – which, bulky and OAP-like, was velcroe’d on.

Now I’m no Carrie Bradshaw – but the latest addition to my footwear collection is nothing short of hideous.

Of course there’s always the option of not wearing it all. I go through phases where I kid myself that, because my boots match, the fracture never happened.

Therapeutic shoe similar to mine - French manicure optional
Therapeutic shoe similar to mine – French manicure optional

In more accepting moments, there are still problems.

After all, the shoe I wear to the office on my healthy foot actually has a thinner sole than the one on my injured one. (Heels are definitely out).

So – unevenly shod – I’m more likely to limp anyway!

Or am limping because I’m wearing a therapeutic shoe which everyone can see?  Indeed I often feel duty-bound to do so for that very reason!

This patient needs patience
This patient needs patience

And the latest news? Apparently we’re all too sedentary – “sitting is the new smoking” and “the couch potato culture has spread to the workplace”.

Standing up will at least use up some calories.

Well, normally I’d welcome a story like this – but injury means a nice little calorie-burner like standing up for longer periods of time is not really an option for me.

Read the article here

And I’d like to think the foot will heal at some point so I can help Get Britain Standing  (Have a go at their Sitting Calculator – I wouldn’t dare!)