Follow Violet’s journey from being a ‘thick waisted’ 55 year old to becoming an enlightened ‘health aware’ woman …

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Hello. I hope this blog will encourage you – and help me – to get fitter and healthier.

I’m a 55 year old woman who was decidedly flabby (in spirit as well as body). Inertia had set in and it looked settled for the long haul. Something had to be done. I went for some routine blood tests and booked myself in for an NHS Healthcheck. This way I could get a health “baseline” from which to start.

Oh dear. Cholesterol past 8 (it should be under 5), waist a bit too thick – this is apparently a pointer to potential problems and then we talked about diet – well – shame on me. I said grandly that I cooked everything I ate and avoided processed food. We got onto sugar. I was eating chocolate, cakes/biscuits every day (doesn’t everyone?)  “and do you make those yourself?” Er.. no. (How would I make Maltesers, Topics, Galaxy whole nut chocolate, Ripples, Flakes, Dark Chocolate Digestives, McVities Ginger Cake….Bendicks Bitter Mints?)  I also realised that I had been frying almost everything I ate – and just because I fried it in olive oil – it was still FRyed. And olive oil is no better than any other oil once it’s heated up. The nurse helpfully likened me to a goose being force-fed for foie gras (there was some fat around my liver apparently). This is not a nice image – but an effective one. But she was quite encouraging – my risk of heart attack and stroke is only SLIGHTLY raised and I was still in good time to do something about it.

Well ladies and gentlemen – I have. I went for it with the zeal of a convert and got some good results very quickly – I stopped frying and started chopping. Salad, salad, more salad and some vegetables. I ate more protein – less carbohydrates (almost none at the beginning) and no bread. The Magic Bullet of healthy eating I realise now is LGV – leafy green vegetables. It seems everywhere I looked for advice – the same things came up but especially Leafy Green Vegetables. And more water. Much more water – less tea and coffee.

I thought about what I ate. I took the time to go to the market and get the fruit and vegetables that I needed. It’s actually cheaper than what I was doing before, and regardless of weight and girth – my body just felt more comfortable. I had more energy.

As important – to mind and body – as what I was ingesting was exercise. It varies from person to person but I know from my years on this planet that I need to move around – quite a bit – if I am to feel better and who knows even….GOOD. So – I decided to do something active every day – even if it was a brisk walk. No more binge-watching – dying from a Netflix-induced DVT would be SO shaming.

I have done T’ai Chi for many years. One is supposed to practise it daily but I struggle along to a class once a week. I probably have that to thank for any semblance of fitness I still have. It’s good for the joints and co-ordination; it “centres” you and calms the mind. I resolved to do the “short form” at home more often. That’s about 10 minutes (the long form can take up to 20), and the more you do it the more enjoyable it is. I will come back to T’ai Chi – it is so simple and yet so mysterious. So that’s one day taken care of.

I go swimming once a week – I would be unlikely to do this on my own but I meet a chum there and we have a tea and put the world to rights afterwards. We swim outside in a (heated) pool. Currently I do 8 lengths (400m) which isn’t much. I’m working on better technique – ie keeping my head down. I convinced myself I could have done another 100m this week had the sky not turned an ominous black and threatened lightening. It was hail as it turned out – but I’m quite pleased I missed it! (and it missed me). If feels great getting dry and warm again – and swimming is great for using the whole body. Holiness rating: 10/10

Yoga. Now there’s a thing. I have a very patient yoga teacher. Some years ago I started her class. Full of fervour and intent. If I attended two weeks running it was rare. I would make very convincing excuses to myself to skip the class – I haven’t eaten yet, I’ve eaten too much, I can’t find my…..oh no – look at that – too late now. Tut. Like T’ai Chi – yoga goes beyond the physical. It changes you – and something inside doesn’t want that change. D’ya get me? So I would disappear for months on end and would be greeted with a warm nod when I once again made it through the door. Iyengar yoga – it’s tough. Well it is for me. I was delighted to see that my teacher was running a “beginners” class. It still seems pretty hard to me – I’m not that bendy – but it’s an hour instead of 90 minutes and it’s on a Saturday morning. Less time for the monkey-mind to come up with reasons not to go – and it feels good to start the day that way. Yoga and T’ai chi will prove to you beyond doubt that mind/body/spirit are inseparable – how you treat one will impact on all the others.

This is still early days for this regime. Hope springs eternal. All encouragement gratefully received.

But – I needed something else – something with a bit of cardio/strength building, waist-reducing……something to get me sweating basically. Lauren suggested a kettle bell work-out. She came to my house so she could do an assessment and take me through the workout. “This is a bit easy” I thought. It’s a 4kg kettle bell. The workout includes quite a bit of stretching and a series of exercises aimed at specific muscle groups. Well readers – the next day I felt aches in muscles I think must have taken early retirement, and others that had clearly been working to rule. Biding their time no doubt until I got my Freedom Pass when they could give up completely.  I’ve done the workout three times now, and it does seem different every time. Yesterday was particularly hard and I’m trying to work out why! I think I may just have been really tired (out late the night before). Or perhaps had eaten too recently. However, I am feeling the effects of all of this activity – and it feels good.

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Read more of Violet’s journey

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