Thursday, 26 November 2009

Middle Ages spread

Realised the other day that the old MAS has begun. Damn! It seems I've just slid into a lifestyle pattern which is pretty sedentary and comfortable and includes quite a lot of goodies, like biccies (my one weakness, or one of my weaknesses) with every cup of tea or coffee.

It started a few weeks ago when Mr. Windsor visited Turku. During the warmup we do this exercise where we sit on the floor and raise the feet about six inces and either hold that position or move the legs. It just hurts my back and I feel not just a pull in my lower abs but like I have absolutely no power there to keep my feet off the floor. Frustrating!

I often enjoy watching programmes on TV where overweight people struggle with new exercise and dietary regimes in order to lose weight and be happier. I must admit to feeling rather smug as I watch sipping my tea and having another couple of biscuits or some more chocolate, thinking "that will never be me, after all I have self control!". But do I? How much do the ups and downs in everyday life affect our self-control? I could blame change of season, lack of light, worries about work, etc. for the desire to feel "full", which brings a certain feeling of satisfaction. These causes though may be just be a small part of the problem.

Ok. I'm not obese. I have a belly and love handles and I probably could do with beginning jogging again, but I still think I'm moderately fit. I guess the balance of food intake versus physical exercise has shifted so that the former outweighs the latter. Pun intended. What to do?

Well, first off, cut down on the calories. I'm not the sort of person who believes in the cold turkey approach. I think though that rather than having something sweet with every cup of tea or coffee, one small treat per day is ok. But that's it, ONE! In the past I've noticed that when I do this, I can get used to having less but enjoying it more. It's also not to just cut out the sweet stuff. Good diet is about good choices and certainly in my case, it requires conscious effort. I often get to the checkout and wonder how those choccy biccies got into the shopping basket, while the fruit and veg I planned to buy are nowhere to be seen. It's funny but kind of pathetic at the same time.

The other plan is to do more physical stuff. I don't feel like I really need to ramp this up to the point where I'm sweating buckets and ready to puke. I used to train like that in basketball and later in karate. I didn't enjoy it then and I sure as hell wouldn't enjoy it now. However, to do enough to get out of my comfort zone and to raise a sweat would be just the job, and this 3-4 times a week. The sword training is ok for this, it's occasionally demanding, but only occasionally. Anyway, we're not training to get fit per se, even though good conditioning is essential to be a good swordsman.

I'm thinking about going to Peru for 5-6 weeks in 2010 with my wife so I this gives me a good target to aim for, actually more to improve fitness than to lose weight. However, if I can get the balance back, I'm fairly sure one will take care of the other.


  1. Hi!
    a few tips from my personal life: with the feet off-ground exercise, simply keep the feet straight and lean back until they come off-ground. It's a mental thing, but it changes the exercise and takes the strain away from the abs. It becomes about balance then.

    And with the comfort zones, work within the comfort zone as a routine, make something easy that is more or less remotely exercise like, and then push the limits of the comfort zone gently. The progress is slow this way, but it does two things: firstly it keeps your comfort zone (and hence your fitness) from shrinking, and the benefits you get are also long-term and they stick. Quick gains deteriorate fast, benefits gained over a long period stay for life.

    Then, in my opinion, for pushing the comfort zone the key phrase is 'every now and then'. What I do, is that I push myself in two situations: 1) if I'm feeling too lazy, sort of getting the feeling of not being satisfied to myself, I might run through something vigorous to sort of reset and 'prove' myself that I can still do it. But this is a tough call, sometimes, if you know that such activity would fail anyway at that time, and it is physical more than mental, then you must ease yourself in to the exercises.

    The other case is that, starting slow, I find myself getting into a 'flow' where more can be done than usual. When in such a mode, investigating it further is often beneficial. Afterwards, making that which you were then able to do something that is safely within your comfort zone is then again something to work towards.

    I hope this makes any sense, I'm writing in a rush! :) I hope to see you soon again!

  2. Thanks Ilkka! BTW, your writing skills are really impressive, i.e. your ability to write clearly and succinctly. I noticed it on your blog as well.