Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spring into action

I've been lax in posting to my blog the last few months. I've been too busy to get my head around leisure pursuits, and it's taken a toll on my health. My doctor tested my cholesterol last month and told me it was heading for the high side, and I needed to do more exercise and lose weight. The problem with working the way I've been is that you get into a rut: you go to bed at night with your brain still whirling around work stuff and wake in the wee hours still thinking about it. When you finally nod off again you've had a broken night's sleep, and if you've set the alarm for 6 to go for a walk you feel too tired to get up and hit the snooze button and finally get up an hour later, too late really to get a walk in before the work day starts. This, perversely, makes you even more tired and irritable throughout the day. It's a vicious circle.
With people pulling me this way and that to do projects for them I resorted using the car instead of the bike to go to the shops, when it was perfect cycling weather in late winter and early spring. I had maybe two weekends off all winter. I was heading for clinical depression too, I think. But that's another story.
Now it's nearly summer but thankfully it's still relatively cool. I've learned to say no to people and keep the workload to a manageable level most of the time. We set the alarm for 6.30 now and go for walks most mornings. The last two weekends we've headed out to Olympic Park with our bikes for a couple of hours on Saturday mornings. Neither of us had ridden since August (shame on us both) and I was surprised that my fitness level hadn't dropped too far below its usual mediocrity. Must be the walking, as we live in a hilly area and our morning walks include at least 3 hills.
So the exercise bit is happening, and I've finally found a solution to help me lose weight from an unexpected source - my iPhone. It's an app called ShapeUp Club, and is associated with a website, The app is free, but it pays to join the website for $36 a year. It works on a similar principle to Weight Watchers, ie you are allowed eat a number of kilojoules/calories per day, but the beauty of it is the food database, where with a simple click you add an item into your daily allowance and it recalculates how many kJs you have left to eat that day. You add in any exercise taken and again it recalculates. You can also add in your own recipes and foods from your pantry. I've lost two kilograms in two and a bit weeks using ShapeUp Club to track my food intake and exercise.
Over the last year I've tried:

  • The Paleo Diet (very expensive as you eat a lot of meat/protein, and I started to feel guilty about eating so many dead animals. I did kickstart my weight loss though, but it plateaued because we broke the diet with chocolate and red wine)
  • The Gabriel Method (didn't lose a gram, but the hypnotic CD helped put me to sleep when I was stressed.)
  • The Dukan Diet (Echoes of the Paleo Diet, and for the first few weeks really restrictive. Too restrictive. Protein only. No fruit, very few veggies until the second month. Not balanced in my opinion)

but the ShapeUp one is the sensible option. I've likened it to Weight Watchers as it promotes a balanced diet rather than high-protein or no-carbs. While WW uses 'points' to calculate your food values, the points are undoubtedly based on a kJ or calorie count.
So now I'm having an action-packed spring, and loving it. Taking time to smell the roses. Destressing. And finally getting out on the bikes again :-)

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