Health and fitness – summary

Health and fitness is one topic I will be posting about here but by no means the only things. However, since my retirement in July 2013 at the

age of 67 and a doctor’s earlier warning that at nearly 18 stone with high cholesterol and blood pressure I had an excellent chance of not making it much beyond 70, I decided that whatever other plans I may have for retirement they would all depend crucially on staying alive and this should be my initial priority. In fact I had made a start on this in July 2012 when I was inspired to start cycling again by Bradley Wiggin’s Tour De France victory. I say ‘again’ as cycle racing, along with squash, had been my main sports between my teens and when I gave both of them up at 40. I had never quite given up cycling altogether and had,

August 2003 in France

for the previous 20 years or so, undertaken one or two purely social rides on flat, short mainly off road routes with friends. I still had a couple of bikes in the garage and a now 30 year old turbo trainer so I started doing 5 minutes on the trainer most days and eventually short rides of 5 miles or so round the local roads.

Around August 2013, a year later, I started playing racketball, a variant of squash, with a view to getting back into squash too. Racketball is less technically challenging but just as physically demanding in terms of endurance if not speed and flexibility.

Me and Laura Massaro May 2014 National Squash Championships, Hull

Some call it old man’s squash! I enjoyed it so much and, once I recognised I would never get the speed and flexibility at 67 that i had in my 20s, I decided to stick with racketball. For what I wanted, a good workout, sociability and competition, it ticked all the boxes. The full story of all this is recorded on another blog I started in October 2012 called Bicycle Diaries. Recently the posts have been about a mountain bike accident and my diagnosis of prostate cancer but most of what preceded these are mainly on cycling and fitness. In addition I started walking a few days a week; anything between 30 minutes and 2 hours. I tried to work this into my everyday activity as a mode of transport on the days I didn’t play racketball or go out on my bike. The idea was to have at least 40 minutes activity everyday or at least most days when this wasn’t possible for some reason or another.

I soon learnt that as far as weight loss is concerned exercise would not be enough so I started modifying my diet. I signed up to MyFitnessPal to record my food and calorie intake and, with the help of a Garmin Vivoifit, calculated and recorded my exercise calorie burn. This wouldn’t work for everyone and can get a bit tedious but for me it works and over the 3 years I’ve been taking this seriously I have got down from 17 stone 12 lbs to 12 stone 10 lbs. This has been slow and steady and by making fairly small incremental changes to my nutrition and life style. I’m now fairly confident that I can maintain this without too much effort. I still enjoy the occasional over large meal and fairly heavy drinking at family celebrations and other similar events but these are always now fairly isolated one-offs and I easily drop back into my normal routine. In fact even my over eating and drinking is quite a bit less in volume than it used to be.

That’s the summary. I will┬ápost here with a bit more detail on individual aspects of this – cycling, walking, racketball, nutrition – in due course, partly for my own record of ideas and information and perhaps if I get any, answers to questions.

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