I was feeling a bit at a loose end earlier today. Everyone was off doing things and I think the end of a packed week just had me at a low ebb.
There’s a stereotype that being poly means being in each other’s pockets all the time but if I’ve learned anything it’s the importance of both making sure that I am comfortable being in my own space, and embracing how important for other people to have that too. Remembering that felt difficult today, but I knew that if I got on with something it would help.
So I went to the gym, because its something I’ve not been doing as much as I’d like. And that helped. I have a routine that takes about an hour and includes a lot of cardio. With headphones on and an audio book playing that hour went quickly.
Combined with some time for a coffee and people-watching in the bar area later it definitely helped lift my spirits. Sometimes just plodding on is all that’s needed.
After a more hectic than expected beginning of the week, Lady M and I have taken a leisurely wander to the gym to work out some of the aches and pains with a mixture of exercise and spa pampering.
I usually start with a half hour brisk walk on a treadmill as it gives me time to let my mind wander and eases my sometimes creaking joints into acknowledging that there’s work to be done. I’m finding it gets me into a positive mindset, but also that it lets me switch off a bit.
Today’s thoughts came in general as my gaze occasionally passed over the other people using the space. There’s nothing earthshattering in the thoughts, but I felt it worth acknowledging and recording that:
A) everyone, even the most chiselled and glowing among us, had to start somewhere.
B) most people using the gym are in their own headspaces and couldn’t care less about what I look like
C) it’s easy to see how people can get obsessed with measuring themselves against other people and the weights they use or the machine settings they are on.
D) The only person I’m measuring against is myself and the difference from where I started
I’ve worked up a good mixed routine of cardio and resistance training via the KickStart coach at the gym which I’m looking forward to getting to grips with. I made a start on it today but by necessity I couldn’t entirely focus on it as I also had the cub with me.
He lives splashing around in the pool. After complaining about the days heat in the flat today it made for a good reward for doing his homework to bring him along. Lady M is mired in paperwork so stayed behind, while boy s is working today. That meant it was our first visit just the two of us, rather than the whole triad trading off watching duties.
If I’m making this sound more momentous than it was, it’s not deliberate. The cub is familiar enough with the pool, and gym, to not be phased if I’m momentarily out off his line of view. That said, I did make sure that the treadmill I used was in plain view overlooking the pool so we could gesture or smile as needed to reassure.
So I’m now sat in the cafe area, waiting for him to emerge from showering and changing, then we’ll go pick his dad up from work
I had my first session, known as a “kickstart” today at the new gym. It was basically a quick chat about immediate goals and measuring some baseline statistics to compare the (hopefully) improvement to come.
My previous experiences of these have tended towards a focus on BMI and an underlining of poor condition that has made me snarl: “I know that, why do you think I’m here?”
What was a relief this time was a recognition that BMI is flawed and instead a wider range of scanned body parameters being looked at. All of which recognised that I’ve a lot of dense muscle, so I would be labelled as a Solid Build rather than Obese – even if just on the boundary of it.
You know what, I’ll take that as a starting place to build from. I’ve basically said I want to build back into regular exercise as part of managing my diabetes and blood pressure and I don’t think that’s unreasonable as an initial set of goals.
I got home today and realised that I’d been on my feet all day, barring a quick sit down for lunch. With only a small crew on duty today, it kept me on my toes, and so when I had got home and showered, I took a moment to lie on the bed and just pay attention to my body.
My feet were tingling in that “oh you’ve stopped” throb, while my calves and thighs started to feel like they would melt off like petals. A stiffness at the base of my spine suggested not running around too much more.
Of course, my brain wanted to now start doing all the creative things, but then I got distracted with food, television, and blowing up aliens on the xbox. So, I shall dig into the archives some more instead, and plonk them here for a while for a splash of colour.
I realised the other day that lockdown put a massive crimp on my routine of trying to walk between 6000-10000 steps a day as a baseline level of exercise. Like many of us at the height of it all I was too worried to really leave the house barring some careful walking around the estate and as a result there is certainly a bit of extra meat on my bones at the moment
Going back to work as a front line library bod certainly underlined how fitness had dropped off as I was shattered at the end of each day at first.
Fortunately my most recent blood checks for managing my diabetes have come back with levels being fine, but between that and having managed to finally heal from whatever I did to the nerves and muscles in my leg over the lockdown, I’ve been doing my best to start back on being more active.
My first big walk was a couple of days ago, and my legs and hips certainly complained about it the next day, but even if its just a small walk round the block to get me out of the flat I’m determined to do it. If nothing else its good for my mental health to get out and feel the wind and hear the outside world. I’m lucky to have a lot of green spaces and the river Thames within walking distance, so I’m doing myself a disservice not to explore them.
I’ve been a little lacksadaisical about exercising regularly in lockdown, and so this week has seen a concerted effort to at the very least get my step count back up by going on walks round the block – about thirty-forty minutes depending on pace – with Lady M.
Today my body has decided to register its protest by twinging at the base of my spine across my hips; so I am currently sitting carefully, reading and writing while I let a hot water bottle ease the spasmed muscles. Later, I shall slowly shuffle to the shops to get some painkillers, and a few minor groceries – and count that as today’s exercise.
Back to the walking tomorrow when everything is a bit more sensible. A pity really, because it looks really nice out there at the moment. On the plus side, I’ve been getting some nice snaps on the phone as I’ve been walking about – so that’s another reason to keep doing it as there really are some hidden gems locally.
Whether it’s local plantlife, or views across the horizon, it’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re right on the edge of London, just where the countryside starts to open up into parklands,woods, and farming but still also relatively urban. It makes finding signs of spring both easy, but also easy to overlook because it rarely takes the form of woodland clearings covered in snowdrops and daffodils. Instead there is blossom on trees and bushes, thick verdant foliage, and the sound of birdsong – all of which do surprisingly well at pushing out past concrete and asphalt – albeit sometimes quite discretely.
Right, I can feel my muscles easing – so I shall change to go out, and try not to look like my spine is fused.
Lady M has had knee pains for quite some time. In one knee it’s been since childhood as a result of intensive dance and gymnastic training (and kneeling on an upturned plug, but let’s not go into that right now). The other knee however has been deteriorating too, especially when on stairs or bending down to pick things up – somewhat tricky in a second floor flat.
I eventually nagged her into consulting our GP and with some health insurance queue-jumping (because let’s face it that’s all that a BUPA membership really is) we got the diagnosis that it was early stages arthritis.
So early in fact that it could be offset or even sidestepped with physiotherapy and exercises.
As a result, Lady M has an exercise regime that she keeps forgetting to do at home. She does it, or at least elements of it, at work instead with stretches and various bits of leg contortion under her desk. I have come to call this the Ministry of Silly Sits, largely from her recounting the occasional expressions of concern from co-workers when they catch sight of her doing it.
Any of her co-workers reading this who is willing to do a complete Monty Python-style Ministry of Silly Walks routine past her desk will probably get to hear her taking my name in vain.
Well of course there was going to be a price to pay for all the recent gallivanting around and claiming to have a life that I’ve been doing recently. Today I paid that price by going back to Body Balance classes for the first time since the horrible winter cold took root at the beginning of December.
It will come as no surprise to hear that I am now lying in bed with every limb aching in protest – which is why I won’t say it, because I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well it went.
The only really noticeable deterioration has come in the balance sections, where my ankles decided they didn’t really want to cooperate. On the plus side my upper body strength seemed to be enough to allow me to get into a Crow Pose for approximately two seconds.
Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that either.
So, that happened. I now don’t feel bad for relaunching back into the general debauchery of #Tuesdays like we did this week. I think it was the first time we’ve had pretty much everyone there for ages.
The usual suspects of the Ladies M, Lady G and myself were joined by Lady P and Sirs D and S in a rowdily good natured assemblage determined as ever to bestow salt-laced wisdom on current events.
Sir S was waylaid by the landlord and his son, and pressed with many fine Irish Whiskeys in return for operatic snippets; presents were distributed to those who had not otherwise received them; stories were discussed; and the band tried to make themselves heard.
It’s a tough old lark this trying to get healthier and lose some weight thing. Having dragged Lady M into coming along to the gym, she got her revenge by convincing me to join her in a Body Balance class. These 45 minute classes combine Tai Chi, Pilates, and Yoga and hit most of the main muscle groups, focusing on balance and core strength (he says, reading off the label).
What better way to spend a Sunday lunchtime? Tying myself in knots, discovering that I’m far more flexible than I reckoned on, and have a knee that’s still surprisingly weak ten years after surgery. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. Okay, eating would be a better way to spend Sunday lunchtime, I’ll grant you that, but it did mean that when we got home I felt no guilt about setting up open sandwiches topped with smoked grilled back bacon and slices of black pudding fried in butter.
I have no shame.
What the lesson also taught me was precisely which muscles I haven’t been using in a while – because the first half of this week has been spent walking around feeling like someone has stapled the top thigh muscles to my legs with iron spikes. Yesterday was the first day I could get out of a chair without wincing. I celebrated by going back to the gym.
I know it’s going to be worth it – in fact I already know it is worth it because my resting bpm has already fallen significantly and a bit of weight loss has started too. I’ll try not to bore you all with it in huge detail, promise.