Woman hiking

It’s spring! Top tips for putting it in your step

Four weeks ago, ‘he who is never obeyed’ reached his tolerance limit of my whingeing about weight. Being a woman over 50, I have lost the ability to abstain from ‘bad foods’, do a few trips to the gym and forsake a few glasses of wine knowing that I would drop a dress size in a month.

Today, I have the diet of a Carmelite nun, obsess about my Fitbit, try to drink only at weekends (hmmm – this might be a promise too far), shun processed food and read every new diet book to hit the shelves of Waterstones. The end result? I have not lost a single gram in 24 months. The abdominal duvet clings on.

This is the woman who, in desperation, signed up for a ‘health retreat’ which required me to endure seven days of nothing but juice (which I had to make myself), sufficient doses of bentonite clay to form a new Buddha for the mindfulness garden, enough cider vinegar to float a boat and then unspeakable ‘treatments’. The result? I gained four pounds and a nasty migraine.

Understandably I am feeling dismayed, but he was at his limit of woe. And so I have been put on the farmer’s formula – forget the weight, just get fit. He did have a point. All this healthy eating has come to nothing. In January I went on a walking holiday and was so exhausted after a 12km walk that I cried half-way up the last hill and fell asleep in the bath. In short, I was under-fit and over-weight. So the farmer formula is to get up an hour early and walk for a minimum of 10,000 steps, but all have to be high active. That means walking at a pace of at least 130 steps a minute. Sounds easy? It’s not. Especially when you are trying to keep up with a 6’5” man who is well used to tramping the land for hours at a time. First week was truly horrible – I felt as if I was pushing porridge up hill; second week not much better; third week I noticed I could get up a slope without feeling sick; fourth week I am enjoying the fresh air, hearing the birds rather than my lungs working like bellows, and skipping up the slope – well not quite like a mountain goat, but much faster than week one. There have been additional benefits:

  • My cardio-vascular recovery has made a significant improvement
  • My eyes look brighter
  • I have more energy
  • I think my legs are a little firmer – less moon-surface
  • I get more done in a day

But I also have noticed that this body needs more post – exercise care than when I was in my thirties. All this walking meant that in the first week I was stiff, my ankles hurt and I walked like an old woman for the first five minutes of every day. So, a quick check in with the Sassy experts and I am adding in the following:

  • Sleep – the more I read and hear about sleep the more the more I realise how critical it is to general fitness and weight loss. If you are, like the old me, a believer in toughing it out on six hours a night then take a look at Mathew Walker’s video. If it doesn’t kick you into reworking your rest patterns then read his brilliant book Why we Sleep and our article on getting a good night’s rest [link]. If you still insist on sleep deprivation then I can only call you crazy!
  • Stretching – as we age our muscles, tendons and cartilage gets less elastic. If you do not help them out they go into a state of chronic tension. The result? You walk like an oldy – shuffling and semi-bent before your time. You tend to clump along the path rather than glide. Your shoulders hurt and your ankles twinge. So spend 30 minutes a day stretching out the tension and get back your sassy-suppleness.
  • Turmeric – yes, I am jumping on the bandwagon by shouting about this wonder-herb. However, one look at the research on the benefits of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) and it is hard to refuse trying this out. Claims range from reducing joint inflammation (essential for the farmer formula) by boosting the immune system to preventing cancer, depression, age related diseases and Alzheimer’s. I do not particularly like the taste, but I would drink pond water to avoid following my mother into depression and dementia for my last years in this realm. The quickest fix is to make yourself turmeric shots. See the sassy recipe in our Inspiration section.
  • Lemon water – we all know that 2 litres a day is basic if you want to flush those toxins and ensure your body is able to metabolise fat. It also keeps your brain more active. But if you add a few slices of lemon then you ensure your water is balancing our body alkaline/acid levels. We live in a world of food which tends towards acid – grain, meat, dairy, sugar, fizzy drinks. The impact of being too acid is muscle weakness and, at the extreme, liver damage. However, lemon juice, when metabolised, acts as an alkaline and can help bring you back to balance. So slice the yellow orb and get drinking.

So, in short, if you step out with gusto, sleep, stretch, strengthen your immune system and slurp that water you should have a spring in your step by May Day. Good luck!

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