I started this because I had to do something about creeping weight gain—17 pounds since I moved to Oxford eight years ago!!
Obviously, if I do not do something, it could reach the point that I could no longer go on long walks easily, or explore easily on our travels. Or worse, have less strength for long hours of reading and writing!
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In addition, exercise helps creativity. I am now writing fairly intensely—doing 800 words a day on my memoir, and getting those words polished enough to share them on my blog. And also, writing and publishing a 500-800 blog post.
So much intense reading, thinking and writing has the potential to affect perspective, clarity of thought, mood (and perhaps even mental health!) unless one’s life is balanced. And mine is. I live in a family of four. I get together with friends twice a week—with the women’s group I co-lead once a week, and I schedule a one on one coffee, or a couples’ dinner once a week.
But I also need the dissipation of writing tension, and the fresh air, endorphins and runner’s high of exercise in between writing sessions so that my day really feels like two days, and I can come fresh to my second writing session.
And so exercise is a godsend. I am increasing my daily steps, week by week, and have, this week, reached 6600 steps a day, as measured my Omron pedometer. However, the optimal number of steps to be truly physically fit is 10,000. 34 days to go since I am aiming to increase my steps by 100 a day.
I am planning to lose weight and to get fit by adding in a new dietary habit weekly, and increasing my exercise weekly, until I am exercising for 90 minutes a day. Why 90? Well, my sister-in-law, Dr. Kaaren Mathias told me that numerous studies showed measurable health gains with increased exercise up to 90 minutes a day. After that, the health gains taper off. So, once I reach 90 minutes, if it’s necessary for continued weight loss, I will weave physical activity into my day in the form of gardening or housework.
I read, “if we make the time to exercise, it makes us so much more productive and leads to such improved creativity, cognitive function, and mood that the time we need for doing it will open up and then some–making us so much happier and better at the art of creation, to boot.”
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And diet? Well, I would like to transition to a diet that is largely plant-based, and hope to do it slowly over ten weeks by adding a new habit a week.
Now obviously, the weight loss is not going to be as dramatic as if I went on Atkins and South Beach. On the other hand, the changes I am introducing are so slow that, with luck, I hope to be able to make them permanent habits.
I lost a pound. In the past, I would have thrown up my hands in despair…but I know I am stronger, fitter, healthier, with a better immune system—and so I am going to keep rowing, while adding in a couple of different metrics: waist measurements, and body fat percentages as measured by my Tanita electronic scale.