Friday, 12 April 2019

Strength in numbers

Lent 2019: Day 38

Yes, Lent is about giving things up, but it can also about forming new habits. It is easier to commit not to do things than to do things which are difficult. Over the years, Lent has been a good time to launch into new initiatives that can then take on the status of a habit. Lent and indeed New Year - resolutions, if broken in February, can be reinstated in Lent. If continued daily, there's a good chance they'll become year-round, a positive part of the daily routine.

For me, the spreadsheet is the key to success. Every single day since January 2014 I've entered data into the spreadsheet, each year it grows an extra column as I log more daily habits. This year, in January, I began doing the plank, adding it to push-ups, pull-ups and weights (5kg lateral, internal and external rotations).

The planking is going well; holding the plank position (forearms and toes on the ground, legs, backs, neck straight) for two and half to three minutes, three to four times a day, with the aim of doing an hour a week. This is a great exercise for strengthening the core muscles of the torso, helps with posture - but reducing belly fat is rather a slow win. Planking is certainly better than sit-ups, which are bad for the spine (all that repetitive bending and straightening the backbone).

Because I'm more consistent than last year, with fewer missed exercise sessions, the numbers are rising, and with them my strength. I've managed 70 or more push-ups on several occasions, and knocking out 60 is now standard - last year I was pushing 40.

So each year, I am increasing muscle mass (the more there is, the more loss can be accommodated with ageing). Yes, there will come a year where for the first time I can no longer do as many push-ups as I was doing the year before, or heave as many weights, or pull my chin up to the bar as often - but the more consistent I am in doing these exercises twice a day, every day, the further away that moment recedes. My slogan is not so much 'beat yesterday', but 'beat last year'. The same goes for paces walked, fresh fruit & veg eaten, and that slow but steady reduction in amount of alcohol drunk.

My father's advanced age offers me a template of how much of life there still lies ahead to be savoured; by investing more in my health since my mid-50s, the genetic factor may be enhanced some yet. My father drove to work every day - his office was out by the airport, there were no direct public-transport routes to get him there. Driving is bad for health; on top of all that sitting in the office, it's another hour-and-half to two hours a day sitting, stressed, in traffic. Driving is the enemy of walking, walking is a great habit.

Walk home from W-wa Jeziorki station, the nicest way. 1.4km, 1,750 paces.

This time three years ago:
Cultural differences: distance to power

This time seven years ago:
Painting the Forum Orange

This time ten years ago:
That's what I like about the North

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