For reasons which not detain us here, I began my New Year’s fitness campaign on Tuesday 7th January 2014, i.e. instead of upon New Year’s Day, as originally intended.
Following my practice of previous years, I did so by purchasing a bog-standard desk diary from WH Smith’s, in which I began my weight at the beginning of each week; my daily food and drink intake; and details of any exercise I took on each day. This is the kind of anally-retentive thing I am naturally prone to do anyway, but the self-discipline aspect of it also helps with motivation, by prompting personal interest in (if not sometimes shame at) what I am consuming across a given week.
Yesterday I stepped up my regime by taking my first exercise of the campaign in attending my local gymnasium for the first time in about nine months – notwithstanding the fact that I throughout I have been paying £82 per month via standing order for the privilege, irrespective of whether I go anywhere near it or not.
If asked, I would deny on oath that my return to the gym (and indeed, exercise) had anything specific to do with the coincidental fact that yesterday morning, at my official weigh-in, I was exactly 2 pounds heavier than I was on 7th January, despite the greatly-improved healthiness of my diet.
There are as many theories of diet and fitness as there are researchers and celebrity personal trainers, but I think there’s a general consensus that an individual’s weight – if not state of health and fitness – is a product of what he or she takes in as regards fuel (in the form of food and drink) and then burns off, in the form of exercise.
Tempting as it undoubtedly is, Michael Mosley’s new book on Fast Exercise – which purports to demonstrate that just a minute’s worth of intense exercise, undertaken three times a week, is potentially more beneficial than hours and hours in the gym or (out on the road) jogging – fails to take full account of the ‘rounder’ benefits of devoting significant periods to improving oneself via exercise.
I’m referring here to both the overwhelming sense of triumphant self-satisfaction to be gained from having forced oneself to take exercise for a prolonged period … and then the increased production of endorphins and other beneficial hormones (the general sense of well-being) generated by doing so.
It all comes back to the adage that – if you think that something’s doing you good – it probably is.
At least, that the message I brought away with me overnight … after my 10 minutes on the stepping machine, 15 minutes in the weights room and 10 minutes in the sauna late yesterday afternoon.