Saturday was a glorious day in Dublin. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and with the delicate encouragement of my good lady wife, I felt compelled to get outside and embrace nature.
In other words, it was a nice day and my wife persuaded me to go for a walk in the hills.
In fact, we jumped in the car with the dog and drove south to County Wicklow, and to a place call Crone Woods that is next to Powerscourt Waterfall (the tallest waterfall in Ireland don’t you know?) in Enniskerry.
The trail takes you through the woods and up the Maulin Mountain. It’s about 8km long, and pretty strenuous. It certainly got my heart pumping! But as it was such a lovely day – and as there were so many places to stop and admire the view – it didn’t seem so bad. I took my camera along, so I had plenty of excuses to stop and catch my breath as a composed shots.
Even so, by the end of the walk, we both felt like we’d had a good workout. And with this feeling of virtuousness came the temptation of rewarding ourselves for all the effort. After all, we’d probably burned about 1,000 calories each, so why couldn’t we have a small treat?
So that evening, when we at a friends’ house for dinner, I indulged probably a little more than I should have – both with food and alcohol. Yes, and I know I only just recently talked about the perils of the demon drink, but I’ve never been one to follow my own advice!
I did successfully side-step the plate of garlic bread that was being passed around, but my resolve broke when the cheese board appeared. I’ve always loved a bit of smelly blue cheese, and I could hear it calling to me. So I had some, and I enjoyed it. And I told myself that I had earned it, because I had done all that strenuous walking earlier in the day.
But here’s the thing… the activity and the reward weren’t necessarily equal. In fact the reward I gave myself definitely outweighed the activity in terms of calories eaten and burnt.
I guess that’s why Slimming World doesn’t give extra syns in reward for body magic – because the temptation would always be to over-estimate the benefit of the activity and grant yourself too many syns!
The heavens opened today, after quite a long (mostly) dry spell here in Dublin, and it hasn’t stopped raining all day!
The dog still needed walking however, so I reluctantly donned my waterproofs and found an umbrella, and manfully set out into the cold and wet. We managed a complete circuit of the local park, which meant that I reached my daily target of 60 minutes of walking on my Fitbit.
These Fitbit fitness trackers are really good for people like me who relish in statistics! I can count the number of steps, the kilometres walked, the calories burnt, the number of stairs I’ve climbed, and check my heart rate throughout the day!
I love the fact that I can see my fitness activity over time, and see the distances I cover.
Here’s the stats for the last 9 months:
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I like the fact that over the course of less than a year I’ve gone from walking on average 4.5km a day to 9km – doubling my distance. That’s got to be good for my health, and would probably earn me a few Body Magic stickers if I could be bothered to claim them!
My poor old feet are feeling a bit tender this evening, as I’ve done a lot of walking today.
At the end of last week I had managed to somehow break the saddle on my bicycle. The official line is that it was defective, but I know it just couldn’t handle my weight! Either way, some metal bits snapped and rendered the saddle completely useless. And so over the weekend it went to the local bike shop for essential repairs.
It was ready for collection today. And instead of driving over to collect the bike, I decided to walk so that I could enjoy the cycle home. So that meant a 4.5km walk to the shop that took me about an hour.
On the way home, I stopped off at Dundrum to do some shopping, so that added another 30 minutes of walking around the shopping centre.
And by the way, it never ceases to amaze me the number of people out shopping during a work day. Even if you discount the hords of new mothers using up their maternity leave pushing their expensive prams between Starbucks and Penneys, there are still millions of people about. Do these people not have jobs? And shouldn’t all those kids be in school?
Anyway, when I got home, I took Alfie the dog out the park, and he had so much fun chasing after the ball that we ended up being out for an hour and a half.
And so, by the time I got home from that my Fitbit informed me that I had done over 20,000 steps, which is 16 km in walking – giving me the following award in the app…
Of course it’s not every day that I have the time to do over 4 hours of exercise.
I just hope it shows on the scales at the Slimming World meeting tomorrow!
The walk, as the name suggests, is between the two commuter towns of Bray and Greystones just south of Dublin, and it’s about 7km in length. It gives great views of the stunning coastline, and also of the DART railway line for those who are railway enthusiasts.
We drove to Greystones and caught the DART to Bray; a journey of just under 10 minutes. We decided to start in Bray because – let’s face it – it’s a bit a bit of dump. It’s the kind of place that it’s better to be walking away from, rather than towards!
After walking the length of the promenade in Bray, where I played a quick game with myself of ‘count the number of rough-sleeping homeless people’, and deftly avoiding the groups of Spanish and overly-enthusiastic American tourists, we took the steep path out of the town to start the walk.
The path starts off as tarmac, but quickly turns into loose gravel and then lumpy stones. It’s a well-maintained route, but you’d definitely want to have a sturdy pair of runners or walking shoes on. Although I did spot one woman tottering along on 4 inch high wedges. It’s also mostly flat, apart from the climb at the beginning and a set of about a dozen steps somewhere in the middle.
On the approach to Greystones, we were directed around a large redevelopment of the marina, which looks like it could be lovely when finished. There was also a market on selling lots of artworks and other tat.
My eyes were drawn to people wandering around with bags of chips from the nearby chipper. They smelled and looked amazing after two hours of walking, particularly as our packed lunch had consisted of a banana and an Aldi Fruit & Fibre cereal bar (6 syns). Then came the people carrying icecreams, and the numerous cafes selling lovely sweet things.
Greystones is a lovely place to visit, especially for us city types on day trips. And it’s good to see the town centre thriving. Indeed, we walked past one place called The Happy Pear that had a queue of people out the door and down the street. Must go back there one day and find out what all the fuss is about!
The final distance between the two train stations was just over 8km, which earned us our 10,000 steps for the day, but left us with pretty tired legs.
You can lose weight with Slimming World by following the Food Optimising food plan on its own. However if you add in a bit of exercise – or as they call it, Body Magic – it can really boost your results!
By nature I’m a bit of a lazy oaf! I’m quite happy to plonk myself down on the sofa in front of the TV and not move for the rest of the day – save for the odd visit to the toilet or fridge. In fact, it has been known for me to come home from work on a Friday night, and not set foot outside the house until Monday morning, having just sat on my fat arse for the entire weekend!
I’m not a fan of exercise, and I don’t possess the gene that some others have that drives them to remain active throughout the day. But I’m not a moron, and I do understand that a bit of activity is good for me. It helps me feel bright and alert, and also burns a few calories off my body in the process.
The only problem is that I quickly lose interest in doing exercise. I may start with good intentions, but within a matter of weeks I’ve found excuses not to do it. For example, I joined a gym a couple of years ago, and even engaged the services of a personal trainer to put together a training programme for me. And at the beginning it all went well. I would stop in to the gym 2 or 3 times a week and do a full hour of cardio and weight training. However, after a while my enthusiasm started to wane, and I would find excuses not to go. And then I managed to injure both my knees, and that was the perfect to excuse to stop training for a while. And inevitably that ‘while’ ended up lasting for ever!
So in order to make sure I do some exercise and – most importantly – stick with it, is to build that exercise into my daily routine.
One great way is to commute to work by bike. I used to cycle to work every day – come rain or shine – about 7km each way. And by making cycling my means to transport, I built-in around 50 minutes of moderate exercise into my daily routine. And invariably my commute time was quicker than if I would have driven!
Unfortunately, I’ve not been working for the last few months, and so the cycling has fallen by the wayside. But instead, something else has happened to build some activity into my daily routine.
We got a dog!
Here’s a photo of the little fella. He’s called Alfie.
We rescued him from the pound about 10 weeks ago, and he’d definitely part of the family.
Having a dog means that you need to walk the dog, and so my daily routine now includes a 40-60 minute walk with the dog. And while he gets his daily exercise, I get mine too. Okay, so I’m not at the level where I’m training to run a marathon, but I am walking between 5 and 10 km every day.
I may not be breaking a sweat, but I can feel real benefits from getting out and about. My leg muscles are certainly getting much stronger, which must come from having to carry the rest of me around. I feel much more alert and positive after completing a walk. And I also find that a weight loss is easier to achieve during the week.
Walking a dog may not be for you – particularly if you don’t own a dog! But here are my top tips for including exercise in your day:
Pick an exercise that you can build into your daily routine. You’re much more likely to stick with it.
Pick an exercise that you enjoy. If you hate doing something then you’re eventually going to find excuses not to do it – a bit like me and going to the gym!
Pick an exercise target that’s achievable. Start small – even if it’s a 5 minute walk down the street, and the build up gradually. If you set yourself too tough a goal, you might get disheartened and give up.
Get outside. I find that walking on a treadmill or cycling on an exercise bike incredibly boring. But by getting outside you can explore your local area, and even meet interesting people. Every day when I walk the dog I seem to strike up a conversation with someone, and I’m not normally an outgoing person. And the weather isn’t often as bad as you think it is.
Find something that you can measure. Whether it’s a count of laps in the pool, the distance you cycle, or the time spent walking. It can often be a good motivational tool to measure what you do, and track your improvement over time. I have a Fitbit to help keep track of my steps, and I find that I challenge myself to get in 10,000 steps in a day (about 8km).
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