I started slowly. My housemate has an exercise bicycle. I started using it daily. The first week, I cycled for 5 minutes a day. It was a shock to my system. The second week, I upped my time by one minute a day: 6, then 7, then 8, then 9, then 10. The third week, I stayed at 10 minutes a day. The fourth week, upping again by one minute to 15 minutes. Stayed at 15 minutes for another week, then incrementally upped to 20. Then I started increasing intensity. I started incorporating the occasional “sprint”. I’ve stayed at 20 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week. Sometimes I do a 30-minute bout.
I made minimal changes to my diet, trying to add more nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Really, I did not feel food deprived.
I lost weight and I felt much more like myself. At the re-test, my cholesterol levels were WORSE! I still did not want to take statins. I got re-tested again 4 months later (still exercising and losing weight), and the cholesterol was a bit better, but still not good. Here’s how I look at it: high cholesterol is only one of many risk factors for cardiovascular problems. I am slimmer (BMI = 23), I eat well, I exercise regularly, I don’t smoke. I can’t help the getting older part or the genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. I will not take statins.
So, I’ve transformed. And it’s stuck. I lost about 30 pounds and they have stayed off. I’ve become more active. And it’s stuck; I feel weird on the days when I don’t get some physical activity.
At this time of year, my main physical activity is gardening. My housemate has an enormous perennial garden. Over the years it had become seriously overgrown with grass and periwinkle, and a seriously aggressive spreading rose, and don’t get me started on those bloody spiderwort! Two years ago, I started reclaiming the garden. I have essentially had to dig up nearly everything, remove the bad plants, and re-plant the good plants – which provided me the opportunity to re-design the garden. It’s been rather like very slow choreography. The first year I was able to fix about ¼ of the garden. Last year, another ¼. This year I’ve made good progress. The garden has transformed. I am pleased. I like gardening and it’s great exercise.
My housemate has decided to downsize, so she’s putting her house up for sale. This means two things to me: 1) I will be moving, and 2) someone else will be enjoying the rejuvenated perennial garden. I’m ok with that.
More on the moving bit later.