I weighed myself the other day and, having put on another 4lbs during this past few weeks of having a truly bad back, I now weigh more than I have for over four years, hovering at around 11 stone 10lbs. I need to lose a stone!
When I found out this horrible piece of news, I realised later that day, looking at a photo of my friend N. who'd sent me a holiday pic of herself by email, that I am probably the fattest of all my friends now, having been probably the slimmest for most of our mutual years.
I've known N. since we were in our teens; she was always what used to be termed 'solid' rather than fat. Then in our forties, we didn't see each other for a few years and when we finally met up again she was lithe, toned and slim. Her secret – she'd taken up walking, covering many miles each weekend all over the UK – and abroad - and going out most days in the week, too. For her, walking is a much-loved hobby. Other than that, she says, she eats normally and still drinks alcohol.
Another example is S. - petite, she's been slim as long as I've known her and stays that way with regular tennis and cycling, both with groups of friends. Because she is so petite – around 5ft 1 – she is the only one of my friends to watch what she eats too. She never eats lunch, just a very light breakfast and an evening meal, and she doesn't drink.
J. is the only one a bit like me – she was always slim, but has put on weight in the past few years. This coincided with her selling her horse and giving up riding – she would regularly ride for 3 hours a day, rode in point-to-points and various other horsey competitions and never sat down, as the rest of her time seemed to be taken mucking out, grooming, feeding, sweeping the yard and so on. Oh yes, and she had a dog which died around the same time so her energy output is probably no more than half what it used to be even though she loves gardening.
Co-incidentally, my agent – and friend – Jane, called me this very morning to talk about her new lurcher puppy. The pup's so full of energy that Jane has literally taken a month off from her office to take it for endless walks (on the lead, as off it, it would dash off never to be seen again, she fears). “And guess what?” she said, “I've lost 5lbs!”
So what do all my friends have in common? It is mostly the activity, or lack of it, that determines their weight. Disproving, quite irrefutably, I reckon, the idea that you can't lose weight with exercise alone (although I really do feel that if you have more than a few pounds to lose, cutting back somewhat on the food is a good idea too). Jane also cheered me up no end when she said, “Oh! And my back's 100% better for all the walking, so it's great!” Apparently, though I didn't know, she'd hurt her back on a riding holiday in Spain in late summer so we've both been suffering recently.
It's been 3 weeks since mine went and I was able to do nothing except crawl and sit. I'd say I'm 50% better now, which is a much faster improvement than I had dared to hope for – and my friends' figures and fitness are a great motivation to get moving properly just as quickly as I can. I'm already doing all my stretches plus a daily short spin on the treadmill, getting a little faster and longer every two days. And I'm planning out some walks for Husband and self for just as soon as I feel my back will cope with hilly terrain (there's little else round where I live). I also hope to entice J. out for walks, too; it really is easier to get out and do something if you have someone to do it with, and/or if you have a purpose.
My new role model – as well as my slim and fit friends – is choreographer Gillian Lynne, who at 88, is still working in the West End (her revival of Cats will begin in December) and still exercises every day. Oh yes, and she's trim and slim as a whippet.
Ate for lunch:
A few weeks ago it was the tomato glut; now it's the leek glut – and ginormous they are too, like our apples were. I forked up three monsters (couldn't have done that a couple of weeks ago!) and Husband made one of our favourite soups – leek and potato.
I think we originally used an old Delia recipe but now we just throw stuff in the pan and it always turns out to be very tasty and couldn't be easier. To make 4-6 servings you need three large leeks, one very large or two medium onions, one large potato. Peel and chop everything and saute the leek and onion in a pan with a little groundnut or light olive oil over low heat to soften but not brown (15 mins). Add the potatoes, 1.5 litres of chicken or vegetable stock and simmer for half an hour or so. Puree in a blender or with a stick blender, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a little grated cheese, which will provide protein and help you keep full for longer, on top, and if you like, a dob of crème fraiche or some chopped chives.
* Leeks and onions are packed full with important anti-oxidant sulphides which can help ward off viruses and bacterial infections and can reduce the risk of certain cancers.
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