L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

29 January 2010 Blog Home : January 2010 : Permalink

Corpore Sano

In the way that coincidences do seem to occur on teh Intertubes, two bloggers I follow were talking about diet and food this week.

Firstly there's my former boss John GC's Amazing Diet Secrets Revealed!Which talks about following his experience in following The Hacker's Diet and his revelation regarding the "colarie" - the amount of energy in a can of (regular) coke. But I think his real key understanding is that if you eat well and slowly you don't feel the need to eat lots.

Secondly, via Scalzi, there is Deanna Hoak's advice for those of us that work in front of computer screens all day long. And I think it particularly applies to those of us who work from home. Her tip about only having water at the desk is one that I independently hit upon and I think it is particularly sound advice. I also recommend having the water in a smallish mug so that you have to get up and move every half hour or so. Really it's a good thing! and actually helps with concentration.

One thing that neither writer talks about directly is exercise - they leave it as "a good thing".  Me, I'm rather more exercise inclined so I figure I'm going to add some paragraphs on that subject.

The first thing I note is that there is exercise and exercise. Even a little regular exercise is better than no exercise and that you probably don't get massive benefits from lots of exercise (or at least not directly). I have rediscovered a number of times that if you can walk or cycle to/from work most days a week that is sufficient exercise to keep you adequately healthy. And of course for people with longer commutes there is no need to insist on walking/cycling the whole way. Some tricks I have used include walking to a more distant station and parking the car some distance from work and just walking the last kilometer or so. Now that I work mostly from home the trick is that I go out and buy a baguette for lunch most days, a similar trick can be done by people working in offices. Another trick is to always take the stairs not the elevator/escalator. Likewise if parking for going shopping or something similar park further from the entrance instead of next to it.

If you follow these steps you will quickly get to the 20mins/day that experts think is a basic minimum (and quite possibly closer to double that). This level of exercise on its own will knock an inch or so off your waistline even if you don't change your diet.

Then there's serious exercise. The Spouse (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed) has learned to like running so now we do a lot of it - as in 3-4 times a week with typically one each of short (30-45mins), medium (1hour ish) and long run (2 hours plus) each week plus maybe something else. We run pretty hard and are quite fast. Nowadays I quite literally run 1h35 flat half marathons as training runs and we've been known to run 35km (22 miles) on hilly trails at the weekends. This pays off in terms of fitness and achievement - I'm close to maintaining a 4min/km pace (=15km/h) for a half marathon - and it certainly helps my cardiovascular system but it does very little for my weight these days so John is going to remain lighter than me until he goes off his diet. In part because it turns fat into muscle and in part because running like this allows (and requires) me to eat fairly large portions. I can really eat pretty much whatever I want and not worry about the consequences because I burn it off on the runs - this is especially true because we live in a hilly place and so most of our runs include significant changes in altitude and that drastically increases the calories burned.

Finally, on the running note, the Instapundit alerted me to a recent studies about running style. It would seem that its a really good idea to try and run with a midstrike than a heel strike even though most running shoes seem to be designed for the latter. I'm trying to change my stride to more of a toe/mid strike which should help with speed and fitness.