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How To Get Fit January 18, 2011

Posted by nikmj in General.

Are you still in work? Find out the point in the car park that is furthest from your desk and park you car there every day. Make a point of returning to your car in the lunch hour for a walk. If possible then walk in your lunch time from your office to the local shops to get a piece of fruit for the afternoon. If there are no nearby fruit stalls, then go and see what magazines you can find about the open air, places you can drive to and then take a walk. The places you find may be too large for you to go to today as you cannot walk far enough but start to make the goal to get out and enjoy what has been taken from you.

Making achievable aims is all part of this getting fit program. If you go to a gym and get an exercise plan, then they will spend a lot of time assessing the fitness and strength levels you have in order to make a plan that will work for you and continue your interest through the initial period when gains seem limited and the cost/benefit analysis would tell you that it is high cost. We are not trying to get you fit for the short-term but for the long term. When you add into your analysis the ailments we are trying to prevent in the long-term and the costs to you and your family if you cannot avoid them the benefits far outweigh the costs.

When should I stop? My question to you is: “Are you fit?” If you cannot decide then you are probably not fit. To make an assessment without resorting to a stopwatch, a gymnasium, or a running track find the largest shopping mall within a 1 to 2 hour drive. A check on the Internet should find out where this is. You are not going shopping, but you are testing out to see how fit you are. The aim of the test is to be able to walk around the whole of the mall twice without stopping and without hurting or being breathless.

Now if that makes you very afraid you need to do more on your fitness before you start. You may even talk to your doctor to see if this would even be viable for you, but this should be a clear test of your fitness and stamina. I am not going to be there. Your doctor will not be there but when you have completed it you will know that you are on the road to a fitter and leaner future when you can walk into anything that life throws at you and not just drag your feet into it. Now this goal may seem unattainable if you are unable to walk from your car into the local shop to get basic food, but if you do not have something to aim at in the short term and the long-term you will fail and fall.


I got great news – you can trade your body for a new one!!! Sorry that is either in the next life or in Science Fiction. Rather like in a marathon you end with what you started and so with the marathon race we call life, we start with our body and we take the consequences of our actions (or inactions) and we continue with them through life.

The fact is, through medial science and improved nutrition we can live longer than ever before. Soon there will be a sizable community on earth who are over 100 years of age and that is amazing. But what sort of quality of life can we expect? For the majority of us who are unfit it will be a very low quality of life indeed.

I am not a fitness freak. I cannot run long distances, I do not pump iron. I do love walking. It probably helps that my mother and father never owned a car and never drove. I surprised my wife some years ago when she had been training hard to walk a marathon and wanted someone to walk with her a long walk (over 12 miles) as her final preparation for the marathon. I walked with her on a 16 mile walk with next to no preparation and completed the walk with very sore legs the next day. Yes, I was more overweight at that time, than I am now but I did it. If your wife, mother or children planned to do a walking marathon, could you even keep up with them on a bicycle for 16 miles, let alone walk it?

We live in a world where food is freely available, and the more we feed our bodies the more they crave. We must get our cravings under control and see where they would lead us if not kept under control.

Chapter 1 – Don’t exercise!

What are the consequences of not exercising? I know that I don’t want to run the next marathon in Beijing, New York, or London. I may walk it some day. I just want to be able to walk to do the shopping, and see the places I have not seen and not be unwell.

There are 3 sets of consequences to being unfit and overweight. We may try and avoid them by driving everywhere, even short distances, but we cannot get away from our basic lack of fitness and lack of self-control.

There are short term consequences, long-term consequences and things we just cannot do that we may want to now and then. You may feel I am being hard on you, but far better that I am hard on you now than illness is hard on you later.

Short-term consequences

There are certain short-term consequences of being overweight and unfit that will be obvious to you.

Those who are overweight find it hard to walk. Sometimes we even see them in electric carts doing their shopping and I wonder how the carts can move with all the weight they are carrying. It may be simply that when you try to walk that the effort is just too much. No wonder there are a large number of coffee shops in shopping malls as they are a haven, so you don’t need to walk too far.

Then it goes on the breathlessness when you are walking. The number of people I see today that are carrying oxygen supplies with them at sea level. I can understand it at Lhasa where you are so far above sea level, but the human body is designed to walk. You cannot breathe properly as you are too heavy.

The next sounds vague, but you suffer from joint and muscle pain, from the weight you are carrying. The joints and muscles grew to carry your weight but now they are carrying far more. You are your own worst enemy and all these problems hinder you having the exercise you need.

The final two of this very nasty line-up are lack of sleep and tiredness. You are tired as you cannot get a good night’s sleep. You cannot breathe at times and it wakes you up, you cannot sleep properly as you are so heavy.

Long-term consequences

Medically speaking from the research that comes into the public domain, all these complaints have increased likelihood when someone is overweight and unfit. The two very often go together. The more overweight the person, the more these increased likelihoods become certainties for you and your family to cope with. Look at your parents as see the complaints that they suffer from, are likely to hit you and hit harder, if you are more overweight than them

Where do we start? We start with the epidemic of type II diabetes. Type I diabetes has a strong genetic link and is found mostly in the young. Type II Diabetes strikes because the person is overweight and the insulin he or she produces is not enough to cope, and then on top of that the cells of the body do not process the insulin effectively. All in all it is a problem due to excess fat. Don’t fall for it.

Often when thinking about overweight people we see the fat on the outside of their bodies and this is matched by the cholesterol blocking the arteries inside making the processing of all this food they are consuming even worse. Have you ever noticed that when someone is overweight and unable to move, they do not even attempt to cut down on their food intake? The arteries get blocked more and more making surgery necessary. Surgery is also more risky as they are overweight and have more tissue to be cut away and finally cannot breathe properly under anesthetic.

Cholesterol will often be linked with heart disease itself. If you are overworking your heart and it has to pump the blood further and further with blocked arteries and veins then the heart will start to fail. You only get one heart and although individual cells will replace themselves, the main workings of the heart will not.

What we cannot do: we cannot play tag with the children and grandchildren. It may not seem important when you can do it but when you are on the sidelines gasping for breath you will then wish that you could play with them. You cannot play ball with the children. They want to run and jump and catch at full speed and you cannot do it. You feel left out and console yourself with another burger or chicken leg. The consoling food is getting you deeper into the unfit mess that you were already. You cannot even go for a walk in the park and see the wildlife. You miss out on so much out there.

Now we get on to one of those things that no-one wants osteoporosis. The bone simply starts to lose its density as it is not having enough calcium. Again this is linked to being overweight. The final one is one that is only just coming to be realized that someone who is overweight has increased risk of colon cancer. If you have had a parent or someone else in the family suffer from this, then you want to get checked now. The checkup is painful but it is best to get this problem caught early. The likelihood is that you need to be over 50 before you get it, but if can strike much earlier and a family history of cancer especially colon cancer makes you a high-risk patient.

Chapter 2 – Get out and exercise.

WARNING: If you are already being treated by the doctor for any of the conditions we have already described, or any others that the doctor judges are weight-related, get his advice first. I will make suggestions as a layman who wants to help. Your doctor is there to judge how much you can do in your current medical condition.

How far can you walk without having to sit down and rest? Can you walk the length of your street? Can you walk to the lamp-post half way down the road? You may already need a walker to help support your weight and give you the opportunity to sit and rest where you are. Whatever you need to do, you should take time to start rebuilding your health. Take each day to make time to take a little walk.

Once a week, decide that you will walk a little further the following week. Always look and see if there is an alternative direction for your walk, so you can walk in one direction one day and another the next. If it rains or is too cold do not just sit down, walk around inside your home, even if it is simply to do the vacuum cleaning. You can tell me that you can no longer carry the cleaner to the other floor then plan by getting someone to carry it for you the night before or by having two cleaners, one on each floor.

Chapter 3 – Eat Less

No rewards in food.

You’ve set out to walk for 5 minutes then 10 minutes, and then it goes up and up, and eventually you can walk for an hour and not be breathless and not ache. Do not make your reward a huge meal, or have extras including sweets, desserts, and main courses. When you reward yourself get that CD you have been meaning to buy and listen to it when you are safe. Walking the city streets concentrating on the music you are hearing is not always safe. Get yourself a ticket to a concert where you can enjoy the music and the atmosphere. Look for ways to enjoy the results of your labors.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet.

When you see just how little the human body really needs. You are not getting that much exercise that you need a huge meal in order to cut down a tree with an ax. Always remember the term GIGO, Garbage in; Garbage out. If you fill your body with fat, excess protein, excess sugar, excess salt then the garbage will turn to fat and the fat will turn into health problems for you and your family.

Remember that if you have children, then they are watching what you do and copying what you do. Whatever you do they will exceed when you are not looking and so they are preparing a double-dose of the problems that will hit you.

Make sure you understand the term balanced diet. I heard of one man whose idea of a balanced diet was a pint of beer in each hand. That is not balanced. Do not go away with the idea that you can still eat that huge steak every day. A 32 oz steak needs to feed a family of at least 4 and the dog, not just one person. There needs to be 5 portions of fruit or vegetables every day. You need to start looking for fruit and vegetables that you enjoy, rather than huge amounts of meat that are too much to digest properly. Salad is the dietitians love and my pet hate. I do not like rabbit food.

There is always a balance between what is good for you and what you like. This may cause your doctor to despair but I found that when I am deliberately trying to lose weight as I had got too heavy that I would be on a strict diet for 6 days a week and then have some special things usually on a Sunday, otherwise I got bored and stopped the diet. That does not mean you can binge on the Sunday, it means you can have a little extra and a few nice sauces or a dessert to make the diet seem a little less dreary. We all need to realize that there is an enormous difference between a diet and a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced food intake together with regular and sustained exercise. We all need it. We are designed for far more physical labor than we currently undertake.

Try to make sure that you get all the vitamins you need from properly cooked vegetables and the fruit you eat. If you need supplements as you are low on certain vitamins then take them, but aim for the natural vitamins in fruit and vegetables, rather than the processed ones in pill form.

Make use of mostly fresh vegetables. They are available in our supermarkets. If you cannot use fresh vegetables, then use frozen vegetables as an alternative in preference to tinned, but watch the sugar added to some frozen vegetables.

Eat to live

We must change our attitude to make sure that we eat to live and do not live to eat. You need to learn to recognize that your body will tell you when you need food. If you are doing a lot of exercise then you will need to take in some more, but not for that 100 yard walk down the road. I mean if you are walking a number of miles you may need to take a snack with you that will give you some extra energy on the way.

Fast food

Fast food is still food. We can argue about it all day. We must recognize that it is full of salt, sugar and extras that we do not need, but when we consume them we want more. When we recognize it, then we learn to keep the visits to the fast food outlet or take-always to a minimum. It is interesting to note that some of the fast food outlets are doing salads as an option to their main meals. They are realizing the danger of too much fat, salt and sugar in your diet.


Don’t make excuses the majority of us like some desserts. It does not matter if it is an ice-cream or a profiterole a chocolate cake or a roulade they are all there to tempt the taste buds and cause the downfall of many people who are seeking to lose weight. Do not allow any excuses for over indulgence. Eating it to stop the children eating it will not work. A quart of ice-cream is for the family to share over a number of meals, it is not there to be eaten in one sitting by one person. Let’s get it into our mind the large portions are for sharing and not just for me when I am feeling down.


Excuses never hold water in the long term. When the consequences of your actions come as illness and surgery it is too late to make excuses. So let’s stop making excuses and take hold of the blame and the responsibility for our own actions in overeating that have brought us into this mess. Yes we find that the food industry in our country is very good at encouraging us to eat but we put it into our mouths and chew or swallow the drink.

Chapter 4 – Exercise alternatives


Cycling may only be useful if there are places near you where you can cycle safely. It is no good going off on some remote path on your mountain bike, fall off and find you have a very long way to go for help. Take time to look into alternatives before purchasing any equipment.


You can’t swim. This is great news get signed up with a group of other people who cannot swim. You will enjoy the company and once you get the hang of it you can enjoy time with the kids in the water, you will be able to save yourself in an emergency on water. You will also have the opportunity for a great fitness exercise that will burn calories and help if the joints ache and the muscles are failing to support your weight. Get a swimming costume and get into the water.


Do you need more ideas for walking? Are there nature or explorer trails in your city or countryside? Walk with the object of seeing the history and culture of a place as well as the beauty of the nature we fail to see when we rush past in our cars. Start to learn how to make your backyard a haven for wild birds that are looking for small grubs and insects as food. Further you may want to walk near the sea or on the cliffs. Remember to take local advice about tides and currents. Be safe to enjoy your walks far more than you ever imagined. There are always places you can only get to by walking.

Cubicle fitness

The recommendation from those who study ergonomics is that at least once an hour you take your eyes off the screen and get away from your keyboard. Sounds easy but it may be as simple as going to the drinks bar or the vending machine. It may be to get up and talk to a colleague or friend, catching up on social things as well as work. We are simply not built to sit for 8 hours a day at a computer terminal. Maybe you should take the mail downstairs or take something to your car to get moving away from your desk.

If ever you are on an airplane take time to watch the fitness video they show where the passenger on a long haul trip is supposed to move ankles and feet and neck to avoid the risks of DVT. You can do exactly the same exercises at your desk often without being seen if you have your own cubicle.

Family fitness

What are the kids doing on the weekend, swimming, cycling or bike riding? Then join them. Remember as you have longer legs you can ride a bigger bike and so each turn of the pedal takes you further. This is an advantage for the unfit person that the children have to do the work as well. As time goes on they will grow and eventually the advantage may be on their side. Always remember to get the correct size of bike or you will not enjoy the ride as much.

Do the chores

It may be nice on the weekend to sit and do nothing. Then sit and eat nothing. No choice really. Get out and do the jobs that have been waiting for a long time. Maybe get the kids involved. All the children need to know how to do simple jobs safely.

If you are training kids to use a lawn edge trimmer, please remember that they need safety glasses to protect their eyes, and so do you. I can always remember seeing a photograph where someone had been wearing sunglasses when trimming his lawn and they suddenly flew off his face. A screw had been lying in the grass, was thrown up by the trimmer and lodged in his glasses as they knocked them off his face. He showed the glasses to his neighbor who was an eye surgeon and he diagnosed that if the screw had hit him, instead of his glasses he would have been killed as the screw would have gone into his brain.

Back to the main topic that doing the chores burns of calories, maybe not very many, but there are some as well as the satisfaction that you are fit enough to do them yourself.

Walk on the weekend

Don’t park at the door of the mall or the door of the shop; plan to walk a little anyway. It helps to get your circulation moving and you will enjoy your food better for it. Avoid the drive-through ATM and get out of the car and move your body.


Are you fit? If not are you ready to get fit? Or will you accept the consequences?

I have tried in this little book to be factual and present things coolly and calmly. I am not trying to scare anyone into fitness, but to help them to become aware of the risks and the consequences of not being fit and not being around to see your grandchildren.

Now it is up to you, not just to change your diet but to change your attitudes and actions to get yourself fit for the rest of your life.


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