Healthy living

healthylivingA couple of times on this blog, people have asked me to detail what I eat. Creepy, I know. But I’m used to that. So here, in a series of blog posts, I’m going to describe exactly what I eat and why.

First, a little about me. I’m a 47-year old man. I’m fit and healthy, except that I suffer from chronic fatigue, which means that I get tired easily and have to be very careful about how I manage my energy each day. I believe this to be caused by a viral infection that I caught at the age of 30. Before this, I had very high levels of energy, and still do, on good days.

One of my grandfathers died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 40; my other grandfather died of a stroke at 50; they were both dead before I was born. My father had a triple heart bypass operation at the age of 60. So my family history isn’t encouraging. Like most of the UK population, I am likely to die from heart disease in one form or another (heart attack, stroke, brain haemorrhage, etc.)

Some time in my thirties I decided to fight back. I armed myself with books, and learned all I could about healthy living and healthy eating. I resolved to do all I could to stay fit and healthy for as long as possible. People who know me will say that when I decide to do something, I am determined and driven. Some may say obsessed.

I had always been slim, but over the years, the pounds had slowly crept on, and I was 15 pounds heavier than I had been at the age of 21. I didn’t take regular exercise any more. I decided that if I wanted to be as fit and healthy as when I was 21, I would have to weigh the same as I did at that age, and be just as active.

Within a year, I had lost the excess 15 pounds of weight, and my waist measurement had dropped from 33 inches to 30 inches. In the past decade, I have shed another one or two pounds and my waist measurement has dropped by another inch. Since the age of 40, my Body Mass Index (BMI) has remained between 18.9 and 19.3 (it was 21.5 when I started my new diet.)

I aim to exercise intensively every day, for between half an hour and an hour. Most days this is yoga (Astanga yoga – the dynamic form). One day a week I lift weights. On some days I run a mile. In practice, I don’t succeed in exercising every day, but manage about 5 days out of 7.  In addition, I do housework and gardening. We have a big garden, so this can very easily amount to an hour a day of hard physical work in addition to the exercise.

I am very careful with my posture. My yoga teacher taught me to always remember: “head over heart over pelvis.” This is a good way to stand, or to sit. When possible I avoid sitting in chairs; instead I sit on the floor, cross-legged. Some people think this is weird.

I also try to behave in a childish way, like running up and down the stairs instead of walking, and sometimes hopping around the kitchen when I am cooking. If I think nobody is watching me, I stand on one leg. I don’t think my wife knows about this.


My wife and I at my mother’s 80th birthday, last month.

I believe that I am now as fit and healthy as I was at the age of 21 (apart from the chronic fatigue.) I weigh the same; I am just as active, and probably stronger; my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are normal. Obviously I am 26 years older, and 26 years closer to death, but I am hoping to push that event as far away as I can.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

– Dylan Thomas (another Welshman)

In the next blog article, I will detail what I eat, and why.

13 responses to “Healthy living

  1. Chronic back pain started for me during my 2nd pregnancy,followed by a twenty year downward spiral in term of fitness and health. The stress, coming from many directions, got the best of me. But I know about health and fitness and even though I kept losing the battle I did keep on fighting. Finally, this past April, precariously close to being crippled, I began talking about it candidly and desperately to people. My mother actually came out in full support of me, which made a huge difference (she flat-out paid for for health club membership and diet plan) and I made a decision to do things that made me happy: with my grown children no longer living at home this was easier. I’ve taken time off from work, so we are living on my husband’s income. The result has been dramatic. I look and feel twenty years younger. Exercise and diet have played a huge role in supporting this upward spiral, but it’s the support that I got from my family and the commitment to happiness that have been key. I look forward to reading more about your journey with turning your heath around as mine has been such an exciting journey.

  2. You know the law of inertia. Your activity is a good example of the part about objects in motion tend to keep moving. That is the hard part for most people. Keep it up.

    This past year I reached the same weight I was at age 18 of 147 lbs. It had gone up to 160 in my 20s. It has gradually come down to less than 154 now. Eat right and stay active both physically and mentally is my mantra.

  3. apple as a symbol of healthy living, it is not a good idea! but avoiding the chair it is a very good way!

  4. I look forward to reading more about this. I’ve been trying to eat healthier, so I could use a few tips.

  5. I consider myself very fit (am on my 6th round of P90X), but blood test results indicated my BMI is 21.5, which you say was yours before beginning your health regimen, so I am now doubting my progress. I have lost weight, look more tones and can do more physical things (more push ups, lift more weight, etc.) But, I still cannot do a pull up, which I consider the ultimate goal of all my physical fitness pursuits.


    • Hi Elizabeth, I hadn’t heard of P90X, but I looked it up and it looks terrifyingly hardcore! It sounds like you are really fit, if you do push ups, weights, etc. A BMI of 21.5 is considered thin, so I think that is very healthy. My BMI is at the bottom of what is considered “normal.” Models with a BMI of 18 or less are often banned from catwalks these days, so I am close to being disqualified from a career in modelling, LOL.

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