Get off your butt!

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Photo by Max Carr

It’s 10am on Saturday morning. When I was young (er) and fit (ter) I would have been found on a Saturday morning roaming the local cafes in London searching for the best almond croissant and latte. These days I am racing to get my kid to her activities before dashing to my own. I’m in the gym at the Country Club in Santa Ponca, lining up with my fellow “Challengers” to go through my final fitness test. We’ve been participating in the first Whole Life Challenge for 2015, and it’s been pretty tough. For a desk jockey like myself it’s vital to move my body before it atrophies into a sitting position, I get that: sitting down could be killing me slowly or at least could have some serious health implications. The act of sitting may seem relatively harmless: I can do it for hours at a time every single day. It’s comfortable, it’s convenient, it allows me to focus on my work but studies by medical journals claim too much of it has been linked to higher chances of untimely death.

You’ve got to think of yourself as an animal, because essentially we are. Before civilisation there weren’t computer chairs to spin in or sofas to slob on. Biologically, sitting is a foreign activity when taken in the amount we do it, and our bodies suffer because of this. Nearly 150 years ago, people spent nearly 90% of their day moving around. In contemporary society, we are on our bottoms for approximately 60% of the day.

This makes the daily exercise requirements of the Challenge even more important: at least ten minutes a day, but preferably a whole load more. Plus stretching, and sticking to a Paleo diet (hard if you are a wannabe vegetarian because the focus is on plenty of protein, and very little carbs) and other weekly tasks. I’ve got to say I love the Challenge, not just because of the inspiration to move more, but the feeling of being part of my team of Challengers and the benefits that has brought me. A year ago, despite living here for a decade, I wouldn’t say I had that many Spanish friends, now I have a wide social circle of people on which to inflict my confused use of the preterite tense. My own confidence has grown, and I am much, much stronger, perhaps one day soon (ish) I will actually achieve that handstand in yoga (Kevin?!).

Back in the gym the fitness test is short and intense. Ten burpees, ten sit ups and twenty lunges followed by as much rowing as possible until we reach four minutes. The end result is measured in amount of calories burnt on the machine. In January I managed to do 21 calories before my time was up, this time, eight weeks of training later, I burn 31. A fifty percent improvement which I am thrilled with, it could have been better, it could ALWAYS be better, but that’s the beauty of it, there’s no end point, there’s always room for improvement.  Thanks to my team and my trainers, I’ve made it through this one.

The Challenge takes commitment, making appointments with myself at the gym, negotiating child care and work, but the feeling of personal achievement and the knowledge that I am doing something for myself is totally worth it.  The trick is to keep it going in between times. There’s the real challenge.

The next Whole Life Challenge starts on May 2nd.

Get in touch with me on phoenixmediamallorca (at) gmail.com if you want more info.

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