Wednesday 19 December 2018

Always count your change - it pays dividends

A run makes you feel good
A run makes you feel good

John Masterson

How well do most of us know ourselves? Probably not very well. We do not usually observe ourselves in a very structured way.

Increasingly people are keeping diaries of things they do, or don't do, in an effort to better understand their behaviour and perhaps change it.

Some people monitor moods and often gain some insight into what causes them to feel the way they do. One thing I do know about myself is that my exercise routine needs change.

When summer time begins I know it is time to end my hibernation. The fact that the hour changes in the depths of winter is a bit of a joke.

It does, however, give me some hope that some time soon there will be long evenings in the outdoors without wearing thermals.

Like many humans, I hibernate badly. I envy the animals that have a good feed in autumn and sport the animal equivalent of a beer belly for a few short days before heading off to sleep.

By the time they are out and about again in spring they are perfectly toned and looking their best without any effort whatsoever.

It just isn't fair.

My routine for a good few years is to get back into running a few miles most days once the weather warms up.

Nothing will make me run even a hundred yards when it is cold and wet. But once there is a warm breeze on my face I will happily put on my running watch and thoroughly enjoy the effort.

Gradually the winter flab decreases and by the time the hour goes back I am at my peak.

My body is ready for the beach around the time you wear a fleece over your sweater.

I mention the running watch because one of the best ways to change behaviour is to measure it.

There is great pleasure in watching your time come down even by a few seconds each week. Put a graph on the fridge and it is a great motivator.

The second important measurement is the weighing scales because it does not tell lies. People will tell you anything to be polite.

The weighing scales just tells it as it is. You need a target, and you need to write it down.

I put this graph in the bathroom. The fridge is a bit public.

The only thing I do in the winter to stop becoming a complete slob is walk. When you see the number of calories you burn walking, you realise that it only qualifies as exercise by the skin of its teeth.

But again counting keeps you honest. My watch counts my steps and sets a target each day. As you make your target it is slowly increased.

People who do this will tell you that they just cannot go to bed unless the target is reached.

One rainy night in the winter I was walking up and down the landing at five to midnight until I got the reassuring buzz at 11.58.

Cigarette smokers have a reasonable idea of how many they smoke because of the pack size.

I still suspect they underestimate the actual amount they smoke. Likewise with alcohol, and particularly when you pour at home.

If you want to change any behaviour begin by counting it. My excuses are now gone with the longer evenings.

And it only takes a few outings before you remember the mental changes. A run makes you feel good. Remind me to join a gym when summer time ends.

Sunday Indo Living

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