It is not often that I live in the past but some things just have to be pondered on and last week, A memory popped up on social media and it was this photo.
On the 19th May 2008, there I was looking out a Dover harbour for my very first Open water swim at the start of my training to Swim the English Channel. I am the one scratching my chin in confusion. You will notice that my ability to embrace my own sense of fashion had not quite taken off. Nothing has really changed, I still find this sport utterly mind-boggling. Just over 5 months later I was to become the latest English Channel swimmer. Guided entirely by the willingness to embrace the unknown and the spontaneity that I lived my life by in those days.
What started out as a mad idea to lose some weight and get fit quickly, has turned into a lifestyle change for me. Did I succeed? Well I think I am a bit fitter than I was. Did I lose any weight? NO. In my experience, don’t Swim to lose weight, However, I did tone up,lost about 4 inches around my waist – it just relocated to my shoulders by converting all that fat to a bit of muscle and started to look more and more like an impoverished Hippopotamus – my pseudonym that I blog under is “ZIMHIPPO” th reason, I hail from a small landlocked country called Zimbabwe and look a bit like a hippo – one of the fiercest animals in that country
That day in 2008 was to turn into a permanent life change that I would not want to change. Weirdly, I am still at it. I did deviate from swimming to try a few other endurance sports like cycling and kayaking, whilst I had a blast doing both of them, I always tended to come back to the lakes and the oceans to meet up and swim with others. Now, with various 25km plus swims under my belt and countless middle distance swims, albeit being the one that does not train that hard, I still manage to hold my own in the water and am now probably in the best shape I have ever been. The one thing I love about the Open water fraternity is that it is not a competition against each other but more of a challenge against a few far more unpredictable and formidable foes – THE ELEMENTS, here there is no prisoners. YOURSELF, if you come up short, you only have yourself to blame, no equipment or technology. The risks are high and the rewards are not a medal, a cup, a certificate but something even greater, GREATER SELF CONFIDENCE, No amount of money or reading or dieting will give you that.
With the Jubilee swim in just under 2 weeks, I am comfortable that I will manage it and am also comfortable to try for a personal best in that swim. I have done it twice now so I have a guide line. I have also been fortunate to meet a group that Train in the Jubilee river so managed to catch up with them over the weekend for an hour in the River. It was Sublime, water about 14 Degrees, Loads of bird life, not a boat in sight and an awesome group to swim with.
So this was us over the weekend and, it seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It also seems that there is light at the beginning of the tunnel! Decisions decisions? Honestly, I think the only way to go is forward.
I am looking forward to the event. Surprisingly, I have adapted to the colder water very well and this swim is going to be difficult to do as the scenery is just stunning. nestled in a nature reserve, the bird life is amazing and it was fun to watch all the birds agitated by a few red kites circling above. the geese all huddled in the reeds looking up was a welcome distraction.
So the main reason for this Blog.
Driving to work this morning and listening to the radio, I heard yet another contradictory headline,
‘Eat fat to get thin’: Official diet advice is ‘disastrous’ for obesity fight,
This really makes me giggle, it seems that nutritional advice is based on the new latest Fad diet that is out there, or what wine is best to drink to lose weight. The First part of that headline “Eat Fat to get thin” is music to my ears. The advice was to get back to the pre 1980s where people were eating better and keeping off the weight. It is really interesting to see the headlines over the years. Eat more carbs, Eat more Protein, Eat more fats, Eat more vegetables, Eat more sugar, the list of diets is endless, the results of said diets are shaky to say the least. I can honestly say that I do not know one person who has been on a diet that did not lose all the weight and then put it all back on as soon as they went off the diet and reverted back to their old ways. I am sure there are a few that started with a diet and have kept the pounds off, but you have to look at why these people did keep the weight off whilst others did not? I am still trying to figure out where Common sense seemed to leave the populace and reliance on some book/diet/fitness plan replaced afore-mentioned Common sense?
I have never dieted in my life , possibly the reason why I am still clinically obese but I chose another route to get fit and TRIM. A lifestyle change. 8 years ago, I needed to get fit rather than lose weight, I took to Open water swimming and 8 years later I am possibly the fittest I have ever been, According to the way the British do their statistics, I am still one of the Obese ones but then, pretty much all the Professional Rugby players around the world are, as are many other athletes out there. I also know that if I do eat loads of Fat, I will put on weight, I sometimes need to do this to pile on the pounds but do not do it often.
They also state in the article that we should get back to pre 1980 days when the population was thinner. Whilst listening to this rubbish, Not one professional that they interviewed mentioned the correlation between sport and weight. Yes, Pre 1980, we might have eaten better but most people walked to work or school, as a part of their routine, sport was an integral part of their lifestyle.Now, most people jump into a gas guzzling Chelsea tractor and drive their little darlings the mile or so to school, then head to a day in the office of sitting on their backside.
I take my situation, I walk 10m to my car in the morning, I then sit on my bum for 35 min – okay I do get some exercise as I have a manual car (Stick shift for the Americans) and in traffic my left leg does get some exercise. I then walk about 50m from my car to my desk and repeat in the evening, culminating with afore-mentioned bum on a sofa, where I am generally Incapussytated – we have a 7 kg cat that likes to sit on my lap. Now if I did not get off my fat backside and exercise, my life would be SOOOOOO sedentary – and, if I only ate a lettuce leaf a day I would probably still put the weight on.
I really do not see why Sports Nutritionists and governing nutritional bodies are so disconnected. If you want to lose weight and sustain it, change your lifestyle, not your eating habits. I do not worry about what I eat, I totally adhere to the See Food Diet – “If I sees it I eats it!!” I do however eat a relatively balanced diet with Fresh vegetables, Fresh Fruit and some home cooked meals But the main reason I am as fit and Trim as I am and also not putting on weight is the excercise, Not my nutrition. I do not believe that the answers to this problem lies in the pages of some book but rather in hard work and NOT being sedentary,
So on that note I will go Past Macdonald’s and KFC on my way home, they even have a drive through, to fetch dinner and then past the wine shop for a nice bottle of wine, sadly they do not have a drive through, I might have to get out of my car???? I will then have to pass by Krispy Creme for a box of Donuts- they have about 12 different types, I can’t just have one! I will settle down with my balanced dinner, park my backside on the sofa and watch The European masters Swimming – I could have been there but, it required effort, so that is why I am not.
The above was my take on sarcasm but honestly, Just use COMMON SENSE and all will be fine. here is a thought, Try Taking control of your life rather than let society control it. it is quite uplifting
A more serious note
A huge good luck to all those taking part in the European Masters swimming event. I know many who have put in a lot of hard work and I wish them all the best and may all their hard work come to fruition. My time will come next week when I don nothing but a speedo cap and goggles and take the plunge into the Jubilee river for 10km of floating down a river. I will compete under the Teddington masters Swim club that I swim with. Many of them will be at the Europeans but I will stick to Open water and fly the flag for them. I am way out of my depth in a swimming pool.I am trying to make out who will be attending to see if I might end up on the podium but I think I will have to wait and see, either way I want a personal best on this swim and it will not be because of my eating habits but more because of the work I have put in in the pool, lakes and rivers.
The summer is Heating up, Many people are out there Swimming, kayaking and excercising, It is not about how good you are or how fast you are or how slim you look, it is about being out there DOING THINGS