Pique N' Your Interest 

The upward spiral

I miss the good old days, my early 20s, when I could take my health for granted and fitness was optional – a few rugby practices to shake off the blubber, and I was good to go. If I made it to the gym once a week in the off-season I felt great, and I always ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Those days are long gone. As you get older your metabolism slows down and every year it seems to take longer and longer to whip myself into any kind of shape.

I’m not quite at the point where I’m counting calories, watching my daily sodium and cholesterol intake, or adding fibre to my orange juice to flush out the pipes, but I’m not far out.

I just turned 32 a few weeks ago, which means I’m less than a decade away from regular colon exams and heart exams. I’m almost at the age when the risk of heart attacks and strokes tips heavily in favour of people who don’t smoke, eat right, keep their weight down, and do some kind of regular exercise.

By putting in some hard work now and making an effort to eat the right foods at the right time, I’m hoping to be healthy for a long, long time.

But it’s not easy. I’ve always been a kind of hibernator – I start getting hungry in early fall, pack on a few extra pounds as the days get shorter, then relax until spring. It’s never been a problem in the past because I only needed a few weeks to get back to where I was before I let myself go.

These days? I run, I bike, I eat well, but the pounds just don’t seem to melt off like they used to, and my lungs don’t co-operate. So what do I do? I run longer, I bike longer, and I eat even better, all while enjoying everything a little bit less.

The obvious solution for me would be to stay in shape year-round and ultimately that’s the route I’m going to have to take. That means early mornings and late evenings at the gym, giving up my winter diet of nachos and beer, and fighting my natural instinct to seek out the couch.

What makes things more challenging for me is the fact that the definition of fitness is always a moving target. In the last three years, the amount of daily recommended exercise has increased from half an hour per day to an hour and a half. Between work, exercise and sleep I’ll be lucky to get three hours of free time a day.

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