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A New Year Equals A New Me

Jan 9, 2008
I'm now celebrating a whole six months since I gave up smoking. I was approaching 40 and strongly resisting the pleading of my family to grow up, take responsibility and look after myself.

After a particularly bad bout of flu last year, I took a long hard look in the mirror and saw a 55 year old man looking back at me. I was feeling and looking old and there and then determined to do something about it for the sake of seeing any future grandchildren I might be blessed with.

I gave up smoking that day and, despite the hard days when the cravings threatened to get the better of me, I feel like I have beaten it. My family tell me I look better, younger even, food tastes fantastic and apparently I smell better too.

However, there is one problem. Do you remember those sweets we used to have when we were young? Shaped like bananas, supposedly tasting like bananas, with all sorts of scary food colourings that would bring the brigade of mothers against additives out in force. I have become addicted to these beyond reason and have been known to drive miles at night looking for an outlet that sells them.

It all adds up. And it has. It has all added up to an extra 6 inches around the stomach area. A dangerous place to collect fat I am told, due to its proximity to the heart.

So, what to do? My family brought me a heart rate monitor for Christmas this year. I was hoping for an iPhone, one of those snazzy remote control helicopters from the big boy's toy shop or maybe even a lifetime's supply of banana sweets but I got a heart rate monitor. Wahey!

I know they mean well, really I should be flattered that they want me around so much longer. So, I cave in to pressure and aim to improve my health, lose this bulk and get fit. Not sure about the heart rate monitor - have consigned that to my bed side drawer for the time being.

Unsure that I can unleash my body on the general public just yet, I decide to try various home exercise DVD's. I begin with one that promises to gently warm me up, then tighten all muscle groups and burn fat in a routine decided by myself, followed by a cool down.

I start with the warm up and have to move straight on to the cool down. Gently does it I tell myself, no point in straining anything. On my second session with the DVD, I attempt some of the fat burning routines. Does the effort taken clearing up the smashed lampshade count as work out time? After kicking a passing child, which resulted in a black eye and a visit to casualty, I decided this was not a suitable DVD for home use.

Having read all the bumpf surrounding the benefits of Yoga, I think this sounds more me. Much more gentle and controlled, and hey, if women can do it, it must be easy.

A week later, I'm at home with just the dog for company and decide to give the Yoga a try. Tied into a knot, my backs given out and I can't move. This is when the dog decides to get over familiar and mistakes the mild weather for spring mating season. I bet the heart rate monitor wouldn't have an option for dealing with this one!

I have to face it and get out into the fresh air to get a grip on this exercise lark. On my first trip out speed walking my wife begs me to take my heart rate monitor and I give in. As if I don't feel stupid enough in my Lycra shorts I have to sear this on my wrist too. At least it looks similar to a watch.

I've had a quick tutorial in how to use the monitor and take the occasional glance to see I'm within optimum range. It's during one of these checks that I speed walk straight onto a patch of ice and go head over heels onto my back! Now the monitors working overtime.

A passer by calls for an ambulance, I am loaded in and carted off to hospital for a check. The paramedic is more interested in what I'm wearing on my wrist and spends the whole trip extolling the virtues of heart rate monitors. After a thorough check up at the hospital, I am declared free to go with a programme for fixing my back and the advice to get fit. What do they think I was trying to do?

I get home, recline on the sofa to rest my back and study this heart rate monitor. At last, it is of some use to me. It tells me I am now, at last, relaxed at my optimum relaxation rate for minimum stress.
About the Author
Health expert Catherine Harvey looks at the use of a heart rate monitor in the quest for good health. To find out more please visit http://www.improveyourbody.co.uk/
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