Tag Archives: water

The sound of water



It’s over. Christmas is gone for another year and there is that piece of me that heaves a guilty sigh of relief. Time to get back to ‘normal’. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends. And I love spending time with them. But I love to be alone too. I like to take a walk all by myself even on a rainy day like today. Seeing buds appearing on the brown twigs.

The sound of water

The sound of water

Not many people are out today. It is a day for getting back to work, but the schools and colleges are still on holiday so the town is quiet. A group of teens play football in the park and some lone dog walkers go by. Not many people just walk to town for the sake of it nowadays.The shops are quiet. Trying to find a birthday banner is hard, the card shops are full of half price Christmas wrapping paper and cards.
I have a coffee ( decaf and Americano as I’m trying to give up the cappuccino/latte habit!) in the cafe and hang my coat on the back of the chair opposite to dry. It is a secret pleasure to pull out my book ( The Snow Child) and read for half an hour with no-one to talk to and no need to be anywhere. As I walk back through the town I am almost tempted by the buses or the taxis in the taxi rank but I am trying to walk more so I carry on. Birthday banner and cake are in my bag for son 3 whose birthday it is today.

On the walk home the brook that runs through the Lyme Valley is high with all the rain there has been the last few days. It runs fast so you can hear the sound as you walk by. One of the joys of walking is noticing what is around you. I am not an iPod walker, not plugged in to sound. I like the sounds around me, the sensation of being present. Mindfulness in walking.
Coming back down our little street I am grateful for the sight of home. It is nice to be grateful for the sight of my own front door and the prospect of a rest and a cup of tea.

Fat Girl Swim


Ha! I crack myself up sometimes. No, seriously I love swimming. I know I’ve mentioned this before here but I’m  having a little resurgence of enthusiasm so bear with me. The last couple of weeks has seen us ( me and Mrs) heading to the pool at least a couple of times a week in the evening. The pool we go to is part of a Holiday Inn so its quiet except for the school holidays when a lane or two is given over to families for splashing and fun stuff. We meanwhile just potter up and down the lanes. I do 20 mins or half an hour. So for instance, tonight the Mrs came home from a long day at work and I’d been busy clearing out our back room to make it habitable again. We were both tired and hot as summer is here for this week. So we had our dinner outside and a half hours TV then off we went. It’s that getting off the sofa in the first place that’s the problem. If I didn’t have the Mrs to kick my butt I would probably have stayed put and watched Holby City and if she didn’t have me she would have carried on nodding off and pretending to be awake.

Every month the gym/pool staff put together a newsletter with diet and exercise tips, tricks and words of wisdom. This month it looks at myths of diet and exercise. One or teo made me smile or nod in agreement so I thought I’d share them here adapted a little by moi:

Water based exercises are for old people or those with injuries. hey we know this isn’t true don’t we? Even top athletes integrate water based exercises into their fitness programs

Fat people don’t benefit from exercise. LOLOL as they say.In fact, and get this, obese people who participate in regular exercise have a lower risk of all-cause mortality than sedentary individuals, regardless of weight! That one really ROCKS.

and finally re exercise is this one : Crunches will make my abs visible – Well, hellooooooooo. First we have to find them. That means removing the fat with good food and some movement so those lovely muscles can shine through

Now for the food myths.

Skipping meals helps you lose weight skipping meals is just not something I do, in the past maybe but now, nohow, no way. I know that skipping meals is a sure-fire way to a blood sugar crash which leaves me feeling shaky and starving and far more likely to eat too much next meal or even next day. It also can slow down your metabolism which means you burn fat even more slowly and store more fat because the body goes into starvation mode.

All fat is the same – oh no it isn’t ( cue Panto Dame). Stick with oily fish, olive , sunflower and flax oil, unsaturated fats which are good for your body and your brain. Ditch the saturated stuff which heightens cholesterol and can increase risk of heart disease.

Healthy Foods are more expensive – I know this can be a thorny one. Eating all organic un processed food can seem to cost more. Growing some veggies helps. Farmers markets are great. Making food from scratch really doesn’t take more time than cooking a microwave instant meal and it tastes way better and you get much more!   

Well that’s enough from me, see where swimming took me?

Weekly photo challenge – Water


Loch Lomond at dawn

Water is my favourite element. I am a fish, Pisces, often swimming in two directions.Choosing a water image was hard, I have so many. All the best days are spent near water, the sea, a lake, rivers or streams.I dream of living near water. The constant movement, the way the wind ruffles the surface with a gentle breeze or creates huge waves, the sound of rushing and gurgling or the soothing shush, shush of water lapping the beach. Holidays and days at the sea. Playing with water with the children in the garden, the fun of paddling pools and water guns. Soaking wet and laughing. Swimming, paddling, bathing and floating. Water to drink and wash with. the start of life swimming in water. Water babies and mermaids, Marina in Thunderbirds swimming elegantly in her own silent world. Dolphins and whales in the Bay of Biscay on a crossing to Santander. 

This photo is Loch Lomond at dawn, March 10th 2009. We woke as dawn crept across the sky and watched as the colours brightened and the loch shimmered and gleamed in the first rays. All was quiet and still, the only movement a seagull landing on the post. Later a single canoe was rowed across the centre, a tiny splish as the oars left the water, the boat moved effortlessly as if by magic. It was the perfect start to an unforgettable day.

Fat Girl Slim -the journey continues


So the other day I was moaning about middle-aged spread and menopause as well as the hard time I’m having losing weight in middle age. I kept feeling that maybe there was a piece missing in my diet/exercise equation, something I wasn’t quite getting.

And a few people chimed in with some interesting suggestions. And I remembered some stuff that I had read and half forgotten but was there lurking somewhere! Recently I went to see a Specialist Dr. for a review following recent illness. I had loads of blood work done and repeated every few weeks and this was to be the final follow-up. She had been concerned about my glucose levels and I kep being asked if I was diabetic. As you might imagine this started to freak me out a bit. I know I’m a prime target. I’m 53, overweight and wasn’t very active. I’ve also had a history of sugar addiction and at this point this had been out of control again. So I knew my blood sugar would have been spiking and falling and the chances of me doing some damage to my insulin levels was there. Whilst I was ill my blood sugars / glucose levels were in the diabetic range. Now that I’m well again they have fallen back to the ‘normal’ range. That is a relief of course but the Dr told me that she thinks I am ‘glucose intolerant’ ( I could have said that!) and so my body can go into a sort of diabetic state when I’m ill. This isn’t a scientific explanation by me you understand, but a sort of nuts and bolts one! So the conclusion I can draw from that is that my glucose intolerance puts me into a pre-diabetic category possibly and heightens my risk. So what’s the solution. Hey! Lose weight, get fit and balance my blood sugar. Eureka!

As it happens I’ve been following a great programme for the last few years, mostly on although sometimes off ( eg when I was ill recently). It is a programme for recovering from sugar addiction and includes a book called ‘Your Last Diet by Dr Kathleen DesMaisons. I hadn’t read it for a while but I was pretty sure there was something in there about losing weight ( genius, me!) and also about possible road-blocks like insulin resistance.


So home I went to my books. Here is what Kathleen says:

Insulin resistance becomes even more of a problem if you are overweight.Your fat to muscle ratio has a huge impact on how much fuel you need. Muscle cells contain insulin receptors because muscles need glucose as fuel. People with more muscle and leaner muscle need more burning power and have more insulin receptor sites. Fat does not have insulin receptor sites. It just sort of sits there passively waiting to be called. People with a higher proportion of  fat to muscle have fewer insulin receptor sites than people with less fat and more muscle. People with more fat than muscle have way fewer places to burn. People with 44% body fat are going to burn a whole lot less than people with 27% body fat”  YLD page 212

  And bingo, I realised there is more than one thing going on here. Insulin resistance means that I may eat what my slim friends eat and exercise and still be fat. I need to make some other shifts. Kicking up the exercise is one of them. I need to do aerobic exercise ( tick) but I also need to work on weights. Building muscle is really important in terms of helping my body metabolism get that it can shift into fat burning mode. And I probably need to do More exercise. Like every day. For an hour. So I need to work on tis steadily ( I am). Two half hour slots are fine. A walk in the morning with the dog. A session on the cross trainer or in the pool or a class in the evening. And some weights at the gym.              


Another piece of the puzzle is that some fats are better than others at fat burning. So making sure I sick with those omega 3’s and 6’s. Lots of fish and chicken, not so much of the sausages and beefburgers and Bolognese with red meat. Turkey mince is great 🙂

And abdominal fat is also caused by stress. It is much, much harder to lose weight when you are stressed. Your body produces cortisol in response to stress as the fight or flight adrenaline mechanism kicks in. So your little body refuses to let go of that fat that it might need to face the starvation of winter or the sabre-toothed tiger it expects genetically. So stress reduction, meditation and exercise all help with that. Calm is best for weight loss as well as for inner peace!

Some people also like the low GL way of eating for managing blood sugar  nuts, seeds and fruit for great snacks to keep steady. And low GL to balance your carbs. Patrick Holford is pretty much the UK guru for this approach and I like a lot of what he has to say too. Optimum Nutrition is the watchword here and that is a pretty good message to live by too.

So for me I’m working on tweaking my existing plan a little while keeping with the basics which have brought me freedom from the sugar addiction and steadiness emotionally thanks to no more highs and lows from the sugar hit!

Steady complex carbohydrates – Im thinking of moving to the beans / legumes end of the spectrum more and much less of the wheat

Enough protein to provide fuel for fat burning but mainly of the white meat/ fish/ vegetarian variety

Good omega 3s and 6’s – olive oil, oily fish, supplements like flax oil in my protein shake

And exercise – I’m pretty pleased honestly with how I’m doing with that. I’ve gone from couch potato to using the gym / pool every other day. I’m thinking to try to build in a walk every day now as well. I enjoy it, the dog enjoys it and with my walking poles I’m much better at it. Win-Win.

Oh and lots of water!

Having just been away for a couple of days at a family wedding and eaten far too much cheese I’m now ready for action 🙂 It’s good to have a plan, have found some clues to help me get going again and to know what to do next.  Keep watching this space I will report back!

Small steps at the lakeside

Small steps at the lakeside

We just walked alongside the lake and back. It is hot in England this lovely long Bank Holiday weekend. Much more like June than April. Summer has come early. The weather certainly seems to be changing consistently. Last winter was a hard one with temperatures plummeting to minus 20 whereas the summers seem to arrive early. I’m not going to complain about that! But I do think about the effect of global warming and how our world is changing.

Water does it for me. I love lakes, rivers, streams. I adore the sea. I think I am lucky living where I do, there are several lakes in easy reach even if we are a fair way from the sea. The sea needs a day trip whereas a walk by the lake is possible any old day. And then there are the canals. We live near the Trent and Mersey canal, and canals are an important part of our industrial heritage in this country as well as a source of pleasure. Nowadays its easy ( though not cheap!) to hire a barge ( narrow boat) and sail slowly along the waterways for a day or a holiday. But I love just walking along the canal tow-paths. Smiling at the boats and their cheerful livery, seeing the birds peeping out from the undergrowth.

So today we walked along the lake. I was using my sparkly pink walking poles and find I can walk so much better with them. I’m a bit unsteady on my feet, and last winter I had a lot of falls in the snow and ice and they have really knocked my confidence. I find myself feeling quite tearful occasionally when I’m going downhill as I’m so scared of falling over. But I reckon that practice is what I need and the poles are definitely helping there.

Always on the lake and in  noisy groups along the edge are the Canadian geese. The other day I heard a little boy of about three years old say to his mum, “Look BIG ducks. But they aren’t swimming ducks, they’re Statchoooos“. I was grinning all the way back.

In the middle of the lake is an island where the herons nest and breed. Today the RSPB were there with their fancy telescopes so we got to see the herons as if they were sitting right next to us. I love those birds. So graceful in flight and so regal as they sit high up in the trees or on the lakeside watching for fish.

The largest European heron. It can stand with neck stretched out, looking for food, or hunch down with its neck bent over its chest. In flight it holds its neck retracted and has large rounded wings. It is usually solitary although several birds may feed fairly close together. It stalks its food, often standing motionless for some considerable time. It usually feeds close to the bank or shore, but may wade out into shallow water.

I am feeling a little fragile today. Grateful for the sun and long weekend. Blessed by the peace of the lake and the sight of those herons. I think the feeling of unsteadiness on my feet makes me wobble a bit emotionally. I want to be able to walk steadily and with confidence again. Today was a little milestone for me. It’s the first time for a long while I have had the energy and stamina to walk the whole length of the lake and back again. That’s pretty special. Sometimes its easy to get bogged down in feeling tired, achy and a bit wobbly, feeling fat and unfit instead of recognising the gains and celebrating them.

        Louise Hay’s Wisdom Cards : what came up today



10 round middle-aged ladies in a pool. I am nervously joining the aquafit class. Kim the instructor is slim, lycra clad and slightly hyper-active, there is a lot of ‘whee-ing’ and ‘whoooo-ing’.

And hour of doing an aerobics class on dry land would have me flat on my back clutching my arthritic knee and possibly inhaling oxygen. In the pool I feel light, limber and when we are swinging our legs in circles against the poolside, even balletic. I you know me, you are now laughing.

1. Aqua aerobics: although generally more low-impact than land-based aerobics, these classes have most of the fat-burning and endurance-building benefits that you get from other forms of aerobic activity. An aerobic water exercise of around 30 minutes will help you burn about 300 calories. Most classes will run for around 45 minutes and should include a warm-up, cool-down and stretching exercises. The classes will include things like jogging, kicking, jumping, squats, and dance movements, and may or may not be accompanied by music.
The main benefits of this type of exercise are:

  • Great for all fitness levels
  • Good for weight loss / fat burning
  • Builds strength and flexibility
  • Excellent cardio-respiratory exercise


Not surprisingly water based exercise is great for people with the following conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Joint problems
  • MS
  • Soft-tissue injury
  • Cardiac patients
  • Obesity

As I can definitely tick numbers 1,3 and 7 I reckon I’m in the right place!

So this is another part of my plan for this year of getting healthy – having fun and exercise at the same time. Result!

I love these ladies they are a feisty, friendly fab bunch and the Wednesday morning club is now firmly in my diary. Now for a nice cup of tea!

All going swimmingly


I am a Pisces, a fish who doesn’t like to be out of water. I often swim in more than one direction pulled by my conflicting nature, water is my element, where I was before I was born, it seems the natural place to be to feel that sense of being myself.

I’m just getting back into being able to go swimming again after a few weeks off due to illness. What a great feeling.Ive always loved swimming. I remember back to those first swimming lessons. It would be 1962  and Mum used to take 4-year-old me to the public baths once a week after school. I remember a big shouty man whose best idea of getting children to swim was to throw them in, no water wings then you understand, and yell at them until they made it to the side. I remember that feeling of floundering madly, gulping air and water and yet somehow flailing madly I made it to the side. Of course this isn’t to be recommended either as a teaching strategy or a way to instill trust in your little darling, but being the ever proverbial water baby I loved it.

Neither of my parents learnt to swim. They both grew up in the urban northern English towns , cobbled streets and clogs for Mum and wide windy moorlands for dad. I don’t think either of them missed it as a child but in adulthood they both very much wanted me to swim safely. Unfortunately as I grew up I realised this was a prime opportunity to take outrageous advantage. Days out or holidays in English and Welsh seaside towns were a taste of freedom for the 7-year-old I became. Dad would pace up and down at the edge of the water, as I edged further and further out to sea. Every so often as his nerve failed him he would wave frantically to me to come further in. I learnt to judge to the nth degree the moment when patience would snap, so I was always just that bit out of reach but managed to string it out so I was in the water for hours and hours. Both my inner anarchist and my inner Garbo were satisfied by this breaking of the rules and the need to ‘be alone’.

I was a chubby child, and am a chubby ( or as I prefer to call it curvaceous) adult. swimming was and is a taste of the freedom of movement my thinner more agile sisters experienced on the netball pitch or running in cross-country races ( does anyone like that?!) Water as we all know supports our bodies. It is fantastic for sore joints, and that feeling of weightlessness is one I would only otherwise experience in outer space. In teenage silliness it was possible to be picked up in the water and thrown about, as a mum of small children to play games of sharks and minnows and chase them till they screamed with laughter as big mummy shark pretended to bite and eat up all the little minnows.

Now I swim in a pool at the gym. It is often quiet when I go in the early evenings ( avoiding the after work rush) or mid afternoon at the weekends. Sometimes I can be the only person in the pool. Then I get to live my fantasy that the pool is my very own and that I can swim any time I want. There is something so soothing and meditative about swimming. The focus is on the moment, this moment only. On breathing. On the stretch of my arms and the kick of my feet. I dream of having ‘swimmers arms’ those well-defined shoulders and perfect curves. No flapping under arm skin there, the perfect arms for the LBD.

Most of all though I long to swim in the sea. The taste of salt in my mouth, the unexpected buoyancy that carries you along. The range of surf from crashing Atlantic waves on a Brittany coastline or a Cornish surfing beach, or the soft golden sands and smooth turquoise gorgeousness of a Greek Island. I am fascinated by the idea of ‘wild swimming’. The exploration of wild water, lakes and rivers. Clear, cool, clean water rushing over brown stones and mossy rocks, the dark blackness of deep water, the rushing of waterfalls. And then there is the excitement of scuba diving. The David Attenborough world of the ocean bed, the colours of fish swimming silkily round my legs, oh the wish to swim with dolphins, to experience that connection. So many worlds to explore in water.