Is walking exercise?

Flyfour and I were talking about the long walk I took a few Wednesday's ago and were talking about how fast I walk compared to how fast the average walking pace is. I walk at around 2.9mph, and the average for people my age (but considerably fitter and a normal weight) is 4mph. Personally, I think that considering I am double the amount of weight that a person my height should be, that isn't too bad.

Our research led us to some Government white papers about how much people walk, and how they can encourage more people to walk in the future. I wasn't really interested in this because I don't know how to encourage people to walk more as costs for owning a car are already astronomical and despite living in an area with GREAT public transport it is still in general cheaper and easier for me and many others to use a car.

The white paper also had some research about how often people walk and a surprising amount of people who said they didn't think that walking was exercise!

This led Flyfour and I to discuss how we viewed walking.

Walking to School with the Children in the morning and home again in the afternoon, we don't view this walking as exercise.

Walking around the local supermarket or shopping centre once or twice a week, we don't view this walking as exercise.

When we go for a walk with our family at the weekend, we don't view this walking as exercise.

In the past when we would walk to work, or School or our friends houses, we don't view this walking as exercise.

How stupid are we?! This is all exercise isn't it? Thinking on it now this is the best kind of exercise. If you are busy having fun and exerting yourself at the same time then you don't realise that you are exercising and getting all the associated benefits.

So what about you? Did you think of walking as being exercise or were you like me and Flyfour thinking of it as a way to get from A to B and occasional fun family walks?

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The best role models a family could hope for?

It is a well known fact that I'm a fan of The Simpsons. Even if I have had to ban the family from watching the cartoon at least twice in the last five years. The show has it's fans and it's detractors but, what I think a lot of people don't get is that the Simpson family, is actually a pretty good role model for how a family should be, well in the first couple of seasons anyway, and here are my reasons as to why.

They eat together

Apart from lunch, they eat breakfast and dinner together. They might sometimes watch TV whilst they are eating but they do eat together as a family. How can a real family not look at this and see the positive re-enforcement being made to their own family?

They go to Church

Okay, so you might not, but in general religion is about being nice to each other. It's about doing good and knowing that you have a great power looking out for you and wanting you to make all the best choices for you and your family. I think that's a worthy goal of all families.

They are accepting

It doesn't matter if they are a different religion, a different sexual orientation, a different race, or if they are vegetarians or vegans, or even a hundred other things that you could probably name that makes one person different from another. They accept them as a friend or a family member or part of their community. Sure they might initially struggle with the change, but with new information people can change their opinions.

They stick together

They are a family, who despite their faults and at times dislike for each other are there for each other. They support endeavours which are doomed to failure from the start, they allow each other to go after dreams, to do what they are good at and it's this unconditional support that I want my family to feel and I'd hope you'd want your family to feel it from you too.

They have sex... well the adults do

I was trying to think of a TV Show were the married couple have sex, or even admit to liking sex. Maybe I'm just not watching the "right" TV shows, but I can't think of a single show that has the main characters being intimate with each other in a loving and caring way rather than being duty bound or some other way.

They struggle

They have addictions and they are sometimes short on money. They have homework and a job they hate. They have to deal with bullies and in laws. And yet they manage to do it, whilst still enjoying their life and they overcome their struggles.

It all works out in the end

There is the great quote which I think should be applied to life.
“Everything works out in the end. if it hasn't worked out yet, then it's not the end.”
And that's pretty much how it is for The Simpsons. By the end of the episode, everything is back to normal (well most episodes), the lessons have been learnt and possibly applied and the audience are left with a happy feeling knowing that no matter what life throws at them they can cope too.

What do you think? Are the good values that are shown in the family dynamic of The Simpsons worth the negatives?

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I'm giving up Chocolate

I'm a big Chocolate fan, actually make that an addict. I'm a big Chocolate addict. This wouldn't be so bad if my amazing self control skills could work whilst I was eating chocolate but for some reason I can't just eat one bit of chocolate, I have to eat ALL the chocolate.

Every year I give up Chocolate for Lent, it's hard but I can do it, after all it's only a few weeks. I suffer withdrawal symptoms although I've always put that down to giving up Fizzy drinks at the same time but having read a bit about withdrawal symptoms in the past few days I've realised that what I'm probably craving is the caffeine in the Chocolate...

So maybe I'm not a Chocolate addict, but a caffeine addict.

Either way, I'm giving up Chocolate until near Christmas (I'm planning on taking December "off" from serious weight loss attempts as I figure nobody loses weigh at Christmas). It's going to be hard, as I crave chocolate as a snack, I crave it when I'm due on (It's how I tell my period is due!), it's my go to treat... but I'm sure that I'll find something else. Skittles are good right?

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The Results

Two great things happened today.

First, I walked home from the Shopping Centre again and this time I had one ear listening to my ipod (Glee soundtrack, yes I'm a Gleek) and the other listening to my phone which was running Endomondo and every KM I walked told me that I walked another KM and gave me my lap time and estimated finish time. Of course, every so often Flyfour would also send me a message to let me know how I was doing, what my lap time was in miles per hour, how many calories I had burnt etc. It's a little pep talk which I swear I couldn't do my walks without.

The great thing, was not that Endomondo didn't crash or pause whilst I was walking, but that I walked just short of 9km in an hour and 45 minutes. Honestly, for me this was fantastic and a brilliant time for me to try to beat in the future.

Flyfour, asked if I wanted to start doing the walk twice a week, which whilst would be great, I pointed out in a few weeks time when it's the Summer Holidays I'm going to have to stop doing the walk completely as I can't really drag the children along. Flyfour suggested however that I could do the walk first thing on a Saturday morning, which is a great plan and would mean I'd be keeping up routine.

I'm hoping that by the end of Summer I have knocked 15 minutes off my walk.

The other good thing? Well, that's that I don't have an issue with my Thyroid. I'm pleased because as I said, I'm pretty certain it was just too convenient and I'm rather pleased that I don't have to take drugs everyday for the rest of my life to "fix" it.

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I was thinking about Tarmac the other day...

I was thinking about Tarmac the other day. It's okay, stick with me on this.

I know that it was patented in 1901 by Edgar Purnell Hooley, but that it was used before this as some roads in the ancient city of Babylon had tar paved roads, (honestly the random facts I have in my head would surprise you)... but who came up with the idea of tarmac and why?

Was a bloke (you know it was a bloke and not a girl) laying in bed one night when he suddenly thought "I know what could make a huge difference to walking along the road, if it was covered in a smooth substance" and immediately run out shouting it out to his neighbours? Did he immediately think of the sticky stuff that came out of burning peat? Did he think about cobbling the road first? Or was it an accident? Did he have a fire burning some peat and accidentally spill the sticky substance and when it was cooled see it left a smooth surface?

I came to the conclusion that we'll never know.

Well maybe if we bump into the right Babylonian citizen in Heaven and ask him, we will.

Of course, this isn't something that we have to know. It isn't something which we're going to be quizzed on in our next job interview (unless it's a job about the invention of tarmac) or is a requirement to get funds out of your bank account (although it's the sort of thing they are probably considering bringing in) and so you might wonder what's the point in thinking about it?

I think the point is that someone somewhere invented this, something that we take for granted. I mean I know that now we have asphalt and macadam and goodness knows what else to cover our roads in but surely tarmac was the starting point? Someone saw tarmac and thought I know how to make this better. And what thanks do they get? Not alot really. Just some blogger (that would be me) thinking about them randomly one afternoon.

One day in the future, our Children's, children's, children's, children's, children's, children's, children will wonder about us. They might be lucky and have our blogs to look back on, or our Twitter and Facebook accounts and even, if they are super lucky, our journals and diaries. Yet, will they care? Will they think, here is my Great, great, great, great, great grandparents life and I have them to be thankful for my life and for the lives of my parents and grandparents and so on?

Will they look back at what man has achieved now and think ahh yes, there was the generation that was responsible for the way we live our lives now. Had they not recycled/invented Social Media/created some great invention that I can't think of right now but future generations will heavily rely on then we wouldn't now be able to... well whatever the future generations take for granted.

Or will they just dismiss us as the past, as something that doesn't matter because the details have been forgotten?

Personally I hope it is the former and that we're not just some half baked thought one afternoon.

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The long walk home

I'm not sure why, but last Tuesday night I told Flyfour that I wanted him to give me a lift to the city (it's the colloquial phrase for the Milton Keynes Shopping Centre) the next morning, as I was planning to walk home from there. Flyfour looked a bit worried, he had once walked from our house (with BB in a buggy) to the shopping centre and I had given them a lift home and it wasn't a walk that he was sure overweight and unfit me could make... although he didn't come out and say that to be fair, (and he claims now it was just because the walk is a long and boring one), he just said it was a long way and was I sure that I wanted to do that.

I was determined though, I had it in my head that walking home from the City was a good idea. It was something that I had to do, and something which I was sure was going to allow me to push forward in my new lifestyle of being healthier and fitter. So Flyfour helped me work out the route I would walk and agreed to drop me off the following morning.

The following morning, after a quick walk (two hours is quick right?) around the City Centre, going in all the shops I wanted to, I set Endomondo going and set off walking home. A quick check of my phone about thirty minutes into the walk and Endomondo was paused, so not only did I not know how far I had walked, or have a rough calories burned estimation but I didn't have my route mapped and Flyfour who was following along on the PC at work wasn't sure if I was walking home or had taken up residency in the shopping centre.

Another thirty minutes later and Endomondo had paused again. This time I sent a tweet out, it felt like what I had accomplished (walking for an hour and covering about two and half miles) was being wiped out of existence. It was as if even Endomondo was suggesting I was too unfit to be bothered with, although I know that this isn't what was really going on.

A few minutes later and Flyfour noticed that the Endomondo tracker had me stopped at the side of a road for ten minutes and was worried, so he sent a text to me. I had actually walked quite a bit further than the Endomondo app had me and it was good to hear from Flyfour as I wasn't sure where I should be going and after a laugh about Endomondo losing me again, Flyfour gave me directions on where to go and I restarted the Endomondo app, hoping that a reboot would fix the tracking issue. I didn't know until I was home and looking later that evening with Flyfour, but it had worked. I think the problem is Endomondo didn't like I was also running Tunein radio, so the next time I'll come up with something that will keep both apps happy.

I knew that I was roughly half way home and despite my hip starting to hurt (why I went to the Doctors) and what I suspected was a blister forming (I was right and bloody painful it is too) I pushed on. The last hour of the walk seemed to pass quite quickly, I think in part because I "knew" where I was, this in the area I've lived in for the last twelve years, and also because I was starting to get eager to get home and have some lunch. Which I did as soon as I hobbled through the front door.

All in all the walk was fairly easy. Yes, it is a long walk and I wasn't quite sure where I was going at some points but it was actually quite fun and I'm going to do it again next week. I hope that once a week, a nice long walk will not only help me increase my fitness, and my stamina but will help tone my thighs and butt. I'll have a goal to work towards, to increase my speed of walking (I currently walk around 2.9mph, but would like to get it up to at least 4mph) and will be able to compete against myself. And maybe best of all, I'll be out in the fresh air and hopefully getting a little sun, or knowing the UK a little rain.

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An Under-active Thyroid... possibly

At my Doctors appointment a couple of weeks back, the doctor noticed that when I had a thyroid blood test a couple of years back that the results that had come back were borderline. That coupled with a few other pieces of my medical history and family medical history was enough to get her to send me for a blood test to check the function of my thyroid.

The doctor believed that I may have an under-active thyroid - or at least there was a possibility that I may have.

I went on the internet and checked through the different symptoms of an under-active thyroid. A lot of the symptoms were symptoms that I have. I have depression, I feel the cold, I get constipated, I'm tired a lot of the time, I have dry skin, I have brittle nails, I get muscle aches, I get cramps and I have the heaviest periods in the world... okay, so maybe not the world.

To be honest it would be a relief if I did have an under-active thyroid, there would be a reason that I put on so much weight, why it is hard to lose weight. Some of my other symptoms could be "resolved" with a simple hormone replacement tablet and maybe just maybe it would be easier for me to lose weight when the hormone in-balance was corrected.

And despite there being a family history and a lot of symptoms that could fit the diagnosis, I'm pretty sure that I haven't got an under-active thyroid. It just seems too convenient, too easy for me to say that some of the reason I've put on weight is because of a medical condition.

So I'll find out next week if I have or not and then we'll take the next step from there.

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The start of the 5:2 diet

It's Flyfour's fault we're on the 5:2 diet.

He mentioned that he had heard about this diet as Philip Schofield had been on it and lost a lot of weight quickly. Despite me wanting to slap him because he was using the crack phrase for dieters like me, I agreed that we would give it a go.

A lot of my online friends have tried, or are on this diet and I had watched the TV show that sort of kicked it all off on the BBC last August so I sort of knew what the diet was about and what it required, but I think that Flyfour hadn't as much knowledge as he seemed a little shocked when I explained what the fasting would consist of.

We started the diet on Saturday just gone, and I let Flyfour choose which days he wanted to fast on, figuring that it would be easier for him to have some control and it would be relatively easy for me because of my previous fasting experiences on the first Sunday of the month.

Monday was our first fasting day and I survived the day fairly easily, as I thought I would, although it was after dinner that I started to wish I could eat something else. Flyfour got 100 calories extra seeing as how he is a man, and he used those 100 extra calories to have a cup-a-soup at lunch as he was feeling quite hungry.

Tuesday was odd, neither Flyfour or I wanted to eat our breakfast, but we knew we should eat and so we managed something. Come lunch we were both feeling like we had no appetite and so we didn't eat a large meal, my lunch was actually only 29 calories but I was full and so didn't want to eat more!

I think that this diet is going to have a lot of success if even the next day my calorie intake is going to be reduced and for Daddy a short cycle (well short for him) burns off 500 calories, the amount his evening meal consists of.

We'll see how we feel about it at the end of six weeks though.

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The end of the six weeks

We finished the six ways to lose a stone in six weeks diet last Friday.

I started off so well, but towards the end of the six weeks I started losing steam. Flyfour was eating the meals but wasn't really following the rest of the plan and he was leading me astray. I know, I know I shouldn't have been in the position to be led astray and I shouldn't have been so reliant on Flyfour but I did, because as well as being my best friend he is also my support system.

I'm pretty certain that I put some weight on in the last couple of weeks of the diet, but still managed to lose a stone in the six weeks. The diet did exactly what it said on the tin (well book), I lost a stone in six weeks and so for that I guess that I should be happy.

The diet was a good reminder for me, about the amount of food I was putting in my body and it was allowing me to examine what it was that I was eating and how I could have the right nutrients just with lower calories.

It allowed me to experiment a little. I knew what snacks I could have, I knew what snacks were going to help me with my cravings and what was going to make me feel fullest for longest.

The diet allowed me to understand that salads can be magnificent plates of colour, texture and taste. I realised that I eat as much with my eyes as I do with my mouth and stomach and that means I need to make things look pretty.

 I think the most important thing that it did though was let me know that I can lose weight, if I stick to it.

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Magic Weight Loss Pills

I went to the Doctors yesterday. I went for one reason (my hip has been giving me some grief) and ended up having an appointment about something else (well I did get my hip sort of fixed). I was wearing my gym gear and we talked about my time at the gym, about losing weight and I made a joke to the Doctor that I was waiting for them to invent a magic pill that I could take that would help me to magically lose weight overnight.

The Doctor laughed and said that the pill had already been invented. I was actually shocked, I didn't think that this was the sort of thing that would ever be invented. The Doctor asked if I had even been on Xenical (I haven't), and explained that it isn't quite a magic pill but a way of stopping your body absorbing fat.

I don't think that I actually like the idea of taking Xenical.

Don't get me wrong, I want to lose weight and I would kill for it to be as easy as taking a pill before eating a meal that would magically (well chemically) mean that my body just put the fat straight out the other end (to put it politely) but it feels a little too much like cheating.

I said to the Doctor, that losing weight is simple really, you have to work out how many calories you put into your body and then burn off what isn't needed. It's the same way that I put on weight if you think about it, I ate more calories than I burnt off over a period of time and losing the weight is a hard slog, but it's one that will be worth it.

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