The Accumulator Fitness Plan

I`m not usually that big on book reviews, but I just cannot resist praising The Accumulator, which I discovered while looking for inspiration on getting fit at home.

The concept is dual (diet and exercise), slow (ie not at all overwhelming) and promises to be very effective: Over 30 days (You can do that!!), you adopt one good (eating related) habit and one physical exercise (2 levels of difficulty to chose from, no equipment needed for either). It`s only two double pages to read every day, and the exercises take a minute each (the programme asks for duration rather than repetitions).

Each excercise is repeated the next day in addition to adopting a new one, so on Day 1, you will be expected to excercise for 1 minute only, which will increase by just one minute a day until you are excercising for 26 minutes on Day 30 (there is 4 rest days) – so do-able that I literally started the minute I finished the brief chapter for Day one – I just got up and did my squats before sitting down again and reading on – while being effective enough for me to feel really sore already on what`s Day 4.

All does not end after 30 days: you can increase the intensity of your excercises to a Difficulty Level 2, or you can increase the duration, while re-reading and re-interating a piece of dietary advice every day… Those are all mainly commen sense, but I don`t think a brief reminder in this respect has ever hurt anyone.

Price: just the £12.99 for the book. No special excercise equipment, fancy foods or diet supplements needed.

Everybody can do that, those short of time, breath or money 🙂 Absolute gem!















Lifestyle Month: on Exercising

Every year, it`s an intention, and every year, it is a struggle.

In summer, I don`t need the gym – I walk everywhere and enjoy running at the beach. Winter however is a different matter. I don`t like to be outside, but soon, both body and soul are missing the activity. Gym should be calling my name – but I just don`t want to go.

When I reduced my working hours, I vowed to go finally re-establish a regular gym routine and wrote down a list of the most compelling reasons why I should get over myself and just go, no matter what:

  1. I always feel good as soon as I enter the gym. As soon as my body is in there, my mindset will follow suit. And I feel amazing afterwards!
  2. I set myself a goal of 30 mins (for the beginning). That`s not much, but it`s more than nothing, and a small step towards establishing a habit and being able to do more again eventually, as I get fitter.
  3. Every journey starts with a small step. The first visit is always the one I`m most likely to postpone over and over again. The second (and third, etc) visit however will never be as difficult again, as once I started something I want to keep it going. So just go!
  4. Too busy? 30 minutes of gym will cost me about an hour including travelling, getting changed and shower. What else would I do with these 60 minutes? Probably mainly berating myself for not going to the gym.
  5. The time and effort is an investment into my health and wellbeing, for now and for the far away future. I remember what it felt like to be overweight, and I can only imagine what it will be like to get the first ailments of old age and knowing that I could have held them off for a few years if only I had taken the time to exercise more when I was still able to. Remember the benefits of exercise go beyond weight loss.
  6. Being happy with my body and going to the gym regularly feels great and nourishes a positive mindset and self esteem that spread to other areas of my life: nutrition, general activity levels, alcohol and how I dress and care for myself in general.  Not going to the gym affects the same things, in the opposite way.
  7. Money – I pay the same fee for my membership, regardless of how often I go. One visit can cost me anything between £1.20 and £40.00 – choice is mine.
  8. Exercise releases endorphines and enhances my sense of self worth and confidence, which makes me happier (and easier to be with) altogether.

Even though, it lasted about 3 weeks. Finally, I acknowledged that I simply dislike it – and cancelled my membership. And the guilt (point 7 above!) fell off as soon as I handed in the letter!

I now exercise at home. I already had a treadmill, and I also bought myself a mat and a kettlebell. Now, a 30 min session isn`t difficult to fit in at all – no travelling,, my own bathroom, and then straight into my comfies. My own music. I often preper dinner before I go, so it`ll be ready for me coming out. So far, this seems to work for me.

I really think you have to enjoy exercising in order to stick with it, and if you don`t, you`ll have to go and find something else, until you discovered the activity you`re actually looking forward to.

Lifestyle Month: Book Recommendation: Heavy Drinking – The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease (Herbert Fingarette)

Published 1989, I`m still finding this book highly relevant – it`s available on Amazon from 1p + £ 2.80p&p.

It explores whether excess consumption of alcohol should be termed a disease or not, and whether total abstinence would be the way forward or too ambitious a goal. It asks a lot of difficult questions, which I`m finding highly inspiring.

Calling alcoholism a disease, rather than a behavior disorder, is a useful device both to persuade the alcoholic to admit his alcoholism and to provide a ticket for admission into the health care system.

The classic disease concept admirably suits the interests of the liqueur industry: by acknowledging that a small minority of the drinking population is susceptible to the disease of alcoholism, the industry can implicitly assure consumers that the vast majority of people who drink are not at risk.

If loss of control is triggered only after the first drink, why should the alcoholic have any special difficulty mustering the self-control to avoid the first drink? Why should abstinence pose a problem?

Or if we do recognize evidence of control, we decide the drinker in question cannot be a “true” alcoholic. We then minimize or discount that person`s drinking problems because the labels “alcoholic” and “disease” do not seem to apply.

Finally, the disease concept poses a frustrating paradox for drinkers who do seek treatment: They are told that they are unwilling victims of a disease that destroys their ability to manage their drinking and yet that they must strive to exert absolute self control and that only total abstinence can save them.

Instead of viewing heavy drinkers as the helpless victims of a disease, we come to see their drinking as a meaningful, however destructive, part of their struggle to live their lives.

Thus, he comes to see himself as the victim, even though it is his wive who has to endure his drunken outbursts.

Conversely, once a drinker`s overall quality of life is used as one of several measures of success, total abstinence is not necessarily a sign of success. Over time, the controlled drinking group on average reduced their drinking far more than the abstinence group. For heavy drinkers who are trying to address their problems the concept of controlled drinking can have the salutary effect of acknowledging human fallability.

Next Project: Fitness

After I returned to Facebook and decided that not drinking is definitely a keeper, I`ve embarked on my next project at the end of February: fitness. I binge exercise, and not even work part time has got me into a proper, regular regime. When I got offered 2 free personal training sessions however, I decided to make this a jump start.

After the two sessions, I now have two training plans, which I`m alternating: one for the arms (weak!!!) and one for legs and core (strong, because I run). I was properly angry after my first session – it was so hard, and I constantly had to lower the weights, which did nothing for my self esteem. However, I`ve been doing all exercises ever since and, despite my strong scepticism, I`m already finding it easier and dutyfully increased *all* exercises to four sets as of last weekend. Because the workouts are brief (about 30 mins each), I find it easy to make the time. 45 Minutes are all I need to feel good about myself for the rest of the day, and into the next. For me, fat is definitely a feeling!!

When I`m not going to the gym, I try to walk longer distances outside. In good weather, that`s always been easy, but I`m surprised how good the weight lifting feels. I tried it on and off, but never stuck to it, as I simply didn`t enjoy it. But I now know what motivates me, and I enjoy that sensation of feeling so weak afterwards that I want to do no more. Feeling that weak makes me feel so strong, and I almost fondly remember this impossibly difficult intro session, that was only 3 weeks ago!!

Here`s an excerpt of my pedometer (pre-installed S Health for Android, also recommend Noom Walk for Android or IPhone) since I started. The columns indicate daily step count and turn green when I exceed 10.000 steps. The pink circles say I was at the gym, blue is a rest day.

My challenge now is that I had minor surgery and shouldn`t lift weights with that arm for 11 days (scar may stretch), plus full time work and going away for three days as well. It`ll be interesting to compare the difference after I kept working one arm but not the other…