STAYING FIT & HEALTHY IN PORTUGAL 2023
2023 is a whole new year to focus on my health and fitness. You may have read my previous Weight Loss in Portugal posts. I’m still happily maintaining my weight at a range between 8 ½-9 Stone (54-57 kg). I have abolished weighing myself regularly and now just do random check-ins when I’m feeling a bit porky to make sure I’m not piling back on the 100+lbs that I successfully lost. 2022 was not my year for Health and I encountered a few medical scares and hospital A & E visits including emergency eye surgery. I am hoping that 2023 will bring me more luck. I decided to write a Health & Fitness post because now that I’m in maintenance, I really want to focus on my fitness levels and get a stronger body to help me prevent future illness and injuries. There are many choices when it comes down to exercising and we are blessed to live in such a beautiful village with scenic hills to hike and cycle. Our nearest town has plenty of options including a swimming pool, gym and tennis courts. There are also lots of classes including pilates and yoga. I even attended circus skill classes which included flying through the air on a trapeze and not so very gracefully gliding up and down silks. Don’t panic, I was pants so I didn’t run away with the circus, the only position open to me was “Crazy Clown” (ha ha).
Weekly Exercise Routine
I am continuing to persevere with my regular exercise programme which consists of the following:
X3-4 runs/jogs/power walks per week (a combination of 2 routes 7km & 5km) I Swap for a Skipping Session if raining heavy
X5 15 min Ab Workouts
X5 10 min Upper Body Strength Training Workouts (with weights)
Daily Physio & Stretches (for my chronic back disability)
My exercise routine is basic and boring but I get results. I still can’t run the whole route due to a previous foot injury so I do a combination of running, jogging and power walking around my local mountain range: Serra do Açor. The hills are punishing and so steep! I get chased by stray dogs, stared at by men and heckled by old ladies but it’s all part of the fun. I’m no expert by any means but I have found that with exercise you really need to incorporate it into your daily life forever. It needs to be a fun activity or at least something you can tolerate to continue with it long term. Exercise and getting healthy is a long process which requires discipline and self-control but most importantly you need a shed load of patience and perseverance. There’s no quick fix so finding something you like will help you stick to it, day in, day out. Whether it’s walking the dog, dancing, gardening, swimming, cycling etc. just choose something that’s achievable and an activity that you like. If it all seems a little overwhelming then just start by getting your body moving. Small changes accumulate and make all the difference. Don’t be too ambitious, there is no point in embarking on a 20 km run then not doing another one for 4 long months. Likewise with a cardio workout that suggests it burns 1000+ calories. If you only do it once in a blue moon then you need to rethink your strategy. Infrequent exercise won’t help you get fitter, it needs to be a sustainable habit and not a fad. If you can’t sustain your fitness routine for more than 30 days you need to explore a more realistic plan. Walking is so underrated and a great first step to exercise. I use a Garmin watch to track my exercise. I’m not obsessed with it and just record my distance and speed. I don’t bother tracking my weight, sleep, heart rate etc. It recently told me that I have the fitness level of a 20 year old which made me laugh, I wish (ha ha).
Personally I strongly dislike gyms in general. I’ve been a member of several from the bargain cheap ones to the high end luxury gyms and spas with a pool, jacuzzi and sauna, where you receive complimentary towels and toiletries. I would always be a member of a gym in the UK because the weather is often so bad it’s difficult to run outdoors during the winter time unless you want to freeze your tits off (ha ha). It also fitted into my lifestyle and became an after work ritual. Here in Portugal we are blessed with several months of glorious sunshine every year so outdoor exercise is easy so there’s no excuse. What do I hate about gyms? Where do I start. I hate all the following things, in no particular order: Having to share unhygienic sweaty equipment with random strangers, queuing for machines (especially in peak times), the strobe above head lighting, the nauseating showers and toilets, the posers in their expensive £100 gym leggings which show off their peachy perfect butts who prance around, barely do any exercise and just flirt, the intimidating people who constantly ask you how many reps you have left and can they just jump on in-between your sets, the weight machine hogs who just sit on a machine for a lengthy period scrolling through their phones. I could go on and on but I will stop now or I will bore you senseless. I’m not a social butterfly at all so hated having to interact with folk as I dislike 99% of the people I meet (ha ha). I also suffer from OCD, sensory issues and social anxiety so gyms are just not a great match for me. I did however enjoy a few classes especially the Body Pump and Boxing classes.
What I love about jogging is it’s free so perfect for frugal Helena. All you need is a decent pair of trainers and a good supportive sports bra and off you go. You obviously need other basic clothing too. Don’t just venture out naked wearing only a sports bra and trainers because you will likely get arrested for indecent exposure (ha ha). I always thought that to tone my body and build muscle, I would have to lift heavy weights so would need to attend a gym, how wrong was I. I have more muscle definition now than I ever did when I visited gyms just from using a total of 8kg free weights for 10 mins, 5 times per week. One other thing to consider is I’m at that certain age where occasionally I wet my panties a teeny tiny bit if I over exert myself way too rapidly. It doesn’t happen often and it’s probably due to weakened pelvic floor muscles (I blame giving birth to a 10lb baby). Once one has pissed the floor in a gym packed full of people, there is no coming back from that. Accidentally slipping a fart out or even vomiting due to feeling poorly is one thing but peeing or pooping the floor is non acceptable and I just couldn’t recover from that kind of embarrassment. I know there are special Tena lady pads one can buy but I’ve only recently stopped my periods and now I don’t have to waste money of feminine hygiene products (tampons, pads and panty liners) I’m not prepared to buy front end lady bit pads. Although I did say to hubby recently that I pee so many times in the night now I could benefit from an overnight nappy/diaper. Don’t panic about my peeing so often, I’ve been checked for diabetes but I’m fine, it’s just because I drink 2-5 litres of water per day and a hot chocolate right before bedtime.
I will always have a love/hate relationship with jogging. I love hurtling down the hills amongst raw nature with the wind in my face but it honestly doesn’t get any easier. I always seem to be in some form of pain or have an injury. I want to push myself but I suffer from chronic pain so I need to listen to my body and know my limitations. It takes self-discipline and an abundance of resilience to keep showing up during difficult times. Guilt-free rest days are vital for my health and wellbeing so I have a rest day during the week and I take weekends off to enjoy adventures with my hubby. Some of my weekend trips include hiking in Spring, Autumn and Winter and paddle boarding in the summer as well as gardening which is a workout so I often squeeze in some exercise on the weekend without knowing it. Exercising outdoors makes me feel so much better physically and mentally. I always feel more positive, energised and productive after my jog. I am ready to face what the day has to throw at me.
My new year exercise plans have got off to a great start despite my recent groin injury, don’t ask (ha ha). It’s not easy but I am fully committed to improving my lifestyle and just take one day at a time. It’s important to understand that everyone’s fitness levels are different depending on various factors so don’t compare yourself to others, everyone has a different timeline and unique path. Stay focused on your own progress rather than trying to measure yourself against others. I always say to myself “Drive in my own lane”. Equally don’t be jealous of others success. Everyone is different and I have found that women can be quite bitchy of others who have succeeded in their goals. Be a girlfriends champion and friend after all you don’t know her full story, history or her challenges so be kind. Sometimes progress seems like it is taking forever because body transformation is bloody hard. Slow steady progress is still progress. I do have a few health challenges but if my pain is tolerable I get myself out there regardless. I look at exercise as a privilege not a punishment or to gain calories to eat. After my sudden vision loss scare last year, I am thankful that I can see (to some degree) and that my legs work and get me up the hills. I am grateful that I have the time and the ability to exercise and improve my health as not everyone has this. One factor that is really annoying is my IBS and the fact that it can rear its ugly head at any time. It’s impossible to jog during an IBS attack as I’m in agony on the floor next to the toilet bowl! If you suffer from this condition, you will understand my pain.
I’m personally fed up with reading that it’s better to exercise in the early morning because it’s like you gain an extra hour in the day. BS to that theory, you can’t add an hour to any day unless you are a magician. In my eyes you are a hero if you can get up before work and go for a run pre breakfast and before coffee on an empty stomach. I can’t even say my name before I’ve had my morning caffeine fix (ha ha). For us people with chronic pain exercising at 5am or even at 7am is never going to be achievable. It takes time for me to wake up, take my meds and for them to kick in and do their magic. Then I need breakfast and a coffee before I can function and attempt my daily physio exercises. I am secretly jealous of folk who workout at 5am but it’s not for me. I will never ever be part of the 5 O Clock Club. Also if I got up at 5am I would certainly require a 2nd breakfast and possibly a 3rd (ha ha). Is it better to workout early in the morning for your metabolism? Who knows but I think that as long as you get the exercise done and dusted, it doesn’t matter if you go at 5am or 12pm, exercise is still exercise and my hormones are shot to pieces anyway due to my under-active thyroid. As hormones play a huge part with how we feel, energy levels and fatigue, I thought I would mention that I have not encountered a period for over 12 months in a row now, so I’m officially Postmenopausal! I think there should be a cake presented to me similar to a birthday cake or maybe it’s not an occasion to celebrate seeing as side effects can last a further 4-5 years (ha ha). I try and venture out a little earlier during the summer months because running in 40 degree heat is torture and so hard. It’s a bit like food, experts say don’t eat after a certain time in the evening but I don’t follow anyone’s rules, I just make my own up and go with what works for me. I am hoping to live to a ripe old healthy age, if the hills don’t kill me first! Whoever said “Don’t think of them as hills but mounds of opportunity” has clearly never tried running in Central Portugal (ha ha).
I’m never going to win any fashion awards for my running attire but neon clothing is essential unless you want to get hit by a car and end up down a ditch or catapulted off the mountainside. I had to abolish my neon football bibs as they are made from mesh material and one size fits all (humungous) so they keep flapping about in the mountain wind and sticking to the velcro of my phone armband. I can’t jog without music so I had to find something neon and tighter. My old neon muscle vests do the job perfectly. I’ve now resulted in wearing my cycling shorts on the outside of my running tights. There is motive behind my madness. I have 3 pairs of running tights that are all Size 14 and the frugal me won’t waste money and buy smaller but they keep falling down when I run which slows me down. I have to continuously hoist them back up or expose my rear which surprisingly is not my best feature (ha ha).
I have found a suitable solution. Wear shorts which have a drawstring waist on the outside. It reminds me of when I was about 5 and I would outgrow my woolly tights so my mum would make me wear a pair of knickers over my tights to keep them up because we were poor. I’m not poor now just a frugal tight ass who hates waste and clothes shopping. Anyway it does the trick. Do I look an idiot? Hell YES! but who cares, there is no one to judge half way up a mountain and if it’s good enough for Superman it’s good enough for Superwoman Helena. I look completely knackered and a right sweaty Betty but a thumbs up from me, another jog completed and I’m still smiling folk.
Hero Hubby Motivation
Bejesus! January certainly blessed us with a blanket of snow and freezing cold temperatures. My motivation on this particular day was my hero hubby. If he can cycle 22km to work in -1 degree temp because our old banger of a car wouldn’t start in the morning then I can power walk and jog 7 km in 7 degree temp at midday. Be inspired by others! Here are some knackered post run neon panda chicken selfies and a thumbs up from me for sheer dedication and getting my steps in despite my chronic pain. The stains on my panda hat are coffee not dark rum or poop, I promise (ha ha). I decided to chance Pedro the Panda hat on a 40 degree machine wash but the stain is still there, Portuguese coffee stains are fierce, strong and linger on, a bit like hubby’s farts (ha ha). What I LOVE about me is I can go from glamour and palaces to knee high in chicken shit and DIY in the blink of an eye (ha ha). It’s often been said that when I make the effort, I don’t scrub up too bad (ha ha).
Family Fitness & Passadiços
If you want a leg workout be sure to venture on one of the Passadiços (Wooden Walkways). They vary in length and are punishing on your legs.
Skippy the Kangaroo
I won’t venture out and jog in heavy rain since my running accident last year where I ended up in A & E so hubby has bought me a skipping rope so I can still get my cardio done in the sun room if it rains. Oh my gosh skipping is so much fun. I need to make the rope a little shorter in length (I’m a short ass) but I love my neon rope. My daughter suggested that I buy another one and practice Double Dutch skipping, watch this space! I do love a challenge (ha ha).
With all the recent rain I have swapped quite a fair few jogs for a skipping session. Some of the routines on YouTube are very complicated and I end up tangling the rope up in my legs and whipping my arms and legs which is quite painful. I have found an awesome 10 min beginners skipping workout by the Jump rope dudes, a very easy on the eye PT who just so happens to be shirtless. I’m no perve but it makes a refreshing change to ogle a sexy bloke for once rather than the usual 6 ft 2 inch tall, ex ballerina, Size 0 models that my other workouts have for instructors (ha ha). I try to do it twice so it turns into a 20 min session. Gosh, skipping is bloody hard but so much fun. I like to think that I sparkle like a princess but in reality I sweat like a pig in cellophane (ha ha). In-between skipping, shirtless sexy dude makes you do press ups, squats, lunges and jumping jacks. I was totally shocked when he ended by saying “Let’s finish with a Chinese”. It was a bit early in the morning for lunch and I’m not sure my stomach could handle all the grease so close to consuming my porridge brekkie but I never turn down a chicken chow mein or spring rolls. He actually said “High Knees not “Chinese” (ha ha). This is the God’s honest truth! Watch his Youtube video. Here I am Skipping, Jumping and Leaping into my Next Adventure.
It’s Raining, I’m still Training
When it’s too wet and wild to skip in the covered garden area, I skip in the lounge and open the balcony doors for fresh air. No excuses here, I show up and get the job done.
First week of 2023, just an example of my cardio. It’s easy to obtain a new Personal Best when it’s your 2nd jog of the year (ha ha).
Smashing Fitness Challenges & Goals
I like to set myself a few monthly challenges on Garmin to keep me on my toes. Realising you can do things you didn’t think you could do is awesome, NEVER QUIT!
My Beautiful Route
It’s not too difficult to power walk, jog or run when you have all this beauty on your doorstep! I made these photos LARGE so you can see why I LOVE living in Vinhó.
Blessed with Beauty
We truly are blessed with all the beautiful scenery here in Portugal. Just look at these spectacular autumn colours!
The Hills are Alive
Here is the 1st huge hill I’m faced with on my regular route. It’s a steep one for sure! I can see if from my garden and balcony.
Hubby’s cycling routes are a lot longer and steeper than mine, not bad for a grandad (ha ha).
Living in Central Portugal means we are never too far from a mountain range. If we fancy a challenge and the mountain wind in our face then Serra da Estrela is the highest mountain in mainland Portugal and certainly a workout for my thunder thighs. If you want to irritate your exercise buddy senseless then sing this song on repeat whilst you hike (ha ha).
Climb every mountain
Search high and low
Follow every byway
Every path you know
Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
Till you find your dream
A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live
(The Sound of Music)
Spring, Autumn & Winter Hiking
We love to hike the PR routes of Central Portugal but rarely hike in the summer months as it’s just too hot. We adore hiking to waterfalls as they are so pretty and picturesque but also glorious for a quick dip after a long sweaty hike. We also enjoy exploring the different mountain regions, awesome bridges and scenic swings.
Summer SUP & Swimming
During the summer months my exercise will consist of SUP boarding. We absolutely adore SUP and we fell in love with this sport when we relocated to Portugal. It is such a fun way to exercise and it’s a whole body total workout. The best part is if you get all hot and sweaty Betty, you just jump in the river for a swim to cool off. We have SUP boarded at some surreal places including river beaches and lagoons high in altitude up mountains amongst raw nature with perfect picture backdrops of glacial valleys with breathtaking scenery. We are so blessed to live in such a stunning country, I am forever grateful.
Middle Aged Swinger
Some exercise is more fun than others. Couples that swing together stay together (ha ha). I have a whole separate post titled Swinging in Portugal. It is very popular and receives lots of views daily. I think this is because people are assuming it’s a whole different “Swinging” and the practice of engaging in group sex or the swapping of sexual partners within a group. Bejesus, I have enough difficulty keeping up with one sexual partner let alone multiple randoms (ha ha).
Never underestimate how much of a workout gardening is. Digging, weeding, chopping down trees etc. It all counts and if you really want an upper body blast, try chopping up wood, Bejesus you won’t be able to feel your arms the next day (ha ha).
DIY Weekend Workout Warriors
DIY can be a Dynamic Workout! To all my UK friends who think my life is all glamour and sipping cocktails in a pool under the Portuguese sun. This is my life 99% of the time, working like a beaver, covered in shite, with either a plastic bag on my head or a headscarf trying to disguise and protect dirty hair that hasn’t been washed in over 7 days but I still have a smile on my face. Good old fashioned “Hand Job” sanding is such an arm workout, who needs the gym! I think my biceps are bigger than hubby’s (ha ha). Someone broke the electric sander (ha ha).
I usually shop at charity and thrift stores for DIY and gardening clothing but Portugal lacks these type of shops so although I hate “Primarni” with a passion, I often buy their bargain €3 leggings and €1.80 vests to wreck in the gardening. They are basic, cheap and quite robust, just like me (ha ha) and the pants pass the squat test, don’t become see through or expose your butt crack when you bend over which is always a positive. I do LOVE the weekends when I have my little hubby helper. After a full weekend of DIY I LOVE to end the day with caffeine and chicken therapy. As I’m gathering the eggs, I’m slowly watching my ladies disappear up the steps to next doors garden because the grass is always greener (ha ha). I LOVE my Crazy ass chickens.
The Mucky Mare
I always end up covered head to toe in paint and messier than the paint tin. This paint is lethal and always makes me high as a kite from all the paint fumes. The paint is called Bondex but I call it Bondage (ha ha). Never stop having Fun in the Sun.
The Grubby Girl
I get just as grubby sanding as I do painting! (ha ha). I broke the electric sander so I’ve had to result to a good old fashioned hand job (ha ha). Sanding by hand is such a bicep workout. I sent a message to my daughter saying I’m aiming for “Fit & Nifty at 50” and she replied “Is this a competition you are entering?” I replied: “No, but it bloody should be” (ha ha).
Mr & Mrs Marshmallow
I couldn’t risk the paint drying out so worked right through lunch. I am absolutely covered in paint but hubby came up with a genius idea of feeding me marshmallows without eating paint, BBQ skewered marshmallows to keep my energy levels up, a perfect sugar fix.
I balanced the sugar treat with a very late al fresco lunch: Ham & 2 fried egg bap. Basic but bloody beautiful, just like me (ha ha). Thanks to my lovely ladies Carol, Michonne, Maggie and Judith. Another day of hard work and sheer commitment in the beautiful sunshine.
Jumping For Joy
I will never ever get bored of Jumping for Joy. I may lack in grace but I think I have mastered the height for an old fogey, hubby was very impressed in how high I managed to get my bulk of a body off of the ground. The blokes working on the roof of the house next door think I’m crazy, they aren’t wrong (ha ha).
What I LOVE the most about exercising here in Portugal is the weather. If it’s not raining then December can be pretty mild so you don’t need to dig out your thermals and freeze your thighs to the point where they are numb. Yes I have loose skin, cellulite and stretch marks but do you know what else I have? I have bloody MUSCLES for once in my life at the ripe old age of nearly 50!
The Top Gun Garden Winter Workouts
As I have previously mentioned, it’s not easy exercising in the cold with areas of slippery frozen hills underfoot and a bad back but I persevere through the pain to get my cardio done and dusted. January was certainly a bit nippy in the mornings with temperatures around 1 degrees but by the afternoons we are blessed with glorious Portuguese sunshine which means I can complete my physio and strength training outdoors on a few random occasions. This year I’m focusing on building muscle and trying to bulk out a little and tone my body. I have a lot of lose skin from excessive weight loss and in all honesty I hate it with a passion. My unexpected vision loss in my right eye last Nov put things into perspective. Health is way more important than how one looks. Sure I want to look good but beauty fades. A healthy, fit, strong body will take me into my ripe old age and help prevent future disease and illness. So I’m trying my best to embrace the skin I’m in, literally. That means learning to love every stretch mark, crinkle and wrinkle. It’s took me nearly 50 years to learn the skills to be kind to myself as I’m my biggest critic. I never take myself too seriously and try to make exercise fun. The crazy aviator sunglasses came as a free gift with my contact lense order, gotta love a freebie, I look like Tom Cruise in Top Gun and now I have Top Guns with impressive biceps and triceps (ha ha). The fruit of your own hard work is the sweetest, it’s time to Sparkle and Shine.
Another Day, Another Crazy Garden Workout
Another Fun Friday Fitness workout in my outdoor gym under the Portuguese sun amongst the chirping birds, busy bees and floating butterflies. It was a whopping 23 degrees in the shade, mid Feb 2023! It’s not a bad life. I’m trying to incorporate a few yoga stretches to improve my poor balance and posture. It would help if I didn’t keep calling the “Downward dog” “Doggie style” (ha ha). I have the steep Portuguese mountain hills to thank for my calf and thigh muscles. The LOVE & HATE relationship I have with these bloody hills is fierce (ha ha).
My Mistral shorts remind me of the boys style of PE shorts from the 1980’s but they provide a much needed light breeze up the leg holes. Don’t panic, I’m actually wearing panties today (gigantic granny knickers) so no risk of flashing my bits unless I do it on purpose. The guy opposite strimming the land does look a little bored, maybe I should make him smile for a while. Exercise to be fit, not skinny. Eat to nourish your body, you are worth more than you realise. Walk away from every workout feeling proud, accomplished and strong as hell and don’t forget to have FUN in the SUN.
More Mrs Mistral – Grey Skies & Clouds (23rd Feb 2023)
Throw your arms up in the air if you want Portuguese cake on a cloudy day in February? (ha ha). I LOVE a Mistral clothing sale with shirts and dresses reduced to €1.99 and €2.99, the frugal Helena LOVES a bargain. My ab definition seems to fluctuate day to day depending on how much water, coffee, wine and Portuguese cake I have consumed, I’ve overindulged quite a lot recently (ha ha). I can’t wait for summer SUP. I LOVE our Mistral brand SUP boards and their clothing range is super comfy for travelling to SUP locations. Lefties have a mega sale and I managed to purchase a few bargain priced items to add to my Mistral clothing collection. I love clothing that is fast & cheap – like me (ha ha). I still think they need to make me Mistral Ambassador and have a real woman of a certain age modelling their clothing range (ha ha).
I bought the orange dress last year in a size Medium but it’s a bit big and baggy now so I re purchased it as well as the same dress in pink because they were €2.99 down from €14.99 so it doesn’t matter if they get covered in sun cream or in my world: ice cream (ha ha). Perfect if you fancy a bargain and much easier to wear whilst taking a discreet pee pee amongst nature as a bikini and shorts results in a full blown public lady mooney and I’m always nervous that a dog walker or hiker will discover me with my pants down at my ankles at the worst possible moment (ha ha). They only had Extra Small and Small at Coimbra store but they are huge. I bought Extra Small and I’m usually a UK Size 10-12 so size down ladies (and men) because if a skirts good enough for David Beckham and Harry Styles it’s good enough for you guys (ha ha). I have the T Shirt in lime but couldn’t resist the white with peach logo at €1.99 reduced from €7.99. I would never have worn a crop top when I was obese!
What A Difference A Day Makes – Blue Skies & Sunshine (24th Feb 2023)
Today we are back to being blessed with blue skies and sunshine. Who needs a young 20 year old gorgeous Mistral clothing model when there is a perfectly capable nearly 50 year old crazy ass all natural, make up free, full of wrinkles and crinkles Bristolian lass available, I’d do it for free or they could pay me with a SUP board or cake, I’m a cheap lass (ha ha).
More Garden Gains
Another exercise session done and dusted under the glorious Portuguese sunshine. I am feeling fit, strong and totally blessed. I thought I’d better keep up my routine as when I return to the UK I don’t expect my dry fit workout clothing will venture out of my suitcase and see the light of day. Eating Fish & Chips doesn’t require Lycra just an expandable waistband (ha ha). Bring on the Fish Suppers, Cornish Pasties, Bottomless Brunches, Hot Cross Buns, Cadbury Cream Eggs and Curly Wurlys! I might have to buy 2 tickets on the journey home for my lardy ass (ha ha).
Pancakes Make You Run Faster
It appears that I run a faster speed after consuming pancakes – Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day 21st Feb 2023 (ha ha). The proof is in the pudding or should I say pancakes, the truth speaks for itself and I trust Garmin 100%. The fluffy American style pancakes were balanced out with lots of fresh fruit, protein vanilla yogurt and sugar free jelly. With exercise, being consistently good is better than being occasionally great. Another week of smashed goals, feeling fit, strong and proper proud.
The Chunky Monkey Progress Photos
These photos below are from when I first started jogging and strength training here in Portugal. You can definitely see the progress I have made in just a short couple of years. I am much more toned now in the above photos and at least 2 stone lighter too! I HATE these photos with a passion but it’s good to share them to show that consistency pays off in the LONG RUN (no pun intended).
My Acorn Man – Exercise Buddy
If you can find an exercise buddy or someone who can support you when you are feeling low or less motivated then I highly recommend it. Hubby is my “Soulmate” or should I say “Solemate”. One of the cutest things hubby ever did for me when I started jogging here in Portugal: He secretly made little acorn men and strategically placed them on posts where he knew I took my little rests to stretch. One day I just saw this little guy and it melted my heart. I knew it was him instantly who had made them all. It’s the small gestures in life that show love. I don’t need diamonds or expensive shoes, I’m elated with a homemade cake and a dozen acorn men (ha ha).
My Driving Force
My hero hubby is not only my exercise buddy but the driving force behind my inspiration. He is my biggest fan, my absolute hero and believes in me more than I believe in my self. He has been by my side throughout my weight loss journey and has always offered encouragement. Don’t associate with negative people who may try to sabotage your health and fitness plans. We all need a little help at difficult times and this star keeps me on track by cooking a nutritious healthy dinner every single night.
Twinners & Winners – Harmonius Dressing
We recently visited a sports store to buy new running trainers. It’s surprising how often you need to re buy trainers as the constant kilometres pounding the mountain roads and dirt trails wear them out so fast. We separated at the shop and met back up only to realise that we both had chosen the exact same brand and colour! Great minds think alike. We are going to look like twins and those weird ass couples who dress in Mr & Mrs matching colour coordinated outfits. What next, matching dressing gowns, hoodies, festival ponchos? We already have a couple of matching T.Shirts and matching hiking shoes, the options are endless my friends but its a slippery slope that I don’t want to venture down.
When we ordered our Oodies I nearly got us matching ones, the Pizza theme for me (because pizza is my favourite food) and garlic bread theme for hubby (ha ha). In the end I opted for the purple bunny design for me and plain grey for hubby because purple is my favourite colour and my favourite animal are bunnies. Plain grey for hubby to match his boring personality (ha ha). Just kidding, he is a vibrant Viking. Couples who run together, stay together unless one outruns the other or pushes them off a mountain top (ha ha). I Love jogging with hubby as I don’t need music to keep up my speed, he is my little personal trainer and pacer. Apparently harmonious dressing is a sub-conscious thing, that generally occurs about six months into a relationship. We’ve been together well over a decade so God help us in whatever fashion disaster path we embark on next, with my failing eyesight, anything could happen (ha ha). I think we should win a trophy for being such Twinners. I thought my legs looked a little pasty until I put them next to hubby’s. He struggled to stick his legs up in the air so I could get a shot of our trainers with a view. He is super fit and much fitter than me but lacks flexibility. I think my new nickname for him is going to have to be “The Milky Bar Kid” (ha ha).
Mr & Mrs Twinning
As I said, it’s a slippery slope (ha ha). We even have matching baseball caps! My daughter visited us and joined us on a jog so the Twinning became a Trio family affair with us all wearing neon orange (ha ha). “Orange is the happiest colour” (Frank Sinatra). I agree with Frank.
Nutrition – Food for Thought
I eat a healthy diet and regular meals. Everyday I consume breakfast, protein shake fruit smoothie or a protein bar (after my exercise), lunch, afternoon snack (usually a banana), dinner and for dessert I have fruit and a protein hot chocolate and occasionally a protein yogurt. Hubby is our Casa Valhal chef and he excels in the kitchen (ha ha). I can’t be trusted anywhere near a sharp knife as I’m accident prone and clumsy as hell! We try to eat a balanced diet which is high in protein and rich in homegrown organic fruit and vegetables to help me feel fuller for longer. We meal plan and have a steady consistent menu which we rotate weekly. Planning + Habit = Successful Meal Planning. Quite a few of our evening meals are vegetarian as I’m not great with red meat due to my IBS. I eat a shed load of eggs from our gorgeous hens and I have to admit that I probably eat way too much Portuguese cake but I just can’t help myself. I am also mildly addicted to sugar and caffeine. Hubby is quite the enabler and always seems to have a sneaky stash of marshmallows somewhere in the house for emergency sugar cravings. The best part about maintenance is I can enjoy cake and wine without feeling guilty. If you have surplus eggs then a great homemade cake is Pão de Ló, which only requires 3 basic ingredients: Eggs, sugar and flour. I have brainwashed myself to believe that it’s a healthier option because it contains no butter/margarine (fat). It does however use a whopping 7 eggs! What a marvelous way of obtaining protein (ha ha).
Pão de Ló
Perfect with banana and homemade orange jam.
Another homemade recipe (Easter sweet bread) that requires a whopping amount of eggs.
You Are What You Eat – Ultimate Nutrition
I don’t exercise to burn calories or try to be skinny. I workout to be strong so that my body can carry me into old age and prevent illnesses. Health for me is not about being stick thin or looking 10 years younger, it’s all about how I feel on the inside not what I look like on the outside. If you want to lose weight you need to be in calorie deficit simple as that. Will exercise help you lose weight? Maybe, more often it helps shape and tone the body but exercise alone won’t shift the lbs, you need to address your diet and eating habits. Food is fuel and it took me nearly 50 years to abolish ridiculous faddy unrealistic diets and understand about nutrition and how my body works. I have at long last broken the yo yo diet cycle and stopped using food as rewards and exercise as punishment. For anyone wanting to lose weight I would say first address the reason why you are overweight in the first place. If you don’t sort your mindset and head space out you will struggle to maintain your weight loss. I’ve lost several stones over the years and piled them all back on once I stopped whichever crazy diet I was on. Most diets are restrictive and strip you from essential nutrients and vitamins that a healthy body needs.
Not all fats and carbs are evil and weight can be affected by a multiple of factors like salt or water retention or in my case due to my IBS it can be the lack of having a good old fashioned poo (ha ha). Health, fitness and fat loss can progress substantially without your scale weight changing. Being slim, thin, skinny will not magically make your life perfect. If you turn to food every time the shit hits the fan and your a comfort eater like I was then you need to address your triggers and obtain other coping strategies and mechanisms. Motivation will only take you so far. Being consistent every day, week by week, year by year will bring you better results. You need to break the diet cycle and be patient. There is no end destination to health and fitness. You can’t just stop exercising and go back to eating all the junk and crap you were previously consuming and expect to keep the lbs off. Reverting back to old ways is a recipe for disaster and weight gain. Health and Fitness is a lifelong journey so take your time and enjoy the rollercoaster because there will be ups and downs, good days and bad days. I think this hat says it all “Ultimate Nutrition” and Milo seems to agree (ha ha).
Have Your Cake & Eat It
Maintenance means I can enjoy the occasional treat. As I said, my weakness is Portuguese cake, especially gigantic cakes shaped like a Penis (ha ha). I don’t ever deny myself of treats because life is way too short and Portuguese food is very delicious and so are British Mince Pies with homemade custard and a view! It’s lovely to be able to celebrate Shrove Tuesday and Carnival with yummy pancakes. My new motto is: Count my blessings, not my calories!