Saturday 29 July 2023

How can you change your fitness at 50?

Here are some things I've been doing recently!

  • Trying out an alternative diet and lifestyle
  • Challenging myself with new workouts 
  • Enjoying coffee in new locations!
  • Becoming 50 years old!

I've been needing a new perspective for a while now; change can be a terrifying positive! To reimagine the words of Shakespeare, "some are born amidst change, some achieve change, and others have change thrust upon them". Being the agent of your own change is a challenge, which is why the 3-month fitness regime last year was useful. But what happens when you are told you *must* make changes?

In my case, it was dietary. Diets are a PITA because unless there is some kind of end goal, what's the point? I'm hopeless at sticking with them because life always gets in the way. But what happens if ill-health gets in the way of life? After a scary seizure back in May, I did the whole health check-up thing and discovered low blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. 

So what have I changed?

quinoa patties
Of course, I could maintain a dietary status quo and simply take medication. It would be the easy way out. Eating in the traditional Croatian way isn't inherently unhealthy because it is fresh, homemade, and wholesome. Cheese, meat, ham, fish, eggs, baked goods, butter, mayonnaise, oils, and so many veggies - inherently, nothing wrong with all of those, in moderation. But my system struggles with meat and it has taken time to admit this!!

But why should my health suffer because I'm too anxious to please, to clear my plate, and to not cause trouble!? It's a choice, isn't it? How do I achieve healthy cholesterol level changes? By taking control and being responsible for my health.

A librarian will always hit the books to find some proper information about this. September's health programme taught me the importance of protein to build muscle and maintain fitness. I needed inspiration and I wanted to understand more of the science behind dietary fat. How do you plan meals and food shopping trips? I cannot afford to fail this so I need something that I can stick with. 

I'm uncompromising on milk in my tea and coffee - but all the other dairy is out. This is what I took away from the reading I did - here is my daily food plan 

Breakfast options

  • Protein powder, seasonal fruit, cucumber, plant-based milk, oats, peanut butter - this is a massive breakfast and a great start to the day. It's varied enough with flavours and options to keep it interesting. If I fancy something savoury - 
  • Beans on toast
  • Fish with fresh bread
  • An occasional poached egg!!! I love eggs and they are free-range and organic. What's not to love?

Lunch/Dinner options

  • Tofu, vegetable and noodle stir fry
  • All types of bean patties with a mix of flavours to keep it interesting. For example, black bean and chilli, brown bean and onion. These are great in tortillas with added sauce and salad.
  • Quinoa and sweet potato patties (in the pic above!). Soak that quinoa!!! Finally discovered that this stuff is edible if it is soaked for an hour in water beforehand.
  • Courgettes with tomato and soy mince stuffing. 
  • Cauliflower steaks with various toppings
  • Anything with tinned or fresh fish! Tomato and tuna pasta is great. Fresh grilled fish with potatoes and greens is a meal fit for a birthday queen.
  • Fishcakes - potatoes and whatever fish there is!
  • So many tomatoes and courgettes from the garden!
  • Adding nuts and seeds to everything!

Recently I've also been experimenting with chickpea flour. Cauliflower and chickpea flour fritters are epic and I really enjoyed the banana and chickpea flour bread. This is something that I am happy to incorporate into my diet. Soy mince is a great addition and I will be happy to experiment further but soy steaks I think I can omit! Gross things!

How do I feel about all this? Someone asked me if I feel deprived? No, the benefits outweigh any disadvantages. My gut has never felt healthier and I am extremely - ahem - regular!  It's a bit of a challenge to eat out or at family get-togethers because it's all about the cheese and meat! If I am strict when I can be in control, then that allows me some leeway when I am out. Moderation is everything.

I haven't really lost any weight but I need to commit more to the exercise. If I am going to do something this drastic with the diet, it seems a shame not to tweak my workout programme to match. Summer is here which means that it can be too hot to be outside but I've done 2x 5-day Fitness-Blender challenges and everything is aching in just the right way. Paddle boarding is great and I'm walking as much as possible, heat permitting. With a daily average of 420 movement calories being burned, that can make a real difference, 

Sometimes coffee is the only thing you want to do when you are sitting in a cafe under a shady tree on the beach! We've been to some beautiful places and I am grateful to my beloved. But you can always have a cool swim as well! Just don't have that doughnut...

Sunday 22 May 2022

Life, COVID, and other unhealthy interruptions

Anyone remember January? Last week I was telling a friend of a friend how terrible I was at sticking to plans (pfffft plans) and that if I fell off a healthy schedule at the start of the year, I'd wait til the next January before starting again. She was horrified. This immediately got me thinking about how I could kick myself into touch again. 

It was a horrible February and March with a bout of the fashionable flu that was going around at the time. After avoiding it all last year, my man came home with it in Spring. Sharing is caring, after all. It's taken me a while to get back on my feet but I feel I am ready to get going again. 

Strength is all about uncovering personal weakness and getting back on your feet, with kindness and patience. 

Where am I now

In mid-March, as soon as I felt able post-COVID, I found my trainers and headed out along the coastal path. I've been doing the 9 week Couch to 5K programme. It. Is. Tough. It's now the end of May and I'm only on week 7. I'm happy to redo weeks, go back to an easier run if I want, and generally not go bananas. Damn Achilles' tendon and knee need to go at their happy pace. 

Since the weather got more friendly, I'm 4 weeks into some serious interval training sessions with Jess at FIT n FKD. She is also the reason why I'm here again and committing to mindful fitness. This 45 mins on a Friday morning leaves me aching, hot, sandy, and glowing. It's highlighted how out of shape I am, but she is so positive, I feel I can get better! You can see the pink face.

Once again - it's now May!! The sea is a balmy 19.4 degrees and I'm enjoying every refreshing minute in the glorious water. Swimming is helping with the aches caused by doing (failing to do) bear crawls across the beach. It's still hard to get in, but my excuse is enjoying standing there and watching the fish explore the debris turned over by my feet as I inch my way to the deeper water. 

The outlook is sunny

All in all, it's not too bad. I've only gained a kilo in the past 3 months which is a result and I think the exercise that I have been doing has made an impact. I have a conference to attend in July so I hope to be in fine shape by then. I'm planning veggie burgers, pasta in tomato sauce and nice salady things this week. 

Thursday 13 January 2022

Are you feeling comfortable?

A thought occurred to me the other morning whilst I was out jogging. The little electronic voice in my head tells me at every run interval to "run at a comfortable pace" and this got me thinking about my January determination to get healthier. The whole exercise is about becoming more comfortable in my clothes, getting comfortable in some new yoga positions and never being comfortable at work!

Working at a comfortable pace

It's hard to move when you're tied to a computer. I said in an earlier post that work was a blocker to health but it's been a relatively good work week - challenging, mutable, and buckets of learning new stuff, as usual. It's interesting and I'm not sure whether it's related, but I've found I'm far more chilled this past few weeks. 

Slip into some comfortable clothing

I've never done yoga 10 days straight! It's a 2022 miracle and demonstrates that I was really ready for some regular exercise. Yoga With Adriene has been challenging because it's been strong, mobile, and restful. There was one day that I felt I couldn't continue because everything was aching but as if she was reading our mind, we had a session where it was gentle. Blissful. 

No need to comfort eat

The more I sit up tall and run with pride, the better I feel about my stomach. The muscles are definitely tightening which means I am feeling more comfortable with my silhouette and less likely to overeat. I'm constantly hungry which is making me feel energised and determined. There has to be a way to stop eating buttered toast and honey but as I managed before, I'll just have to keep running. 

Bad, bad bread. This isn't comfort, it's an essential!

Macaroni cheese, pizza, minestrone, roast chicken and sweet potato mash, yes ok, this is the best kind of healthy eating. Icy Bura has been blowing for a week now and there is a medical need for solid calorie loaded nosh. But I've enjoyed small portions!

Let's keep this going - at a comfortable pace. 

Friday 7 January 2022

Let them eat garlic

 Just checking in... kako smo? How are we? I'm in my favourite beach bar as the sun goes down. I must confess that the first week of the year has gone well in pretty much every way and I'm thankful for the blessings around me (as opposed to counting them, which is what I generally do when I'm feeling fed up!). 

One thing I love when I'm on a healthy living kick is the apparent lightness of stomach. It's not a visible thing, but I seem to have an easier relationship with my gut. I've been eating nuts, dried fruit, oats, bananas, broccoli - everything which makes for a happy tum. I'll see how I feel later after the rogue panettone I had for breakfast!

Running News

Let's shake it up and talk about themes rather than boring day by day. I am proud of the running that I've been doing - on Thursday I went back to a previous easier interval training session because I am nervous of injury. One minute walking and two minutes running for a total for 30 mins felt like a real win and my ankles/knees didn't complain. 

When I'm out in the morning, I am so happy to see nature all around me. The bird life is extraordinary - the little darting field larks pop out when I run past; bobbing wagtails scoot in front of me; charms of goldfinches circle overhead to drop and land on trees nearby, and attracted by all the small birds, birds of prey circle overhead.  As I see each one, I bid them all good day! It makes running much more pleasurable.

Yoga News

Well. I must confess I've never taken a programme seriously but I've managed to turn up everyday for Yoga With Adriene's "Move". I did "Deepen" earlier today and there was a lot of hip opening work, whilst yesterday's "Flow" nearly finished me off. It's been challenging but so far, I'm really staying open minded and going with it which is a positive sign.

Having bunny occasionally join me on the yoga mat is also a delight. I mean, you're gonna hold your planks for longer if there is a small fluffy creature underneath you! When you're told to go to child's pose, what is more adorable than a bun licking your toes? Yes, pure childish giggling nonsense is the best way to do yoga!

Fooooood News

I've already mentioned that the choice of breakfast additions have improved. I enjoy adding dried fruit to my porridge. Don't laugh, but I store my oats in a recycled roast pepper jar - despite thorough cleaning and repeating washing, my oats have a definite pepper flavour. This means I have to add more sugar to taste (or untaste). Idiot. 

I've managed to mostly stay under 1500cals a day. It's not really about the weighing or counting, it's about the general quantities - as long as I go to bed hungry, I know it works. A hearty breakfast, something soupy for lunch and a mid afternoon snack is the way forward. My mother in law did salt cod this week and has decided that the cure for everything is garlic. 

Did I mention garlic.

The reason people wear masks in Split is to protect themselves from my garlic breath. Strangely I haven't had a cold yet this year! Keep eating garlic, folks, clearly it works.

All in all

I'm still stuck on 75kg BUT I have been informed that there is something more sleek about my upper thighs and butt. I've not noticed a difference in my jeans as yet but, as I mentioned above, I feel "lighter". Frankly, I'm happy with that - as is my gentleman!!

Tuesday 4 January 2022

Let's keep with the programme

It's been a week since the Grand Plan was initiated and now this is where the going gets tough. Today is my first day back at work and I'm back into a sedentary routine. Unless I can keep going with the running, HIIT, yoga and walking, I'm going to be back to square one. 

On the bright side, I'm 2kg lighter at 75kg, which must be water and/or prosecco loss. Certainly the jeans are still a bit tight but that is probably the mother-in-law's glorious fried chicken and epic stuffed cabbage. What can I say, it's been sunny but very cold!

What happened?


I said I was going to run. I didn't! Shit happens. Instead we went on a small trip up the coast - as the poor man has a bad knee so we are limited to short walks. We walked up to various viewpoints, what we lost in length of hike, we made up for in huffing and puffing up steep hills!


New Year's Eve! I swam and washed off all the 2021 pain - tingling, alive, blue, and utterly mind-blown! The other plan was for 10,000 steps min walking and that is what I achieved. Don't tell anyone that some of it was earned whilst walking around town during hunts for drinks! Wine, Irish coffees, prosecco...but there you go! Happy New Year

New Year's Day

What a sunny one! And so much food for breakfast and lunch - I made pancakes to ease the hangover pain, and we had stuffed cabbage and mashed potato for lunch. I had to have an afternoon nap and that is the best way to see the first day of the NY. 


Here we are and we took a trip to where our drinking water comes from! The source of the river Cetina is a heavenly place. We ended the day with a romantic walk to watch the sun go down. 


A day of rest with lots of short walks. Given we'd seen the sunset the night before, we got up and watched the sun rise. Coffee in Podstrana, shopping in Lidl, life clearly doesn't get much better. When I got home, I started with the Yoga with Adriene "Move" for January. A winning day with over 2100 calories burnt!

As I head into a new week, it's always amusing to make predictions because you know it is pure fiction. 


A glorious early morning run, with some spontaneous HIIT on the beach. I will do the yoga later today. Maybe even a walk. There was talk of shrimp risotto later - I have already eaten more than I should. What a pain! Porridge and dried apricots, broccoli and cauliflower soup (with irresistible bread). 

Wednesday - Friday

Wednesday is a rest day with a lovely morning walk! Will do the extended HIIT work out which won't attack my knees! Will repeat today's running intervals on Thursday because it was a toughy! Given that the man is still at home, on Friday anything could happen! 

Monday 3 January 2022

To remember a friend

I cannot write anything today without acknowledging the sad loss of a wonderful person. We may have lost touch over the years, but people who touch your heart and inspire you to become your "best self" at must be remembered. That person was Kate Pitt.

In 1999, a professional support lawyer at Sidley & Austin introduced me to a marvellous City of London Choir called EC4. Despite being challenged both in the singing voice and music reading department, they welcomed me warmly. Before departing British shores, I participated for many years and we all awaited Lowry's massive admin emails with great anticipation, knowing we were in for a lot of fun, hard work and great memories.

For over 10 years or so, that choir took me through love, loss, break-ups, new jobs, and remained a constant source of delight and energy. I would arrive at St Brides for evening rehearsals utterly exhausted and within 10 mins be glowing; standing pilates, breathing exercises, mmmmming and ahhhhhhing and feeling joyous. 

Our wonderful leader would extract every last piece of talent and ability. We created music fit for the Royal Festival Hall, the Guildhall, churches all over the City of London, and most memorably for the Queen at a concert in aid of Coram. We also participated in Big Sings, Songs of Praise and multiple Christmas Concerts. 

When I joined the choir, Kate was one of the first people that I was to get to know. She was always exceedingly kind, patient, generous, sociable and lovely. Her laugh, her bubbliness, and confidence blew me away - and that's before she started singing. Her voice would have me in tears with its rich and sweet quality - even now as I listen to EC4's Mozart's Requiem, she is here with me. 

And then there was the friends I made during that time. What a time it was! Unforgettable birthday T-shirts, amazing get-togethers and evenings out that I can't even remember! Kate, I'm sorry we haven't seen each other in years, but you are remembered, missed and loved. 

Friday 31 December 2021

Boobies bobbing and belly blubber floating!

It seems Operation Bikini Belly is off to a flying start. Gosh! What an image and exactly what the good people on Znjan got today. As this last day of 2021 was gloriously sunny and the sea like a mirror, I wanted the tingly goodness of icy water on my skin. Boobies bobbing and belly blubber floating!

Not to mention that 30 second swim must have burned 1000 calories. I felt very alive!

As this remains a contrary diet, I neither managed a run nor yoga yesterday. Turns out, still not big on planning or even executing planned plans. This is what I did instead:

We walked a total of 5000 steps up to some great viewing points! It was a day of steep hills, incredible beaches, scented forests and open skies. Sometimes it’s not about the exercise, we all need days-out like this simply to enjoy and re-energise. I must note that snacks would have been a good idea, as I was hangry by the time we got back at 5pm!

But I avoided the junk food and energy drinks and stuck to the cream of cauliflower soup, followed by mackerel with cabbage that I’d got ready the day before. The reheated creamy soup was frankly the best I’d ever tasted; it’s funny I’ve forgotten what it is like to really appreciate what hunger does to taste.

Today has again just been about enjoying the moment. An early start meant a coffee on the beach and a wander round Lidl. I picked up baked beans cos yummy, and somebody else chose tiramisu and popcorn. As he says, he will lose weight in his own sweet (very sweet) way.

Before Christmas I ordered some jumpers as I was totally depressed by my ancient and worn out collection. In the sale, I got a glorious fluffy red one, two striped ones (*sigh* no clue how I got two of the same), and some sexy thermals. But being rather down on myself I also ordered some pyjamas in XL.

Dearest reader, they are huge.

Huge. HUGE!

As a result, my man now has some fetching berry coloured pjs with a pattern of happy leopards leaping all over them. I’m grateful that they hang on me because at least that means I’m not extra large!

My brunch of poached eggs on avocado and bread was smashing. Must say, it’s one of my favourites. This evening I’ve considered boiling rice for sushi, prepping celeriac for soup…. Or simply bread and cheese! And in the end, I opted for apple and celeriac soup, whizzed up with some cream.

Later, there will be fizzy wine and cocktails as it is New Year!! Let’s peace out, relax and make merry.