Monday, September 11, 2006

Grass Cutting

Before getting into this writing game full time, I was one of those guys you see driving around in a truck with the back stacked up with hedge cuttings or the best part of a tree, or I was the guy chugging around on a big mower on your local playing field. I did this for about fifteen years: worked hard during the summer then when things cooled down in the winter I did a bit of writing. During the winter I used to put on about a stone in weight, then come the spring and early summer I would dump that weight in about two to three months. Of course, that ain’t happening now.

It’s something people don’t realised about manual workers who move into a sedentary occupation. You’re fit, you have acquired the eating habits to support that level of activity, and you’re used to being out in the sun, sweating. One problem is that the reduction in exercise, and sunshine, can make you more prone to depression. Another is the weight. I found that the stone I put on in the winter wasn’t easily going away and over the last five years my weight has been edging up. Exercise goes some way to alleviate this, but no amount of exercise can match five days of manual labour each week. I once worked out that on my ‘walk-behind’ day – when I went out with a couple of walk-behind mowers and cut private lawns – I was walking over twenty-five miles, fast, often carrying a heavy-duty strimmer or big mower bags of grass cuttings.

For the last few years I’ve been fighting the flab with low carb diets and, per week, nine miles of dog walking, 24 to 40 miles cycling and a few sessions of weight training. It ain’t enough, so now I’ve come up with a new diet plan. It’s not healthy, but I’ve been growing tired of being a fit fat bastard with and ever-increasing waistline. It goes like this: you work on the theory that if you keep shoving food into your gob and not burning it off you are going to get fat, so stop it. I stopped eating for two days and thereafter confined myself to one small meal a day. Feel hungry? Well, my stomach has shrunk so that’s not so much of a problem, when it does become a problem I smoke a cigarette. Feel tired and lethargic? Drink a triple espresso.

Eleven pounds in twenty-two days – half a pound a day. You’d think I would feel knackered, but I don’t. I actually feel a lot better and am doing more. Think of the weight in 2lb bags of sugar. Five and a half of them would certainly strain the handles of a supermarket carrier bag, and I’m no longer carrying that. I might write a diet book…


Kirby Uber said...

you and me both. save for it's been years since i did any work that could be thought of as manual labor. sitting at a desk writing code and systems administering for a decade, with maybe 4 - 5 years of martial arts two to three times a week, in no way makes up for lugging stuff around for 8 hours a day. not even close.

i can't imagine quiting eating across the board is going to be useful, but you've got the idea right on smaller meals, for sure.

despite what ever diet plan one envokes, it all sort of boils down to burn off more than you put in, right? going from an active gig to ass behind desk isn't the only scenario where one ends up eating more out of habit, instead of what is healthy for ones current life style. metabolism changes from youth into adulthood amounts to the same thing, one would think.

my solution? cigarettes and cocaine, two meals out of three.

i'll keep you posted on my success rate. 8)

bascule said...

May I suggest a title?

"The Skinnier"

Bob Lock said...

Hmm... as an avid fan I somehow feel responsible for your continuance of good health and future writing and now that you've worried me with your obesity, gluttony and self-deprecation I've decided to address the matter.

As tough as it's going to be, I've decided to stop all forms of gardening, DIY, car-washing and perhaps dog-walking (I say perhaps on the dog-walking as it's always a good excuse to pop in the local for a pint)

So, if you'd care to email me (you have the address) I'll let you know when you can start the following:

1/Last mow of the year (including shrub-trimming)

2/Pressure wash patio(scrub off ingrained dog poo where needed)

3/Regrout patio where power-washer has gone beserk

4/Paint weatherboarding around roof and clean guttering

5/Wash and polish my car and also the wife's

This will get you started then the wife wants the loft boarded out and perhaps a dormer installed but we can discuss that after you've block-paved the drive.

I won't insult you with talk of payment (your weight loss and extra muscle tone should suffice) and anyway with the millions you get from your books obviously money means nothing to you now.

Looking forward to you starting and if you've a bit of time free perhaps you could do a little editing? But not too much, I don't want you to bloat out again...

Concerned reader...

Neal Asher said...

Kirby, I like the plan, other than the adverse effect of the cocaine on the bank account - stick to the triple espressos.

Bascule, not the skinnier, just the less fattier.

Gosh, Bob, I'm touched by your concern (btw, wire-brushed the patio by hand on saturday and re-grouted it on sunday - MY patio).

Bob Lock said...

Gosh, Bob, I'm touched by your concern

Not enough though eh? hehe

E.Jim Shannon said...

Hey Neal..I turned 55 a few weeks ago and I still carry a good 30lbs over my weight limit.

Being diabetic doesn't help much because I can't afford the luxury of fasting and having Scoliosis of the spine twists my stomach sideways.

When I was thirty, I was thin even up until the age of 35 then everything went to hell. My problem was drinking all that Coca-Cola in my 20's. Guess what was the cause of my diabetes?

I'm afraid short of surgery all the exercise in the world won't work this spare tire off my mid section. I hear that people that smoke are less likely to have an appetite the same way non smokers do.But smokes are to expensive and I don't need another bad habbit.


colin said...

That's a fast diet, all right. The coffee (as long as it's fairly sugar free, yuck) will also help since it's a diuretic. I would suggest a proper BMI test to check your hydration levels before continuing too far. You can be really overweight (like me) and still be dehydrated.

Maybe switching to an old manual typewriter would help burn off calories :)

Neal Asher said...

e.jim, I guess I'm lucky to have no health problems (yet). This is all a bit drastic at present, but coming out of it with, hopefully, my weight down below 12 stone, I intend to then modify my eating habits - move food to a lower ranking in importance in my mind. I'd like to do the same with the drinking, and the smoking, but one thing at a time...

Colin, saccharin in the coffee (I only have one of those triples a day anyway, since more than that results in me climbing the walls) and I do drink plenty of water.

Murph said...

Good grief, Neal. I think I'll take a pass on that diet plan. I'm not an anti smoking nazi, but the habit just ain't for this Missouri Redneck.

As for getting chunky after being fit, I had that experience when I got out off active duty in 1993. My National Guard drill time just wasn't anywhere near enough to burn the blubber off.

Northtown, Missouri