Exercise, diet, ageing and health

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote an article called “My fitness activities” It was not just a description of how I keep fit, but was also full of hope for competing in the St. Lucia Triathlon 2015 and a certain cockiness about the year to come. I had it all worked out. But…..

Man proposes, God disposes…..

My mother in law Dorrie had been suffering with dementia and Parkinsons for some time, but her condition deteriorated sharply during the second half of 2015 and Mark being an only child, there was only us to help my father in law with her care. So we ended up spending rather longer than anticipated in the UK, in fact well into the New Year.


Dorrie finally died peacefully at home on Nov 7th. The Tri was Nov 21 st so there was no time for training and I had lost any fitness I had through so many weeks of inactivity.

I was once told by a fitness expert, though this was years ago and you know how knowledge and info changes, that it takes a good 6 weeks to really lose fitness. Problem is, how do we define “fitness?” There are many definitions if you consult Monsieur Google. What I am talking about is the ability to do what I am able to when I consider myself fit. So, that would be, for me and remember we are all different, the ability to run 5 km with ease, to cycle 20 km, to do strength training in the gym with weights to a particular standard, play tennis, and most important to manage my blood sugar levels and to fight off infections etc. Also, how balanced I feel psychologically.

The day before we were due to fly back to St. Lucia after Dorrie’s funeral, Mark was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had the operation to remove the tumour and after a tough time in hospital came home on Christmas Eve. God is good! There was no spread anywhere and his prognosis is so good that we were told his life expectancy is the same as it was before the cancer.

Again a period of anxiety, lack of proper rest, nutrition and inactivity.

I resumed my fitness activities around Christmas time and enjoyed some great workouts both in and out of the gym. I was really pleased about my progress. Then…..nearly 2 weeks ago while doing a workout in the gym, I felt and heard my calf muscle rip. Agony! followed by intensive physiotherapy. I am now able to walk pretty well and the bruising is nearly gone and the lovely physiotherapist Barry has forecast that I might be running after a month.

Life has a way of shaking things up. I really don’t think complacency happens easily. Even if you wish to be left alone in a quiet corner, something usually comes along to make it uncomfortable there so that you must move and experience something new.

I believe life is about learning. Getting better. Growing and changing.

So…..my thoughts on the last few months?? What a lot of growth opportunity! I will not bore you with platitudes about anything, but know that I feel blessed to have experienced many of the things I have. Here’s one example….

Its about the photo above…..

While we were caring for Dorrie, which meant many weeks of literally being at her bedside or nearby, my friend Jeanette posted a photo of a face she had painted on Facebook and that she was open to taking commissions. I commissioned a painting of Dorrie for Mark for Christmas. Jeanette sent me a photo of the “finished” work for approval. I went back to her saying that although it was a good likeness, the thing that had attracted me was her use of mixed media. She embellished and what you see is the result above.  www.jeanettehouse.com

I took receipt of this and another, which Jeanette gifted to me as she had become so entranced with painting Dorrie that she did a second, different age and stage of her. This was end of October 2015. The celebration of her life took place Nov 19th 2015 and after it, the vicar and many friends and family asked if we had seen the butterfly dancing in a sunbeam over our heads…..look at the photo…..we hadn’t seen it, (a butterfly in England in the third week of Nov??) but I believe that was Dorrie letting us know she was present and very happy.

The media is filled with advice on what to eat, what sort of exercise to take, even when and how much we should sleep. I think, for what its worth, that we could just allow it to be real. Life is often filled with challenges. It isn’t because we are doing something wrong and so we need to fix ourselves. It just is what it is. Everything has a season. The point I am trying to make is: all of us are ageing. That is an irrefutable fact. All we can really do is be present in each moment. For me that means:

  • eating the very best quality food available and that doesn’t have to be expensive complicated food. Just that which is as close to how God made it as possible.
  • doing the necessary in terms of checking your health. Not ignoring symptoms or best medical advice.
  • exercising to the highest level possible as that does slip year by year.
  • taking time to rest and just be quiet
  • investing in my spiritual side. That will be very different for each of us. meditation, spending time quietly with nature, church, etc…

Who knows if I will be fit enough to compete in Tri St. Lucia this year? I’ll aim for it, but this year I will propose with the acceptance that that’s all I can do. My future is in God’s hands and that’s OK.

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  • Reply
    Jeanette House
    February 10, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    I’m so happy to hear Mark’s prognosis is so positive! I hope you’re able to settle back into a more harmonious life balance and work towards the things you want to achieve. I’m quite jealous of what you’d probably consider your “unfit” mode; even pre-FM/ME, I never managed the level of fitness and activity you describe here. It makes me understand the drive behind your cooking and recipe sharing. x

    • Reply
      February 10, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks for your comment Jeanette. I think fitness is very much a subjective thing. We’re all different but one thing I know for sure is everyone benefits from eating REAL food and getting as much exercise as they can muster. I’m lucky. I’ve always enjoyed pushing the limits of my fitness regime….

  • Reply
    February 10, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    I love how you put this Germaine…this is the season for me in many ways as well and recognize that we are aging…but I’m having so much fun in finding and discovering the REAL food and it’s positive effects and benefits and getting extra exercise …the Triathlon? Now that’s another matter lol… Thanks for sharing

    • Reply
      February 11, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Thanks so much for commenting Cheryl. I’m glad this resonated with you. It is great to hear about your discovery of real food. I hope you find many recipes or other inspiration on Sun Temple. Welcome on board.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Germaine, I am so sorry to hear about all the things your family has gone through recently. Sometimes, it just all happens all together at the wrong time. After everything, I would recommend having a good rest (especially for your calf – no triathlons please!) and lots of rest, family time with plenty of hugs and wholesome, sun temple food. Thank you for your blog posts full of fabulous foodspiration!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Thanks so much Susan. Our journey is just that…our journey….I’m not sad about that. I’m looking forward to a positive and healthy 2016 and wish the same to you…

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