Activ8rlives Case Studies


Zhoo Zhoo’s blog

Aged 50 and walking to health

ZhooZhoo works for the NHS as a healthcare scientist, running a specialist diagnostic service. She is an active blogger on the site and is the Administrator of an Activ8rlives group called Flash in the Pan. Blogging is a way in which ZhooZhoo practises mindfulness in being active, eating well and staying healthy.

Week 1:

So here’s a thing, this wonderful system has me hooked! I’ve just completed a week’s baseline monitoring with the Buddy step counter. It turns out that I’m pretty active at work and I’ve been clocking up over 4,000 on my busiest days when I don’t have any of my team in to help. When the team’s in, I spend more time sitting, writing up patient reports.

In five working days I clocked up 8.4 miles just going to work and doing my job! That probably doesn’t seem a lot to the regular walkers in the group but it was my first surprise as it means that I’d need to do slightly double my steps to get to 10,000. When I look at my actual activity, despite what feels like being on the go all day, my activity runs about 30 minutes. So I’m guessing that if I go for an extra walk for about 30-45 minutes, I’m going to get to 10,000 steps. If that sounds right, it doesn’t seem too onerous.

The weekends are another matter…. a Saturday spent getting up a bit later, visiting my parents for lunch and sitting chatting to distant cousins for five hours, then coming home, cooking dinner and crashing in front of the TV clocked up only 500 steps. Not only that, the day was packed with less healthy food and drink choices. It’s no wonder I felt sluggish by the afternoon!

So on Sunday, I was determined not to have another 500 day and dragged hubby out in the rain for a stroll. It gave me some excellent photo opportunities to add to my Instagram gallery and I clocked up almost as many steps as I do at work.

I’ve been considering where I can fit in the extra walking. I’ve started parking the car so I have further to walk and choosing to lunch in the restaurant that takes longer to walk to. It makes a difference of around 1,000 steps, so my next plan is to take a circuit of the place I work during my lunch break and see how that works out.

This post is turning into a bit of a blog, and I have so much more to say about the food diary but I’ll stop here for now and hope you all enjoy my pictures from my walk.

Week 2:

Hi Activ8rlives, my new mantra: “SHOPPING IS GOOD” 🙂

Yesterday, despite the bitter cold wind, I finally exceeded my first target (5,000 steps) by heading out to an ancient cathedral city. The old cobbled streets played havoc with my ankles and I was limping by the time I got back to my car. However, I now have a new coat to keep me warm through the winter (aka spring) while I’m walking outside, but as yet no outfit for my birthday next weekend, so more shopping/steps required during my week off in the run up to the big one (but maybe a mall is preferable – no cobbles!). Repeat after me “SHOPPING IS GOOD…. SHOPPING IS GOOD [for steps].”

Week 3:

So, I promised to share my insights regarding the Food Diary… Firstly I should say that after 10 sessions of weight loss hypnotherapy by an excellent therapist who worked with Paul McKenna on the “I can make you thin” programme, I have already changed the way I think about food to a great extent; smaller portions, eating mindfully and slowly, not eating everything on the plate if my stomach feels full – waste it in the bin or waste it on the waist.

There’s always room for a treat though, because life is not for living like a monk (or a nun) all the time. Often, my weekend breakfast treat has been toast slathered with butter and jam. The first time I took a picture of this for my food diary, the toast had homemade loganberry jam and the picture looked like something after a car crash – yum, delicious, now eat it! Well, now how does it taste? Like a car crash? Well not quite, but not as delicious as I thought it would be.

Not only that, but in taking the picture, I’m thinking whether or not I should really be having two slices or would one slice be sufficient – woah! I really can’t hide from the fact that this makes me look so unrefined and it’s no longer a guilty secret – ugh! Is my car crash toast someday going to come back and haunt me? In my spare tyre certainly!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy photography and digital creativity and have an eclectic gallery, which you’re welcome to view on but I haven’t taken too many glam/macro shots of my food before, so I’ve found a new outlet for artistic expression. It goes against the grain to produce an out of focus, unappetising shot of what I’m about to eat, so I can spend several minutes getting it right. This will include moving it around, adding a bit of greenery or a tomato if the whole thing just looks too brown. I’ve got a thing about brown food – too much and I crave lettuce, always have, always will. Often I just have a whole plate of lettuce sprinkled with a few salady bits to liven it up. Anyway, while I’m setting up the shot, I’m considering what I am about to receive – and giving it my blessing if it’s wholesome and sending myself on a guilt trip if it looks like another car crash (I forgot to mention the cream and jam scones had also jumped straight out of Casualty). So mindfulness and visualisation of what I am about to stuff into my mouth is definitely working. I found I could lose a pound with around 75% good choices last week (that’s about average as a result of hypnotherapy) but turning that whole graph green with good food choices for 6 days (plus increasing my steps) has helped me lose 3lbs this week. Blimey! And I’m having fun.

I’ve just created a new group for everyone else who is enjoying the creative side as much as me – look for “Flash in the pan!”

Week 4:

Here’s my next blog! I’m now been using Activ8rlives, the Smartphone App and the Buddy step counter for three and a half weeks. I had a pretty good daily build on steps leading up to my Saturday “shopping is good” revelation, but then I took a week off work prior to my big birthday. Most of the steps I did on the Monday were without the Buddy step counter as annoyingly I forgot it in my rushing about – so much for mindfulness!

Tuesday was spent working on my project and attending an ethics workshop at University. I managed to arrive early and park my car a long way from the post grad school so I got a few more steps in but I wasn’t happy with myself at not progressing much so far that week, and still being under my initial 5K target.

Wednesday was my best day as I’d arranged to visit another hospital to give some technical advice to some colleagues, so I parked a good distance from the hospital and walked in (saving parking fees as well – bonus!). Despite traipsing around the shops again on Thursday and walking around our local park on Friday with my husband, the bitter cold weather put paid to being outside for long.

In terms of steps, Saturday was a “dis-aaa-ster” but a wonderful birthday all the same! On Sunday I made up for my sluggishness with a long walk along a disused railway line with my husband and achieved a new record of over 6K. He’s being a great support – despite me mentioning in a previous post that I’d dragged him out, he’s actually a walking enthusiast and goes out walking most weekends – on that occasion, he’d already been out once and wasn’t keen to go out again in the rain. He doesn’t nag me as he knows I can be in pain some days due to joint subluxations, but he’s happy to encourage me to improve my fitness. We both know it will mean that I’ll have more stamina when we go on an overseas holiday in the summer.

Over the weekend, we needed bread and normally I would have been lazy and made my own in the bread maker rather than go out, but I took the opportunity to walk to the shop and back instead, to at least get out and do some steps.

Back at work this week, I’m aiming to consistently achieve my target by adding in extra after work. My husband has been chauffeuring me while I’m without my car which is in the repair shop and today I asked him to drop me off a fair walking distance from home. At least it’s light now after work, but it’s still not pleasant walking outside for long in the cold coastal wind.

I do feel as if my hip joints are freeing up a bit more and I seem to be able to walk faster too. I’ve been conscious that I could increase my exercise even more by swinging my arms as I walk. This motion is something people tend to reduce as they become older, so in effect I’m giving myself a more youthful appearance as I walk, by being more fluid.

The other thing that I’ve decided to do is to remember to tense my stomach muscles as I walk – this should help strengthen them and support my spine so that my back won’t ache so much as I build up my walking session duration. I realise that the longer walking sessions are the ones that will be doing the most good rather than the “fits and starts” I do when I’m working, as my heart rate increases for longer.

Here’s wishing for some warmer weather for everyone in the UK to put a spring in our steps!

Week 5:

I feel happy to have upped my game, by simple adjustments to the daily routine which I feel are sustainable and able to be built on. I am consistently striving to exceed my target each day and it’s quite fun thinking of novel ways to do it.

An acquaintance of mine is planning to climb Everest solo next year in aid of our local Hospice; he is also a personal development coach. In passing one day in the corridor at work, I told him that the days seem to being whizzing past. He told me it’s because if you do something the same way all the time, the nerve pathways in the brain become more and more solid and eventually you end up doing everything in auto-pilot. When this happens, the time flies, even if you’re being mindful. He told me he tries to do something different each day. I thought I’d give it a go by discovering different ways and routes to increase my steps.

At work I use a park and ride facility as we have insufficient on-site parking. There are two bus stops and I’ve been walking to the furthest stop and if it has taken me too long and I miss the bus (it comes every 15 minutes), then I walk back to the other bus stop.

Do you pay for fuel at the pump or the kiosk? I was a pump girl until I got my step counter. Some companies put so much convenience in our way that just makes us downright lazy!

It felt quite an achievement to get to 11K yesterday; it really was beginning to feel like Spring at last.

We walked around Arundel in West Sussex (UK), a wonderful old town with narrow streets and a castle. If you ever get to visit, I’d thoroughly recommend the moules marinère in Butler’s Wine Bar (see Flash in the Pan group for pic!). We visited the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust for our regular wildlife and countryside fix and finished off with a stroll around Emsworth millpond for a final top-up.

I thought my buns would ache again like they did the first time I did over 5K but they’re fine; my ankle is complaining the most, so I’ve eased off again today to give it a chance to settle. The picture I have posted is one of a black-bellied whistling ducks at the WWT – it made me think of The Three Musketeers – Athos, Porthos and Aramis – “all for one, one for all” – some of us I’m sure will recall their adventures from our youth – being part of the Activ8rlives community has a similar feeling, doesn’t it?!!


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