There was a cracker of an article the last Observer Food Monthly about food in the Olden Days. They interview some senior cits about their memories of food and eating over the years. It’s fascinating stuff. We take for granted the absolute abundance of food choices we have today. During the war years these people ate the likes of powedered eggs and Mock Apricot Flan (made with carrots and margarine). Mmm mmm.
A great quote from 91-year-old Bill Deedes:
I don’t think it is the food people eat today which makes them unhealthy. I can’t blame the supermarkets or fast food. I blame it on the ubiquitousness of the motor car. We really don’t eat much more than people did in the18th or 19th centuries, but we need to learn that if you do moderately frequent exercise you can eat more or less whatever you want. We mustn’t put too much emphasis on what is eaten, rather on what activities are done. I go for walks in the wood and I drive golf balls in a field near my house most days.
Marguerite Patten, 88 was a home economist to the Ministry of Food during World War II. She used to go about the country doing cooking demonstrations to how to make the most of their food rations. This part in particular was food for thought:
Today, I think that we are a divided nation when it comes to food. Half of us love food and cooking and the other half subsist on ready meals. I have nothing against ready meals per se… but it does make me angry that we worked so hard to keep people healthy during the war, with so little food, and, now we have an abundance, a great number of people are nowhere near as healthy as they should be.
. . .
Most of my gym classes are at 6pm, and since the gym is next to my bus stop I usually go straight there after work than going home first. I arrived at 5pm yesterday and instead of curling up on the lovely leather couches for my usual catnap, I thought maybe I should actually use that time productively. So I ventured into the cardio theatre.
I have been at that gym for about 16 months now, and had only been on the machines twice before. It just intimidated the hell out me, that endless grind of treadmills and skinny people all slick and shiny with sweat. But today I thought to hell with em! I am paying just as bloody much, I have the right to gallumph on a treadmill. I did 20 minutes on an incline, including five whole minutes of running! I never really timed how long my bursts of running were when outdoors, so I was well pleased to see I could keep going. That ain’t no marathon, so stop laughing – but I had to save some energy for my Body Pump class! Also I didn’t have my running shoes on, I didn’t want to wreck my legs. So I hopped off and did 15 minutes on the elliptical machine. Fark! I’d forgotten how evil they were! By the time I shuffled into my Pump class my legs were jelly.
Needless to say the class hammered me. I hadn’t been for five weeks. Ouch. And the instructor was Kiwi Vanessa, who is officially The Best Instructor In The Universe. I think I have one of those non-sexual crushes on her. She is so nice but so tough so I can’t drop my weights coz I want to impress her. Ha ha! Anyway, she is totally bossy and prowls around the class correcting people’s form. I didn’t get corrected once, woohoo!
I have been taking Pump classes for close to three years now and I managed to pick up tips from her last night. She has the most incredible way of describing how these exercises are supposed to feel, how you should be moving. For example, in the Back/Hamstring track when you do the clean and press move, most instructors break it down by saying you do an upright row then flip the bar under, then up into the shoulder press. Which is correct, but as Vanessa pointed out, a lot of people end up finding their shoulders are doing their work, not the legs. So she suggested you don’t do a complete upright row, maybe just halfway, then when you turn the bar over and catch it, you let your thighs take the impact. So you’re almost in a squat position. Then when you push up, make sure your legs and arms straighten simultaneously to make sure it’s your legs doing the work. It is impossible to describe this but just that subtle change of not doing a complete upright row really made me feel a difference.
Another tip she had was about tricep press-ups. Instructors always give an alternative for normal press-ups, ie. on your knees, but they aren’t as good telling you what to do if you’re too weak to do tricep pressups. Vanessa actually gave a beginners variation so you can FEEL SOMETHING even if you’re a spazz like me. I had been mucking it up all this time.
I felt so inspired and happy after the gym last night! So did my sister. And unlike Tuesday night, (Return to Body Jam) I didn’t make a dick of myself. Tuesday night Vanessa was getting us to practice a samba move, a backwards step, and I stepped back alright – straight into a pile of Reebok steps. It is very hard to hide quietly up the back of a class when 30 people turn around to look who’s making that bloody racket.