Back In MY Day

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.

You can read the full article here.

. . .

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.

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7 thoughts on “Back In MY Day

  1. What’s the beginner tricep pressup? I can’t do them either. It always feels as if my elbows are taking the weight.

  2. well it’s hard to describe (which is why i didn’t put it in the entry, hehe) but you get on your knees as normal but they are quite close, hands shoulder-width apart. apparently the idea is for your shoulders to come forward so your head is kinda heading for the ground, like you’re a bird pecking at some seed. so your elbows point back and your triceps go PING! ARRRGH just realised this is not very helpful at all. come over to my house and i’ll show ya!

  3. I have signed up to a gym as well and started last night. It is getting too dark here in the mornings for me to run outdoors. Dont like the park when it is dark. I had a woman instructing me to the weights and stuff. It is a small but very good gym and not many people at all. The woman was so good and helped me with my diet as well.

    Then after the instruction I got to the room with the cardio mashines and I was alone there. Talk about luxury but I know exactly how you feel that is the reason why I havent wanted to sign in before. That they will think here comes a bloody fatto and what is she doing here except ruining the mashines.

    I dont like to run without my running shoes either.

  4. That is a great article! And yeah, since we don’t forage for our food and use machines to do our heavy, dirty work, we’re obviously not in as good physical shape as we used to be, when getting exercise was something you got just by living, rather than something you have to do on purpose.

    More on scales are evil: Guess what? I went to my doctor yesterday and learned that my scale at home is 11 pounds light. 11 pounds! Light! I’m throwing it out. 1 or 2 pounds, I understand. But 11 pounds! Gah.

  5. DG I’ve recently joined the local surf lifesaving club and dropped 8kg through exercise. I can’t believe how much training these people do and how much bloody fun it is. My first patrol is tomorrow which should be interesting. I’m also hoping to drop 20kg by then. Wadda my chances do you think? So here’s a 95kg lass in moderate fitness having to stand around in her swimmers and a funny hat all day hoping that nobody drowns. You gotta love life! NJ

  6. At least you can hide up the back in your gym. At mine, the back wall of the studio where we have our group classes is GLASS and faces onto the weight room! There’s no hiding up the back – if you do, all the boofy blokes pumping iron get a lovely view of your rump as you squat and stick it right out – NOT pretty. So I hide in the middle, heh.

    LOL at the skinny sweaty people – I used to feel the same way about cardio, which is why I avoided it for so long. But I figured that I’ll never be one of those skinny sweaty people if I don’t hit the cardio – so now I don’t give a stuff. I reckon the worst thing that people could think about me is ‘Geez she really needs to exercise and lose that weight’ which totally validates me being there in the first place. That said, I still like to get to the gym before it gets packed out with the beautiful people, heh.

  7. The Skinny Daily has just covered the same topic and I said the same thing, they did more exercise back then. Mum and I spoke about this, her mum kept biscuits and cakes around all the time and they ate bread and dripping for lunch. But they were slim. No car, lots of manual labour, it makes a hell of a difference.

    It’s fantastic when you can find an instructor who can show you how to break down a move properly. My favourite belly dancing teacher knew just how to describe a move so I knew what my muscles should be doing, what my posture should be, everything. It makes such a difference.

    Go you!