THE YEAR THAT WAS (part 4.1) - Getting FFITer and Harefield & Heartbreak hill revisited
(Phase VI – sustaining a healthy life-style)
|Looking to get FFIT|
A good motivator throughout my recovery has always been looking for and hitting small milestones and I did just that on the 6th June when I recorded my first 7 consecutive days of over 10,000 steps per day with an average of 12,813, another came on the 19th June when I weighed in at 93.1kg meaning that my BMI was below 30 for the first time, I was no longer obese! - these may seem small accomplishments but they demonstrated my continued progress and motivated me in my crusade towards a fitter me.
FFIT encouraged the participants to set at least one new SMART goal each week [see part 3]. One of my better goals which I'm still achieving, besides the normal eat more fruit, limit the consumption of beer & coffee etc., was to walk at least 4000 'aerobic steps' per day averaged over the week. These are recorded on my pedometer and to achieve this you have to walk at least 10 minutes at a brisk pace (60 steps per minute) and carry on without stopping for more than 1 minute for a continuous reading. This was particularly useful for exceeding the recommended 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity exercise per week and helped me meet the Frequency Intensity Time Type (FITT) principle that was also encouraged at the cardiac rehab.
Another SMART goal which I have since set myself that probably initiated in FFIT is 'not to eat for the sake of eating', this might seem an obvious thing to do but has become a golden rule I live by. Particularly at work, but it can apply elsewhere, treats are always left out and you fall into a habit of just picking at them just because they are there when you don't really need or even want them. This is a simple SMART goal to remind me to stop snacking on tit-bits which really add up unnecessary calorie in-take over the day.
The mid-point on the FFIT programme coincided with my 6 month check-up at Harefield and I came away with slightly mixed emotions. We had had our half-way weigh-in at FFIT and the weight lost was represented by bags of sand (an extremely effective idea), first we all took turns to pick up two fairly heavy carrier bags which was an impressive combined 27.7kg in weight lost for 13 of us and then from these we were handed individual bags. Some of the group obliviously did better than others but overall there was a tremendous positive feeling to being able to feel that actual weight, mine was one of the smaller bags weighing in at 1.4kg but I wasn't too despondent as I was looking for a slow & steady weight lost anyway and it did give a real sense of what had been achieved in a reasonably short period of time. Although my visit to Harefield wasn't negative, I did come away feeling that I had moved back a square or two. I was experiencing touches of angina, particularly when exercising with FFIT and mentioned this during the consultation. To my surprise the Cardiologist recommended coming back for another angiogram to reassess the narrowing's in my arteries, assuring me this would be a far more relaxed procedure than the emergency 6 months previous though it did have a slight feel of 'here we go again'.
Meanwhile I set up a JustGiving page to start collecting towards the Hearts & Souls London Bridges sponsored walk, initially I set the target amount to £250.00 but with the first donation coming in at £100.00 had to quickly reconsider and increase the target to £500.00, which I felt this was a realistic amount [see part 4.2 for the final astonishing total].
|In the Cath Lab|
Again, I was not allowed to drive and had to take it easy for a couple of days, this meant missing my penultimate FFIT session which was a real shame as the Handy Cross Running club were invited to take the training and put the team through their paces, however I was to meet up with these guys later in the year which was to become another whole new chapter in my recovery story [see part 4.2].
Like the cardiac rehab., FFIT came to an end way to quickly and again I was left wondering what to do next, probably not so much over the summer months as I still had the sponsored walk to look forward too but certainly once autumn sets in. My grateful thanks go to Andy Homent and Sam Parker for delivering what is a life changing opportunity that I believe had an impact on every participant with a total group weight loss of 44.5kg. I know all the team would hold FFIT as a defining moment in kick starting their healthier lifestyle but for me it was a natural continuation of the cardiac rehab, extending and expanding the lessons I learnt then (not that I would recommend anyone having a heart attack first!). But as we were told FFIT doesn't end there, it's a way of life, and we were invited back as 'legends' to share our experience with the next group and I hope this blog goes some way to achieving that - we will never forget those basic golden rules that it's all about "small steps" and "calories in v calories out!" and as Tom, one of my fellow FFIT contemporaries pointed out ... "The FFIT journey isn't just about losing weight, it's about losing the mind-set and attitude that got us to where we are"
There was one little nagging doubt growing in the back of my head and I had to put it to bed, and that was getting back in the saddle of the horse that threw me. So, on the 10th Aug. I set out to retrace the footsteps that started this whole story in the first place [see part 1], to face up to 'heartbreak hill' once again - but this time it was personal!
|Drums & tea at St Marys|
So, on a beautiful summer's day with the Red Kites flying in clear blue skies, butterflies on wild flowers in the meadows and poppies billowing in the wheat fields (have I painted the perfect summers day?) it was just an idyllic walk. On passing through St Mary's church there was a summer workshop community activity day going on so on my return having completed the same loop up and down hills, through woods and along valley's [see part 1] I stopped off to take that long awaited look inside the church before tackling 'that' hill. It's a fascinating historical church built by the Knights Templar in the late 12th century with medieval wall paintings and a vibrant congregation and I sat there for a while sipping a cup tea listening to some local families trying their hand at African drums, it seemed a pity to leave.
I was still hitting those milestones and in the following days reached 2,000,000 steps (since my cardiac rehabilitation heart assessment), the equivalent of almost walking to Iceland (but without getting your feet wet)! This led to the idea of setting myself SMART challenges and decided to try and complete 2.5 million steps before the sponsored walk in 32 days' time. This meant I needed to keep up an average of 13,260 every day which was a little above what I was actually achieving. To give an added incentive, my youth football club, Totteridge FC, offered me a £100.00 bonus donation to Hearts & Souls should I complete the challenge.
With a nice steady flow of donations coming in, by the 18th Sept. I surpassed the £500.00 target so for the 2nd time increased the target, this time to £675.00, this equalled the amount I raised on my last sponsored walk some 10 years previous. I was constantly being pleasantly surprised by the generosity of some of donations and the unexpected sponsors so I think secretly I was starting to hope and dare for £1000.00
I felt that my fitness levels were improving by the day and together with the new improved eating habits and a little help from Isosorbide Mononitrate (nitrate tablet) was even adding in some short jogging in my walks! - I hadn't jogged in years!!
Thank-you for reading and I would love to hear from you, please leave your comments below.
Part 1 - That fateful day. (Phase I - cardiac event) click here
Part 2 - Back home & drama at White Hart Lane. (Phase II - home recovery) click here
Part 3 - They tried to make me go to rehab, I said yes, yes, yes please. (Phase III - cardiac rehabilitation) click here
Part 4.2 - Putting heart & soul into walking & jogging (Phase IV - sustaining a healthy life-style) click here
Part 4.3 - End of year round-up and assessment (Phase IV - sustaining a healthy life-style) click here
Part 4.5 - Pain in the bum, going senile and sub 30! (Phase IV - sustaining a healthy life-style) click here
Part 4.6 - Sub 29, attack of the AKI and 1 year old (Phase IV - sustaining a healthy life-style) click here
Part 4.7 - Pushing the boundaries (Phase IV - sustaining a healthy life-style) click here