I’ve always had a huge appetitie. I was in okay shape as a younger kid but when I started at an enormous secondary school, a rising sense of anxiety and a distinct lack of friends forced me to look for a place to hide: I hid in food. Quite literally. I ate and ate, getting bigger and bigger until – by the time I left school – I was morbidly obese. At the same time, I was starting to experience fairly major mental health problems associated with becoming increasingly isolated and with feeling, as I was increasingly starting to look, like a freak. These days, it’s pretty horrible to use words like ‘freak’ to describe anyone, especially as a kid…but back in the 80s and early 90s that epithet was banded around quite a bit.
One of the reasons I never took drugs as a teenager was that I actually knew myself well enough to understand that once I started, I wouldn’t stop. Many of my behaviours strongly resonate with OCD and once I do something just a few times, it becomes habit-forming: good or bad. By the time I hit the seventeen-stone mark, I had come to recognise that food was a habit I was going to need to break. I was also going to need to develop a new one: exercise.
Over the next decade, a lot changed for me. I met a girl, moved out and got married. I finally took my first drink after swearing I would never touch the stuff for the same reason I avoided drugs (these days, I’m a bit of a wino and regularly hit the Jack Daniels when I’m in need of a buzz). I also discovered coffee, an addictive little demon in its own right and something that would end up becoming my rocket fuel of choice. By this time, however, I had become a bit of an exercise freak.
It started with a crosstrainer. During my twenties, I did two half an hour blocks a day and this increased to an hour in my thirties. No days off. It became a mantra and it wasn’t up for discussion: I remember once spending the day in London and doing the crosstrainer at midnight, five minutes after I’d climbed off the train. If I spent the night away from home, I’d come back and do TWO hours the next day. I’d watch movies at the same time; it was a routine.
Just after my 42nd birthday, I suddeny realised a few really BIG things: firstly, that I was exhausted, secondly that I was exercising way beyond my capabilities and thirdly that my mental health was at an all-time low. So I set out to change all that.
Now, I have finally achieved Equilibrium.
My body is OKAY.
Considering that I used to be a big guy, my body is BETTER than OK.
My mind is as good as it can be and holds up to the pressures of life (and lockdowns) on most days.
Here’s how I did it and here’s how you can, too. I’m nothing special: I’m just trying.
THE DAVEY STONE DAILY ROUTINE
- I get up around 7am. I switch on the tassimo and have a double cappuccino: that’s a lot of coffee but it does me for the entire day. This is the one BAD choice I consciously continue to make (apart from chocolate and the odd croissant every now and then).
- I will either take a hot and cold shower (hot for three minutes, cold for two) or I will do a meditation that involves holding my breath for up to two minutes and thirty seconds. Both of these come from Wim Hof and are available/described on Youtube. Start with the beginner’s guide or it will feel like you’re being beaten up by a basketball team.
- I will hit the mat and do five minutes on a particular body part: on Mondays, it’s upper sbs, Tuesday obliques, Wednesday lower abs, thursday legs, Friday back, Saturday shoulders and Sunday chest and arms. That’s just five minutes of 30 second bursts, mostly pushups and situps or dedicated exericises to target a body part – they’re all on Youtube, too…and I strongly recommend Bullyjuice if you’re new to exercising. He’s brilliant.
- I will either go out for a 15min run or I’ll do 15mins on the crosstrainer. If it’s a 15min run, I will run for 20 seconds and walk for 20 seconds with beeps breaking up the sections. If it’s the crosstrainer, I will stand for 20 seconds and then sit for 20 seconds and pedal on the exercise bike function.
- I will do no less than 10,000 steps every day.
- I tend to have a small glass of wine with dinner if I’m drinking or water if I’m not. I have decaff tea throughout the day.
That’s it. That’s all I do. I’d say that on an average day I spend no more than half an hour actually exerting myself and the rest simply moving around.
If you’re in your 40s and you’re worried about your fitness level, give it a try. Don’t worry if you constantly feel tired for the first week – it all changes as you keep going.
Equilibrium was written by Davey Stone on 25th April, 2021. Thanks for reading Equilibrium. If you enjoyed the post, please consider following the blog. Equilibrium is indexed under Mental Health on Bloke Called Dave. To get more posts like Equilibrium, sign up to our email list.