Take the stairs

Blah blah, healthy January. No drinking, all dieting, all queuing up at the (suddenly very crowded) gym. Saying no to chocolate and yes to fruit (but still wanting chocolate).

In the northern hemisphere January is grim. None of the joys of December when you at least have Christmas and New Year to look forward to at the end, just long days of dark and cold and a feeling that this year you need to make yourself better (stronger, faster, thinner, more tolerant, more stylish, a better listener, someone who drinks more water and less coffee).

I’m not immune to this new-year-new-me feeling. There is a kind of energy around New Year and if you can tap into it you can sail along on it… ooh, at least into February.

So I’m trying to eat better, and drink less alcohol (doing pretty well on those two), and also do more exercise. That one’s tricky when you have a desk based job that keeps you immobile for large parts of the day.

Lots of people I work with have joined gyms in the area and go workout at lunchtime. I am not so keen as that; instead I’ve joined a gym near home to encourage me to go home and not stay long hours at work. If I go twice during the week I am doing well. If I go three times I’m a champion.

But in between gym visits, I’m trying a short and intense workout called “take the stairs”. I come into my office on level 1 and once a day (again, I don’t always achieve this) I take the stairs to level 5 where I work. Apparently it’s only 100 steps (but I don’t count them).

The good news is, I can make it to level 3 before I need to take a pause. And it’s not a bending over clutching at my chest and gasping for breath kind of pause; but it is a “Phew! That’s some effort!” kind of pause. And I go slower from 3 up to 5.

Before Christmas I was doing this more regularly and within a week I noticed I could get to 3 1/2 before I needed to pause. So it doesn’t take much time to build up some lung capacity and leg strength.

But I’m not doing this entirely out of New Year enthusiasm. I’m doing it because I want to hike the West Highland Way later this year and that will involve some uphills and I want my legs and lungs to be ready. So that’s what I’m thinking about while I toil up what is essentially the fire escape.

Unhappily the little messages put in the stairwell to encourage us stair walkers stop at level 4.

And sorry, I’m not walking up the stairs to save the environment. So those cheery messages don’t inspire me. What I need are more pictures like this:

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