Finding Balance

Croyde Bay

Yesterday I returned from a fascinating and enjoyable conference at Croyde Bay in Devon. My concerns about how the conference would impact on my fitness efforts formed the subject of my previous post. In the past I have always gained weight on these events. Sitting all day, being offered three course meals and cooked breakfasts, lots of coffee and biscuit breaks, and socialising (drinking) in the evening can all lead to consuming many more calories than are needed.

So I went along to this conference with a bit of a plan – fit in some activity, make healthy meal choices as far as possible, don’t eat what you don’t need, and eat fruit during breaks rather than biscuits. Oh, and limit alcohol to one glass of wine with dinner, and a glass of something afterwards. I rarely drink, and I knew that I would pay for overindulgence big time.

So how did I get on?

Physical Activity

I arrived at the conference in good time, having taken nearly two hours to drive through West Somerset, across Exmoor and into Devon. The conditions were foggy, so I set out early and took my time. I checked in, and then settled down to spend most of the day sitting in the same spot. At least the chairs were reasonably comfortable.

Conference wound up at 5.30 pm. Dinner would be served from 7.30 pm. How to fill the time in between? Should I go for a run on the beach? Or a swim? Or use the gym? (The old me would probably have spent some time in my room reading or watching TV, and then got to the bar early for drinks before dinner). It was grey, drizzling and dismal outside. So I decided to go for a swim, then the try out the gym.

I enjoyed the swim. The pool was quite small, but it was quiet and I was able to have a good swim. I did lengths for about 25 minutes, then changed for the gym.

The gym was, again, small. But it had a selection of fixed equipment and loose weights to use. I planned to use the treadmill and elliptical cross trainer, as these are what I’m used to. It was warm in the gym. Far too warm. I had some water, and worked out how to set up the treadmill. I warmed up, and then got running. I quickly found that I was far too hot. I kept going for my target time of 25 minutes, and felt pleased for myself for having got through it. The elliptical machine had lost its appeal, and I exited the gym looking like a bedraggled tomato.

On Saturday morning, after a night of disturbed sleep, I awoke early. The sun was shining and it was a glorious, fresh, spring morning. I put on my running gear, and headed straight out. A quick walk through the hotel grounds and over sand dunes, and I was on the beach. I’m not used to running on sand, and found it hard going. But I was in no rush. The sound of the surf and the gentle sea breeze were all the tonic I needed to help me put the previous evening’s horrible run behind me.

At the end of the beach, I turned off and ran back through the village to the hotel. A lovely morning run of just over two miles. Just enough to set me up for the day, and to calm my nerves before delivering my speech.

Food and drink

I stuck to my resolution of eating fruit instead of biscuits at coffee time. I probably still consumed too much sugar, but at least I also consumed other, more useful, nutrients.

At lunch time I chose vegetable Thai curry with rice. There was a chicken Thai curry, or macaroni cheese on offer too. The vegetable curry looked the nicest, and was very tasty indeed. I am not a vegetarian, but I prefer to limit my meat consumption. For desert? The choice was chocolate eclairs or fruit. I chose fruit. If I had wanted the cream cake, I would have had one, but they actually didn’t appeal to me.

Dinner was three courses. I had melon and Parma ham for starter. Roast gammon, lots and lots of vegetables, roast potatoes and gravy for my main course. Then strawberries and clotted cream for desert. Yes, clotted cream. Like I said, if I want it, I’ll have it. No excuses, no ifs or buts, no guilt. And I did enjoy it.

I had a glass of Shiraz with dinner, and another in the bar later.

On Saturday morning, there was a big choice of different breakfast options. I’d had a cereal bar and coffee in my room before my run. I didn’t feel very hungry, so I had melon and pineapple with yogurt. The people I sat with said they were eating as much breakfast as they could ‘because we don’t get lunch’. That was their choice. Personally, I find that it doesn’t matter how much sausage and bacon I eat at 8 am, I’ll still feel hungry by 1 pm. And I didn’t want to feel bloated and uncomfortable with a speech to deliver.

The Conference

The conference itself was thought provoking. We discussed everything from child poverty to period dignity, from the opportunities offered by digital technology, to the challenges faced by firefighters during and after the Grenfell Tower fire. I presented a speech about the menopause in the workplace. This was really just saying that employers, and trade union reps, need to understand and develop a policy around menopause, so that women can be appropriately and effectively supported. My speech was well received, leaving me able to breathe a sigh of relief, relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.

Most of all, I appreciated having the opportunity to meet other people from different industries in such a beautiful location.

And now….

I am back home and feeling shattered. I haven’t had time for a long run this week, but that will have to wait. Perhaps a bit of yoga and some weights instead.

I’m really pleased that I was able to go away and enjoy the experience, without abandoning or wrecking this new, more balanced lifestyle.

And whatever I did, whatever I ate, it must have worked. I weighed myself this morning and found that, rather than gaining weight, I have lost a pound. This brings my total weight loss to six and a half stone, or 91 lb, or around 41 kilograms.

Something to build on before I go away next weekend for another, longer conference.

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