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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

From fat to fit: The solution is stairing right at you

Our writer discovers the joys of spurning the lift at work to keep fit when all else fails

Toru Hanai / Reuters
Toru Hanai / Reuters

I hang my head in shame when I admit that my bicycle has yet to turn a wheel since its exhumation a week ago. Every single evening, I say to myself (and to an increasingly cynical Mrs H) that tomorrow morning I’ll get up super-early, beat the tourists to the Marina and do a circuit. Get moving. And, without fail, I fail.

Get moving. It seems so easy when it’s in writing, to get moving. But working long hours and enduring a hellish commute means that I’m left feeling physically deflated and exhausted most of the time. And as for weekends, well, that’s the only time I can switch off, unplug and ­unwind. And yes, you guessed it, my preferred unwind mode does not involve spending time in a gym.

That’s not to say no progress has been made, however, and two people are unknowingly responsible for a sharpening of my mindset and resolve over the past few days. First up, one of my oldest and best friends, James McCarthy. James lives in the UK at the moment, having spent many years in the GCC, and he has had the misfortune to be out of work for a few months, leading up to another overseas career move. And instead of going to seed, as I might have done, he decided he was overweight and did something about it.

Since November last year, he has lost a frankly staggering 30 kilograms. I know this because he sent me a photograph taken of his reading when on the scales a few days ago, having dipped just below his goal weight. And he achieved what many, including him, thought was the impossible, by walking instead of driving, making sure he burnt off more calories each day than he consumed, and being more careful about his food and drink choices. To say I was inspired by his results is the understatement of the year – if James can do this, so can I.

The day after learning of his weight loss, I did what I’ve been avoiding doing for too long now, since my sessions at Iconic Fitness came to an end: I got on my own scales and forced myself to look at the numbers. Not as bad as I’d feared; I had remained at the same weight I was the last time I was checked and measured. Yet I had been getting the impression that my clothes were feeling a bit tighter again, so I knew I was going backwards, if only ­slightly, when I was supposed to be getting trimmer.

Get moving. Ah, yes, eat less and move more – that old blunt instrument repeated ad nauseam by preachy keep-­fitters everywhere. But it’s exactly what I’ve been doing, thanks to the encouragement of one of my colleagues, who also wants to shift a few kilos (not that she needs to). As our office is on the seventh floor of a 10-storey building, she’s gone back to taking the stairs instead of the lift, at least three times a day. And it hasn’t taken long for others in the newsroom to follow suit, with an ever-increasing group of us doing what more office-bound workers should be doing: getting up from the desk and moving.

Between each floor are two flights of concrete steps, and between the ground and the office there are 160 of the things. That might not sound like much but, after a descent followed immediately by an ascent, our legs generally feel like they’re on fire. Like any physical exertion, though, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So the plan is that we’ll increase the frequency from three times daily to five over the next week or so. Or perhaps climb all 10 floors before heading back down to the office. It’s the simplest form of exercise imaginable, but at least it’s something. The lives of most office workers are entirely sedentary, and if nothing else, getting up from my desk three or four times a day gives my eyes a rest and helps prevent ­recurring back pain. And, what do you know? In a week I’ve dropped 1.5 kilos.

James, thank you. That virtual kick up the derrière has already resulted in a result. Imagine what I could achieve if I managed to get on that bike, too.

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Read more about Kevin's journey to fitness:

From fat to fit: Some things are worth getting out of bed for

Cutting out animal products is one thing, eating healthily is another

Find the right coach to reach your goals

Results after a month of hurt

Staying the course when one is sick

Sorting out the diet one week at a time

Getting started with the first workout

Facing the hard truths

Sedentary with sciatica, it’s time for a fitness fix

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