Maid in Devon: Pat Keenor talks about ways to keep fit

Pat Keenor

Pat Keenor - Credit: Archant

This month our columnist Pat Keenor is researching methods for keeping fit…and the results don’t feel too appealing

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love - or so Lord Tennyson would have us believe - but mine have lightly turned to thoughts of getting fit.

Here in Devon there’s really no excuse not to be as fit as a butcher’s dog. We’re surrounded by beautiful walks among stunning scenery. I live near Eggesford Forest and in North Devon the Tarka Trail stretches for 30 miles, ideal for walking and cycling with no fear that an oik in a white van will mow you down. Top quality vegetables, lean meat and fish abound. It’s just a question of eating fewer calories than you burn - or so everyone keeps telling me. I don’t know why it’s so blooming hard.

In my quest for bodily perfection - or at least the desire not to be winched out of a bedroom window by a crane when I die - I trawled the internet for hints and inspiration and came across a website called 24 Fun And Exciting Ways To Lose Weight!. The exclamation mark is theirs, not mine. My 30-plus years working as a journalist on newspapers gave me a horror of exclamation marks - unless they actually do punctuate an exclamation. Various editors have referred to them as screamers, gaspers and shriekers and the most common term refers to a rude part of a dog’s anatomy. I digress - anything rather than address the issue at hand…which is losing weight and getting fit.

I think the target audience of this website is people considerably younger than I. For the 25 tips included hula hooping and playing with a Frisbee. You won’t catch me out in the park flinging a Frisbee about. The young people in my family find me embarrassing enough without throwing a plastic disc at me and watching it fly past my head as I flap my hands and try to catch it. I briefly considered hula hooping but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find one big enough to fit round me. Difficult to hula-hoop with something resembling a snug belt.

Some of the suggestions sounded quite racy to an old Devon maid like me. “Try twerking,” I was advised. These thrusting, suggestive moves were made popular by a young songstress called Miley Cyrus. Well, Miley, they may look sexy when you do them. When I try I look like I’m at Bampton Fair with a ferret down my trousers.

Strip aerobics was another one. The idea is to learn moves similar to a striptease and get fit while doing it but not, praise be, strip completely in class. Well, that’s a relief - and a bigger relief, I’m sure, to my potential classmates.

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There was one suggestion that proudly proclaimed “age no bar!” (again, their exclamation mark, not mine). It’s something called Bokwa which, I was told, is popular with Robbie Williams, another popular singer, I believe. It requires using your feet to draw letters or numbers while doing “cardio to music”. I can think of a few words I could draw but probably not suitable to repeat them in a family magazine…

There were some sensible suggestions like swimming, trekking, using fitness videos and yoga. I would certainly give these a try. But I’m in two minds about whether to “say hello to cycle karaoke!” (again, their exclamation mark).

The concept is that singing is an indicator of your heart rate and the aim, as far as I could ascertain, is to sound like you’re on 60-a-day and have just run a marathon. If you don’t, you are not working hard enough.

Bizarrely, it suggests you do this in the gym so if next time you are sitting next to a seemingly mad woman on a static bike belting out hits from the musicals, she’s just keeping fit. No need to call the authorities.

On second thoughts, I think I might revert to my original idea and just try to eat less and move more. I have bought a wonderful extractor/blender that makes lovely smoothies, soups and dips so I can get lots of fruit and vegetables down me and I have started walking more. I have already lost weight without hardly trying.

The better half told the pub the other night: “Pat’s on a diet and she’s lost 100 pounds.” Everyone looked really impressed until he added: “That’s what she spent on some kitchen gadget for her vegetables.”

He’d better watch out or bits of him will be in it.