Sunday, 14 April 2013

Out of shape

Having been back in England from Australia for 8 months now it’s starting to hit me how much effect the different lives have on me, both mentally and physically.

In Australia I had a 9-5 job which meant that I had the weekends and the evenings free to do what I wanted; whereas, in the UK I have a full time degree in final year which takes up about 50-70 hours a week alone.
Most recently I have noticed a shift in the level of fitness I have. When I was living in Australia I could afford a gym membership and enough time and energy to go at least twice a week. Some days I would wake up at 7 and have enough time to go to the gym for an hour before work. This might have something to do with the weather though. In Australia I would wake up at 7 and it would be warm and sunny and everyone else in the city was already up and about having breakfast or walking the dog anyway! In England when you wake up at 7am it’s usually dark and cold and raining which is not the most enticing weather to get you out of bed in the morning. Also now when I come home from uni I need to write coursework or read papers etc. before falling into bed absolutely shattered each evening, whereas in Australia I had the evenings to myself and could do whatever I wanted! And because it was usually still nice, I would go out, see friends, go for a run, and do something! So in Australia I was pretty active, I could run for miles and I put on some muscle so much so that when my mother skyped me 4 months in her first response was: you look like you’ve put on weight!

But now I am back in England and having the time or the money for the gym is out of reach. Last week I did reach a gym for a day as part of a spa day package. But when I set the machines up to my usual settings it was much harder than before and I could only manage 2 sets not 3 and even then I was cheating sometimes. My running shocked me more as I could only run a couple of hundred meters before feeling out of breath and after half a kilometre I had to slow back down to walking. I used to be able to run for about 3km before starting to struggle and that was less than a year ago! Today it was over 10 degrees for the first time in ages! It was actually 18 degrees and it felt lovely! I went to my wardrobe and pulled out a pair of knee length denim shorts that I haven’t seen since in months. I went to put them on and could only just manage to squeeze my butt into them! I thought, that can’t be right so went to get the scales and I’ve lost 5kg! I’m sure there are some miracle people that manage to earn a degree and maintain a training programme but I didn’t think that my fitness would drop this quickly.

I’ve noticed a change in my mental state too as since coming back to the UK is that I have less energy and enthusiasm than in Australia. Maybe I’m solar powered? More likely it’s a mild form of seasonal affective disorder but still. Combined with the much higher mental demand of my work I now welcome bedtime and curse the alarm when it wakes me up in the morning and spend the day in a slumped coma. It’s like being an old helium balloon; I used to be perky and ready to go but now I’m saggy and just bob along a few feet off the floor.

So I must conclude that being in England makes me fatter, lose muscle and drains my energy and enthusiasm?! I’m sure that can’t be right. Its shouldn’t be right anyway. I refuse to believe that being in the UK is bad for me. It’s where I was born; it’s where most of my family was born so surely I should be adapted to living here? I think I’m going to make more of an effort to be perky and I’ve found a free set of fitness videos to help me claw back some of my fitness. Wish me luck!

It's not a competition to which country is better for your health