My exercise phase is going fine and I washed 5 kilos off so far, but I'm not running, which does not do your back a whole lot of good, I'm cycling instead. (I never really liked running anyway – but I may have a go once I'm much fitter). Keeping my heart rate between 126 and 144 beats per minute and staying out for over 50 minutes every other day.
While beetling around on two wheels I was watching the other types who were keeping fit in Milan's main park. Interesting to see all the different types doing their thing.
There was 'I just started this coz I need to get fit', who sort of hobbled along, running, if you can call it that, about as fast as I can walk. The poor chap was very red in the face and did not look as though he was doing himself much good. Several types look like this.
Next we have the female, who quite honestly does not need to lose any kilos, and she probably knows this because she runs, slows down to read a message on her mobile, runs a bit more and walks while looking at another message.
After that there are the couples, him and her. He is often fitter than her and she seems to get dragged along in his wake. It will be interesting to see how long the 'let's do it together' enthusiasm will last.
Another type of couple, the girlfriends, often a wee bit on the round side. They start off at a quite impressive trot, which lasts for as much as ten minutes and then becomes a walk and gossip session. Good exercise – for your tongue.
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
Mr Stretch is another character. He will run for a while and then park himself up and spend the next half an hour contorting his body, usually up against some park bench or other fixed object. He goes home and proudly declares that he ran for an hour. But we know the truth, Mr Stretchy.
Now we are coming up to the pros. Young, fit and mostly male. They hunt, sorry, exercise in groups of seven or eight and will often try to out sprint each other. Well, boys will be boys.
And then there is marathon man/woman. A seriously fit loner who keeps on going for hours without looking as though he or she is about to keel over and have a heart attack. These people make the rest of us mere mortals seem real slobs.
Finally, there is me. I'm in a minority. Not many cycle. I may get told off before long, as I'm not sure that my speed is acceptable – I'm not pushing very hard, but I still seem to go flying past most of the other cyclists. I would consider cycling on the roads, if is weren't for the fact that there are lots of cars around when I want to go out and there are the blasted traffic lights which mean I often have to stop and thus wrecks my rhythm.
Anyway, the slight pain is worth it. I always feel better, more alert and less tired when I'm fit.
But, those nasty smoke sticks have been calling out my name and, stupidly, I feel tempted. It's mad, I know, but I can't help myself. Living in a city and one or two other things also make me feel the 'need' for the calming effect of a cigarette. Weak willed, that's what I am.