They enjoyed the occasional glass of homemade wine (my granddad’s parsnip vintage was always LETHAL!) and they indulged in the odd piece of cake now and then. What I also remember is this: they were always active; constantly on the go and were avid gardeners who grew a lot of their own fruit and veg too.
My mum inherited their passion for gardening and every summer you can rely on her to grow tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beetroot, runner beans, courgettes (or baby marrows/zucchini if you know them better by those names) and strawberries.
There are few things more tasty than eating a strawberry which you picked just a few seconds before – mass grown, shop bought strawbs taste of nothing in comparison – and so Dougal and I have decided that for all future South African summers we will, at the very least, grow our own strawberries.
To understand what on earth this has to do with burning fat , I want you to picture a not-insignificantly sized garden with a lawn planted wall-to-wall. No garden beds with trees, shrubs or flowers – just grass. Do you see it? Well you’ve just peeked over the wall into our SA garden!
Fortunately, I’ve also inherited a passion for gardening; late last week I began to wage war on the insanely strong kikuyu grass lawn and started to dig out the first bed for plants and strawberries. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that cockroaches would be the sole survivors of a worldwide nuclear disaster? Well, I’m pretty sure you could add kikuyu grass to that statement! It’s insanely tough – great for lawns but horrendous to strip away so you can get to the ground underneath.
With the grass stripped, I soon discovered that a garden spade and fork were not going to be up to the job of digging out the mountain (literally) of rubble and other junk the builders kindly buried for future discovery. So I called in one of the garden tool big guns – a pick axe!
By mid yesterday afternoon, after much wielding of the pick axe, I’d created the perfect garden bed which is ready for compost and STRAWBERRIES! Now I don’t know how many calories and fat I burned while digging this bed and hauling rubble around, but I DO know it would have been a fair few.
This kind of exercise is known in the ‘trade’ as NEAT – Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Essentially – all activity and movement that’s not deliberate training falls into the NEAT category. If you tap your feet, that’s classed as NEAT – sure it doesn’t burn many calories, but there’s a TON of research surrounding NEAT and it all adds up.
A study published way back in 2005 by Dr James Levine and his team at the Mayo Clinic in the United States showed that the group of lean participants moved and fidgeted around for 150 minutes more each day than those in the obese category. Everyone wore high-tech cycling shorts 24 hours a day for 10 days (they were given a new pair every day, in case you were thinking ‘eeewwwww!!!’) which measured their movement and body posture every half a second. This extra 150 minutes of movement translated to an additional 350 calories being burned every day.
It’s very easy to think that just because we go to gym a few times a week, we’ve done our ‘exercise bit’ for our fat loss goals. But we’re only in the gym for between half an hour to an hour each time – what about the rest of the day?
For a lot of us that involves sitting in the car, bus, or train to go and sit at a desk for far too many hours, then sitting in the car/bus or train to get home, falling onto the sofa to spend a few hours watching TV, before climbing into bed for not enough sleep. Combine this with a diet where you eat more than you burn and it’s easy to see why your fat loss is slower than you’d like, not happening as at all, or simply DOOMED <— just to add a little drama.
Dr Stuart Biddle, is a Professor of Physical Activity and Health at Loughborough University. He claims that by simply standing and moving around a bit for five minutes out of every 30 in an eight-hour day (a tiny one hour and 20 minutes in total), the average adult could burn an additional 2,500 calories a month.
His suggestions to achieve this are pretty simple, you’ll have heard many of them before: stand up on the train or bus; take the stairs instead of the lift; get off the bus one stop early; stand up and wander around when you’re making telephone calls; stand at the sink and wash your dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher; stand up to dry your hair rather than sitting at a dressing table. Move your waste paper bin AWAY from your desk so you have to get up and walk to it and water your garden with a watering can rather than a hose pipe, so you have to keep walking back to the tap to fill it up, along with plenty more.
A UK journalist put Dr Biddle’s theory to the test and did as much as she could standing up – even watching her favourite TV show – for one month. At the end of that time she reported that laying down in bed each night had became, and I quote, “…a hedonistic joy!” She lost half a stone (that’s 7lbs or just over 3kg), was wearing a size 14 in jeans for the first time in 10 years and was the proud owner of a stomach and pair of legs which were visibly more toned than they had been for a very long time.
The bottom line is this: we don’t move enough and burning fat to achieve the body of your dreams doesn’t begin and end with an hour-long session in the gym a few days a week. Spend a little bit of time thinking about the small changes you can make to move more.
Move more and your results will BE more – plus, if you dig a space in your garden and plant some fruit and veg you’ll be able to enjoy food that tastes of MORE too 🙂