Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Mens sana in corpore sano?

It’s something I can always remember my mum advocating, when I was young – a healthy mind in a healthy body.

I can do the healthy mind bit, no problem. I read a lot, I love doing word puzzles and logic problems, and I play the guitar and piano. My job’s pretty creative, too, so I’d say my grey matter gets plenty of exercise. Stress? Well, yeah – it’s part of life in the twenty-first century. But I have good friends I can talk to when I need to let off steam or bounce some ideas around. Definitely mens sana.

The corpore sano bit is a little trickier. I eat sensibly: I get my five-a-day (a bit more than that, actually), I eat lots of fish and in the main I stay away from refined carbs. But I have a seriously sedentary lifestyle. (Note that all the things I mention above for the healthy mind involve, um, sitting down.) And I’ve seen rather too many documentaries lately about how the chair kills, so I knew it was time to start taking better care of myself.

Now, I hate exercise. Ask me to walk round a museum, stroll along a beach or explore a city, and I’m a happy bunny. In those circumstances, I can walk for miles/hours with no problem. But ask me to run a marathon, play some kind of team sport or get on a bicycle (where the traffic scares me and I’m worried about falling off and hurting myself)… no chance. I was always picked last for school sports teams for a very good reason. And even my DH has been known to sigh, ‘There are people who can play racquet sports – and then there’s you.’ Exercise and me, we’re not buddies. At all.

I’ve been going to ballroom dancing lessons with DH since the beginning of January (originally for research purposes for my February book, Ballroom to Bride and Groom, but we’ve kept it up). It’s a lot of fun, our teacher is lovely, and an hour of quickstep or cha cha cha will definitely get your heart rate up! But doing something once a week isn’t really enough to make a difference.

So I made a list of requirements for the new corpore sano regime. I needed something that wasn’t too far from home (preferably on the way home from the school run) and something that would mean I’d have to put it my diary and turn up. All the exercise classes near me seemed to be mid-morning (meaning I wouldn’t get any work done beforehand, and then I’d stress about deadlines and end up giving up the class) or after dinner (hmm – done that before, failed dismally, and know better now – I’m not going out again if it’s cold and dark and I’m tired).

But then I hit gold. The gym next door to my children’s school happens to offer personal training sessions as part of membership. You can book in a one-to-one session for an hour, up to three times a week. It’s a really nice place with a fantastic atmosphere – very family oriented, catering to all age groups. The staff are encouraging and utterly lovely. (And they know what I do for a living, so they tell me all the science behind what I’m doing because they know I’m interested and it’ll motivate me.)

So, for the last six weeks, my routine has changed. I do the school run in the morning, have a personal training session three mornings a week, and then go home to start work.

It’s been a revelation. I haven’t seen much change on the scales (probably because I’m losing fat but building muscle, which weighs more) but I have seen a change on the tape measure, which is enough to keep my motivation going. I absolutely love doing weight training with the resistance machines. And the cross trainer. (I never, ever thought I’d say that.) I like the pool, too, though that’s not part of my training sessions – it’s what I do sometimes on a ‘rest’ day, and sometimes I’m the only one in the pool and feel really spoiled.

The endorphin effect? I knew the theory. But the practice has been a revelation, too. It’s not just a mood lift: I have more confidence, too. I feel better about myself.

I still have a lot of weight to lose and shape to sort out, but I know now that I’m definitely on my way to mens sana in corpore sano. Better still, I’m actually enjoying it 🙂

What about you? What’s your favourite way to stay physically or mentally healthy?

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25 thoughts on “Mens sana in corpore sano?”

  1. Sounds great Kate, good luck with it. Its so nice when you can find an exercise you enjoy. I love walking but should do more. I do a bit of Yoga too, its quite new to me but I am enjoying it. I like number and word puzzles to but should do them more regularly. Will have to see if I can get some flower essences to sort my routine out and give me a bit of kick to get me going.

    1. Thanks, Sharon – it took me a while, but I’ve found it now! Glad you’re enjoying yoga. And I could be really bad and introduce you to my two favourite puzzle sites online, if you like? 😉 Good luck with that routine!

      1. yes please Kate let me have the links, I play some games on facebook but could do with something a bit more challenging I think. 🙂

  2. I love contradancing and international folk dancing, but blowing out my knee has had a negative impact on dancing. I hate getting old. 😉

    Glad you found something that has you up and active!

    1. Hugs, Nan, on your knee. That’s a nuisance when something like that stops you doing something you enjoy. LOL re getting old – I’m really enjoying my forties. (Especially changing my hair colour every six weeks!)

  3. Oh, boy, yes. The gym. Belonged for years, paid up regularly, went occasionally, until DH pointed out that exercising my bank account wouldn’t cut the mustard, so I gave up! Sigh. but such a clever idea to go to a place you have to go to, ie the kids’ school, and then nip next door, so you’re there anyway, you might as well, and you can’t use the (not always feeble) excuse that it’s a half-hour drive (which mine was) and you haven’t got the time. Such rubbish. I ALWAYS have the time to do something I want, I just didn’t really WANT!

    Honesty is the first stepping stone. And I have to admit, to you and to myself, that I’m turning into a lump of lard since I gave up, so it’s definitely time to join again, only another one this time, with a different programme and other classes and maybe a fresher attitude. And in the meantime the corpore needs a bit less cake…!

    1. You always look elegant whenever I see you 🙂 But half an hour drive? Nope. It’s ten minutes, and it’s on quiet back roads, so that means it’s not such a chore in the school hols, either. LOL on a bit less cake. Does that mean I can’t make you a birthday cake?

  4. Hi Pam!
    Yay – what great news. I think you’ve hit on the perfect solution for your healthy body. I envy your ballroom dancing. I talked hubby into taking a class with me years ago, which proved to be so stress inducing for him, we never went back. Though we did take private waltz lessons in our home prior to our daughter’s wedding.

    No – as for what I do – I’m a walker – love it. It jiggles the thoughts out of my brain, and it helps me write my books. I’m also a Curves girl. It is a national women’s gym where you do a half hour circuit (nonstop movement) using a combination of machines and aerobic exercises. I love it, and as I said, it only takes a half hour.

    There is one battle I have run up against – as I get older, it takes more to burn off calories, so the pounds creep up a little each year. I’m working on accepting I am who I am – wrinkles, weight and all – but that appears to be a work in progess.

    Hugs and say hi to your personal trainer for me!

  5. Hugs back atcha, Lynne and walking for you sounds like swimming for me.

    Such a shame your DH hated dance classes. I’m really glad we went to the dance class that’s a little bit further away – the teacher sounded so nice on the phone. I’ve since discovered (while chatting at the gym) that the teacher in the class closer to us is a bit, um, strict. We wouldn’t have enjoyed that and would’ve given up, whereas we really look forward to Wednesdays.

    Very impressed with the private waltz lessons. We’re finding the waltz the hardest one to master – and we’re both surprised that we can do Latin! I really like the Rumba. (Historicals author Annie Burrows and I compare notes on Thursday mornings!)

    Curves sounds good – and half an hour’s not bad. (Mine are an hour long. Today’s was a bit longer but that’s because one of my PTs had to take a class, and instead of leaving me to do the cardio bit on my own she enlisted one of the other PTs to take over. So I had the two strictest ones today!)

  6. Kate, good for you on the gym work, it sounds as if you’ve found a routine that you really enjoy. I’m pretty remiss when it comes to the gym (so remiss in fact that I never actually get around to joining in the first place), so I’m full of admiration.

    I do walk every day, though – I don’t like driving and I’m far too scared to take my bike on the roads, and a good brisk walk is my way of letting my brain settle and working off stress. As for diet, I reckon that as long as everything that goes into my shopping basket is good food, and organic if at all possible, then I can cheat as much as I like the rest of the time 🙂 (Something about the walk to the coffee shop working off the calories. Not terribly sure that assertion stands up to a great deal of scrutiny…)

    1. Annie, you’re tall and slender and you don’t need the gym 🙂 I wouldn’t dare cycle, either. There’s a little lad (must be year 7 but he doesn’t quite look old enough) who cycles to school, and the road is so busy and bendy – I’d never let either of mine cycle it, and even DH prefers to take a different route. (There were two very aggressive cyclists who decided to exercise their right to cycle two abreast on said road… and when I asked them politely to go in single file as it was safer, went mental on me and yelled at me to read the highway code. I did, when I got home. And they were breaking it!)

      A walk to a coffee shop sounds about perfect 🙂

  7. Kate, I play tennis but hated every other ‘team’ ball sport. I enjoy bike riding and walking. I joined the gym at the bottom of the street three years ago. I walk out the door with the boys as they leave for school, leave them at the bus stop and walk another 100 metres into the gym. For 30 minutes I do a mixture of machines and aerobic and strengthening exercise and then I walk home and hit the shower and then the desk. What have I noticed? I am fitter than I have ever been in my life. I notice it on bike rides and walks. I can keep going longer. Good luck with your regime!

    1. Fiona, that sounds about perfect having it so near you. Mine’s a short drive away (the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th symphony, unless I get stuck behind a tractor – and yes, I do mean big agricultural vehicle), but because it’s on the way home from school it works for me. Good for you re the routine. (I love the machines.) And I am impressed at the tennis. I’m hopeless!

  8. Kate, you’ve found the perfect combination by the sounds of it! I find that it’s hard to maintain momentum with any exercise thing when I have to go too far out of my way and at an odd time!

    I’d recently started yoga again which was doing me the world of good – but we’re travelling at the moment so it’s all gone by the wayside until we get back home. I’m going to be really stern with myself and DEFINITELY go back! I did it years and years ago and, though I was never super-flexible, I’m now noticably LESS flexible that I was!

    Keep up the good work and please keep us posted on how it’s going. You being good might help me get motivated when we get back home!

    1. Yoga sounds good, Sharon. And no doubt you’re doing other kinds of exercise while you’re travelling!

      Will do my best to keep you motivated when you’re back! 😉

  9. Exercise – ugh! I despise it, even swimming which I’m quite good at and prefer the most. That bloody black line on the bottom of the pool just taunts me.
    Been a member of several gyms. Do well to start with then slack off.
    Am walking currently and been at that for a couple of months. HATE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!
    Just read something tonight which is supposed to be THE best exercise for the transverse abdominals. Stand in from of a mirror and blow up balloons. Seriously! Supposed to be amazing. So I’m off out tomorrow to buy me some balloons. I’ll probably hate it after two weeks but it’s sounding pretty damn good right now!

    1. you absolutely HAVE to let us know how this works, Amy! I’m rivetted! And you have to stand in front of a mirror… is that because it makes it harder on your abdominals when you laughing fit to bust??

      1. I can’t blow up balloon, lol it makes me dizzy, one small one and I’m done so I think I’ll have to give this one a miss and stick to my walking and yoga 🙂

      2. lol – I think its so you can see “where” its working? Or maybe to keep you motivated when you’re just feeling dumb for blowing up at ballon 20 times in a row??

    2. We want a video, Amy 😀 Or at least a report back. (I reckon Sharon might well have a point. Oh, and I can nick that for the current book?)

      I did abs this morning. The plank, on a stability ball. If you’d told me 6 weeks ago that I could do that, I would’ve laughed. Now, it’s ‘hmm, how much longer can I do it for next time?’.

      Know what you mean about slacking. I was a gym member years ago – was fine if I did the lunchtime step class, but then DH said he’d go with me after dinner. Yeah, right. Cold and wet evening – were we really going to the gym? Noooo. But having PT sessions booked (and in my diary too) means I’m sticking to it.

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