I began my twice-weekly gym and swim session two years ago. Since then, I’ve discovered muscles I never knew I had, and apart from the stiff legs after each session, feel much better for it. I may well continue this into my eighties – using Mick Jagger as my benchmark – though if he dies before then I won’t feel obliged to follow suit.
There is though one recurring problem that won't go away.
It’s not a huge stomach, as stomachs go, but it’s there, and it remains. It resembles a medium sized ball of proven bread dough. It would be nice if it could be pressed or kneaded down like dough, but biology does not work like that, and the man or woman who discovers the way to circumvent the impossible will make a small fortune. Still, as I say to my wife, beneath that surface flab lurks a philosophical six-pack just waiting to surface – like that lump of marble waiting for Michaelangelo waiting to finish.
Doubts however have surfaced.
It began on the internet, like most things nowadays. There I discovered the mysterious properties of a catabolic hormone called cortisols. Catabolic hormone. Lovely phrase. Anyway, this catabolic hormone is produced by the adrenal glands and is the body’s response to stress. Muscle protein is broken down into amino acids that are dumped in the bloodstream, stored in the liver and the stomach area and then formed into glucose for instant relief and/or energy.
The problem seems to lie in in ‘over-training.’ The longer you work out, the more cortisol is released. After one hour the ‘gains’ are negated by an increase of cortisol stored in the abdominal area. Not just weights, cardio-work also raises cortisol levels. Putting it crudely, rather than burning off fat, that 90 minute session on the treadmill or bike or elliptical trainer will cause you to produce more fat and hang on to the fat you already have.
You can see where I’m going with this . . . perhaps my two sessions of 90 minutes gyming and swimming is too much for a man of my advanced age. More couch-surfing and ‘Reality TV’ perhaps. This new train of thought beomes more compelling (if not attractive) when I read the latest ‘science’ in popular tabloids:
‘Want to live to you 90’s? Drink a couple of glasses a wine or beer each night and put on a few pounds.’
Suddenly my small stomach becomes a small asset. Perhaps time to expand it, as the article said: ‘human biology is geared to adding weight later in life. The best mortality experience is to gain between five and ten pounds a decade.’
‘The best mortality experience’ – that’s another fine phrase.
Maybe more time spent in the Murenger and less in the gym.
I’ll drop a line to Mick Jagger and see what he says.