Podcast: Reading from my Book Strictly Walk Slimmer

This is a preview of my forthcoming book Strictly Walk Slimmer available in 2015.



Looking after your Health

Is it just me who feels fat and uncomfortable when I see “fitness inspiration” (fitspo) pictures on social media? Is it just me who thinks of all the reasons why I shouldn’t aim to have 10% body fat? Is it just me who thinks there’s more to life than counting calories and biceps curls repetitions?

These “fitspo” pictures cluttering our screens are supposed to encourage us to embrace a healthier lifestyle, but in my case they just make me feel like an overweight middle aged woman who has never had a six pack (and has no desire to have one in the future as an old age pensioner).

My main goal is to ensure I lead a relatively long and healthy life, and to achieve that I want to manage my cholesterol and blood sugar levels. I want to share with you what I’ve learned and give you suggestions on what is achievable. I believe that walking is a complete form of exercise that has plenty of health benefits. I have also interviewed a number of experts and researchers plus accessed a large number of publications on health, nutrition and the health benefits of walking.

Studies found that abdominal fat is linked to degenerative diseases like diabetes and heart failure. Abdominal body fat is more dangerous than overall body fat as measured in the body mass index (BMI): according to an Harvard study, abdominal body fat is the worst type of body fat and it is linked to high cholesterol, stiffness in the arteries (arteriosclerosis), dementia, diabetes and even lung disease.

Yes, a six pack is nice to have but it’s not the end goal I am personally aiming for: it’s low levels of fat around my internal organs I am concerned about.

Visceral fat surrounds our organs and can be linked to an excessive response to stress which triggers an accumulation of fat, a rise in blood pressure and blood sugar levels, higher cholesterol and irregular heart beat.

The most accurate way to measure visceral fat is to do an MRI scan, however a good starting point to understand if you might be at risk is to take your hip-to-waist ratio measurement.

Following is a table, taken from the Harvard study mentioned above, gives you an indication of what to look for. First, measure your waist and your hips in inches; then, divide your waist measurement in inches by your hips measurement in inches. For men, a ratio above 0.95 can indicate a risk of a heart attack or stroke; for women, it is a ratio of 0.85 and above.

There’s even a simpler way to measure risk.

If you are not mathematically inclined, experts say that simply measuring your waist is enough to learn if you may have excess abdominal fat and you should investigate further.

Waist measurement and risk



Low risk

37 inches and below (94 cm and below)

31.5 inches and below (80 cm and below)

Intermediate risk

37.1–39.9 inches (up to 101 cm)

31.6–34.9 inches (up to 89 cm)

High risk

40 inches and above (more than 101 cm)

35 inches and above (more than 89 cm)

The only way to reduce your risk of developing degenerative diseases if your waist measurement is too high is to lose weight through the right diet and exercise.

I Walk, therefore I Am

Please indulge me while I discuss briefly the genesis of walking as a way of life and as a way to achieve clearer thinking.

Remember Peripatetic philosophy? Ancient Greek philosophy was borne out of conversations among philosophers and their students, dissecting the nature of reality over extended dialogues. In his book on teaching, Robert Gardner argues that the Greeks made outdoor passing of knowledge to students the gold standard of teaching. In contrast to the soporific nature of teaching in the classroom, Greek philosophers took their students out of the classroom on long walks where gazing into the horizon was encouraged.

Insofar as Socrates was a conformist”, Gardner argues, “his peripatetic teaching advanced the first steps from indoor lecturing toward outdoor walking and talking. He simply exploited the existing circumstance that the Greeks were suckers for anything that promised to develop a sound mind in a sound body”.

Strictly Walk Slimmer book: