This is the story of how I combined getting fit and healthy while having a fantastic time on holiday in Weymouth in 2015. It is still one of the best set of memories I made that year or any year but also one of the most active, playful and fun.
Day 5 was a nice relaxed day with plenty of fun all at a slower pace just enjoying the moments as they pass. We had only visited Weymouth beach once so this was the day we fixed that and enjoyed the pretty surroundings too. I didn’t set out with the intention of hitting any fitness goals but through simple play and holiday spirit I achieved them easily without even trying.
There are no stats to show for this day because I forgot the fitbit that day. That is unfortunately one of the main problems of the fitness trackers I have used. Often I forget them on the most important day. Oh well, the point is still to show you that it’s the little things in your life that add up and that fun like this is the best way to move better.
It is for us and because we moved we had another epic day lived to the full 🙂
So while I cannot give you any statistics for day 5 you can probably work out that they will be somewhere between the lowest values I have recorded from days 3 & 4 and the highest from Days 1 &2. The point being that a normal quiet day out at the beach or exploring the town can be perfect opportunities to invest in your health at the same time that you explore and enjoy. It is even better if it is on your holidays like this because you get to enjoy the ice creams and other treats with no guilt. It works for me 🙂
In the place of statistics I have included a quote that Kat happened to find on instagram that day that perfectly describes this day. You see as much as we can appreciate what we can measure it is always worth appreciating those things that we cannot measure. The first few days may have given me big numbers that sound great but the true benefit of those numbers comes from quieter days like this and the days after the holiday when we reminisce and grow from what we have done.
This was another normal holiday type day starting with a trip up Weymouth tower followed by playing on the beach. Later I had a little me time and explored the town a little making it as far as Nothe Forte to get some great pics and a gorgeous ice cream. Then I rejoined the family and enjoyed the rest of the day.
The fifth day
The pictures of things we saw, did and enjoyed act as a simple guide to how much good recovery, eating and movement you can get on holiday. Alongside I have described some of the things we do as a family to get the best out of the day.
There are two parts to this article:
- Part 1 highlights are a trip up Weymouth tower followed by playing on the beach.
- Part 2 covers the afternoon where I explore Weymouth harbour and Nothe Forte, ending up back on the beach to play some more with the family
The pics today just reflect quiet fun but also show all kinds of movement that you do in play that is good for you like squatting, bending, lying down and basically using your body in lots of different ways because you’re doing lots of different things. The beauty is that it’s natural movement and not something you think about though it is something I now train for so I can do more of it and have more fun.
Part 1: The morning
This was a quieter day but still so much fun because we started by getting a stunning aerial view of Weymouth from the Sealife Tower. At first the weather was pretty gloomy with lots of grey clouds and some left over rain on the ground. So the temperature had gone down over night and we were hoping the weather would stay nice like it had been all week but we were prepared for it taking a turn for the worse because lets face it we are in England and the weather does that 🙂
So while it was cold in the morning and there were a few spots of rain it was a good time to be going up in the tower. Firstly because it meant we would be inside while it was wet and secondly we would be outside when it is warm and dry and did not not fancy going up in the heat of the day. given that it is basically a giant globe of glass at the top of a tower and we are in the heat of summer. So considering that we had to book this in advance the timing worked out well given how warm it was yesterday at the swannery.
When we got up to the top we were really glad we made the effort because the views really were stunning. Just looking down at people that now look like ants crawling across the beach is fun and looking out to Portland and Chesil beach meant much more now that I had explored these places.
This experience from so far up really gave us a perspective of the town and a beautiful start to the day. It also got me dreaming of what I wanted to explore later on. I enjoy playing with the family and I also yearn to explore so I was planning a couple of exploring hours later and this was just giving me so many ideas on top of those I already had.
We had been driving by and through Weymouth all week and even watched the harbour bridge open and close to let a ship through but we had not yet explored it so for me this was a relaxing way to see the sights from a distance in a unique way before exploring on foot.
Nothe Forte was a particular attraction to me as I had now seen it from all sides except inside and out to sea so I was determined to see what I could of it later now that I had the time.
Sightseeing towers like this tower, bus tours and train rides are such a nice way of seeing a place from a different angle and at the same time creating a space to calm down and almost meditate on the experience saving energy for later and getting in a good mindset for the rest of the day. We had been doing so much in a row that it was nice to reset and have a gentle start to the day.
Chilling on the beach
Once we had got a good look at the sights from up high in the tower we had the morning free to enjoy Weymouth beach. So we found a great spot and set about chilling out and playing.
You know how each beach is unique with its own things to offer. Well this was the main beach for Weymouth and so it was busier but also had more amenities and shops around which is good if you want the toilet or an ice cream.
The real strength that we found in this stretch of water was when we headed out to sea. Little one and I went out into the sea together since it was really calm and warm. We quickly found out that it’s really shallow for a long, long way out so we were able to go 50 or so metres out before the water even came up to little ones knees. This meant that as a parent I could relax a lot more because we all know about the currents of the sea but with such a gentle slope there was a lot of space available where we could both explore without any risk.
You see in the pictures that initially we are just walking out to sea so the pressures exerted on our bodies are those of walking with a little extra pressure on our submerged legs. This extra pressure slightly increases the effort required from the hip flexors to pull the calves out of the water.
Over time we can really notice this extra effort particularly if we go really deep so that more of our body is submerged and fighting against the water. At the same time the buoyancy our bodies have in water means that our spine and feet may be asked to support less weight, atleast from above, than normal while at the same time there are a lot of forces pushing at the side of our body as the current pushes the water around us.
These are all subtle forces that you do not generally think about but your body is listening and adapting at all times. In the next picture you see us come out of the sea to examine another jellyfish. We are both bending over which spreads our weight differently through our bodies an ending up going through our feet. Little one is bent slightly forward and I am bent right over with my hands on my knees.
These are pretty normal postures but while little one is doing what is natural to him so he sticks his bum out a little and leans forward from his waist bending his spine gently to tilt his head.
He is a lot shorter so he doesn’t have to do much to see the jellyfish so this is fine. When you bend your spine you often create pressure points depending on where you bend and how much leverage is used and over many years this can cause back problems and other injuries if you are not careful.
Preventing injuries through better technique
Every injury I have reminds me of the need to get better technique which means to learn to use what I have better.Fit2Thrive
Being taller I have to make a much larger adjustment to be able to see the jellyfish which results in my hips being pushed much further back and my spine being almost horizontal. To understand the change in forces through my spine in this situation it is helpful to think of a crane that is used on a building site.
The fact is that cranes are built to support the extreme stresses along their structure and have reinforced frames and foundations as a result. Humans do not have these reinforcements so if you want to avoid back problems you need to pay attention to the forces flowing through your body so you can adapt and provide the necessary support.
When a human bends from the waist the pressure placed on the lumbar spine increases a lot. If you take a look at the chart below you will see a huge difference in pressure depending on whether you are standing, bending slightly or bending a lot.
This is why you see me bending at the knees and with straight arms putting my hands on my knees because it is an easy way to spread the weight evenly to my feet by allowing the pressure to bypass my lumbar spine and get directed through my knees instead. In this way I split the load bearing requirements through mu body such I direct the weight of my upper torso through my arms and direct the weight of my lower torso through my legs. The result is that the full weight of my body is directed through my knees as is normal however the forces above the knee are shared evenly between the upper and lower torso meaning that then pressure going through my lumbar spine is reduced to levels it is designed to support safely. Overall the result is that the forces going through my spine are balanced and healthy.
Following the crane analogy what you will find is that the structure must always balance the forces on either side of central column so that the overall force goes down the very centre of the column otherwise it would start to lean. What I have learnt over the years is that In this posture I am very specifically making sure I spread my weight correctly through my body. As I learn to pay attention to these forces going through my body I can feel the effects of different postures on my body and I am learning over time how to use this new knowledge to find the postures and movements that best fit the situation at hand.
Children are in general much more in tune with their nature than us adults and as a result they naturally act in tune with their body. What I have noticed is that young children, particularly toddlers, tend to have good posture that distributes the loads through their spine well just like little one is doing in the next picture as he shows a beautiful squat in perfect balance. Being 3 years old he is yet to learn the bad habits us adults have as he is surrounded most of the day by other young children so they generally copy each others good movement habits.
What you cannot see in pictures is the relentless movement of children and I expect just the mention of the restlessness of children reminds you of how much movement kids do all the time. No matter what.
The thing is that it is this regular, generally small and simple movement that is the best for us because it provides so much variety and sufficient recovery time to adapt. This contrasts with popular adult led approaches to movement which are based are shocking their body with intense, templated workouts with insufficient recovery time and ineffective recovery methods. The fact is that kids just live busy lives where in fact their bodies become used to the rigours they are put through because of the active lifestyle kids have.
I know, I know, us adults are not kids any more and we have to accept that and you are right. What I am saying though is that our children can teach us as much if not more as we can teach them and when it comes to movement you can pay someone a lot of money to tell you how to move naturally and within your abilities or you can watch your kids playing and let them show you for free. Better yet spend that money on a day out and let them burn off their energy while they show you what they know 🙂
In the final picture notice how little one even while sitting is busy. Yes he does not have a perfectly straight spine but that only matters when you are carrying things and have lots of force directed through your spine. Right now you can probably see how busy he is and how focused. He is getting on with creating something and he is totally engrossed but even from the still picture you can see the movement and it is this movement that his body listens to that keeps it healthy and nourished.
By being so engrossed he doesn’t worry about whether his back has the strength to hold his torso up and he does not pay attention to the signals his muscles are sending to him about all the hard work they are doing. His muscles and movement structures just learn play session by play session what is required of them and they get comfortable doing it.
It is In this way movement becomes a conversation with their bodies with the movements being a series of questions the child asks and the adaptations and responses become the answers the body gives to the questions. With this analogy you can see that adults so often shout at and bully their bodies by asking questions that shock their body and force them to work through challenging work outs while children speak to their bodies by talking gently to them through play.
Part 2: The afternoon
Time to explore
So after this lovely chilled morning I was itching to do a little more exploring and I had not yet had the chance to explore Weymouth town centre, the harbour. or Nothe Fort, which was an area I had been eyeing up for days.
Instead of dragging the family with me and making us all tired. I generally do is go for a “reconnaissance” explore first to check out an area and report back on what everyone might want to do. It is also really useful to figure out the best routes to use.
This works well for us because I like walking and exploring and I have the energy to do it but little kids have little legs that get tired extra fast. So this way I gave Mummy a chilled morning while I played with little one and now Mummy is in charge while I go off and explore.
As is so often the case I am really glad I took the opportunity to explore because the vibe around Weymouth is just great. Wandering along the harbour I got a real sense of a sea side town and with summer in full bloom the colours really dazzled.
I did not take a photo but I remember finding the most amazing ice cream on the way which I made sure I came back to later and shared with the family.
The ease of navigation with tools like google maps has transformed sight seeing these days so without any real preparation I was happily exploring and finding some brilliant routes around. Getting the sea side town experience I had been yearning for.
Pretty quickly I was climbing up the stairs towards Nothe Fort so I hoped I was finally getting close to seeing the place. In the end I found that the fort is a big museum that you have to pay for and it takes a bunch of time to go around so I left it and carried on wandering around.
The thing is it did not matter because I was able to wander around the outside. It really was just a very pretty place and everything I was looking for so I had a wonderful time exploring. These simple pictures I have shared give some idea of the beauty of the scene.
Though I do not have the Fitbit statistics for today you will be aware from all the previous days that at this point I had already achieved some healthy values and made another important investment in my health. The thing the statistics cannot convey is the impact of all this simple movement on my balance, strength and coordination .
My frustration with the fitness industry is the relentless pursuit of fashions and the next wonder cure when in reality our bodies are simply designed to do human things regularly and wandering around places on foot and sight seeing is actually what humans have always done. For millenia in fact this is all we were able to do before we tamed horses, invented the horse and cart or any of the new toys we have.
Hunting and gathering
So it follows that sight seeing and urban hiking like this is actually a modern form of hunting and gathering. If you think about it sight seeing is a hunt because you are continually on the look out for something special. You are paying more attention to your surroundings than usual and you are often following some kind of trail.
Gathering can be anything from browsing the shops, taking as many phots as you can or getting food. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that most of what we used to do and are designed to do is something we can still do and often still do we just do not realise it or do not do it correctly, they way we are designed or to put a more technical way with proper technique.
So this series of posts has focused on applying our basic hunter and gatherer habits in the modern world with the idea being that instead of fighting who we are by using these modern tools and opportunities the way the are made we can simply re-think and re-frame the way we use them so they fit us instead of us having to fit them.
Back to the beach
When I got back from my jaunt around Weymouth I got back to playing with little one and doing what little ones do. Talking about habits, you see in the following picture that we are constructing a fort with a moat filled with water and using tools to do it. That is all normal fun and games at the beach isn’t it and we had a great time.
What you cannot see is the habits behind the activity which make this an opportunity for us both to check our technique and our general habits around building things. The lesson here is that building on a small scale with little ones is surprisingly similar to building on a larger scale with grown ups in that bad habits, including bad technique and workflows make life harder than it should be and often lead to injuries.
So creating and recreating good habits is a constant process and one we are doing right here. I get to compliment little one on his good habits and as a parent I get to teach by doing and emulating good habits and also by teaching that I am always self correcting. It is normal to forget one part of the collections of habits and need to relearn or even come up with something new. That is just part of life and learning and the regular process of checking in to make sure things are done well is necessary. As you can see it is always a reason to have some fun too.
As we learned above our backs take tremendous pressures on a daily basis as do all our structures both internal and external. So being in tune with these pressures and their effects is essential to giving your body the support it needs. Doing play construction with little weight and pressure is a great way to prepare the habits required to do real construction like gardening and DIY well. So it benefits me as much as it benefits little one.
After our construction project we got back to hunting and gathering in the sea but this time we made good use of the nets and bucket we had got another day. With the beach being so flat so far out we had a lot more sea that we could safely explore and also that we could see to the bottom in. Which is really important for exploring.
We found a lot of seaweed and just had fun playing, but then I noticed a jellyfish, much smaller than the one we found on the first day but still right there. It seemed to be dead so I wasn’t too worried about getting stung by it. So being curious and having our net and bucket we decided we had to catch it and with it being dead that meant catching it was a lot easier 🙂
So, very quickly with our new tools little one had got to see a jellyfish in its natural environment and started to learn about the fun of the sea for himself. Thinking back to the analogy of the crane and how the forces are distributed through its structure. Using tools has an interesting effect on the way we use our body because the tool becomes an extension of us and affects the distribution of the forces we end up experiencing. Sometimes we end up using more of our body than usual when we use a tool and sometimes we use less but in most cases a tool make us move in different ways than we normally would.
I said before that I like photography for many reasons and I found out later that Mummy likes it too because she took this amazing photo below that makes me stop and smile every time I see it.
What this picture highlights is how much pleasure we get from watching others enjoy themselves. Particularly those we care about. What we do not realise in general is that while Mummy was taking this picture she was totally engrossed in what she was doing. Little ones joy also became her joy and in these brief moments of pleasure she is in fact meditating.
What we often do not realise is that activities like meditation are natural events that we are all designed to do. These activities exist in some form in most cultures yet we tell ourselves that meditation is this separate thing we do that cannot be done any where else. The truth, just like all the other activities mentioned in this series is that all activities that bring us health and balance can be done on a daily basis. if we commit to finding ways to make that happen then we can change our habits. Changing our habits changes our health and makes living our best life as effortless. This is the truth that I have found over time as I have learnt more and more about blending our natural lifestyles with our modern ones. At first it sounds like the old and the new cannot be mixed but just as i have shown over these 5 days at Weymouth living a modern lifestyle blending with natural ways and habits can literally be as simple as a day at the beach.
Yes, I know that sounds so cheesy but hopefully I have shown that there is more potential in any day out including one at the beach to gain the statistics we all know we need. At the same time you also get to have the fun and pleasure that makes it worthwhile and something we will repeat.
Summary: Go play 🙂
All that fun got me moving and using my body in so many different ways and it was all worth it because years later it is still such a wonderful set of memories. There you have it, I set out to show you that holidays are a great way to get active while having fun and my hope is that inspires you to value the activities in your holidays and days out.
If you have made it through these adventures in Weymouth then thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy life to listen to me. I would love to hear you feedback in the comments below about what you enjoyed and the impact your adventures have on your body or what I could improve and if you would like to know more then leave note in the comments about what else would you like me to talk about.
Have a great day.
To read the rest of this series visit the Weymouth series homepage
- Pictures: Weymouth’s Jurassic Skyline Tower is removed by crane
- Nothe Forte
- Design an construction of a crane: supporting the analysis of forces through the back this article analyses some of the pressures a crane must withstand which determines its structure.
- Back and Disc Pressure in Different Positions Chart: An introduction to the pressures our lumbar discs endure depending on the body position we take.
- Back pain due to sedentary work: causes and tips: Provides more detail about the structure of the back, advice on posture and techniques for lifting heavy weights.
- Lower back pain: A simple summary of the causes of lower pack pain and ways to prevent it