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Thursday, January 15, 2015
Of Health, Weight, and Exercise Aboard
(or, why I don’t weigh 400 pounds)
I was musing about this the other day: maintaining health and weight while living aboard. Now if you were expecting an article bemoaning how much weight we’ve gained while living on this boat, I hate to disabuse you of that notion. It’s not like that.
When we started this boat project, I had spent years on the road, both as a theatre geek and as a restaurant maven. I’d had a lot of road food, a lot of car time. . . .not healthy. My weight was up around 220, and I had a bit of a paunch. I was greying rather rapidly, I was borderline hypertense, and the rest of my health, not too put too fine a point of it, wasn’t that great either.
My weight currently is around 185, my BP is well in the normal range, the rest of my health woes have seemingly evaporated, and my greying, strangely, has actually somewhat reversed itself. Odd.
All this while moving aboard a 220 sq. foot space in the course of less than a year. How is this possible?
There’s a couple of reasons. First of all, think of the first time you spent any time aboard a boat. I’m betting you sailed somewhere or motored somewhere, put out anchor, hung out, and then headed back home. When you got there you were amazed at how tired you were, right? I mean, all you did was sit on the boat, right?
Therein is a lot of the secret: Boats move. Even the largest, most stable vessel in the calmest, most protected waters, moves. This forces you to maintain your body in a kind of coiled state of constant dynamic equilibrium, constantly adjusting for the shifting deck under your feet, holding yourself in place while doing work or even just sitting there typing like I’m doing now. Unless some idiot goes by in a jetski at full speed, you’re barely aware of it, the shifting, but your body is still constantly compensating, moving, adjusting. . . .
Then there is the normal amount of work that has to happen on a boat: getting on and off the vessel, going up and down stairs and ladders. As an example, this morning I dumped the garbage, dumped our compost from the composting toilet, then went up and fetched water. Each of these involved getting up and off the boat, going up the dock, up a hill to the parking area, lather, rinse, repeat. Carrying water is a particular joy, water weighing some 8.35 pounds per gallon (1 Kg per Liter). Hauling 6, one gallon water containers is hauling 50 pounds. Add to this moving provisions and kerosene in from the parking area, and you’ve got a good deal of exercise that is organic to the boat experience.
And then there’s the stress thing, did I mention that? Leaving Academe, leaving the corporate world, leaving the desperate would-you-like-fries-with that scramble to make ends meet for a simpler, far less expensive to manage life has made a world of difference.
As for food, as you may have noticed from this and our other blog Online Cooking, we’re foodies and former restauranteurs. Both living in one place (and one that is occasionally difficult to leave it the tide doesn't cooperate) we get the opportunity to Cook, capitol “C”, using fresh ingredients to make satisfying things that are rationally portioned.
Besides, its yummy.
Add to all this, the occasional walk to explore our neighborhood, hikes to the grocery store or the wine shop in good weather, and some general stretching, Qui Gong, and Yoga just to keep things loose, and you have a formula for a pretty active lifestyle as sedentary lifestyles go. I like the way I feel now, and like the way I look a lot more than I did.
Just one more plus to life on the water.