Planning for the Virtue of Beauty: #1 Body

Ummm… I’ve looked and felt better

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in one of those households that believed that life consisted of unrelenting and unrewarded struggle.  I can’t say I remember any heavenly rewards for this toil either,  but if there is no reward for that effort why would you do it?  I do not want to labour in constant dark sorrow, and I’m fairly sure you don’t either.  Let us overcome our heritage and live in light and loveliness and magnificent splendour!

Now that we’ve agreed our overarching objective let’s run a quick recap.  I started Project Worthwhile Life with the primary goal of flourishing, supported by my household.  This was revised to become the virtue of beauty: the pursuit of excellence in aesthetics. For the purpose of this blog, we will call this a 12-month project (until the next transplantiversary) and for this virtue, work on the areas shown below:



I take care of my physical well-being and surroundings.

I live the authentic me.

bodyTaking care of my body: diet, exercise, taking my medicines
presenceDeveloping a “look” or style that indicates who I am, e.g. tiger stripes telling people to tread carefully!
homeCreating a comfortable, happy, cheerful, welcoming and calm home that reflects who we are right now
gardenConstructing a lush garden for summer shade, winter storm protection, food production and mystical defence

To deal with all these components in one go does not do them justice, nor is it a good use of your time, so I will break it into a series of four shorter posts. Without further ado, let’s get onto physical beauty.

beautiful body

We would probably all agree that in general, a beautiful body is a fit and healthy one resulting from a good diet, exercise and sleeping habits.  I have a medical team armed with pointy sticks telling me what that is – 62kg, moving more and eating less, assisted by a daily glass of red wine and a small piece of dark chocolate.  To an extent, I am ok with this as my medications are calculated on my weight, but anyone who has ever eaten Chinese food will know that weight is more than just body mass.  When I was admitted to hospital for the transplant I weighed 67kg, and when I left 59kg, so I feel that 62kg is a lazy target, but it will do: when I get there, I can reassess.  Losing the weight will be hard for me because my anti-rejection drugs make me hungry and make it easier to put weight on than take it off.


I am advised to follow the Australian diabetic diet – appropriate portion sizes, low fat, high fibre carbohydrates, meals/snacks spaced at regular intervals throughout the day.  I’m not sure what appropriate portion sizes are (or how to use that to eat less), but then again portion size feels more about calories, and I don’t feel there is any beauty in food as a science.

I recently read The Happiness Diet [1], which is basically using food to regulate emotions, and focuses on farmed (not factory) food, prepared fresh and savoured.  This book is about the science of food – vitamins, minerals, enzymes and so on, and it is interesting, but my dinner is for enjoying not experimenting.

When I was a child, we always sat down to dinner as a family.  No television, table laid (cloth, placemats, napkins, condiments, etc.). We talked (or more accurately, as children we listened), and the two-course meal took time. We ate slowly.

Another issue is drinking enough water.  The longer you spend on dialysis, the less effective it becomes and the amount of fluid you are permitted reduces (700ml per day for me).  Thirst becomes a normal state of affairs – I still need to make a conscious effort to drink.

These ideas form a vague but good place to start attempting to lose weight while I do some more detailed research.


Exercise is problematic as I haven’t developed actual fitness or stamina since the transplant (some habits are harder to overcome than others). Starting from a position of no points does make it easier – I need to do everything!  Here are the areas that I think need some work:

  • core: recent back problems highlighted a potential side effect of peritoneal dialysis: loss of the core strength required to support good posture
  • flexibility: achieving a good range of movement so that dancing and contorting into small spaces is easy
  • balance: to make standing on a tiptoe, the other leg held out for balance while dusting tall objects and not falling over achievable!
  • cardio: I think the first step is to develop some stamina, starting with daily walking
  • strength: ideally to be able to lift cookware, open jars and carry enormous bags of dog food into the house

The core is simple as I was advised to do clinical pilates. Flexibility will be through yoga classes, and together these will help with balance. That just leaves strength, and I think that might require a gym for some pointers on weight training.


Going by how I feel when I don’t get enough, sleep is necessary for overall wellness and good disposition.  My life of beauty does not include being Ms Crabby Pants, so I need to maximise my sleeping potential.  I sleep better after physical and/or mental heavy lifting (so to speak) so this must be built into each day.  Additionally, if I don’t go to bed when I am tired, I start waking up again so I should hit the sack when this happens. I also find that when I get up earlier, I tire earlier, and it is easier to retire early. I think I look better when I have slept well too…

So if you put that together, you have a draft plan that looks like this:

focus12 month goalactivities
bodyWeight ≤62kg
  • eliminate processed foods so far as possible
  • eat wild fish and grass fed meat
  • eat a wide variety of colourful fruit and vegetables
  • eat more slowly and chew more thoroughly
  • drink water
  • research other diet and lifestyle changes
  • start clinical pilates and yoga classes
  • walk daily
  • research weight training
  • get up early and go to bed when tired

Most of this does not require scheduling, just routine setting.  For example, drinking a glass of water second thing while I wait for the coffee to filter.  For the moment, this is sufficient – when we add in all the other virtues and their components we might have an enormous and seemingly unachievable list of things to accomplish over the year.

As a reward for making it this far, here’s Ruben Meerman’s fascinating TEDx talk on where the fat goes when you lose weight: (has sound, and starts to play immediately).

Does this look reasonable to you?  Or would you do something different?  It could be seen as a really low bar – would you do more?  Do you have any advice for me?

In a couple of days, I’ll get back to you with some thoughts on presence.

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