Healthy Figures

I said a while ago that I’d write this, and then never got round to it.  (I also thought I’d written it before, but a couple of searches didn’t find anything. Which is odd.)

Anyway. Back at the start of 2018, I did my semi-regular checkup visit at the local GP, which all worked out as “fairly healthy in general“. As usual, the main ‘problem’ was that I’m significantly heavier than I “should” be. So I asked for help from the GP, asked what they could do or suggest. And the response? “Oh, you’re not obese enough to get NHS treatment“.  Well OK, that’s about as helpful as a kick in the cock.

So, being me, I pushed for some referrals – I already wanted to lose weight, but that kind of attitude really steamed my piss, and I wanted to get some better figures and find out more about what was going on.  I’ve been logging my food intake for years now, and also keeping track of what I walk and so on, so I knew beforehand that my usual calorie intake was around the recommended 2,500 a day mark (albeit with some days/weekends of excess) and I walk an average of at least 10,000 steps a day.

First, I got a referral to Slimming World – and the less said about that, the better. An unremittingly negative and unhelpful experience all round.

I also got a referral to the Dietician service at Bedford Hospital, which wasn’t much more positive, but did end up with some good connections and results.

With the service, we tried a set of calorie-reduction diet plans, none of which worked. However, through it I also got a connection to the Uni of Beds’ Sport Science department, where I was able to (finally) get one of the tests done that I really wanted – an RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) test, to establish what level of energy I’m actually burning. RMR is basically a measure of the calories the body burns if it’s simply laying in bed doing nothing. No food intake, no exertion at all. It took about an hour to run from start to finish, and then a couple of weeks to crunch the data and produce a report.

So. My RMR is 2,800 calories a day – even if I just laid in bed and did sod all, I’d need more calories than the recommended 2,500 a day. Taking into account calories for digestion, as well as exertion, It’s likely I’m burning around 4,000 a day. (As it turns out, I did write about BMR/RMR – ten years ago!)

On the downside, this information never really sank in with the Dietician. They kept on insisting that eating less had to result in losing weight. And in all honesty, it should – but didn’t.  Looking at the figures, I’m already taking in less than I’m expending, and dropping the intake simply widened the gap even further.  All it did was leave me even more tired, and seriously grouchy.

It ended up with a bit of an argument as my sense of humour finally failed, I wrote a full bulleted list of what was happening (with all the information from above) and why I suspected things weren’t working.  That actually finished things fairly positively, although they didn’t have any better suggestions once we were outside the standard answers.

Also along the way, I ended up joining a local group called “Gutless” for overweight men. It consisted of two hours a week, one of food education, and one of physical exercise and workouts. For me, I didn’t learn much from the food education, but the training was positive, and started me doing more than I had. And since the Gutless course finished, we’ve maintained the exercise routine with the same trainer, which has also remained positive.

All told, I feel happier with how things are – if nothing else, my health record contains the whole list of things tried from the Dietician, and the RMR figures from the Uni of Beds. It means that when the GP tries their “you’re overweight” thing again, they can see what’s been tried.

However, I don’t really know what the answer is. My food intake has stayed much the same (and some of those weekends of excess actually make me lose weight) and I do more, with the extra workouts twice a week, and the archery I’ve recently re-taken up as well as maintaining the walking I do. I’m far, far stronger than I was, my shape is better, my stamina is fearsome, and I feel far healthier – but somehow, my weight hasn’t actually changed in a good decade, no matter what I do.

I’d like to lose more some – it’s just that still, everything I try isn’t working.  I think that at some point I’ll have to go back and get more data and ideas, but really I don’t yet even know the right questions to ask.

I’ll figure it out one day, I’m sure.


Zapper Update

Roughly a year ago, I finally caved and bought a big proper bug zapper for the house.  One of the side effects of having cats is that the food – if they don’t eat it all immediately – attracts flies. It can be pretty skanky – particularly in Spring and Summer.

I’d had other smaller and different zappers over the years, and none of them had been particularly impressive or effective. So this one was slightly more expensive – but still less than any two of the previous zappers.

I wasn’t sure if it would last into this year, but so far it’s doing well, and is thus also making itself into even better value for money than buying a lesser zapper every year.

Obviously I’d rather not need to have any bug zapper – but while I do need one, this one seems to be a good option.


Lockdown – Non-events

I’ve known it’s coming for a while, but this coming fortnight is probably the one that’ll grump me the most about the Lockdown so far.

It’s the time when I had a lot of events lined up, all of which have now been moved to next year.  Among other things, that list includes

So yeah, bit of a slump of “I should’ve been doing [x]” for the next couple of days.

I had a similar slump a while back when I got a load of “this won’t be happening” emails over a couple of days, and this is much the same. I’ll get over it, and it all could be much, much worse.

But still, blah.


Lockdown – Health and Resilience

Over the last twelve weeks, it’s been interesting hearing that a lot of people have put weight on, mainly through a lack of available exercise opportunities, and generally eating loads of crap food while “working” from home.

I’m happy to say that hasn’t been the case here – in some ways that’s really bloody annoying, and in others I find it quite reassuring.

My food intake hasn’t really changed – for obvious reasons, my restaurant visits and occasional weekends of excess haven’t been happening. (Although they’ve never really affected me either) But I’ve not ended up eating a load of junk – the cake, biscuits and crisps that a lot of people seem to have been going for in a big way – which also probably helps balance things out.

However, I’ve also not been exercising anywhere near as much. (This has been intentional, as I’ll explain in a bit)  Over the last two years I’ve been taking a member of a local fitness group at least twice a week, as well as my own workout routines, fairly epic weekend walks and activities, and averaging well over 10,000 steps a day.

As a result of that lack of exercise,  all logic dictates that I should’ve put on weight, with maintaining my intake but not burning off anywhere near as much as usual.  But it’s not been the case – throughout this lockdown, my weight has varied by only about a kilo either way.

The reason I chose to stop doing the workouts and so on was to see what happened – again, logic would dictate that I’d have gained weight, and I wanted to find out.  I did a lot of work in 2018 to find things that worked for me (and failed on all scores, but came out with more information and hard data/figures) although it looks like I haven’t actually written about that whole thing here. (so that’s something else I can write at some point soon)

It’s frustrating, because I’d love to find an easy answer for losing weight. It’s reassuring, because it does also show that whatever I’m doing is suiting my body – the fact that nothing has really changed shows that. Swings and rounadbouts, and all that jazz.


Lockdown – Post-Fatcat

Updates have been a bit sparse over the last couple of weeks.  No particularly good reason, life has just been a bit dull.

Following on from the departure of FatCat, it’s been a lot quieter. The Bengal has, thankfully, settled a bit too, and seems to be OK with being a solo cat. She’s not behaved anywhere near as badly as I was expecting, and the entire experience has been OK.

What I’ve noticed more than anything is the hindsight with which I now realise how bad FatCat had become.  I’ve had two weeks where I haven’t had to clean up puke, where she hasn’t had accidents of not getting to the litter tray in time (or just deciding that she couldn’t be bothered, and the floor would be fine) and there’ve been none of her normal noises and behaviours as well (obviously)

All told, it’s reinforced that I did the right thing, that she was getting worse and would’ve continued to do so.

But that doesn’t stop it from sucking. For me I think it’s the worst part of pet-owning, this whole process of making decisions about whether they should live or die, having that control and so on.

Anyway, things are OK. I still look at some of the stuff in the living room, expecting to see her asleep on it (particularly the Sky box, which was always a favourite) and then remembering she’s not here any more. But it’s OK, and it’s only been two weeks.


Lockdown – Chilled

While my weekends have been a lot quieter, I’ve done some maintenance stuff that I hadn’t got round to before.

Absolutely nothing glamorous, mind you – but I’ve cleaned out and deiced both my freezer and fridge. It’s been a long time since I’d done either, but neither job was a high priority either. However, might as well let the warm weather help out and speed up the defrosting process…

The freezer had slowly iced over – it’s an odd design with freezing elements on each shelf, so it had slowly become that opening any of the drawers was more and more problematic. I don’t actually use the freezer much though, so again it wasn’t overly important.

As it was, over a couple of hours I emptied it out – which was easily the toughest job, because of those iced-over shelves – and then let it all thaw a bit, carved out all the ice, cleaned it up, and then turned it back on and re-filled it.  There was, as expected, a *lot* of ice, but that was about it.

The fridge, on the other hand, was a much mankier job. I’d noticed that there appeared to be a leak, or an overflow, and finally decided to have a look into what was going on.  A quick clear out allowed me to see that at some point the back of the fridge had frozen solid, blocking the drain hole, and that was what was causing the problem.  Of course, that ice was pretty vile, but again, it’s a job that’s been done now, so hopefully won’t need doing again for a while.

I’ll also keep more of an eye on both things, and (in theory at least) deal with them earlier on next time so they don’t become such big problems again. Only time will tell whether that’ll actually happen or not, though.

Hopefully, both items will now run better and more efficiently.  It’s either that, or they’ll go into shock, break, and need replacing…


Lockdown – Space

One of the weirdest things I’ve found about the Lockdown (I can’t really call it the current lockdown any more, the speed with which it’s being rescinded) is that outside my house, there have been many more parking spaces than usual.

I can’t explain it – all logic says that with fewer people travelling, the spaces would’ve been filled at the start of the lockdown and then vehicles wouldn’t have moved.  However, that’s not been the case – there are fewer vehicles, and the spaces seem to vary all the time, but there are always spaces.

All I can assume is that where I live has a fair percentage of people who have second homes here (for commuting during the week or whatever-  we’re only an hour from London, so it kind of makes sense) and who haven’t been here while things have been different.

I’m not complaining – it’s just always seemed odd to be able to park outside my own house, rather than having to find spaces further away.