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.



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