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.


Lockdown – Changing Values

One thing I hope will be interesting – as and when the current lockdown is properly eased – is to see the things that people decide are important, the things they’ve actually missed, as opposed to the things they’ve just not been able to go to as part of a routine.

For example, I wonder if [big chain] coffee shops will suffer, as people have (hopefully) realised that they don’t need all that caffeine and sugar.
[Note : I amended this afterwards, following Gordon’s comment, because I’d particularly meant big-chain (Starbucks, Costa et al) places rather than independents/locals that definitely deserve the business and support]

On the evidence of the things that’ve currently re-started, I don’t think it’ll be the case – as soon as they’ve re-opened, there have been huge queues outside places like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC.

It’ll be more interesting to see what happens longer-term, once the “Oh good, they’re back!” novelty value fades.


Lockdown – Ongoing

Tonight, the PM has announced a “conditional plan” to help the country get through the next phase of Covid-19.

To be honest, it is (as expected) a bit of a car-crash, with mixed messages, bloody awful phrasing, and no real clarity on any of it.

So for me (and, I hope, for a lot of others) I’m sticking with my own Plan A, which is to carry on doing what I was doing before.

I’m still planning on mainly using my office – which is OK (so far as I can tell) because I go from a house on my own, to a car on my own, to an office on my own, with no real human contact at all, and thus an absolutely minimal chance of catching it, or passing it on.  If my office building gets too crowded then I’ll re-assess and figure out a different plan. Until then, we’ll see.

Other than that, all I’m doing is keeping myself as safe from everything as possible, and hoping that everyone else is doing the same. Really, I don’t see that there’s anything else that can be done.


Lockdown – Still Around

It’s a funny old time, with the lockdown and so on. I keep on meaning to write more here, and then forgetting to do so.

So, I’m going to keep on meaning to write more (and hopefully being more successful)  but for now, well, I’m still here.


A Flaw In The Safety

Following on from the post a while back about driver assistance things, I had another interesting one a few days ago.

I’d hired a Vauxhall Insignia in order to ferry people around a bit, and the weather was disgusting – heavy rain, lots of spray, and lots of idiots with no lights on.

Anyway, on the section of the M4 I was driving on, there were roadworks, and the lanes had been narrowed as a result. And that was where the problem came in.

The Insignia had the Lane Change Warning thing, which detects when the driver is drifting across lanes without indicating – and in the case of the Insignia, it also tries to push you back into the lane you’re departing. Not my favourite thing at the best of times, but in this case it was actually picking up on the wrong lane markings (because they were glossy and shiny in the rain) and so actually kept on pushing me “back” towards the crash barriers, and would have left me scraping along them if I’d not been paying attention.

I can understand why it happened, and how. It was also easy enough for me to sort things out (eventually by turning off the Lane Change completely) but I can also easily see how things could’ve gone wrong, if I were the sort of driver who relied on these aids, who didn’t pay attention, or left those aids to do things because they’re there to help.

And what would’ve happened in that situation if it were a fully autonomous (“self-driving”) vehicle with no controls, or potentially people who didn’t drive, or couldn’t understand the danger signs?

There’s still a way to go on these things, I think…


Levels of Stupid

At the moment, I get a *lot* of spam about property investment – probably an average of five to ten a day.  I don’t know why it’s suddenly this subject,  but it’s definitely noticeable.

Student flats in Hull, Hotel rooms in Leicester, Apartments in Liverpool and Manchester, and even some overseas stuff.  I don’t pay attention to it, but it does make me think.

Basically, what kind of idiot (or lunatic) is going to decide to invest in a property, based on receiving a spam/junk email? It’s a huge amount of money, however you look at it.

I mean, obviously people do fall for this crap – the spammers/scammers wouldn’t bother sending it out if they didn’t – but I can’t deny, I figure that the people who do so pretty much deserve everything they get.


Petrol and Diesel

This week, one of the main stories in the news was about the UK announcing it had brought forwards a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel-fuelled cars to 2035 from its initial target of 2040.

That’s all well and good, but it does have its problems as well. To my mind, the biggest of these is the necessary infrastructure.

You can tell that the great majority of the people proposing these requirements (and expecting everyone in the country to follow suit) live in houses with driveways – or at least off-road parking – as well as the funds to pay for a significant increase to their electricity usage.

However, lots of people don’t live in those situations. Those in blocks of flats, for example, wouldn’t necessarily have access to anything. For those who (like me) live in a house with on-street parking – and even then it’s not guaranteed or reserved parking, so I regularly end up parking a distance away from my place – but even if I were parked outside the house, an electric car would mean dangling a power cable out of the house, and across the pathway that’s regularly used.  For that scenario, I’m honestly not sure what the infrastructure requirements would be – and I don’t think anyone else knows either.

The costs are another matter. Yes OK, you’re cutting out the costs of fuel, but if the demand for electricity shoots up that much, then so will the costs of it. Additionally, there are plenty of people who are on paid-supply meters, or high tariffs (whether because of laziness and not changing, or because that’s all they can get because of debt, income, whatever) and that can also be an issue.

Alongside those concerns – and just using myself as an example – there are plenty of drives that fall outside the range of all but the most expensive electric vehicles.  An ‘affordable’ vehicle like the Nissan Leaf, for example, apparently has a range of 135 miles. So I could do a return journey from home to London, no worries. But I couldn’t do a trip down to see my friends in Somerset (which I can do in 3 hours currently) without a recharging stop each way. (And again, they don’t have a power point for charging a car down there)  Same when I go to see friends in Manchester, or Newcastle.

Hell, I’ve even done daily commutes that would take me past that kind of mileage – and the office was (again) somewhere with no connection to a decent charger, it would’ve been power-cable-tastic – which would have been entirely impractical.

If that kind of target for everyone to have electric vehicles is to be realised, I think there need to be quantum leaps in several aspects, including (but not limited to)

  • Infrastructure for charging vehicles
  • Battery technology, to improve both the range of electric vehicles, and to improve the speed of charging
  • and to improve at-home-storage, allowing the potential for using home-based renewable generation – solar, wind, whatever – that can be stored to provide the charging without draining the grid
  • A huge review of the costs of that electricity, and to ensure increases to the supply that will handle all that extra demand
  • Consideration of the impact on petrol and diesel industry – including the effects of all the staff who might then be in less demand at filling stations and so on

Personally, I think a lot of stuff round electric vehicles is a load of old cock. I’m not convinced that they’re any more efficient (among other things, there’s a lot of power lost in the transmission over cables, so it needs a *lot* more generation in order to provide the supply) and while they’re less polluting at the point of use, I’m not convinced that it’s doing anything more than moving that around. We don’t know what happens with the constituent parts of the car batteries, or what happens when they expire (or when a car crashes or whatever)

I don’t claim to know what the answer is – but I also don’t think that a wholesale change like this is necessarily the best plan.  It needs a lot more thought, and a shitload more planning than currently seems to be happening.