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.
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.
As part of my whole weight/fitness thing, I’ve been going once a week to a programme called Gutless for the last twelve weeks.
It’s been an interesting programme, basically one two hour evening session a week, which consists of one hour of physical exercise, and one of information and chat about food and nutrition.
For me, the exercise has been of more use and interest than the food and nutrition stuff (as I learned more for exercise techniques etc. than I did for the food/nutrition) but it’s all been a generally positive programme.
As with other things I’ve been trying this year, it hasn’t been as successful as I’d have hoped – for me, at least – but in general it appears to have worked well for the other members of the group.
For me, it’s given me extra ideas and stuff to do, as well as knowledge of better workouts and so on, I’ll take that knowledge and go forwards with it as well, so it has been a positive process.
I’m glad I’ve done the course – and the workout/exercise side is going to be continuing on as a separate programme we’ve worked out with the instructor from the programme – and we’ll see how things work out going forwards.
All told, I’m happy with how it’s been. I’d be happier if the weight loss had been better and so on, but I know that it’s also helped me make other positive changes, and right now that’ll do me.
The weekend just past is the one where I was supposed to be doing that walked Night Marathon in London. I failed to complete it last year (as I’ve written about elsewhere) and this year didn’t start it – primarily because I just hadn’t been able to get in the practice and preparation that would’ve made it easily doable, so I’d made the decision to not take it on at the last minute.
So it should’ve been this weekend that I did it, and as it turns out, I’m actually quite glad I made that decision. First and foremost, the weather was vile, and doing it while being cold and wet really doesn’t appeal.
Additionally, I’ve picked up a vicious cold (I really should stop having quiet days – they totally kill me) and been feeling rougher than a badger’s backside. To top it off, this week also involved a couple of foodie events (although I’d have rethought at least one of those if I’d still been doing the walk)
All told, I’m still (mostly) happy with the choice to not do the walk this year. I’m annoyed with myself for having let the time slip past, and for not doing the training and preparation I could have done. But there we go, I didn’t do them, and while I probably could have just rocked up and completed it, I wanted to be better prepared this time.
I’m signed up to do next year’s one though, so we’ll see how we go from here to there. And if I don’t do that one either, then I’ll most likely sack off trying again.
Following on from earlier posts this week, I’m back to figuring out a gym routine, what works for me, and what will keep me going. (If anything does)
At the moment I’m working first on “just” getting into the habit of going. Without that, it’s far too easy to give up again, so it’s my first goal. It’s hard work, because I simply never feel that endorphin-rush that most people talk about when it comes to gyms and heavy exercise. That makes everything tougher, because the “rewards” I get for going are only statistical – reduced weight (hopefully) and improved strength (which I can track and see in an app or spreadsheet) with none of that emotional/hormonal/endorphinal backup.
Initially, I’m using a gym that’s very close to my office – even fewer possible excuses than usual! On my first visits, I’m not hugely taken with the place, but we’ll see how things go. It’s different to other ones I’ve been to, which may also account for my current feelings, but time will tell on whether I stick with it.
There is another gym that’s easy to access from my office – but it’s about a mile away. It’s the one I was using before, and is one of the new breed of “always open” gyms. (And also cheaper than the current one, but that’s less relevant) I don’t know which one I’ll end up using, but for now it’s more about the routine, the habit, than anything gym-specific.
Ideally, once I’ve established myself a routine/habit, I’ll be able to work on a decent exercise regime as well. (I’ll be doing that from the start, of course, but the routine is the key) I’ll be keeping track of that on the Fitocracy app (or some other equivalent, but I’ve used Fitocracy before)
For now, it’s all just a process, and I’m planning to work on it alongside other things (which will be written about elsewhere/elsewhen) so we’ll see how it goes.
Despite the evidence of this week’s posts, I’m not going to become some kind of gym/health/fitness obsessive – but there’ll be other posts on the subject over the next few months, as I see how things go…
Before I made my decision to not do the Shine Night Marathon this year, I was working on losing weight and improving fitness. (That’s another set of posts for later on, though)
There’s some stuff that has taken a long time to happen, and one of those things was getting my arse back into the gym. I stopped going nearly three years ago (October 2015, according to my Fitocracy tracking) because I wasn’t enjoying it or feeling any particular benefits, and I didn’t really regret stopping. I haven’t been paying all that time without using it – I’m not insane! – although I did start a new membership a couple of months back, as part of the process of getting back into it. I just hadn’t actually been in. *cough*
With some other changes in the last week, I finally darkened the door of a gym again this week, to see how I do with it.
And as it turns out, it was OK. Not perfect – although I’m not going to judge on that, because it was just the first visit, and still a learning experience. So I’ll continue to see how it goes, and aim to get back into some kind of routine with it all.
What is interesting though – and is purely a facet of those records with Fitocracy – is how much strength I’ve lost in that three years. For example, when I left the previous one, I was able to do leg-presses at 325lb for 5 series of 50 repetitions. (Yes, my legs are/were monstrous. I know) On my first visit back, I was only able to do 110lbs for 4 series of 20 repetitions. That’s a massive reduction in strength (I can’t even work out the percentage drop)
[Updated : I’m also a massive fucking idiot. Turns out, the weights in the new gym are in Kg, not Lbs. So I’m still weaker than I was, but a lot better than I thought I was doing. That 110lbs? Well, 110kg = 240lbs. Still less than before – but I’m happier with things again now]
I will see how it all goes, and it’ll be interesting to see what progress I make, both with the gym stuff, and the other odds and sods that are going on at the same time.
Following on from my general feelings of being flattened and feeling old, I’ve also been doing some stuff to try and alleviate it a bit, or at least to give myself better information.
The first part of that was a general health review, a visit to the GP to get basic information, as well as booking myself in to get blood tests and so on. (I try to do that every couple of years, as there’s a family history of stuff like underactive thyroid, type two diabetes, heart issues and the like.) As usual, that all came back fine.
The blood-tests were more of a pain in the arse – mainly because I live right on the border of two health authorities, and my surgery refers me to the authority that’s not the one for where I work. So it took me a couple of weeks before I could be bothered to go that way and get them done. But again, once it was done and I’d bothered rinnging up to get my results, everything was fine there too. A couple of figures that aren’t perfect, but everything’s still well within acceptable range of ‘normal’. Which is enough for me. I’ll probably work on them a bit, but it’s nothing that’s even important, let alone urgent.
As usual, they all say I’m too heavy – file under “Sherlock, Shit, No” – but then when they see the figures, and the speeds/distances I usually walk at, they seem to worry less. I’m still working on losing some again, but it does somewhat lessen the urgency when they pretty much shrug and go “Oh, OK”…
Following on from that, I got the aforementioned eye-test, which was also positive. Small changes, but nothing major, and the optician said that my eyes are a lot healthier than those of most people who have similar levels of vision correction to me.
Oh, she also worried me by telling me that people with my level of vision correction are at risk of detached retinas – something that has never been said to me before! – but that mine were OK. (I mentioned this to my parents last weekend, and they added to it by saying ‘Yeah, there’s a family history of doing that, too”) So that’s been great, being told all of a sudden about a potential future health issue I wasn’t even aware of. Joys.
Anyway, all told I’m actually doing OK. Now if I could just get my brain to follow the same path, things would be wunderbar…