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 – 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.


Losing My Traditions

Over the last few years, I’ve always bought myself an Easter egg from Hotel Chocolat – I really like the thickness of their eggs and so on, but also the fact that each half is individually wrapped. That’s important for me, because (as I’ve said before) I can’t leave a half-pack of something – if I’ve opened it, I’ll finish it.  So with the Hotel Choc egg, it becomes four things – the two individual halves, and the two bags of chocolates inside.

The eggs also keep well – which is a good thing, because it takes me ages to get round to eating the damn thing.  I don’t mind small doses of chocolate, but I have to be in the mood for a larger dose like a half-egg.

Anyway, this year I’ve decided that I’m not going to get an egg at all, which must be the first time in at least a decade.

I had the final half of last years egg about a fortnight ago, and if I’m honest, I didn’t even enjoy it. I wanted to, but it was just blah. And I’ve looked this year, and there’s nothing that makes me want to buy it.  So, I’m not.

It feels a bit odd, really, and a bit sad. But not sad enough to make me change my mind. Maybe next year will be different, I don’t know.


Meatopian

As usual, my September is looking like it’ll be my normal levels of silliness, with lots of travel and so on.

And also as usual, it started with Meatopia, a festival of various barbecued meats. It’s one of my favourite events of the year – and this time I was at all three sessions. Because I’m a complete lunatic.

I had intended to be more sensible – going down for the Friday was still silly, but I’d intended to then park up at Barbican on Saturday, have a hotel on the Saturday night (being able to collect my bag from the car at Barbican on the way, and deposit it on the way back before Sunday) and then come home.

But then I checked the football schedule – and it turned out that Arsenal were playing at home on the Sunday. Not usually relevant, but when driving back on the Sunday, it would’ve shoved me right through all the traffic and people at Highbury, which would add at least an hour to the drive. And frankly, sod that.

So it meant a change to plans, and instead doing my usual thing, parking in Very North London, Tube to Euston/Angel, and walk to Tobacco Dock.  Yes, I *could* have still used the hotel, but it meant that all the travel to and from the car to drop off clothes/bag etc. would’ve made it a lot more hassle and a lot less fun. So it was ‘easier’ to travel further, but on my terms and with less general fucking about.

All told, as well as a ridiculous amount of food, it meant I did six walks of 6km, as well as further walking on-site and so on, so all told over Friday, Saturday and Sunday I covered no less than 44km (27 miles)

Meatopia was totally worth it again, and I’ll be there next year.


Scheduled

At the moment, there’s an advert on TV for Just Eat, and it freaks me out a little bit.

There’s one part of it where they talk about people “ordering their usual”, and doing so at a specific time – implying that it’s the same thing every week.  And that just weirds me out, that there are people out there who do the same thing every week, who eat the same meals with little to no variety.

At the same time though, it’s odd in other ways.  I’m just as bad at being uninspired when it comes to meals and so on – but that’s when I’m just cooking for myself.  If I’m paying for it (i.e. a takeaway, a restaurant meal or whatever) then I’m going to go for random stuff that I fancy eating.

So I think it’s the combination – that there are people who are paying for their meal and still only having the same thing at the same time – rather than *just* that it’s the same thing every time.

Anyway, it weirds me out – even though in some ways I’m also a massive hypocrite about it, as I’m semi-guilty of the same thing, but only in the privacy of my own home…


Aussie Masterchef (Finished)

Way back at the end of August, I wrote about Masterchef Australia starting again on UK TV. It’s still one of my favourite TV cooking/competition programmes, but man alive, it’s a commitment.

It runs for at least an hour every weekday.  And it finished last night.  That’s a long-ass stretch of TV by anyone’s standards.

All the same, I’ve enjoyed the series (as usual) but I’m also finding myself slightly relieved that we’re done for another few months.


A Very Foodie Week

It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to make my birthday into a bit of a foodie thing, since starting off the whole “Eating on my own” thing with the Michelin-starred restaurants a couple of years back.

This year I’d taken the week off and booked a week in Northumberland, which made it even more fun.

So this year my actual birthday meal (well, the day after, but it counted) was at L’Enclume.  One heck of a drive across-country – two and a half hours each way – but still better than the five hours each way it would be from home.

Then during the week was an evening at House of Tides – which I love, and rarely miss taking the opportunity to go to when I’m in the North-East.

And finally, while I was in Manchester I visited a very new place, Mana, because it sounded interesting. (And it was!)

So it’s been a foodie week, and very enjoyable. But I might need to walk a lot over the coming week or so to make up for it…