Yesterday, I got my first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.

It was an impressive piece of organisation (which is how you can tell it was sod-all to do with national Government) – i got to the vaccination centre at 8:55 for my 9am appointment, went straight through, giving necessary information and so on, sat down, got the jab, and was out again by 9:05.

Interestingly, I didn’t have to do the expected sit-and-wait for 15 minutes to check I didn’t have any kind of allergic reaction.  I assume it was because I’d answered no to the questions “Are you on any other medication” and “Have you ever had an allergic reaction” – I know others on the same day in different locations still had to sit and wait – but no explanation was actually given.

Happily, twenty-four hours on, I’ve had no reactions of side effects at all to the first jab, which makes me fairly optimistic for things.

Obviously there’s still a way to go – there’s another three weeks before this dose is supposed to be fully effective, and my second dose is on 1st June.  Even so, that means that by the end of June I’ll be as protected as possible.

Alone vs Lonely

With the current Covid stuff, I’ve found it interesting to see how it has affected a range of people.

One of the big complaints about it is how the lockdowns have made so many people realise how lonely they are, along with the damage it’s done to those social norms and events.

Truly, this isn’t something I can empathise with. I’ve never really lived close to any of my friends – they’re scattered all over the place – so I’m absolutely used to being on my own in any particular area. So I’m alone, but I’m never lonely.

Alongside that, I don’t know, I simply don’t feel those things. I’m happy on my own, and always have been.  Being sociable is my “not normal“, being on my own is the default position.

In all of that, I recognise that I’m “lucky“. I’ve come through this year OK, with far less damage than most people have suffered – whether that’s realising their lives are more lonely than they thought, being ill (or watching others being ill), or just seeing things change so much and feeling insecure because everything “normal” has suddenly tilted beyond recognition.

I sort-of understand that desire for everything to “go back to how it was“, but to me even that still carries a fair degree of self-delusion.  Things have changed, and it’s (to me) far easier and smarter to embrace those changes and make progress with them (I hate the expression “the new normal”, but that’s what this is – even with vaccines and so on, there’ll still be major changes for the forseeable future)

I don’t know what 2021’s going to bring – although I don’t think it’s going to be a positive year – but I’m pretty sure I’ll get through it, same as I have this year. And all I can do is hope that the same is true for those I give a sod about.

Six Months In, and No Real End In Sight

This week, it’s been six months since Lockdown was announced. And in the same week, they’ve announced that the newest set of rules/laws/guidelines/guesswork are likely to apply for at least the next six months.

I wish I could say I was surprised. But I’m just not.

I don’t honestly think things will go back to “how they were”. Things will change – things have already changed – and they won’t go back to what they were.  I fucking hate the expression “the new normal”, but it’s true, that’s what we’re going through, and we’re still finding our way through it, figuring out how things will be.

All the people-pleasing crap about a vaccine/cure for Covid is just that – crap. We might end up with the equivalent of the flu jab for Covid – might – but it will just be a defence. Even the flu ‘jab is just guesswork, a prediction based on what flu strains were around two years ago. Even those who’ve had the jab can still end up getting flu.

I don’t know all that the future will bring. I don’t even know how things will look in six months time – and nor does anyone else.

All any of us can really do is keep ourselves safe, and hope everyone else is doing the same thing. Other than that, it’ll just be a case of “we’ll see”.

Archery Return

Back in March, I wrote about my starting to get back into archery after way too long – it’d been a decade or more since I last went, and this year I found a local(ish) club and went through their ‘beginners’ process (for insurance purposes etc.) before getting my bow checked over and slightly updated. In a spectacularly piss-awful piece of timing, I got that done on the same day that lockdown was announced. Bugger.

Fortunately, the club has its own field, so it’s been possible to use it during the lockdown.  I had to sort out a first induction meeting (to establish that I knew their rules and so on) and get my membership card, and from there I’ve been able to go on a regular basis.

So far, I’ve been for eleven sessions, and enjoyed pretty much all of them – last week’s one was less good, but that was just weather and environment being a bastard, plus a healthy dose of hubris from having had a really good session the week before, and it all just clustered up into a shitfest.

As it turns out, it seems I’m generally OK at the whole thing. I’ve been taking my time, building up my strength and stamina through the sessions, rather than aiming to be super-competitive or anything.

The thing for me is that I’m good enough. As with a lot of things, I find I don’t have the obsessive side of things, so I lack that desire to do everything exactly the same way, that push for perfection and rigid routine. Indeed, the people who are like that bore and annoy me.  I’m doing this primarily for fun – I like the challenge of getting things right and doing well – and it’s another way of building up my strength and stamina, which is fine with me.  But no, I don’t think I’ll ever be at the high end of  the club’s score table and so on, because I get to the point of “That’ll do”, and it’s enough for me.

But I’ll keep on going, and see how things go.


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.

LockDown – Getting On

It’s been a strange couple of months, with all the Coronavirus stuff, and the resultant lockdown. At the time of writing, we’ve completed five full weeks, and it’s looking like there’s still at least another couple of weeks of it to go (at a bare minimum)

All told, I’ve actually done OK (so far, so far) with the whole thing, and it hasn’t affected me too badly – indeed, for the most part my daily life hasn’t changed all that much.

A lot of people have found it tough to be on their own (or in a very restricted domestic situation) and they definitely have my sympathies, but for me it’s been much the same as usual. Indeed, the whole thing has really just proved to me that – for me – it was right to go back to being single, and staying that way. (That one might end up being a larger post in the fullness of time)

Additionally, a lot of people seem to have had real issues with shopping, panic-buying and the like – and again, so far I’ve been pretty lucky, and been able to get things done without running out of anything. (That’ll definitely be a bigger future post) There have been things where I’ve changed the supplier, or found a different method on-line, but so far there’s been nothing I’ve run out of (or even short of)

My health’s been fine, and so far there’ve been no signs of picking up the virus or anything. I’ve slacked off a bit on the whole exercise thing – although I’m still doing some, it’s just nowhere near what I was doing – and in a fit of irony, I actually lost a small amount of weight as a result. (Yeah, my body chemistry is still epically fucked)  But I’m also not snacking and nibbling – which again seems to be a lot of people’s coping mechanism – so in general things are pretty good.

Even work-wise I’ve been lucky and most of my stuff is keeping on going. Obviously that might change with time, but for now it’s all still stable, and going well. And there’s a couple of new projects coming in as well, which should (I hope) make things easier as well.

So all-in-all things are good here. And I know that makes me ridiculously fortunate, and far, far luckier than many others.