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.
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.
I’ve known it’s coming for a while, but this coming fortnight is probably the one that’ll grump me the most about the Lockdown so far.
It’s the time when I had a lot of events lined up, all of which have now been moved to next year. Among other things, that list includes
- Tonight, when I was supposed to be seeing Skunk Anansie at the Royal Festival Hall
- Tomorrow, when I was likely to have been at the Taste festival in London
- Saturday, when I was supposed to be seeing Jessica Chastain in “A Doll’s House” at the Playhouse Theatre
- Next week, I was supposed to be at the Lead Developer conference in London for two days
- Next weekend, I was supposed to be seeing Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe
So yeah, bit of a slump of “I should’ve been doing [x]” for the next couple of days.
I had a similar slump a while back when I got a load of “this won’t be happening” emails over a couple of days, and this is much the same. I’ll get over it, and it all could be much, much worse.
But still, blah.
Updates have been a bit sparse over the last couple of weeks. No particularly good reason, life has just been a bit dull.
Following on from the departure of FatCat, it’s been a lot quieter. The Bengal has, thankfully, settled a bit too, and seems to be OK with being a solo cat. She’s not behaved anywhere near as badly as I was expecting, and the entire experience has been OK.
What I’ve noticed more than anything is the hindsight with which I now realise how bad FatCat had become. I’ve had two weeks where I haven’t had to clean up puke, where she hasn’t had accidents of not getting to the litter tray in time (or just deciding that she couldn’t be bothered, and the floor would be fine) and there’ve been none of her normal noises and behaviours as well (obviously)
All told, it’s reinforced that I did the right thing, that she was getting worse and would’ve continued to do so.
But that doesn’t stop it from sucking. For me I think it’s the worst part of pet-owning, this whole process of making decisions about whether they should live or die, having that control and so on.
Anyway, things are OK. I still look at some of the stuff in the living room, expecting to see her asleep on it (particularly the Sky box, which was always a favourite) and then remembering she’s not here any more. But it’s OK, and it’s only been two weeks.
One of the weirdest things I’ve found about the Lockdown (I can’t really call it the current lockdown any more, the speed with which it’s being rescinded) is that outside my house, there have been many more parking spaces than usual.
I can’t explain it – all logic says that with fewer people travelling, the spaces would’ve been filled at the start of the lockdown and then vehicles wouldn’t have moved. However, that’s not been the case – there are fewer vehicles, and the spaces seem to vary all the time, but there are always spaces.
All I can assume is that where I live has a fair percentage of people who have second homes here (for commuting during the week or whatever- we’re only an hour from London, so it kind of makes sense) and who haven’t been here while things have been different.
I’m not complaining – it’s just always seemed odd to be able to park outside my own house, rather than having to find spaces further away.
Today, FatCat was put to sleep.
Over the last couple of months she’d slowly been going downhill – not eating as much, not keeping food down, losing weight, blood in the poo, and a bundle of other things. I’d initially put it down to a change of diet (for whatever reason, I hadn’t been able to get their usual food, so I’d been changing things and giving them whatever was available) but she should’ve got used to the changed food in that time.
She’s never been in pain, and I’ve kept a close eye on that as well as everything else, but I’ve been aware she’s doing less well.
This week, though, she took a bigger downward turn – more lost weight, worse poo and so on – and the really significant thing for me is that she was a lot more cuddly, and was actually choosing to sit on me or against me most of the time. That was absolutely new behaviour – she normally avoided that sort of contact like the plague – and definitely not a positive sign.
As the week went on, things didn’t improve, so I made the appointment with the vets. And today, we went in. She didn’t even fight going into the cat carrier, so she knew things weren’t good.
I’ve always known that this was how it would work out – she’s antisocial enough that even taking her to the vets for an examination would’ve led to her not trusting me as much for [x] weeks, if not months. (It usually takes her about two to four weeks to recover trust of me after I’ve applied anti-flea stuff to her, so God knows how long it’d take after a vet visit) Similarly, traumatising her daily in order to get meds into her would’ve utterly knackered her quality of life, so it was always likely that this was how it would all work out. (The same is true for the Bengal, so that’s something to look forward to…)
The vets themselves were really good – the entire process has obviously changed in the current Lockdown, but it was all done as well as humanly possible.
As it is, I still feel like an absolute shitbag. I know it was the right thing to do, I know she wasn’t well and that this was the best (indeed, the only) way to do things that kept her life as good as possible. I know she wasn’t in pain, I know she had a really good eight years here with me, and I know the end wasn’t a vile experience. But I still hate being the one to make that life or death decision, it just doesn’t sit well with me.
I’m going to see now how the Bengal – a change-averse little twat at the best of times – handles things, as she’s never been a solo cat before. She’ll either do fine and accept it, or she’ll be a nightmare for a while.
All told, a shitty, shitty day.
In a similar vein to the previous post about things that might survive, I’ve thought a lot about the things I’ve actively missed in this time, as opposed to the things I just haven’t done.
The list of things actually missed – the things I’ll look forward to being able to do again – is really quite short.
- Seeing films at the cinema
- Meals at my favourite places – with Mere being the key one I’ll be at as soon as they re-open
(There are a couple of other places I want to go back to, but Mere is the only one I’ve actively missed)
- Walking in London
And that’s it, really.
Of course there are other things I want to be able to go back to doing and so on, and I’ll enjoy life slowing going back to normal. It’ll be interesting to see how it all works out