mtbc: maze J (red-white)
Over the past couple of weeks my weight actually went up a bit to 164lb as of this morning. I have had unusually many days off-diet lately, for our annual users' meeting at work, with houseguests, a couple of birthdays, etc. and yesterday evening I ate over one-and-a-half pizzas. Still, I would guess that the gain is a sign that with my usual behavior my weight might stabilize at around 160lb (or 11½ stone) which is fine. When I am on-diet, in total each week I am eating 15-16Mcal and my exercise is now down to 3,000 of the cross-trainer's calories, which feels quite sustainable.
mtbc: maze L (green-white)
An online conversation earlier today reminded me of some work I had done ten to twenty years ago back when I was mostly working on government-funded research and development projects. It is now long enough ago that sometimes I forget how very much I enjoyed the challenge of solving various problems in science and engineering, inference and decision-making by devising software-based approaches. I turned out to be very good at it but haven't had to much do it for what must now be a decade or so. It is hard to get good applied research work without a doctorate and while needing enough income to support a family especially as my better work was also defense work that I cannot talk about especially outside the US. So, over the past decade I have done more regular software development: I am good at it but not as great as I am when faced with more need for creative solutions to technical problems.

Having been decidedly obese when I moved to Scotland I find it strange now to be in a position when on many nights I am positively trying to eat a bit more. I suppose that my diet may have had lasting effects on my appetite. For the past couple of days I could have easily eaten comfortably less than what I allowed myself when trying to lose weight. Last night after a perfectly satisfactory dinner I later decided to also have a heavily buttered piece of toast with a generous amount of Gouda, then a few mini creme eggs left over from Easter, but it is not like I was ravenous at the time, the challenge was more to think of something that seemed appealing. On the one hand, I do want to listen to my body about when it feels hungry or not, but I have still been losing a little weight on my maintenance plan so I do not want to be drifting far below even that.

I got to thinking about why, when I have been overweight for so very long, it is only in the past couple of years that I seriously addressed the issue. What switch flipped in my head? In watching a documentary about schizophrenia I came to wonder if it was about control: my best talents are not greatly exercised in my current work, I barely earn enough to get by, I live in a small, cluttered house, maybe my effort toward improving my weight and fitness stems from wanting to successfully grasp at least some facet of my existence and addressing my health was the most plausible remaining option? I do not know. Now that I have generated the hypothesis it doesn't feel as if it obviously rings true but it is also not assaulted by competition with rival explanations. (One of my military projects involved creating software for generating, evaluating, assembling hypotheses.) I thus do now wonder if my diet and exercise might indeed partly be about gaining some control and feeling good about something.

The mention of schizophrenia reminds me of a lady who used to roam the streets around our apartment in Providence, RI. She was often off her medication and would indignantly berate pedestrians and drivers for all manner of creatively imagined slights, sins like trying to sell her into prostitution to workmen down the road. While she was not causing anybody any real harm then it was her legal right to be in such a state. When I would first spy her ranting from the window I initially thought that she was speaking on her cellphone via a Bluetooth headset but her interactions subsequently made the unfortunate situation quite clear.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
On Thursday we have local council elections. This morning I dreamt that I had turned up at my polling place to vote but there was some problem that meant that we could not yet vote at the station: there was a backlog of people waiting. (The polling place did not resemble my real-life current one.) Fortunately (and implausibly), in compensation they were very competently providing us free catering while we waited: plenty of food from Marks & Spencer, a store that is a couple of grades up from what I can typically afford. Unfortunately for me on my diet, without nutritional information and sets of scales and whatnot, I was unable to avail myself of this otherwise-pleasant surprise.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
Since entering the healthy weight range of the NHS' chart I increased my calorie allowance in transitioning from weight loss to maintenance. NIH's website has a Body Weight Planner which I believe to have a non-trivial somewhat-justified model behind it; I experiment with its online calculator a little to monitor its predictions. The portal to it that they offer answers, let us figure how much you should eat to lose enough weight quickly enough, and I would rather like them to instead present the underlying model more clearly so that I may code it myself then ask different kinds of question of it. As it is their website will let me adjust numbers and try again so I can iterate toward the answers that I actually want, to questions like, at least how much should I eat to avoid becoming underweight over coming years?.

When I was more aggressively trying to lose weight my limit was 12½MCal/week. With my weekday fasting and not having the disposable income to eat out, I am now settled into a pattern in which my current 16Mcal/week limit is easy to sustain: indeed, this week I will end up eating well under 15Mcal. The difficulty isn't hunger so much as the simple hassle of monitoring intake at all. Some experimentation with NIH's model suggests that, even if I reduce my exercise, my current maintenance diet should keep me within the NHS' idea of a healthy weight, enough below the upper boundary that the occasional less-regimented vacation and suchlike ought not present any difficulty.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
Last year it did not take me enormous effort to see a gradual improvement in my exercise performance. This year, the overall trend line has been decidedly flat, a little lower than where I had hoped to settle. I have been using the cross-trainer for forty minutes four times per week and have not felt as if I were taking it easy. I need willpower for other things in my life too so I do not want to push my workouts in a way that makes them more unappealing: then I may not keep doing them at all.

What I shall try for coming weeks is being easygoing about my average power output, so as to remove some stress from the workouts, but to work out for a bit longer and at a gently increasing average resistance level, my previous resistance level becoming a decreasingly long warm-up. Perhaps I have a tendency toward keeping the RPM in the 50's that means that I will find that my average power settles a little higher than I have managed so far. I shall consider myself to be working hard enough if I am remembering to work my arms as well as my legs and I do not feel as if I have breath to spare.

My weight is still in the official healthy band but also still near the top. I estimate that I am eating little enough that it ought still be drifting downward though at a shallow enough rate that the usual apparently random variations may be clouding that trend. I shall continue to eat as I am for another month before making any changes to my diet so that I have more confident data on the effect of my current regime.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
Trying to eat more to shift toward weight maintenance has been interesting and surprisingly difficult. I did actually gain weight over the last fortnight but that included Thanksgiving and I don't believe that on normal days I am yet eating enough to maintain; I think the small gain is well within the error bars.

Weihnachtsstollen and koláče will make it easy to eat more calories over this festive period but into the New Year I have wondered what different choices to make. I don't want to switch from, say, poppadoms to oatcakes just for the higher calories: I want the different food to feel correspondingly worth those calories and to fit in with my other nutritional aims. My inclination at present is for us to buy more cheese and nuts, especially macadamia or cashews, for me to snack on.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
According to the NHS' height/weight chart I was well into the obese category when I joined the gym in Perth and started to fast and swim. I am now in the healthy weight category so I shall shift toward arresting my weight loss such that it approaches a healthful endpoint. While one might want to take precise divisions within BMI-based indices as nothing more but loose guidance, in my case I think it to be sufficient basis on which to make decisions.

I would have thought that this achievement might have caused me to crack a smile. I am abstractly pleased but I definitely need to look at my mood, whether the issue is some extrinsic stressor or something rather more internal.

I shall continue with the cross-trainer as I am now: being my only frequent non-sedentary activity, that is more about not being dangerously unfit. I probably get enough exercise to try increasing my average weekly calorie consumption from around 12k to more like 15k so I will see how that goes. Still, if getting early nights doesn't make it easy enough for me to get out of bed and into the garage on dark frosty mornings then in the New Year I may instead look into exercising after I return home from work.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
In September 2014 I weighed over 230lb when I started to swim and fast. After a year of that I weighed under 210lb but it seemed to be plateauing there. At the end of last February I still weighed 205lb so I started to also restrict my calories to their present level of 12,500 per week. For many of the weeks that I was actually on my diet (rather than some kind of vacation or trip intervening) I lost over 1½lb per week and now weigh under 170lb. However, in recent weeks I am down to losing ¾lb per week. That is still a good rate and perhaps simply reflects that the less fat mass I have, the less easily more is lost. I have also lost over six inches around my waist which is reassuring regarding the threat of visceral fat stressing my organs.

In August 2011 The Lancet published a series on obesity that included Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight from the National Institutes of Health: to paraphrase a little,
Every change of energy intake of 10 kcal per day will lead to an eventual bodyweight change of about 1 pound with half of the weight change being achieved in about 1 year and 95% of the weight change in about 3 years.
The above confirms that for constant calorie intake one should expect diminishing weight loss over time. Further, the numbers suggest that, given that I have probably done little over six months' proper dieting, mixed with vacations and similar, I will be able to increase my calorie intake some way without starting to gain weight.

I try to weigh myself approximately monthly: I think that allows sufficient monitoring of progress without the data being dwarfed by irrelevant noise.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
I have been gently pushing myself to exercise more from week to week. On the cross-trainer I am now doing forty-minute workouts each morning for which the machine estimates over eight hundred of its calories. I am pushing myself only a little these days, currently slowly increasing my average workout intensity to the machine's level twelve; I shall see how things are once I settle there. I suspect that I am already exercising enough to achieve my aim of avoiding the health risks arising from my life being otherwise sedentary; it is not my intention to become competitively athletic. It is also convenient that with the alarm going at 6h then after I exercise, shower, and get into work, I am arriving at the university at around 8h which means that I can park in the lot closest to my building in the research complex.

One reason for not being aggressive with my exercise is that I am also dieting: I still restrict my calories to 12,500 per week. Also, for many months now I have done intermittent fasting, which is thought to have its own health benefits. That has settled into my fasting only on weekdays, consuming calories only between 16h and 22h. While there is much research and opinion on what to eat and how to exercise and when to do things, I figure that I am probably not pushing myself too hard with exercise if I don't feel out of breath during it and I can comfortably stand and hold a conversation directly afterward.

The calorie restriction has not been onerous. While fasting at work I am usually distracted by the job at hand. Reducing my calories when I do eat has partly been about two things: First, learning how many calories different foods bear and finding that some simply aren't worth it. For example, I hadn't realized how calorie-dense muesli and oatcakes are, and it's not as if I regard either as being very tasty, whereas poppadoms turn out to be cheap. Second is portion control: if I am not sure how much I want, opt for less, especially if it is mostly carbohydrates, which can increase appetite. I can always eat something more if I find myself still hungry later.
mtbc: maze H (magenta-black)
Sometimes I use mental strategies to handle things that would otherwise more greatly bother me. For example, with painful medical treatment I find that it helps to imagine that it is not my body being treated but that I am instead somehow possessing another's body and experiencing their sensations: that disassociation makes the experience considerably more bearable. Or, with A-level chemistry, I didn't much like the laboratory practicals. I made a conscious choice to try to enjoy them and, while I don't know if I found silver linings or what, it really did mostly work and I thereafter looked forward to them more.

I have found myself using similar techniques for my workouts. My most basic would be that of trying to see my time on the cross-trainer as a positive opportunity for desirable fitness rather than an ordeal to be endured. Or, if I am increasing my workout time, I might decide that the extra time is at the end, then tell myself for most of the workout that I am doing no more than I already have lately, then into the extra time I tell myself that I may as well keep on going for just that bit longer because the planned workout is nearly finished.

It is possible that similar approaches have helped my diet. For instance, while I limit my calories, I also tell myself that if I am not feeling hungry then it is okay not to eat up to my limit but if I do care to eat right up to my limit then that is also okay. I can thus often heed my body's sense of satiety, both negative and positive, without feeling as if I am doing something wrong.
mtbc: photograph of me (mark)
In losing weight I am having to start replacing clothing as the old ones become just too large; yesterday I donated a bag to the Salvation Army. In shirts my sizing seems to be down from large to medium. When I was a teenager in England I used to buy trousers with a 34" waist and at my fattest I was up to 40" American. I am now pleasantly surprised to find that, even though I am still decidedly overweight, I already seem to be down to 36" waist in Britain, and 34" by American sizes. All regular cut: these other cuts for varieties of near-human seem strangely popular* but I avoid them. I am not wearing my newer belt today because even its two extra added-afterward holes don't suffice to make it usefully tightening.

It is pleasing to be losing abdominal girth because I have had some concern over visceral fat deleteriously affecting my organs.

*For instance, Tesco loves straight cut whose 36"-waist trousers certainly don't fit my legs, but they also have an F&F clothing label which distracts me by its naming: I don't know for what the initials stand but I am guessing that it is not fire and forget.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
My diet seems to be back on track again. It stalled rather over the summer with both making visits and being visited but with luck, from being obese at the start of last year, I am now back on course to possibly even not being medically overweight by my birthday this year. How arbitrary these boundaries are in relating to meaningful medical outcomes I don't know.

I have been intrigued by the effect of diet or exercise on my heart rate. Back in Ohio the doctor tested me for reasons that my resting pulse might be so high: hyperthyroidism, etc. This year it's been in the 50s.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
Recently my weight loss has accelerated to an average of around 2¼lb per week so I remain pleased indeed with the progress. I am still eating less than 12,000 kcal per week on average. I wonder if I will have reached a healthy weight by my birthday. Time will tell.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
After eating under 12,000 kcal for each of the past five weeks I weighed myself and had the very pleasant surprise of having lost more than 1½lb per week. With luck I shan't have to restrict my eating any more than that to eventually reach a healthy weight.


Mar. 14th, 2016 09:41 pm
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
Last week I ate under 12,000 calories again, below the 12,500 limit that I had set, so it's not been difficult at all to stay within it, it's just a bit tedious to do the calculations. I carry the calories forward from day to day over the week so by the time the weekend comes around I have plenty left.


Mar. 6th, 2016 09:31 pm
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
I am overweight. With living with my family it is easier to eat with them than separately, especially with having a small kitchen and a limited budget for food. So, to eat less, I have taken the simple course of fasting on weekdays: I don't eat anything before 1600 after which I have a snack so I am not driving home in rush-hour traffic with low blood glucose. For a while I was losing maybe half a pound per week on average but last summer it started to stall. I am actually now lighter than I have been for a long time and over last month I did lose a few pounds again but I thought I should try a little harder to see if I could return to a more consistent loss. So, while continuing the fasting, I have also started to count calories. I hope to weigh under two hundred pounds before much longer.

It has been an interesting experience. I already know a bit about nutrition and satiety but, in counting the calories in everything, simply knowing how expensive some foods are has made me rethink or adjust some decisions. The budget that I have set for myself turns out to be palatable: I allow myself treats, but generally just not as much, or fewer at once. For this past week I had given myself 12,500 calories as a limit and ended up eating maybe a thousand less than that so this regime is sufficiently behavior-changing without feeling like a straitjacket. Just this weekend I still ate plenty of pizza and cheesecake, I put mayonnaise on sandwiches, and I had a ginger beer, a whisky, some chocolate, and an amaretto morbido. One might reasonably ask what more I might have eaten had I not had to account for it all and the answer is perhaps mostly in terms of portion size. In short, the diet's improving my eating but in a way I can live with.

I try to eat only enough to not feel hungry. I do try to eat plenty of vegetables and legumes, together with some fish, poultry, and various wholegrains. I still allow myself other meats, some dairy, etc., for variety, but not much or often. I like herbs, spices and other seasonings to help the healthful food to remain appealing.
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