mtbc: maze G (black-magenta)
I was using a BBC Radio upbeat playlist for today's workout and Abba's Gimme Gimme Gimme came on. I do not usually pay much attention to lyrics but now I wonder if they explain why a man before midnight would not be satisfactory. Perhaps he would just have to wait around. Anyhow, what surprised me was noticing that these soundtracks, full of disco classics and whatnot, have not included more ABBA songs. Though, some have appeared more indirectly: for instance one playlist included Steps' Story of a Heart which surprised me enough in not being at all bad that I investigated and discovered that it was written by Benny and Björn.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
I have continued to experiment with earphones: while working out I now wear a wholly wireless pair of X1Ts. I had never before used Bluetooth® yet, with the help of instructions written in an approximation of English, I was able to pair them with each other and my cellphone far more easily than I had expected. They do still fall out but I can live with it. )

I had extended my workout time to a round hour. However, the front half of my left foot is beginning to numb after forty minutes. Wider shoes did not help so now I stop sooner. )

I am working out more gently though I believe it still to count as being adequately vigorous given that it significantly elevates my heart rate. I reach the above calorie goal within fifty minutes but around five minutes later than I used to and no longer needing a few minutes afterward to properly catch my breath. I still listen to upbeat popular music but I wonder what else I might listen to over that time, perhaps some sufficiently engaging spoken-word material.
mtbc: maze G (black-magenta)
I had commented that on the cross-trainer my headphones mostly stay in my ears. It would be less distracting if I could do better than that while exercising. I don't want headphones that clip around my ears, that would be bothersome, but the usual band over the top of my head or whatever would be fine. What I want is much like some over-the-head in-the-ear headphones I had as a teenager, except for having ends with more isolation as my current earbuds do.

Those over-head in-ear headphones I once had held themselves in quite well and with the close fit of my current isolating ones I suspect would do well indeed. However, I am surprised to find that at first glance I cannot find for sale headphones with both properties. The ones with a band over the top all seem to be over-ear rather than in-ear. There also seem to be ones with a band at the back of the neck, which might work. I guess I will just keep looking. It always feels odd when I can clearly imagine the product I want but the combination is not easily found. I am reminded of when a car salesman suggested I buy a particular car model but I observed to them that it comes as either all-wheel-drive or stick-shift but not, as I then required, both.
mtbc: maze G (black-magenta)
I have settled on three longer workouts per week, never on consecutive days: two on weekdays, one on weekends. They run for a round hour as determined by the duration of BBC Radio's playlists, especially Radio 2's Wednesday Workout and Upbeat. While those feature a good mix of classic and modern tracks it amuses me that the former is such that one is not surprised if something from, say, the soundtrack of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) is played.

I am using Betron B-25 headphones that mostly stay in my ears and do well at blocking the mechanical clanking and squeaking from the cross-trainer so that I can use fairly low volume. The isolation is such that spoken-word audio would also be viable.

My power output is down to around 21½ of the machine's calories per minute but I think that suffices as I still work up a sweat and do not want to overly tax myself. Rather than aiming for particular performance I instead just check the readings every song or so and increase the resistance if I am drifting over 55 RPM, which typically happens a couple of times over the course of the hour.

The lively popular music and lack of performance target certainly help my workouts to pass somewhat pleasantly. If facing another workout requires little willpower then I am more likely to continue with them.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
Over a decade ago when I did not exercise my resting heart rate was so high that my doctor ordered blood tests. Nothing showed up so my fast heart remained an unresolved puzzle.

Since I have been exercising my resting heart rate has dropped to more usual levels. Yesterday I caught it down at 43, a surprise indeed as NIH regard 40 to 60 as being for well-trained athletes, though more commonly mine is low-50s. I also miss the occasional beat after exercise but some research suggests that too is fairly normal for people who work out. Still, being cautious I thought I should also check how fast my heart gets during exercise.

I considered working out on Friday. I really ought to have yesterday but I did not feel like it and am trying not to make it an unpleasant experience; besides, I had to head into Dundee for the afternoon. So, I postponed it again and today did not advance to the highest resistance level I have used in the past.

After my workout this morning my heart rate was over 150. If we wave our hands a little and take my maximum heart rate as 175 and my resting heart rate as 55, so my reserve is 120, then by the Mayo Clinic's guidelines this looks as if I am brushing the top end of my training zone for vigorous exercise. The American Heart Association says that, once used to working out, you may be able to exercise comfortably at up to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This tells me that I am certainly pushing myself enough and ought not increase the intensity any further which is great as it does not feel too bad at this level.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
In Boston I used to bicycle to work and also a little around the area for exercise. I enjoyed it: I felt quite safe mixing with the traffic in my area. We had limited funds for our move to Scotland and our bicycles got left behind.

The cross-trainer does not offer much of a view. Lately I have wondered if on some of my days off from my exercise schedule I could usefully bicycle around here. Our village is so small that only walking makes sense and in the vicinity I am not much of a fan of,

  • the steep gradients, of which Dundee in particular has many, but also the Sidlaws

  • the A90, the main road locally, which has a sidewalk and high-speed traffic

  • winding country roads, with fairly fast cars and poor visibility around bends.

Perhaps I could avoid paying for a campus parking pass: find a fairly flat route to work from somewhere in Dundee where I can easily park the car for free. More likely, maybe there are pleasant trails hereabouts the carse near the firth which are not much challenging for the casual rider. I am not hopeful but I am again starting to think about how bicycling could make sense despite how I feel about the local roads.

I freely admit that I am probably inaccurate in my sense of the risks: National Cycle Route 77 runs along these roads to which I am averse. I am content to claim such misjudgment as my prerogative. I am greatly cautious because my family rely on my ability to work.

Still tired

Jun. 3rd, 2017 02:22 pm
mtbc: maze C (black-yellow)
My mood is improved but I am still tired. This morning I stayed in bed until maybe even 9h and at 10h I was still in the armchair, resting my head and yawning. My workout was gentle indeed, barely managing 22 of the machine's calories per minute. I have decided to already scale back my exercising. I now have aching limbs and a growing headache; I have taken acetaminophen with codeine. I have a few things to do this weekend but not many, perhaps few indeed if rain comes.

I thought I might just be tired from our annual users' meeting at work: I was tired indeed on the evenings following the meeting days and I am not naturally extroverted so the social interaction itself may be taxing. But, given my tiredness last week too I wondered if I may even have some low-grade infection or somesuch. Perhaps the meeting was tiring indeed for those who traveled from different time zones, including Portland, Oregon, and Kobe, Japan. Our Brisbane-based colleague was unable to join us for family reasons. Many of our visiting users are interesting and nice.

The users' meeting comes with various free-food perks, including a wine-tasting last Thursday evening. Tastings are not especially my kind of thing but this year I did taste three of the eighteen and that worked out well. There was some kind of full-bodied red I liked, then an unfiltered red I followed it with was a bit sweeter, then I had some Chinese ice wine that was sweeter still. There were also cheeses and I always like cheese.

I have a bit of work to do early next week as leftover help for some visiting users I talked with but nothing too onerous. I enjoy having a bit of variety in my work tasks.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
This morning I took things easier on the cross-trainer: it took all my willpower to get through even that gentler workout. I have been tired all day. I have noticed the occasional day like that: I go to bed at a reasonable time and sleep for many hours, yet do not then spring out of bed, and I continue to feel lethargic. Perhaps it is all yesterday's activity catching up with me, or maybe my unconsciousness made me ignorant of that I slept poorly.

My slower workout wasn't due to our recent heat. After all, on Friday I worked out later on a day whose high was 78½°F and I managed nearly 23½ of the machine's calories per minute; this morning I didn't do much over 22½. Still, in a closed stuffy garage the heat isn't fun after a while; I had thought the winter cold was bad enough with my fingers not warming up quickly as I do the pushing and pulling on the handles.

I had increased the frequency of my workouts, returning to doing them most days, in the hope that over time I might reach the round number of 25 calories per minute, or at least satisfying my curiosity of if I would. I am averaging around 23 but not seeing much sign of significant progress beyond that. If I am not near 24 when [personal profile] mst3kmoxie's mother visits in July then I plan to accept that it is not happening and try the alternative experiment of dropping down to three longer workouts per week to see if I still exceed 22½ each time. If exercising more does not increase my power output then exercising less may also have little effect.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
Early last week when I reached forward on the cross-trainer a sharp pain came high on my side making me wonder if some shoulder-related muscle attaches to my rib there. Not wanting to aggravate it, I took some days off exercising and still felt that pain, albeit infrequently. Today I tried working out again and after a few minutes the pain returned. I relaxed that arm a little and continued on the cross-trainer and after a few more minutes I felt okay again. So, that worked out nicely: there does seem to be a strange issue there but perhaps not one that prevents my workout.
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 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 A (black-white)
NHS Digital today published their latest Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet for England. Regarding adult physical activity it includes the interesting finding,
People who are long term unemployed or have never worked were most likely to be inactive (37%). Those in managerial, administrative and professional occupations were the least likely to be inactive (17%).
I would not have expected this: depending on professional those kinds of occupations tend to be time-consuming and sedentary. Whereas, I might think that the unemployed would have found time for habitual recreational exercise.

I do not know if the explanation is that these unemployed are actually busy parents and suchlike or if they are simply broadly unmotivated in many spheres of life, perhaps not unconnectedly: depression over unemployment could spread to general lack of purposeful activity? I may be missing the obvious.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
I had been managing to average over 23 of the cross-trainer's calories per minute. In pushing my workouts to be a little harder and longer I had hoped to be drifting up toward 25 calories/minute but my power level seems to have firmly plateaued. So, I shall now push it in the opposite direction: try working out a little less and see if my power level settles at least above 20 calories/minute. After all, the point is to be getting enough exercise to be acceptably healthy.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
My workout on Thursday went fine but yesterday (Friday) evening my right shoulder became painfully afflicted quite suddenly while I was … eating a salad. I am left-handed which is fortunate because my usual approach of hoping that a night's sleep makes an issue go away appears not to have been a very effective cure.

I know little of human anatomy but in medical art online I do see muscles attaching to the skeleton at the painful sites on the front and back of my torso at a height just below my armpit though perhaps the pain is more likely to be mid-muscle and there are some large ones in those regions. Typing with my laptop computer on my lap isn't too bad but I mostly plan a day of television-watching and one-armed-ness. With luck I shall be fine to work out tomorrow and drive into work on Monday, we will see.

I would be using a sling. I had accumulated a cache of medical supplies like a cervical collar for my occasional neck issues and an aluminum-framed boot that strapped to my lower leg and allowed me to walk while resting my foot. But, those are one of my collections of precious things that got left behind in one of the moves that happened in between leaving Ohio and arriving in Scotland. Paying for my medical care in the US instead of, as here, having the government provide it meant that once I was finished with something I got to keep it.
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 E (black-cyan)
In helping Benjamin with his revision I find that I remember some things more easily than he. While I can recall much that I was taught over twenty-five years ago, he forgets the same thing from a few weeks ago, perhaps something we have already also gone over at home. Revision helps him to dust off hazy memories but for his sake I wish it required less effort for him in the first place. I have not remembered everything: for example, despite being well-drilled in it at the time, I think I have forgotten a bunch of rotational dynamics with pendulums and whatnot. On average I think I remember a couple of years' teaching less of my school subjects than I once knew. But, much was interesting enough that it easily stuck for the long term. With his revision, at least Benjamin still does well.

I think that interest is key. Just as Benjamin does recall much detail of collectible card games, I easily forget domestic trivia. For instance, exercise seems to make my nose run, so this morning in the bedroom I intended to bring my handkerchief downstairs when I came to work out. Downstairs, I wondered if I had done this, and indeed I found the handkerchief in the expected place. What I do not know is if I was even mindful of bringing it downstairs, but forgot, or if I was entirely on autopilot. My UK driving test still puzzles me: obviously I was mentally engaged with that but immediately afterward I had almost no memory of it. (My Ohio test I recall but that was trivial.)

My exercise continues to frustrate somewhat. I am still not back at the level I was before visiting Cornwall. And, my performance continues to vary according to factors I cannot identify. Within the first five minutes I can guess if it is going to go well. One remaining theory is that my performance has less to do with my physical fitness and more to do with my brain varying in what signals it sends about how much it prefers me not to do this. I do not know how much to trust the precision with which the machine sets the resistance level but the variance in my performance is high enough that I think it is probably more about me than the machine. I have a few theories about the relevant independent variables, such as time of day, but nothing yet for which a regression would give a sufficiently low p-value. My approach is to persist anyway and hope that the long-term trend continues to be good.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
Visiting Cornwall meant taking over a week off exercising. The week before I left, I did a couple of workouts that the machine counted as 940 calories. The day after my return, I now manage a 900-calorie workout. I guess I have some ground to reclaim.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
I have long suffered from occasional lower back pain that has taught me to be careful when lifting and similar; spinal degeneration runs in my father's family. I have been told that increasing my core strength would help. I haven't been using the cross-trainer in the best ways for targeting core muscles but I also haven't had any episodes of back pain for some time now, except briefly after I have slept on my front, so perhaps my exercise has already been helping my back.

Update: I am told that my having lost plenty of weight may also much help my back.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
Far from the previous monotonicity, the variance in the cross-trainer's estimate of my calories burned keeps increasing, in line with how I feel about the workout at the time. Until I am into the workout I cannot tell how it will go. This morning I managed just 845 calories but on Thursday afternoon it was 890. I have been looking at factors like when I ate, time of day, etc., as predictors but so far no hypotheses are being borne out.
mtbc: maze K (white-green)
Our cross-trainer as currently assembled makes a variety of mechanical clanks, scrapes and clatters to accompany one's workout. I hadn't dreamt of listening to podcasts while using it and I had doubts about television reception in the garage. Today while looking at our storage containers and boxes I realized that I could download closed-captioned shows to my laptop computer and place it within view while I exercise.

The BBC are good at providing subtitles that I could read to obviate the need for being able to hear the program clearly. As for what to watch, a fallback could be, for instance, the latest World News Today but that is hardly much of an agreeable enticement. Still, something lasting not much over half an hour would be best. I shall have to look out for enough suitable short shows for a few viewings per week.

My forty-minute workouts have been going well of late: over the past fortnight I've not had one for which the machine estimated less than 850 of its calories.


mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
Mark T. B. Carroll

September 2017

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