The Healthening – 05/01/12

Afternoon all. Sherlock is back! Excellent stuff. Ending of first episode daft and unlikely. But, glad its back.


I begin week one of my lifestyle change with trepidation. I found an old record of my weight from ’07 and it was 14 stone and 7 pounds… so I’ve gained one and a half stone since university.

I think that happens to a lot of students- the drinkyhol, the cheap food, yada yada. Now it’s time to turn the trend around. Being obese, frankly, is rubbish. I also hate the word and intend to use it as little as possible, except when I need to remind myself how important this is.

There is a world between ‘fat’ and ‘obese’. The former sounds more like a degree of weight- a bit fat, fairly fat, very fat. The latter is more like a situation. Obese sounds medical. Obese is a tombstone. There has never been a cadaver in the morgue with merely ‘fat’ written on the toe tag.

So, seeking a starting point, I went to the local health centre. This is not a favourite activity- especially when I’m not actually ill. Sitting in the waiting room surrounded by the pox-ridden is no fun at all. Covering as many orifices as decorum would allow, I went to see the nurse.

Foxy nurse? Oh no. She was a he and he was almost the same size as me. Okay, no worries- I rarely practise what I preach. He did give me some info and a most handy booklet from the kind folks at British Heart Foundation, entitled ‘So you want to lose weight… for good’ (as opposed to… for evil).

The booklet is my friend, it tells me what to do and how to think and where to bury them. I will divulge gems from the booklet as and when I feel like it, or when I think it isn’t watching me. Here’s one: ‘Know when you’re hungry (in your stomach)’. Did that just blow your mind, or what?

Sillyness aside, the booklet does have a lot to say; info on fad diets (humbug) and meal ideas which will no doubt be useful. It also breaks down all the foods of the world into colour coded categories and portions. I can have 8 portions of starchy food- a portion being smaller than you might imagine (for example, 3 tablespoons of cereal is one). Small units make the whole thing a bit more modular- you can have more than one portion in a meal. Well, this coming week I will try to adhere to the BHF plan.

Nursey also described, in terms I have forgotten already, the steady release of insulin in the human body throughout the day. Insulin is released in intervals, so having meals at set times (including the all-important breakfast that I usually dodge) is important, as it makes the most of the insulin and achieves an efficient conversion of food to energy. Already I feel my mind slipping towards the simplicity of not caring, but I will and must try to make this work.

He recommended keeping a food diary. To this end I have employed the services of an app and website called ‘myfitnesspal’. So far I would recommend this app heartily- it allows you to enter your height and weight to get an idea of your daily allowance of calories. Then you add the foods you eat, in a diary style, by a little search function or even by scanning the barcode with your phone’s camera. Uh-may-zing. That has kept me busy for a while, entering every last thing I eat.

Practically speaking, that’s the extent of my regime so far. At first I will be avoiding an exercise program and strict dieting and instead just focus on what I currently eat and what needs to change. I have been eating pretty badly to be honest. I eat perhaps two takeaways a week; pizzas, burgers, but mostly chicken (KFC if I feel really deviant). I eat vegetables only when my girlfriend makes me (something like peas, one or two days a week) and fruit never enters the equation. I don’t mind mushrooms- they’re meaty and go nicely on a pizza. I dislike the flavour of most veg and fruit intensely and I do wonder if this is a learned habit that can be broken.

To add some background to my limited diet- a few years ago I didn’t even eat mushrooms. I touched no eggs or pasta for years. I drank Coca-Cola in its various forms every day, as a preference to water. These things changed gradually as I spent more time with my girlfriend. Now is the time for further change. Even if I hate it. Today- first day in years without a glass of coke. Strange and very necessary.

Obviously, takeaways have to go. Certainly no more than one a week. The gist is that the same meal cooked at home will be much better for you than the same from a takeaway. Some part of me is saddened to turn my back on this delightful and satisfying service- who can ignore the sheer ease of buying cooked food rather than messing about with ingredients and washing up. One hopes to save some money from having less takeaways, but even healthy food doesn’t exactly grow on trees (I know, how droll).

Speaking of which, I repeatedly come into contact with the advice of eating five fruit and/or vegetables a day. Now, I have an issue with this one. I can never make five. It’s meant to be easy, but I dislike most forms of vegetable and fruit to the point that I can’t eat them. Apples I can handle; they do what they say on the tin, they taste nice, they’re cheap. Oranges are okay, but breaking into them is a lot of effort for a man of idle tendencies. I believe there are some other fruits, but I’m not sure what they are called or what they do. I see them on television and in the market, but they come in funny shapes. Bananas? I’m not going to eat any fruit that looks so passive-aggressive.

I have some kind of apple and grape bag thing from the supermarket to stand in for regular snackage. This is a sad day. Where my chemicals at?


The Bretatron-how many calories are burned when procrastinating?

by Bret

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