Monday, 24 September 2012

Simplifying life

I've been hoping to post for a while some recipes, but my evenings have been short (what with the early nights) and my weekend was a bit crazy. As a complete aside to all things paleo and simple - the Singapore Grand Prix was fun to watch. Even if I was yawning through bits of it. Real shame for Hamilton, but I was glad to see Jenson on the podium. I started watching F1 because of him. I was at school at the time and a couple of friends told me in no uncertain terms that I had to watch the 2000 season because Jenson was racing and he was local. Google maps tells me it's less than a half hour drive between Jenson's hometown and the school I went to. For the first few races I couldn't even remember his name and just kept referring to him as "local boy". I don't claim he's the nicest driver or the best, but I've followed him since the beginning of his F1 career and I will follow him to the end of his F1 career. I like to think that I'll see him make champion again, but even if he doesn't then at least he has been champion. Ok, the F1 talk is over.

I want to comment on a huffington post article that I read the other day. The gist of what I'm taking away is that there's only so many decisions and only so much will power a person can have. It fits right in with a simple life. Keep things simple and you'll find decisions easier to make.

Keeping things specific to clothes though. I kind of love this post from the Art of Manliness blog. It's got a lovely breakdown for different kinds of guys. I think it keeps things simple and to the point. I also think it fits in with the idea of having clothes for different seasons. It makes it easier to keep things neat. And makes decisions about what to wear easier. I think if I was still living as a woman I would still seek to adapt something similar. There's no reason you can't cycle things in and out of rotation, but it stops you from being overwhelmed with choice.

I think making decisions easier is part of the reason I at least attempt to meal plan. If I have a rough idea of what I'm doing and what I need then it's easier to do. I'm not looking around my kitchen after a long day at work trying to work out what to make. Similarly by keeping my wardrobe simple I can just not worry about it. My wardrobe isn't as spiffy as I would like. But I'm lazy and my body is really awkward for clothes and I hate how I look. I hate wearing proper shirts because I am convinced that they make the shape of my chest more obvious. I hope to feel better about wearing shirts after chest surgery.

Anyway, I need to go to bed. I promise that there will be more posts and more photos. And some food soon. In other news - a second hen has started laying, but we're not consistently getting two eggs a day.

Monday, 17 September 2012

For a few days I ate like a normal person

I was staying with my girlfriend (who lives with her mother) for a few days (my girlfriend graduated on friday and I'm really proud of her) and when I'm a guest I don't impose my eating habits on other people. When I was young and vegetarian if I was a guest and they didn't realise I was vegetarian then I would eat the meat in front of me. And I was vegetarian because I didn't like the taste of meat.

Well the first thing to ruin was my gut. And then my hand. Back in June, the last time I really ate any wheat (for a few days), I came back from that trip and discovered that I was waking up in the morning with horrible numbing pins and needles in my hand. Everyone said that what I described sounded like early carpel tunnel. I was convinced back then that actually it might well be but that I was experiencing it then because of inflammation caused by the wheat. And so now it's back and the only real difference is that I ate wheat for a few days.

So eating like a normal person has upset my tummy and gives me symptoms like early carpel tunnel. I'm going away kind of with work in a couple of weekends time and will be staying in a hotel. Because in this country we like our cooked breakfasts I'm pretty sure I will be able to get eggs, fruit and coffee for breakfast but I'm thinking I will definitely have to inform the organisers that when it comes to lunch mine needs to be gluten free and I will need to make sure that I find myself gluten free dinner options too. So I will be taking some stuff with me in case options are limited. But with any luck I will be able to fill up in the morning on bacon and eggs. Because I won't be eating like a normal person any time soon. Why do people do this to themselves?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

So what IS the right weight for me?


So you can take a set of scales and a tape measure do a few sums and work out your BMI and your hip to waist ratio. Or you can get technical and complex and work out your body fat percentage (BF%). From working out your weight and your BF% you can work out how many pounds or kilos you need/want to lose. The downside there is that you have to be careful that it is fat that you're losing and not muscle. If you're not happy with what your BMI is telling you but you can't afford to get your BF% you can use photos of yourself and of individuals of known BF% and try and work out a rough estimate. These links might help towards that aim: 

There are problems with all these methods. Everyone knows that BMI doesn't take into consideration how much muscle you carry. I know that about a year ago I weighed about the same as I do now. Roughly 56kg. But in the last year I have lost two inches off my hips, my waist is the same, and I am visibly have more muscle than a year ago. Testosterone has given me more muscles, and although my weight and fat has gone up from it's low back in March, the change in hormones has meant that the fat has been laid down on my belly. The long and short it is that I am leaner than I was a year ago, although my weight remains the same. And importantly, my BMI is high but I am leaner than when I was just inside my range about 9 months ago (before T). Maybe I'm still overweight and need to lost fat (I'm actually not going to argue there) but I argue that when I was 55kg, and a "healthy" BMI I was fatter and therefore BMI is flawed. 

BMI was apparently championed by Ancel Keyes. His name should ring a bell amongst paleo/primal/WAPF/Real Food types. He is the reason that Conventional Wisdom tells people to eat low fat to be healthy via his Seven Countries study. He suggested BMI for POPULATION studies, and said it wasn't appropriate at individual level. I'm pretty sure that I remember a Denise Minger blog post where she found something to praise bout Keyes' work, and I think we can add to that praise and he didn't attempt to apply BMI to individuals. 

All of this, all of these different ways of measuring whether we're the right weight or not is about health. Vanity is something else. As I've already said if I was just worried about health I wouldn't care if I lose any more fat or not and I would just focus on being active and picking up heavy stuff sometimes. But when I am not depressed I am vain. I want to look good naked. So I want to lose some more fat so that my belly is a bit smaller. I wouldn't mind building some more muscle, which is of course going to make me heavier. 

If vanity is your aim then ditch the scales and use a mirror instead. Vanity is about how you look anyway. And if you're doing things right then you're not going to massively change things once you've gotten to the right place. You'll know if you have cheated yourself or done things that are likely to set you back and if you've done that and don't care then it was more important than your vanity. 

Healthy is another issue, and the reason many people chose to lose weight. This link goes to show weight isn't everything. I need to read the original article but in summary is suggests that it's not your weight that matters as much as how fit you are. From what I can tell from the BBC article they looked at blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and fitness/exercise levels. So if your blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure are good, and you get out and exercise then your exact weight isn't so important. 

I knew that when I started testosterone that figuring out my ideal weight was going to be harder. I could no longer rely on past experience for what a healthy weight was for me. Of the three methods commonly used by people to judge if they need to lose weight only one actually depends on what the scales say - BMI. From what I've learnt today I do think that we need to stop trying to apply BMI to individuals, but calculating BF% accurately can be expensive and needs to be monitored to check that it is fat rather than muscle we're losing. 

So what IS the right weight for me? I don't know. I suspect that it will be a couple of kg less than I am right now, but also that I could weigh a couple kg more and still be healthy. I won't be relying on weight anymore. I will continue to monitor it, but I'm not worrying about setting a target weight. My goal is visual - I want a flattish belly. I suggest others ditch their scales and instead plan a visual goal. The poor man's BF% measure. Whilst you're setting a visual goal - set a stress level and exercise goal too. I'll talk about mine in another post or two. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Fitness isn't just training harder

About 6 weeks ago I set myself a fitness goal. When I started paleo my fitness really wasn't great and to be honest it still isn't. I've had some gained but to be honest I think that's as much down to the testosterone injections I get as much as anything. So anyway, I set myself a goal because I wanted to see some improvement over time. It was simple and considering the gains I was making in that area would have been just a bit of a stretch over what I was expecting to have achieved. A year ago I couldn't do a push up, and by the 1st September I wanted to be about to do 20.

Well something hit the fan. I made gains over a couple of weeks and got to 12 push ups in one set and I could follow that with a second set where I could get to 10. At about this point my housemate started being away more (because he's a craftsman and summer = shows and running courses). The affect this has on me is that I have to step up and spend more time exercising the dog and also get up earlier. So I was doing more activity and getting less rest. And it started to tell on my exercise. I struggled to make gains and then struggled to reach that figure of 12.

The second stage of hitting the fan was mental. I have an inkling, although I'm not certain, that exhaustion took its toll mentally. I'm battling depression and anxiety at the moment. I mean borderline going back onto anti-depressants depression. I've had a bit of a rollercoaster for the last couple of months when it comes to my mental health to be honest. So I have been throwing my energy into fighting that well of pain. With that always comes a degree of comfort eating. I think I was comfort eating more a couple of months ago, and after a scary moment where my weight topped 9 stone (I was nearly down to 8 back in March), and that aspect of my eating has been much more back on track but still not completely gone.

So I didn't meet my training goal because I got side tracked by stress and depression. The moral of this story is that health isn't down to just diet or just exercise but a complex of elements. I personally, and I'm sure others are the same, need to monitor and control stress levels, rest, and generally our mental health. I would like to work on my fitness again after a few weeks with no "training" (although owning a dog I never escape exercise completely) but I need to sort my rest first. Yee gods this whole health thing is a right old battle on multiple fronts for me.