Saturday, 3 March 2012

Diet Report 7: Heavy Week

Anatomy Of A Day's Food Intake

Maybe I should have called this "Calorific Week" but heavy is a vaguer word that has more connotation. To start in the obvious sense: this week I clocked possibly the most days high up to the calorie limit as I had since week one. Also I didn't get as much walking in because of crappy weather and wanting to get work done in my lunch hour.

I'm still on restricted calories even coming close to the ceiling but I noted that eating enough to come much closer to that ceiling did leave me with a feeling that perhaps I wasn't savouring the food I was eating to a greater degree. In other words I felt a little unappreciative. Probably the most notable example of this was Monday when I ate:

  • Porridge (206 kcal)
  • Banana and apple (forgot my daily yoghurt) (167 kcal)
  • Sainsbury's Frozen Red Thai Curry w/Coconut Rice (459 kcal)
  • Breaded pollock fillets on a hearty salad (804 kcal)
  • Nakd Cocoa Delight Bar (135 kcal)
  • Cheddar Cheese (40g) (161 kcal)

That looks like quite a lot of food. Along with drinks (coffee and a glass of milk) I recorded 2070 calories on Monday, 6 away from my daily limit. I didn't feel bloated, I didn't feel unhealthy, the Cheddar Cheese and glass of milk were, in particular, required to make up my fat quota which had not been otherwise satisfied. (NOTE: Most of the heaviness in the calories this week came from CARBS particularly sugar, not fat... no surprises there.)

The heart of the matter was that I felt if I was eating all of those things in a single day how much could I really be appreciating any of them? As worries go, it's a minor one; I mention it to illustrate the evolution of my attitude to and feelings about food as a  part of my life. When I was fat I would easily have eaten more than that and not worried at all about whether I was really enjoying any of it. I would assume I had been, which, in retrospect means, I guess, that I wasn't. Not to the extent that I am now.

Mrs Monkey said that Weight Watchers had advised her similarly that after a while on the scheme food would actually begin to taste better and she had dismissed it as hyperbole. But we both have noticed this trend and it's not a bad one.

Time For Action

We also enjoyed the excellent Horizon on the BBC this week (UK readers can watch the programme on iPlayer until Tuesday and I would heartily recommend that). In this programme we learned about NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), the tricks our brain plays on us when we begin exercising and that three minutes of HIT (High Impact Training) a week can deliver remarkable results.

We've both been dieting now for nearly two months and this is about the time that exercising should enter the arena. Not least because it will give our metabolisms (metaboli?) a kick at a time when our bodies are at risk of becoming used to the calorie restriction. Besides exercise delivers many benefits that are not to do with weight loss but compliment them nicely. In fact, the Horizon also reinforces a very important point. Exercise is a minor aid in weight loss but calorie restriction is the key component, without the diet the exercise alone is useless for weight loss.

One of the main problems therefore is how to maintain enthusiasm for something that is only of tertiary benefit to the situation in which we find ourselves? One of the most important features of any exercise programme is that it includes a daily component. The problem is that we have busy lives (I mean all of us in the world but myself and Mrs Monkey are included by default) and doing too little is just as bad as doing nothing, right?

Well, the Horizon programme states in no uncertain terms that this isn't necessarily true. For non UKers and lazy people I will summarise: NEAT is the concept of how much moving about you do on a daily basis, just walking around, doing menial tasks, that kind of thing. It is surprising what a high impact this has on our metabolism. Essentially the killer is staying still in one place for too long. Periods of inactivity should be interspersed with bursts of action or else we suffer all sorts of sleepy metabolism problems.

HIT is a phenomenon where we can improve the glucose exchange sugar-scrubbing function of our body by doing some incredibly active whole body exercise in three twenty second bursts three times a week. It's not a replacement for more dedicated exercise sessions but, amazingly it does help. As the Horizon disclaimer said: Consult your doctor before trying it. Although given the state of information flow through doctor's surgeries that we've experienced lately the doctor will probably just say: "Yeah, sure, give it a try, can't hurt".

My dear old grandmother always used to tell me that ten minutes a day would help and, if anything, she was overshooting some in that assessment. However, she wasn't at all wrong. I guess we should all listen to what our grandmothers say more often.

I myself am looking to participate in some HIT (I'm skipping the doctor's visit so if I drop dead I guess it's my own fault) the guy in Horizon was on an exercise cycle. I have gone for a less expensive solution. Skipping. An exercise skipping rope is about 3GBP, the exercise tones almost the whole of the body, is aerobic and improves coordination.

When I first got the rope I gave it a go and Mrs Monkey felt moved to step in. Unbelievable as it may sound it turns out that I was unaware how to skip. In case you are also living in a fool's paradise, believing you know how to skip when really you don't, here's Denny the Trainer to show you how (BTW what I thought was skipping is here termed the "Girly Jump"):

The problem is that learning to skip will take some time so the High Impact part of my Training will have to  wait until I can work up the rhythm that this guy has.

Anyway, the short of it is that doing a bit of skipping in the front garden seems like a do-able daily routine. I will keep you updated as to my progress. Myself and Mrs Monkey have also taken the plunge and joined my company's gym plan in association with the daily training we should be able to make exercise a part of our lives on a more permanent basis. We have managed about three months of sporadic training before but like the dieting now we need to make it stick.

The Park In Winter

It seems that spring is just around the corner, which is fine because it's better than a windy, cold and rainy March time and is really much appreciated. However, I have always had a small place in my heart for winter. The only weather I really can't stand is humid, sticky heat. In the spirit of remembering that winter can be quite beautiful despite the cold and the short days - and to remind you where the exercise concept began - here are some pictures from a walk in the park a couple of Saturdays ago, a day so cold that the park cafĂ©'s front entrance had frozen shut and they had to serve us hot drinks out of the side window:

Catch you all later for the weigh in.

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