10,000 steps challenge

So, this month I have been mostly trying to achieve 10,000 steps a day. To those who are active in their job or daily life that might sound easy, but for those of us who are sedentary during our working lives it is far from easy. It equates to round about four and a half miles a day or seven kilometres.

Back in January I saw a challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK and I decided that I would go for it. I generally achieve 70,000+ steps over the course of a week, but about 40% of that total is reached over a weekend. Mondays to Thursdays I can get anywhere from 8000-9000 steps in a day as my daily working life is spent sitting in front of a computer, sometimes not moving for over an hour. I do try to get up and walk around, go to the printer, go and get water, go to the loo, go to make tea in the kitchen, but the reality is that there is work to be done, so I can’t be wandering around all the time! I also set myself a target of getting at least 250 steps an hour, but unfortunately I generally only achieve that on a weekend. Working is seriously detrimental to one’s health in my opinion!

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are much easier to get the total and in fact, far exceed it. On Fridays I finish work earlier than the rest of the week and have time to go more walks with the dog, go to do some shopping, which allows me to get easy steps walking around the shops. I have been parking at the furthest space from the door of the shopping centre so that I have to walk further. On Saturdays, I also have plenty of time to walk the elderly doggy and go for more energetic walks on my own, as the doggy can’t keep up. On several occasions over the last weekend, I had reached my total by midday! I chose not to sit on my backside for the rest of the day, as I could have done, but I kept going, getting more and more steps, getting as many as 17,000 or 18,000.

This means that on Mondays to Thursdays I had to be creative in my quest to get the 10,000 total. I have gone so many extra walks both with the doggy and on my own, sometimes zig-zagging across the road to get some additional steps. I have walked around supermarkets up and down every aisle, even though I only needed a couple of items and while my husband took aaaages picking a beer to drink. I have been dropped off at the end of the road to walk home, walked up and down a train station platform, had extra trips to the gym, bopped along to an 80’s heart-throb, bounced a gorgeous baby all in a quest to get over the 10,000 total.

Thankfully, the challenge is coming to an end this week and it has been a challenge, but one, which I was determined to achieve. I could easily have said that over the course of the week I get 70,000 and just yesterday I smashed the 310,000 step total (31 days in March times 10,000 steps) four days ahead of target. The challenge, however, was 10,000 steps per day and that was what I have (almost) achieved!

Advertisements

Doctors, who needs them?

OK, so I confess. I have not been as fastidious as I intended to be. I have not recorded every morsel of food that has touched my lips since my last post. I know that this is because I have not been as well-behaved as I should have been. Now that I have been watching what I eat for more than a year, I know what I can get away with. Or at least I think I can. Unfortunately I am wrong. Over Christmas and throughout January, the weight has been steadily creeping back on to the fact that I have now put on 10lbs. I had lost just shy of 3 stone (42lbs) and now I had negated that good work. Over the past year I had mainly avoided bread and bread products, cakes etc (with the odd relapse) whereas I had started to reintroduce it back into my diet. I know now that this is dangerous. Bread is the devil’s work! As a result of my weight increasing, my blood sugar has also been steadily increasing. I used to have it controlled to between 5 and 6 whereas lately it has been more in the high 6’s and 7’s. Not good enough if I want to stay off medication, which I do.

It has not helped that I feel like I have been abandoned by my doctors. They feel that an annual review is enough, whereas I feel that it is not. I tried to make an appointment to have blood taken to check my HbA1c and was told that I could not do so without authorisation from a doctor. I was forced to make an appointment to discuss this on the phone with my doctor. The conversation went something like this…

Doc: “So how can I help you today ?”

Me: “I would like to have my HbA1c tested. I was diagnosed in December 2015, tested again in January 2016 and then in July/August 2016 as I felt that a year was too long.”

Doc: “The national guidelines recommend a yearly test.”

Me: “I don’t feel that yearly is enough for a newly diagnosed patient. I feel like I have been left to my own devices.”

Doc: (indignantly) “What do you mean “left to your own devices” ?”

Me: “I feel like I have had little support or advice from the surgery, other than my appointment with the nurse after my initial appointment.”

Doc: “You attended the DESMOND Course, which is where we refer all of our newly diagnosed patients.”

Me: “Yes, and that course was useful, but again, that was last February and we are more than a year on from that.”

Doc: “Do you know what your HbA1c is?”

Me: “no, that is why I want it tested. Last time it was 37….”

Doc: (cuts me off) “Not the value, do you know what the HbA1c measures?”

Me: “my glycaemic control over the last few weeks and …”

Doc: (cuts me off again) “your control over the last 3 to 6 months, which is why we do not deem it necessary to test more often than that.”

Me: (thinking well why don’t you test every 6 months, then ?!) “well, I feel that I need greater control. I had lost 3 stone and some of that weight has started to creep back on, and I am worried that I am not in control as much as I should be.”

Doc: “OK, we can test it, just make an appointment.”

How difficult was that?! Here I am trying to do the right thing, keep an eye on my blood sugar and try to continue losing weight and getting little in the way of support from the people who should be supporting me the most. Mind you, if I had followed the advice I was given right after my diagnosis, which was to eat more bread and more pasta, goodness only knows where I would be now. Probably with little to no weight loss and with a high HbA1c level. Thank goodness my husband decided to look into it and encourage me to do the same. Doctors, who needs them?!

 

 

 

Fitbit maniac

I decided, after months of deliberation to get myself a Fitbit. I was worried that I would quickly become bored of it, so had put it off for ages and taken advice from several people before finally taking the plunge. As a bonus I got it in the Black Friday sale, down to £79.99 from £99.99 and as a further bonus, I got my mum to give me some money towards it as part of my Christmas present!

My fears were unfounded and I still love it after wearing it for nearly 6 weeks now.I started off putting in every calorie that touched my lips, however, that novelty soon wore off and as I ate more things over Christmas, especially those that were not on the “approved” list I decided I would skip that part for a while….. On the other hand, every other aspect is brilliant. I love that it keeps me focused on getting at least my 10,000 steps per day. On days where I walk the dog at least twice this is easily manageable, but when I don’t I know that I really need to make a concerted effort to reach that target.  I don’t always and I am not going to go out at 11pm and run round the block just to reach the target! ( I know people who run up and down the stairs or walk down the street to get it!) When I exceed the target I love it! The most I have ever managed was walking round Munich recently when we walked everywhere and I managed more than 19,000 steps. I love that it tells me how many calories I am burning just when standing still! I love that it monitors my sleep and tells me that I have an almost uninterrupted sleep when my husband is not there…. separate beds are in the near future I think!

Now that I am back on the wagon, I think I will go back to recording every morsel of food that passes my lips. Even if it is not “approved”.

Back on the wagon

Last year at this time, I was just coming to terms with the fact that I had just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and wondering what it all meant. I had knuckled down straight away and lost half a stone over Christmas before getting on the weight loss wagon seriously in January. Over the last year, I have lost almost 3 stone (still that elusive two pounds away!) and changed my diet totally. I will admit to becoming a little bit blasé, thinking I had got this thing down pat and didn’t need to pay so much attention to what I was doing. Boy, was I wrong!

Christmas is a dangerous time and I really must have been denying myself everything last year when I managed to lose half a stone! From lunches at work, with chocolate tarts, to afternoon teas and coffees out with friends, to meals out, to Christmas dinner with more chocolate tart and trifle, I can see that it is my own fault that those pesky pounds have started to creep on one by one. As I sit here now on 4th January I am 12 stone 10 lbs. In total, since I was at the doctors on 15th December 2015, I have lost 2 stone and 3 lbs, so I am still very proud of that fact and I am not beating myself up over the fact that I have put a few pounds back on. It just means that I need to rein myself back in and get back on the weight loss wagon. No more of the things I listed above and back to colourful salads, no bread and wheat pasta and fewer dairy products. The way I see it is that it is all a journey and I now have 1 stone 5 lbs to lose, which is totally do-able. I have already done it and found it relatively easy, so it should be easy enough this time. It is certainly easier sitting here now, with 1 stone 5 lbs to go, rather than the 3 and a half stone (nearly 4 in fact!)  I had to lose this time last year. I think that if I had thought about the enormity of what I had to lose at that point, I would probably have given up then and there. Let’s face it, I have enjoyed putting the calories in, so I can’t complain about putting in a bit of work to get the pounds off. No pain, no gain, as they say…..(just who are “they” anyway?!)

 

Saboteurs

I have found that saboteurs are all around. Since I have started this weight loss journey, so many people have reacted negatively in one way or another and I have been trying to work out what their problem(s) is (are).

On the surface they are minor comments or gestures, which seem insignificant, but when you put them all together, it adds up to a whacking great load of negativity. For the last few years, after attending a seminar by a motivational speaker, I have tried to think more positively. Instead of using negative words, such as saying “I am so tired” as you will hear lots of people saying, I say “I could be more awake” (unless it is 11pm and I really do want to sleep!). In the first sentence, the brain focuses on the word “tired” and means that you will feel more tired, whereas in the second, the brain focuses on the word “awake” and you feel more awake. If you say “I keep forgetting to do that!” then you will keep on forgetting to do that. Change it to say ” I must remember to do that” and you will remember. It really does work, believe me! Unfortunately, as a race, the Scots are not a positive bunch and they like to belittle people’s attempts at improving their situation. Here are just a few of the things I have had to contend with.

I have mentioned that the ladies I work with are obsessed, nay o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d with their weight and with food. One of them does whatever fad diet is in fashion that week, such as weird and wonderful juices, which are almost unpalatable and never sticks to it. Another is doing Slimming World, but doesn’t seem to be particularly successful.  Another is not doing any classes or diets, and then beats herself up over having a Chinese takeaway at the weekend or some deep-fried food and never manages to lose anything either. It took all of them ages to actually comment on my weight loss. Now, I am not the type to go around looking for compliments, but a few other people had started to notice and it was getting pretty obvious. The SW one said to me (when the other two were not there) “so what are you doing then to lose weight?” I decided that people would be judgemental if I said I was using a diet supplement so I just told her that I had cut out all the crap from my diet and was carefully controlling portion sizes and eating fewer carbs. I wasn’t telling any lies, just not giving 100% of what I was doing. She said that it certainly seemed to be working and asked how easy I was finding it. I told her it was not just a “diet” but a whole lifestyle change and that it was actually pretty easy, although it wasn’t at the beginning. You could see the scepticism in her face that I wouldn’t keep it up. The one who doesn’t do anything was the most complimentary when she saw me walk into the office one day and told me that she hadn’t realised before how much weight I had lost and I was looking great. The faddy dieter took until June to mention to me and it was only because we were walking along in the corridor at work together (she returning from the kitchen as I emerged from the toilet as she passed – really bad timing!). Her observation was that I was losing weight on my shoulders?!?! Strange way to pay a compliment, no?

Other comments I have had:

“it’s all the walks with the dog she has been going on” (I have had my dog for 2 years!) – this was my mother

“you would be better off drinking wallpaper paste for all the good that’ll do you” – colleague who practices the 5:2 diet when I told her I was using Slimfast

“are you shrinking?” “is it intentional?” “we wondered if you were ill” – another colleague speaking on behalf of the gossips in her department

“stop losing weight now, you have lost enough” – my auntie, who thinks I have lost too much weight with still one stone to go to get to the top of my target weight range

“how are you getting on with it (the Slimfast) as I know you found it difficult? Are you used to it now?” – my mother-in-law questioning how I was finding using Slimfast. This may not come across as negative, but she had been asked by my husband not to question me about it. She then also offered to make me something to eat or a cup of tea, as that cannot be enough to keep me going until lunchtime

when are you going to stop losing weight? You have lost enough now. If you lose any more you will look ill” – a friend, who is several stones overweight and thinks that is normal

Why can’t people just be happy about the fact that I am losing weight for my own good, simply to be healthier and be around for a few more years. I am not doing it to get praise or recognition or compliments, just doing it for myself. I don’t really care what anyone else thinks, I will just keep going on down my path and keep deflecting the negativity.

 

 

 

 

The elusive 3 stone

When I started this “journey” back in December I was 14 stone 13 pounds and at some point prior to that had been over 15 stone, but for the purposes of this exercise I used 14 stone 13 as a starting point. The Doctor had recorded 14 stone 13 lbs back in December, and by 3rd January I had already lost 7 lbs, which was pretty amazing over the festive season, I thought!

I decided from 3rd January that I would check my weight every day but would only record it on a weekly basis on a Saturday or Sunday. People advise against weighing yourself every day as you can get too hung up on a pound or two, but I felt it would help me see the immediate effects or, you could say, consequences of what I was eating on my weight. I already knew what I should avoid, but it wouldn’t do any harm to see the effects in black and white (or grey and black as on an electronic scale). It would mean that I could immediately know that I would need to reign myself in and have a well-behaved day and get that pound (or two) off.

I started recording every week what my weight, body fat content and water composition was. According to a few sources a healthy body fat for a woman aged between 20 and 40 (I am still there, just!) is  21-33%. My body fat was 37.4 – not great! For water composition, there are a few different theories, but essentially at age 30-39 your water composition should be 50% and between 40-49 it should be 47%. Mine was 45.6%, not too far off where it should be, but still room for improvement.

Over the first few weeks I could see a definite improvement, losing on average 3 lbs a week.I could also see an improvement on my body fat composition and water. At the end of the initial 8 week “blood sugar diet” period, my weight had gone down to 12 stone 13lbs, body fat from 37.4 down to 32.8 and water composition up from 45.6% to 49%. That was a 2 stone loss – 24 lbs in total and more than my 21 lbs target I had set at the beginning (10% of my body weight). I could hardly believe it and it showed that I was definitely on the right track.

Into March I kept going, losing on average 1-2 lbs per week. Some weeks I stayed the same, others I lost a bit more, but remember that I was not sticking strictly to the blood sugar diet as I had been in January and February. I was still following it around 50%, watching my sugar and carbohydrate intake, but I was allowing myself the odd treat and even the occasional meal out. I knew that I wouldn’t go back to my previous ways, I couldn’t if I wanted to stay on this path. Throughout April, May I carried on still losing a pound to two pounds per week, still improving on the body fat and water composition.

In August, I reached the holy grail of the 3 stone mark! 11 stone 13 lbs!! I even took a photo of the screen on my scales to prove it and sent it by text to my husband to prove it! I could not quite believe it. Unfortunately in order to claim this as a proper victory I decided that I would need to maintain it or better it for at least one week. Needless to say I didn’t manage to maintain it for the next week, so although I did manage to reach the holy grail, I lost grip of it pretty quickly and haven’t been able to find it again!

At the moment, I am sitting at anywhere between 12 stone 1 and 12 stone 7. I do think that your own body knows itself and knows what the ideal weight for it is and maybe my body has found it’s own ideal weight. According to the NHS, however, for my height of 5 feet 6, I should be somewhere between 8 stone 2 and 11 stone. I doubt I would ever see 8 stone anything unless I start down an anorexic route (highly unlikely) but even 11 stone I think would be quite an achievement. I think, if I can get down to 11 stone 6 I think I would be happy. I am giving myself until 3rd January 2017 to get there.

 

 

The 6 month review

After my first diabetic review in January I had been told that I would be reviewed again in a year. A year? A newly diagnosed person with a chronic illness and there would be no real follow up for a year? I felt that a year was far too long and that I had been pretty much abandoned by the medical profession. They said I could make an appointment myself if I needed anything, such as podiatry but there was no offer of anything particularly useful, such as a dietitian. Although I know that diabetes can lead to nerve damage and that’s why it is important to look after the feet, my feet are absolutely fine and I look after them myself. I can still reach them for one thing, which is more than a lot of Type 2 diabetics can do!

I decided in August that I would make an appointment to get blood taken myself. I phoned the surgery and asked for an appointment with the nurse. “Why?” asked the receptionist. “To get blood taken.” was my response. “Which doctor asked you to have the tests?” “No doctor, I want to have them done myself.” Silence. “You can’t request to have blood taken yourself” she said. I told her that I was newly diagnosed and that I was told to have a review in 6 months, which finally seemed to pacify her and I was given an appointment.

I went first thing in the morning, although it didn’t have to be a fasting appointment this time. While I was there I asked the nurse to take my weight, which was around 78kg. I liked to have it recorded at every visit, so that they could see how serious I was about managing the diabetes myself. I was in and out pretty quickly and had said I wouldn’t be back at work until 9.30 so I treated myself to a Costa coffee and a raisin swirl as a reward for being good. The results would be back in a week they said, but they would call me if there was anything unusual.

I waited a week and then called the surgery to find out my result. First time it had been 59, last time it had been 45. I gave my name and date of birth to the receptionist and told her that it was my HbA1c result I was looking for. I was fully expecting it to be around the 40-45 mark, but one of my friends, who is a doctor thought it might be below 40, which I thought was being overly optimistic. You could have knocked me down with a feather when she said “37”. I had to ask her to repeat it, as I thought for a moment she had said “57.” “Three-seven, thirty-seven?” I asked. “Yes, oh and there is a note with it from one of the doctors to say well done for getting it back to within the normal range.” Wouldn’t it have been great if it could have been the doctor I saw originally. It wasn’t, but you know what? I’ll take it anyway!