Health Diary Week 0: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The Starting Point (I’ve got to do this!)

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Photo by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay.

Background

…So, today it starts seriously. I need to sort out my weight and fitness levels. I’m fed up with disliking the way I look (I’m avoiding looking in full-length mirrors and my clothes don’t fit), but more importantly I want to be healthy and my body hurts from the excess weight on my joints.

My harsher side feels ashamed that I let myself go again. My kinder side reminds me not to beat myself up – the past five years have involved intense studying, with long hours sat in front of a computer and high stress levels.

Photo by Ambadi Sasi from Pixabay.

Now I’m at my heaviest again – last time was due to a long-term jogging injury to my feet when I was 33. For several years I couldn’t stand more than 30 minutes before experiencing excruciating pain (a pain always in the background now). A referral to a podiatrist revealed hypermobility[1] and I was advised my days of high impact sport were over. No more jogging or tennis for me. I was gutted!

The changing shape of me!

Current Situation

But back to now… a few weeks ago I decided I really needed to take some action, as my stomach was noticeably bigger, I couldn’t fit into most of my clothes and my boots wouldn’t zip-up around my calves! My self-esteem has gradually decreased as I’ve become bigger and I want to feel healthy again.

My calf-boot-zip issue!

Planning Stage

… I set up a spreadsheet (I’m a bit of a nerd!) to record my progress. This included a diary to monitor my sleep (poor sleep being a potential contributory factor in weight gain – more on this later), diet (I’ll explain food choices in following blogs), activity (exercise, social events) and health (both physical and mental).

Additionally, I decided to keep a food diary for at least a month, possibly 3, so that I can analyse results better.

My slightly nerdy spreadsheet.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Okay, this is the incredibly uncomfortable part!

I weighed myself, which I found highly depressing – 175 lb (79 kg) at 160cm tall (5 ft 3 inches), placing me in the ‘obese class 1‘ category with a BMI of 31[2]. My scales calculated 43.4% of me was fat! According to the Salter scales handbook, women in their 40s need to aim for 24-34% fat. However, I’ve read that these bioimpedance scales aren’t necessarily accurate for measuring fat, although they do provide a good indication of which direction fat percentage is moving, so I’ll keep recording this regardless.

The dreaded scales!

Scarily, my waist circumference was 100 cm, 20 cm more than the recommendation for European Caucasian women, indicating abdominal obesity and a ‘very high risk’ of developing a metabolic disease (e.g. heart disease, type 2 diabetes)[3]. It’s crucial I sort this out!

Feeling Motivated

Motivated to take further action by these scary results, I followed up with a session on my exercise bike – an intended everyday activity.

My fold-up exercise bike (handy in limited living space).

So, here I am, at the beginning of another health journey – one that will likely have some ‘downs‘ along with the ‘ups’. However, now I don’t feel like I’m doing this alone, as I’ll be reporting my progress to those willing to read these blogs (you) and perhaps you’ll even join me with your own personal journey back to health…

Week 1>>>
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References

1. Hypermobility Syndromes Association, 2017. What are hypermobility syndromes? [online]. Available from: www.hypermobility.org/what-are-hypermobility-syndromes.
2. World Health Organisation: Regional Office for Europe, 2019. Body mass index – BMI. Available from: www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/a-healthy-lifestyle/body-mass-index-bmi.
3. Alberti, K. G. M. M., Eckel, R. H., Grundy, S. M., Zimmet, P.Z., Cleeman, J. I., Donato, K. A., Fruchart, J., James, P. T., Loria, C. M. and Smith, S. C., 2009. Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome: a joint interim statement of the international diabetes federation task force on epidemiology and prevention; National heart, lung, and blood institute; American heart association; World heart federation; International atherosclerosis society; and International association for the study of obesity. Circulation [online], 120, 1640-1645. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192644.

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