04 March 2005

Weighty issues concerning food

Since the start of February I have been trying to reduce my body weight. The issue of weight reduction, so simply expressed, is complicated by a raft of personal and social issues. Preparedness to reduce my weight is dependent on my willingness to admit that I am overweight. Attempting to lose weight requires me to make some lifestyle changes, such as no longer drinking alcohol. Shedding weight is not considered a manly concern: it is not what blokes do. In contrast, most women I know are trying to lose weight: the issue is one that is very much associated with women (Fat is a Feminist Issue). All the same, it would be hard to describe my body shape as sveldte. I would not look out of place at a pub darts match - come to think of it, I have played in pub darts matches! Less wittily, I receive verbal comments and insults on a daily basis regarding my body shape, frequently shouted after me by, although by no means exclusively, young people. I have been physically assaulted in a mild but unpleasant manner twice because of the challenge felt by strangers regarding my body shape: "When's it due?" each asked (15 months apart) while poking me in the stomach. I witness much non-verbal behaviour towards me that indicates the discomfort that some people feel in my presence. I could ignore the abuse and the discomfort of other people, but that would seem both a little dishonest (a pretence would be more accurate), and also a wasted opportunity to invigorate my motivation to lose some weight.

Happily, or perhaps sadly, there were more objective criteria as well. With a Body Mass Index of 28, I was closer to the 'obese' portion of 'overweight' than to the 'normal' portion. It was not even that I had pigged out over Chritmas and the so-called 'festive season': I was simply slowly though inexorably gaining weight. My blood pressure was consistently high, with a diastolic oscillating between the high nineties and the low teenies, and frequently in the naughties. I believed that, were I to weigh less, my blood pressure would reduce. I was feeling tired quite a lot of the time, making it hard to concentrate on my work. As a response, I tended to use strong coffee to keep me alert during the day, and alcohol in the evening to counteract the stimulant effects of the coffee. I was hoping that a reduction in my weight would give me back some of my natural energy.

On Monday 1 February 2005 I weighed myself several times, arriving at a weight somewhere between 94.5 kg and 95 kg. The bathroom scales are not best known for their precision, or even their accuracy. A clutch of readings, averaged, seemed more likely to produce a fair result. It may also be true that, if one is attempting to measure in units of 100g, then a mug of tea and a slice of toast are likely to affect the reading. On Sunday 14 February 2005 I weighed 91.5 kg. On Wednesday 2 March 2005 I weighed 87.9 kg. My body weight has dropped. According to some website I found concerning BMI and other measures of obesity, the BMI of 53% of men my age in the US is higher than mine. Moreover, the same website confidently asserts that social perception would give my ideal weight for my height as 82 kg. I have my doubts.

I have three target weights:
a) 82 kg - for my height, this weight would give me a BMI that is on the boundary between 'normal' and 'overweight', and I wish this to become a future ceiling;
b) 73 kg - this would put my BMI in the middle of 'normal';
c) 63 kg - for my height, this weight would give me a BMI that is on the boundary between 'normal' and 'underweight', and would give me back my 18 year old body shape.
I have a long way to go in reducing my weight.

I am hoping that there is a good correlation between my weight and my body shape, so I shall no longer be exposed to the taunts and sniggers of total strangers. I know that to appear trimmer I must exercise my tummy muscles. The trouble is that I avoid vigorous tummy exercise because my hiatus hernia objects to it painfully.

My supposed diet largely consists of a great deal of fruit, the absence of alcohol, much less starch and slightly smaller portions. I have been trying to walk further and more often as my preferred means of exercise. I started February with a ten day detox: some detox medicine from Tesco's and an abstinence from coffee, the latter of which I have continued. However, in all, my diet does not amount to much. I have a nagging sense of guilt that the diet is not more demanding ("If it isn't hurting, it isn't working.") The thing is, though, it is working. Lots of people have commented on their perception that I have lost weight. Good. Long may my weight loss continue, for I have yet many more kilos to lose.

31 December 2007
My weight, now 89 kg, has remained fixed in the high eighties (84-90 kg). Since my detox nearly three years ago I have abstained from alcohol, and from snacks. I have also taken to walking longer distances more frequently: five or six miles three of four times each week, as well as shorter distances on most other days. I find it demoralising that, with one exception period, my weight did not continue to fall. Over two and a half weeks in Japan, my weight fell by six kilos. Due to extreme difficulty in locating vegan food, I was close to fasting for several days at a time, mostly eating only a little fruit, grabbing a meal only every couple of days. I went to Japan with high expectations of eating well: noodles, tofu, miso soup, seaweed, and sushi brushed with wasabi. Although my intention had not been to lose weight, my weight fell to 84 kg. However, the ratio of gain to pain was appalling. We were walking for miles through the streets of Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara. The heat was terrific: 38 degrees Celsius most days. By the time we arrived home I was physically run down. It was not a good way to lose weight. To add insult to injury, most of the weight came back quickly.

No comments: