13 July 2014

This is a health post – and I want to put it out there at the start that I’m not intending to imply any judgement about health in general or other people’s lifestyle choices in particular (or any reflection on the appropriateness or otherwise of the use of the BMI scale). All the same, I am trying to own my story here and my health and workouts- what my body is capable of – are just as much a part of that story as the creative and academic activities my mind is capable of.

I would like to weigh less than I do, for sure, for any number of reasons. I have an eating disorder diagnosis, and I recognise that I employ those disordered behaviours to help me out when life feels like too much of a struggle. As a result, I go through periods of success in weightloss and periods of stalling and re-gaining where it seems to me that (regardless of the reality) my weight and my physicality are beyond my control. That feeds into its own little side-cycle of depression and that’s where I’ve been stuck for the past few months. I feel like I’m trying and nothing works – leading to the conclusion that if I try harder it will still not work and I will end up more frustrated and more depressed. A slightly bonkers but self-reinforcing negative cycle.

Well it may not work, but just because it may not work is not a reason not to try. I know that if I go through the motions, I will at least feel hopeful in the short-term and that’ll free me up to relax and focus on other things which will take my mind off food and feeling anxious about my weight doom – a self-reinforcing positive cycle which I can kick off by my own actions, today.

I am fairly lucky in that my long-term obesity doesn’t seem to have had any major effect on my internal health as yet. My BP (unfailingly bang-on 120/80) and cholesterol etc. are all normal and I’m not pre-diabetic. My resting pulse is high (70s) which is bound to have a long-term effect, but my cardiovascular capacity is awesome. We have great physical health in our family genetically, with three grandparents still alive in their ’90s, and I’m guessing this is why I’ve been able to survive obesity my whole life so far without complications – the only side effects being musculoskeletal fatigue and the aforementioned depression. I’m not taking this for granted – I want to lose weight – and I know my body would like to be super-healthy want to engage its health-focused capabilities to achieve this.

Which brings us to workouts, today. I went the first five months of this year working out 5-6 days a week but I’ve been a bit disillusioned with that lately, so I think I need to come up with a plan to make workouts more interesting and trackable. I have a pulse counter app on my phone and a HR strap monitor I can use for training. The app has the following zones mapped out for my gender/age:
115-135: fitness zone
135-154: aerobic
154-173: anaerobic
173+ : extreme fitness!!!

It makes sense to me to spend a load of time hanging out in the “aerobic” zone to lose weight, and also to interval-train up into the higher reaches to see how fit I can get (would be great to lower my resting pulse into the 60s but I guess this is a dual effect of weightloss and fitness).

I started out today with a bike workout (nb there is ABSOLUTLEY NO REASON why I could not do this on any given day!) and did 15 mins in the aerobic zone, after a 3-minute warmup getting into it. I have no problem with breathing at that level – my breathing is deeper, faster and heavier, but it’s smooth and not uncomfortable. The problem I have is in my legs, my muscles get tired quite easily. So I need to work on that, or increase my tolerance to the discomfort. Practice makes perfect right?!

After that I hung out for 5mins in the “fitness” zone, and then I wanted to see just how high I could push my HR so I cranked up the resistance and went for it. It took me about 90 seconds to reach the 173 threshold and a further minute to peak at 191. It might not be 100% accurate but it’ll do as a relative measure. Then I did a cool-down back to the fitness zone for the remainder of the 30mins (+3min warmup). With a BMI today of 42.6 I would be considered morbidly obese – ain’t nothin’ morbid about those numbers though.


This proved what I suspected about my CV capability and what I want to do is use this as a basis for some kind of investigative training programme. My goals/strategies so far are to:

* build muscle (legs in particular) so I can train for longer in the cardio zone – squats and lunges? How often?
* see how long I can train over 173 for (HIIT)
* check that my running and swimming are in the cardio zone – if so I can keep going with those 1/2hr at a time. If not I’ll need to start like today pushing for 15min and work from there. Or do additional bike workouts or swap some around. I’m pretty sure running will be but swimming might not.
* I want to get back to training 6 days a week or every day – need to work out how much stretching/active recuperation I will need to make this work, and whether I can commit to that too – otherwise it just gets hellish
* get resting pulse down!
* ffs get BMI back under 40 yo! ASAP.

I just want to get fascinated by my own body again and what it’s capable of – and really OWN it by taking responsibility for my training, because I’m pretty lucky to have the body & health that I do.


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