Hanging around in waiting rooms

I had a hospital appointment this morning for a regular check-up that was scheduled for 8.30am.

I had received a letter about the appointment a few weeks ago. It said that I was to refrain from eating or drinking from midnight. So I skipped breakfast this morning, and headed off to the hospital. I figured, with such an early appointment, that I’d be seen pretty quickly and be on my way and in the office by 9.30am.

Unfortunately, when I arrived they told me that I had a second appointment for another procedure at 11.30am. I hadn’t been told of this second procedure ahead of time, so I hadn’t made any arrangements to have time off work. Thankfully my boss is very understanding, and she said not to worry and take all the time I needed.

However it did mean that I got to spend a lot of time this morning hanging around in the hospital waiting room, which is without doubt one of the dullest places on the planet.

I did consider at one point trying to entertain myself with some music, but I thought that if I had put my headphones on then I would have probably missed the staff calling my name. So I had to content myself with reading every news website from beginning to end on my phone.

How did we ever pass the time before smartphones? I suppose it was with those well-thumbed and out-of-date magazines that you still see in waiting rooms.

Anyway, so instead off finishing up shortly after 9.00am as I had originally thought, I finally got away just after 12.00 noon!

Keeping within the lines

Have you heard about the current craze for adult colouring books?

They’re not, as more than one person has suggested to me, colouring books with ‘adult themes’. I think that’s an even more niche market that’s yet to be tapped. Maybe I should trademark the name Fifty Shades of Colouring?!?

The idea is to get stressed-out adults doing colouring in, and in so, improve their mindfulness (i.e. stop them stressing out about everything) at least for a short while.

And lest you think the idea sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person, this is a real thing.  Check our the online book charts. Adult colouring books have been occupying several of the top-10 best seller spots for months.

So what’s it like?

Well I decided to order a couple of books which arrived earlier this week. I then realised, because I’m not 10 years old any more, that I don’t have a ready stash of colour pens and pencils. So I had to go out and buy a set of pencils as well.

I was slightly nervous about having to explain myself to my good lady wife. Would she think I was bonkers, or having some kinds of break-down, if I suddenly announced that I was going to do some colouring in?  Well as it happens, she had already heard about the craze for adult colouring in, and was just as keen to give it a go.

It was a good job that I had ordered two books, as for the next 30-40 minutes (while dinner was cooking) we both sat at the kitchen table colouring in. And you know what, it was quite calming and therapeutic.

I found that I was quite a stickler for making sure I didn’t draw outside the lines – and to ensure that, I had to concentrate harder, and take thinks a bit more slowly – and as such, it just increased the mindfulness on this task.

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Five stone target

I don’t really talk about my size/weight all that much, as I try not to think that it defines me as a person. However, euphemistically speaking, you would call me a ‘larger’ gentleman.

The "before" shot!
The “before” shot!

I’ve been overweight all my adult life, and obese for most of it. I’m not brave enough to publish online what I currently weight, but I do want to make a public commitment to do something about it!

In just over six months’ time, I’m due to get married to a rather special person. And quite apart from wanting to look good in our wedding photos, I’d also quite like to stick around and spend a long life with her. With that in mind, I started what I’m calling my “wedding diet” at the beginning of January, with the target to lose at least 5 stone before the big day.

I know what I have to do to achieve this goal. I need to cut out all the snacks and sweets that I eat between meals, and stick to just three healthy meals a day. I’m using the MyFitnessPal website and iPhone app to help track what I eat. It works by recording everything you consume throughout the day, and it keeps a tally of all the calories and nutrients you’re getting – so you can see how you’re doing against your goal. It’s a bit of a commitment to keep it up to date, but I much prefer this method over other means of dieting.

Weight loss, to me, is a numbers game. It’s about the number of calories going into the body being smaller than the number of calories expended by the body. They say that to lose 2 pounds per week, you need a calorie deficit of 1,000 per day. I’m hoping to do better than 2 pounds a week, so I need to really watch what goes in, and also increase my activity level to raise what gets used up, so that I will hopefully get the results I’m looking for.

My daily commute to work by bike helps somewhat in raising my activity level. I do 12km a day, which equates to about 50 minutes of activity. I’m also hoping to raise that activity level over time, primarily with cycling and walking. I’m told it would be quite harmful to my joints to try running at my current weight, but I’m keeping it in mind for when I’m further down the road.

Anyway, I mentioned that I started my diet at the beginning of January, and I’m pleased to report that as of this morning I’m already 13 pounds down on my starting weight. That’s almost a stone gone already! I just need to keep going and keep my eye on the goal, and hopefully the other four stones will follow.

Self Inflicted Injury

I’ve been hobbling around for the last few days, with pain in both knees and my lower back.  I occasionally get the odd twinge in these areas, but nothing like the pain I’ve got now! It’s so bad that I’m almost rattling from the number of pain killers I’m taking. But I’m not asking for sympathy, as I freely acknowledge they’re self inflicted injuries.

It all stems from attending a friend’s wedding at the weekend.  The couple in question met through swing dancing, and still regularly dance together.  Indeed, their ‘first dance’ was quite something to behold; a far cry from the usual shuffle around the dance floor. They had prepared an amazing routine, with spins, and lifts!

Anyway, as they had gone to the bother of hiring a swing band for the evening, the couple were keen for everyone to try a bit of swinging!  They enlisted a friend to teach a few basic steps to the novice wedding guests, and then let us loose on the dance floor.  And with a good quantity of wine already consumed over dinner, out inhibitions were lowered.

My dance partner for the evening was my girlfriend, and together we launched into the dance with a little too much gusto!  Insomuch that I obviously over-did things, and pulled one or more muscles in my lower back.  And the girlfriend didn’t escape injury either – not after I fell on her while attempting a dodgy dance move at the end of the night!

The moral of the story is, of course, to avoid dancing.  And to avoid alcohol.  And perhaps even avoid weddings!

Lent Begins

On this day – Ash Wednesday – every year I make some kind of public proclamation about what I’m planning to give up (or take up) for Lent.

Last year it was booze and caffeine – and I managed to avoid both for the full six and a half weeks. The year before I gave up alcohol and also went on a diet – the diet actually extending past the end of Lent for 6 months in all; helping me lose a total of almost 5 stone in weight.

This year, because my weight has been gradually creeping up over the last year or so, I’m going to go back on the diet. I’ll be using an online food diary called nutra check to record everything I eat and drink over the next 46 days, and will be limiting myself to 2000 calories a day (which is a reasonable target for a guy my size). I’ll also do 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. And the plan is to lose at least a stone in weight before Easter – and hopefully more.

I’m not giving up alcohol as such, but I’ll be cutting right back. After all, booze can contain quite a lot of calories, and I’ll be wanting to reserve most (if not all) of my daily calorie allowance for food. I’m also not giving up on the caffeine either, as the withdrawal gives me awful headaches, and I get very sleeping – and I just don’t need any of that at the moment.

I am, however, considering a new thing – but I’m not sure whether I’ll manage it. I was thinking of going vegetarian for one day a week, just to see if cutting down on my meat intake will make me more healthy. I just don’t know at the moment whether my culinary skills are good enough to be able to prepare tasty and nutritious vegetarian meals.

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