Archives for category: Health

Admittedly I can already swim, but only really the breast stroke. Which is arguably the easiest stroke available, with the possible exception of doggy paddle. Swimming the crawl is something that I’ve never been good at, last time I tried I got about 10m down the pool before I had to stop and go back to breast stroke. This was until last Thursday.
I had seen Tim Ferris talking about how to swim (among other things) in his TED talk. More specifically he was making the point that teachers generally don’t break down the stoke into the simple and important bits. Later I discovered that this technique is called ‘Total immersion‘ swimming. Tim also has a blog post about it here with videos.
I’ve only done one half hour session, under my own tuition (yes that’s right, I’m teaching myself) but already I can do a few lengths quite easily. The art of breathing without slightly drowning isn’t one that I’ve perfected yet, giving me quite a few lengths that end half way across the pool with me coughing and spluttering – however I feel I’ve already made some pretty good progress. Even though I am mainly focused on getting my stroke right and breathing without water-in-lung I have completed a length or two with a surprising and satisfying head of speed.

It seems that as life goes on it becomes easier and easier to convince oneself that there was a point in the past where one was fitter, stronger, and more flexible than one is now. I’m going through this right now. I know for a fact that I’m not as flexible as I was when I left, which is something that I want to fix. Also when I came back I’d been spending about six months essentially bumming around not doing much excercise. So I’ve been going running in the mornings. Not all mornings I hasten to add but definately in the morning.
I’ve been doing the same route and timing it. Rather satisfyingly my time as been going down quite a lot: First run 16:00, second run: 14:45, this mornings run: 13:35. Interestingly my improvement this morning I put down almost entirely to social pressure. I was running past the local school and I felt a bit like stopping. Well for one thing stopping red faced and wheezing like and over-excited asthmatic outside a primary school these days is probably grounds for arrest under the terrorism act.
Secondly, for whatever reason, there were a lot of people about – Mums and such. The social embarressment of slowing from ‘runner-guy’ to ‘unfit-walking-guy’ was too high – I just had to keep going.

Also in my bid to become less terribly unfit I’m half way through the second week of one hunderd push-ups. I’m also recording this in my ‘special exercise book’ and although I’ve yet to meet all the targets set on the website there is a gratifying increase in strenth day by day.
This all brings me back to the question, ‘how fit was I?’. Perhaps as long as the impression that I need to do more to ‘get back to where I was’ is keeping me motivated then it doesn’t really matter.

I was in a doctors surgery, awaiting my turn (seems to be happening a lot recently) and reading one of the magazines. These are generally woman’s magazines – don’t know why, just seems to be the way things work. An article that I actually read was a book review about an ex-alcoholic wine taster…
One quote caught my eye, she said that when she gave up, she started craving sugary foods as her body had become used to getting large amounts of sugar from breaking down the alcohol that she was no longer drinking. I’ve noticed that I’ve become a lot more of a chocolate lover over the years. Before I was more of a savoury/crisp man. I’d never noticed a correlation between chocolate love and my reduced alcohol intake, but after reading that I started to wonder.
To be honest I’m not to sure that there is a correlation, my love of chocolate sprung to life when I was still drinking quite a lot at uni, but it’s still interesting to know!

I’m forcing myself to write, because I want to get back into the groove. So this may not live upto the level of enthrawling prose that you’ve become used to. Today I went to the gym, and ran 1km! This may sound like a pretty feeble distance, and to be fair it is. But you have to understand that this is the first time I’ve run since I twisted my knee and insulted my shin at parkour. I was pleased, things seem to be healing up nicely.

So today marks the day; I’ve been t-total for two months. The remarkable ease with which I’ve given up alcohol confirms that I’m no kind of alcoholic, while something I’ve always suspected it’s nice to get it verified. In fact throughout the entire period the hardest times where not when going out with friends who were drinking or any other social drinking occasions, as you may expect.
The only time I really found myself thinking ‘Ooo I could really enjoy a drink right now’ was while I was relaxing in the house. I’d just rented a DVD and wanted to sit down and enjoy it, there were beers in the fridge that Mike had openly offered to me. One chilled beer while watching a film, the only temptation I suffered.
So I’m going to continue not drinking. I will have a beer every now and then, but it won’t be a weekly drinkfest like it used to be. Seven years of hard drinking is enough for one liver in my opinion.
It’s not going to be a difficult decision either, on the one side we have improved health, large savings of money, no more hangovers, improved self esteem. On the other side we have peer pressure.
That’s the only argument I can think of to continue getting plastered/battered/wasted/(insert socially acceptable description of over-drinking here) once a week.

I’ve learned a lot by not drinking. Firstly other people drink a lot less that I thought they did, I’ve noticed this through observation and through reading things like this. For those that can’t be bothered; social perceptions of university drinking habits are actually wildly exaggerated, but people try to live up to these exaggerated beliefs. Informing people of the actual social norms (65% of students have four drinks or less on a night out) reduces the alcohol abuse in colleges by over 10%.
Another disturbing read if you’ve left university (or never went in the first place) is this brief news report by sky news.
So, I’ve got a much healthier outlook on drinking, do you need one?

Or to be more acurate glandular fever stops just about everything.

Yes, gentle reader, my previous post was in error. I have had a relapse, or something like that. Been pretty ill with cold and cough and general tiredness. Fortunately I’m on the mend now and will be a lot more careful about picking up my usual activity levels than last time!

For those of you that have been looking at the progress on my new design, well there has been none. But I have added several new pictures to my gallery. This is really something I need to get, thumbnails of new shots on the front page, no-one really seems to notice the gallery :(.

Anyway, I’m still here, getting better. Post frequency should pick up to match.

Been feeling a bit tired recently. It occured to me (and has been suggested) that perhaps this is caused by a relapse or continuing illness caused by the glandular fever.
However there are some other extremely good reasons why I’m feeling a bit tired, I’ll recount the activities of the last few days to give you a picture:
Thursday: Get up as normal at 7, Normal day at work, my turn to drive (car sharing). Get home, eat, to capoeira. Two hours of excercise, a few drinks at the pub and a chat, get home, some things need sorting for the following day so I get to bed at about 1ish.

Friday: Day off, but that certainly doesn’t mean restful. Get up at 8:30, sort out Row’s birthday present, into town then train to London. Meet with Row and go for lunch, chat and general London shopping-ness. This is all good. Get back at about 5:30, pack bags at 6ish and leave for Loughborough. Traffic is bad so I don’t get there until about 9:30. Eat tasty food, then out on the town until late. Back home and to bed for 3:30ish.

Saturday: Up at about 8:30 again, damn body clock. Chatting wandering and eating somehow take up most of the day. Late afternoon and it’s off to the cinema to watch Munich (good film). Get back, out on the town again. Definately in bed before 4 but no idea how much before 4.

Sunday: Wake at 8ish but manage with much waiting to sleep again until about 10:30. Get up. There then follows a roughly 4 hour brainstorming session to help Sozu with some software design. This is great fun, designing good software with good friends feels good… Actually programming it is a different matter I’m sure. Late lunch with many many friends, lots of laughter and good fun. Leave at 7:30ish but traffic isn’t great on the way back either. Back to Guildford by 10. Have to prepare for the following day at work (sandwiches shower etc.) get to bed at about 11:30.

Monday: Up at 7…. I’m knackered.

So there it is, the crazy life of Rob… I need more sleep.

Well I went to the doctors this morning, and got good news. The blood test came back and I had glandular fever, everything else is fine.

Why, you may ask is this good news?
Well I was little affected by this notoriously knackering virus. Supposedly ‘extreme fatigue’ can be expected. I was a bit tired I’ll admit and had to have early nights, but that’s no-where near ‘extreme fatigue’.

This makes me feel good, special, strong and healthy. And this probably means that I’ve got more than three weeks to live. Looks like the book ’50 things to see before you die’ may come in useful afterall. 🙂

Damn my lack of blogging I’m going to have to explain backstory.
So, during the Christmas break I had a bit of glandular swelling, under my jaw. With a bit of web research and a visit to the doctors it was ‘diagnosed’ as probably just a bad throat infection. (Actually by the time I found a doctor, it wasn’t a bank holiday, I’d gotten registered and got an appointment it had started to go down anyway). Doctor gave me some antibiotics, bit of a stock response I thought but still, and a blood test. Because of some work problems I didn’t actually go in for my blood test until last week, and I called up for the results this morning.
Considering that all the symptoms seem to have gone and I feel fine I was only really calling for completeness. Also in the hope that I could find out my blood type seeing as I don’t know what it is.
The conversation didn’t go quite as expected at this point:
“Ah, yes I wrote you a letter not long ago, we want you to come in and see the doctor again” (or words to that effect).
The words “Oh good, just out of curiosity can you tell me my blood type?” die in their prepared brain space….


The conversation soon ends with me having an appointment for Friday morning and a slight feeling of confusion.
Irrational self is going crazy “What three weeks to live, god no I’m too young….” etc. Not entirely sure where the number of three weeks came from but hey.
Realistically I’m expecting the doctor to tell me that I drink too much and should cut down, which is something I’ve been thinking for a while now (especially after Friday night!). Hopefully if it is that then it’ll give me the extra incentive to actually cut down, rather than just thinking it would be a good idea.

It’s a fairly common assumption that this holiday season goes hand in hand with a bit of weight gain. Personally I say ‘Why not!!’ but I have found an interesting article on Science Blog that I have decided to tell you about. I personally would recomend reading the article yourself (s’only 5 paragraphs long!), but if you’re too lazy, here is what I think is the most pertanent paragraph:

“It’s an insidious effect,” Herman says. “People are often rudderless in eating situations and they look to the activity of others, their own previous behaviour or other social cues to guide them and thereby consume more than they need. Frequently, eating occurs within what we have termed a zone of biological indifference, in which the individual is neither genuinely hungry nor genuinely sated. Without any particular biological reason to start, continue or stop eating, we are particularly vulnerable to socially based influences.”

The article is a short summary about the effects that social contact has on peoples eating habits. In essance, people let habit and what’s going on around them decide what and how much to eat, rather than how hungry or full they are.

This leads quite nicely into Intuitive eating. This is something that I’ve been meaning to blog about for some time. Simply put, if you want to maintain a health weight then eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Everyone that I’ve shared this “New and exiting idea” with has been distinctly unimpressed, and to be fair it does seem to be ridiculously obvious. However, below is a list of ‘eater styles’ and you may see how easy it could be to ignore those simple biological signals. Perhaps you’ll identify with some of them, I know I did. Personally I do have a tendancy to fall into the ‘Refuse-not’ and ‘Waste-not’ categories. Not all the time I’m glad to say but it’s certainly interesting to notice.
It is really hard to leave food on the plate, it’s pretty much tradition in our society that a clean plate at the end of a meal is a good thing. I have though, on a few occations (after reading about this ‘intuitive eating’ malarky) had some left overs. Even if they end up being thrown away I think this is probably a good thing, as it helps me guage how much I should cook for myself.

  • Intuitive Eater. Trigger: biological hunger. Makes food choices without facing any guilt or any ethical dilemmas. Honors hunger and respects fullness.
  • Emotional Unconscious Eater. Trigger: uncomfortable emotions. Stress or uncomfortable feelings trigger eating, especially when alone.
  • Unconscious Eater. Trigger: eating while doing something else. Often unaware that he or she is eating, or how much is being consumed. Many subtypes.
  • Chaotic Unconscious Eater. Trigger: overscheduled life. Eating style is haphazard. Person eats whenever food is available.
  • Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater. Trigger: presence of food. Especially vulnerable to candy jars and food served at meetings.
  • Waste-Not Unconscious Eater. Trigger: free food. Susceptible to all-you-can-eat buffets and free food.
  • Careful Eater. Trigger: Fitness and health. Appears to be the perfect eater, yet agonizes over each morsel.
  • Professional Dieter. Trigger: feeling fat. Perpetually dieting; often tries the latest commercial diet or diet book.

Intuitive eater
Science blog
My Brain ™