Sunday, August 07, 2016

Turning a corner?

I don't think that I've written about this here, but since the beginning of April, I have been putting on weight - so much so that I was 3 kg above what I should be. This may not seem like a large amount but it does make a significant difference to my well-being. The most obvious expression of this extra weight comes from the CPAP machine which has been showing at least 20 'events' every night - far too high! These events impact my sleep which then affects my general sense of feeling well, or rather, not feeling well.

I decided to take things in hand two weeks ago. I had been eating a small snack bar at around 9:30 in the morning, as this is when I start feeling hungry. Even though these bars contain only 60 calories, they can be cut out. But more importantly, I stopped eating blackcurrants as if they were calorie-free sweets; although the currants do have an anti-oxidant effect, they are also full of sugar and I'm fairly sure that they were the prime cause of the weight gain. Result: after a week, my weight dropped by half a kilo. The next step was to stop drinking three glasses of chocolate milk every morning at work (10am, 11am, 12am) and replace them with lemon cordial. Result: another week, another 500 grams lost.

Yesterday I took the dog for a long walk in the morning; I then swam 24 lengths in the pool (beating my previous best by 4 lengths) and in the evening I speed walked 3.5 km. Maybe none of these activities on their own are world beating, but the important thing is that I am exercising and getting rid of the excess weight. Swimming is a good activity but I find it extremely boring. Sometimes I can think about programming problems which help me counter that boredom and allow me to swim further, but that doesn't always happen. The evening was humid; when I returned home after walking, the sweat was running into my eyes and my shirt was wringing wet. I bought some vests especially for this purpose; I shall have to dig them out of the cupboard.

Today I am replacing the lemon cordial (40 calories per 100 ml, which means that the drinks are contributing about 300 calories per day) with some diet apple cordial, which supposedly has only half of the calorific value. I am also going to try to resume my old habits of walking every evening; I'll start with the attainable distance of 3.5 km before increasing that to 5 km. 

I will also check the CPAP machine to see whether the last week's activities have had any effect. In order to do so, I have to extract the memory card from the machine then insert it into the computer via a holder; this isn't a problem but adds overhead which I could do without. I also want to see whether increasing the machine's pressure has made a difference: increased weight means that a higher pressure is required to achieve the same result.

I have to admit that I woke up yesterday after what seemed to be the best night's sleep for a long time. I think that leaving the air conditioner on all night (Friday) in the bedroom also helped as this reduced the humidity. It didn't seem to have so much of an effect last night (Saturday) but maybe Friday night was especially humid. Again, it will be interesting to see whether there is any difference in the CPAP results between Friday and Saturday night; Friday night traditionally always has high levels, almost certainly due to eating a full meal in the evening.

I should note that about a month ago I finally found on the Internet the instruction manual for the CPAP machine which explains how to change the pressure. This is not something which the casual user is supposed to do! One explanation which I have seen is that the pressure is set following standard tests and is akin to a prescription; a user should not change the number or strength of pills that he is prescribed and cannot change the lenses in his glasses. So a user should not change the pressure! But the last time I gained weight (a few years ago), the technician told me not to worry and showed me how to change the pressure. In the following years, I forgot how to do this so it's good to now have the official manual.

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