Over the course of the last year, working from home and taking care of two young children has led to my own health taking a bit of a backseat in terms of my priorities.
I didn’t start 2020 in the best physical condition so the extra weight that I’ve put on doesn’t bode well for the future of my health.
Our old scales died towards the end of last year so we decided to get some new ones. At the time, it was cheaper to get some “smart scales” than it was to just replace the relatively simple model that had failed so that’s what we did.
The new scales link up to an app on my phone and provide a surprising array of information just from zapping a small current through my bod but the two pieces of information that really matter are the catalyst for this blog post.
Since the start of 2020, I’ve put on even more weight.
Since the start of 2020, my “body age” has climbed even higher above my actual age, and that’s really depressing. Like, a lot higher.
Yes, I’m fat and I need to lose some weight.
I’d mention the BMI but as that is probably the worst way to assess how overweight I am from a scientific point of view, I’ll just trust the basic weight and scary body age.
My weight and why it matters
I’m not very tall for a man. I’m just over 5’8″ (or 1.73m for metric fans) and 13st 2lbs (or 83.5kg) is not a good weight for my height.
My ideal weight, according to NHS Scotland is between 10st and 12st 2lbs (63.9kg to 77kg). I have no idea if that allows for muscle mass so I’m just going to aim for 11st 7lbs (73kg) as that’s almost a nice round number below my current weight in kilograms.
The main reason that I’m a bit worried about my weight is because I’m not particularly fat. Sure, I look a bit like a weeble at times, but not excessively so. I don’t look like I enjoy lifting eight pints at the weekend.
The bit that scares me is the possibility that I’m carrying that weight internally as visceral fat and that’s really not good for my health. That’s fat that’s wrapped around my internal organs.
Body Age – does it really matter?
Body age is a fantasy metric that’s calculated in various different ways to arrive at a composite indication of how unfit someone is.
In my case, my body age is calculated by some mysterious algorithm on my smart scales based on the electrical impedence of my body tissues.
It’s currently 51 – way above my actual age. The ideal body age (i.e. my target) is 2/3 or my actual age so I have quite a ways to go to reach that.
This measure is never going to be able to account for how far I can walk, what my resting heart rate is, or other useful flags but it can measure my bodyfat to muscle ratio and make a guestimate to scare me into action.
Like other measures such as my body-fat percentage (24.5% – ‘acceptable’) and my subcutaneous fat (21.3% – high), my body age can be used to encourage me to keep working on my diet as it begins to fall (in theory).
What I’m doing to lose weight
Thanks to COVID-19, we’re still in lockdown here in Scotland so my options are somewhat limited but that’s okay.
I can still go for walks and I can still change my diet.
As a web-developer, I tend to sit around for most of the day and I used to eat a lot of chocolate and biscuits. I’d often combine the two as my favourite snack is a chocolate digestive biscuit.
It makes to tackle my biggest weakness (and addiction) first so I’m going to give up sugar.
This means no more chocolate bars, no more biscuits and worst of all, no more chocolate digestives.
The fact that I’d get up in the morning and have a chocolate bar for breakfast speaks volumes about how much I need to change my diet.
Sugar has become a serious problem for me in recent years. I used to eat far too many biscuits and cakes without a second thought for what it might be doing to me so it needs to stop.
To help me to replace sugar in my diet, I’ve decided to give meal replacement shakes a go. That way, my body will get a nutritional boost and I won’t be feeling hungry throughout the day (I hope).
The brand I’ve decided to go for, based on positive reviews and price is Plenny by Jimmy Joy.
It has a ridiculous name but at least it’s not Soylent Green (it’s actually vegan) and the various flavours don’t taste bad, at least not that I’ve got used to them. I’ve never been a fan of artifical sweeteners so I had to get over that slight aftertaste that’s always present for me when I eat or drink anything with them in.
Because the flavours are so bland (sometimes flavourless), I like to boost the taste with a little vanilla essence, perhaps some drinking chocolate (I know, it’s got sugar in it but it’s for the greater good), or by blending a banana into it.
Although the directions suggest making it with just water, I’ve found it to be far more drinkable (actually tasty) if it’s made with oat or almond milk. I’m lactose intolerant so using normal milk wasn’t really an option. I tried it with cow’s milk once but I felt like I’d been punched in the gut so I won’t be doing that again.
I’ve found that blending the powder and any other bits with the liquid vastly improves the texture and makes it much more enjoyable to drink. Otherwise I find it tends to be a bit powdery, sometimes slightly lumpy, if I just use the supplied shaker.
It’s too early to say if I’ve lost any weight – I only committed to giving up sugar and replacing one or two meals with shakes this week but I’m hoping next Monday to see some results when I step on the scales.