The short answer there isn’t one. Diet, exercise and time. There you go. That is the trick (and a lot of hard work).
Why does life have to be so frustrating?! I mean sometimes we are only trying to get from point A to point B. In the way there are obstacles, hoops, wrong phone numbers, people who are no help at all. You find yourself three steps backwards and feeling down from doing such a simple task.
Now I could talk about customer service for hours and hours. However, for the point of this blog I will keep it short. Having worked in many a customer service role you could say I have a fair amount of experience. I also have a lot of people experience.
In my current line of work I deal with people who comes from all walks of life, from different careers, who have different illnesses or mental health conditions, who have different fitness goals and different life goals. Everyone in my book is treated with respect. A seven letter word that means so much but is quite often forgotten about, don’t you think? My point is with everyone I met I try to display professionalism, friendliness and a quirky sense of humour. The bottom line is that in my book everyone is treated the same. I try to give the best customer service that I can give.
I struggle when I have a big problem to solve and no one out of a customer service role is ready to help me. May be I am asking too much but then again may be I am not.
Let me do just that. There is one more test I need to do for the IVF criteria and it something called a HyCoSy scan. Google can fill you in. In order to do this I need to have a Mirena coil removed.
First of all I called my local GP but no, they apparently do not do such things. I was given another number to phone. But that number wasn’t recognised. I then got on to Google and had a search around other practices in the area to help us. But there were no phone numbers that I could see on their website. I tried the one number I could get and got through. But again no, they apparently stopped doing coil removal earlier this year. I was given yet another number. My poor phone was beginning to wonder what it had done to be calling so many different people. I got through to the last number and the lady asked had I spoken to the GP. My exact words were something like, “I have and they don’t do it, I have been sent on a wild goose chase, can you help?”.
After a few questions and a few calendar dates I finally have a date. It took about an hour to do all of that but I finally made it to the end. And here is my point. Did it really have to be that challenging to do such a simple thing?!
To me this is just another hoop we need to get through with a few obstacles thrown in. It is like we are being tested to make sure we are ready to progress down the children route. It is frustrating, it is challenging and it is darn right annoying as well. To do something so simple, which is to have children of my own, I need to go through many, many hoops.
Exactly that. I have changed my diet, changed it again and finally changed it so it makes even more sense. I now eat a lot more than I did. The first few weeks were nerve-racking and scary while I looked at the amount I had to get through. Now I willingly make my own breakfasts and lunches making sure I have the correct meals and snacks. Admitting it now that I do like to snack. My appetite is back and I am not hangry as often. We have discovered that I have more muscle than fat and that is what is making my BMI and weight loss is challenging.
I changed my exercise regime and now run. Run! I do many more gym classes. In the rain, the sun and the cold I train. I do exercise when I really want to sit on the couch and eat cake. I do my own research into how best to go forward with IUI or IVF. Rosie and I ring many different people to try and get an answer. We have become massive Google fans as well. We read articles, forums and much more just to see if there is anything else I can do except wait.
Now, I know in the end it will all be worth while but I am also aware we are going through many different hoops. A lot of hoops before we even get to the massive ones that IUI or IVF will throw at us. I know I will have a little rant and then pick myself up and carry on. I have a goal to get to and I am going to try my hardest to get there.
You guessed it! I am not quite finished with this BMI thing. The reason being we had our chat with the nutritionist and it came up there with an interesting twist.
We saw the nutritionist last week where she was not as scary as I was first thinking. Read my previous blog to find out why I thought they would be scary. She went through our food plans and then put us on a fancy looking machine. Said machine sent an electrical signal through our bodies as it measured our fat, muscle, calories expenditure and biological age. It provided a lot of interesting answers to say the least. My personal favourite was backing up the fact that I think a BMI measurement with me is useless.
As I have explained before in a previous blog BMI takes your height and your weight to give you a number. The number is then put on a chart which tells you if you are: underweight, normal, overweight and so on. However, (and this is the issue) it takes your full weight. It takes your fat, blood, muscle, bone and all that other stuff in our bodies that make it work. It doesn’t separate it. And this is where I am falling down. I have lost around 8 kilos at the minute which is highly likely to be fat based. I am due to lose another 10 kilos to make it into the IVF criteria number. But due to my nutritionist machine results I can only lose a further 4 (ish) kilos in fat. So what about the 6 other kilos I hear you cry? Muscle. To get to the IVF number I am now having to lose healthy muscle.
Due to having PCOS I have more testosterone running around my body than someone without PCOS. Testosterone is partly responsible for muscle. This is why I have more muscle in my body. Muscle weighs more than fat. Therefore I am heavier than most but it is muscle which is causing me an issue and not so much the fat.
A very good question. After years of doing heavy weights I have to give it a break and concentrate on cardio to decrease muscle mass. Zumba and boxing are thankfully cardio based exercises but I am also going to have to try this running thing. Now me and running are not the best of friends. The first time I attempted running I got so far and then had my appendix out and the second time I attempted it I ended up with a slipped disc in my back. I hung up my running shoes after that as I wasn’t about to attempt a third time. However, here I am having to attempt a round 3. I am really hoping with a gradual build into it and a physio on stand by the third time will be better.
Last Sunday we attempted a run. We went down to a running track in the next town and saw what we were working with. It was great (maybe not!). It was cold, it was tipping it down with rain, the ground had many puddles on it and it was an early Sunday morning. I was very tempted to take a photograph of this and send it to our IVF consultant with a note saying, “this is weight loss”. We started slowly and just let our legs take us where we needed to go. I ended up running around 4.4 km. I have not run like that in about 18 months so I thought it was a good attempt. Now we need to see where running may take us.
Now all this being said the chat with the nutritionist and the fat to muscle result has given us a teeny tiny bit of hope. It may be a lost cause but it is something new to try. The end of December was always going to be a point for checking our weight and seeing how close we were to that magical BMI figure. It is still going to be but what I am going to do is this: get on the nutritionist’s machine again, ask her to write a report about the results then take it to our consultant. Once we meet our consultant I will show them our results and ask if we have a chance to get into the IVF service. I fully understand they may turn around and say no but it is worth a shot, isn’t it?
The nutritionist also mentioned that I am not eating enough calories and not eating enough protein. It is common in a weight loss journey to eat too few calories. This will slow everything down and your body will learn to hold on to calories to make you function. Having come from 2 meals a day to 3 with snacks I thought I was doing ok. According to my food diary I was still 300 -400 calories short. I was also short on my protein intake. With a few protein suggestions (which didn’t scare me as being too much) we put together a new eating plan. I am currently trying it and so far so good. Our next weigh in is at the end of November and I will see where I am there or if there are a few more amendments to make. Time will tell and I will of course update you from there.
If you have any questions with anything I have said in this blog then feel free to drop 2 Spuds a line.
I wanted to give you guys a bit of an update as we have had our next consultant appointment for IVF. The short answer is we are currently in a delay with no time frame. All the tests have back as excellent from the first round, but the downside is that sodden BMI. The long and short of it is, until the BMI comes down to the required number there is no proceeding forwards. End of discussion.
We were annoyed at that appointment for the following reasons.
One. The consultant we saw didn’t seem to have any bedside manner and it was all black and white. Now at the end of the day the consultant can close the file over, go home for tea and report back the next day to carry on working. Us on the other hand have the news that we must wait.
Two. Their weight scales and ours at home are 1.5 kg out. Now I get that scales are different but seriously, SERIOUSLY, 1.5kg is actually quite a lot at the end of the day. Again, when I tried to tell the consultant this their response was very matter of fact.
Three. From what we have been told by the nurse at the first appointment we attended to what we have been told by the consultant are two very different scenarios. Now is it too much to ask that when dealing with such a sensitive subject that all parties are on the same page?!
After the appointment we were both left very disappointed. There was anger, there were tears, there was no talking to anyone and so on. That general feeling when that one dream that you had was removed from the table. I am aware it is temporarily removed but at the time it did not feel like that. I have over the last couple of weeks come to terms that it is a delay rather than a straight no, but I still feel pretty angry and upset over the situation.
I feel this way for many different reasons. We have decided to go via the NHS as we are aware that privately it can lead you into tens of thousands of pounds of money and it can sometimes mean re-mortgaging the house. I am also aware that people have set up fundraising pages for IVF. I don’t blame them for doing this but for us it again doesn’t seem like the right way forwards. I am also annoyed as I feel we were treated more like a number than a couple trying to get pregnant. I feel that the consultant may be didn’t know how to deal with a same sex couple. It isn’t as if we can go home and “practice” (although at this point it may be quicker!!!). And finally, I feel that we have put a lot of hard work to get to this point. I get the impression that until you reach the desired criteria numbers that anything else is just not acceptable. I mean it would not cost the NHS anything to say, “fantastic work guys, now you need to keep going, have your tired a, b or c…”. I find the personal approach goes a long way in these things, but I guess that is just me. So, there you go, there are my reasonings.
When I was 20 years old, I had some tests done at the GP. I then had a phone call calling me into the surgery to discuss. The receptionist couldn’t tell me over the phone why but in I went to find out what was happening. I was told that I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). The likelihood of me becoming a mother was going to be tough to non-existent.
For more information on PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) click here to take you through to the NHS website.
Now that was around 15 years ago. Today there are many, many things that can be done to help people with ovary issues. However, that feeling of having a dream of becoming a mother all your life and then it being taken away from you (or delayed when you are working hard) is not a nice one to have. I personally feel that medical staff need to be aware of these matters when dealing with such sensitive situations or information. If you get a doctor with a poor bed side manner, then I feel you are on the pathway to nowhere. As I have said at the end of the day, they get to close the hospital file and go home. You get to go home with a racing head, upset and angry.
Now I am not just saying this as I have not got my way, but I personally feel the IVF criteria is out of date. I managed to rant to Rosie in about an hour with 22 new points I would like to add or change about the current system. I am open to anyone who is in charge of the IVF system in Scotland to meet me for coffee so I can explain. I understand in Scotland we are very lucky that as part of the NHS we get a free go at the procedure but still I feel we need to think about these criteria.
Please note, in England we were turned down from moving forward with IVF as we were not in a borough which supported it. The fact we were a same sex couple was not a sufficient point for them. We were told we either had to move to a different borough or pay for it.
In the meantime, we are researching any other ways to go forwards and any options we may have missed. Going to any information evenings that we can to make sure we are up to speed with any latest developments. We are also making sure our weight keeps coming down and we remain active.
So, we are currently in a delay until our weight comes down and the BMI is the correct one for the IVF criteria. Only at this point can we begin more rounds of tests and eventually get into the service. We have estimated it could be at least another year before the actual IVF begins and possibly another 2-3 years before we can bring a child home and call it our own.
My advice to anyone else going through something similar. Speak to your friends, family, loved ones. Don’t keep it bottled up. Be active and look after yourself. As my Dad often says “what is for you will not pass you by”.
Let me sum up a weight loss journey for you in two words:
There you go. It is as simple as that. A weight loss journey is hard. Your meals, your exercise, your life, your body, your family and so on all change. Now, I wish I could sit here and say that there was a magic way of doing it but seeing as I not a multi-millionaire there isn’t. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and changes to do a weight loss journey.
This is a very true statement. I have been asking myself since day one of the journey and I will quite often ask my clients who are on a weight loss journey:
How badly do you want it?
How badly do you want to achieve your goal? Are you prepared for it to be a long hard slog? Are you willing to make changes? If the answers to these questions are yes, yes and yes then you are ready to get started. If you waiver or say no to any of them then you need to think really hard about those answers.
As we said at the start of the journey we made more of a lifestyle change that a little, non-sustainable change. We changed the following: diet, meal times, meal prep, food groups, portion sizes and exercise programme. With IVF you could be in the service within a few months or within a couple of years depending on your provider. We wanted to do a lifestyle change so we changed everything, therefore, making it sustainable. Of course we could have done a crash diet and restricted our diet and done tonnes of exercise. But this is not sustainable. It can be done for a holiday in a month or so and it can be done as a quick fix. However, as soon as you go back to your “normal” diet, portion size and exercise the weight may pile back on within a few weeks. A lifestyle change means you will still be on the same diet, doing roughly the same exercise (depending on intensity) several years down the line.
Where we used to have sugary cereal it is now Weetabix, porridge, yogurt with fruit and sprinkle of nuts. Lunch which was normally a sandwich, crisps and a yogurt is now a fried egg wrap with fruit or something else egg related or a salad with ham or tuna. Dinner where our portions were too big is now a much smaller affair and we will now rarely have treats afterwards. For dinner we have wholemeal pasta, chicken and rice, a massive salad, baked potato with beans, tacos, naked hamburgers and so on. If we need a sweet treat it is either an apple, banana, strawberries or yogurt (depending if we have had it in the day or not). I used to drink masses of milk as well but now it is a much smaller glass. We have treat days on Saturday nights where we have a small chocolate bar or share a dessert from the supermarket. Saying that we now make almost everything we eat from scratch. We are now masters of the kitchen. We make spaghetti bolognaise, tomato soup from the tomatoes in the greenhouse, stir fry where we make our own sauce, Sunday roasts which lasts us Sunday and Monday. We are forever on food websites, watching the food channel on TV and reading magazines about food to get ideas. We try most things. Some work out and are tasty whereas some do not and we don’t make them again. As Rosie says I have come a long way from supermarket bought salad and supermarket bought ready made chicken. I will often kick Rosie out of the kitchen as I create my newest delight.
We have also made a massive change to our portions and we eat much smaller ones these days. With alcohol I was never a big drinker but over the last few weeks I have barely touched it. I think I have had 1 beer in that time. I tend to drink more water now and if I feel I need a change from water then I will splash out and have some fizzy water instead. Again on Saturday treat nights I may have a fizzy zero drink but before where Rosie and I would go through litres in the week it is now a 330ml can every few weeks.
The biggest change for me has been when I eat my meals. Before the weight loss journey, I would eat 2-3 meals a day whereas now I eat 4. This means that my metabolism is continuing to work. On the old way of eating it was not effectively which means as much as I was exercising my weight was not really moving anywhere. You need to have a working metabolism to do a weight loss journey.
If anyone read my previous blogs on exercise then you will know I already get a lot exercise with the work that I do. However, that did not stop me carrying it on. I aim to get 1000 minutes of exercise a week but do not get too fussed if I don’t meet it. If it is 800 minutes I make a note to try harder the following week and if it is 900 I say well done to me and see what I want to try the following week.
The biggest change I think for me has been hiring a personal trainer who is working with me at the local gym on high intensity training. I find if someone pushes you on high intensity training you get a lot more out of it. On top of the personal trainer I will always try to find a Zumba class (or 2, or 3, or 4) in the week as well as other high intensity classes. It is said that if you have a good level of fitness that high intensity can push you on to the next level. We also try to walk as much as we can.
Please speak to a gym instructor or even you GP before getting involved with high intensity training.
Rosie is a bit limited at the minute with exercise due to her hand but still she manages (under supervision) to go to the gym and cycle, walk on the treadmill and do some leg weights. It helps her mental health considerably which at the end of the day makes her happy.
As you can see Rosie and I have changed a lot. However, at the end of the day we want our goal. We want to progress with the next round of tests with IVF and eventually have a child to call our own. We will continue and it will be hard but we are off to a great start and we will see what the next few months to years bring.
Well the 1000 minute a week exercise challenge is now complete for July. For proof please see the above photo. It was an interesting challenge to say the least. It was hard but rewarding at the same time. Hard because it involved a lot of time from my schedule. Sunday mornings were where I would usually lie in, watch films, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and generally relax. But the last few Sundays I have been in the gym doing high intensity classes, gym training and walking home afterwards. It was rewarding though as I feel I am stronger; my cardio has improved greatly, and I have learnt some new exercises. I can certainly confirm that my muscles are now crying for attention and luckily, we have a sports massage booked for this coming Monday.
That is a very good question. Although it did take up a lot of time, I will continue with the 1000 minutes a week target. However, what I will not do is be too hard on myself. If I want a Sunday morning off, then I will take it. Simple as that. After last week blog I still have 15 kg to lose so the more exercise the better really.
Here is the secret to diet and exercise. It isn’t a quick fix. You can crash diet of course and the weight will come off very quickly. However, as soon as you start eating a normal diet the weight will creep on again. You also have the yo-yo affect where you crash diet, eat normally, crash diet, eat normally and keep repeating until you break the cycle. Again, with exercise, you can exercise for two months solidly and gain results. But if you then for the next two months sit on the couch watching television you will lose the benefits you have gained in the first place. It really is that simple. Which leads me to the next secret in diet and exercise.
It is a lifestyle change. Diet and exercise techniques are put in place so that 10, 20, 30 years down the line you are still strong, healthy with a good exercise regime and well-balanced diet. Now don’t panic. Although it is a lifestyle change it does include treat days. We have Saturday evening as ours. This means we can have an ice cream bar, dessert, one of those fancy corner yogurt things or equivalent. All it means is we have a specific day rather than eating ice cream every day of the week. As the saying goes, everything in moderation and you will be fine. It also means that you value whatever your treat is (and pick wisely at the supermarket).
We are to have a first weigh in, in a couple of days’ time. We have chosen to weigh ourselves in at the end of every month only. Weighing ourselves in at the end of every week may take away from what we are trying to achieve. For example, one week you are down 3 pounds, the next you are up 2 pounds and the next you are down 4 pounds. It gets too complicated in my opinion. Weighing in once a month gives you a truer picture I find. We are over the first week where our bodies were craving bad foods, we were grumpy from lack of food and generally not pleasant to be around.
However, (and here is the good news) we have settled down, we have move energy, we look forward to our fruit snacks and we generally are starting to feel better. Our house is full of fruit, veg and health snacks, we spent more time preparing food and we are getting a lot of exercise. Take it one step at a time and see what you can achieve. Please see our earlier blog on lifestyle exercise.
If you want your goal badly enough you will put in the hard work. That’s it.
I am going to go back to this BMI thing one more time. I am sure you are all getting bored of me going on about it, but I have been for good reason. The BMI is part of the criteria for fertility and IVF treatment. Last week we went for our first appointment. Surprise, surprise we met all the other criteria except for the BMI one. And it is as plain and simple as this. If you do not meet the crazy BMI number, the NHS can’t help you. End of story. I find it a bit harsh that it all comes down to just this number and that your activity levels and exercise regime is not taken into consideration but there you have it. It frustrates me no end but that is the bottom line and to get into the service we need to meet the criteria.
In my last blog I mentioned that I was having a lot of things to do last week and I may not be able to get all my minutes in. I am pleased to say that I managed to get just over the thousand minutes in the last couple of days which makes it 3 weeks with over a thousand minutes per week. I have found taking a book into the gym then setting either the bike, arc trainer or treadmill to random hills and reading is a great way to pass the time. I even tried two high intensity classes this week. One was Grit Cardio and the other Body Attack. Now Grit Cardio is a hard class. I knew all the exercises of the class but seemed to lose track between brain and legs. I am glad I was standing at the back of the class where I could look like an idiot. However, what I have done is book myself in with one of the Grit instructors so they can go over with me how the class is choreographed. I am hoping after this I may get on a little better in the class.
Anyway, I have just over 1 week to go before this month’s challenge ends. However, I have an even bigger challenge awaiting me.
As I have said we are beginning to go through the tests for fertility treatment and at present my BMI is too high to be accepted into the service. After the appointment I came home and did all the calculations to make us eligible. To put it simply I must lose 18 kilograms. I have currently lost between 2 and 3 and have another 15 to go. It is a lot. It is an awful lot.
With regards to exercise I think 1000 minutes a week is pretty good going so I will not be changing much here. I will keep going and add in a couple of high intensity classes. The beauty of a high intensity class is that I will burn calories long after the class has finished. Which in turn helps a lot with weight loss. I will keep as active as I can be and make sure I have a physio on standby for those worn out muscles.
Now this is where the biggest change is going to come in. Diet wise mine isn’t too bad. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. I don’t eat a lot of chocolate, crisps, biscuits and the like. I don’t eat a lot of take-out and microwave dinners either. Looking at my diet it has more to do with portion sizes than anything else, I think.
Now you may think this is a bit weird but stick with me as I explain. From the 1940s to today portions have become (in my opinion) out of control. According to Google the plate size in 1940 was about 9-inches, and today, it is 12-inches. That is a 3-inch difference or about the size of your credit card. Which seems crazy! So the long and the short of that is that my portion sizes are going to come down dramatically.
As well as my 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) I am trying to eat more fruit as well. I would say I was the occasional fruit addict. Some weeks I would eat lots and some weeks not so much. Now I am going to have to eat lots as my snack. I am trying to eat the rainbow (and no I don’t mean the sweet Skittles) but the fruit and vegetable rainbow. Basically, lots of colours and variety. It also doesn’t matter what form it comes in either. I find fresh a better option but that doesn’t mean other varieties are excluded, for example, tinned.
I am also drinking a lot of water. Now water and I have a history. I used to drink a lot of squash and fizzy drinks but after meeting Rosie she made me get more involved with this water stuff. After several months and a couple of years I now willingly drink the stuff but not a lot of it. I have a water bottle and have been challenging myself to drink them throughout the day.
I am aware that I have set myself an almighty challenge, but I am going to give it my all. I am sure there will be days where I want to sit on the couch and watch television with a chocolate bar. On the flip side I am sure there will be days when I exercise too much and my fruit intake has excelled. So as I say, stay tuned to see how I get on throughout the next few months.
If anyone has just read that and wishes their nutrition checked this is something I can do as a personal trainer. I can take your food/drink intake (and I want to see the good, the bad, and the ugly) analyse it and recommend changes for you. Just get in touch.