2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: bmi

That BMI thing, again…!

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.

The Nutritionist

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.

Let me explain

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.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

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.

What have I to do?

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.

Sunday

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.

A glimmer of hope

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?

Not eating enough

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.

Just ask!

If you have any questions with anything I have said in this blog then feel free to drop 2 Spuds a line.

-Helen

IVF Update

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 are annoyed!

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

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.

Why do I feel this?

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

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.

The IVF Criteria

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

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.

The conclusion

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”.

-Helen

An even bigger challenge

Back to that BMI thing

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.

My (mini) challenge so far

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.

An even bigger challenge begins

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.

What we changed: exercise

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.

What we changed: food

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.

The 1940’s to 2019 plate size

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.

Fruit

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.

Water

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.

Stay tuned

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.

-Helen

Marketing bit (2 Spuds doesn’t do it often but it fits in nicely here)

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.

Exercise

BMI

Last week’s blog was about BMI and the parameters surrounding it. From the comments I have heard from you all I can safely say that it is making a lot of you unhappy. You feel you put in the effort of eating correctly and getting lots of exercise but then a number lets you down. I will wait and see if the powers that be will change this, although I doubt that they will.

Carrying on from BMI

Carrying on from the BMI post, I want to look more at exercise and how easy it is to get it in. As I said last week the numbers for exercise according to the NHS website are as follows:

Inactive – less than 30 minutes exercise a week
Moderately active – between 30 and 60 minutes of exercise a week
Active – between 60 and 150 minutes of exercise a week

Remember that this for a week. A whole week which is 7 days which is 168 hours and finally 10080 minutes. So, you can see why 30 minutes of exercise is a very achievable figure as the bare minimum. The 60 minutes is beginning to push boundaries, but it is the 150 minutes which really starts to push things. However, in my opinion I would suggest adding two more layers to the chart.

Very active – between 150 and 300 minutes of exercise a week
Extremely active – between 300 and 500 minutes of exercise a week
(Challengers – 1000 minutes and beyond)

Let’s give the people who are constantly moving a category and a pat on the back to say well done, lets carry on being active.

The new categories

The new categories seem like a lot of minutes but let me break it down for you, so it seems easy. To get 300 minutes it would work out as follows:

30 minutes of walking 4 days a week = 120 minutes
60 minutes of walking 2 days a week = 120 minutes
90 minutes of walking 1 day a week = 90 minutes
Grand total = 330 minutes per week

It’s as easy as that.

If you happen to have access to a home gym or sports centre, then take out that 60 minutes of walking and add in a 60-minute class.

The 500 minutes is slightly trickier as it involves more time however, if you do have time then it can be achieved.

30 minutes of walking 5 days a week = 150
2 x 45-minute spin class = 90 minutes
2 x 60-minute pump class = 120 minutes
1 x high intensity class = 30 minutes
Gardening over the week = 120 minutes
Grand total = 510 minutes

Activities of daily living

Let me break this down even further into activities of daily living. This is as follows:

  • Walking to the bus stop/gym/corner shop
  • Parking at the other end of the supermarket when going in to buy one item
  • Walking up the stairs at work or in a department store
  • Sitting down and standing up during an advert break on television or getting up to make a cup of tea every hour
  • Vacuuming your house from top to toe
  • Getting up at work and walking over to a colleague’s desk rather than phone them

There are many more too.

I understand we are all busy day in and day out but even small changes like the above can help us all keep active.

Challenge update

Last week I said I was going to challenge myself in getting 1000 minutes of exercise each week of July. I am pleased to say that last week I got 1042. Now, I thought that 1000 minutes would be easy and that it would be plain sailing but even I have had some pitfalls. I got one of those 24-hour buggy things and managed to pull a muscle in my leg. This meant that my Saturday was completely wiped out and my Sunday I had to go easy. The main issue I had was fitting it all in. Now I am lucky that during Tuesday and Wednesday at work my participation in the classes counted however, that still leaves 5 days of the week where I had to put in the effort.

How I got to 1042

I got to my minutes by doing various classes. I did spin, Zumba, circuits and weights to name a few. After the classes I would pop into the gym and walk on the treadmill, go on the cross trainer, cycle or have a weights session. I also walked more than normal and then spent some of the time gardening.

This week

This week has got off to a rocky start as I am still nursing that pulled muscle, so Monday was a quiet exercise day, but I was back full force on Tuesday. At present I am 349 minutes into the week.

Just get active

Do just that. You don’t have to get to my challenge of 1000 minutes in a week but challenge yourself personally and aim for an extra hour or two. Start from there and see what happens. Believe me when I say your mind, mental health, physical health and general wellbeing will all thank you. Plus, along the way you may lose weight, tone up those muscles, improve your posture, speak to people at the gym and make friends, hang out with your favourite person and so on.

-Helen

BMI and my challenge

I thought I would do a blog on one of my pet hates about the fitness and health industry and that is the BMI or Body Mass Index. Stick with me through this as there is a reason why I am writing about it.

What is BMI

According to Google it is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. There is a formula that you can use to work out the actual BMI result. It is one of those scary looking ones and well advanced for the basic 2+2=4. It is:

BMI =
Weight (kg)
————–
Height in (m)2

See I told you it looked scary. BMI even comes with a colourful graph to show you which box you may fit in too. They are:

<18.5 is underweight
18.5 to 24.9 is normal weight
25 to 29.9 is overweight
30 to 39.9 is obese
>40 is morbidly obese

And there you have it, the numbers and the definitions.

Why does it annoy me?

It has always annoyed me and has recently cropped up again due to an upcoming appointment. Said appointment will have a BMI reading to determine if we are fit enough to get on to the next stage. Mine is high and I currently sit in the obese category. However, this is where it gets interesting. My legs and arms are quite muscular, but my stomach is where I carry most of my fat. I would be the average apple shape if I had to pick. The whole BMI topic is a hotly debated one and it annoys me greatly as I don’t think it takes people who work in sport or fitness into consideration when it is calculating it. I am sure there are also other industries which can get into hot water with it too but considering I work in fitness I will pick that one.

Let me explain

Take a rugby or a football or a rowing team for example. These guys and girls will train 7 days a week for several hours each day. They will work on their cardio, they will lift weights down the gym, they will make sure their core is up to scratch and they will work hard to achieve their body which will make them win the match or the race.

What happens when we take the BMI from one of them?

For example, lets take imaginary man Stuart who is 6 foot and weighing in at 16 stone. He is built of solid muscle and there is very little fat around him. Stuart’s BMI would be 30 which makes him obese. Just so it is fair let’s also take imaginary Shona who is 5 foot 3 and weighs in at 12 stone 5. The BMI results would be 30 which again pops her into the obese category. Do you see where I am coming from? Stuart and Shona are the fittest they can be, but because muscle weighs more than fat they are in the obese category, even though they are not obese. I am really hoping this makes sense.

NHS BMI Result

What annoyed me even more was when I went on to check my BMI on the NHS website. I understood the first part of putting in my height and weight, but it was the second part on exercise levels that really got me. NHS defines exercise as:

Inactive – less than 30 minutes exercise a week
Moderately active – between 30 and 60 minutes of exercise a week
Active – between 60 and 150 minutes of exercise a week

Now the numbers I understand and please bear in mind that this is bare minimum of exercise a week. This comes down to thirty minutes of exercise over five days of the week. In my opinion you should be aiming for a lot more that 150 minutes a week. Now being a personal trainer and doing my own work outs I am nowhere near any of those numbers. My exercise in minutes for the week does not have a box. And therefore, I average anywhere between 500 to 800 minutes of exercise a week depending on what I am doing. I am several times over the “average”. If people are going to take this number to give me a correct answer to BMI, then I can’t do it as it doesn’t exist. I can get the answer for the height and weight formula, but it stops there.

The challenge

To prove a point, I have decided for the month of July to set myself a little challenge. You are of course welcome to join me in this challenge. All you will need is somewhere to exercise whether it is at a gym, a class, outside in the garden, walking the dog and the list goes on. You will also need somewhere to track down your exercise in minutes. The challenge is to exercise for 1000 minutes a week. This roughly translates as 2 and half hours of exercise every day. It may seem like a lot but if you break it down even further and say walk both to and from work, as well as go for a stroll at lunchtime you can easily do an hour just by that. It also really boosts your mental and physical wellbeing. Add in an hour’s gym class, you have 2 hours and then spend the last 30 minutes in the garden mowing the lawn then all together that is 2 and a half hours done. Say at the weekend you go for a 5 hour walk in one of Scotland’s National Parks then you have a bank of additional hours. And so, on and so forth. It is a challenge after all.

Update

I will keep you updated as we go through July but at present after three days, I am currently on 478 minutes. Not a bad start but still a long way to go.

-Helen

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