Dammit I’m tired !

So – last week I did the first session on one of these ‘Couch to 5K’ apps.

Was actually a lot of fun, but have to take it very carefully since I have badly sprained each Achilles several years back – the last time (when I was actually quite fit) when I went for a 5 mile run 3 weeks after having my Atrial Septal Defect repaired at the age of 47. That was a bad idea. I used very poor training shoes over tough ground and the Achilles couldn’t cope. Hence the chronic ankle problems, and why I haven’t really run at all since 2012 -the Bilateral chronicoty of each condition really gets in the way of exercise.

Anyways, the first session was completed, followed by more days on call, a trip to Melbourne to see Peter Hook and The Light, and then back on call – long days again. 

But yesterday I managed a fast (for me at least) walk around the local lake, just over 4K.

Felt the Achilles pulling a bit but still managed a reasonable walking workout – it’s warming up here in Victoria so I’m glad I finished before the heat of the day took hold (mind you, it’s been feckin’ freezing through the winter, and was we say in North Antrim, it’s been ‘Pashion’ – very, very wet – the winters here in Western Victoria seem to be wetter than Northern Ireland and that’s really saying something !

So when I got home from the power walk I was knackered beyond belief. Fortified by an ad hoc and impromptu day off work, I dozed most of the afternoon and had no trouble getting off to sleep with an early night at 10 pm.

I recognised this tiredness. It’s the ‘overtraining tiredness’ – and I’m not surprised – the Polar Flow App has confirmed this and I have to say I feel a tad better today.

And therein lies part of the problem. Working 60-80 hours a week does leave little time for exercise and even less time for recovery. 

But this time I really do want to break that barrier. 

So. I’ve started. Well, a fitness test at least….

Yes, I’ve actually started.

Took delivery of  a Polar M430 heart rate monitor and GPS watch a few days ago, and being a tekkie sort of guy, find, as I did before, that fitness can be more fun if one can benchmark fitness results for future reference and motivation.

The last time I used a Polar Heart Rate monitor was in 2010. That required a fiddly chest strap. The M430 doesn’t require this – measurements are taken at the wrist.

So, once I eventually paired the watch with iOS (easier after I had synced with my laptop – the syncing process didn’t work until then), I got to work measuring my fitness level with the Polar Fitness Test.

All this ingenious test asks you to do is to lie down and relax for a five minutes or so and it measures heart rate variability, giving a score and a remarkably consistent result (did it four times over several days, same result each time – that’s reassuring !) 

This test score correlates to VO2 max and I find myself in the Fair category: actually thought it would come out as Low or Very Low – but at least I now know where I am !

A further nice touch from the watch is the sleep recording function. Now this interests me as sleep disturbance is part of the day job – but more about that later.

So I now have a fitness test result and I’d like to get to ‘moderate’ or even ‘good’ in 4-6 months.

So Le s see what we can do !

So, how do I actually feel ?

I reckon a lot of guys will resonate with this.

You keep going for years, not quite realising that you are slowly getting weaker and weaker . Yes, you tell yourself – getting fit will happen in the future when  . . .

When what exactly ?

  • When you have a life threatening life event ?
  • When you find the right partner ?
  • When you have more time to yourself ?
  • When this particular work project / period / bullshit is over ?

Well I have gone through so many false ‘when starts’ that I have realised this one thing – that . . . . . .WHEN NEVER COMES.

As Tony Robbins would say, you do need to find the ‘leverage’ from somewhere in order to make a change. In that remaining the way that you currently are is going to be much less painful than making a positive change.

And remaining the way I am is really not the best way I could be feeling. Lets face it, its either feeling good or bad. We can feel neutral, but its gonna be good neutral or bad neutral. And being a middle aged man it is so easy to think that I have had my crack at life and that I perhaps should ride off into my prematurely aged sunset.

So – what’s up with the symptoms ?

Well here’s my pathetic list of whinges: Get out your violins guys:

  • I feel invisible. Even less than 10 years ago, perhaps even 5 years ago, I felt noticed. I felt confident as a result. I always noticed women having a sneaky gander at me. Yes, when the stomach wasn’t so big, they’d look me up and down and seem to have their gaze rest fleetingly on where my bloody disgusting gut now lives.  I walked differently. I had a swagger. I didn’t have half of the aches pains that I now have. So its fair to say I felt connected with those around me. Deep down I am not really accepting of the fact that my body has changed: yes we ‘think’ that we want to feel younger; but I suspect that what we actually want is to feel fitter.
  • Aches in the Achilles – Both. Stiff legs all day long. In the morning, at work, when getting up from my desk, after driving  . . . . . a constant reminder that the old legs are not what they used to be. Even shooting position while writing this – its bloody painful. I didn’t realise that many of these aches become so ingrained that they unconsciously are wired into how my brain sends messages – or not.
  • Tennis Elbow Symptoms on each side (perhaps related to poor muscle mass and week grip strength – perhaps more of that later)
  • Poor sleeping. Not helped by my  caffeine addiction – ore of that later.
  • Weaknesses in standing up from a seated position – I have an extensor weakness, perhaps made worse by my weight of roughly 108 kgs. But I can see myself moving so slowly. This wasn’t me just a few years ago !
  • People always commented that I looked younger than my age. Much younger. Indeed, in 2006 at the age  of 42 someone thought I was 26. Not bad going ! But not now, when I could do with them. But I have not had these compliments for a good 5 years. Yes, I did have a “very stressful time at work” and I’m sure that those continued stresses shortened my telomeres and I began to not repair my cellular tissues quite as well as I did in the past – even 3-4 years ago I was very aware of this. But it was impossible with the way I had to work at that time to actually help myself – I had to keep going to keep a roof over the family’s heads.
  • The old back and core stability. Yes – one of the weakest parts  of my already weak musculature as highlighted by the Skulpt device
  • And, until recently, I had a horrid caffeine addiction. I was filling up each day with a medium size can of Red Bull, a Berrocca Guarana, and perhaps a Pepsi Max in the early afternoon. I had been doing this for years. Owing the nature of the day job and the intense concentration required in front of a very demanding public I was hitting very strong Americano coffees mid morning just to be able to do my job. Not only did all of this make me very jittery, cranky, and liable to be easily irritated, I would lie awake at night feeling the palpitations and finally getting off to a dreadfully poor sleep. Working in the NHS as an acute doctor  was certainly not good for my health. Night after night of sleep disruption, fuelled my a self inflicted sleep disruption which was a result of drinking too much caffeine in order to just keep going. What a vicious circle. Geez . . . . . I wasn’t being paid enough to mess my health up to that degree ! Thankfully, I did manage to knock the caffeine addiction on the head about 6 weeks ago,
  • Just Old. Don’t have the energy to play with my young boys. The aches in my legs remind me, before I want to do anything involving movement, that my body’s inflammatory response from my obesity-related Syndrome X is winning the battle to keep me a sloth.

So there we have it. Yes there are more  gripes and moans, but that’s enough for this particular blog posting. I do hope, Dear Blog Reader, that you now have a picture of where I’m coming from and hopefully where I’m going.


Geez I had no idea I was so weak ! And here’s the evidence …..

Having procured a Skulpt device I did a little test of my muscle quality and fat percentage.

Turns out I’m less that 25 on the muscle quality score – the average is 50 . Wow that’s an eye opener. I’m not surprised since I can feel my extensor weakness.

The Skulpt app has identified my biceps, upper back and lower back as the areas of main weakness – I do feel that as well.

So – it has to be Weight training !

Electrical toys such as the Skulpt do have a place in kicking one’s ass into gear.

I thought until recently that I had average fitness – now I know I’m right at the bottom – can’t get very much worse !

So, here it all starts. But ….. how did I get here ?

This is the post excerpt.

Look at that.

Just look at that ‘stomach’.

That vestige of 10 years of just not looking after myself.

I’m now 53. Dammit I feel more like 83.

But it wasn’t always like that.

There was a time when I felt so much younger. When I wasn’t dogged by the overwhelming feeling of being incapable of doing anything physical. As far as I know, there’s nothing responsible for my current state of disorder other than my own terrible life habits.

Now at 53, I can honestly say that in the last 10 years I have witnessed an unrelenting decline in my physical status. 

Month after month, the challenges of life seemed to weigh me down into an unchangeable slothitude.

Following a divorce at 42, I found myself still having to work countless hours in the week (as a doctor, no less), commuting many miles with an ever greater wastage of time, seeing my take home pay evaporate into the vapours of CSA payments, medical subs just to stay in practice (of course these were never taken into consideration by the CSA, so I ended up with so much less than was strictly fair) and living alone.

It was just all too easy after a endemically stressful 12 hour day to lie in my bed in my barely affordable hospital bedsit (I couldn’t afford to rent in the private market) – I say lie in my bed, well I couldn’t sit in a chair as the bedsit didn’t have one) and stare into space. I missed my children terribly, and the legal wrangling with the ex, coupled with the impossibility of seeing my children owing to her devious and successful attempts at restricting access just below the threshold of legal reportability, didn’t help my fragility. The easiest thing to do was to lie down, stare into space and wait for life to get better.

But with that lifestyle came the wasting away of my muscle mass and fitness. Dammit it’s bad enough how your muscle mass vanishes in your 40s but spending most of your time horizontal when not at work made matters many, many times worse.

In the years that followed, I was lucky enough to get remarried, have another family, change job several times, relocate from the UK to Australia, but with all of that hard work, effort and seemingly endless paperwork I continued to find myself working 14 hour days and for years just getting home and once again, lying down and staring into space. I’m sure that there are doctors who have managed to kick that unhealthy  lifestyle, but for me it never seemed to happen. The odd health kick crumpled when faced with the inevitable stresses of working in the NHS. Talk about a full time commitment, but this was full time on mega steroids. It was a depressing, restraining, and slowly killing career, one I had to get out of but could only do so by having to work even harder.

As those 14-16 hour days became ever more  commonplace, my physical strength and energy continued to decline. I started noticing the little skin polyps on the base of my neck which are a marker for Syndrome X – or significant obesity and impending insulin resistance. Something had to give. A new life down under required even greater work to stay ahead of the game, with more and more sedentary activities sucking my life force away. Here I was now with the greatest opportunity of my life in a new continent even but with the worse ever physical reserve to cope with it all.

So I’m now in the third year and it’s time to get back on am even keel. 10 years of change has resulted in this belly you see before you. At 6 feet tall and weighting 108 kgs it’s really time to make a fresh start. It’s been so long since I actually felt well that I feel as if I have lost the confidence to even make the first step. Being a 53 year old man there aren’t really many male confidants to ‘get fit with’ orcyo offer support where I live. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places but once again the day job takes its toll and somehow I have I marry a fitness plan and habit with the demanding day job. I really, really hate how I feel.