An (Un)healthy Relationship With Weight

It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst geeks, that weight equals mass times the local gravitational acceleration.

It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst realists, that we’re not going to change local gravitational acceleration in a signficant enough way to effect weight for a significant period of time. Well, not without opening up a local black hole and sucking the entire contents of the universe through it. Which may be a little much.

Therefore – the only way to make a significant impact on to one’s weight is to affect the variable which can be considered non-stable. Mass.

I have battled with weight problems since I was young. My weight fluctuates up and down based on a number of variables. This number of variables is significantly long and could otherwise be called a list of excuses (stress, pleasure, pain, pressure, availability, boredom). All these variables actually boil down to a simple equation:

change = food in – exercise[1]

In practical terms, managing this is easy. To create a bigger negative change, reduce the amount of food in and increase the amount of exercise. But then the excuses start to come back in, and we’re back to “argh, I have too much work to exercise” and “nothing to do, insert stuff into mouth”. Over time this simple equation gains enough side effects to make a theoretical physicist start to squirm.

What I have been doing for the past month though has been working. Reduce the number of variables and you can get a better sense of control. My food in has been limited. There is now a set route for morning and breakfast which almost anyone who knows me is now familiar with. Rather than having to think about every individual meal, the first two are now set in stone and provide a fixed number. This means I can concentrate on the evening meal, plan ahead to cook it and have an idea how good nutritionally it is. All my food thinking time consolidated into one easy, daily repayment. It’s also given me back a little bit of freedom to cook, which I’ve missed doing recently as well.

The most variable part of this equation has been exercise. Exercise has always been the first brick to fall when things start to go pear-shaped. When stress gets too high and the work loads are trying to cave in, traditionally I’ve just stopped doing anything else other than work to deliver a project. This doesn’t work, and for me, it doesn’t even work in the short term anymore. I am most productive when I’ve slept well and had some form of exercise. It is a myth that the time saved from not exercising is constructive time that can be spent working. So my two nights fencing (or coaching) are now fixed, and unless something very serious turns up (personal rather than work), they are necessary parts of my week (which they are). I’m also getting out running where I can in the mornings. This one is an easier said than done, and is dependant on a few variables. Some weeks I have been able to manage three runs a week, others I’ve managed one. I’m not too worried about making morning runs, so long as I do some. They are a plus to the routine.

This very rigid (and worrying sensible) regime has had some net positive effects for me. I have more energy, am tired better in the evenings (tired was never a problem, but there appears to be qualities of tired) and appear to be overall more productive. Oh, and on top of all that I’m losing weight. My Thursday weigh in came in at under 15 stone.

[1] Okay, the full equation is a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea.