Category Archives: health

Nose to the Grindstone

This year I have been mostly working on one big project to do with the UCC website. With an organisation the size of UCC with tens of thousands of web pages, it becomes a real challenge to get the information that people need to them in as efficient a manner as possible. I’m not going to go into the specifics but suffice it to say, it’s a doozy of a project. 
There have been learning opportunities it has to be said. I know I’m getting pretty good at writing reports, for instance, or that I’m not a big fan of things not going to plan. Not-going-to-plan-ness makes for a stressed Mush it would seem. And things can not-go-to-plan quite a lot on a project of this size. The trick is to just power through, and raise things with the powers that be as soon as things start looking like they could be an issue.
Oh yeah, did I mention my parents got married? I was one of the witnesses.
From a technical point of view, the project has been pretty straightforward. The people wrangling – not so much. Trying to get things done when they need to be done so that other things get done when they need to be done has probably been the biggest headache so far. Still, we persevere and persist and trundle on towards go-live. I’ll say this much though, I don’t think I’ve looked forward to a break from work quite so much as I am looking forward to this Christmas. 
And while my personal writing has taken a bit of a backseat these last few weeks (mental space for creativity can get eaten up when the brain is eating, drinking and sleeping one big project), at least my fitness regime has managed to stay on track. I even started a new, enhanced exercise programme this weekend. It involves telling the machines what I should be doing in each workout so that they can tell me if I am doing those things right or if I’m doing enough of them. I like it I have to say (even though I’ve only done one session so far). Anything that enables me to delegate repetitive tasks to a computer gets my vote, freeing my brain up for thinking on other things. As for the weight loss, it continues – I am now down over 3 stone (and about 3 pounds off being down 3 and a half stone) since May. Plus the exercise helps with the stressiness of work. 

Weighting to Exhale

September was a less than successful month on the writing and weight loss fronts. It’s not been disastrous either but certainly could have achieved more.
After losing over 2 and a half stone since May, by the end of September, I had put back on about 3 pounds of that. So, not entirely the end of the world, but could definitely have been better. I’m not too disappointed to be honest. Set backs are to be expected on the road to less Mush, and it was a particularly entertainment filled month (a trip to Dublin for a gig, a wedding, a 3 day trip to Mayo, a going away party and a 30th birthday). A small bit excessive, but nothing that can’t be undone by a little extra determination and a redoubling of the efforts both on the dietary and exercise fronts. I have a provisional goal to have lost a total of 3 and a half stone by the end of the year. We’ll see how it goes. 
Less of this…
More disappointing has been the lack of writing this past month. I suppose my heart just hasn’t been in it the last few weeks. Or more correctly, while my heart has been in, the words haven’t been as fluent as in previous months. Again, these things happen but I know myself I need to be more disciplined with my time, and pull myself away from the telly more often. There are ideas there, swirling around under the surface of my brain, but they need to coalesce more. 
Still, onwards and upwards, startling positivity and all that. No point crying over spilled clichés. The nights are closing in and the inclination to spend more time in doors should help negate the other inclination towards fun and drunkenness and frivolity. Of course, I jest, frivolity is equally possible from a night of wordsmithing as it is from a night of inebriation. But you know what I mean. 

Damn Write and Other Stories

A while back I posted about how I wanted to be a writer. Some of you may also have noticed the parts of the short story I’ve been posting the last few weeks. Well, I say short story, but what I’ve written under the title of “Justice” seems to me to be part of an as yet unwritten longer tale. I’ve also submitted a couple of things to a few short story competitions and I’ve started working on what I plan to ultimately be a series of children’s stories. I don’t want to go on ad nauseum about writing on my blog, as that would just be writing about writing. But I suppose I’m just letting folk who are interested know that the intentions announced a while back are slowly coming into being. I still don’t feel like I can legitimately call myself a writer. But I think I’m getting there. 
In other parts of mush land, health and wellbeing continues apace. I’m down a total of 2 and a 1/4 stone since may, fitting into clothes I haven’t managed to fit into in a while and am generally feeling better than I have in quite sometime. It’s actually nice to run into people I haven’t seen in a while as they can more readily appreciate the changes. It was always kind of worrisome to meet people I hadn’t seen in a while when my weight was in an upward spiral as you can’t help but think that they must be thinking “what the hell has he done to himself, he looks terrible.” It’s nice to hear the opposite these days. Of course, I’ve still a good way to go, but at least the progression is positive. My exercise quotient has been upped of late but so has my blood pressure medication. Still at least the drugs do work, and my BP is now beginning to resemble a normal human being. 
Absolutely no relevance to the blog post (although there’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere about blood pressure being a dinosaur that I have to escape or something). 
Health decisions of course have led drinking nights out to take a kind of a back seat. Not that I am counting out all future enjoyments, I just going to decrease the number of occasions I get shitfaced in any given year. This of course, leads to more sober less hungover weekends (something I’m sure I’ve waxed lyrical about on this blog before). One thing I’m using my time for these days is to get back into seeing more movies. I still enjoy the cinema (another thing I’ve waxed lyrical about here before) and have managed to get in a couple of movies a week over the last while. So far I’ve managed to take in: The Expendables 2 (it’s exactly as shit and as awesome as you might imagine it to be); Grabbers (I expected more but it was perfectly decent at the same time); Ted (if you like family guy, you’ll like this); The Watch (Dodgeball meets alien by way of the IT crowd – I laughed a lot, so it can’t be that bad); The Bourne Legacy (a reasonably decent refranchise); The Possession (the jewish exorcist – it uses every trick in the book to get you to jump, but it was still enjoyable) and Total Recall (loved the futurscape they created but nothing mindblowing – worth a look on DVD at least). The most anticipated movie of the next few months for me has to be Dredd, a reboot of the Judge Dredd franchise. According to reviews I’ve seen, it’s a lot more faithful to the original comic source material. Boding very well it would seem for an enjoyable evening at the cinema next week! 

Little Victories

So with this whole becoming a leaner, healthier Mush continuing a-pace, the whole process ends up having a whole series of ups and downs. Some weeks I’m down more weight than others but there are also the weeks whereby the weight doesn’t seem to move at all. Luckily for the last while, the progress has been pretty constant with a few pounds coming off every week. 
Still even seeing the progress at the scales doesn’t always seem to translate to outward success. Gradual change means that I don’t always see the changes in my body that are actually happening. But the other day I had a real tangible “woo fucking hoo!” moment. Myself and Seán were heading to a wedding this weekend just past, and I was checking out my suit. This time last year I had had to buy a new pair of trousers for my suit as the original pants had become just too tight. They’d been very tight in April 2011 but by August of last year, there was just no closing them. Anyway, I had to get the new pants pants taken up an inch (due to my irregularly short legs). While I was taking them out of the closet, I decided to see if the old ones were still as tight. I figured I might be able to at least squeeze them closed. 
It was better than that though. They now fit me again perfectly. They’ve gone from being unwearable to being perfect. It was such a heartening moment and a real tangible little victory in the body battle. I’m looking forward to the day when the same pants are too big for me.  It’s a while off yet but it really does feel like it will happen. It makes me not feel too bad about enjoying myself at the wedding at the weekend. And it makes hauling my ass out of bed in the mornings to get out and moving all worth it. 

A Mushful State of Being

It’s no secret that I’m a man who enjoys his food. And most certainly not a secret that I have enjoyed the fuck out of food more than a little too much over the last decade. Of course with such over indulgence there are inevitable consequences, which can be roughly encapsulated in the state of being known as “being a fat fucker.”
Despite the increase in my physical form, I’ve always tried to maintain some modicum of fitness through swimming, the occasional marathon, a series of triathlons – y’know, the usual. But with each burst of activity there always followed a fallow period of unnecessary inactivity more commonly known as “sitting on my ass eating chips.” A not unpleasant activity initially but it inevitably leads to a deepening of the state of “being a fat fucker.” Thoroughly aware of the worsening state of corporeal affairs, the actual energy to actually do something about it decreases as the periods of “sitting on my ass eating chips” increase. A situation entirely of my own making and done with a decent knowledge of what to eat and what exercise to do. It is amazing the capacity our brains have to compartmentalise things, how we can know what we are doing to ourselves is not going to do us any good and yet at the same time continue to indulge in such detrimental behaviours. Sometimes it takes a firm, focused delivery of energy to the posterior from the lower limb to shake us out of our malaise, or what is sometimes referred to as a “good kick up the hole.”

Unnecessary volume being occupied by Mush
My “good kick up the hole” came in the form of a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in May. My body was cracking slowly, declining steadily. I hadn’t noticed but my thirst levels had been increasing steadily, along with an accompanying increase in bathroom trips, digestive unease and disrupted sleep. Walking up stairs was becoming a chore, and I was beginning to pick up lots of little niggly health issues. It would take longer to recover from winter colds and flus; I was more prone to pulling muscles; and my knees where constantly aching. It culminated in a (and forgive my bluntness here) urinary tract infection in April, a most unpleasant affliction, that finally lead me to the Doctor and a proper check up. A week or so later and I was staring down the barrel of a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes with a nice side order of high blood pressure. 
To be honest, my initial reaction was one of annoyance and embarrassment. Of course I tried to put the proverbial brave face on things, but inside I was annoyed with myself with letting things get to this stage and embarrassed to embody the unhealthy fat person stereotype. And of course, my own crutch for dealing with those kinds of feelings in the past has been to eat something. Comfort food, filling food, hearty food were always my go-to anti-depressants. But that wasn’t an option this time around. Meant there was only one thing for it. Accept the stupidity of the last ten years and move on. No point trying to pin the blame on external factors. My own brain and my own decisions had led me to a state of physical actuality that was detrimental to my overall actuality. The time had come to fix it or risk reduced life expectancy. A sobering realisation to say the least.  
Need to be more like this guy…minus the stupid hair perhaps 🙂
But luckily these are disorders for which affecting lifestyle change can bring about marked improvements. A more dedicated approach to watching what goes into my body will help as well as getting my body to move more. Some medication has been necessary to kick start certain improvements but a change to my diet and a change to the amount of physical activity I participate in have lead to a reduction in weight of nearly 10 kilograms (or a stone and a half or 21 pounds) in the last 2 months. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved (though still embarrassed that it is necessary in the first place). That said, I’m not writing this looking for sympathy or praise. It’s more for the cathartic effects of dealing with my own internal sensitivities that I’ve committed my thoughts to the 1s and 0s of a blog post. There’s also the hope that putting stuff out there for others to see might elicit response from others going through the same thing or even help others recognise that they might also be experiencing some of the early warning signs. Plus if it’s out there, I can’t hide from it, can’t deny the responsibility I have to myself to put down the chips and get off my considerable, feckless, lazy ass.