I stepped on the scales yesterday (for my birthday) and had a pleasant surprise. But first some context. I stepped on the same scales about a year ago and had another surpise, not so pleasant. And really not much of a fucking surprise. It was more a confirmation of what I already suspected. I was a mess.
Some of you will remember that I took the death of my dad pretty hard. It's tipped me into about six months of depression, which had physical as well as psychological consequences.
Before that happened, however, I had other problems. Specifically a couple of the discs in my lower back were starting to grind together, trapping nerves between them. I first became aware of it at a genre fiction festival in Sydney. I was standing around enjoying a drink at the Saturday afternoon cocktail session, as you do, when I started getting shooting pains down my side. Electric tingling in my feet and legs. With about a quarter of an hour, I had to sit down. It was agony to keep standing.
I'd had similar issues over the previous couple of months with my standing desk, finding it more and more unpleasant to remain on my feet for any length of time, eventually returning to just slumping into my chair for six or seven hours a day. It caught up with me in Sydney.
Just over 12 months ago I hopped onto my scales, which are these fancy digital magic boxes that measure not just weight but a whole bunch of other stuff, including, gulp, body fat. Apparently they pass a small electrical current through your body to measure resistance. The current travels through fatty tissue and muscle fibre at different speeds. Or some shit. Anyway the results weren't good. I weighed 98.3 kg and 32.9% of that was fat.
I'll jump to the spoiler. Hopped onto the same scales yesterday and I was down to a touch over 92 kg, but more importantly only 18% of that was fat. I'd dropped about 16 kg of fat and packed on about 10 kg of muscle.
The usual way. Eating less crap, doing more exercise. Specifically I've been doing a lot more strength training. I'd always try to throw some weights work into my gym routine, but I'd never been particularly directed about it. I never really improved.
About nine or ten months back I started working with a personal trainer, a mate from the dojo, Darren Rae, one of our black belts who had switched careers from moving stuff around a warehouse, to torturing fat bastards like me into shape.
We spent the first couple of months, yes months, building up my lower back strength, creating a sort of girdle of muscle mass around the degenerating spinal discs. This had a pretty spectacular and immediate effect on my lower back pain. It mostly disappeared. I still get twinges every now and then, especially if I'm slumped into my chair on a deadline for seven or eight hours a day. But the chronic, debilitating pain seems to have been banished.
Having laid the foundation we then started to build out the rest of my frame and build up some endurance with boxing and kickboxing work. I still have a fair way to go. There's another seven or eight kgs of body fat to burn off and at my age I have to be careful not to overdo it, particularly not with my knees which I trashed many years ago doing hill sprints.
I aim to get back to my fighitng weight by Christmas. But again, I'm an old bugger now, so I wont actually be fighting anyone or anything other than the desire to eat donuts at every meal.