The Gamification of Exercise, Health and Wieght and Stuff (by )

So a few months ago I thought I would see what activity I was doing and so see where I could increase etc... I got a pedometer - it was the second from cheapest at like £7 - it lasted a week. The recommended number of steps to do as a min a day is 10, 000.

In that week which was an average week I roughly did:

Tuesday 7, 000 (from when the pedometer arrived) Wednesday 21, 000 Thursday 4, 000 Friday 15, 000 Saturday 12, 000 Sunday 11, 000 Monday 17, 000 Tuesday - broke the thing

It completely was not accurate, it didn't measure all my steps especially on the Wednesday, this I think was due to the fact that as my pelvis hurts more, the more the walking motion is a shuffle - these steps are the hardest, most painful and muscle killing and it was very disheartening not to have them registered. It also added in "false" steps and I would have to check what it said before and after car travel as speed bumps registered etc...

Wednesdays kill me - every week I am so tired I am slurring speech and in pain - it is interesting to see that it was so high. Thursdays are drastically low as I see it as a recovering from Wednesday day. This was useful as it meant I could mentally tell myself I needed to do extra on those days the count was below the step count.

The next pedometer was £12 and lasted little better as the clips are rubbish and I found they would work their ways off my clothing and tumble to their doom.

The results kind of made me sad though, most days I was reaching the hallowed 10, 000 steps - my easy fix wasn't going to be that easy then. I found a recumbent exercise bike and started using that - except Wednesdays I've been trying to do at least 20 minutes on there - my legs where too short for it though and it isn't very recumbent and I think I could have done a lot more if it was more so. I found a fix to the short legs and it is called my platform shoes.

I already do my physio exercises (this is why there is a giant silver ball in our living room and sometimes the weights) and often the belly dancing warm up - though sadly due to a rescheduling of stuff for Al I have managed to get to a class for about a year. I have also spent the last six months hanging from a chin up bar and about 6 weeks ago had the break through of being able to life my feet off the floor - it is not a chin up but it takes a stupid amount of effort for me to do this - more than chin ups ever used to be.

Hill walking I have to be careful with or the damn shin splints come back - these plagued me in the village - sharp pains in the shins that steadily get worse until you can't walk and then they take forever to get better. I am also careful to try and avoid the over activity, rest, under activity cycle though as you can see from the Wednesday/Thursday it is not always possible to avoid in life and running workshops at festivals can take about two weeks to recover from.

I've worked really hard to get where I am so you can imagine my horror when the Dr asked if I didn't do anything more energetic than walking :/ walking is hard, there is no way I can do running - maybe in the future but the damn pelvis still shears if I step wrong - this is the sharp pain that runs down the centre of my pelvis at the front, it gets worse and then walking without crutches kind of becomes impossible - it can be mostly avoided if I just sit and rest lots on my walks etc... and I even managed 20 mins of climbing - I would have managed more if I hadn't tried to go side ways.

The Dr mentioned swimming - something I had been meaning to do but with the bleeding issues after Mary's birth, it had kind of become a non-option. That isn't the case now but the bleeding reduced so gradually to just two weeks a month last year that I kind of didn't notice. So that gave me the jolt I needed but I'm really useless at just swimming, riding bikes, walking - there has to be a reason/function above and beyond the health.

So for walking that is getting the girls to their clubs, blackberrying or taking photos etc... Or the allotment as an overall work out (bending, pulling weeds, walking with weed tubes, and so on - I can't dig I tried and it was instant pelvis out of action). I read or watch films with the girls whilst on the exercise bike (which is now on the highest level it can be).

I have had this situation for so long now that I have no idea what normal peoples energy levels and stuff are. From my perspective there are my ultra fit tri-athlon and marathon and bike riding friends, ME/MS/chronic illness suffers who all attempt bike riding, swimming and walking of some type but tend to be a bit chunky like me (though not all of them - the ones that don't have kids - not sure if that is coincidence or not! Male and female). Then there is a third category which most people fall into - they don't seem to do much and eat what ever they like and they are just well... normal, possibly over weight, possibly not but still functioning perfectly well - and bizaarly this is this is the group with most opinions on what you should be doing to keep fit etc...

I was hoping that the almost year of walking and the six months odd of allotmenting would have shown some sort of change in my weight but it didn't. And whilst in about my headaches and BP with the Drs it came up - my blood pressure is acceptable for my size but I am too big - well yes but what do I do?

I have calorie counted and even taking into account the meals out with people my average intake on a bad day is 1600. Two years ago I stopped making cake on a regular basis thinking that was the issue, I thought maybe I'd made the mistake of thinking I could have chips for lunch on a Wednesday. I've even taken to trying to make guests eat my cooking so we don't go out to places with lots of food - because you know I have pretty much always been hungry - it takes martial arts training not too eat EVERYTHING.

Often I one meal a day if we are going out to eat - ie the meal out. I tend to be useless when I do this though - and run the risk of passing out if we don't get there until late. At home Alaric eats 2-3 times what I do and he has chocolate bars etc... so I get quiet testy when people suggest cal control. To my surprise the Dr didn't say that this time - she mentioned slow metabolisms and diabetes (which I have been trying to stave off by eating alot of whole and/or raw foods often grown ourselves etc... and worked well for controlling the gestational diabetes with Mary - of course one of the big issues with my weight is I whoped it on during Jean's pregnancy, doubling my wight as theyd missed the diabetes there and fed me hospital food) and thyroid though I may not have either and just a very slow metabolism (thyroids been borderline since before Jeany but always borderline).

I am going to see the diabetic, thyroid, food nurse next week and I am hoping she can suggest some changes as I'm still convinced that the thyroid and diabetes can be controlled with diet. I really kind of don't want to add more tablets to the mix. I am not going to deny that I was hoping for more energy back with the reduction in bleeding even with the chronic fatigue though.

Having said that I know I have more energy than the year after Mary was born and I have been desperate to up the exercise stuff and so having busted a second cheap pedometer I decided I needed a better one and Al got a bonus. I found a £79 one reduced to £30 - it links with my phone - Al had to take over the app installing as I couldn't even get the thing to charge initially!

It has goals on it, number of steps, number of stairs, distance, activity and calories burned. They are set at:

10, 000 steps 1000 calories 5 Km 1 hr of activity 150 steps

I make the stairs and hours of activity easily a day - though it doesn't measure any arm movement or carrying heavy things (like toddlers).

Steps I meet easily most days but can be a struggle on bad days. I meet the distance one on and off - it is still the first week so can't really tell yet.

I have not yet gotten above 800 odd calories burnt and I'm kind of assuming that it is inaccurate anyway as it is calibrated for my height, weight, step length and energetic-ness (so running burns more than walking etc) and the issue is that I don't burn calories at the normal rate.

Anyway the thing is I love goals! I love setting them and achieving them and just the fact that I can check them on the phone is a big thing for me and had me walking in circles the first night to make up the last 200 steps. This was one of the reasons I wanted a more high tech pedometer.

I know from xbox games such as Connect Adventures that I will push myself that little bit further if I can get a badge or something out of it - even better if I can unlock bits of the games with it. I've been noting friends posting the outlines of their walks and stuff on Facebook and I thought that sounded like a potential motivator - cutting down on the caffine kind of killed my normal motivation of walking to get a coffee in the evenings once Al is home so I was hoping to replace it with something. Unfortunately the only one I could find that did all that stuff was over £200 so was out as an option.

It's a striiv for those who are interested.

The one I've picked has an extra feature and that is gamification! It has settings to add friends with the same pedometer to compete against each other - I haven't yet found anyone of the same sort of level as me with the same pedometer which is a shame but I did find a little in built game. It's called Myland - it has energy, coins and gems. You start of with some coins and gems but have to plant and grow and build things to earn the coins (you can in real life buy more but for me that destroys the gaming aspect). You have to get energy to build or grow the objects you've bought and to get the energy you need to move about, walking, stepping etc...

There are quests that give you people and animals to populate your little world with and so far this has worked really well for me. A few nights back it had been a bad day, my muscles were in spasm and I was tired and I had crawled through the day just doing domestic stuff that needed doing - I'd needed two naps and the kids had jumped on me lots etc... I had still managed to almost get my walking goal but I don't think that that alone would have gotten me to go out for my evening walk but I was almost at the end of a quest to win a tiger and so Al took us to a country park and we had an hour of mooching around watching the sunset.

I got my tiger.

I now have a dragon, a lemur, a fairy and two centaurs, a tiger and an ostridge , two extra islands and lots of plants and buildings half built. There is still plenty of map to unlock though I am already wondering what I am going to do once I have completed it all.

This type of thing seems to really help me - I kind of have no idea how to forward with all of this stuff at all. After Jean was born and I could finally walk properly again the only way I lost the little bit of weight that I managed was to be doing exercises 5 hrs a day and that kind of just doesn't fit in well around normal life and I think that that is an excessive amount of time, especially as it was pretty much all I was managing on those days.

I don't really know what to do - I am not putting on weight, I am just not loosing it and I want to loose it as I think that it makes the pelvis hurt more having the loading on it. On top of that just with water retention around bleeding (it's not periodic anymore so I've kind of stopped calling them periods), I can fluctuate by a good half stone in weight if not more in the same day - this is why I always wonder what others are talking about when they put down they've lost a couple of pound. Of course I know that if I ate loads of cream and stuff I could loose weight as 2 weeks of normal cow mild in tea every day is enough to start chucking up and pooping blood but that is not healthy at all.

I am not going to change my diet until I've seen the nurse and gotten her advice on stuff, I am however interested in what others do - people have already shared a lot fo stuff with me on face book and I have asked around the climbing wall and stuff. Feel free to add stuff in the comments but no preaching mkay.

I don't do cream or fatty/overly oily food as it makes me sick and I don't like the taste of most of it (bar some cheeses and choc which have been on the reduced list since Mary's pregnancy) - I don't even have spread on my bread if I can avoid it. We are mostly vegy - Alaric is so we don't tend to cook meat except on Thursdays when he is out - it is normally fish of some kind - I can't eat beef anyway as it is the fats and proteins that make me ill with the milk as well (sometimes I try to reintroduce it as was recommended by previous nhs dietician but still makes me ill).

Pizza is my sin food - massive whack of everything and going to make me sick if it's not home made - I tend to cave once every six weeks - normally when someone is visiting and refusing my cooking. I find it harder to avoid in summer holidays - yes poor will power and kids.

So there you have it all, warts and all. Sadly I have wanted to write something about all of this for ages but people are so judgmental about food and body shape and weight that it makes you not want to say stuff, not be honest. I don't want to mention what I eat as I get lots of conflicting advice, some nastiness and so on, I gave up trying to explain how much of a struggle physical activity is and how much I do as people either assume I'm being lazy/depressed and/or think I am being untruthful about the amount of physical activity I am doing. Alaric commented on the fact I seemed to want to prove to people how much I walk and stuff and yes there is that there as from things said I know people don't believe it - one of the joys of the app is that I can damn well show people - it would be good if I could post to FB etc... but I can't work out how.

But you know I shouldn't feel like that - that is not going to be a positive place to start off from. Like with the gardening being left to do it my own way with no one commenting on the amount of breaks I am taking has meant that I have spent WHOLE DAYS getting stuff done rather than fizzing out after 1 and a half and being in pain for days on end afterwards.

I think the big break through here is realising everyone is different - as the dr said a normal dieting regime isn't going to work for me - I need to fine tune - or maybe over haul I don't know. People sharing what is working for them is one thing people saying you have to do this or you are stupid is another thing entirely. Sharing is good as it shows people options but we need to drop the guilt around weight and food, if we can't share are experiences then we aren't going to have a chance to contrast and compare and so on.

I was loosing weight after I had MAry I had put on one stone during the pregnancy (oh the difference between controlled and uncontrolled gestational diabetes and getting to choose my own food). Then they put me on hormones to try and stop the bleeding and I put that stone and a bit more back on and hunger you wouldn't believe. As I said before I am always hungry but this was a new level and I had to ban people from bringing certain foods into the house lest I demolish them. Not having the foods there was the self control for this situation - I also grew facial hair - I am very glad to be away from all of that now. But when the weight was going back on people felt they could comment on it ALL THE TIME as if I was unaware of it, as if it wasn't something I was worried about or trying to control (of course there are those friends who always say I've lost weight - they are either weight blind, being nice or maybe trying to boost confidence etc).

Even after having Jean I found that well meaning people would start conversations with about when I was going to start my post pregnancy weight loss and what was I doing, was I drinking water before meals and so on. I kind of found this hurtful and the fact that I know most of it was well meaning made it harder for me. The result is a kind of perpetual guilt around all eating and I think for others who don't notice that is what happening can cause a rather nasty destructive cycle - those who have lost lots of weight themselves tend to be really bad with this one.

And to make it worse I was being told not diet at that point after both pregnancies - I can't remember why now but I think it was a combo of breast feeding and excess bleeding/aneamia and just getting enough strength back to walk/stand up on my own.

(ps if I have asked you for advice you probably are not part of the judgementals).

Now I must take the girls out picking blackberries.

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