Friday, 18 June 2010

What constitutes cognitive decline?

My dear old Mum is heading down the path of dementia, although she hasn't been given that diagnosis, and won't until she has to enter the 'aged care system' in some way. That won't happen for a while I suspect while Dad, her loving, fit, healthy and younger husband, manages her care as well as he is able, which at the moment, is very well.
Lack of orientation to time is Mum's most obvious symptom of her cognitive decline. I dropped in on them on Wednesday after an exam (the second last for this course - yippeeeeeee!!!). I told them where I had been and Mum said: 'They have exams on a Sunday?' 'Today's not Sunday Mum', I replied, 'Today is......todaaaay is....' It took me a few moments to work it out. My first suggestion was Tuesday, before getting it right.
Hhhhhmmmm.....who has the problem??

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Comfort in the seat if not on the road

It was a hairy ride through the city to the station this morning. There's an area going down Elizabeth St towards Victoria St (for the locals), where the two left lanes, out of three, turn left into Victoria. I want to go straight ahead. I have two choices - one is to stick to the left and try and make my way across to the right most lane in the last few meters. The other choice is to get into the right lane from the previous set of lights and travel a block in that right lane. Generally speaking I prefer the second choice with cars both overtaking and undertaking me. So that's what I did this morning - it was the WRONG call. On the right of me was a truck, and I was conscious of not being run over by it, so rather than being in the middle of the two lanes, I was more to the left, which the car in that lane didn't like. So I had both the car driver and the truck driver abusing me - probably with justification, but it was a case of once I had made the decision I just had to ride it out (ha ha!) until I came to Victoria St.
After going straight ahead, I came to the next set of lights and was behind another cyclist who decided to try to get to the front by going in between the aforementioned truck and another car. That was ambitious and I could see her being stuck under the truck. In the end she got off her bike and walked around the car to the gutter. At the following set of lights, which was a right turn from the left lane we have here in Melbourne due to our trams, she felt a need to stop and abuse the driver of the car who was waiting to turn right in the left lane (don't know why). She stopped quite suddenly, causing me to have to swerve to avoid her!
I realise that this explanation is convoluted and probably doesn't make sense to anyone - but I just had to get it out there.
On the more comfortable side however, I bought a pair of padded bike shorts to assist my sore bum. They are the normal looking shorts with the padded inserts. I reckon they did make a difference. I think I am going to have to invest in riding gloves now as this morning my fingers nearly froze!!
There's a lot to this riding thing.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Beautiful People

What I have noticed as I ride through the city and travel more on public transport as I am this semester, is that I sight so many attractive people. Especially going through the city, I am struck by the handsomely suited man. Attracted though I am to exploring naked flesh, the right clothes on a man can also be extremely sensual.
As we move into the fresh autumnal temperatures that announce the approach of winter, the colour black, for which Melbourne is so renowned, is becoming more prominent.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Room Enough For All

I'm getting into the groove of being a cyclist now with a regular couple of times a week on the road. It has heightened my awareness of the relationship between cyclists and motorists. There are the hardliners out there who think that either all cyclists are arrogant or all motorists are such. The truth is however that there are good and bad motorists and good and bad cyclists when it comes to sharing the road. What I hadn't bargained for however, is the relationship between cyclists and pedestrians. For some reason, a lot of pedestrians think they don't have to take cyclists into account on the road. When J-walking, most pedestrians will take into account cars that might be coming past them, but I'm amazed by the number of pedestrians who, when crossing the road at a place or time when they shouldn't be, think that cyclists should look out for them rather than the other way around. Having seen a collision between a pedestrian and a cyclist, the pedestrian is not going to come out of it well.
Surely we can all share.

Friday, 19 March 2010

The Day My Bum Went Psycho

My bum hurts!

After three consecutive days of riding my bike, I'm feeling it most in my bum. I don't carry very much excess fat (although my midsection is beginning to give away my middle age status!), but I have always lamented the size of my rear end. I think that aesthetically it would be better if it was bigger, but it would also be more comfortable if it had more padding. I often find sitting on plastic chairs for long periods uncomfortable and I am now finding regular bike riding is also uncomfortable. I thought it might improve with more frequent riding, but no. I don't have any fat or muscle between my bones and the bike seat. I have invested in a good bike seat, so I can't improve that. I think I may have to invest in some proper bike shorts.

I must say that I am quite getting into bike riding, sore bum notwithstanding.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

City Cycling

As part of my fitness campaign I've decided that when I go to Uni by public transport, I will ride to Flinders St station and take the bike on the train, then ride from Frankston station to Uni. For those non-Melbournians, Flinders St station is the main station in Melbourne through which all suburban trains run. I live in West Brunswick just north of the city which is 5.5km from Flinders St. So we're not talking any long distance here. The main issue for this only-just-getting-into-cycling cyclist is the city traffic. I'm riding in peak hour, so the traffic is not moving quickly, but there is a lot of it. For those who know Melbourne I ride down Royal Parade, through the roundabout at the top of Elizabeth Street and then down Elizabeth Street to Flinders Street. I keep envisioning a car door opening on me and I keep having to change lanes in Elizabeth Street due to the right turn from left lanes we have in Melbourne because of the trams. So whilst it's not physically hard riding, I have to keep my wits about me.
Coming home I ride up Swanston Street to meet Royal Parade at the cemetery. I do this because whilst it's OK riding north to south through the Elizabeth Street roundabout (I just stick to the left), I won't ride south to north through it. It sometimes feels like a suicide mission in a car, let alone a bike! Coming home is more difficult as there is a slight gradient most of the way home, and it's the end of the day! Whilst it's not far, hopefully a couple of times a week will see me finding it easier sooner.
I can't believe how many cyclists there are in the city. They are all dressed in different ways, everything from the full lycra to full business suits, some women riding in skirts and high heels! It was a good feeling to be a part of this phenomenon.
I think I'm going to a spin class tomorrow morning, That may well create a whole different feeling!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A Rude Picture of Health

I went to my local doctor for my results last week and they are surprisingly good. My cholesterol and glucose readings are very good. My stress test showed a remarkably in shape heart. I'm functioning at 135% according to the Bruce Protocol, which basically means my cardiovascular system is younger than the rest of me!! Maybe I don't need to worry about this whole exercise thing after all.......only kidding!!!

So I now need to get into some routine. The academic year started here this week (yay!! my last year!!) so by the end of this week I will know my weekly routine and so will attempt to place exercise into it. Despite saying I want to do this without joining a gym, I might succumb to 'spin classes'. A friend wants to do them and is looking for someone to join her, so I shouldn't pass up the opportunity to exercise with someone else, as this is the way I'm more likely to stick with it. It won't be joining a gym as such, just using some of their facilities.

I'm back at yoga as well, with last night being my second consecutive week, so I'm trying to vary my exercise - not that yoga has that much of an affect on the cardiovascular system.

So maybe I'm using this planning and preparation as an excuse for not really getting into it in a major way, but I reckon I'm more likely to stick at it this way.

Time will tell!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Well I had my exercise echocardiogram yesterday. I only lasted 14 mins on the treadmill which was increasing with speed and gradient every three mins. My heart rate got up to 190 by the end and my blood pressure was 165/80. I then watched while they did an ultrasound of my heart. To use a cliché it was awesome to see, similar to seeing an ultrasound of an unborn baby. The brief report from the cardiologist was that my heart was looking good, but he will send a full report to my local doctor. What wasn't looking so good afterwards was my front. The technician made patterns by shaving some hairs for the electrodes to connect properly. I had to do some manscaping when I got home to make myself respectable, although I did a rough job of it. .........but I digress!

So I now feel more motivated to go ahead and start my exercising with intensity. Today I went for a run before work and I only worked half a day so had a swim on the way home!

So I've done some research and I reckon I need to exercise while maintaining a HR of about 150-160. This is just what I got off the internet so who knows how accurate it is, but it makes sense. It sounds like it is my resting heart rate that tells me how fit I am. I need to try and remember to take that when I wake up tomorrow. They say the most accurate time of obtaining a resting HR is just after you've woken and while still in bed. Son gave me a heart rate monitor for Christmas, so I'll be able to check my HR whilst exercising.

I feel like I've begun and i'm also feeling very positive about it. It's a project which hopefully will become a habit before I lose interest!

Stay tuned.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A Change of Tack

I'm sure I'll be writing this post just for myself as my one or two loyal readers will have long gone by now, and in a way that's all I need to be doing.

Back in December son's team finally won a tennis grandfinal. We were having a celebratory BBQ at the club and your's truly went on to the tennis court for about 5 mins. At the end of that brief period my heart was pounding. To be expected - I'm not the fittest person on the face of the earth. What I did find surprising and a little scary was that 20 mins later, my heart was still pounding! This was a bit of a wake up call to do something about my lack of fitness. I've never been big into fitness. I'm not a sporty kinda guy and I have an aversion to gyms, so don't have an outlet for fitness. This hasn't been particularly concerning for me over the years, although I've always known myself to be unfit. I've been fortunate that I don't have a problem with my weight, so that's never been a trigger to do something about my fitness. My leanness is purely due to my genes, not due to my 'watching' it. I do however have cardiovascular issues in my genes, so this is another reason to attend to my fitness.

All this is a backdrop to saying that 2010 is this year of getting fit. I've decided to use this blog as a bit of a motivator. By putting it out there into cyberspace, even if it is not read by a single soul, I have committed myself to something and the hope is that that will provide some motivation for me.

If possible I want to do this without the use of a gym, so am planning on using a combination of cycling, walking and swimming.

Being a man who can now no longer say he is in his early 40's but has to admit to being in his mid 40s, I thought I should get a medical check, so I went to my local doctor last week. He took my BP which was 'perfect' and took blood for a cholesterol test. He has also sent me to have a stress exercise cardiogram test which I am having tomorrow.

To maintain motivation, I need to see improvement. Not having a weight goal to assist me, this is somewhat harder. I want something more objective than 'feeling' better. I'm not sure if this test tomorrow might give me some data as a benchmark. I may have to go to a gym and see if they will give me an assessment without having to join.

So if anyone does happen to stumble upon this blog once more, if you have any comments/ideas/stories, please share them and join me on my journey from fallow to fit!