So the months tick by and with a combination of exercise and diet my primary goal of weight loss and fitness begins to take shape, and I can manage Staple Lane without stopping. I’ve spoken to many people trying to lose weight during my career – the load that you put upon your knees makes a difference to the amount of pain that you experience. It has been scientifically proven that our weight correlates directly with pain in the knee, pain in the hip and other weight bearing joints such as the spine, in the situation of early osteoarthritis.
This is a combination of both the impact and the shearing and loading forces that are exerted in pivot and twist in the knee. Descent of stairs is a particular aggravating factor and it will explain why many arthritics with the arthritis affecting the knee find themselves coming down the steps one by one and holding the banister rail for support – ironically and conversely, coming up steps is more comfortable. One particular study I particularly like. This study showed that when measuring the pressure behind the patella against the front of the femur (the trochlea), as you would expect, different activities produced different loads. Lying down with the quads relaxed and there is no pressure on the retro-patella surface – however getting out of a chair without using the arms to push up with can generate forces behind the kneecap seven times bodyweight. I found this to be a revelation. When you’re in the process of trying to lose weight, knowing that every kilogram you lose reduces the force on the back of the knee by 7 kg is quite stimulating.
A number of apps can help you here but being a slow adopter I hadn’t embraced technology at this stage. Look at the new Iphone 6. Nigel has a pair of scales which transfer his body weight readings onto the app in his mobile phone every time he stands on the scales – this leads me to another short story – on one particular holiday he hired a house-sitter to keep an eye on their property and to feed the rabbits. He couldn’t understand when looking back over the year his bodyweight seemed to increase dramatically – remain steady and then reduce again. Of course this house sitter was using his scales!
What I did, as a visual prompt, was to produce a bit of graph paper. My weight was on the y-axis and time on the x-axis. I set myself an ideal weight – which for me was a body mass index of 24.999 i.e. just within the normal range – but only just. The starting point was 99 kg. Week on week, month on month I plotted the graph measuring my body weight every Friday morning and putting it on the bit of paper. I tried to be accurate and religious about this but occasionally readings didn’t get entered. After three months the trend however was clear to see and this gave me great enthusiasm. My target was 82 kg and over the nine-month period I gave myself in this challenge I got very close to, but never quite managed to get down to 82 – that will be for another year. Over the months though it did happen and the only side effect was the effect it has on your clothes – which start to look rather baggy.
Your friends comment on how good you are looking your acquaintances express amazement at what you’ve done. A few people start telling you you’re looking gaunt and ill. However persevere, as a recent study has shown that your body weight and your lifespan are directly and intimately related. They have suggested that the simplest of tests to use is to just measure your waist and correlate it to your height and age. So interestingly and rather controversially looking gaunt and thin correlates with living longer!