Bench hopping

swanlings

It’s probably the wrong way to start a post but my bum is burning.

The cause is thankfully not a recipe where I misjudged the spicier ingredients, but instead another walk around the park.

Today I left my car further away than before, partially to avoid parking fees, but also to try and up my distance capability.

It’s a different time of day (late afternoon) and the park is full of people on bikes, dogs, footballers and joggers.

I am bemused by joggers.

I don’t dislike them – I just have a mixture of feelings that range from mystified as to why they do it to maybe a bit envious. It’s never something I’ve wanted to do – but I’ll be honest and say it is something I’d like to be able to do.

I suppose that jogging or running is to them what walking is to me – both challenging and satisfying.

Honestly I can’t ever remember being able to properly run or actually running for anything more than a couple of busses – even when I was a lighter man. It’s just never appealed and it always made me feel awkward.

There goes another one. Running. As casual as you like while my bottom burns. If only. Sigh.

Long distance movement interests me though.

I want to be able to walk without bench hopping everywhere and not stopping all the time – although I like watching people and this current level of fitness is definitely compatible with that pastime!

(Moves from one bench to another, this time facing the park and in front of a playful squirrel who dances around on the grass in front of me and then moves off. )

It’s been a nice bank holiday so far. I’ve done a bit of cleaning, a modest amount of cooking and a few hours of playing video games.

My baked potatoes today were topped with mackerel in spicy tomato sauce and had an absolutely delicious salad with them. The only syn (1 of them) was in the rounded desert spoon of wholegrain mustard which I mixed with cider vinegar to make the dressing – and it tasted divine!

I’m not sure what to have tonight just yet – although someone from the Slimming World group gave me a recipie for tuna and sweetcorn fritters today which looked really nice. I might make a batch and take some to work with me tomorrow.

Alternatively I’m considering some home made beef burgers with some of the fritter recipie’s salsa to accompany them…

(Author gets up to continue walking)

I’m definitely going a bit further between benches today, and I’m a little more confident about being able to do it without pulling anything.

Some swans have stopped nearby to my new bench and they look absolutely lovely. There are three swanlings (?) with them too! As I’m looking at them an old lady stops to watch them with me.

‘There used to be four of them’ She said ‘but one of them has gotten lost. Probably died.’

‘I’ve forgotten what the baby swans are called…’ I say to her, a little embarrassed.

‘Cygnets’ she replies smiling.

‘Oh course!’ I groan ‘Although I do wonder why baby swans are called cygnets and baby ducks are ducklings. It would make life in the park easier if they were called swanlings.’

She smiled and nodded with her hands behind her back and continued to look at the swans.

‘I guess not everything can survive.’ I mused. ‘Look at pigeons. They’re considered to be flying rats and swans are a national treasure. I guess they have something to be thankful for with their reduced numbers.’

‘I suppose you’re right.’ she sighed and smiled again before walking briskly away.

(I move to another bench. And another. I’m about 3/4 of the way around now and my legs are beginning to tire despite the stops.)

There are two men in front of me playing boules with several shiny metal balls on the rough gravel surface by one of the larger circular flower beds in the park.

They’re both relatively young but quite bald and the mild sunlight is reflecting from their heads. One of them had just hit his opponent’s boule and with a loud crack pushed it out of the scoring zone.

‘That’s what I want baby!’ He exclaims excitedly.

This seems quite competitive and I notice the box for their boules is scuffed and old. They must do this a lot.

They appear to be playing for some kind of wager but I’m not sure what it is.

A young girl in a check shirt with dark hair tied back in a ponytail sits cross legged not far away front of me. She is occasionally watching them but seems to  be mostly focused on the grass, which she’s plucking and sprinkling on the wrinkled denim on her knees.

I’m not sure she’s happy. She seems distracted and trying to calm down.

(I move on)

As I progress I walk past what appears to be a fitness instruction group – the three leaders are wearing military fatigues but the participants are clearly not recruits. They’re doing star jumps and squat thrusts next to an Indian family playing miniature golf with their little children.

The kids don’t seem to be able to get the balls in the holes and their mother is sneakily nudging them in as they roll close to her foot. The children still see it as a win and one of them with glasses and neatly combed dark hair punches the air with satisfaction.

Nearby I notice a sign – and it’s satisfying to know (I didn’t realise before) what I’m doing. Each circuit of this park is a mile.

It’s taken me way more than the suggested time – but I don’t really care. I’m just happy to be out and about.

Two Eastern Europeans drive past chatting on motability scooters, and they both seem to be in a really good mood as well.

I decide to get up and make my way back to the car. There are two benches between me and it and I’m going to see if I can only use one.

(Walks on)

Nope. That’s a bridge too far. I’ve had to sit on the grass. My legs have almost nothing left and feel all wobbly.

I can definitely tell that leaving the car further away makes a difference. I’m going to park there again next time and see if it has the same effect.

Hopefully it will be easier next time.

It’s not all bad though. While sitting I’ve been accosted by a lovely golden Labrador with long hair that came over to say hello (despite its owner’s protests!) It’s stopped to accept some patting and stroking in exchange for slobbering all over me.

I don’t mind in the least. Dogs always make me smile!

Right. Get your fat bottom up and get to the car. You can do it.

(Walks stupidly short distance to car)

Right. That’s it. I’m done.

I feel good though, despite being the proud owner of a pair or jelly legs.

Tomorrow is another, and hopefully easier day. For now, it’s time to cook. I’m fungry (work it out).

Love and swanlings internet

Davey

Pigeon sex

I didn’t sleep well.

It’s my own fault – I had (thanks in large part to my newly discovered bottomless cup policy on Starbucks’ filter coffees) a turbulent few hours of broken and largely pointless pillow fluffing and examination of the inside of my eyelids.

This lasted until about 4.30am when I finally decided sleep was impossible.

I elected instead to get up.

As I climbed out of bed I noticed that the act of rising in the morning was becoming quicker, and that despite my tiredness I felt ever so slightly more sprightly.

This is of course all relative – and after looking at a height and weight chart with my dad online yesterday (whilst discussing his first Slimmg World meeting) I realised that in order to reach what would be considered ‘normal’ I will have to shed over 20 stone.

I have a long way to go before I’m skipping in and out of the shower and vaulting off the toilet in the morning .

However – for the moment at least I’m viewing this as something that’s obtainable – just a bit further away than some things. It’s not my immediate goal therefore. There are many bite sized chunks needed in order to get reach this.

With this in mind (and after commenting yesterday on a friendly fellow blogger’s site about exercise got me thinking that I should do more) I decided to try and go for a walk.

I’m honestly a bit scared about hurting myself as I’ve mentioned before – and this combined with a bit of lardy laziness has stopped me from pushing myself too much. I had decided to let it happen naturally and focus on my healthy eating.

Well today all the birds were ALL out (the noisy little f*****s were practically singing hymns on my windowsill) and it was a nice morning. I was awake and feeling a bit more lively.

How more ‘natural‘ could I hope for?

St Nicholas park is not too far from me and it’s absolutely FILLED with benches. It would be a nice place to start the day with a podcast and a coffee.

I spent a while stretching my calf muscles in the kitchen whilst I filled my flask with  caffeine and realised that I have never before written about, thought of, or participated in the act of stretching anything – except maybe in relation to the truth about how much I’ve eaten and exercised in the past. This too was progress.

I closed the lid on my coffee flask with an odd burny feeling in my lower extremities and headed to the car.

When I arrived at the park I noticed that the previous occupant of the parking bay next to mine was clearly a civic minded individual, and was doing all they could to ensure continued employment for Warwickshire waste management employees. They had contributed to this laudable aim by leaving behind all of the waste from their car when they vacated the area.

As well as several empty cans of Strongbow they had deposited a completely full pottycomplete with infant jobbie – and 3 soiled nappies surrounded liberally with at least 20 cigarette butts.

Since the park looked otherwise pristine (and completely deserted) I elected to ignore the prior presence of the Jeremy Kyle fan club and continue with my walk.

I found after a couple of stops that I could do about 150 metres between benches, which was perfectly fine as they’re not in short supply at this location. By the time I reached each of them the main area of aches and pains was oddly my butt cheeks, which appeared to be throbbing like crazy, unlike my calves which were just fine thanks to my previous preparation.

I had time (in the 50 odd minutes it took me to make my way around the park from bench to bench) to listen to a couple of Radio 4 podcasts. The Friday night comedy for the last two weeks was the News quiz with Miles Jupp (which I love) and was genuinely funny this week, so it really took my mind off my aching bum.

This humorous tranquility was only interrupted at the 3/4 way round mark by the unusually loud sound of what appeared initially to be a fight in a tree – but instead turned out to be a particularly vigorous session of pigeon sex.

I tried not to pay attention…

The enthusiastic shagging went on for a while as the branches of the tree were swaying back and forth like crazy.

Mrs Pigeon either liked it rough or Mr Pigeon wasn’t taking no for an answer.

Due to my burning bottom I was temporarily powerless to do anything but sit and imagine the sheer volume of fertilised eggs that would result from this early morning humping whilst it’s participants continued energetically for an uncomfortably long time directly above my head.

Eventually the avian lovers were satisfied with their efforts, finally said their goodbyes and flew off in different directions.

Both, it appeared had their own post coital park benches to defacate on and were not interested in long term relationships. This morning’s session appeared to be no more than a passing fancy.

I moved on, looking at the flowers and plants and thought to myself how many things like this I’ve missed lately and what a shame it was that most of my view of the outside world had come from a car or office window.

I’ve not stopped to listen to nature or look at its shades of light and colour in the early morning for years – and it was a nice time of the year to start again.

Anyway, I’m back home now & I have to attempt at least 40 winks because I’m finally feeling a bit sleepy. Hopefully I’ll get a teensy tiny bit of shut eye!

Have fun in the outdoors Internet – and enjoy your morning 😄👍🏽

Davey

Back on track

There’s a small but lively group of people at Slimming World in the school hall seated around me and in the background Angie’s portable stereo is playing a selection of pop songs.

I haven’t recognised a single track so far, which I think means I’m an old fuddy duddy – but they’re pleasantly distracting. I like the hubub of Slimming World and the chatter of people before the meeting starts. There’s always an energy to the group and its nice to sit and absorb it.

There’s also a lady walking around offering raffle tickets to the everyone at’50p for a strip’ which is poking my bawdy sense of humour with a long pointy stick.

Every fibre of my being is being mustered to suppress my inner Sid James who would probably be ill recieved with his double entendre reply. I decline the raffle tickets and hold back my ‘Carry On’ cackle.

The truth is that regardless of my untapped potential for smut all my loose change is at home since I emptied everything out of my pockets before I came out. I travel light when I’m weighing in.

If I could wear a mankini to stand on the scales I may just consider giving it a go – but currently I think thats a spectacle no-0ne needs to be subjected to.

The group is a positive one at the moment and everyone seems to be in a good mood. Angie has just moved to the front and asked someone to press pause on her doo-dah (her pet name for the stereo).

(The music stops. Our intrepid dieters and devilishly handsome blogger listen to the group chat…)

Well as always it was a good group full of positive and and helpful people – some of whom met some impressive milestones, including a happy target member sitting in front of me in a summery cobalt blue dress who hit her ideal weight and got a nice little certificate and badge.

I noticed that even at her milestone of success she still commented that she felt she hadn’t done so well and was beating herself up for some chocolate she’d eaten.

I’ve seen myself do this many times before. Snatching defeat from the jaws of success, and not focusing on the evidence that I’ve done well. I wanted to say ‘Hey! You’ve done good – feel proud!’ but I thought it might be a bit forward.

Thankfully Angie was there to re-frame it and highlight the positives. The lady had lost weight – and therefore she must have done something good to get there.

The woman in the blue dress admitted after being questioned that she ate speed food with everything, and it transpired that while she may have had the occasional treat, she was doing really well elsewhere.

She then shared that next week was a new clothes shopping trip and I felt a big grin spread around my face. I clapped extra hard for her. I didn’t know her but I was happy that she’d achieved her goal.

She’d climbed her own mountain and as she metaphorically stood with her Slimming World flag in hand at the summit she embodied my own hopes (and fears) for the future.

Well done lady in the blue dress. Well done.

Then the focus turned to me and Angie started clapping. I’d lost 9lbs this week. I also got slimmer of the week AND slimmer of the month!

I’m back on track baby – yea!!!

Everyone clapped for me and smiled. Its always a little embarrassing when people do things like that but also honestly it makes me feel incredible and its great to get a pat on the back.

I set my sights on it, accepted my mistakes, made the changes I needed to, and executed my plan.

I couldn’t be happier!

However – my celebration has been modest. I rocked up at M&S a few hours after group (Starbucks with my bro beckoned prior to this, and regular readers will know caffeine is more important than air to this blogger), bought a large punnet of Santini tomatoes, and some honey roasted salmon and ham pieces.

Whilst (still) munching my tomatoes and reasonably sized (but slightly over priced) lunch I realise I feel good about my achievements today on a number of levels. With all the things going on at work and pending redundancy I can’t think of a single thing that I need more than to feel positive about myself and my capabilities.

I’m beginning to visualise myself in smaller clothes, presenting myself to a potential employer in the future, and knowing that I will represent value to them.

Rather than sitting and feeling glum about such challenges like I used to (and doing sod all about it other than drinking and eating more) I’m now continually trying to improve in a structured and planned way, and it’s extremely empowering.

There’s more.

My aforementioned slimmer of the week and slimmer of the month weren’t the only highlights. I also got another certificate today.

My first stone and a half off! 

I’ve now lost one stone eight and a half pounds.

I’m not a glory hog – but I’m taking this major victory and I’m nailing it to my mast. I want to remember how I feel right now, today and use it again and again.

It. Feels. Great.

Also today – I had the first person since I started Slimming World look me up and down today and say I’ve lost weight, which was immensely encouraging. It also happened to be my brother, whose opinion means everything to me so it was doubly sweet.

Sigh.

If anyone is interested in what I ate this week (and they’re on their own journey) here is my seven day food diary. Feel free to comment if you want. As you can see I’ve not been starving myself – but I’ve also not been eating crap.

With a few exceptions my appetite has remained satiated and portion sizes are currently under control. I’ve only veered off what I would considered to be a ‘normal’ portion twice during the week – which I’m taking as a win rather than a failure.

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With that internet I’m going to (munch) carry on (chomp) eating my (munch munch) apple and my (scrunch) tomatoes, which are (gulp, chomp) absolutely (swallow) frigging delicious (sigh…)

Davey

Good mood shirt

It’s difficult not to be in a good mood on a Friday – and when I’m in a good mood nothing underlines it more than a funky shirt.

Today I put one on that I’ve probably not touched in my wardrobe for about 3 years and that makes me feel great.

For a variety of reasons it also appears to make other people feel good. My friend (who I met at the local Harvester for a Slimming World friendly lunch today) also seemed to be in a better mood thanks to my choice of attire and it was the first thing she commented on when we met.

‘Nice shirt!’ She said, laughing a bit.

‘Thanks!’ I smiled. It was definitely making her happy, so as far as I was concerned it was mission accomplished.

We spend an hour and a half chatting about the usual nuts and bolts of life, and I couldn’t help but mention jobs and mortgages.

I kick myself when I do because I know that I’m focusing too much on it, and I’m finding it REALLY hard not to think about it.

The shirt thankfully came up several times during conversation, diverting me from these often morbid topics and I mentioned to my friend that it represented a minor wardrobe milestone. Some areas still tugged a little, but overall the truth was undeniable. I was inside a shirt with room to spare that looked like it was spray painted on several weeks ago.

She was positive and encouraging and I listened to her thoughts on her own weight loss as I wore my shirt and munched chicken and salad (who said men can’t multi task?)

After a light, portion controlled, lunch (salsa and red pepper chicken stack with baked potato and salad) we had our customary farewell hug (hugs are ace!) and I headed off to the chemist to pick up my monthly bag of diabetic drugs.

I really really like my local pharmacy. I’m not sure if just writing this makes me sound like an old fart or whether in reality I actually AM an old fart, but they’re good people and they now remember me by name which is always nice.

The young oriental pharmacist there is always cheerfully trying to get me to have a flu jab but she never succeeds.

Today the free shot wasn’t a topic of conversation as all three ladies in the shop immediately honed in on my attire.

‘I like your shirt! It’s lovely material! It looks great!’ The pharmacist said quickly with a big smile on her face.

I smiled back and pushed my sunglasses onto the top of my head.

‘It’s getting positive comments today’ I replied ‘and it’s all due to Slimming World. I couldn’t get into it before.’

‘Ohh – which one do you go to?’ She asked, and I told her.

‘That’s Angie isn’t it?’ She replied. ‘She’s great!’

I nodded. ‘She’s really spunky and lively’ I ventured. ‘She’s got a lot of energy – she’s good. Plus my blood sugar’s been in the best shape it’s been for ages!’

‘I know – we suggest a lot of our customers go there – Slimming World is really good for that.’ She replied.

All of the girls behind the counter nodded in agreement and for a while we discussed the diet and how much people had lost and not lost. After a while another customer came in and stood behind me at the counter, so it was time to leave and let them get on with the day.

I said a cheerful goodbye and left the shop.

I’m not sure if all this positivity will translate to good news on Saturday but I really hope so. My food diary looks awesome at the moment so I’m hoping that something nice will take place when I step on the scales tomorrow.

Either way today is not actually just about a funky shirt.

Yesterday it was 4 months without alcohol, and today will be ten years since I gave up smoking!

So, regardless of what happens in the next 24 hours there have been some victories and milestones, and recently I’ve learned that it’s good to remember successes and focus on them to power further positive change.

In January I was continually drunk every day and felt completely hopeless, with food only serving as a crutch, and eaten in huge quantities.

Now I’m not doing either of these things, and I can fit into a shirt again that makes everyone I meet laugh and smile.

Today all of the effort I’ve made to change has combined to make me and others feel good.

That’s not a bad result internet. Not. Bad. At all.

Davey

When you want a wee

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I’m not afraid to steal pearls of wisdom and take them for my own. For years my mantra was a variation of Murphy’s Law and I like to think I lived by the belief that ‘Anything that can go wrong will wrong – but it will always be alright in the end.’

Over the years I’ve changed slightly – and I followed that with ‘There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.’ I still firmly believe both sayings, even though sometimes I can forget them and be swept away in a more pessimistic moment.

Tonight I was chatting to a friend over several cups of tea whilst watching the output of Channel 5. Knowing it’s audience (us it seems) it preceded ‘Britain’s Flashiest Familes‘ with ‘On Benefits.’

Both provoked their own appropriately tailored levels of scorn from the two of us. ‘On Benefits’ appeared to be documenting people more interested in getting tattoos and trying to become famous with awful music than they seemed to be in actually working to earn money that would help fund their ambitions – however misguided they may be.

Although the segment on the girl (who wanted to be a burlesque dancer) being filmed by her mother in the back garden of her council house trying to breathe fire by spitting mouthfuls cooking oil at naked flames was at the very least highly amusing.

The programme (I now surmise) was carefully designed to raise the collective ire in the room, and it succeeded. We both derided the participants of the programme and sipped our tea in judgement.

Then ‘Britain’s flashiest families’ came on – where people with more money than sense appeared to be making purchases purely to be seen by everyone. A man called Danny Lambo (who dubs himself ‘Britain’s Flashiest Playboy’ and owns several Lambourghinis) delighted in quoting his net worth as £25 million and showing off his collection of ridiculously expensive cars, before being filmed buying another ridiculously expensive car worth as much as my house.

Another woman was buying a Rolex for her daughter’s birthday. Her bright orange botox’d offspring seemed unimpressed with the timepiece and the other assorted items of jewellery her mother laid out on the living room coffee table for her.

These too were fools and deserved our scorn.

It seems that there is no place on television for a program called ‘Average Joes that have a job and pay a mortgage.’ We’re sadly just not that interesting, as we get paid an ok salary and have a car with 160k on the clock so that we can pay off our debts.

Although now (I realised while looking at these programmes) I soon won’t really fit into any of those categories.

As I was watching the super poor spend their benefits on a £15 kinky tickle stick in Ann Summers and the super rich hide their pain behind another £8000 Rolex and some £1100 Botox I wondered where I’m going to fit into the world now I’m soon to be in employment no-man’s land.

I still don’t know what to do next and I’m swinging like a pendulum between needing a man sized nappy, and taking things in my stride.

I relayed these feelings to my friend as we passed judgement on the poor and rich people on TV and he told me I shouldn’t worry. ‘The best decisions are made when you want a wee’ he said matter of factly.

I laughed.

‘What did you say?’

‘The best decisions are made when you want a slash’ he said again.

‘I’ve never heard that before!’ I said, still laughing.

‘It’s true’ he said. ‘When you’re in a hurry and you need a piss you make your mind up really quick.’

I couldn’t argue with the logic. When there’s a pressing catastrophe waiting in the wings it certainly focuses the mind, and although I’m not 100% sure that fast decisions are the best (I also claim as my motto ‘Act in haste and repent at leisure’) there’s no denying that they are just that.

Decisions.

Good or bad, when faced with a situation that you have no choice about you have to make one.

Soon I’ll be faced with being unemployed and I’m going to have to decide what to do.

Given the volume of water I’m drinking for Slimming World it’s not hard to imagine needing the toilet – as it’s a constant feature in my life at the moment and it definitely has related urgency.

Hopefully my mind will be sharper closer to the time, and I think the subtext of what my friend is trying to make me realise is that currently I don’t yet need the metaphorical loo badly enough.

When I do then something will happen naturally and nature will take its course.

My friend has been pretty helpful tonight, and also gave me a slow cooker he’s not been using to try out and see whether it’s the right thing for me.

I have some casserole steak in the fridge – and the remaining scrag ends of veg from the week’s shopping. I think that later on tonight or in the morning I’ll throw some ingredients in it and see what comes out the other end.

I’m thinking a slowly cooked beef casserole will be a good start, while I’m waiting for my metaphorical bladder to fill up.

Happy wee wees internet 🙂

Davey

Cheese

Whilst I’m sure my mood will continue to change like the wind today I feel positive, and crucially I slept very well.

My initial worries and fears about redundancy have given way to thoughts of possibility and probability – and after some chats last night and this morning with co-workers both past and present I’m feeling more like the future isn’t so bad after all.

Things could change for the better in many ways.

I’ve also noticed a difference in my appetite this morning – and although this too could be subject to rapid turnaround I don’t feel as hungry as I normally do.

I didn’t want a big breakfast when I came downstairs, so I settled upon an apple and a large glass of water, which (so far at least) appears to have hit the spot.

I had to make a new notch in my belt this week (I have two belts – strangely the other still seems to be ok) but encouragingly I noticed as I left the house that my trousers were beginning to slip again and I’ve had to hitch up my pants a couple of times. This too has contributed to my positive frame of mind and I am feeling very hopeful for a good loss on Saturday.

I’m sitting in Starbucks. It’s a nice day – and covered with sun tan lotion I’ve ventured outside to interact with the world.

They’re an interesting bunch of caffeine consumers today.

A downs syndrome girl and her mother are discussing what they plan to buy in Sainsburys. The family dinner is going to be shepherd’s pie, and they’re both enthusiastic about it. She looks like she hasn’t a care in the world and she’s got a drawing pad in a carrier bag with some pens.

As they get up to leave I notice that the girl is really really intent on tidying the tables as she follows behind her mum. She’s wearing a dusty pink hoodie, and she’s making me smile with her obvious pleasure at collecting sugar and sweetener wrappers and putting them in the bin before waving goodbye to the baristas.

The guy in front of me has been reading his yahoo mail, and I’ve been amused to notice that he’s bored enough to be intently reading his junk e-mails. He’s currently scrolling down an online betting advert, but prior to that he was reading about what looked like herbal viagra, and after deleting it performed a system scan for virus activity.

He’s clearly concerned about whatever website it took him to, but not worried enough to just delete the other Nigerian princes and work from home millionaires.

He’s still doing it and I want to tap him on the shoulder and explain he’s being silly, but I’m resisting.

The ladies to my right are proving unusually topical thankfully and are taking my mind off viruses and worms.

They are catching up on the events of the last few weeks and it seems like they too are considering the difficulties of an improvement in dietary habits. They are discussing their own challenges.

‘Change is SO difficult.’ Says lady #1 with dark bobbed hair and a pointy nose.

‘I know!’ Says blonde short lady #2 whilst scraping the chocolate dusted cream off the top of her drink with a wooden stirring stick and putting it in her mouth.

‘My problem is I just keep repeating the same patterns.’ continues pointy bob, warming her hands on the huge mug in front of her.

‘Me too’ says shorty blonde, still excavating her cream.

Pointy bob muses for a moment. ‘Like sausage rolls…’ She looks out of the window. ‘…if I could just stop buying sausage rolls.’

Shorty blonde nods.

‘I eat sausage rolls all the time’ she confides.

‘Me too.’ pointy bob replies. ‘I could eat sausage rolls for breakfast, dinner and tea.’

They both fall silent and stare at the car park, clearly thinking lustful thoughts about sausage rolls.

My mind is also suddenly filled with savoury pastry and I too wistfully stare out of the window.

Then my thoughts move to my dad.

Encouragingly he has also (quite out of the blue) decided to join Slimming World on Saturday and see if he too can loose a few pounds.

My Dad’s not particularly overweight in my view but in the past he has had some health issues. We’ve both struggled with eating a healthy diet and also with portion control over the years.

At the same time he is passionate about fasting, health food and muesli.

He – like me – can be a complete paradox when it comes to food, and continually makes me smile when he refers to a sneaky helping of fish and chips as ‘a good meal’.

When he comes to stay with me and I ask him whether he needs anything to eat upon arrival he’ll usually say no because he’s had ‘a good meal’. We both know that this means he visited the chip shop before touching down on my doorstep and it always makes me laugh.

My father is also a man who is a martyr both to a profoundly intimate love of chocolate and the completely unrelated dentistry that he periodically requires to ensure things remain on an even keel.

One particularly whimsical Christmas I bought him the largest Cadbury’s chocolate bar that had ever been made.

I know this fact because it was emblazoned in huge letters on the cardboard box that the bar was wrapped in to support its weight. It said ‘This is the largest chocolate bar that Cadburys have ever made.’

I was convinced.

It looked like the centre panel of a sturdy door when I picked it up in Woolworths. I marvelled at my present buying wit & expected this to completely beat him. In my admittedly lucid imagination I saw us both to giggling a few days in the future about the folly of his attempt to tackle this fondant Everest.

But my father wasn’t troubled by the problems of weaker men.

Much less than a week later my Dad, surrounded by shiny purple tinfoil and cardboard (I like to re-imagine this memory of him with chocolate around his mouth and sitting on the floor in a huge nappy doing sticky finger painting on the wall) had reached the summit of his mountain and proudly planted his flag at the top.

I was mildly impressed. All of the chocolate was gone.

A love of sweet food is something I’ve never shared with him, but we DO share an appreciation of cheese.

One of the sharper memories of my childhood is associated with a trip to the cinema in Birmingham City Centre. This was preceded by a visit to the food hall in Lewis’s department store (now long closed).

Keen on cheese, and also on a bargain, my Dad has noticed that he could ask for a small tester sample in the food hall where there were (I guesstimate) 40+ different varieties.

In a combined effort to educate me about the broad range of flavours cheese could provide (and save money on popcorn) dad asked for a chunk of each. This was much to the surprise of the lady on the counter, who had to wrap and individually bag up then label 40 odd slivers of their finest varieties before popping them in a carrier bag.

Needless to say this probably made us very unpopular patrons of the cinema, where I’m sure other film viewers wondered why there was an aroma of Stilton and Caerphilly floating around the auditorium as they watched the action.

We ate all the cheese. It was delicious.

With these very fond memories of my Dad in mind I feel confident in saying that eating a healthy and balanced diet – even if its not to loose weight – will serve him well, as it appears to be doing for me.

I look forward to some pictures of his cuisine, and us both being lighter the next time we meet 🙂

Anyway – I’ve now had several filter coffees (since I discovered it’s a bottomless refill policy in Starbucks I’m unstoppable) and I need to visit the little boy’s room.

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Have some chins internet. Enjoy them while they last. They’re an endangered species!

Davey

What next?

It’s strange how life pans out. It’s never quite the way you plan it – and the universe always takes you on the course it thinks best, rather than the one you expected.

When I started writing my blog back in February I was making a bold, but probably at the time ill informed decision to leave work without anything to go to.

I’d decided that the only way to effect transformative personal change was to rip up the rule book, and do everything at once. I wanted to continue to be alcohol free, loose weight, get fit, start writing again, learn new skills and experience new things. I was going to take a year off and fit all of that into it.

Honestly though on reflection a year isn’t really all that much when it comes to such sweeping and wholesale shifts in personality and behaviour.

My manager at the time convinced me that I needed to stay, deal with the death of my mother and get some support with my emotional state and heavy drinking while I still had a job. It’s something I in retrospect I am very grateful for – as it enabled me in many ways to metaphorically have my cake and eat it.

My employer generously gave me time and space to start my recovery journey and I appreciated it – a lot.

However – there was another dimension to this generous boon. The reasons I wanted to leave had not disappeared, and the continued cost cutting and reductions never abated. Recently the effect this has on the people around me has affected my mood and sleep a lot.

As much as I sometimes want to be able to distance myself from the feelings of others, its something I’ve never been able to do. The people I work with are like my family and what gets them down affects me – and it continually plays on my mind.

I handed my notice in because I didn’t want to be there at the end and say goodbye both to a job I’ve loved (for the most part) and people that I consider to be close personal friends.

One colleague at work said to me when I first handed my notice in ‘I can’t believe you’ve done it – I thought we’d be turning the lights off together.’

He put a lump in my throat at that moment whether he knew it or not, because he vocalised how I felt not only about him but about all of the people on mine and other teams.

Ironically however it looks like our fingers will both be on that light switch after all.

Today my company announced 85 redundancies amongst my business unit and others in the UK, and judging by the dates in the mail its highly likely that by the end of July that sixteen years of employment will end and a new chapter will begin. I have no official letter yet but from everything I’ve heard today I believe this is a formality and I’ll be gone along with everyone else.

I have a massive mixture of feelings at the moment – two of which involve a large table of food and an almost erotic fantasy about a bottle of wine.

I’m not going to act on either of them, but they do underscore my underlying emotional state – and that’s upset and sad.

When I found out the news today I was sitting at home. Ironically enough I’d taken time off today in an effort to get away from the negative cloud of doom surrounding the subject in the office and do something positive and enjoyable instead.

It seems that wasn’t meant to be – and now I just feel a sense of loss.

I’m sure over time this will turn into a sense of possibility – but strangely I feel disempowered by the decision to leave being made by someone else, even if not so long ago it was mine to make and I also (initially at least) decided to step away.

On the plus side the uncertainty about the future I’ve alluded to in previous blogs is now coming to an end. I know with a high degree of certainty that it’s not going to involve my current employer, and I know that I have to start making some concrete plans about what I want to do.

At the very least 2016 is proving to be an eventful year, and may yet become one of the more productive and interesting ones of my life.

Question is – whether to get a dog, or another job. Or both. Or do something else entirely.

I have absolutely no idea internet… I really don’t.

Davey

And the water!

Well so far my reformed approach to portion control hasn’t been awful.

I’ve been drinking the recommended volume of water, and becoming intimately familiar with visiting the toilet as a consequence. If someone asked me how I feel today the only (flippant) answer I could provide is ‘flushed.’

Last night (as planned) I started weighing things. One of the tips from the group that I picked up on was that a fry light lid contained roughly the 35g of allowed ‘healthy extra’ oats that I’m allowed to have, so I decided to test it. It turns out they’re right.

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The lid itself weighs 6g – so all in all I can’t have much in the way of oats. Compared to what I might’ve eaten in the past this is probably about 10-15 times smaller, but maybe half what i’d been guesstimating was 35g since I started SW.

Strangely this didn’t annoy me. At least I know now, and I can begin to work with what’s considered a ‘regular’ amount and begin to get used to it.

When combined with natural yogurt, cinnamon and fruit it’s actually still pretty filling.

And the water. I didn’t forget the water.

I had this (and the water) for my evening meal last night while I watched ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Cut’.

I’ve seen the film before – but not the special edition with the additional Anna Paquin footage, which in my view added a lot to the third act and really shouldn’t have ended up on the cutting room floor when it was at the cinema. It was a travesty – and some cool bits with Magneto and some Sentinels also went to waste.

This was in preparation for ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ today. But more of that in a moment.

The day started as I meant it to continue. Breakfast with speed and portion control.

I woke up and looked at the SW website for some inspiration, and also at the Facebook group that Angie has set up. Staring me in the face was a really nice looking BLT sandwich, and I decided that this was how the day would start.

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This was 2 slices of small toasted wholemeal bread, 1x fry light fried egg, 2x bacon medallions, 2x tomatoes and a couple of large folded iceberg lettuce leaves without spread/mayo.

And the water. I didn’t forget the water. Before AND after.

Once the business of breakfast and pill taking was done it was off to the flicks to meet Pete and Yuni. They were already there when I arrived and had picked up the (premium) pre-booked tickets. We strolled in to sit down and quietly chatted as we waited for the film to start.

The first thing that immediately struck me was the unusually large amount of premium seat legroom in that particular screen. I could extend my legs fully and was only just able to touch the seat in front.

This was tremendous!

Although then I noticed that the other seats in front were almost level to mine. I clocked this primarily because a harlem globetrotter sized monster of a man sat in the sat in front of me, and subjected me to the fluffy tuft of his crown underneath Jennifer Lawrence for the duration of the film.

On the bright side I’m sure he has no lower back issues because the f$%&*r sat bolt upright for the entire movie despite his massive legroom and ability to slump.

Still, on the plus side the film was absolutely excellent – and it was actually a pretty good story. It also didn’t (like the ‘first class’ movie that preceded it) play too fast and loose with characters that are beloved by fans of the comics.

There were a couple of plot holes, but nothing to spoil the enjoyment. Probably one of the best Marvel films I’ve watched lately if I’m honest!

I couldn’t help feeling as I left however that I was being watched….

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Once I’d shaken off Michael Fassbender we realised it was well past lunch time and decided to head off to the pub for a drink and a bite to eat.

Thankfully we were on the same page and Pete was also in the mood for a salad. I’d not had the chicken caesar at the Bear in the Spa before today, but as I was checking out the menu on the door before going in a lady randomly remarked that it was absolutely lovely, so I thought I’d give it a go.

It seems that their secret is Paprika salt – which was scattered around the plate, and added nice little ‘zing’ to a familiar dish.

I’m getting some asap!

Eating out also allowed me to have a lunch that was an appropriate size and I ‘syned‘ the Parmesan shavings and the croutons – which I guesstimate (I can’t measure in a pub sadly) came to about 5/6 in total.

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And the water. I didn’t forget the water!!! 

Well sort of. I had a pot of tea and a coffee in the pub and huge glass of water when i got home, but it still counts!!!

So the question is how do I feel at the moment?

I don’t know honestly.

I went to visit my friend yesterday evening and we discussed the whole issue of portion sizes and hunger – and truthfully I’m a bit lost on this subject.

I’m so used to impulse eating that I’m very unsure most of the time whether I’m eating because I’m bored or because I’m genuinely hungry.

I really don’t trust my ability to judge this – so I’m trying to ignore all thoughts about anything outside of what I’m allowing myself for main meals.

I sort of feel hungry at the moment – but then I’m also aware that I’m a bit fidgety and wondering what to do this evening. Filling time with eating or drinking is an easy way to divert myself, but it also leads me to be very confused about actually why I’m REALLY doing what I’m doing.

One thing I do know though is that today I’m not avoiding anything, and because of that (even if I do feel a bit hungry) I’m also feeling a little proud of myself for confronting what was scaring me, so honestly it’s been a good day.

Not sure what to do with my Sunday evening though…

In respect of the memory of Sgt Dwayne Johnson (before his untimely death in the events of Halo3) I’ll probably shoot some space aliens.

They really do deserve it. The bastards.

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Johnson put his perspective on this pastime very eloquently in Halo 3. I’m sure we can all take a quiet moment with the Sgt’s words to remember his insightful wisdom on the subject of human/alien relations, and ensure his death wasn’t in vain by carrying on his legacy:

SGT. JOHNSON (as the dropships approach the outskirts of New Mombasa):

Dear Humanity… we regret being alien bastards. We regret coming to Earth.

Inside the cockpit of the lead Pelican, Johnson leans against the bulkhead behind the two pilots.

SGT. JOHNSON:

And we most definitely regret that the Corps just blew up our raggedy-ass fleet!

PILOTS (in unison):

Hoo-rah!

(blogger wipes away a tear)

And while I’m doing this I’ll drink water internet. I wont’t forget the water!!!!

Davey

Face Facts

Ok – I think I need to face facts. I’m doing something wrong.

I stepped on the Slimming World (SW) scales again today and they showed half a pound off.

Now I know its half off– but in my head I’ve had a SECOND week where I feel I’ve been good and I’ve not got the results that I wanted.

This time, despite being once again angry and resentful at the injustice of it all I had promised myself that I wouldn’t make a knee jerk jerk out of myself by leaving immediately and instead stayed to the meeting.

Angie had sent a text out before group to say that this week it was an open forum where we could discuss what ailed us – any success stories or just talk about where we struggled.

I wasn’t really in the mood for shouting out. Although it was half off this week I am still grinding my teeth about the one and a half on last week. I feel I still owe myself a pound and more.

So, this week I started to make notes, and try to be honest with myself. I need to know what I’m doing wrong and fix it before I start getting despondent and going back to old habits. Honestly I’ve felt very low this week and I haven’t been able to adequately turn my mood around.

So – what did I learn in today’s meeting?

  1. Drink Water. If i’m honest this has been a real PITA and I’ve strayed off doing this recently. I’ve been having a lot of fluids, but not water. I’ve been drinking coffee like it was about to imminently disappear from the planet.
  2. Anything that’s a ‘free’ food needs to have a ‘speed’ food with it. This is a big one for me, and looking back at my diary of food I’ve eaten a lot of foods like ham or fish on their own as a snack, without any veg. This is a big no-no and I’ve not paid enough attention to this aspect of the diet. It still has a calorific value even if its a ‘free’ food, so i can’t eat it endlessly without consequence.
  3. Estimating rather than weighing or measuring food. I’ve been guesstimating items like oats and milk, along with other meal ingredients and it has to stop. I bought some batteries on e-bay for my digital scales and this week I’m going to be the anal king of weighing stuff. I’ll be so tight you’d be able to twist off a bottle cap with my butt cheeks.
  4. Read the Slimming World book from cover to cover. This I’ve not done. I’ve dipped in and out and if I’m honest I’ve not done this primarily because of point 5. I’m so terrified I’ll read something that highlights this subject that I avoided it. I’m going to read the book from front to back.
  5. Portion Control. This is a MASSIVE issue for me and i’ve been avoiding addressing it. It’s almost as bad for me mentally as giving up drinking. The thought of addressing it fills me with dread, but I can’t put it off any longer. If I don’t then I’ll completely sabotage myself.

I have the next week off work, and I aim try and stick to all of the above. Work had been getting to me a bit lately (the mood in the office about the future hasn’t been a positive one) and I have eaten more when my mood has dipped (free food without speed, not crap).

On the plus side at the moment my blood sugar levels are in the best shape they’ve been since I was diagnosed as type two diabetic (down to 9.4 on my testing kit from 14-15 shortly after I gave up alcohol but before joining SW), so despite the lack of weight loss I have proof right in front of me that cooking everything from scratch is having a positive impact to my health.

Anyway – we’ll see how all that goes and whether this improves my overall state of mind.

I’ll try and document my mood and feelings, regardless of what they are.

Finally, I’m not a huge fan of photos of myself. I know they’re increasingly a fact of life these days, and what I see isn’t necessarily what others see. They (as I do) take pictures of people they like in an attempt to remember happy moments, so I don’t say no or complain when someone wants to take my photo.

But I rarely want to look at them.

The photos people take of me these days aren’t lies. They don’t add 10lbs as the saying goes – they just show me as I am at the moment, and thats more than bad enough.

It’s true that I don’t really like the person that I am (physically for the most part) at the moment, but I think it’s healthy to keep looking at images of myself, and try and see how others might see me instead of how I view myself.

My sister in law is never far from a camera and she has a nice eye for candid portrait pictures. While we were in Starbucks the other week she took this one of me – which I like from the point of view of the quality of the composition – but don’t like because of how I look.

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All I see at the moment is a fat man.

If I try hard I can appreciate that he appears to have a kind face and eyes. He’s also got a cheerful demeanour and underneath the weight has potential, but it’s really hard to see the positives.

And no – I’m not fishing for compliments. I’m just being honest about how it makes me feel, and trying to give myself a break.

In the spirit of sharing things that embarrass me I’m including it in my post, instead of hiding it in a dark vault and forgetting about it.

Today is all about being honest with myself so it seems appropriate.

Davey

Hugs

One thing I really really really can’t stand is arriving to anywhere feeling like I don’t have anything positive to say. 

I felt like this today – and the root of my dip in mood is fundamentally a lack of sleep. 

There are several things playing on my mind at the moment and bit by bit they have been progressively affecting my mood and slumber more and more. 

My honest initial response to this has ALWAYS been to withdraw and stay away from people. If I don’t do it physically then I manage to accomplish it mentally by going quiet and putting my headphones on. 

I arrived at work this morning and tried my best to be upbeat Dave – but I spent most of the day listening to the collected voices within my head that form my negative inner monologue. 

These currently revolve (primarily but not exclusively) around the future and also a massive fear of failure with weight loss. 

As stupid as putting a pound and a half on is to most people to me it might as well be several bags of cement. The emotional feelings are identical. 

I know it’s irrational. I know it’s early days. I know that I’ve not pressed the self destruct button and I’ve stayed on track, but it’s gnawing away in the back of my mind, just poking at my brain every chance it gets. 

In parallel with my fear of failure comes a fear of who I will be in the future. 

Not so long ago I lived in a drunken bubble and didn’t believe I had a future.

 Now I may well do after all and that’s almost worse sometimes – because with possibilities and hope also come fear. 

I’m worried about what I will be able to accomplish if things change in life, and where I will ultimately fit into the world. 

Will I want a relationship, where will I work, what will I want from life? How will I make a positive contribution?

I’ve worked at the same place (despite my recent attempt to leave) for nearly 16 years, and while I like to think in breezier moments that change is easy I’m pretty sure that a big part of me is institutionalised and my thought patterns mirror a routine I’ve had for a long time. 

My weight loss and approach to becoming sober is completely tied up in my need to be able to move physically and mentally much faster than I currently do, and crucially be able to adapt quickly to change. 

I know it will take time – but sometimes I fear that this is running out and that I will need to confront new challenges in life far faster than initially I expected to. 

At the moment I struggle with the idea of joining any course, group or even a job interview looking like I do at the moment. 

I managed this in instances where the people were like me (fellow alcohol dependants or dieters) but it’s another thing entirely to stand in a room where I feel that others don’t have the same challenges as me. 

I know. I know. I’m not alone. This isn’t an issue that’s unique to me or even fat people. Everyone struggles with their own hang ups, and if the last few months have taught me anything it’s that my feelings are depressingly familiar to everyone. 

But I’m trying to be positive today. Not negative. I don’t like negative me. 

Tonight – instead of hibernating I went to meet a friend after work, and we talked for a few hours over dinner. 

The venue was lively and we had a heavily Scottish waiter who enthusiastically whizzed between tables taking orders on his iPhone terminal in a broad and cheerful accent. 

In between customers he seemed to be endlessly moving sauce bottles and salt sellers between tables – almost as if to balance their weight and prevent collapse. 

He was managing a fragile eco system that had finite natural resources and I noticed that not all tables had vinegar or salt. 

He was industriously moving it periodically to locations that had chips en route. 

After taking down our choices (we both went for chicken and massacred the salad bar. There wasn’t a chip in sight. ) the Scot moved away and my friend and I started to share thoughts about our days. 

I confessed to feeling a bit shit and we talked about it. 

It’s not just me. We’re all dealing with our own personal worries – and sometimes all you need is to tell someone you feel weak and allow them to listen or help.

Then you can do the same for them and everything seems like the sun is rising instead of setting. 

Sometimes a hug is all it takes – and the world instantly doesn’t seem so bad.

Thankfully, like me my friend is a hugger.  

As negatively as my day began it ended rather well. With perspective, company and a big hug. I didn’t sit alone and brood. 

Who knows what will happen to me in the future. 

I can’t control it. 

I do know though that if I hide from it or approach it with negativity all my worst fears will come true.

Bollocks to that. I prefer people. And hugs. 

Goodnight and sweet dreams Internet. 

Davey

Pew pew!

Well. If I’m honest I sulked a little at the weekend. 

I was mightily annoyed by the result from the scales, and even Angie when she checked my food diary for the week couldn’t see the reason for me apparently  putting weight back on. 

However, shit happens – and it will take more than that to wreck my progress. 

This weekend therefore I’ve been very very careful indeed about what I’ve been eating and have also been working in the garden a bit too for exercise which has got the heart rate up a bit and made me feel better. I have a lot of work to do with the bushes but it’s a start. 

(I refuse to show the ‘before’ photo but trust me when I say this is a massive improvement.)


Once it’s dried out a bit I’ll go over it again at a shorter height to make it a bit neater. 

I also started on the weeds (behind the camera) – which have had a field day in my absence, but now know the bitter sting of weed killer and will think twice about growing in between my patio slabs in the near future. 

Comfortingly I found my mom’s wheelbarrow (rescued from the bungalow some months ago) to be extremely useful – and after carting things easily back and forth was moved to ask myself ‘WHY HAVE I NEVER OWNED ONE BEFORE?!’

(The answer is probably because I hate gardening – but that’s not the point. They are very useful.)

Food intake consisted mostly of salads thanks to the huge amount of fresh veg I ordered with my shopping this week. 

Online grocery shopping is a guilty pleasure of mine – and although I initially started using it for all the wrong reasons (laziness basically) I have come to think of it as the 4th emergency service. 

It’s impossible to impulse buy a day ahead, and you can’t just decide to pick up some crisps if you’re feeling hungry while walking round a shop. 

If done correctly it feeds me for the whole week. I’ve no need to actually spend cash any more and have had the same £40 in my wallet for weeks.

However sometimes they get it wrong. 

This week I ordered 5 bananas so I’d have one a day for work either with breakfast or as a snack. 

This is what arrived. 

Five bags with 4 bananas in each…

Initially I immediately wanted to send them back until the guy on the doorstep told me that the whole lot had come to 48p and the others didn’t have a barcode. 

Without a barcode he couldn’t send them back – so I had no choice but to keep them!

So – in the spirit of friendship (and the lack of a barcode) everyone at work got a banana today, which was a nice beginning to the week. 

Slightly more annoying was the lack of grated carrot on my salad yesterday however – which was not caused by a Sainsburys screw up but a Dave screw up. 

When I purchased the grater with my online groceries I had a choice between a large one with a box underneath or a smaller one. 

I already have cupboards full of crap so I decided to go with the smaller option. 

Incase you’re thinking that’s an absolutely HUGE pouch of microwave rice (hint. It’s not) what you’re viewing is THE SMALLEST GRATER IN THE UNIVERSE. 
At about 6cm high this bad boy appears to be designed so that Hobbits can grate peanuts for their butter. One at a time. 

It’s going back. 

In other news I killed masses of space aliens in Destiny and ranked up to 319 – mostly due to being very angry on Saturday. 


Despite this xenomorph genocide I am confident their numbers will replenish when I get back to killing them later. 

Their deaths are for the greater good, and they take my mind off other things at work and home which will hopefully eventually sort themselves out in the near future. 

Bang, zap, pow Internet! Pew pew!

Davey

Speed bump

Well it seems that self improvement is not always a smooth road, and after a week of following the Slimming World plan, not deviating from the foods I’m supposed to eat and actually exercising on top of it I have apparently put a pound and a half on.

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If I was in any way expecting this I would probably be in a reflective frame of mind – but at this very moment I just feel pissed off and cheated.

I transferred the food diary that I update daily on my phone to the Slimming world planner this morning – and on paper it looked like a great week – certainly no different to the previous ones.

If anything apart from last Saturday when I had 3 wholemeal pittas as part of my lunch I’m positive I’ve had less than the previous week, which contained a beef rendang full of coconut milk and syns.

I’ve also not opened the loaf I bought a week ago. Zero bread – all week!

Bizarrely my clothes feel looser and I feel more lively. It just doesn’t make sense and I’m annoyed.

Despite what I said about staying to the group I just walked out immediately after stepping off the scales. I didn’t want a pep talk – I just wanted to grind my teeth. I know that this is not what I planned to do in instances like this and I feel like I shouldn’t have left the hall – but it’s what I did.

I didn’t exit stage left to go and stuff my face though. Far from it. I want to understand what’s happened here and fix it. Today I will be doubling down on my plan. This f***ing thing is not going to drag me down or beat me.

I can’t get over how angry I am though. I’m almost growling.

So is my stomach as it happens, reminding me that I have not eaten the breakfast I prepared earlier this morning – intended as a pleasant pat on the back upon my triumphant return.

As it happens I currently have zero appetite so it can wait.

I need to do something to take my mind off it and calm down. I’ll eat later. For the time being I’m just furious and that’s enough to sustain me.

Davey

Bro’s before mow’s 

Some people are just selfish.

Take my next door neighbour for instance. For a few weeks we have had an unspoken solidarity between us, and have been holding off mowing the lawn.

Our grass was of equally shameful height and it was a clear and unspoken pact.

‘Screw the neat freaks – life is too short for mowing grass!’

Until today that is, when I returned home from work to find the duplicitous wretch had broken our implied ‘bro’s before mow’s’ pact and trimmed his greenery.

I sat in the car cursing him for a few minutes, knowing that his actions had pushed me into the worst case scenario.

I would have to brave the back garden, attempt to reach the shed (cut off from civilisation for a while) and return through the wilds with…

The lawn mower.

Now many will know me as a friend of gadgets and technology. I’m kind and generous to the items I buy but I expect loyalty and hard work in return for my ongoing love.

The mower is different. It gets a largely free ride and spends most of its life nice and cosy, in the secure knowledge that it’s not leaving the shed.

I opened the back door and took a sharp intake of breath.


Ok. That looks worse than when I opened it a few weeks ago.

Never mind. It can be done.

Machete in hand I made my way to the shed and retrieved my long lost technology. It was a little dusty, and needed several snails and spiders to be encouraged to vacate the premises.

Otherwise it seemed in good shape.

I dragged it and the extension chord back down the garden, through the house and out the front.

The sun had gone down. Perfect. No kids about to gawp at me and no sun. All I had facing me was epic grass and backache.

However. It wasn’t that bad.

The lawn looks kind of nice now. My back didn’t hurt that much and I only had to sit down once. That’s pretty good for me. In the past I’ve been so breathless I could hardly stand.

My Apple Watch was also paying attention to this disgusting turn of events and quietly counted my exercise and calories burned. It appears pleased with me and I’m nearer than usual to the unrealistic and provocative goals that it sets for me every day.

A few weeks ago my colleague reminded me that small steps are still the right steps – and I was thinking of him while I cursed the grass.

He sent me this last night and I like its simplicity.


The lawn mowing wasn’t speedy.

I wasn’t able to do it fast and it wasn’t as easy as it once was – but it definitely wasn’t as hard as the last time.

When I sat down and considered the alternative it was crap.

Today for the first time in weeks sitting at my desk at work as the day drew to a close I really wanted to drink. Without realising it began to fantasise about it as I got closer to the end of my shift.

I quickly stopped myself and mentally slapped my virtual face for thinking about it at all.

But it was there. Hiding in the background. Ready to offer its shoulder if I felt pissed off or down.

But frankly it can **** off.

I feel much better after mowing and exercise than I would if I had been drinking and I don’t need the ‘comfort’ it provides.

It’s false and just drags me down. I have better things to do.

At the weekend I will tackle (drum roll) THE BACK LAWN…

I hope your grassy areas are trimmed to perfection and you are enjoying the outdoor space Internet – have a good evening!

Davey

Left side

Not many people know this – and I’ve only (to my memory) ever told one person, but I can only sleep on my left side.

This hasn’t always been the case – I noticed that this phenomenon had developed when I realised about 4 years ago that I only ever lay on the sofa/floor/bed/grass/floor on my left. I can’t breathe properly if I lie on my right side and find myself gasping for breath. It’s not a pleasant sensation.

If I do accidentally fall asleep on my right then I snore so loud that I wake myself up or I suddenly sit bolt upright panicking because I’m suffocating.

I hadn’t realised back then that it was just one side that had this problem – and for a little while I felt the only way I could get sleep sometimes was sitting upright.

I suspect it goes back to early childhood when I was hit by a car. As well as breaking my leg very badly and ending up in traction (my left leg is 1cm shorted than my right as a consequence) I also smashed up my face and nose. My nose has been ‘funny’ ever since – but it wasn’t an issue until I became massively overweight.

When I was in my early 20’s I could sleep flat on my back or on whichever side I pleased and it wouldn’t matter. At the moment that’s not the case. I can’t breathe at all when lying on my back for long periods, but that’s for a different reason – because the weight of my stomach restricts my airflow.

In short I have painted myself over the years into something of a corner with weight, and now I’m trying to loose my bulk I’m keen to watch carefully (and document) any changes – or just record how things are at the moment.

Currently the sleep aspect is still an issue, and I think it’s going to be some time before I don’t wake up with a dead left arm and a pain in my hip from stationary slumber on one side. I just hope that i sort this before I end up with thrombosis…

Today I woke up three hours early – partially as a consequence of this problem, but also because the weather is slightly warmer at the moment. As you can imagine, being 34 stone means I feel the heat before most people and massively prefer winter to summer.

Since there was zero possibility of going back to sleep and my hip was aching I decided to do some cooking.

On reflection this might have been a bad idea, as I was half asleep.

After scratching my ass, padding downstairs to the kitchen and deciding what I wanted to cook I then dropped the carving knife, the frying pan and the chopping board one after the other.

I realised that my morning hand to eye co-ordination wasn’t all it should be.

I slowed down, grabbed a blunt knife and gingerly started to chop vegetables for a Chilli while listening to Chris Evans on the radio.

I like ‘rustic’ chopping – where everything is chunky and you can still tell what it was when its cooked. The consistency of my chillies are usually quite varied because of this (and the fact that I like broccoli and courgette in it too). Some can be quite traditional looking – others are more colourful. Basically as long as beef, tomatoes, lots of garlic, tomato puree, cumin, paprika, chilli, a beef stock cube and a teaspoon of salt goes in then it always tastes fabulous regardless of any optional extras.

For anyone that’s interested, mixing Quorn pieces with beef mince somehow works really well. It soaks up a lot of flavour – and even though it’s supposed to replace chicken kind of fits the dish.

The big secret though (hushed whisper) is fresh coriander chopped and stirred into it once its finished cooking.

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Radio 2 seemed to have some sort of 80’s theme today and as it was ‘my’ era it was a nice way to start the day. I boogied around the kitchen from work surface to pot as I swept the contents of my chopping board into the huge saucepan I had on the boil and moved back again for more.

I noticed on my apple watch the calories burned meter was slowly working its way round the dial. Every little bit helps… 🙂

Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ came on, and I turned the radio up loud, filling the downstairs of the house with music and continuing to bounce along with the beat.

In parallel I decided to wash and tidy up and do a Slimming World English breakfast.

While the Chilli boiled the bacon gently sizzled.

Soon I stopped the process of creation and cleaning for a bite to eat.

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I might have focused too intently on the radio and breakfast (which was flipping lovely) however as I forgot to put paprika and kidney beans in my chilli.

Later, at work I also realised that (probably because I was half asleep) I also forgetfully added not just chilli powder but also two fresh chillies with seeds. This proved to be a very tasty but somewhat brutal assault on the senses, and cleared my sinuses faster than a pipe cleaner fired from a harpoon gun.

Thankfully the half a bulb of garlic I added (about 7 cloves) didn’t alienate the office but thats most likely due to the fact that I have about 10ft between me and the nearest person in the afternoon and there are no lit flames allowed on the premises…

Overall today was a good day – and when i finished work I thought I’d call my dad on the way home and see how things were in his neck of the woods.

I lived in Aberystwyth for 5 years and still think of the place in many ways as my favourite part of the UK. Dad still lives there – and I think he feels the same. It’s a small town with a very big heart.

He had been reading my blog recently and had commented on something that happened in Aberystwyth that he thought I might be interested in.

As it happens what he told me is the kind of thing that truly horrifies me.

Locally, a big guy that dad knew had taken a tumble at his home and had been attended by the local emergency services. It’s particularly interesting because his flat appears to be behind a pub I used to work at called the Vale of Rheidol.

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(Photo courtesy of the mail online)

Its also pretty relevant to me because back in March they had to winch this poor guy out of his flat – which sends a shiver down my spine, as he’s way lighter than me (although considerably shorter).

To add insult to injury it happened again a few days ago.

He was locally well known (as the Mail states) for the epic breakfasts – sold in his cafe, which he himself was a big fan of.

The former cafe owner, famous locally in Aberystwyth, Mid Wales, for his huge £24.95 breakfasts, which included six sausages, five black puddings, ten eggs, ten rashes of bacon, tomatoes and toast.

I don’t think I could eat that myself – but I’m sure I’ve packed away similar loads of calories in the past when I factor in booze.

I just need to make sure I don’t fall down the stairs… I really REALLY don’t want anyone cutting me out of my house.

This is further motivation (if ever it was needed) to continue doing what I’m doing and get lighter and more mobile. My coffin alone would currently cost a fortune…

I sincerely hope this guy manages to turn things around for himself and am sending positive thoughts in his direction. I bet he’s in a pretty dark place right about now.

Anyway – on a lighter note I better go and eat my second helping of syn free chilli for dinner, and then have a blast on my latest video game – Uncharted 4, which is firkin ace!!!!

I hope everyone I know and don’t know out there in internetland is foot loose and fancy free today!

Stay healthy chaps and chapesses – and keep up whatever good work you’re doing!

You can do it!

Davey

Pink head

Today I’m back at work, and it’s safe to say I would much rather be doing what I have for the past week and moving from coffee shop to coffee shop and popping here and there for cups of tea with friends.

However it’s not all bad. My office is nice and cool – and so are the people. Life could be worse!

Last week was an extremely positive one – and my goal of getting out and about more was met, along with catching up with as many of the people that are special to me as I could.

As the weather was nice today (not too hot and a bit overcast – just the way I roll) I decided to go for a walk in my lunch hour and try to capitalise on the work I did walking into Leamington Spa yesterday. I want to begin to increase my diminutive travel radius, and the Arrow Valley Country Park is only round the corner.

Naturally as soon as I arrived at the park all of the clouds disappeared and the sun came out.

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I was without sun tan cream, and as mentioned in other blogs I usually burn like desiccated albino in a furnace full of sun lamps. This disagreeable situation continued until I returned to my car half an hour later with a pink head.

Once I sat down and turned on the air conditioning the skies once again became their regulation UK grey colour, and normal service was resumed.

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Typical.

I’m going to have to itch and scratch for the remainder of the day I think, but it was worth it.

However – this is not the theme of my post. The sun can get stuffed.

Normally I would be getting down about how far I managed to get – which today was about 1/3 of the way round before I had to turn back. But I’m not.

I used to be able to get round it a couple of times in a lunch break in 2008, and was regularly saying ‘hi’ to joggers and trying to avoid the local Jehova’s Witnesses (who back then had taken to following people around Arrow Valley on their mountain bikes and talking about religion while they trailed along behind you).

It hasn’t changed much (although the previous threat of pamphlet powered conversion was absent) – and the reason I’m here today is that there are regular pit stops with sturdy metal benches and fences to lean on if my back hurts – which today it did quite a bit toward the end.

To be honest it just feels good to be outside, walking again with other people despite the pain and the sunburn. Also rather encouragingly I’m not the only fat guy out there. There were quite a few large lads (and lasses), all trying to lessen their burdens in life, and there were a few knowing nods between us as I walked from bench to bench.

Initially I was going to try and do an entire circuit (although one third and back is almost the same as three thirds all the way round…) but I’m glad I didn’t as I don’t think it would have been a good idea. I don’t want to pull my calves again. That would just set me back and that’s not the objective here.

That’s a victory I will save for another day.

In other news I’ve had a number of unsolicited high fives from people that I didn’t know were keeping up with my blog over the last few days – and as I’m trying to accept compliments without saying ‘yes but…’ I’d just like to say thanks.

These people took time out to either say they related to my struggle with weight etc or just wanted to give some encouragement. Either way it was a pleasure to talk to them.

It’s really appreciated, and it spurs me on. So you guys rock.

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If anyone is also in the same boat reading this – it’s not easy to change your perspective and it requires work but it can be done. People really help – use them – reach out to them and share their strength.

I believe everyone is essentially good, and they keep proving me right. 🙂

So – on the Slimming World menu tonight is a HOOFING great chicken curry which I started making when I got home. Its absolutely Syn free and I’m going to chop up tons of fresh coriander all over it when it’s done and serve it on some fragrant brown Basmati rice.

If you listen carefully you can probably hear it bubbling away behind me. The aroma of Balti spices currently fills my kitchen.

It’s gonna be a good one!

Love and pink hugs internet 🙂

Davey

Fat birds 

The beginning.

Mental note to self. Try not to walk before you can… Erm… Walk.

No. Wait. That’s not right. There’s no inbeteeen. I need to walk.

Suddenly flushed with yesterday’s success and on my way to meet my brother I decided to not use the car park right next to my destination, and instead try to park outside Leamington Spa and walk approximately a mile to my destination at the Fat Bird’s Cafe.

Everything is burning and my chest is pounding. I’m currently perched on a bus-stop seat knowing that I have gone further than half way (too far to turn back) and worried that I have also got to make my way back to my car after I’ve eaten lunch.

It’s an odd sensation to feel trapped in the open – and maddeningly all of the fences surrounding me are internal. I could theoretically go wherever I wanted. If only I could put one foot in front of the other. Which for the next few minutes I can’t.

Ok. Enough typing. Legs are recovering. I have 8 minutes to reach my destination. I hope to heaven that there’s a free seat.

(Walks on a bit)

Ok. Legs burning again. There’s a bench outside Boots. I sit down again.

A partially crippled white haired old lady with a walking stick ambles past. I note that she’s moving about the same speed or a little faster than I have been.

Opposite the bench on the other side of the road is a reflective shop window, and I can see myself in it. I look beached and hot.

A child walks past with her mother, focusing intently on me. She then innocently stares at my stomach until she’s too far away and can’t walk forward and turn her head far enough back to see me without tripping herself up.

(I don’t like being stared at so I get up and start moving again, this time until I arrive at my destination, which mercifully has a place to sit at a table that I can fit into.)

Well – I’m seated now and the lunch menu seems to be a litany of poor Slimming World choices. But they have wifi – so I can be a hipster and blog about the cafe while I wait. At least the universe has one of my basic human needs catered for.

After some scrutiny it seemed that the one redeeming dish on there was a Chicken Ceasar Salad. I’m not sure how much the syns are in slimming world terms but honestly I think I just burned off a bit of salad dressing so I’m not going to stress about it.

I order a pot of earl grey tea and check my texts. My brother caught a later bus and he’s 10 minutes away.

(Time passes, people arrive, conversation ensues, catching up takes place, handy technical hints are shared about WordPress and we eat.)

My sister in law is hungry and has ordered accordingly. Full English breakfast.

Tomato and marscapone is soup of the day, and her past experience of it means it’s a no brainer. That will be her starter.

I’ve always loved the way she eats – and it never ceases to amaze me when I plate up a Sunday dinner that would end most people my size that my 5ft 2 Indonesian sister in law nails every last bit and clears her plate. I’ve no idea where she puts it.

She’s never failed to make me smile in this respect and it’s always a pleasure to cook for someone that loves what you’ve put in front of them.

Strangely today though I don’t want to eat what she’s eating, and there’s not a hint of envy in me. It would just make walking back even harder and I need to keep it light.

My salad is quite nice. The chicken is perfectly done (nice and moist) and the leaves taste fresh. The thin shavings of Parmesan are the first I’ve had in a long time, and the nutty flavour complements the black olives dotted around the bowl.

Plus with a pot of tea my salad is quite satisfying.

I feel oddly quiet at lunch though, and I don’t chat as much as maybe I normally would. The cafe is not very full, which doesn’t help – and my thoughts continually drift to my impending walk back to the car.

It’s getting hotter and the sun is out. It’s now after midday. My shirt is pulling a bit around my waist and I’m uncomfortable on my chair. It doesn’t fit my bottom very well and I keep having to re-adjust my position, which has put pressure on my knees to stop myself from sliding forward. I pull myself closer to the table so my stretched shirt buttons fall below its surface and can’t be easily seen.

No-one is looking at me or judging me but I feel visible.

Shortly after we individually visit the toilet, pay the bill and begin to leave.

We say our goodbyes.

(I start to walk back to my car. One of the benches is full on the route and I have to carry on to the bus stop. When I arrive I am breathing very heavily and my pulse is racing.)

Ok. I’m waiting here for a while. Screw walking. I need to slow my breathing and wait for my thighs to stop shaking.

It’s nice being in the street though. Like yesterday in Solihull it feels like I’m part of the world, or at least now I’m peering over the wall of it to see what’s going on.

Opposite me is a shop window that’s selling some naff looking Sony headphones for £50 and a couple of the cheap but handy lifestyle cameras that sporty types strap to their heads when jumping off dangerous things.

It occurs to me that I haven’t stopped to look in a shop window for a few years.

Actually I haven’t walked up the high street of anywhere for years.

If it didn’t hurt so much at the moment I’d be proud of myself – but I can save that for later. I need to reach the safety of my car. That’s my sole focus.

(I get up and walk again. After one more short stop sitting on a wall in the park at the top of Leamington I make the final leg and reach the door of my car.)

Ok – I did it. I’m shaking all over, my heart is racing and I am taking loud, deep breaths to try and regain my equilibrium.

This lasts for a few mins while I sit with the air conditioning on full and the engine running.

I don’t care about people watching me to see if I will move from the parking space. I can’t start driving until I’m breathing normally and I’m not trembling any more.

But I did it.

I made it back to the car.

The End.

I’ve never written all of this down before, and I’ve never shared the experience of what it’s like for me to go to a cafe and sit down in the company of others. It’s not as simple these days as ‘just doing it’.

It’s not ALWAYS like this, but at the moment it’s very difficult when I decide to step outside my very limited comfort zone.

But screw it. Screw anyone watching me and screw anyone judging me.

Next time dear Internet this will be easier and next time I’ll feel a little bit better. You will see the progress.

You wait and see.

For now I’m safely back home and I’m just going to quietly sit in my cool, dark living room with a glass full of ice and Diet Pepsi.

I will also take off my socks.

In a minute.

Not just yet.

Zzzzzz

Davey

Perception vs Reality

So. It’s Saturday. The fulcrum of my week. As per (what is becoming) usual I woke up at 7.30 thinking about how I might have done, and what the scales would say. 

I haven’t found this week easy on some of the days – and periodically it’s been hard to not get down and beat myself up. 

I also felt like I’d eaten well. TOO well if I’m honest. 

I’ve had many an evening where I’ve felt absolutely stuffed after a meal – and had worried that although I was eating the ‘right’ things that I may have been eating them in the wrong quantities. 

I know that portion control is something I need to address at some point – but at the moment it’s remaining on my list of to do’s. I’m hoping I can avoid it for a little while longer as it’s keeping me sane currently. 

I still have a very big appetite. 

Last night I dutifully wrote out all of the things I’d eaten during the week (I’d put it all in a notepad on my phone) in the format Angie/Slimming World prefers.

I hate separating out all the food types instead of writing them down as meals so I’ve decided that this is the least annoying way to complete this task. Plus it allows me to re-assess in one go wether I’ve had a good or bad week. 

Strangely it didn’t seem so bad. I was a bit surprised. Was my perception so different to the reality of what I had eaten? Why had I been beating myself up?

As I looked at it I confirmed that I hadn’t forgotten anything and re-checked the list. 

It was right. 

While I had the phone app open (to check food values and types) I decided to have a look at what I might have had in the past on a typical binge night 3 months ago. 

Pint of cider – 12 syns, Ginsters Cornish Pasty -28.5 syns, Doritos (40g) 9.5 Syns. 
That on its own doesn’t look so bad until you factor in the quantities. Typically 6-8 pints of cider, two pasties and a 150g bag of Dotitos. 

Given I should have 30 syns (for mere mortals it’s 15) a day this would have come to approximately 163 syns in one evening. A NORMAL evening when I was drinking. 

I could often eat or drink a lot more, and this didn’t include the daytime. 

I haven’t worked out what an entire full size Dominos pizza comes to, but sometimes they also featured in an evening’s self destruction. 

I dread to think. 

All of this was on my mind when I stepped on the scales. Today I was in jogging bottoms, rather than jeans. I thought I’d need all the help I could get. 

The world went a bit silent and the lady watching the meter said quietly ‘well done that’s •••••• off’. 

I hadn’t heard her and asked again. 

‘How much sorry?’

Six and a half pounds.’ She said, this time a bit louder. ‘You have your one stone award.’

I stepped off the scales, stunned. 

I’ve lost my first stone

14.5lbs is now in the toilet or ozone layer or washing machine or on the floor, or wherever the hell it goes. 

Not that it really matters. It’s no longer on me which is a real bonus. 


To top it off at the end of the meeting I got the slimmer of the week award and (although I had forgotten to bring my own contribution) a basket of food as a reward 🙂


I’m not sure what I’ll do with them at the moment but I’m going to put them to good use – as for the most part they’re store cupboard friendly. 

Whilst in the meeting I had a text – my friend was unexpectedly in town and wondered if I fancied meeting in Solihull at Starbucks for coffee. 

I quickly checked Google. The Pope appeared to still be Catholic and all evidence suggested that bears were highly likely to defacate in wooded areas. 

‘Sure – love to!’ I replied with a quick text. 

Now – this to most is not a big deal. So let me explain before I continue. 

It’s been sunny all morning and warm. My very least favourite weather. It makes me sweaty and self conscious.

On the way to Slimming World I parked up with 10 minutes to spare, walked in and realised I had forgotten my book (where my weight is recorded) and meal planner (for Angie to review). 

Old me would have continued without them. 

Not new me. 

I decided to drive home, rush into the house, get this and drive back, and walk in again. I’d also walked from the car into the group – stood in the line to be weighed and then sat down. 

Previously this would have seen me out of action for a while, and most likely in pain. Not today. 

I was feeling really good. Not at all like I used to. I wanted to go to meet her. 

Immediately. 

I covertly arranged to meet in an hour or so with a few texts while Angie talked and  then waited for the meeting to finish.

Once it was done I skipped up the stairs outside the school, jumped in my car, got home, briskly walked up my path, opened the front door, quickly up my stairs, got changed, forgot my wallet, went upstairs again to get it, came back down again, texted my friend, headed off, parked up, walked through John Lewis, through Touchwood mall, waited in the Starbucks queue, walked up 3 flights of stairs to and sat down with my drink. 

I hadn’t started sweating. My back wasn’t hurting. My knees weren’t screaming. I wasn’t out of breath. I didn’t feel bloated and miserable, dreading the moment when an acquaintance I hadn’t seen for a while would look at me, visually register I had put on yet more weight and not say anything about it. 

When my friend arrived we sat and talked while her daughter watched Postman Pat on my phone. 

I had good things to report and good thoughts to share. I felt good. 

I felt happy, and I was able to share that mood and positivity with someone I care about. 

We talked about what she wanted to do to get fit again herself and about the insane number of syns in crisps. We chatted about things we both wanted to do, and what we were doing to achieve them. 

It was a good conversation. 

We hugged and went our separate ways, with her daughter waving to me as I disappeared up the escalator in John Lewis to collect my car. 

I’m now in another Starbucks writing this. Because I can. Because I feel like I want to be part of the world and at the moment I have no interest in sitting at home alone in my armchair. 


Hell – I feel so good I’m willing to use because at the beginning of a sentence. 

Because I want to. 

Because I’m just that kind of bold italic crazy. 

If I feel down in the future or doubt myself I want to re-read this post and remember my mindset at this particular moment on this particular day. 

Because it’s good

Happy Saturday Internet – hope you’re doing well too 🙂

Davey

Flushing it all away

As tends to be the way when I have worries in the back of my mind I woke up today obsessing about something entirely different. Not unusually for me I had been dreaming of colourful video games and they were still clear in my head when I opened my eyes at 7.30am.

I think I’m concerned about my weigh in on Saturday. I’m trying not to feel pressure about how much I loose – but again and again I do it to myself, and start mentally planning how long it will take to loose X amount or how much I can do per week.

I’m thinking about it as I type.

Some people seem to do really well with goal setting and working toward targets, but I’m the opposite. If I fail it has a hugely negative impact and I can feel myself being crushed under the weight of my expectation and then my eventual failure.

Often for this reason I shy away from all competition, and absolutely avoid ambitious thoughts. I’m really trying to be better in this respect but it’s difficult and I feel quite flawed today.

I must sound like a broken record when I talk about this – but it seems to be something that I have to confront over and over again. Just when I think I’ve resolved my issues, there they are – staring back at me in the mirror.

In May 2008 I was the fittest I had ever been – and probably the happiest.

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I’d lost in the region of 8-10 stone (I don’t know the original weight when I started because I refused to step onto the scales) and I was on a walking holiday in Newquay with a friend that I’d known for many many years.

We’d never gone on holiday together before, and we’d never done anything active together as our fitness levels were extremely different. Whereas she had sport almost written into her DNA I had only recently become able to walk for reasonable distances.

Oddly, despite our very different lifestyles I couldn’t ask for a better mate – and although we were (and still are) physically poles apart our thoughts have always remained remarkably connected. It was fantastic all of a sudden to almost be on a level playing field and spend time in her world, rather than mine.

Furthermore, it was also beginning to become my world.

While walking we even talked about eventually going snowboarding together. I was skeptical about whether I could do it but she was positive and her thoughts of my future were full of possibility. I could almost see myself doing it when we talked about it.

We ambled for miles and miles in Cornwall. I can’t remember the actual distance – but we put in 7-9 a day while we stayed there.

And then it all went horribly wrong.

I hadn’t realised it at the time, but for some reason depression (or just old thought patterns) kicked in on that holiday. I felt all of a sudden that I was kidding myself.

Although its not the only thought that entered my head, I remember thinking that I had no excuses any more. I wasn’t massively fat – maybe I should start thinking about looking for a partner and being ‘normal’ again.

I’d even put my profile on a dating website along with a picture that for once in my life I was semi happy with.

Then I thought ‘Who am I kidding? Who would want me? I’m not worth a relationship – look at all the failures I’ve had in the past. It’s all been my fault, and I’m safer not trying because finding someone you care about and then loosing them is harder than never having them in the first place.’

After many years I still mourned my last relationship like a bereavement. I had really struggled to get over it and blamed myself for my inability to change. Although we weren’t a perfect couple I loved her more than I could describe (part of me still does) and when the dust had settled on our breakup I had realised that I pushed her away with both arms when I started eating, smoking and drinking myself to death.

This began to repeat over and over in my head (along with other thoughts not just connected to relationships) and then this happened:

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In 9 months I managed to put nearly a stone a month back on, and moved myself from mobile and self sufficient to a standstill and suffering from mobility problems.

Possibility for the future had been replaced by the chains of the past.

Currently I’m heavier still, at (on my last weigh in) exactly 34 stone, which is probably where I began a decade ago.

I’m not writing this out of self pity (although today I do feel angry at myself)  but rather to remind myself where I’ve been, where I got to, and how I threw it all away.

I want to remember the pain I feel and use it for something positive – but at the same time  (maybe paradoxically) get away from thoughts of self loathing and worthlessness.

I don’t want to focus on being disappointed in myself. I don’t want to be just a collection of failures in my head, when logic and other people tell me I am so much more.

Yesterday I met up with two friends from the self build group, and we sat outside in the shade at a pub near Banbury. It was an unexpected meeting – but it was welcome as I think everyone needed to talk and remember why we want to become something better than we were.

They struggle like I do with their own negative and self destructive thoughts, and we were at pains many times during conversation to remind each other to focus on the successes we’ve had and not drive ourselves into the floor focusing on our failures.

In my case every day is a day that I can decide to press the ‘f**k it’ button, but at the moment every day is a day that I choose not to.

Its been 100 days now since I had anything to drink, and I have a link on my web browser to remind me when I feel low. It makes me feel fantastic to see that number going up day by day.

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I’m approaching Slimming World the same way. Piece by piece, moment by moment.

I still have the voice of my work colleague in my head (I doubt he knows how helpful he was to me at that particular moment in time) who berated me when I talked about wanting to loose a certain amount every week and how angry I would be with myself if I didn’t.

He’s still right. Even half a pound off is a win. Hell – staying the same (as hard as that would be) is at the very least not getting any worse.

So – it’s one day, and meal at a time. I need to build the days up with dieting just like I did with alcohol. Bit by bit.

In less downbeat and thoughtful news my beef rendang yesterday tasted really nice. I made more than enough for another big meal tonight – so there are no dangers of hunger pangs hitting out of the blue today. It was a mission to prepare however as one of the things I missed on the original recipe was the need for a food processor to make the curry paste.

I do happen to have a large one of these – but its unfortunately a bit broken and waaaay too big for making this kind of paste. I spent about 40 mins chopping and dicing ingredients into a pretty rustic version of what I was looking at in the picture.

In case you wondered what the yellow strips are I mistakenly bought coconut flakes, rather than desiccated, which was a minor balls up, but I think it adds some interesting texture to the dish, and looks nice next to the cinnamon sticks and lime leaves.

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When I plated it up with basmati rice and some steamed mange tout I have to say I was pretty impressed at how filling it was.

To be honest though given the cooking and preparation times involved this may not be a regular occurrence! I could probably have cooked several dinners in the time it took to make this.

Anyway. I have another day of positive things ahead of me, and later I’m going for a cup of tea at yet another friend’s house.

Check me out – I’m being all sociable and living in the world, not just my front room!

Anyway – thanks for listening internet. You look really cute snoring on your pillow 🙂

Davey

Souvlaki in the garden

In the last few weeks I’ve been cooking a LOT more than I ever have before. Thats not to say I’ve never cooked, or that I just lived on ready meals previously.

I guess that the main aspect of cooking at the moment that’s changed is that for the first time in my life I am trying to embrace culinary variety. I’m also trying to take notice of the food that I eat on my plate, and how it is presented before I begin shovelling it into my face.

In order to heighten my awareness I’ve been photographing it and posting meals I make to Instagram and in my Slimming World Facebook group. I’m convinced they will eventually annoy people, but honestly (like my blog) I’m doing it purely for me. It helps my mindset, and if it works and motivates me then I’m going to carry on.

On paper my objective sounds really simple – do things differently and cook something new. In truth for me it’s anything but and requires a lot of mental effort.

Sure – I can follow a recipe and do what’s needed to make something I’ve never done before. Thats not the issue – I’m actually a pretty good cook when I get started. It’s just way easier not to try and to stick with the meals I’ve become good at making, because I know I like them and will enjoy them.

The danger though is that they eventually (no matter how much I enjoy them) become boring, and it becomes infinitely preferable to go and get a takeaway.

I don’t think I’m in any way unique – but I’m set in my ways, probably because I live alone and I do things the way that I want with no pressure from a partner. If I fancied cooking Chilli con Carne every day for a month, and I enjoyed it and can cook it who would stop me? I think I make a pretty mean Chilli actually!

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It sounds comical when I write it down but this is has actually been the reality of my existence until now. Variety and change has been something that happens to others. Not me. The meal I’ve cooked in this picture has actually in the past been eaten EVERY DAY for weeks before I got completely sick of it.

Now I’m trying to keep it as a treat.

So, I’ve been making small steps. Breakfast is a big one. I haven’t eaten breakfast regularly for many years – and food didn’t usually pass my lips until lunchtime.

I’m not sure why this was the case – but I’m sure It’s been damaging in the long term, and has meant that when I eventually do get hungry I over compensate and eat to excess. Now breakfasts are things I can enjoy again, and the simple pleasure of plating up a meal in the morning before work is a habit I’m slowly beginning to get into.

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I have to be careful here to not repeatedly eat what I like though, and if I’m honest its not hard to go for a Slimming World style English breakfast EVERY DAY. Like Chilli this needs to be limited – and because of that I’ve lately been trying to swap it out with ‘Overnight Oats’ (the overnight bit is the soaking of them in either milk or yogurt).

I have been a little afraid of fruit and the hidden sugars they contain since I became diabetic, but I’m bringing them back into my diet bit by bit, and mixing them with small amounts of oats so that carbs are released more slowly. Smothered with lashings of fat free natural yogurt and a sprinkling of Stevia they’re actually the highlight of my day sometimes.

So much that I have become somewhat obsessed with strawberries and blueberries from M&S – which are expensive, but compared to other supermarkets taste like I’ve just walked into food heaven…

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Surprisingly I have also discovered that apples (in an effort to work fruit into other meals) go together well with basil and tuna in salads, which was something I’d never tried before, and came at a moment where there was very little left in the fridge. As always I guess, necessity is the mother of invention!

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Another minor revelation to me has been taking place in my frying pan. I rarely cooked stir fry in the past – and ABSOLUTELY NEVER used noodles. I’ve done this a couple of times over the last few weeks and loved the results.

I wish I’d taken some pictures of the prawn version of this dish, but unfortunately at the time I wanted to eat it so damn much when I’d cooked it that my camera never came out of my pocket. The pork one was just as photogenic though and tasted almost as nice.

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In the spirit of change I also tried to make some homemade beef burgers yesterday morning – and found a nice little recipe on the SW website.

Chopped onions, garlic, fresh parsley and a pinch of salt combined together to make probably the nicest quarter pounders I’ve had in ages! Although next time I think that I’m going to grate a small amount of Stilton into them. I’ve got quite a bit in the fridge and as long as I’m careful I can introduce it as a healthy extra.

Believe it or not my burger lunch was all ‘free’ food on my plan and contained zero ‘syns’. I steamed some veg to go with it and used the remaining juices in the pan with some Soy sauce to sauté some courgette rings for a bit of variety. It was pretty damn delicious!

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If this wasn’t enough I went to visit a friend yesterday afternoon, and he’s someone that loves cooking. He’s into every aspect of food preparation, and quietly obsessed with making everything from scratch. I have a growing admiration for the way (unlike me) he butchers joints of meat into the cuts that he prefers to eat, spends ages marinading things before they’re cooked, and also uses an old fashioned steam kettle with a whistle.

Yesterday he was preparing Souvlaki when I went over and had tried really hard to make it in a way that would fit with Slimming World.

When I arrived the barbecue was already alight, and there was a wonderful aroma of burning coals in the garden and the kitchen. His dog, Boris was expectantly watching the proceedings and eventually took up residence on the nearby bench in the garden to get a better view of what was going on.

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This may surprise people – but I’ve never owned a barbecue.

I’ve eaten barbecued food before (I lived with an Australian for a while – it’s almost an insult to eat food prepared indoors when men like him are around) and very much enjoyed it, but never once tried to do it myself. I’ve not been the least bit interested in how it all works.

Yesterday was different though – I was really really focused on the process. At some point in the near future I may get some shady umbrellas for the garden and buy one myself to try it.

The Souvlaki was a triumph and really hit the spot. Without realising it I’d been craving a kebab for a while. Fat free yogurt, cucumber, minced garlic, lemon juice and fresh mint combined to make the ‘on the side’ Tzatziki, and the pork was just covered in garlic and herbs with olive oil before going on the barbie.

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A nice rustic salad with feta and a balsamic dressing topped it off, and before long it had moved from skewer to plate and from plate into toasted wholemeal pittas.

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It was an absolutely smashing high point in an ongoing hedonistic week of food variety and pleasure – all of which was incredibly simple and enjoyable to make.

Today I’m moving into slightly more scary territory. This afternoon/tonight will be my first Beef Randang. I have a bunch of ingredients that I have NEVER used before, so I’m hopeful that it won’t turn into a complete hash that needs to be parcelled up and sent to Boris 🙂

I have no idea how all of this will translate or not translate into weight loss but I’m sure I’ll soon find out!

Love and food porn internet

Davey

 

 

Re-naming convention

Today has been one that involved zero work, as I decided to follow yesterday’s bank holiday with a few days off, and try as much as possible to spend the time catching up with important people in my life.

With this in mind today I popped over to Coventry to see my friend and her live-wire of a son – who has an insane amount of energy. Its tiring just to look at him! I am jaw-dropingly amazed at how he moves with the speed of thought from one thing to the next without missing a beat.

I’m also in awe of my friend and how she calmly navigates through a billion Lego bricks, grapes, squares of cheese, cups of tea and still manages to look casually fabulous – even with a hoover in her hand.

She’s doing her level best at the moment to get noticed in a crowded creative space online and showed me some fabrics that she’s recently had printed with a view to starting a designer/maker business centred around fabrics for the home (think cushion covers and armchairs). I’m pretty blown away that she manages to design anything at all as well as being a mother and holding down a job at the same time.

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If her website wasn’t nice enough then her Instagram feed makes me feel like an ape that through a comical but unfortunate sequence of events came into possession of a camera and learned how to press the button in between bites of his banana.

She’s always had a really wonderful eye for beauty in everyday things (much more so than I ever have) and the designs sitting behind her fabric creations are truly special.

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If there was anything that reminded me that I have MORE than enough time in my otherwise peaceful existence to do something new then it was watching my friend with her whirlwind son today and considering her creative output despite the pressures that motherhood brings.

Its not just her – I’m amazed at mothers in general. They kick superhuman amounts of ass.

I genuinely hope that she becomes incredibly rich and famous – and not JUST because I have a signed piece of her work in my living room and need something to boost my pension 🙂

After a couple of hours catching up I headed back home to eat and decide on what to cook this evening.

Angie from Slimming World contacted me today to ask how I was doing with my plan and I have to admit over the last few days I’ve been peckish.

I’m not entirely sure why this is – but at the moment I’m no different.

If I analyse what I’m doing wrong I think I need to drink more water and make sure that I eat regular meals- which at the moment I’m not doing. Although there are three meals a day they are not at the same time every day, and instead I start making them when I get hungry usually.

The unfortunate consequence of this is that by the time I’m hungry I want something Immediately, rather than after I’ve cooked – which is not good. I need to find a way of sorting this out – and maintaining both variety and consistency.

Tonight I’m having a pork stir-fry with noodles. It would have been a bolognese but as soon as I saw the strawberries in M&S today (I know they’re expensive but are sooooooo nice!!!) I completely forgot mushrooms (and baking potatoes).

Dammit!!!!

As well as being forgetful I’m also really undecided at the moment.

Currently I don’t write my blog for anyone in particular. It’s mostly just for me and it’s meant to head off negativity and work through how I feel about anything that I cross paths with instead of engaging in negative behaviour.

As such I’ve not really paid too much attention to what its ‘theme’ is – or indeed if it has one at all. This means the title of it currently has no relation to the content.

Daveywankenobie came from an XBOX gamertag that I’ve had for a decade – and I’ll be honest – when I constructed it years ago I was thinking of Star Wars, not the middle of what the tag would look like.

It wasn’t in fact until a delightful American child in an online game called me ‘Wanky Nobby’ that I realised my faux pas.

I’m sure those that know me think that this was intentional (my sense of humour often has a level of Tourettes that comes as standard) but honestly it was completely by mistake.

So – what would I call this blog if I re-named it?

Well for a start its not what I originally intended it to be, which was to document the transformative effect of resigning from my job unexpectedly and getting a dog. Although at some point I still intend to do the latter, events in life, my emotional state and very well meaning friends’ advice meant that I reversed the first decision.

A helpful work colleague had originally suggested that my blog be called ‘walkieswithmydoggybloggy’. As amusing as this would have been it would also have been entirely misleading three months later, given the lack of pooch in my life.

So – given that I write this for myself primarily, what does it mean to me?

Well – the main thing for me is truth, and wherever possible (when it doesn’t undermine & embarrass others or betray a confidence) this is what I try to write, so that would have to figure in the title.

Its also about self empowerment and improvement – which in a slightly more casual way was part of the original intention, but hasn’t materialised in quite the form I expected. This has to be part of it too – but not in an Anthony Robbins kind of way. I don’t need a square jawed, high fiveing beefcake of a success guru in my life – and I’m not convinced other people do either.

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While I’m sure he’s very nice and loves puppies as well as helping little old ladies over the road I’m deeply suspicious of someone that sells the idea that EVERYONE in life can have success.

Which reminds me – A Nigerian Prince e-mailed me the other day needing help with moving currency out of a country. I must get around to replying. I could be a rich man soon!!!

Unlike the muscular motivator with the jaw my hopes and dreams are modest, and don’t involve money.

Maybe as I progress with Slimming World my blog will remind me of where I came from (or where I went wrong) and I hope in some small way it can provide inspiration to other people like me.

All I want from the future at the moment is to be able to look at myself in the mirror and feel that I’m a good person.

As I mentioned in a blog a few months ago I was really taken by a Scroobius Pip track called ‘Get Better’, and if I hadn’t already used that as the title of a post I may have stolen it. However it also implies that I’ve been ill – and I’m not in a hospital bed yet…

I’m going to think about this some more… I do think that daveywankenobie’s days are numbered though…

Anyway – make sure you visit and like my Arty Pickle friend’s site and if you have any thoughts on re-naming my content then let me know in the comments.

I’m not looking for a way to market myself – just to tell it how it is.

Love and fabric designs internet!

Davey