I sometimes wonder where I would be if I had not decided to walk through the door to Slimming World back in April. I think things would probably be very different.

I think that I would still have been losing weight (I can be quite determined at times) but that I would also have ended up doing it in a very unhealthy way. I’d probably have starved myself and retrodden old behaviours of binge and purge – all the time treating myself in isolation with scorn and anger. However every Saturday I get reminded how important it is to be kind to myself. In each meeting I attend I try to normalise my (sometimes less than positive) feelings about how I’m doing as I listen to how other people have managed during the week – and crucially how they feel about it.

Today, surrounded by lots of familiar, friendly faces (and some newcomers) the whole group faced the music together with Angie after the carnage of Christmas.

It transpired that the room didn’t do too badly after all. It had collectively gained around 90lbs and had also managed to lose about 20 at the same time. We were approximately five stone heavier as a room than we had been before – but we were all there, with a sense of solidarity – ready to start again.

Tales of Baileys and wine consumption were rife among the ladies as we sat chatting. Everyone it seemed had fully enjoyed their downtime with family or friends, and most had indulged in the traditional festive excesses. They were all philosophical though – and many were back after several weeks absence to draw a line under things and get back on track.

Honestly I find anyone that can step on the scales after some time away and start again massively inspiring. It does me so much good to talk to everyone there and hear what they have to say, because it pulls me back into reality when I’m often wrestling with an internally distorted view of my own success or failure.

This week I’ve had one word running through my head, relating to my gain last week – and the fear that I would do it again.

The word is ‘plateau‘.

Dieters will know this word well. It’s heinous. ‘I’ve plateaued‘ is probably the thing I fear saying the most at the moment.

For skinny minnies out there – this is the point in every weight loss journey where your body suddenly just says ‘Screw you. I’m holding onto this fat. It took me ages to make and I don’t wanna let it go.’

I’ve faced periods like this in the past and they can be unbearable.

I suppose I’m afraid of this because I know that as time goes on I worry that I’m still not properly dealing with the fact that I eat more than other people. I still really really struggle with portion sizes and these have been yo-yo’ing between acceptable and not acceptable ever since I started losing weight.

Yesterday for instance at midday I made a large chilli. It had paprika, chilli powder, cumin, a stock cube, minced beef, a can of baked beans (I ran out of kidney beans), a can of chick peas, a small can of sweetcorn, a can of tomatoes, half a tube of tomato purée, an orange pepper, a large onion, a large courgette and 3 cloves of garlic.

I didn’t have it with rice as I try to limit carbs – but over the course of a couple of hours I ate all of it. I felt quite annoyed that I’d consumed the whole lot and stood in the kitchen afterwards at 4pm looking at the nutritional info on the cans and packaging in the recycling bags – trying to work out how badly I’d shafted myself.

I calculated that the whole lot of it came in at around 1500 kcal. I didn’t eat anything else before or afterwards as I felt full until bedtime.

So far I haven’t really focused on calorific values – but if I want to carry on losing weight I would be a fool to continue ignoring them. After some Googling this week it seems that (given that an ‘average’ man allegedly needs 2500 kcal a day) if I ate 2000 kcal every day then I would supposedly lose 1lb per week.

I’m not sure I completely agree with this – but let’s (for the sake of argument) take this to be a ‘fact’.

Although Slimming World simplifies a lot of dietary choices by labelling certain foods ‘speed’ and ‘free’ (meaning these have far less impact than a ‘synned’ or processed food) this can also mean that it’s easy to convince yourself that any such things can be consumed with impunity.

I’m very guilty of this, and have to constantly check my behaviour in this regard.

This week I lost 2.5lbs – thanks in no small part to this attitude regarding my food intake. I was also lucky enough to get slimmer of the month.

As nice as the above is – this means (as my losses appear to be slowing down) that I think I’m going to struggle to meet my self imposed goal of getting to 10st off by the end of January. In the back of my head I’m annoyed about that.

This sounds utterly ridiculous when I read it back – but it’s honestly how I feel. I know I shouldn’t think like this.

I’m really good at looking at the positives with friends and their problems or issues but I’m also amazingly adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when it comes to myself.

It’s that word though…


It’s like it has a physical form and it’s standing in the background, just out of sight, watching me and waiting to pounce – and I have to be continually on my guard.

However – as I said to one of the ladies in group today (who brought her lovely cute little pooch Arnie in and made me melt like a snowman in summer) it’s not all about numbers. It’s also about non-scale victories, and I have to keep reminding myself of those all the time.

For me it means relatively stupid things like being able to cross my legs again. It means being able to go up and down the stairs without feeling like I’m dying. It means being able to walk into town for a coffee instead of wasting petrol and paying for parking.

More importantly it means not having limbs amputated because my diabetes is out of control.

So far I’m still pursuing my hope of becoming medication free – and (since I’m trying to be sensible about things) I’m testing my levels every day and making sure they don’t rise. As of the 27th of December I’m now taking one Metformin tablet a day in the morning (I started on four a day and one Glimepiride) and my levels are so far staying stable (they should be between 4 and 7).

  • 27th Dec – 5.2 (midday)
  • 28th Dec – 6.1 (10am)
  • 29th Dec – 6.2 (9am)
  • 30th Dec – 5.4 (11.30am)
  • 31st Dec – 5.6 (12.30pm)

From what I’ve read about Metformin (such as here for instance) this is a fast acting medication that doesn’t rely on a ‘build up’ effect in the body – meaning that what I’m likely to see from changing my dosage is a relatively real time result in my sugar levels.

Even so I’m in this for the long haul so I’m going to have one a day until the end of January and see how it goes. If my levels start to go up in the meantime then I’ll go back to two a day.

So internet – despite my silly feelings related to my loss – this is my non-scale victory for the week, and it’s something that I realise as I type (because what you’re reading is actually a form of ongoing therapy for me where I come to terms with how I feel) I’m immensely proud of.

So – operation ten stone is underway. I’ve crossed the nine stone boundary and have 11.5lbs to go. Hopefully when I get there I can try to also be MEDICATION FREE.

This makes me smile.

Actually today has already been a good day. Forget plateaus. It’s just fear talking. Not reality.

(Sips coffee and takes a photo)



Bringing my own preconceptions

It’s really cold.

I know this not because my extremities are feeling it (although they are), not because there is frost everywhere (there is), not because I am putting an extra duvet on the bed (I am) but because MY FATHER HAS TOLD ME HE PLANS TO TURN THE HEATING ON.

I probably shouldn’t tease. Those who know me well enough will have been in my house wearing winter jumpers in my living room and marvelling at the beautiful patterns their frozen breath makes as it hangs in front of them thanks to the sub zero temperatures they’re subjected to.

At this moment in time I’m sitting typing this in a fleecy Star Wars floor length Jedi bath robe with a hood – over the top of my other clothes. The luxury of central heating is usually reserved for when guests visit – otherwise it’s wasting money.

My father however is of even hardier stock than myself – and comes from a generation where you needed a hammer to break the ice on an outdoor toilet if you were intrepid enough to attempt a number one or a number two during winter.

I was thinking of him wearing his customary coat and hat indoors when I pulled up for my morning walk in Coventry Memorial Park with a friend.


It. Was. Beautiful.

Everything had a frosty coating, and although the path was a bit treacherous the whole place seemed to be alive with children, dogs and those enjoying the sunshine and the sudden change in the tone of the scenery.

My friend said to me some time ago that one of the great pleasures of getting in touch with the world again after a long period off work was seeing the change of seasons. During this time he’d connected once more with the reality of nature – something that he’d forgotten when he was preoccupied with the drudgery of everyday life.

It’s so true. I can’t describe the subtlety or depth of the pleasure I’ve experienced over the last few months watching the parks and woods I’ve regularly walked in change as the time has crept by.

Sometimes it takes my breath away – and I’m amazed (and more than a little sad) that for a time I forgot how good being out in this makes me feel.

I was thinking all these thoughts and more as my friend and I strolled with his dog through the trees, round the bushes and across the crunchy grass to avoid the icy paths. We had been talking about life, Christmas and family almost non-stop since we’d exited our cars.

Then our train of thought was suddenly de-railed by a lady who approached us holding her arm and pointing at four people walking away in the opposite direction with dogs. She appeared to be in her late fifties or early sixties, of Indian or Pakistani descent, was wearing a headscarf and a long warm overcoat and very flustered. She was struggling to talk to us and make herself understood.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen this lady.

She’s in the park when I visit a lot – and in the summer she walks with flip flop sandals in the opposite direction to me at a speed I couldn’t manage to maintain in trainers. She never usually says hello or nods – but seems instead intently focused on her exercise.

Maybe it was because she’d seen us regularly in the past that she chose to approach us both today and try to explain what had happened to her.

‘I think I hurt – maybe broken. They go.’ She said, pointing and looking at the dog walkers.

Although language was a barrier after a few moments she got the point across that she thought that her arm might be badly hurt. I looked down at her right side and she was holding it limply by her waist. Her coat, glove and sleeve had a dusting of frost on that side, suggesting she’d recently been on the floor.

‘They ignore and don’t say who the dog belong to.’ She said.

‘Did the dog trip you up? Are you OK?’ I asked, placing my hand on her other arm to reassure her.

‘Yes! They go and not say who dog is!’ She said without looking directly at me and gesturing at four people with their backs to us.

‘Is your arm ok?’ My friend said ‘Do you need us to call an ambulance?’

‘No.’ – she said, still holding her arm and looking shaken. ‘They ignore me.’

She was still looking at the people walking away. She didn’t appear angry, and instead just seemed hurt and flustered. After asking if she needed us to do anything it seemed that she wanted no further help and instead just wanted to leave.

We’d passed a policeman moments before, and pointed in his direction – suggesting that she report the matter to him. I put my hand on her shoulder and asked if she was ok again.

She took off after nodding to look for the constable walking around the park, leaving my friend and I staring at the backs of her and the people walking away, not really knowing what to do.

We’d neither seen the incident or gotten a completely clear picture of what happened – although it seemed that a dog may have tripped her up and she’d hurt her arm before being ignored by the dog owners.

At this point my friend and I (unsure quite what to think) started discussing what had possibly taken place. We both came at it from a different angle – and had formed different narratives in our mind about what may or may not have transpired before we rounded the corner.

The four people walking away looked like white middle aged male and female dog walkers. They had a golden Labrador and a couple of terriers.

I wondered immediately about whether this problem had a racial element. Had they walked away from her because of her race or religion? Maybe this was the increasing xenophobia in the UK we hear so much about in the news?

My friend saw something different. He wasn’t looking at the colour or race of those involved. He just saw ignorant people who would probably have treated his (white) mum the same way.

I saw racial bias, and he instead just saw plain ignorance.

Honestly I don’t think we’ll ever know what really happened – but I do know that because I knew nothing about the situation my mind made judgements based on my own fears and worries.

I’ve always rather enjoyed visiting this park partially because of it’s diversity. It’s usually full of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

I think maybe I like it all the more because of the spectre of racism that seems to be hanging over our country following the UK’s ‘Brexit’ vote seems so distant there.

While the referendum was never about race or religion (at least not in my mind anyway) some elements have used it as an excuse to highlight and exacerbate such tensions and fault lines. I worry a lot that as a country we will slip back to the late 70’s and early 80’s (when I grew up) and into the attitudes that made casual racism so prevalent (and ugly) at the time.

Either way – I hope she’s ok. I didn’t see her again after she walked away and she didn’t seem to want us to help her or be with her when she was upset. She just wanted to tell someone – anyone – that some kind of injustice had happened and that she was shocked and hurt.

After that she was gone.

So – I’m unsure quite what to think now. I don’t really know how I feel about carrying my own preconceptions into this situation – or whether I was right or wrong to do so. I like to think I’m open minded – but maybe I have more bias than I’m willing to admit. Is it even possible to have an open mind? Surely every thought that we have is informed by ones that we’ve had before and those too are the sum of our experiences to date.

How do we get to a truly unbiased and prejudice free way of thinking about and viewing others?

Honestly I don’t know internet – but regardless of what caused the situation that my friend and I blundered into today I hope that stopping and talking to her for a few minutes helped.

If you need me I’ll be busy trying to think without bias and be as colour blind as humanly possible.


Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?

When I look back on 2016 I’m going to have extremely mixed feelings about it.

Most of my blog posts so far have been about personal change and how I’ve been trying to turn my life around – but tonight it’s not.

I never saw Star Wars at the cinema. When it came out my family was living in Orkney. I read about the exploits of what came to be beloved heroes in the occasional comic that my mom bought me from the local newsagent – or that I inherited from friends.

One had a big hole in the cover where my friend had cut out the Millennium Falcon to stick on his wall – but inside the adventures of Princess Leia were untouched. They were different from the film and were flights of fancy being imagined by a Marvel Comics creative team, where she was being taught how to shoot a blaster as a young girl.

Oddly – this is the first real memory I have of what eventually became my favourite film franchise. It wasn’t until years later I actually read the book and discovered what really happened in the 1977 classic.

When I finally came to see a Star Wars film I was in Rhyl, on holiday at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. It was the Empire Strikes back and at the time was probably (for a very young boy) the absolute pinnacle of my cinema going history.

By that time I was familiar with Princess Leia and was amazed at how different she looked without the side buns in her hair. She was jaw-droppingly beautiful with her french plaits – and also a strong, feisty presence that was unusually independent.

Sure – she was rescued rather stereotypically by the male leads in Star Wars, but by the time of Return of the Jedi rolled around she was returning the favour, and rescuing Han whilst strangling Jabba to death (albeit in an alluring gold bikini) instead.

When I heard this evening that Carrie Fisher had died I genuinely had a lump in my throat.

Admittedly I knew little about her as a person. From what I did see of her personal life she often seemed troubled and struggling. I’m not grieving the loss of a close friend that I knew personally – I’m mourning the loss of a media icon, which (as I reflect upon why I feel the way I do) I think is a little odd.

However, for better or worse thanks to film, music and television we let certain famous people into our hearts and lives. Just as if we were seated next to a friend on the sofa we begin (at least in a small way) to care about what happens to them. Often they sing to us when we’re happy and sad, or take us to places of imaginative fantasy that allow us to escape our day to day lives temporarily.

I think that Carrie Fisher’s departure also represents the end of a significant era in my childhood, and I think it’s that which makes me feel so sad. Maybe I feel all of a sudden a little older without her around.

But it’s also reminding me of all the others that seem to have (mostly without any warning) suddenly passed this year.

As I look at the lists online of people that left us in 2016 I can’t help thinking about the happiness that she and they managed to bring to myself and others for brief moments – often despite their own profound fragility.

Whatever demons they faced in real life, the joy that they brought to others has to be a worthwhile legacy, and hopefully their work will still continue to provide the same flights of fancy for generations to come.

In a sense – despite their passing they’re all ‘immortal’ in a way that most of us will never be.

Whilst Carrie (for me at least) is leaving one of the biggest sudden gaps, there are many others that won’t be filled any time soon, and as I think about her as the year draws to a close I can’t help but pay tribute to some of the many more bright lights left behind in the last twelve months as well.

My thoughts are with her family, and the families of everyone missing someone thats no-longer with us as the year draws to a close.

Look after the ones you love internet. We’re only here for a moment.



Christmas Swanlings

Despite the dire weather warnings and promises of storm fronts ruining Christmas today has (so far) been quite nice!

When I awoke this morning without a hangover (because I no longer drink) and without a sense that my trousers wouldn’t fit (because I’ve lost lots of weight) and without guilt (because I only ate virtuous things yesterday) I was in a pretty awesome (and festive) mood.

Today I’d fully expected that rain would de-rail my plans to walk over to my brother’s house for dinner – but thankfully this was not the case. As I strolled along the canal in the late morning listening to my music I was already in a really good frame of mind. Then – just to make things even better – I found some swanlings!

The view from the canal locally always cheers me up. Right in the middle of Warwick and Leamington it branches temporarily out into open countryside and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were light years away from anywhere if you ignored the rooftops hidden by the tree line.


Three miles of canal and some quiet streets later I was seated before my Christmas dinner – which my sister in law had gone all out to ensure was roasted to the highest standards of Slimming World perfection.

She’s been contacting me (as has my brother) here and there over the last few days to ask whether I can have gravy or not, what type of meat I’d like and whether I’d be able to have certain types of veg, and if so how much I could eat.

Bless them both! 😄

In the end thanks to the miracle of spray oil and some mint sauce (the only non free or speed item) my Christmas meal of chicken, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, parsnips and mushroom not only tasted delicious but came in at 1 syn.

Now I’ve eaten I’m going to zone out for a while in front of the telly!

(Author becomes a couch potato for a few hours)

We’ve been watching ‘The Vacation’ (IMDb link) and I have to say that despite not expecting to like it at all (and the reviews being universally awful) we’ve just managed to laff our asses off for a couple of hours. It may have something to do with the endless coffee I’ve been drinking – but I don’t care. It was smutty and crude and managed to hit my sense of humour funny bone in just the right spot.

I’m all warm in front of the fire now, and now the film has finished my sister in law has started playing Halo 5 online (much better than I can). My brother is chilling with his feet up and I’m thinking (less than enthusiastically I must say) about going home.

It’s dark and cold outside and consequently it’s a tough sell. This is the part of me that wishes he’d brought the car.

But a lazy bottom does not equal a thin bottom so this tubby little Santa is definitely not getting a taxi. I have to work off Saturday’s gain. It’s time to make a move.

(Author moves chubby bottom in the direction of home)

Ok – I’m back and I’ve just prepared and popped a few bacon, leek, courgette and mushroom crustless mini quiches in the oven for dinner. They should be done in 20 minutes or so – which is just enough time to finish up my post.

On the way home I started to feel quite odd. A bit light headed if I’m honest and not far from my house I began to wonder if it wasn’t the coffee, but instead was related to my blood sugar. As a type 2 diabetic I dont really have to worry about ‘hypos’ since the issue is blood sugar that’s too high, rather than too low.

Regular readers will know that I’m down from the four metformin and one glimepiride per day that I was taking when I started getting fit to just two metformin a day. I was in January planning to try to reduce it down to one per day and see what happened.

I think that time may be here – as my blood sugar reading when I got back was 4.4 mm0/l (it should be between 4-7 but its never normally this low) and I have to admit I felt a bit shaky. I think that once again my medication is pushing me lower than I should be, as this was the same point in my levels a couple of months ago where the doctor reduced my dosage.

I think I’m going to have to have a chat with my GP sooner rather than later and discuss the next steps. I’m not sure that I should just stop taking my pills altogether – but I’m beginning to wonder (wouldn’t it be AWESOME!) whether I can control my diabetes now with diet and exercise alone, rather than with pills.

If I can – what a fantastic start to the new year that would be.

I’ve been trying not to think like this so far as I don’t want to work myself up to something that physically may be impossible – but I can’t help it. Maybe, just maybe I can be (at least for a bit longer) be free of all these pills?…

Anyway – I think my mini quiches are done now, and I need to take them out of the oven.

I hope all of you out there in internet land have had a lovely Christmas day and that you got to be with who you love and care about. Also if you got some nice gifts then I have my fingers crossed that they were the ones you wanted.

Happy Christmas!



Christmas Eve weigh in

Christmas Eve. Saturday. Weigh in day. It’s 8.35am.

The alarm just went off but I wasn’t really asleep. I never am on a Saturday. I have been half dreaming and half consciously calculating the dietary sins and virtues of the last seven days.

This week has been a mixed bag of seemingly unstoppable munchies at the weekend (Saturday the worst – but I ate large quantities of relatively good food rather than horrendously bad) and made some attempts to pull it around with exercise around midweek.

I’ve been trying to keep up my walking average despite the dip in temperature – but I’ll admit this week it’s been a tough sell to meet my target of 35-40 miles a week. Apple Watch thinks it’s 32 so far – which is honestly more than I expected.

Hmmm. It could go either way. Hopefully I’ve done enough. Although I can’t go nuts today it’s Christmas and I want to find some culinary way of treating myself without the guilt. I have some decadent M&S ham chunks in my mind – but I’m not having them unless I lose weight.

My group is meeting earlier than normal and I need to get ready. Back shortly.

(Author heads for the shower, makes coffee and walks to the group)

Wow. The school hall was almost completely empty when I arrived. There was just one other lady there! I guess Christmas eve is a tough sell for a weigh in day!

Although there were not many fellow slimmers (a couple drifted in as I was leaving) there was was a small but significant atmosphere of solidarity today. We’d all managed to put some weight back on unfortunately.

So – it looks like its going to be a week of austerity rather than a week of celebration for me – but hey ho. No lovely ham chunks for me today. It’s salad and grilled chicken time!!!

I’m going for Christmas dinner with family tomorrow, and I intend to relax, not think (too hard) about employment, losing weight, or anything else that causes stress. I plan to have good times with people I love, whilst watching the Doctor Who special and playing some video games.

I also plan to have a few walks! Anyway – I’m going to enjoy my Christmas eve.

I hope whatever you’re doing internet, and whatever you celebrate, and however you do it – and no matter what it is that you thoroughly enjoy yourselves!

Happy Christmas!



A different man

It barely seems feasible as I type the words, but it’s now the 21st of December. In 45 minutes it will be the 22nd.

Time is a flexible commodity. It seems like it’s endless when you’re experiencing a given moment – but in retrospect is fleeting and appears as if it’s flown past at an impossible rate. Tonight it feels like a barely heartbeat has elapsed since I started writing my blog In February – but it’s much longer – and it’s only now that I’ve begun to realise that fears I’ve carried with me and that have driven me for almost a year are slowly fading away.

People ask me a lot of questions about my weight loss and other aspects of personal change – but several questions keep cropping up.

Firstly – ‘You must feel different. Do you feel different?’

The easy answer is ‘yes I do’ – but the ways that I feel I’ve changed are becoming a bit difficult to list. It’s not just physical. It’s emotional, intellectual and deeply psychological as well. I can list the reverberations of weight loss one at a time – but often I stick with the basics and say ‘yes’ and mention a couple of areas where I feel better. I never feel like I’ve done the question justice with my various answers though.

Secondly – ‘What about your excess skin?’

Oddly this one I find quite amusing lately, although the first time someone asked me I didn’t take it quite so well. The answer to this is ‘I don’t know.’ After losing nine stone there’s some sagging here and there – but nothing that makes me want to throw myself off a tall building. I think all of my walking helps in this respect and I’m just taking each day as it comes.

Thirdly – ‘Do you think you’ll fail like you did before?’

Now – to be fair no-one has ever asked me this. I’m cheating a bit here for dramatic effect.

This voice is my inner monologue. It’s my fear talking and it’s a question I’ve asked myself over and over since I started losing weight. It’s prompted by the third thing that people really ask me – which is:

‘You must be so proud of yourself – are you proud of yourself?

Honestly not really – and every time I’m asked this I think of my own previous question, and shrug a bit to deflect the need for a proper response.

This is because I feel like rather than winning I’m somehow just resetting the clock back to zero. Since I started changing in January it’s seemed to me like ALL of the work I’ve done upto (and a bit beyond) this point is to get back to the person I was in 2008.

I feel like any praise that I might inadvertently acknowledge about what I’ve accomplished this year might detract from the memory that I previously had all of this ‘success’ (or at least a version of it) once before – and through sheer stupidity I threw it all away and regressed into old habits again.

I’ve held onto this thought (and fear) as a form of motivation and self punishment.

A good friend came to visit me today and we discussed this as we walked the long way (I need to make up for a weekend characterised by the munchies) into town and also while we drank coffee.

Despite me telling him I wasn’t able to do presents this year he had unexpectedly cheated, and presented me as he walked into my kitchen upon arrival with a brightly wrapped gift.

In doing so he displayed both his customary generosity of spirit and a deep understanding of who I am with an item that zeroed in on something I love – one of my great pleasures in life.


I didn’t open the parcel until he’d left my house to drive back up north, but after he departed (and as I was sipping coffee from his mug with a smile) I was still thinking about our chat. I had mentioned to him that I’d realised my fear was fading – and that without knowing quite when it began to dissipate I had also begun to accept that success may be in my future rather than the inevitability of failure.

In the past when I’d lost weight or tried to modify my drinking and other habits I always felt like I’d been hiding my true nature (often to please others) and that something darker inside me needed to be metaphorically and literally fed in private. As soon as my willpower to ‘be a good man’ faded and people’s backs were turned the gloves were off and I engaged in bare knuckle bouts with junk food and booze.

I suppose the best way of putting it is that I thought that in order to be who others wanted me to be I had to continually pretend to be someone that I wasn’t.

This used to manifest itself most profoundly in relationships. I was the guy that hid his cigarettes under the spare wheel of his car. I was the guy who as soon as his girlfriend went away he’d hit the pub and not come up for air for days. I was the guy who had muesli with the girl he loved for breakfast whilst listening to radio 4 before leaving for work and secretly buying junk food on the way.

I was a crappy boyfriend at times because of this, and really didn’t deserve the patience of the women who had to put up with it. A lie in a relationship is a lie, whether it’s big or small and it’s cumulatively corrosive if it becomes constant.

However – I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that maybe I’m NOT that person any more, and thats a really difficult thing to wrap my mind around.

I’ve said to a few people (usually in answer to question one) that I am continually taken aback by how my thought processes have changed in the last year – but secretly for a very long time I was quietly wondering in the next breath how long it would be before I reverted to type and pressed the self destruct button again.

As I write now, with the clock approaching midnight and time invisibly edging closer to Christmas day (and 2017) I’m struck by the fact the the new year represents a lot. Soon it will be year zero again for me and I’m going to be entering territory of all kinds that I’ve not been in for decades.

Surprisingly though I don’t think I’m going to be carrying quite as much fear with me – just a willingness to get on with the day to day business of building my life back up again, and truly living rather than just existing.

I’m going to climb a mountain soon internet, and I don’t mean a metaphorical one. It’s not a pipe dream. It’s going to happen in 2017. I’m going to reach the top of it, and when I do I’m going to take a photo and post it for the whole world to see.


Deflecting compliments

My weekend was shamefully lazy.

There. I said it. I hardly moved a muscle on both Saturday and Sunday and I also ate way too much stuff as well.

You know what though – I feel good for listening to my inner couch potato for once. Today I was full of beans when the alarm went off at 9am and had been dreaming of flying for what seemed like hours. In the depths of my mind somewhere I was soaring high and free, able to float on the breeze without wings.

Whatever caused this positive flood of subconscious thought left me feeling in tip top shape even after only five hours under my duvet.

Something that I’m also noticing a lot more lately is that I appear to be needing much less sleep than I used to. Getting five hours in the past used to be akin to the beginning of the Apocalypse – but not any more. Nodding off doing the day is also a thing of the past – which was something that had quietly become something of a feature of my early 40’s. I hadn’t really linked it too much to weight – but I guess my body needed way more shut eye than it does now.

Sadly when I reached for my phone to switch my alarm off I also noticed a text to say that my regular Monday walk had been cancelled due to illness. However, the (cold) day was still out there – and it deserved to be fully utilised.

As I got out of bed I was still thinking about a silly mishap from the night before. Whilst walking up the stairs to relieve myself I nearly fell face first into the toilet. As comical as this sounds it was as annoying as hell.

My second smallest pair of trousers and the new belt I bought with my interview clothes unexpectedly fell down just as I reached the top step and door to the loo making me stumble at the top of the stairs.

I only just saved myself from a flush related death and probable Darwin Award nomination.

Sure – it’s really really great that I’m loosing weight, but I only just bought this belt and these trousers were pretty snug about two months ago. I’ve now only got one pair of trousers that will stay up without a belt, meaning soon I need to buy more, and not just as a one off, but continuously.

I need a job basically.

I was thinking about the cost associated with clothes as I walked, and had headed out of the house – initially to the park. My daily routine has (since I began looking for work a month ago) started with coffee, been immediately followed by a good stroll, continued with going through the (many) job mails and sites I’ve signed up to, updating my progress on the JSA portal – and then progressed to dinner and whatever else needs to be done.

My walk (initially to St Nicholas Park) was mostly in the hope of seeing the swanling – which has been absent on my last three visits. Today it was worryingly absent again – and no matter where I looked there wasn’t a swan in sight.

Mind you there weren’t many ducks, geese or other birds either.

There wasn’t much of anything to be honest – including people. It was really really cold – so I guess being outside was a tough sell for anyone today, let alone being outside sitting with your ass in a freezing river waiting for chunks of bread to be thrown at you by passing well wishers.

Still – despite the lack of my avian buddy I usually bump into a couple of nice ladies who regularly walk their dogs together, and today was no exception. We’ve passed each other so often and stopped to say hello so frequently that we’re now on first name terms, and as I saw them approaching along the river bank today I automatically turned off my music and pulled out my earphones.

One of the ladies has a little toddler who is always smiling and insanely adorable. I bent over to say hello and ruffle his curly brown hair. He smiled back under his little red nose and wooly hat. As I did this his mother commented that I was looking good and had lost more weight since I last saw her.

I confirmed her suspicions (with a bit of a grin) and said ‘Nine stone, one and a half pounds!’

She congratulated me. It was ‘quite an achievement’ she said.

Then her companion, the taller and slightly older of the two women leaned in close to me, peering at my face from behind her dark rimmed spectacles.

‘I’ve just noticed.’ She said. ‘You’re really good looking.’

I don’t know how to accept compliments – so I have developed my own coping mechanism/deflection technique, usually rooted in dry quips.

‘I must be losing my touch.’ I replied, looking at her with faux annoyance. ‘That’s usually the FIRST thing people notice about me.’

I stared at her, playing out the act that I was offended.

In the background my arid sense of humour thankfully hadn’t been lost on her friend, and as she rocked the pushchair back and forth she was smiling at my response.

‘I am a bit short sighted though!’ The lady apologised, adjusting her glasses, and drawing in for an even closer look. Taking mock offence I pretended to look huffy.

To be entirely truthful I don’t know what to do when faced with praise. I’m quite used to being called names, and am practiced in how to respond in those circumstances – but when people do the opposite I’m relatively defenceless and tend to flounder a bit.

Eventually we parted company after chatting further about their own weight loss (she’s parted with three and half stone and says she feels much better thank you very much) both laughing and saying goodbye until the next time.

Honestly (despite my rather sarcastic reaction) this event put a definite spring in my step. Although it was quite embarrassing it’s really nice receiving a compliment out of the blue. I started to walk faster, initially without even realising it and then broke out of the park on a whim into Warwick and up past the castle, eventually walking a large circuit of the town until I eventually looped back to my house.


Annoyingly I couldn’t crack the 18 minute mile barrier today. Later on in the walk when I got to a stretch without junctions and crossings I was REALLY going for it – but my legs just don’t yet have it in them.

Still – one day soon hopefully. I guess I’ve only just got under 19 minutes.

Unusually for me I also managed an uncomfortably tubby jogging waddle across a busy junction. My legs wanted to run – but sadly my barely restrained belly had other ideas and locked the whole silly idea down before I got too far above my aspirational station. I got to the other side of the road (in one still wobbling piece) and decided not to do that again for another few stone.

Again – another task for another day.

All the while I’d STILL been thinking about hole punches for belts (around £10 on Amazon, but cheaper than £20 for a new belt every few inches…) and the cost of trousers, shirts and jeans.

Then I arrived home and opened my laptop with another coffee to go through my job mails.

I’ve only got a job interview!

I know it’s bad form to get one’s hopes up too high – but even if nothing comes of it AT LEAST I GET TO WEAR MY SMART CLOTHES AND GET SOME EXPERIENCE!

So internet – I’m a little bit excited, and a more than a little caffeinated.

Non-scale victories for the last 24 hours:

  1. Trousers fell down and I didn’t kill myself by drowning in the toilet
  2. A short sighted lady thinks I’m quite handsome
  3. I have a job interview!

I wonder what the rest of the week will bring?

Also – I’m considering making my face naked. What’s the collective opinion? Beard or no beard? So far responses from friends appear to be heavily weighted toward me remaining in my ‘Santa Claus the early years’ persona and NOT going clean shaven.

The jury is currently out. Hard Beardexit or no Beardexit? And remember – Beardexit means Beardexit.


Moroccan meatballs & nine stone all gone!

Every time that I’ve followed a recipe lately it’s taken way more time to prepare than I expected. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m doing something for the first time and it takes practice to refine a technique – or (and this is my preferred answer) recipe books are lying ****s.

It’s taken me longer than expected this evening to prepare my food for the Slimming World meeting tomorrow – and I’m flipping glad I didn’t try to do it in the morning.

I was originally going to do one of the ‘leftover’ meals from the Christmas cookbook that came with my 12 week countdown (a discounted block booking of SW meetings that usually has an incentive free gift such as this), and earlier today had settled on a spicy Keema Cottage Pie.

Then I started looking through the SW magazine and saw some Moroccan Turkey meatballs – which looked maybe a teeny bit more festive (IT’S TURKEY!) than my original idea. One of its main flavours comes from ras el hanout spice – which I’d never cooked with before. I decided to get some from Tesco and dig my blender out of the cupboard. It’s never ever been used for blending before.

After an unfortunate incident where I nearly chopped my toe off (true story – I had to have it all stitched back up) with this barely restrained instrument of razor sharp spinning death I’ve left it under lock and key – so this was not a decision taken lightly.

The ingredients are as follows… (note the ‘ready in about an hour’ bit)


The first order of the day is making the meatballs with 2 tbsps of ras el hanout and half of the chopped parsley (I added some salt for seasoning too). You need to get stuck in with your hands here.

Secondly the onions, peppers, celery and garlic needed to be fried in spray oil. This was for around 10-15 minutes. At 14 minutes add a 1 tbsp of cinnamon and 1 of of ras el hanout, with a dash of water to stop it sticking. The mix should all be soft by then, and once it is transfer it to the blender and whizz it all up until it’s smooth.

I’ll be honest – although at this juncture I had no idea how it would taste – the spices SMELT AMAZING!!! 

However – it was here that I feel the recipe started to wander off into absurdity. The newly blended paste (it said) needed to be added to the two cans of tomatoes, the remaining parsley and two cans of water.

Personally I think this was the main issue with timings in the recipe. This volume of water wasn’t needed in my opinion – and the sauce immediately looked like it would take a long time to reduce.


Well – it did. About an hour and a half as it turned out.

In the meantime I focused on the meatballs – and gently browned them off in a frying pan whilst the sauce bubbled away in a nearby saucepan.


Eventually I ladled in about four big dollops of the still very watery sauce and started to cook the meatballs fully in it.

At this point I STILL had about half of the sauce left – and it would have completely overwhelmed the meatballs. So – in order not to waste anything and make the most out of the cooking effort I put some chicken breast strips into the saucepan and chopped some cherry tomatoes into both the frying and saucepan.

The meatballs would be for the group – and the chicken for dinner tomorrow!

As the meatballs are supposed to be served with cous cous and salad (I’ll do some salad in the morning). I fried an onion and soaked the grains in some chicken stock to give it a bit of character.

So – that’s it for the evening. It’s now all in tupperware and ready for the morning. It took me around THREE HOURS in the end, so I hope they like it! I did try one of the meatballs with some of the sauce and it tasted rather nice – so I’m hoping the flavour and scent won’t dissipate before people (and I) get to try it properly tomorrow.


(Author hits the sack, hardly sleeps at all, gets up, potters about for a few hours, makes some salad to go with the cous cous, heats up half of the meatballs and then heads off to group.)

Well if there hadn’t been two new guys at the meeting there would have been almost no-one in group this morning! It seems a lot of people have been feeling the pressure of Christmas and had apparently decided to stay away until the new year.

Most of the usual hardcore mob were still in evidence today however, and amongst the girls there were some very Christmassy jumpers, an elf outfit (go Angie!) and a couple of pairs of eye catching sparkly (gold!) tights and baublesque and glittery earrings.

For my part I was in a Santa hat – so I was only 50% humbug today!

The meatballs seemed to go down very well – and people’s assorted nibbles all hit the spot (mmmmm humous and smoked salmon). This morning I was REALLY looking forward to eating – and I even allowed myself a mince pie. According to Angie it was 3 syns, but I’m unsure. It tasted WAY too nice to be so low in syns – but I guess stranger things have happened!!

But that wasn’t all…

I also got my nine stone certificate!

Yep – I’m officially 9st 1.5lbs lighter than I was on the 16th of April when I started. Yaaaay! go me! Whoop whoop!! (punches air with fist)

Honestly – although as usual I’ve had next to NO sleep I’m feeling energised and happy.


I’m in a good place internet. I can do this. Bring on the next milestone. Let’s see if I can get my nine and a half before the end of the year! I’ve got two weeks and 5.5lbs to go.


That’s no moon…it’s a space station!

As is now customary for a Friday my routine today has mostly revolved around quietly stressing about whether I’ve done enough to lose weight on Saturday morning.

For this reason alone I don’t think I’ve slept properly on a Friday for about nine months. I’m always like a cat on hot bricks – simultaneously wanting to stand on the scales and also not wanting to go anywhere near them.

I’ve noticed that I’ve fallen into a routine that I suspect most fellow slimmers will recognise. On Saturday afternoon I’m full of thoughts that mostly revolve around putting my feet up and having as big a dinner as I can possibly get away with. By the time Monday arrives I’m thinking that I need more vegetables and less meat followed by a bloody good walk, and by the time Thursday and Friday land I notice I’m eating smaller portions and walking loads. According to Apple Watch I’m almost at seven miles so far and the day’s not yet over.

People that I weigh in with are also never less than intensely focused as they stand in line – and often don’t say much until they know the good (or bad) news. It’s the fulcrum of the week for many of my fellow dieter’s emotional states – and I’m no different. It means a lot to ALL of us.

Last week there was a lady weighing in from anther group in just her pants and a vest to get the vital few ounces off that she needed – and while I was impressed by her willingness to disrobe in front of strangers (and to an extent I definitely understood the impulse) tomorrow I will have to make do with just taking off my coat and shoes.

None of the lovely ladies there need to be subjected to my expansive underpants just yet. I’m a long way from feeling confident enough to stand in front of a room full of people in just my trunks.

However I’m getting ever closer. I had three rather monumental little moments yesterday.

The first was that I took this rather boring and mundane photo.


You might ask why the empty inside of a suitcase warrants inclusion in my blog – and you’d be quite right to do so.

In April when I started going to Slimming World this suitcase was full (and I mean FULL – I could barely lift it off the wardrobe) of perfectly good clothes that I was no longer able to wear. Back then when I started I was wearing 8XL shirts and 66 inch waisted jeans. The sizes inside ranged from 7XL to 4XL and from a 60 inch waist all the way down to a 52 inch. It held around 15 pairs of jeans and trousers, 20+ shirts, a couple of tracksuits, 9 polo or teeshirts and a pullover.


The second was that (without realising it until much later) I smashed my mile walking lap time.

I’d agreed to go for a walk with an ex-colleague yesterday when we were chatting at our meal on Saturday, and for the second day in a row I found myself at Arrow Valley park to meet him. The weather since Wednesday has been a bit more misty – but despite the beard dew that this causes (I look like a wet Wookie after a few laps) it’s great for getting out of breath and sweaty because it’s nice and cool.

As I’d never walked with this person before I didn’t really know whether it was going to be brisk or sedate – but since I’m generally good with either these days I didn’t really mind which it turned out to be.

As it happened the pace he set was slightly quicker than I’m normally used to – but not at all unpleasantly so. We were still able to walk and talk perfectly well and had a fine old natter about lots and lots of things which ended (as most truly great things in life do) with coffee.

When I got home and checked my stats later in the evening I realised that I had cracked the 19 minute barrier and done the first mile in 18.37!!!


Honestly I was a bit surprised about this as I truly didn’t think that I had this in me (yet) – but it just goes to show what you can do if you put your mind to it.

Those with a long memory and lengthy patronage of my blog might remember my first attempt to track my fitness with a (rather crap and unreliable) application on my phone called Walkmeter. On June 3rd using this I recorded a slightly shorter lap of the route we walked yesterday, which shows that my average pace per mile back then was 40.09 minutes.

I’m now more than TWICE faster than I was on that day – and I was much slower before I began using technology to keep note of my achievements.


The third was that yesterday was ROGUE ONE DAY!!! 

After months and months of salivating over trailers and teasers involving Darth Vader the 15th on December was finally the night that the release date crawled round. As I’d booked the tickets shortly after midnight when they became available a few weeks ago myself and four friends were front and centre to watch arguably one of the best films yet to come out of the franchise.

It was very different in tone to the main films (no John Williams music for instance) in many ways – but also instantly familiar in all the areas that mattered. It’s DNA is pure Star Wars and it definitely deserves your visit to the cinema.


Anyway – now I have some decisions to make. Tomorrow morning is not only weigh in day but it’s the Slimming World Christmas party, where we are all encouraged to wear festive attire and bring in something that we’ve cooked at home to share with the group.

I have a couple of ideas for what to do internet but as yet I can’t make up my mind. 

Whatever happens I’ll take a few pictures of the culinary carnage and let you know how it goes. Either way I’ll be cooking something that I know I want to eat – so even if no-one else likes it then at least I’m guaranteed a pre-prepared lunch!

Fingers crossed it all goes well!



Wait, what? Wednesday?!

I can’t believe that it’s Wednesday already. I’m honestly not sure where the hell time is going at the moment.

I’ve been ‘twalking’ with a friend around the park today and it’s been absolutely perfect weather for it. Whilst the breeze was undeniably cold the sun has been warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The park maintenance guys have also been very busy cutting back and trimming lots of the bushes and undergrowth in Arrow Valley, making it quite neat and tidy.

You can see the lake from the paths now, making the walk visually a lot more enjoyable.

I’d be shocked enough just with the quality of the weather (it was really rainy and crappy yesterday) but I’m even more flabbergasted that 11 days from now it’s 🎄 CHRISTMAS DAY 🎄 😐.

I’m not particularly festive usually – although I do like Christmas. To be honest the reason I always enjoyed buying presents for people in the past was more because it was an excuse to treat those I cared about than celebrating a festive season.

The only other tradition that I used to have on the 25th of December was getting completely hammered and watching TV. I doubt I’m alone in this respect, but this year I’ll be trying something new. I’ll be celebrating the holiday season by remaining completely sober, looking after my body and sticking to my diet.

I already have a six mile walk planned for Christmas Day and aim to make that particular 24 hours show a weight loss rather than a weight gain.

That’s the plan anyway. Hopefully no-one will find me face down in a tin of Quality Street snoring my way through a full on food coma if I fail…

It makes me happy that I feel like this – and it really gives me cause to be thankful. Every year in recent memory has been very very different to what I have planned for this year’s holiday season and I aim to lay the foundations of a new tradition, based solely around loving others and caring about myself.

My mind is awash at the moment with thoughts about what the future might hold next year, and it wasn’t like that before. Previously every year started and concluded very much like the one that preceded it and there was no reason to think the ones that followed would be any different.

There’s a sense of hope that’s welling up deep inside me and it feels like it could make ANYTHING possible.

This year has been rough though – and I’m not just talking about 2016’s election results. Putting my own bereavement in January aside it seems like lots and lots of people I love have been really going through the grinder with a whole host of personal and family problems. I’ve tried to help where I can but I’m always left feeling that I should be doing more.

I’ve decided that 2017 is going to be about family and friends more than ever.

Since I can’t lavish gifts on people this Christmas (or for that matter in the near future) I decided last week that I’d reach out either in person or in writing to those that were important to me – and for the most part (I still have to catch up with a few) that’s what I’ve been doing with cards, coffee or twalking.

Some pesky international ones are temporarily out of my reach – but I’ll get round to them eventually!

As I said (in a roundabout way) to my park companion today – what I’m doing now, and my focus on self improvement isn’t just about losing weight and looking better on the outside – it’s about being able to do more and spend quality time with those that I care about.

Although I’m probably once again beating myself up, in the past I feel I’ve fallen short of this, and I still view this area of my life as ‘in the deficit column’.

As each ounce falls away though I feel I get closer to ‘in credit’ as I gradually become a more active participant in my relationships again.

In practical terms my physical changes mean often small, maybe silly (but important to me) things, like being able to help someone move house, decorate, do some gardening, taking their dog for a walk if they get sick or doing some shopping for them if they can’t get out.

Lord knows internet – they’ve been there for me. They’ve helped me decorate when I’ve struggled, climbed up ladders to help with my ivy, changed tyres on my car, helped cut down my overgrown bushes, jumped up and down in my wheelie bin, and they’ve always been there when I needed tea and sympathy.

So this year people who are important to me – I plan to give you my full attention. I bet you’ll be sick of me by 2018!


Semi jingle bells

There are few things in life that annoy me more than people that misrepresent themselves. 

I’d much rather meet someone that’s moody and annoyed than one with a personality straining under the weight of artifice and veneer. 

As I was driving some friends home last night the conversation shifted to people we had each known or still knew like this. I commented that the older I get the more I’d realised how little patience I have with people that lie (not necessarily to me) or try to hide who they really are. 

Honesty is refreshing and it’s also something I’m drawn towards. 

I was still thinking about this conversation today as I ambled around the Christmas market in Leamington and passed a stall that seemed busier than the others nearby. 

I moved through the crowd to the front so I could see what was on sale. 

The gentleman behind the counter clearly also valued honesty and his products reflected this. There was little left to the imagination when it came to determining where his food had been sourced from. 

Although maybe not quite so direct in all cases my ex-colleagues are the same. They are all honest and genuine (often to a fault) and as I looked around the table at my Christmas meal in a quiet moment last night I felt genuinely happy to be with them all. 

Despite my usual reluctance to indulge in festive attire the tone of the evening made it quite easy to upgrade my usual brand of ‘humbug’ to ‘semi jingle bells’.

As I mentioned in my previous post the impetus to look my best when I met them had been keenly felt in the last 8 weeks and it was truly humbling when we started to catch up with eachother to be the recipient of so many positive, warm, genuine compliments, hugs, kisses and pats on the back. 

Normally I feel uncomfortable in situations where people praise me – but these people have seen me at my worst and my best. Many of them I’ve seen more than my own family over the last decade and a half. 

I’ve missed them. 

When they say things have changed and that I look good, appear healthier and sound happier it means something to me. 

Our group of 16 people (mostly) all arrived early for our 7.30 meal. We were pretty much the first group in the restaurant and we were the very last people to be ejected later on from the adjoining pub. We were still hugging and shaking hands as we spilled out onto the street to jump into taxis and get lifts home. 

The food was really nice too – and I was really happy that I remained FULLY commited and on plan all day

The Stonehouse at the White Swan in Henley in Arden I discovered last night got it’s name from the red hot slabs of stone that the steaks were delivered to the table on – resulting in an ever present sound of sizzling and continually cooking beef. 

There were chips and fries all over the table, along with sauces and pate starters – but I stuck to my guns and stayed with my pre-0rdered chicken salad and balsamic vinegar – which I could control completely.

It was all free and speed food and there wasn’t a syn in sight. It came in a really cool granite mortar and pestle bowl as well!

Mind you – when I got home I’ll admit to making bacon, eggs and fried tomatoes before going to bed – but that was actually only my third meal of the day so absolutely nothing was naughty despite how it may sound. 

The day in fact was an ‘SP’ day – which in Slimming World terms means it’s just speed food (veg) and protein. These days supercharge weight loss while still making sure you get healthy food. 

The ultimate outcome of all this was that this morning I woke up to a sense of overwhelming positivity and was full of energy. 

Thanks to all the Diet Coke and coffee I had consumed yesterday I had some frankly sub par sleep – but I bounded out of bed with a big smile after checking my phone and seeing all the happy texts and online comments about how much people had enjoyed the evening. 

The sun was shining – and although I have a walk planned with a friend this evening I had too much positivity and energy to waste it on the sofa for the majority of the day. 

As I walked in the sunshine I thought about what my next milestone motivations should be, and what I would mentally do next to drive me into new weight territory. 

This is because my interim interim goal (not a typo) set here is not that far away now. I only have another stone and a half to go! 

This takes me roughly to the end of January and honestly then things get both scary and exciting. I don’t know who I’ll be, what I’ll look like or how I’ll feel after that.

It’s going to all be new and fresh. 

Tell you what though internet – I’m looking forward immensely to finding out! I hope you join me on the journey. 


Psychological victory

A psychological victory is sometimes way more important than a physical result. To feel that you’ve done something that you believed not so long ago couldn’t be achieved or crossed a threshold that previously seemed insurmountable is a moment to be savoured.

People who have known me for a long time will know that I often avoided competition. It’s not that I don’t like to win, but I have often found it difficult to deal with the emotional consequences of something that I perceived as failure. It’s impossible to fail if you don’t try though – right?

Because of this approach I’m so unaccustomed to ‘winning’ that it still feels really alien to me when I realise that I actually have.

Thanks to the twin miracles of blogging (absolutely everything that passes through my head) and my Slimming World book I know that when I last saw some of the people I’ve worked with for 16 years (emotional blog here) I had lost three and a half stone.


I’m really glad that by then I’d started taking photos – because I also know exactly what I was wearing and how I looked on that day.

I can now compare that to a photo taken last week. This wasn’t snapped by me – but candidly by someone else holding a camera pointing at me while I wasn’t posing. It was in Starbucks after a walk in the cold which is why I look all rosy and flushed.

There’s definitely a lot less of me.

Honestly I couldn’t be happier with how this makes me feel. I’m drawn more than anything to the changing shape of my face, and the re-emergence of features that havent been apparent in photos or my bathroom mirror since I was in my late teens and early 20’s.

For so many years I avoided people that I cared about endlessly because of the embarrassment of appearing larger than I was the last time that I saw them in person.

Given that I was capable of putting on a stone a month at times the difference that they were eventually faced with was often profound – and although everyone was always very polite and kind you can still tell where people’s eyes linger, and it makes you feel intensely vulnerable.

Ladies aren’t the only ones who have trouble with people unable to maintain eye contact. I also apparently had quite alluring cleavage…

So – the truth behind today is significant.

If I was the same man now that I was a year ago right about now I’d be making excuses about why I couldn’t go tonight to see people I care about.

But this, powered by nothing but my own determination is what the scales said today.


On the 19th of October when my ex-colleagues started organising a Christmas get together I privately told myself (and a few select others) that by the 10th December (the date of the meal) I would have lost a total of nine stone.

If I follow the small print of the mental bargain that I made with myself I didn’t quite make my target of nine stone, but I’m not stupid enough any more to let that bother me.

I’m one pound shy of having done it and by any measure this is a colossal psychological victory.

The number I chose was honestly a bit immaterial – It was just a figure I guesstimated that I was capable of based on my average weekly losses. I’m no longer in the business of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. This aspirational aim was more related to keeping myself on track and maintaining my average weight loss during a difficult period.

Anything that I can use as a driver for this is something that I grab with both hands, and in this I’ve been drawing inspiration from fellow dieters and bloggers. My Slimming World Facebook group is very keen lately on what they call ‘non scale victories’ and I thought it would be good to outline some of them here.

These (in no particular order) have happened since I last saw my friends.

  • I was unable to sleep on my right side in bed back then. Now I can sleep on whichever side I choose and no longer wake up in a panic because I think I’m suffocating.
  • Through my blog and people that I have connected or re-connected with on my journey so far I’ve added many people to the list of those that I would cause friends – and I would have to say I’m pretty certain many of them will become lifelong ones.
  • From the end of July to now I have walked approximately 600 miles in my efforts to shed my weight.
  • I’ve overcome Plantar Fasciitis, two torn calf muscles and shin splints caused by my weight and still persisted with my walking.
  • I’ve more than halved my diabetic medication – and I’m working on trying to lower this even further. My hope for the future is that I can control my type 2 diabetes from diet and exercise alone. Currently I am not even on the ‘diabetic blood sugar range’ chart in my doctor’s office. I’m consequently 43% less likely to have an amputation or death related to my condition.
  • I’ve dropped from the 7xl shirt and 60in waisted trousers I was wearing on that day to a 5xl and 54in (I started in April at 8XL and 65in)
  • I can now fit into other people’s cars and taxis. I couldn’t in July.
  • I had a bath for the first time in about 8 years – I simply didn’t fit in one before.
  • I can now walk a mile in 19 minutes exactly. A lap of the park previously took me about 40 odd minutes and in July I’d only JUST become capable of doing two laps (here).
  • At seven stone I had lost AN ENTIRE FRIDGE FREEZER.
  • I’ve taken an absolutely epic amount of clothes to charity and have helped other people by doing so.
  • I haven’t had an alcoholic drink for 318 days – and tonight I’m the designated driver.

There are other things too – some still too personal to put into words, that are both physical and emotional.

The point is that I’m going to go out tonight and I shall be walking into a room for a meal with people I love to bits (I’m having a chicken salad – I ordered it in preparation a month and half ago!) feeling confident and for the first time in years holding my head up high.

That, internet, is why today is a massive psychological victory.

Anyway – time to go. I have to iron my shirt and I’m going to do it dancing around the ironing board while listening to this track – because I feel frikkin epic!



Cup half empty

It’s often the case that we understand ourselves more when we’re faced with an example of someone that reacts to a situation in a very different way to how we might.

Some years ago I was in a different place mentally to the one I’m in now, and looking back at who I was then still makes me cringe a bit. I’d become a bit disillusioned and bitter with life – but if you’d asked me at the time whether that was who I was I’d have denied it. I was in retrospect completely blind to it.

Then someone said to me ‘Do you realise that people perceive you as a negative person?’

I was floored at the time and it caused me to re-evaluate a lot of things in my life – particularly why I looked at things the way I did, and how I might change. I eventually concluded that some of it was my upbringing (a hangover from parental influences) but a massive portion was a separately learned despondency that I’d been unconsciously working on in my spare time and quietly developing since I was a young boy.

I worked hard to change that aspect of myself and my perception in the eyes of others over the years that followed. I think for the most part I managed it. However the underlying thought processes that enabled that state of mind to take root in the first place were still there and definitely still exist in the background even to this day.

The difference is that I’m now aware of them and when I catch myself becoming too negative (no-one is happy ALL the time) I consciously make the effort to re-frame my perspective and try to think another way.

This makes it all the more jarring however when I’m faced with someone that’s decided they prefer the opposite approach. I came across just such a person recently.

‘I’m unappreciated.’ the dour faced man said to me. ‘It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s pointless. I could do nothing or do everything. Nothing matters.’

I cocked my head slightly. Wow. That was a pretty nihilistic world view. It was also the second thing he’d ever said to me – the first being ‘Hello.’

I felt that things would only worsen if I agreed with him.

‘Surely not!’ I said. ‘Things aren’t that bad!’

‘I’m a cup’s half empty kind of person, In case you hadn’t guessed.’ He said and looked away from me.

He continued to talk, now with a with a mildly sarcastic tone, ‘I’m living the dream. Every day is a constant joy and my life is one of fulfilment. I relish getting up every morning.’

‘Well.’ I said, clearing my throat (I had a bad cold) ‘At least you have a cup.’

He turned and looked at me.

‘It may be half empty but there’s some other poor sod out there with a puddle on his desk and no cup. Not you. You have a cup.’

He cracked a small smile.


That set the tone of our interaction – and I made sure to shake his hand and wish him a happy Christmas when we parted. As I walked away he was still smiling, and I hope that (for a short while at least) that smile persisted.

More than ever I’m convinced that happiness is simply a personal choice. I also think it comes with a significant responsibility.

If it’s something that we’re in possession of we should feel duty bound to share it with others.

So, I have the flu (again for the third time this year), I am unemployed, I am overweight and money is tight.

But you know what internet? The flu will go. I only have it so much at the moment because I’m going out much much more and regularly meeting new germs. I’ll also get another job and when I do I’ll carry my experience and enthusiasm with me to somewhere that I can try to occasionally infect with my positivity.

I’ll also continue to loose weight. Soon I’ll be lighter than I have been for a decade and thats an enticing prospect. Even if I stay the same this week or put a pound on – it will be gone next week, and the week after that, and the week after that. Looking after myself continually is my raison d’être now and I’m never again changing my focus on health and fitness.

Finally – who gives a crap about money? If I had it I’d only spend it eventually. I’d be chasing ‘things’ for the sake of having all the ‘things’ that society makes me want and covet. Being surrounded by ‘things’ doesn’t make me live longer or feel happier. People make me want to do that and feel that way. Having nothing is strangely liberating. If you can’t just buy something on a whim you begin to appreciate the little things you do have EVEN more.

Plus my mug now is half full and that can only mean one thing…

It has room for MORE COFFEE!!!!



Change is good

It’s cold again today. Really cold.

I’m noticing the temperature more and more now that I’m losing weight. I’m having to dress up warm all the time. It’s particularly tangible in my extremities, and my furry slippers (purchased when I became diabtic because we must all wear them in case we stand on sharp things and don’t notice) and thinsulate gloves are really earning their keep at the moment.

The park was consequently a tough sell this morning and I’m pretty certain that my toes were busy turning blue when I arrived. The mist and fog were thick today and the air was cold and moist. I also didn’t sleep very well last night for a variety of reasons and things were aching.

However – after a couple of laps (fuelled partially by hot, strong coffee) chatting with a friend I felt warm, virtuous, and more than a little happy that I’d hopped out of bed to see the world.

The same faces are evident in the park almost every time I go there, although recently there have been some notable absences. As I was walking by the river late yesterday evening in the park’s fading light I suddenly realised I hadn’t seen the Lycra clad power walking ladies for a couple of months. I also hadn’t passed the determined oriental lady (who may be a spy) for about the same time.

Either these people have been driven away by the temperature or their priorities in life had changed. Maybe they had fallen off whatever wagon they’d previously climbed on to. I hope not. They added colour to my walks and I enjoyed saying hello (or regularly being ignored the latter’s case).

Consequently the tone of my activity has changed a lot lately. The colder weather has turned my previously very social walking pastime into an ongoing internal dialogue with myself over perceived success and failure or motivational bargaining.

Do I do the extra lap if no-one is looking?

I didn’t go out at all on Sunday and instead indulged my baser instincts playing Skyrim on my XBOX. I’m now level 56 and seem to have specialised in single handed combat instead of magic without consciously trying to.

I can now bash a mountain bear’s brains in with very little effort – so in some respects it’s been time well spent. In other respects it’s definitely not.

I’ve enjoyed the escapism though and it’s taken my mind off some things that have been bothering me in the background.

I still have a bit of a hard time convincing myself that I deserve such a period of relaxation though, and when I went out yesterday evening I felt that I was in some way having to atone for the day before.

I was once again (I realised two miles in) racing against myself, and constantly checking my lap times (19.11 mins av p/m it seems).

The good thing about this is that my walks have become more cardio focused on my own and I’m trying to get faster and faster – which I don’t necessarily do if I’m trying to hold a conversation with someone.

If I do I still sound like a panting Labrador.

The bad thing about this is that I find that I’m once again motivated and driven by being annoyed with myself for somehow not doing enough.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. Whatever gets me out and about is surely a good thing in the long term and I’m benefitting physically either way.

I do wish I could just love myself a little more in the process though.

Something that stuck in my mind after my clothes shopping on Friday was how stupid I was to get annoyed about not finding clothes that were ‘perfect’.

In my head I was all kinds of angry about the injustice of still being overweight and having difficulty getting into jackets and trousers – or feeling that they didn’t suit me when I did.

My pain was unique to me.

The beauty of putting all of my thoughts online however is that people quickly point out to me that they too have the exact same feelings about a wide variety of things that I post – and this subject was no different.

Pretty much EVERYONE I know or that commented hated clothes shopping it seems, and not a single one of them could recall a moment where they’d walked into a shop and found the perfect garment.

It’s not that I’m fat then. It’s just because I, like 99% of the rest of the world worry needlessly about how other people perceive me and I should just get on with life and forget about such nonsense.

Confidence doesn’t come from a suit and a tie – it comes from within (although it’s sometimes nice to look the part as well.)

A fellow blogger started her own ‘project confidence’ approach to her self image some time ago, and I liked the idea both then and now.

Maybe it’s time to focus this kind of thinking on this myself and try to build on it. The twin storms of my weight related self image and perceived employment worthiness have created something of an incubator for intermittent negative thinking over the last couple of weeks.

I’m trying my level best to find a reasonable and balanced perspective on everything. Just when I think I’ve managed to grasp it I realise I haven’t – and I move on to the next realisation about myself.

It’s annoying to be on such shifting sand but it can be invigorating too. I’m continually aware that as I get fitter and healthier my opinions and views about a wide range of things also begin to change or subtly shift.

I’m forced to re-examine over and over how I feel about HUGE areas of my life and sometimes it’s very uncomfortable to admit that when I previously said I didn’t like something or held a particular view, what I ACTUALLY meant was ‘x makes me uncomfortable because of my size and confidence’.

I guess in my early 40’s before I started all this I’d become convinced that with such advanced decrepitude came wisdom and that I knew myself.

In reality I think the truth is that we never really do. We know a version of ourselves.

We know next to nothing about how we are likely to react in social or intellectual situations that we’ve never been in before – or physically if we dramatically change for better or worse.

I guess the only certainty is that change is inevitable whether we like it or not, and that without it (like I did) we stagnate and become inflexible – unable to modify our way of thinking or shift our perspective on what life throws our way.

So – change is good. I’m trying to embrace it and the way it makes me feel – good and bad. It’s not to be feared. It’s to be embraced.

I just wish Internet that it wasn’t so damn cold at the moment! I can’t feel my toes!


Silver Linings

I’m sitting at the moment during a mid show intermission in a school hall in Coventry, where I’ve come to see the Silver Linings barbershop chorus. It’s late on a Friday evening and as I type this post on my phone I can hear a large hubbub of people behind a large black theatre curtain to the left of me.

A few minutes ago most of the people chatting behind it were sitting next to me in the audience. Now they’re attacking the buffet that’s been laid on by the singers and their families. I’m weighing in tomorrow and despite the lure of chicken drumsticks and mince pies I’m paranoid about food today. Every ounce counts. I’m not partaking.

I haven’t even peeped behind the curtain. I ate before I came out in preparation. Besides – I don’t really feel hungry because I’m in a really good mood.

There are few things that can lift the spirits more than live singing. When faced with these lovely women belting out songs in four part harmony I found that it was almost almost impossible not to smile broadly – regardless of how I may have felt earlier in the day.


(Silver Linings are also looking for new ladies to join – so have a look here if you’re interested! Photo used with kind permission)

I have a kind lady at Slimming World to thank for my attendance, who invited me to the family and friends concert she was singing in.

In doing so she’s enabled a change of mood in me tonight – which earlier wasn’t so great after a day wrestling with my self image demons in clothes and charity shops. It’s partially because of the joy that she and the others had so obviously display on stage but also because their choral harmony has been so all encompassing that I can still feel the air in the school hall vibrating around me with their voices.

As well as cheering me up it’s also made me think a bit. The second song ‘I hope you dance’ (chosen it appears by the lady who invited me, and originally sung by Lee Ann Womack) was one I’d never heard before.

It’s all about seizing the moment in life and making sure that whatever you do you don’t look back with regret about what could have been. Sometimes it’s possible to feel really happy and really sad in precisely the same moment.

During this song I think was both and I’m not shy to say I had a tear in my eye toward the end as it (for me at least) was really poignant. I began to randomly think about my mom and what could have been in both of our lives if things had been different.

The message in essence was that you have to live for love, joy and for the moment. Truthfully it’s the essence of what (unknown to her) she indirectly ended up inspiring in me and I wish that it was something that she too had come to understand in life.

Just like the song suggests, I don’t intend to look back when I’m old and wonder where the years went and why I didn’t do the things I could have.

As well as my unexpected moment of reflection the show had some other real standouts – particularly when they covered ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ so perfectly I was almost singing along with them. The whole affair also finished with a wonderful melody of Christmas songs (including a 400 year old Coventry specific one!) that made me feel unusually seasonal when I was driving home in the rain.

This may have also had something to do with the appearance of Santa Claus at the end of the evening clutching a bag full of presents for the children in the audience. I might be wrong but I think it was actually the jovial presenter in a Santa suit, not the real one.

But you never know….

(Time for bed. Author requires large doses of beauty sleep just to get back to vaguely hideous by the morning. He’s stressed as usual about weighing in and probably won’t sleep anyway but he must try.)

Well I’ve now weighed in, and I’ve nailed my eight and a half stone award! The back, front and now inside my book is positively crammed with stickers. 

My weight loss has definitely slowed a little with the reduced exercise over the last couple of weeks – but I’m being pragmatic about this. 

When I was walking myself to death and getting obsessed I just ended up injured, which screwed everything over (including my mood) so at the moment I’m really happy that I’m still loosing what is a very respectable amount of weight. 

That doesn’t mean to say that I’m not going to try really really hard in the coming week mind you!

In fact, immediately after my Slimming World meeting I put my fleece on, pulled on my gloves and headed out into the cold to pick up my new trousers which had been shortened overnight. 

Honestly today I wanted to drive the four miles into town and back. I really really wanted to take the car and sit in the warm listening to my tunes. 

But you know what? Every time In the past where I took the easy choice it cost me money and time. Every instance where I chose the lazy option just meant another day that I had to remain dissatisfied with how I look or feel. 

I want to defer it as little as possible now and do all I can. I’m still thinking of the song from last night and I want to dance not drive. 

Also I’m wearing my cargo trousers today. These were the ones from two weeks ago where I sat down and the button snapped off the waistline. They’re now repaired, in service, comfortable and making me feel great. I’m also wearing a nice warm shirt that (in the same way as my trousers) hasn’t been worn for eight and a half years. 

Sitting on the chair opposite me in the coffee shop however are my new clothes. The contents of this small plastic carrier bag represents two weeks of groceries and I want to feel happy with the contents of it – but I’m still grinding my teeth a little.

I’m going to go home, iron it all, try it on with my (old) smart shoes and determine whether those (almost certainly do) also need replacing. 

I want to feel smart and capable when I walk through a door wearing them and I think I may need to lose another few pounds to make that a reality. 

This will be a week for soups methinks. 

That’s going to be a LOT EASIER thanks to the lovely lady in Slimming World this morning who carved a giant hole in her bay leaf bush at home and brought me in more than enough leaves to see me through the winter. 

This photo of me enjoying the aroma when I got home is just for her 😉. She can rest assured my whole house will be fragrant this evening!

Love and silver linings Internet 🤗


Hardy Cowell

I really really hate clothes shopping.

I know that it’s not something that’s unique to me but it’s still something that I find stressful and mortally disappointing.

I decided today that I needed some interview clothes after trying on my current (inadequate) pairs of trousers. Although they fit there’s very little about them that makes me feel confident, and that’s a big part of going for any job interview. The waistline of my existing ‘smart’ trousers sits (for want of a better way of describing it) not far under my boy boobs and I feel I appear rather ridiculous.


I have a kind of Oliver Hardy crossed with Simon Cowell thing going on at the moment and it’s not a good look.

Initially I went shopping with the idea of getting a bargain basement suit, but it seems that anything that fits around the waist in terms of jackets also carries with it a length that’s vaguely similar to Harry Potter’s cape.

In my admittedly downbeat and often distorted view of myself this pretty much paints a sign on my forehead that says ‘THIS GUY IS WEARING ABNORMAL OUTSIZED CLOTHING‘.

This may seem odd to some readers as all of my clothing is the same size – but trust me when I say that when it comes to suit jackets that will fit my waist they come with arms that appear to be made for a gorilla.

All of the corresponding trousers in contrast seem to have been modelled by a fat giraffe.

A few people have suggested (given my lack of funds) that I try charity shops for such items and I’m absolutely not proud or snobbish when it comes to clothes. As long as it looks good I really don’t care where they came from – but looking through 2nd hand shops today has simply proven to be a lesson in how to make me feel utterly miserable.

The biggest size I found in any of the nine charity shops I went to in Leamington were at least 10 inches too small in terms of trouser waists and I’m not going to get started on how ridiculous it is trying to find a shirt that’s even vaguely close to my size.

I’m also now firmly convinced that anyone that’s donated a tie to charity lately is an ex Religious Education teacher who retired in 1978. The only matching items I could imagine going with the ones I found were either brown tweed jackets with leather elbow patches or a merciful gallows scaffold.

In the end I spent over £100 on new clothes (I didn’t get a jacket in the end) that just make me feel angry. I’m annoyed because I’m left with the sensation that I’ve had to buy things that I feel I’ve (through necessity) just compromised on.

They’re not bad clothes. They look quite smart in their own way actually, but I instantly hate them because they present me in a light I’m really really uncomfortable with.

Primarily I think it comes down to me tucking my shirt into my trousers.

Sounds stupid right?

Well – as I’ve been in a pretty relaxed work environment for many years I’ve not had to do this for many years. Even back when I started my previous job my ‘waist’ was an anatomical likelihood rather than a visual reality. I haven’t tucked my shirt into a pair of trousers for a decade and a half and I’m absolutely hating the reality of how I look when I do.

I guess though that this would be a million times worse if I hadn’t made the progress that I have. I probably wouldn’t have been ABLE to get any the items of clothing that I have today – so for that I’m thankful.

I guess what I’m trying to say (in an admittedly rather downbeat way) is that there are times that I feel my endpoint is light years away and that I’ve struggled and made so much effort for ALL THIS TIME to just get close to where I was before, and I have to do it all again and more besides to get to where I want to be. At the moment success seem very far away in the distance.

Anyway – enough of feeling sorry for myself. I need to just accept it for what it all is.

Gradual and continued progress.

Instead of stopping off at the kebab and cream cake shops on the way home I dutifully stood in my kitchen chopping up a prawn and tuna rocket and carrot salad when I got back, which despite what I really wanted to do was the right call.


I really wish that I didn’t have moments like this internet. I’d love to have limitless and un-dentable confidence. I wish that all the time I could look in the mirror and just smile – seeing the inner me rather than the guy whose trousers button up just under his chins.

Maybe tomorrow.


Feeling shirty

Well it’s the start of December – the run up to Christmas – and for almost everyone in the western world it’s something of a hurdle to overcome with regard to food and drink indulgence. For my own part I think my head is very much ‘in the game’ at the moment, and SO FAR I’m not going quietly mad thinking about mince pies or Christmas cake.

(The author flipping loves Christmas cake and would probably sell a grandparent for a bite of some if he had any remaining to put price tags on)

I do have a Slimming World festive cookbook though and I plan to use it during the build up to the 25th December, although I have not yet decided what I’m going to prepare..

In the meantime if I want motivation all I have to do is open my eyes and look around me for milestones and reminders of how different things are now. These are continually keeping me on track.

As it’s the start of the month I’ve exported all of my fitness data from Apple Watch. Although my walking has been lower this month (thanks to my shin splints which nailed me in November) I’m still making progress in the 847 mile virtual walk from Lands End to John o Groats that I’ve been working on (original post here).



I think it’s pretty insane that since I started Slimming World I’ve walked almost 785 miles. Considering I barely left my armchair prior to joining my group it’s a pretty amazing turn around.

I also had the pleasure yesterday of dropping off the fourth (but not final) HUGE bin bag of clothes to Age UK’s charity shop in Warwick that no longer fit me.


Although it pains me to part with them (I estimate this pile of massive shirts and jeans represents purchases totalling well over £400 and I’m somehow going to have to buy a whole load more soon) I’m glad they’re going to a good place and will help to pay for an elderly person’s care or Christmas lunch.

There are some mixed feelings associated with parting with my clothes though. I’ve noticed recently an unexpected sentimentality related to items in my life that I feel have ‘helped’ me on my journey. My clothes hide a lot and have a tough life containing their expansive cargo.

I have taken a lot of photos of myself over the last few months in order to document my progress and ‘normalise’ my self image in my head. When I look at this pile and the photos I’ve posted in the past they all represent much happier memories than I expected, even when they are also associated with pain and embarrassment.

All of the above shirts hidden in the pile are little milestones in themselves. My striped blue 7x was what I was wearing when (not that long ago) I went to Birmingham on the train for the first time in years. I also remember regretting wearing it in the museum. My back was drenched in sweat and due to the colour of the shirt I felt it was really obvious. I had to stand with my back to a fan for 20 minutes to dry off.

My striped black shirt was something that I’d bought for a Christmas party many years before and it had only just become accessible to me again. I wore it to proudly march into Leamington to visit the pump room museum (which I’d never been to before because I couldn’t stand still for long periods). I was feeling pretty good about myself and puffed up with pride – then just as the thought passed through my mind I was immediately and comically brought back down to earth when I was crapped on by a pigeon.

My loud Hawaiian shirt (which due to it’s breezy translucency allowed me to burn all over my shoulders and chest in the sunshine) was what I wore to visit my friend at her Leamington ‘Art in the Park’ stall during the summer. I was hurting a lot from standing up mostly still that afternoon, but all of the pain melted away when later that evening I looked at the picture and unexpectedly saw my belt hanging down. It underlined immediately how much I’d lost at that point.

My blue check shirt (in the picture with my dad) was what I wore when visiting Aberystwyth. I climbed Constitution Hill for the first time in about 17 years in that shirt – but then simultaneously later that evening had one of my lowest points being abused by people because of my size and appearance as I walked around town.

The other black striped grandad shirt is just funny because I have a plum in my mouth.

Heh. Plums. Snigger.

So – today I’m in a great mood. I feel shamelessly and disgustingly proud of what I’ve done so far, and despite my innate British stiff upper lip and inbuilt reserve I feel like hopping up and down in the middle of the coffee shop that I’m currently sitting in.

It’s also partially due to the music I’m listening to – which propelled me at a frantic rate whilst walking here. It’s a freely available mashup of the Beastie Boys and Daft Punk by Coins (shared by Brumrah on Facebook a while ago). If you like either of their musical genres then you will love this. This best track I think is also on YouTube (if you fancy listening) here:

And that’s it for me today. The hunt for work must continue, as must my afternoon’s exercise.

Oh – and one other thing internet. I’m still experimenting with my Metformin (my type 2 diabetes medication) and I have currently brought my dose down from four a day with one Glimepiride to one Metformin in the morning and one in the evening.

I’m not being stupid about this. I’m gradually testing myself over several weeks to see what this does to my blood sugar and so far it’s doing… NOTHING. I’m still right where I should be (5.1 this morning).

I plan to keep it at this level for a few weeks and make sure that it’s not because it takes a while to have an effect. More to come on this in the coming weeks…