New job playlist

When the alarm went off at 5.50am this morning it was an unusually early awakening. Although I haven’t gotten up late for the last 7 months I’ve also not got up quite this early.

The last few days though have really been all about bits of preparation for life back in work (On Sunday for instance I got up at 7am to get closer to being super tired at an appropriate hour) and building a new structure for my re-entry into a new office.

I’ve kept the words of a teacher friend of mine in my head for this period – as I know (despite his busy life) he goes out to exercise immediately when he gets home after work – and I have set myself an objective to do at least 30 minutes of cardio every day.

If he can do it then so can I.

Within 20 minutes of the alarm going off I was on my exercise bike and working through a hill climb programme whilst listening to my new back to work playlist, which I put the finishing touches to yesterday.

I think it’s practically perfect in every way!

I tend to slowly build new playlists with Shazam – finding bit by bit things that I like and then splurge to get them all in one go and make a CD for the car.

I highly recommend track one for the car and exercise – which I’m listening to as I type. It’s Jamiroquai – Automaton. Although the start is a bit jarring its a real grower.

If you’re interested in what I’m listening to at the moment my playlist is as follows:

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While these played I was thinking about all the things that I needed to remember to take with me. In the end I took a rucksack full of things I didn’t need – and forgot some of the things that I did, but thankfully nothing that I couldn’t get another day.

By the time I arrived – pumped up by my new playlist in the car – I was in a supremely good mood. Some of this positivity was directly attributable to the fact that yesterday I had to use my new leather punch to make not one, not two, but THREE new notches in my smart work belt, which I bought for interviews a while back.

My smart trousers no longer stay up without serious assistance – which is both encouraging and annoying in equal measure – because judging by the rest of the office’s dress code I will need to get some more asap.

My new workplace is set back from roads and traffic and seems to be in a nice quiet (semi gated) location – although a quick lunch time exploration of the campus appears to show that in the immediate vicinity of the office there are only featureless business park style walks and not much else.

I also made the mistake of doing this walk in my new smart office shoes and received a complementary blister (which popped) on my right heel for my troubles. My first mental note to myself is ‘take trainers to work.’

I’ll have to explore a bit more as the week goes on and see what there is to find – but either way my work shoes are staying under my desk in the future.

The most important thing though for the moment is that the people seem very friendly and welcoming. I also got chatting to a couple of the ladies in the break room when they spotted me eating a salad with some Slimming World style mini-quiches and a few gherkins that I’d prepared the night before.

It turned out that they too were Slimming World girls and several had lost a few stone, so we immediately had a common language to natter in.

We had a quick chat about progress and syns – and that the tradition of buying cakes on your birthday appeared to be alive and well at my new workplace. Almost the very first thing I saw when I entered the office was a large round table full of fondant fancies and eclairs.

Apart from some lonely looking grapes the lowest syn item were caramel snack-a-jacks, which were 2.5 syns each.

So not worth it.

Just keep walking Davey…

So – the first day went pretty well. There’s a lot to learn and a whole new kind of workplace and priorities to get used to – but I feel really positive.

It’s also because when I got back I took my teacher friend’s advice and before I’d done anything I put a plaster on, changed my clothes and shoes and went for a blooming fast walk to blow the cobwebs away.

I’ve managed to finish the day with 81 minutes of cardio, 11,450 steps, 5.58 miles walked, 1576/4604 active/total calories burned, 6.7 miles cycled – and tomorrow’s virtuous lunch is prepared in a tub downstairs and ready to go!

Now – if you’ll excuse me internet I’m going to bop around my spare room to Katy Perry before going to watch the TV for a bit.

Davey

Excessive celebrating

‘The fools.’ I thought as I looked at the salad bar. ‘Don’t they know who they’re dealing with?’

Moments before an innocent young waitress had handed me a large plate and confirmed what I had hoped was true. ‘Yes‘ she said. ‘the salad bar is unlimited – you can go back as much as you like.

It’s my birthday today – and in my ‘new normal’ the brakes are off. I’m treating myself. Nothing is going to get in my way. However – very little can when you feel as good as I do at the moment.

For instance – nothing stopped me this morning from getting up early and celebrating for 35 minutes on my exercise bike. Very little was capable of preventing me from enjoying myself further by going to weigh in with my friends either. Wild horses couldn’t have pulled me away me from giving them hugs (as well as getting them back) and several tug boats couldn’t have dragged me away from petting the cute doggies people brought to group for me to play with on my birthday.

Yep – there’s no limit to my celebrating.

This is the extent of my excess in the new normal.

Where once there was a stinking hangover, kebab wrappers and a sense of vague regret there’s now me treating myself with things that are good for me. Great people, exercise, and healthy food.

Also – who needs to go off the rails when I have the support of the guys in my Slimming World group to feed off? They’re worth getting out of bed for on their own – even if nothing else happened today!

They were lovely this morning. I arrived to several unexpected cards and a surprise present (a really cute little knitted doggie which is definitely going on my new desk at work!) and lots of really embarrassing singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ by the ladies as I stood in line waiting sign in and get weighed.

By the time I stood on the scales it barely mattered what the result was – as I was in such a good mood.

In the end I lost a pound and a half – and got the group’s slimmer of the month award which was a nice pat on the back. This means that I’m not quite at the 11.5 stone certificate point, but I’m VERY happy to just be moving forwards – and I’ve only another pound and a half to go!

Although I started the month with a gain due a lot of effort in the last three weeks I managed to turn it around and ended up 17lbs lighter than I was at the end of January.

I love my Saturday mornings at Slimming World. There are some things in life I don’t resent paying for at all, and this is one of them. The people are wonderful and I couldn’t wish for a better support network both in person or online.

Of course – many of them wondered what I was doing to celebrate for the rest of the day.

‘Going for a meal.’ I replied.

‘Do I need to be worried?’ Angie (the group leader) asked.

I almost laughed. Definitely not.

If it was fried, covered in batter, full of e-numbers and carbs or loaded with sugar then it had precisely zero chance of getting onto my plate. I knew what I was going to do. I knew that there was a salad bar at the Shelly Farm.

And an hour later – there I stood. Surveying the battlefield from above, and planning my attack.

As. Much. Salad. As. I. Could. Eat.

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Although there were ‘only’ 9 choices (7 if you discount the potato salad in the upper left which looked like it was swimming in oil and the croutons second from the right) what was left was never going to cause any serious damage. I have no idea what the syns were – but they couldn’t be anywhere near as destructive as a plate of fish and chips or a pizza (there was a huge pizza oven in the background churning out carbs at a frantic rate).

From the top left clockwise (minus the evil ones)

  1. Mixed leaf salad and cherry tomatoes (meh.)
  2. Minted pea and cucumber salad (delicious!)
  3. (just out of shot) red cabbage and beetroot salad with balsamic (OM*Gosh!)
  4. Couscous (ultra moreish, with occasional sultanas – but not many, so ‘freeish‘)
  5. Tomato pasta tubes (mmmmmmmmmm yummy but not sure if the sauce was oil based or not)
  6. Roasted butternut squash (who knew you could eat the skin?!)
  7. Freshly made coleslaw (bad I know but I had a little)

So – the vast majority of it was either speed or free – and the rest? Well – it’s my birthday!

I also had some olives (10 per syn I believe)

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I went back to the salad bar three times (leaving out the coleslaw and pasta on the last two journeys) and was finally being beaten half way through the third plate by a ridiculously filling chunk of butternut squash.

All around me steaks and pizzas fell by the wayside – and were soon followed by ice cream and cookies.

Did I feel disadvantaged?

Hell no! Look at my food! It’s AWESOME!

Why on earth would I want anything else? Not only was my birthday dinner 1/4 of the price of steak and chips (it was £5 for my unlimited platefuls compared to £20 for a hunk of beef and some fries) but it was exceptionally prepared, insanely fresh and light – and thanks to my complete lack of shame very filling indeed.

I finished with a nice coffee – and it’s accompanying biscuit remained unmolested.

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Now I’m back home after another metric ton of goodbye hugs and I have a full evening ahead. I’ve also got an even fuller day planned tomorrow as I try to squeeze the pips out of my final day of freedom. I’m using my weekend to hook up with as many people as possible, and going for multiple walks!

I’ve also got to do some food prep for my new job on Monday (yikes!).

My head is spinning. I feel really really really happy today – but it’s not my birthday thats the reason though.

I couldn’t care less about another day. It’s just a number. I also had no sleep last night and my eyes have been killing me all day. My shoulders are aching and I have a pain in my left calf from a persistent cramp.

I should be in a bad mood – however, none of that matters.

The reason I feel so good is people. They’re all around me lately and they’re lifting me up out of myself all the time. I’ve seen nothing but smiling faces all day and this evening.

I feel happy internet because today I feel richer than any man has a right to be in life – and it’s rooted in something that no salary or pile of gold can buy. Long live the new normal.

Davey

He’s four foot tall!

Well – supercoat ™ has had its work cut out over the last few days.

Storm Doris may not have stopped the non-existent shipping in Warwick – but sadly there have been both injuries and loss of life in its wake elsewhere, as well as leaving people I know with varying degrees of property damage.

I’ve been out and about in it quite a lot and frankly it’s nice to see the back of it.

Yesterday while walking around Memorial Park with a friend we definitely got a good indication of the strength of the wind – and this was much milder than other parts of the UK. Despite my (not inconsiderable) remaining bulk I found myself at times leaning into the breeze with my companion to keep moving forward.

It was a very blustery day!

Today however it’s been quite different – and Davey’s monocolour dream coat has been in unzipped and configured for strolling mode. It’s warm snugglebugginess accompanied me along the canal with some companions in Kiddeminster.

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As is right and proper in this region, since Freckles lives locally she agreed to show me around, and by happy coincidence her owner is someone I used to work with – so she invited him along as well to keep us company.

Someone after all has to hold the royal lead and pick up all the regal offerings that freckles leaves along the way.

The walk into town (theres’s a Starbucks at the end of the rainbow!) was absolutely delightful from her house and quite unexpectedly we had blue skies and sunshine for pretty much the whole afternoon (although it was a little chilly in the shade at times and supercoat got zipped up.)

The last time I was around this way was back in late October (here) and we were walking along different canals – and back then the red sandstone surrounding the Rock Tavern (a pub built into a hillside) immediately caught my eye.

This geology is clearly a feature of the area – and it was apparent on today’s walk as well – which in a relatively short distance along the canal into town showed the simply wonderful feats of engineering undertaken to put the network into place – and the rail infrastructure (the Severn Valley Railway in this case) travelling above it.

Although I know very little about this area of canal (the second picture is of Caldwall Lock) or the bridge I was impressed enough by the viaduct to look it up when I got home. It’s called the Falling Sands Viaduct (link) and it’s a redbrick construction – meaning the whole thing is made of individual house bricks.

It’s insane to think how long it took to precisely cement them altogether in perfect arches, and makes you wonder how many hoops of fire or processes and procedures (not counting the colossal money needed) that someone would have to jump through today to make either of these things possible.

Anyone that built something like this back then has my absolute and unqualified respect.

Given that today is my last day of unfettered freedom from employment I think it was fitting to go and have a look at these icons of industry and hard work – since that’s what lies in my immediate future too.

This morning I called the Department of Work and Pensions and informed them that I no longer need benefits and that I start a job on Monday. This is a scary moment in many respects.

Will the people there like me? Will I like them? Will I be good at the job and fit in?

If there’s one thing that I can say it’s that the last 7 months off (yes it’s been that long!) have been worth every last moment and penny that I spent on them. If I’d gone straight into a new job back then I’d have been eight stone heavier, a lot more self conscious, and significantly more worries about what lies ahead. As it stands at the moment I feel pretty capable and very mobile.

In some respects I now feel as fit (if not fitter in some cases) than many people smaller than myself. All week I’ve been establishing my ‘new normal’ and ploughing as much into my exercise as I can – wanting to see exactly how much I can do in a day before I fall flat on my face with exhaustion.

After some energetic tidying in my house I dragged a projector that I bought around 11 years ago out of mothballs and plugged it into an old games console in my newly emptied spare room. Initially I just thought it was cool to have a wall sized game of Tekken – where the fighters were 4ft high.

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However – after my companion in Memorial Park innocently enquired whether I could use my laptop or even play games whilst on my exercise bike it got me thinking. Was I fit enough to do a workout as well as play a game?

Previously my bike had faced a blank wall and the only propellant had been my imagination – but maybe this could be a way to make things more interesting…

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So yesterday evening I started playing video games whilst exercising. Although overall I cycled a little slower when concentrating on chainsawing aliens I also pedalled for longer – and it seemed to pass a lot quicker – which genuinely surprised me. When I took the above pic I was at it again early this morning – which provided me with much the same results (although my curtains let in a bit too much light during the day taking the same photo at night is next to impossible).

It also meant that yesterday I smashed my record for active calories burned and total exercise (cardio) minutes.

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So – I’m on track with my plans to maintain a daily morning regimen of exercise before work to make sure I remain on track. Yay for planning!

Finally – I have a new toy.

This too is maybe a testament to how things have changed in my life. No longer am I overjoyed with a new piece of silicon chip based loveliness – but instead this is a workman’s tool that has one specific job.

Saving me money as I get smaller.

Check out the new neat belt hole in the centre compared to the penknife drilled one above! My new Draper punch pliers cost me £10 and cut belt buckle holes through leather like a warm knife through butter. They will make sure that when I arrive at my new office on Monday I’m not wearing my trousers around my ankles…

Now all that remains is to step on the scales tomorrow morning. Will I have lost weight? Will I still be in the 23st bracket or 22?

It’s been a busy week – and probably as a consequence I’ve also been rather hungry. I think I’ve been good – and I’ve worked hard, but will it be enough?

Only time will tell.

Fingers crossed internet!

Davey

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s Supercoat!

There’s a storm on the horizon. Storm Doris in point of fact – and I can feel the wind picking up to herald it’s arrival.

I’m particularly concerned about the disruption to ferries in Warwick – but mostly because as far as I know there aren’t any – and this storm is going to be so bad that even things we don’t have will be under threat. 

However – this is all rather good timing. ‘Bring it on!’ I say.

Uncharacteristically (after thinking endlessly about where my next amount would come from) I parted with some cash the other day. After my weigh in on Saturday I went back to Debenhams to once again look at the coats.

You may remember I purchased a cheap one a couple of weeks ago online – and will have seen the after effects if you follow me on Instagram.

The truth is that sometimes you really DO get what you pay for.

I disliked my coat from the moment it arrived – especially when in a freak incident after I hung it on the metal coat rack in my hall it snapped the coat hook in half – and immediately fell on the floor.

Now I have a razor sharp reminder of it’s presence in the middle of the row of hooks until I decide to buy a new coat rack.

The coat itself was inoffensive enough – if you have arms long enough to qualify as a silverback gorilla and don’t mind getting totally drenched when it rains.

I have (it seems) arms more akin to a T-Rex and for the record I have no love for rivers of cold water running between my butt cheeks.

So – as I stood in Debenhams at the weekend contemplating the potential for further inclement weather I also began to think about other purchases I may have made in the past without blinking.

£40 for a video game? Seems reasonable. I’ll buy it. £299 for a new console? Yea – why not! iPhone? Yea – I’ll take it!

Of course – my income was different then and my attitude to a lot of things has changed since I was made redundant – but the point is I’ve always considered clothes and my appearance as something of a secondary concern.

If I’m completely honest the word is actually ‘inconvenience’.

All of a sudden though I’m actually feeling a bit different about this. It’s a nice feeling to look smart and wear a completely new outfit of nice things rather than resenting average looking clothes that you’re forced to buy because they’re the only ones that fit.

Then – in mid contemplation I spotted the sign. 20% off all coats.

‘Maybe it was meant to be?’ I thought. I went to see if they still had my size.

They did. Once again I took it off the peg and put it on.

It’s a 3XL and I’m still frankly stunned that not only can I do the zip up but that there’s some room in there to move about – and (I think) it suits me. When I last tried it on it just felt right. 

Before I knew it caution had not only been thrown to the winds, but fed into a blender, boiled into a paste, dried out and had its ashes spread on a far away field. I strolled out of the shop with my new (and very first) 3XL item of clothing.

By the time this morning rolled around I still hadn’t had a moment of regret – not about the coat anyway.

I’d realised (after waiting in the cold for 40 minutes) that I had stupidly arrived a day early to meet someone at the park for a walk. Without realising it I’d added the meeting time incorrectly in my calendar (damn my stupid sausage fingers) and my friend wouldn’t be arriving until tomorrow.

It was also starting to rain.

However supercoat (dun dun deeeerrrrr) had me (literally) covered. It’s breathable, windoproof, waterproof AND warm. It’s got more pockets than space-time and each one is lined as well as being in just the right place.

Supercoat absolutely reeks of quality.

I decided to do a couple of laps of the park anyway – after all the whole point of being there was exercise right?

So it blew a gale, rained, gusted a bit more, stopped, threw a bit more wind at me with a bit more water and then delivered a stiff twenty minute shower to test the coverage and integrity of my hood.


The expression you’re seeing on my face is that of a man who just walked three miles in the wind and rain and enjoyed every totally dry minute of it – secure in the knowledge that he and supercoat would be very very happy together.

It’s also the face of someone that (so far) has kept the promise that he made with himself at the beginning of the week to establish a ‘new normal’. This was to get on his exercise bike first thing every day in preparation for doing the same when he starts work next week.

I’m not going to lie. At the moment I’m not feeling any huge degree of joy during this activity. It’s nothing like going for a walk – which for me requires zero motivation now. I do it because I love it.

Getting on my bike is a brute force decision that goes against what I really want to do – which is anything but pedalling for six miles over half an hour.

This makes me wonder if I can keep it up long term. I’m not sure. At the moment I have the willpower – but when I’m working? When I haven’t slept properly the night before and have to drive to a job?

I don’t know.

I still feel driven though. I’m being propelled forward by the documentary I wrote about last week (about people that lost it all and then put it all back on).

It’s a terrifying thought – and one that has honestly been with me every day ever since.

I need a new normal.

There was a phrase in Trainspotting 2 (I went to see it recently – it’s a worthy sequel and highly recommended) when Renton is discussing Spud’s continuing use of heroin 20 years on – and offering a suggestion about how to channel his impulses.

“You’re an addict – so be addicted; just be addicted to something else.” He says before taking spud on a punishing run up a hill.

Drug addiction is arguably very different to an eating disorder – but lots of us have habitual behaviours that we’d like to consign to the past. I’m no different. I have obsessive patterns that occasionally develop and that I can’t seem to switch off from.

I don’t think it’s particularly unusual.

However when I manage to re-focus them (like Renton does) and turn them toward an obsession with losing weight and getting fit they become useful to me rather than destructive.

It’s this side of me that’s climbing on that bike in the morning – and because of that an element of me that I once disliked now has my respect.

I rather like it in fact Internet. Long may I have an obsessive side. It’s useful.

And my coat. Long may I have that too. It’s ace.

Davey

Summertown

In an effort to establish a new normal I got up early this morning and jumped on my exercise bike. I plan to start the day this way for the whole week.

I’ll admit to being a little worried at the moment about how I’m going to keep my activity at the same level when I start work and I’ve concluded that the only way I’ll do this to start with is to develop a ‘like it or not’ morning routine, so that even if the day at work proves to be sedentary I’ve still done something.

This means using my exercise bike. It’s the quickest and most expedient way to get done what needs to be done in the morning. 30+ minutes on it caters for the ‘hold diabetes at bay’ recommended daily cardio exercise level and is the bare minimum I want to do.

My walking (which in contrast to my rather boring bike I get a LOT of pleasure from) still needs to be built in elsewhere. I’m hoping this will happen naturally when I discover things local to my new job to do in my lunch break or afterwards when I get home.

Today I started working out earlier than I normally would because I was off to meet a friend in Summertown (Oxford) which for a coffee. This is a really nice little area of the city with a lively street and cafe culture.

I’d planned to set out early so that I could avoid any of the usual issues with A34 jams on the way in – however there was nothing in between me and the sweet sweet caffeine. The journey was over in about 50 minutes and was totally hassle free.

Until I arrived – because Oxford appears to have (in my absence) declared war on the motorist.

I had originally planned to be clever and park further out so that I could walk a mile or two into town and get some more exercise but every single empty frikkin street all the way to the outskirts of the city is now resident only parking 8am – 5pm.

Seriously! I s##t you not! It’s infuriating!

There are NO CARS parked on these streets. Just road after road of empty space for miles and miles with unfilled dotted lines everywhere. I drove further and further out, for around 20 minutes – back in the direction I’d just come – but it was completely in vain. It was all the same wherever I looked.

Oddly it’s a different story at the unreasonably expensive and tiny Summertown car park (that’s swarming with parking attendants) where there is almost no-where to put your car.

It wasn’t like this the last time I came to this part of Oxford – so I can only imagine the unbridled glee that this must have provided for the local council’s goose stepping petty dictators when they realised that with next to no effort they could screw legions of visitors over and extort increasingly exorbitant parking fees from them.

There may be a park and ride service – but what if you want to walk?!

Grrr.

Running out of time I parked, opened the required financial artery, let the lifeblood of my bank account seep into the pay and display machine, put the ticket in my window and walked the teeny distance up the road to Joe’s Cafe where I was meeting my friend.

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This place is a little oasis of cheerful calm that she introduced me to several years ago that’s hidden amongst the hustle and bustle of the street outside. Although it does get busy around lunchtime (which is always the sign of a good cafe) the service is continually friendly and the place is never over fussy. They just serve routinely well cooked and simple food with reasonably priced drinks.

As well as the usual circular cafe tables with chairs there are nice cosy half moon booths along the wall that shelter you from view and allow quiet contemplation of the daily paper over a pot of tea and some avocado on toast – or lively chatter with some friends. If you want a nice ‘traditional’ sausage, bacon and egg breakfast instead (which my friend ultimately went for) then this is the place to go.

In my case I wasn’t all that hungry and indulged my usual obsession instead…

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Whilst waiting for my friend to arrive I considered the caramelised biscuit sitting at the side of my saucer. The little window on it showed a representative section of the crisscrossed surface, and it looked really really nice.

I bet it tasted as good as it looked.

I set it aside on the table and sipped my coffee whilst waiting.

By the time my friend arrived (and ranted about the parking situation, having also just driven around in pointless circles for 20 minutes too) I was on my second coffee – and placed another biscuit on top of the first.

It too looked very nice.

As we sat and chatted the cafe slowly emptied its lunchtime crush onto the street outside and the hubbub died down. We talked about healthy eating, children, jobs, and for a little while my internal wrangles over my mother’s paintings and what to do with them.

We can natter for hours, my friend and I – barely pausing for breath and moving endlessly from subject to subject without ever needing to explain context or a back story. It’s the kind of chat that comes with the benefit of years of mutual understanding – and I’m always left thinking how rare and precious friendships like this are.

Thankfully although geography often separates us we always make the effort to keep in contact – and even when there are longer than normal absences it never feels odd or forced when we do. We just say hello, and pick up (after a good hug) from where we left off.

A pot of tea arrived shortly after my second cup of coffee, with another biscuit perched suggestively on the side of the saucer. While my friend availed herself of the nearby facilities I turned it over and looked at the back.

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From what I could see this innocent looking little (fair trade) biscuit weighed around 6.3 grammes and would set me back ‘only’ 29kcal. That’s 1.5 syns in Slimming World terms, so it’s not going to break the dietary bank.

However, by the time we’d finished there were 4 of them on the table, and three belonged to me.

Eating mine alone would mean that around 1/4 of my daily syns would be gone in 87kcal and much less than a mouthful. To many this isn’t an issue. To be honest -in syn and calorie terms it’s not to me. I hardly use my syns, so I could definitely ‘afford’ all of them.

However – my thought process is very different to what it once was. I prefer not to have empty calories. There’s nothing in these tempting saucer dwellers that will benefit me from a dietary perspective.

I don’t disagree with those who like their sweet treats – but when I consider what will make me full and satisfied (and not wanting to immediately eat even more like this short sharp hit of carbs will) a biscuit isn’t on the list.

In my case my planned (and very hearty) meal for the evening was a broccoli, mushroom and onion stir fry with Bachelor’s Super Rice (Golden Vegetable – 3.5 syns) and four pork medallions.  Although I’m having four of them (Bad Davey!) a tasty piece of protein like this will set me back 134 kcal.

Or I can have four of these teeny tiny biscuits and still feel hungry.

So the biscuits got left behind.

When I got home I made a really really filling meal and currently sit feeling both satisfied and certain that I made the right choice. My whole meal came to around 1100kcal and it was pretty tasty.

Although I’m not focused solely on the numbers on the scales at the moment I’ve become slightly preoccupied with the figure of 22st 12.5 lbs.

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I never thought I’d get to this number when I started my weight loss journey – but I’m now under half a stone away from it – and when I get there I’ll be the same weight as I was at Weight Watchers on the 11th November 1999 – and the lowest weight I have a record of since around 1992.

It would be nice to start my new job and have this accolade under my belt at the same time, just for a sense of synergy, although I doubt it will happen. I’ve had some terrific losses lately and I expect this to slow or even halt for at least a week while my body takes stock of what’s going on.

However internet – you never know.

I’m not stressing about it – but I’m also quietly working towards it by not eating one biscuit at a time.

Davey

 

Spring

I think my mood is being affected by my cold as I’ve no other reason to wake up feeling glum. However for some reason I did.

Oddly today everything seemed grey when I opened my eyes and my enthusiasm for anything and everything was at rock bottom.

Although… now that I think about it – maybe there is something on my mind.

I know I started to deal with my clutter the other day – but I’ve not finished. Doing so has unearthed items I’ve avoided for a quite a while – and some ‘scabs’ are still sitting in drawers and cupboards waiting to be picked.

It’s been over a year since my mother’s death and I’m still seeing things around my house that came from her bungalow or that belonged to her and remind me of times and places I don’t really want to remember.

There was so much of it that it seemed impossible to deal with it at the time. However – now I’m feeling like I want a new start for so many aspects of my life it seems appropriate to try and face up to this.

I’ve not buried any of the feelings I experience about her. It’s quite the opposite actually. I’ve lived them in public as I’ve written them down here – and it’s helped.

There are some things that I ‘inherited’ that are tougher to mentally process and physically deal with though.

I’ve given a lot of the generic stuff away rather than sell it. There were things that could help friends and that I had no need for. Practical stuff – like incontinence pads, cleaning supplies, garden tools, and cans of food.

It made me feel good to see her possessions helping people and re-wrote much of the negative narrative in my mind about the items I was left with. The things she obsessively hoarded could now be used as they were intended to be – in a positive way. 

But then there are her paintings and masses of scribbled (and repetitively duplicated and muddled) notes about the family. All of these are individually wrapped – as if a squirrel inhabited her mind instead of a human being.

It makes pulling the mental puzzles apart that are contained within exhausting.

However the information they hold is useful and relates to the history of my family. I can’t just throw them away – but I also can’t easily order or make sense of them. Up till now it’s been easier to leave them in a cupboard and come back to them at a later date.

‘Later’ is now a year on though and I still haven’t tackled those or the paintings – of which there are a lot – all painted by her.

Although this may sound callous none of them have any emotional attachment for me. With very few exceptions I dislike every single one of them both in style and for what they represent.

The frames and the oil paint she used is discoloured and yellowed by the same cigarettes that killed her and every one of them has lived in the house of a heavy smoker – in some cases for 40+ years.

They smell – and every time I catch a whiff of the odour it brings back a memory of her, attached to oxygen and struggling to breath – but still smoking.

By the same token though they’re paintings and getting rid of them seems almost akin to burning or defacing books in my mind.

On top of that they’re by my mother. She created them. They’re the legacy of her mind and one of the few things she really loved in life.

They’re also one of the few things (now that I reflect upon it) that seemed to make her happy.

It makes me feel nothing but bad that I want to discard them – and I fear that if I do so then later on I’ll regret my decision.

But I don’t want them in my life. 

It’s a conundrum that I don’t have an answer to. Every time I look at them I then immediately look at the loft hatch, which leads to the last totally empty space in my house.

Do I move the problem to yet another location and ‘store’ them there – or is this just avoidance? If I put them in my loft am I deferring the decision or am I sensibly preserving the past? 

I honestly don’t know.

I do know that the only things that make all this go away (at least temporarily) are exercise and going outside.

Doing so gives me a sense of purpose that blows away the cobwebs of the past and reminds me that even if I feel a little low today that tomorrow is a totally new day.

Walking fast and getting out of breath makes me remember that regardless of what’s in my cupboard at home I’m continually moving forward. Even though I’ve yet to deal with this aspect of the past I’m making progress. 

Plus it’s the right time of year to confront the reality of bereavement because the world is suddenly walking up. Nothing truly dies. It’s all just a process of continual rebirth.

As I walked briskly toward my customary coffee shop this morning I noticed that (during the last 48 hours that have passed since I last walked here) spring had arrived.

Hiding in the grass by the path were the first crocus shoots of the year, pushing upwards into the warmth of the Sunday morning sun as it peeked through the cloud cover above.


They look lovely and really cheered me up.

So – after my coffee I’m going to go home and start again.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. I don’t think that grief (or whatever I was left with when she died) needs to be experienced in any particular way or in any particular timeframe.

I do know one thing though.

It’s important to come out the other side feeling like more than you were and not like you’ve been somehow diminished. A person may be gone but they left a legacy – and I don’t mean in terms of property.

Each and every life that ultimately leaves us lives on in the changes that they prompted or the thoughts they left in our minds – be they good or bad.

Every day is a conscious choice for me about what to do with the memories of her. Each time I think about my mother I consciously choose to be inspired by her failings in life and not buried by the weight of her problems.

Plus she liked crocuses Internet. She’d be happy to see them right about now.

If she was alive she would probably be contentedly watching her own grow from a seat in her back garden. She’d be wearing her well worn and faded slippers and thoughtfully smoking a fag – all the time sipping from a hot, milky, sugary mug of tea with a picture of the queen’s jubilee on it.

Davey

Special friends

Friends are great. Good ones can get right to the heart of the matter and tell you what you need to hear even if it isn’t what you want to hear.

Others can just accept you as you are – warts and all – and still love the person inside, reminding you that the outside is superficial. One such friend helped me begin to climb over a big hurdle regarding this last night – and today I woke up feeling much stronger than I had before we talked.

Often I’ve found there are times you don’t even realise how heavy a burden is (or sometimes that you’re carrying it at all) until you lay it down and begin to move on.

So today – regardless of what happens at the weigh in I’ve decided this morning to take my old trousers and shirt with me to group and show people what they look like on me now – at around half way through my journey.

It’s a bit of a scary idea – but things are only frightening until you’ve done them once and then you usually realise that they aren’t as bad as you thought they’d be.

(Author goes to group and then returns home to finish his post)

Well – as usual I couldn’t call it. I must admit to being more than a little surprised that for the second week in a row I’ve lost a really decent amount of weight.

I’m now 11st 4lbs lighter than I was when I started back in April 2016!

After my weigh in as we all chatted over a coffee I took the opportunity to show some of the long term and newer members what my clothes looked like. Many photos were taken – which was really nice for a change – as I can see from other people’s perspective (rather than my own sometimes distorted and often self critical view in a mirror) what is different.

For those who haven’t seen my before photo (below) I am wearing the same clothes that I had on in group this morning.

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And this is how they now fit me with my current jeans and shirt on underneath (top photo used with the permission of the lovely lady in the background!)

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I cant help wondering how they’ll look when I get to my target weight. There’s still a long way to go! Either way I feel proud of myself this morning. Really proud.

That was almost all I had to say for today. My blog was going to end there.

But it won’t.

I was already feeling pretty buoyant walking home after group but it got better when I got opened the door and found my official job offer in a big envelope sitting under the letterbox.

All I have to do is sign on the dotted line and I’m employed!

I have all day though – so I reckon instead I’ll go for a coffee and think about life. Sometimes you just need to sit back to appreciate the good days and suck the pips out of them so that when the bad ones come you can look them square in the eye and take them on with a healthy sense of perspective.

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday internet – I know I’m going to.

Davey

P.S. There’s one particular lady in group today (she knows who she is) who can totally do it – even though she may feel a bit low at the moment. Just keep swimming! x

Last sign on

Despite still being deep in the grip of a cold I feel pretty awesome today.

As long as there are no unforeseen issues with my new job I think that this morning I may have signed on for the last time. Hopefully my next interaction with the department for work and pensions will be to ‘sign off’ completely and report that I am officially employed.

To be honest though the whole experience has been relatively painless (despite my intense dislike of having to do it at all) and the people who work in the job centre have been both polite and courteous at all times – even occasionally surprisingly helpful.

It isn’t going to make me miss the place mind you. It’s depressing both inside and out – and if I have my way I’ll never go there again as long as I live.

I can’t get this song out of my head every time I sit outside on the bench waiting for my appointment and sipping the coffee that they won’t let me take through the door into their waiting area (as it’s apparently a lethal weapon).

When I was interviewed at my new place of employment I saw lots of people drinking coffee in a non threatening manner – which was instantly something that I liked about the place. I am a big advocate of caffeine and it’s power to bring people together.

I have to continue to believe that it’s not a tool of destruction. Long may such convivial imbibing continue.

Probably because of the joy that this morning’s event brings I’ve been pretty active since I woke up, and as well as continuing to bring order to my house (my dumping ground of a dining room is now finally in a fit state for visitors) I’ve been walking much more than I normally would.

According to my watch I’ve done nearly 24,000 steps and 12 miles since I first set out today and honestly I still feel like I could have (and should have) done more – which in itself is pretty nuts. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I couldn’t easily walk to the end of my road  – which is 0.2 miles away (see here).

Although, if I’m absolutely truthful today’s flurry of activity may also have something to do with me weighing in tomorrow as well… I know I lost a lot last week (let’s not beat around the bush – 12.5lbs was too much) but I want to at least maintain – and to have not put anything back on.

If I do lose something then I’ll be really happy – but I honestly don’t feel the need to as long as I stay the same. Despite thinking a couple of weeks ago I was finally past the point of worrying about stepping on the scales it’s still there looming in the back of my mind.

Maybe this is a good thing though because I’m still thinking about the documentary that I mentioned in my last post.

It’s really lodged in my mind that one of the two things that separated people that put weight back on from those that kept it off after reaching their target was being constantly focused on weight and fitness.

I can’t make up my mind whether this is a good thing or a bad thing though.

Staying focused on it on the one hand is good because I will (hopefully) never backslide – but also could be bad because I can be quite obsessive about such things. I tend to drive myself quietly insane turning stuff over and over in my mind – rather like I’m doing at this very moment.

Anyway – I know one thing. No amount of worrying or thinking about it will make any difference now – and what is going to happen tomorrow morning is not something I can influence any further.

So I’ll just have to take my mind off elsewhere and think of other things.

If you need me internet I’ll be shooting alien scum. God knows they deserve it. They’re a pestilence.

Davey

Never going back

Due to feeling a mild panic that’s developed regarding things I’ve been putting off and my impending loss of liberty I’ve been trying in earnest to de-clutter my home again over the last few days. 

If I’m honest I normally tend to do this in bits and drabs here and there rather than in one massive sustained effort. This means that I usually never manage to finish the job – and today I have some excellent excuses to put it all temporarily to one side and go for a walk. 

Firstly I’m blaming the frankly useless paper shredder that I’m trying to feed all my old bank statements into and secondly I’m looking at the well timed (it didn’t happen when I’d just started work – yay!) arrival of a head cold. 

Normally I’d call this viral apocalypse flu – but at the risk of censure from my brutally hardened female friends who also seem to be ill (and somehow still juggling this on top of seeing to the needs of toddlers or teenagers) I’m downgrading the severity. 

I’m hoping it’s not going to de-rail me on the scales this week – but I feel really sluggish and bloated at the moment, so what will happen is anyone’s guess. 

I’m trying really hard to have lots of good food – but if I’m honest my appetite has been all over the place for two days. 

I haven’t been eating much more than usual though thankfully – and despite rooting around the house and in and out of boxes whilst waiting in for parcels that never arrive I’ve still found time to fit in some exercise. 

Yesterday I did around 40 mins of cardio – but today I’m already up to (a really begrudged) 69 and I’ve still got a few miles to do. 

In the past if I was ill this probably wouldn’t be the case but I’m trying to develop a new normal. Although I didn’t really need motivation for this I accidentally found some anyway in a documentary on Channel 4 the other night – which made my blood run cold. 

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/super-slimmers-did-they-keep-the-weight-off

As always this will probably only be accessible to people in the U.K. – but it details what happened to lots of ‘slimmers of the year’. Many of them had dropped huge amounts of weight and ended up featuring in magazines and the media as proof that various diet plans worked. 

These people managed to get to their goal weights – but then depressingly almost all of them put the vast majority of what they’d lost (in some cases with more on top) back on. 

There were a number factors in their post success weight gains, but two stood out to me more than the rest. 

  1. Many of them had become convinced that they ‘had done it’ and they could now eat ‘normally’. In most cases this simply meant a return to the foods that caused the issues originally. 
  2. Many did little exercise either during the weight loss or afterwards. 

For newer readers this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve lost large amounts of weight before. Whilst this time is now the most I’ve ever lost in one go, in 2008 I lost around 10 stone before putting it all (and more besides) back on. 

This is consequently a topic that’s never far from my mind. 

However – I’m not going to succumb to a fear of inevitability because frankly if I do then I’ll just end up making it happen eventually. 

There were some helpful pointers from the experts in the programme – but the one that struck me as the most profound and useful was that (amongst other things) all of the people who kept the weight off after reaching their target had two things in common. They maintained around an hour’s exercise per day and had a continued focus on health and fitness as the main driver of their lives

There were also some slightly more downbeat suggestions that biology would screw most dieters over eventually as their bodies reacted to the loss of fat stores by ramping up the hormones that controlled hunger. 

Simply put – it doesn’t get any easier. Your body is likely to ALWAYS want to overeat. That bit (if true) is somewhat depressing. 

However – this time around I have motivation I didn’t before. I am lucky enough to be holding my diabetes at bay currently and it’s a huge factor in my motivation to exercise. Everywhere you look when trying to find advice about managing or avoiding diabetes there’s a ’30 mins per day’ figure for exercise that crops up all the time. 

I never realised until recently that this is why my Apple Watch pushes me to do this exact amount on a daily basis – and nags me to fill my little rings. 

If you do it EVERY DAY it improves your outcome. It’s not a magic bullet though – and I used the word ‘lucky’ above for a good reason. 

A conversation I had with a friend (who has just become type one) reminded me starkly that when it comes to health an element of our success or failure is a genetic lottery.

Put simply – we can only do the absolute best we can and hope that it’s enough to turn the tide in our favour

I suppose the reason I’m laser focused this time around is that my mindset (because of this) is that it’s not really about the weight alone any more. 

In many respects (as strange as it sounds) diabetes was one of the best things to happen to me. It eventually helped me focus on what’s really important in life – despite it’s horrific potential consequences. 

If I was just looking at numbers on scales without diabetes in the back of my head then I might have something to worry about when it comes to future failure – but I’m not doing that anymore. 

I’m looking at numbers elsewhere. 




Since early January I’ve not had a single day where I haven’t filled all of my activity rings.

Although I still want to drop pounds at Slimming World every Saturday I also need to focus hard on where this is all going. 

I’m going to have a new job soon, and I feel somewhat conflicted about the fact that it’s once again sedentary and office based

I like the type of work that I’ll be doing but I can’t for a moment let it make me blind again to what else my day needs to contain – and that’s a combination of healthy eating and continued activity

If anything my current level of exercise needs to grow in intensity

A different friend contacted me the other day to give his best wishes about my new job and also happened to mention that he now cycles to his job every day and loves it. 

Another ex colleague separately texted me to say he has just bought a bike in a cycle to work scheme – whilst other people I know build activity into their days with gyms or park walks. 

There’s ALWAYS a way. 

A lifelong friend of mine proved this recently when she showed me her new home office desk – which frankly I think is flipping excellent. She’s rattled off ten thousand steps easily by the end of her working day. 


How excellent is that?! A treadmill desk!

This ‘must do attitude’ is filling my head at the moment – and thankfully it’s taking up more space than my cold occupies. I may be moving a bit slower than usual and feeling a bit crappier but I’m still moving and THAT’S THE WHOLE BATTLE

So Internet – I’m going to be thinking over the coming days about food optimising and pre-preparation, as well as what I can do during my soon to be working day. 

I will be considering batch cooking and freezing lunches, things I can do around an office, walks I can do in breaks and lunches, places where there are stairs or hills, locations I can park that are further away from the office – basically ANYTHING to keep the momentum going and ensure that this change is lifelong. 

I want to see my future as a little mountain to climb every single day – not just a difficult but temporary road to a comfy sofa. 

I’m not going backwards ever again. 

Davey

Bertie Bassett Burton Dassett

The next step in my personal evolution is (I think) elevation, and the continued pursuit of inclines.

As I’ve mentioned before my eventual aim this year is to climb up Snowdon. I’ve done it before around twenty years ago but was heavier than I am now (I think) and it practically killed me. At the time I did no walking or exercise at all.

This time I plan to work up to the task – and when I’ve voiced this aim to friends (most of whom appear to want to climb it with me, which is nice) they’ve been keen to point out locations where I can increase my hill stamina.

With this in mind my friend suggested today we walk up the hills at Burton Dassett (around 20 miles from Warwick).

I appear to have already developed a mental block regarding this location however – and ever since he put this thought in my head just a few days ago I’ve been calling it ‘Bertie Basset‘ which is driving me a bit nuts. It did make me smile though today as we were driving there to think that just around the corner there might be a huge man made out of liquorice allsorts to clamber over 🙂 .


My friend (although he is sadly nothing to do with liquorice allsorts) is thankfully something of a good luck charm when it comes to weather. When he suggests in advance that we go for a walk it always seems to turn out sunny – or at the very least it’s not slashing it down with rain or beating us to death with wind.

Although it was a little grey and grim today it was dry, and slightly warmer than it had been for the rest of the week.

As I looked up the road from where we parked I could see the first objective in the distance on the left – which was a well known beacon that can be seen from miles away on a clear day.

I discovered later in the day that no-one seems to know exactly what this was – it may have been a windmill, 0r it may have just been a signalling device. Originally it had two doors and a window – but is now completely bricked up with no access at all.

How it looked before this though can be found on local picture postcards.

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The windmill in this lovely picture is sadly long gone – but despite it’s absence I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we reached our objective. I wasn’t even particularly out of breath by the time I was standing next to the monument on the top of the hill only 16 minutes later.

I don’t for a minute think that my planned objective in the future will be this easy  – so maybe I’m going to have to keep going up and down smaller hills instead of climbing really really big ones. If I want much larger inclines there’s a lot of driving involved and it’s quite a while until I get paid for the first time.

Until then I’m still Sir Frugal of Tightass.

However – there were quite a few little peaks here to keep us busy, and for the most part the only fellow occupants we had to share them with were sheep and the occasional rider on horseback. So – for the next hour or so – we busied ourself with climbing up each of them and stopping to admire the views and little monuments.

It was mostly serene and peaceful up there – however there is apparently a rather large nearby army base (in Hardwick) – and in the far distance we could hear explosions and see the occasional plume of smoke rising from what appeared to be munitions in a distant field. Presumably this was some kind of training or military manoeuvr.

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On a nearby tourist information board it showed that there was also a parish church nearby – and as I’m a complete sucker for stained glass and love the tranquility of old churches (despite my total lack of religious belief) we headed over for a look.

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Sadly there were no stained glass windows (they apparently existed at one time and for some reason were replaced in medieval times with the current clear glass) but the architecture alone made up for it.

There’s a lot of history here (according to the helpful notice boards) and this building dates back a LONG way as you can see from the list of vicars in the reception hall. The first record of the church and parish comes from the Domesday Survey of 1087, which gives only brief information about the district.

After this it seems that in the 13th century the church was enlarged and in one picture you can see a stone staircase (to the right of an engraved piece high on the wall) that used to lead to a higher loft which no longer exists.

The structure and parish are also nearby the site of the Battle of Edgehill which occurred during the English Civil War on 23 October 1642 which eventually had a direct impact on the type of minister that looked after the parish until the reformation many years later.

Over the centuries the structure (whilst still being modified or updated occasionally) fell further into disrepair. This continued until 1890 when some restoration work began and the church bells (which were installed in 1686 and in a bad way) were re-hung and made safe.

In 1934 Death Watch Beetle and a Blackthorn bush (discovered to be growing 20ft into the cavity of the largely mud based walls) nearly ended the life of the building altogether. Restoration work urgently began again until 1939 when WWII intervened and all work ceased. It wasn’t until 1991 that this was started again and the church was fully restored.

Regardless of what faith you are or aren’t it’s impossible not to admire the masonry skill involved in creating and caring for such a building – and personally I consider them to be one of the highest forms of art.

I’m not sure why I like them so much but I could sit for hours in the quiet stillness of cavernous spaces like this and just contemplate… nothing in particular 🙂

Anyway internet – it’s dinnertime and this Davey has so far only managed to consume a jar of pickled gherkins today (the heart wants what the heart wants sometimes!) and is darned hungry. Man cannot live on tiny cucumbers alone!

Davey

No longer a burden to the state

I have been looking at parts of my house lately with a sense of deep dissatisfaction.

My bed for instance has seen a lot of action – but not the kind that comes in 50 shades and gets made into questionable literature. It’s borne the strain of my excessive weight for quite a few years, and it’s not escaped unscathed. It’s broken three times, been repaired with spare parts from Ikea twice and is currently bodged, with the frame underneath the mattress propped up by a stack of old magazines after something irreparable snapped.

The mattress (a very expensive reinforced pocket sprung one) is not the supportive yet comfortable billiard table surface it was when I bought it. There’s an imprint of a heavier person in the middle of it which I hadn’t really noticed before. Lately it’s begun to swallow me. It’s not yet uncomfortable enough to motivate me to spend money I don’t have on a replacement – but it’s not far off.

My nearby bedroom wardrobe is largely empty – and most of my clothes are instead in a pile of folded laundry downstairs, awaiting their eventual journey to a charity shop.

Bit by bit it seems that everything is slowly emptying out of my life to make space for… well, I don’t exactly know what yet. As I look around me lately (apart from friendships which are getting stronger if anything) everything seems to have a sense of transience and impermanence that it didn’t before.

It’s mildly unsettling – but also at times exciting because it’s the kind of fluidity that is caused by positive change, and things are no longer as inevitable or unchangeable as I thought they once were.

The reason I’m thinking about this is because I was clearing out some old things this morning and found a few diaries. They were imaginatively titled ‘the diary of a fat person’ and spanned five volumes and a period between 1988 and 1992. They document a key piece of my adolescent struggle with (amongst other things) weight and my mother.

As I skimmed through them for an hour (I couldn’t bring myself to read some of it) I saw a young me, starting at 17st 7lbs and fighting against my mom’s willingness to feed me fattening food. After much internal and external conflict about food and how to avoid being fed meals over which I had no input or choice I eventually resort half way through the first volume to self imposed starvation (in direct and often painful opposition to my mother) for several months until I got to what must have been a very unhealthy 12st 7lbs in 1989.

I note that she keeps sneaking sugar into things and I eventually only seem to trust grapefruit – which seems at times to be almost the only thing I was eating – all the time obsessed with who would see me as fat and who wouldn’t, which was a very real and ever present issue.

I’d completely forgotten for instance (aside from the run of the mill bullying I endured each and every day) that one of my diaries was invaded on a school trip by an unknown person who had scribbled abuse regarding my thoughts about a girl and written above it ‘blubber boy’ in large letters. It was hidden deeper into the diary where I would only discover it later for maximum effect.

I was enraged when I found the violation but never got to the bottom of who had been reading my private thoughts. It was however just an example of something that happened every day in some form or another and the bullying rarely stopped.

I sporadically continued to write in these diaries – but as my weight increased once more I stopped documenting it – clearly unable to face up to to the reality of my eating habits and beginning to drink more and more. The last time I recorded it (until many years later) was the 11th November 1992 when I hit 16 stone.

These (painful to read) books detail the development of coping mechanisms for dealing with life at home that remained in place for many years – until decades after I left.

The last saved diary I have (which was more of a calendar by that time) is from January 1999. After much cajoling from my partner when we lived in Aberystwyth I’d joined Weight Watchers.

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This in itself isn’t new news. Some time ago I found (and posted) my old weigh in card – but somehow I’d forgotten that I’m now almost the same weight I was back then before I faltered, stopped going regularly to my group and eventually gave up – much to the annoyance of my better half.

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Shortly after (on my second card) I’d moved to Bristol and joined a second time – but swiftly retreated again. My partner was still adamant I needed to lose weight but I was not. I had rejoined under duress and (stupidly) rebelled – eating in secret behind her back.

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I’m not far from the 22st 12.5lbs (currently I’m 23st 10lbs) that I was in November 1999. When I get there I’ll have hit a psychological milestone that has massive significance. For some reason in my mind at this point it’s almost like I have permission to be ‘normal’ again – to have a life that includes things like a relationship and possibly a family.

So it’s an exciting time – and one that I’ve worked hard for.

Oddly it may just coincide with another huge moment because today I got a call offering me a job – which I’ve acceptedI hopefully start in a couple of weeks and frankly I couldn’t be happier.

Then a new chapter starts – and just like my bedroom I don’t know what it will contain or what it will look like. I only know that my old patterns have been broken (permanently if I have any say in the matter) and I don’t ever intend to repeat them.

Which is just as well – as tonight I have an unexpected house guest, who appears intent on featuring in his second post (we first met here).

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Initially Pugly was a bit unsure of me after being dropped off for a spot of dogsitting, and we sat on the sofa together eyeing each other with mutual suspicion. ‘Who is this strange man?’ Pugly seemed to be saying with his little frown. ‘I don’t know him and he smells funny.’

However – not long after this his stoic resolve began to break down.

When it did he edged a little closer – all the time doing his level best to hide the fact that he was warming to me.

I am after all extremely soft and warm and Pugly clearly had a cold bottom.

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Before long he had stealthily come to a conclusion about our compatibility and, despite an unwillingness to announce it formally I think I got the message.

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Of course – Pugly has no idea that this time last year he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show his thinly veiled affection. I didn’t have a lap back then, so he couldn’t have sat on it even if he wanted to.

So tonight internet we’re both benefiting from radical positive change. Long may it continue. 🙂

Davey

Just D, without a Renke

I had a slightly more relaxed day yesterday after my close encounter with the scales.

On one shoulder when I stepped off a little devil dressed in red with a pitchfork whispered ‘mission accomplished – now point me in the direction of the fridge’. Thankfully I also seem to have an angel for the other shoulder whose thought process was more along the lines of ‘next stop 11 stone tubby – get moving!’

So – I compromised.

Rather than walking over hill and dale at a frantic pace after group yesterday I settled for a short stint on my exercise bike, just to max out my watch’s cardio stat, and then spent the rest of the day relaxing. By early afternoon I’d finally meandered to the local Harvester for dinner with some friends (although in my case it was actually a very late lunch).

I’d pre-booked a table since our meet up time was a Saturday at 5pm. When I arrived I was pointed to a booth just inside the door that seated 6. I’m not going to lie – in the past the VERY first thing I’ve said to anyone finding me a table in a restaurant is ‘NOT a booth please’.

Fixed seating such as chairs with arms, picnic tables and surfaces with legs screwed to floors have always been my natural enemies and I instantly panicked. The words that I always deploy in these circumstances were on the tip of my tongue and ready to go.

I opened my mouth, stopped, closed my mouth, looked at the seating and thought ‘why not try it?’

If there’s one thing I now know it’s that I don’t know anything any more. I don’t know what clothes that will fit me look like when I hold them up in shops, I don’t know what kind of seats I will or won’t fit into – or even whether I have to open one or two double doors when entering a building. I also still think I’m going to break everything so I’m scared of sitting on anything when I first see it.

However – instead of a demoralising loss, by choosing to try I’d just discovered a new, non scale victory!

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What you’re seeing here is something that I haven’t done for so long that I don’t even remember when the last time was!

The Harvester is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to main meals – but it DOES have an unlimited salad bar for £3.99 and unlimited diet coke for £2.70. For the food and budget conscious amongst us it’s a complete win.

Furthermore – if you ask nicely they will also give you a standard sized plate to load your salad and couscous onto – which saves going back multiple times with the normal silly little bowls they normally expect you to collect your veg in. I ended up having two visits to the salad bar that both looked roughly the same.

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Incidentally – I’ve read some slightly conflicting things from a SW perspective in various forums about the Harvester’s salad bar. It’s relatively obvious if you want to avoid the syns that you need to steer clear of the potato salad, bacon bits, croutons and most sauces. Olives are a ‘synnable’ food (10 per syn I believe), and so is the pasta, although I don’t know exactly what the values of this are so I only had a little bit.

Their couscous is apparently free – which is great because it’s really filling!

There’s a helpful Slimming World ‘Harvester help‘ page here if you’re planning on going there that can assist in limiting any damage you may be worried about from eating out. It’s not completely exhaustive in its scope but it is quite useful.

Whilst loading up my plate I also bumped into a fellow SW’r and her hubby, who were also trying to be virtuous and had a little natter. One of the really lovely things about my group is that you never know when you’re going to randomly meet them or their families around town. It turns the whole experience of dieting into a really cool little social circle of like minded (and very friendly) people!

After a lovely meal I headed home – only for the day to end with something that really tickled me on Facebook. I spotted this comment from a mate on the picture of the 10.5 stone certificate that I’d posted earlier in the day, and it genuinely made me laugh out loud – so much that I had to share it.

 

So – when I finally went to bed I slept like a log and had the kind of rest that you only get when you’ve had a really really good day, spent with the right people at the right time and in the right places.

I genuinely count myself amongst the lucky when it comes to this aspect of my life. I have the good fortune to move in circles populated by good, kind and supportive individuals – who prove themselves worthy to be called friends over and over again.

I may be financially poor but I consider myself people rich.

As you may or may not have noticed I try not to refer to these friends by name in my blog, and don’t use any photos of them without explicit permission. I may be living a lot of my life in public lately – but I’m acutely aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for this, and consequently their lives are and always will be private.

Sometimes though I’m invited to include someone.

It’s pretty rare, but if I happen to get such an opportunity presented to me then I think it’s extremely rude not to take them up on the offer!

An ex colleague of mine (and great internet buddy) that’s been stalking my blog from day one remarked upon my progress during a chat back in August with an unusual (but quite motivating) demand.

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Say hello to my intrepid friend Renke. She’s an international jet setting go getter of a lady with a passion for travel and has from the word go been supportive and helpful when it comes to my progress.

One day in August last year we were talking nonsense (as we tend to do) on WhatsApp. At the time I’d lost 4 stone 5lbs – a bag of cement – and was busy trying to motivate myself with goals from an earlier post here.

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Until today I’d almost forgotten about this conversation – but she hadn’t and texted me to point out that I’ve lost around 69 kilos – reminding me that I have indeed lost a Renke!

I find it pretty mind boggling though that an entire person (who in the picture above was busy walking around large parts of Cambodia) is no longer with me.

It’s a bittersweet moment though – as she’s a nice sort – but despite her (quite understandable) enthusiasm for sharing my trousers I’ve regrettably had to eject her. She’ll do ok on her own though. She’s an independent person that’s always full of beans, and can purchase pants of her own 😀 .

Currently I’m listening to the little Davey in white with wings on my other shoulder instead of the one with horns in red and doubling down for that eleven stone certificate.

Over the coming week(s) I’ll be rummaging around in my jeans to see if Renke left any personal belongings behind. If I find any lost hiking equipment or her pink super princess dresses then they’ll get returned ASAP!

Ik kom direct terug!

Davey

 

Lettuce rejoice

It’s nearly 1am on Saturday morning. Project salad ended yesterday with something of a whimper rather than a bang, primarily because I feel very cautious (almost certainly too much) about over eating on the night before my weigh in – which I felt was part of my downfall last week.

If anything yesterday I under-ate, which I know I shouldn’t do. However my sensible (and mildly hungry) side is being drowned out as I sit, think and type by the need to (as I see it in my head) ‘put things back on track’.

Although I started yesterday with lofty aims to make a special meal it never materialised.

Lunch (mostly because I was preoccupied with other concerns) was a simple affair and ended up being a rather large 400g punnet of strawberries. Oddly this was way more filling than I expected – and came in at a rather virtuous 132kcal – which by anyone’s standards is something of a winner.

Dinner was the second half of my soup from last night (here) which as before was 757Kcal, and my evening snack was a pot of cottage cheese (88kcal) with some fruit of Solanum Lycopersicum (otherwise known as two tomatoes – but this sounds way more exotic) (30kcal).

This brought the total for my day of food consumed to around 1007kcal.

One thing I’ve noticed this week is that there’s WAY more food left in my fridge than there usually is, and project lettuce appears to have saved me some money! Apart from my £2 strawberries (which were purchased in a wild and crazy moment of fiscal excess) I’ve done no little ‘top up’ visits to a supermarket at all, which is good news.

I can spend the money I saved on new clothes!

I didn’t do quite as much walking etc as other days yesterday though. My exercise was simply a very brisk walk to the supermarket (two miles away) and back again, which I am pleased to say in both cases averaged well under 18mins per mile. This speed now appears to be the minimum threshold at which Apple Watch concedes I’m doing exercise.

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It occurs to me as I type that I spent many weeks trying (and failing) to get my speed under 18 minutes a mile – and it wasn’t so long ago that I was quite triumphant about having done it for the very first time.

Now less than a week or two later I seem to be doing it a lot – and it’s becoming my new normal.

I’ll be honest though – I’m feeling a bit drained.

I’ve spent 6 days back to back on a really low calorie regimen and have pushed myself on each one of them to make sure I work out and get my heart rate up whenever and wherever I can. Since my last weigh in (I’m not counting last Saturday as I can’t account for the specifics of the food tasting at SW) I’ve supposedly:

  • Eaten 7239kcal
  • Burned 8686 ‘active’ kcal and 28695 total kcal
  • Done 409 mins of cardio based exercise

I don’t think that this level of activity on this amount of calories is a good idea every week – and I am going to be trying in the coming months to get to between 1500 to 2000kcal per day whilst still following the principles of the SW plan.

I’ll also be aiming to fit in as much activity as I can and keeping an eye on portion control.

Anyway – I need to go to bed. It’s time for the scales in just over eight hours and I’m tired. Keep your fingers crossed. Let’s hope it’s good news.

(Author goes to beddibyes, then sleepibyes, then wideawakeibyes not long afterwards)

Well – I didn’t sleep all that well.

Although I’m confident that I’ve done what I need to for my weigh in I couldn’t stop thinking about what the result would be. When I did nod off I had a horrible dream about being on the toilet in the middle of a wedding where I was a guest. I woke up convinced I’d made a smelly spectacle of myself – and even though I soon realised I wasn’t sitting on the loo while the not so happy couple’s vows were exchanged I couldn’t get back to sleep.

So – I did what any sane person would do and started playing video games.

When my eyes became too tired I tidied the kitchen, and then after a long shower I decided to make myself a breakfast to eat after the weigh in that I could take with me in tupperware.

  • 4x bacon medallions – 138kcal
  • 2x eggs – 156kcal
  • 3x chestnut mushrooms – 12kcal
  • 3x fruits of Solanum Lycopersicum – 45kcal

Total – 351kcal

(author also makes a STRONG flask of coffee, and walks to group)

Maybe its because I’m tired. Maybe it’s because I’m relieved. Maybe it just means a lot to me – but I was close to tears in group today. I don’t think it showed – but this morning was really important. I’m in a coffee shop typing this – and it’s affecting me even now.

This is what happened on the scales…

Twelve and a half pounds!

My loss signifies that I’m in completely NEW territory. Not only am I now lighter than I managed to get to in 2008, but I have lost more weight in a sustained effort than at any other time in my life.

I’ve less than a stone to go and I’ll be lighter than I was in 1999

As I said in group though – I’m not getting hoodwinked into thinking I should be loosing huge amounts like this all the time. It’s not been an easy week and it’s required a lot of determination to stay focused. Plus I don’t want to end up looking like droopy or get kidney stones because I’m going too fast.

But it feels good internet. Really good. Really really really really really really good. With a twist of really good.

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If anyone needs me I’ll be asleep.

Davey

Happy anniversary

Just after midnight this morning I got an achievement notification from WordPress – for something I had completely forgotten about. It seems I’ve been writing my blog now for a whole year.

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When I first started I promised myself I’d do it for a month – just to see if I had it in me to regularly create something instead of just consuming things in life.

At the time I was deeply unsettled and struggling to answer a personal question which for years had bugged me. It took a little while but (at least in part) I answered it and ever since I’ve been pouring myself regularly onto a page.

I’m not sure I could stop even if I wanted to now.

At the time of writing my 259 posts have gathered (what I think is a mind boggling) 30,480 views from 8,854 readers. Some of those poor souls also compounded the injury of having my thoughts inflicted upon them and chose to prolong their suffering by subscribing.

These individuals (for reasons often beyond my understanding and expectations) come back again and again with kind words and messages of solidarity and support.

It’s for this reason that I’d like to just take a moment to thank each and every one of them, because this blog – with it’s readers and contributors – has helped me rebuild parts of myself that I long thought broken. You have accepted me at my lowest and helped me rise up.

You have my profound, and humble thanks for reading internet. Let’s start year two 🙂 .

Davey

Diabetes and Debenhams

Today is a big day for me from a diabetes perspective. It’s now exactly one month since I stopped taking any medication for my condition and started trying to control my blood sugar with diet and exercise alone.

As you might expect I’ve been a little OCD about this – and rather paranoid about making sure I’m not just being an idiot who just stops taking medication without evidence that it’s the right choice.

The blood sugar range I need to be in is around 4-7 mmol/L (according to my diabetic nurse). For the last month I’ve been making a note of my pre prandial levels (the fasting test type suggested by my GP when I discussed this)

  • 10th Jan – no test/no meds
  • 11th Jan – 5.5 (12.30pm)
  • 12th Jan – 4.9 (7.30pm)
  • 13th Jan – no test
  • 14th Jan – 6.3 (9.30am)
  • 15th Jan – no test
  • 16th Jan – 5.6 (11am)
  • 17th Jan – 5.1 (10am)
  • 18th Jan – 5.3 (9.20am)
  • 19th Jan – 5.5 (10.10am)
  • 20th Jan – no test
  • 21st Jan – 4.9 (10.15am)
  • 22nd Jan – 4.8 (2.30pm)
  • 23rd Jan – 5.1 (11am)
  • 24th Jan – 4.2 (3.30pm)
  • 25th Jan – 5.3 (11am)
  • 26th Jan – 4.3 (3pm)
  • 27th Jan – no test
  • 28th Jan – 4.1 (10am)
  • 29th Jan – 5.1 (11am)
  • 30th Jan – 4.2 (4.30pm)
  • 31st Jan – no test
  • 1st Feb – 5.2 (11am)
  • 2nd – no test
  • 3rd – 5.3 (11am)
  • 4th – no test
  • 5th – 6.1 (10.30am)
  • 6th – no test
  • 7th – 5.3 (10am)
  • 8th – no test
  • 9th – 5.1 (12.15pm)


As you can see according to the above table (found here) there are two instances  on the 14th January and the 5th February where my levels have been on the edge of what is considered a type two diabetic.

I have a full official assessment due in March which will hopefully confirm my findings – but this suggests that what I’ve previously discussed with my (rather knowledgeable and friendly) local pharmacist appears to be true.

I still have type two diabetes. It’s not cured. My pancreas remains damaged but I’ve made significant enough changes in my lifestyle to (at the very least) delay the onset of further symptoms. The more I do in this respect the better I hope the long term prognosis will be.

Currently though I’m cautiously optimistic and will not test myself again or take any medication until my scheduled NHS review. I’m just going to keep doing everything I’m doing and trying to become a little bit healthier every day.

In other news – yesterday saw me punching the air for another reason entirely.

It had totally passed me by (as I tend to ignore shops that I consider it’s pointless going into) that the closure of a nearby B&Q last year had resulted in the opening of a Debenhams store in the same spot. I happened to stroll past it whilst on my way to somewhere else and when I realised what it was decided to pop in to see if they had the plus sizes on the rack that I’d mentioned in a previous blog.

To my great disappointment there were only two random (and horrid) 4XL items on display. I almost walked straight back out at that point – until (whilst staring at their-store cafe and thinking about coffee) I spotted a nice looking coat in a 3XL.

Since I knew it wouldn’t fit I thought I’d try it on anyway to compare it with the Tesco 3XL’s that don’t fit. I grabbed it off the rail, walked over to the extremely flattering concave fairground mirror that makes my head look like an egg and put it on.

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It fits me!!!

This is the first time in around TWO DECADES that I have been able to go into a high street store, pick an item off the shelf and wear it – and that’s not all. I tried on four jackets in total, and only one wouldn’t do up! How damn awesome is THAT?!

(Hint – it’s pretty damn awesome!)

Anyway, enough of all the great news. It’s time to further bore you – my beleaguered readership – with this week’s obsessions, which (unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few days) you will already know are calories, exercise, and crushing my weight loss goals on Saturday. 

As part of ‘project salad‘ and after yesterday’s exhaustive exploration of past eating habits I’m trying harder than ever to confront my portion sizes.

My last post had something of an unexpected effect on me and because of the lingering thoughts it left behind yesterday’s lunch took on a slightly different format to the usual kind that I make.

Normally when I make a salad the constituent vegetables are finely chopped before being mixed together and I usually eat it with a dessert spoon. This tends to means I eat quite quickly. The preparation of my food therefore is almost certainly a factor in how much I consume.

The easier it is to eat, the faster it goes down, and the more I can eat before my brain realises I’m full.

So today I made the salad on the plate rather than in a mixing bowl (so I wouldn’t overdo the amount) and chopped it up really chunky so it would take longer to eat (which I did with a frustratingly slender fork to slow me down).

I also only had one potato instead of my usual two.


Lunch (423kcal)

  • Baking potato (free) (75kcal)
  • Can of mackerel in tomato sauce (free) 181kcal
  • Two large carrots (60kcal)
  • Three tomatoes (47kcal)
  • Green pepper (30kcal)
  • 4 Chinese leaf lettuce leaves (10kcal)
  • Heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard (1 syn) with cider vinegar, salt (20kcal)

My evening meal was one of my staples – a hearty beef soup – but this time with a little added Chorizo and chilli to put a warming twist on my usual recipe.

Dinner (1514kcal in total – which I split in half – so 757kcal)

  • 400g stewing steak (488kcal)
  • 35g Chorizo (4.5 syns/240 168kcal)
  • 50g red split lentils (160kcal)
  • Mixed beans (250kcal)
  • 3x small potatoes (75kcal)
  • Four large carrots (120kcal)
  • Swede (approx 40kcal)
  • 1x red onion (40kcal)
  • Mushrooms (15 kcal)
  • Can of chopped tomatoes (80kcal)
  • Passata (60kcal)
  • 2x cloves of garlic (8 kcal)
  • 1 fresh chilli (10kcal approx)
  • 1 beef stock cube + 200ml water
  • 3x bay leaves

Total calories for the day – 1180kcal.

Exercise wise it was another good one – with what appears to once more be more calories burned than consumed.

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So – all in all it’s fair to say I’m in a good mood! There’s less than a day to go and then it’s time for my weigh in – which for once I’m really looking forward to.

To put this statement into perspective internet – I wasn’t this enthusiastic about Christmas when I was ten years old and unwrapped a Millennium Falcon! 

For that reason alone it better be a good result – and if it’s not then at the very least I want a really great Star Wars toy and several oranges in a sock pinned to a mantelpiece waiting for me at Slimming World.

Davey

What I eat now vs what I ate before

I do love a chilli. Probably too much actually.

I tend to eat more of it than I really should (it tastes soooooooo nice though!) and yesterday was unfortunately no exception.

The trick with chilli (I realised only within the last few months after a friend pointed it out) is to start cooking the spices immediately upon starting the dish. I hadn’t realised up until then just how different chilli powder, paprika and cumin taste when you fry them with the mince and onions for a while. Only after this do I add the chopped tomatoes and garlic – just before the spice mix starts to burn and the onions are softening.

Everything else after that can just be slung in randomly and left to simmer for a while.

We can probably all agree that maybe I’m a little obsessed this week with numbers. It will come as no surprise if we do that today I’ve also looked up the (as close as possible) calorie values of the speed food too to get a TRUE idea of what I ate yesterday afternoon.

I had two identical bowls of this chilli – which was frankly unbelievably delicious.

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Chilli con Carne

  • Kidney beans – (‘Free’ food – 128 kcal)
  • 500g 5% fat beef mince – (‘Free’ food – 610 kcal)
  • Can of chopped tomatoes (80kcal)
  • Half a tube of tomato purée (92kcal)
  • 1x red pepper (20kcal)
  • 1x green pepper (20kcal)
  • Mushrooms (15 kcal)
  • 1x red onion (40kcal)
  • Bunch of broccoli (50 kcal)
  • 2x cloves of garlic (8 kcal)
  • 1 beef stock cube, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, salt, fry light

In future I think I’m going to buy a smaller 250g pack of mince – or maybe halve the 500g one (which is probably cheaper) and freeze some when I buy it so that I’m not tempted to overdo things. If I’d done that last night then my evening meal would have been 300kcal less than it was.

This meal is a great example of how ingredients (even low fat and free foods) can quickly add up – and the total approximate value of it is 1063kcal – which comes to around 2/5ths of an adult male’s RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of calories.

I have to admit it’s been worthwhile totting all this up because it goes some way to explaining a couple of weeks where I’ve had slower than expected losses. On top of the above ingredients when I cooked this in previous weeks I’d also started adding chick peas (since they’re a free food) to the mix which I now realise added around 300 kcal!

As you can see I am re-thinking this choice and yesterday left them out…

Since I vowed to try something new every day this week I added a different ‘healthy extra’ to my usual evening treat.

Bran Fibre.

Although I’ve always liked this cereal I’ve not eaten it for well over a year – mostly because I stopped buying milk. It’s slightly higher in calories than oats but made a nice (filling) change –

Late evening dessert (475 kcal)

  • 1 banana (90kcal)
  • 250ml fat free yogurt (145 kcal)
  • 50g Sainsburys Bran Fibre (This is a SW HE or 7.5 syns – 170 kcal)
  • Frozen fruit (grapes & blackberries + a few small cherries) (50-70kcal approx)
  • 100ml cold water
  • Cinnamon

I also had 3x apples (188 kcal) as snacks during the day.

Daily total – 1726kcal (approx)

On the exercise front I was roughly around the same ballpark – with Apple Watch reporting around 100 active kcal less than I ate burned for the day. Overall though the total calories still seems more than enough.

I’m still not sure I believe these numbers however.

I walked 17,143 steps and 8.42 miles yesterday. Just under six of these miles were spread over ‘workouts’ where my average pace was around 19.4 minutes per mile over variable gradients. At every possible opportunity that presented itself I consciously chose a hill or a long route instead of a shorter or flatter way.

With this in mind does 4,696 kcal burned sound right to readers?

Are other people who exercise with a device like this getting similar results? I really don’t know whether to treat it as gospel or a rough guide. As the ‘normal’ level for a man is supposed to be 2500 this seems almost fictionally high sometimes.

(author stops, goes away, does other things, can’t stop thinking about this and then comes back some hours later with another thought)

Out of interest I just looked back at when I first put my Apple Watch on in mid September 2015. I was quite surprised to see that I appeared (when I was going to work in an office) to sometimes be burning around 7500 total calories per day with what I remember was minimal movement.

My watch didn’t know my exact weight at the time (neither did I until April 2016) but it did know what my heart was up to – suggesting that the extra 10 stone I carried everywhere back then made even simple tasks a big event.

Since I remember how exhausting and uncomfortable even sitting in an armchair could be back then (I’m deadly serious – this is no joke – sometimes it hurt to sit still and just breathe) maybe this is true…

(Author steps away once more for an hour or so – but can’t stop thinking about these numbers and past habits. Frankly they’re driving him mad. He starts typing again.)

It does beg the question however ‘How can I have been so overweight and yet be burning so many calories?’ After I looked back at this insane number I started to wonder exactly what I used to consume in a day.

I was burning THREE TIMES the adult male RDA back then, so why was I still fat?

I’ve occasionally added up the syns of certain items – but never the total calories of what might have been in a typical day in September 2015 – which was way before I gave up drinking and started Slimming World.

Although I can only do it from memory I decided to try and map out an average day from back then. I’m honestly not exaggerating for effect. I sat and thought about what I did all the time and wrote it down – removing some things that seemed out of place or that I didn’t regularly have.

It’s pretty gobsmacking – and if I’m honest more than a little upsetting. It makes me angry now to think back to what I was doing to my body all the time.

Way to work (1130kcal)

Sandwiches eaten at desk (1725kcal approx)

  • 6 thick slices of hand cut bread (usually this was half of an in-store supermarket bakery 800g wholemeal loaf) (952kcal)
  • Benecol light spread – I guesstimate approx 20g (64kcal) per slice (total 384kcal)
  • Two packs of 125g ham – 290kcal
  • 3x tomatoes (67kcal each) and cucumber slices (10kcal) – (201kcal)
  • Two packets of Mccoys crisps (multipack ones are 141kcal each) (282kcal)

Evening meal (1595kcal)

Snacks and drinks (3023kcal)

  • Sainsburys house Soave 2.25l (I would typically drink all of this – per 125ml Soave is approx 79kcal so it totals 1422kcal)
  • 200g ‘sharing’ bag of Doritos (894kcal)
  • Ginsters large Cornish pasty (707kcal)

Total (if I didn’t have an evening takeaway instead of a ready meal) – 7473kcal

So – maybe Apple Watch isn’t so off base after all.

For probably the first time I can see the reality of my daily intake back then, and compare it with how hard my body (particularly my heart) had to work with all that weight just to get into the car and drive to a job where I sat down all day long.

Thankfully internet project lettuce is my current fixation, not project sausage and egg Mcmuffins. I don’t ever want to eat another Mc anything again as long as I live.

Davey

Project lettuce continues…

This morning I was fiddling with my mail client settings to find a better way of filtering the avalanche of job mails I’m getting every day. The vast majority of it is duplication or crap, so it’s become something of a daily hill to climb for me.

Whilst wading through this I accidentally clicked on the photo booth app icon – and suddenly up popped a fatter Davey, in a photo taken on my laptop webcam whilst writing my blog on the 24th May 2016. I was struck immediately by the difference in my face, and decided to take another photo to compare.

I can’t lie. This makes me feel really proud. Looking at me on the left reminds me that I had to drive to where I was that day, whereas the guy on the right briskly walked two miles this morning to sit down with his laptop for coffee. I know which one’s drink tastes better, and it has nothing to do with the quality of the brew in Starbucks.

From a fitness perspective yesterday was a real eye opener. On top of a lot of walking I spent quite a while (for me anyway) on my exercise bike. To be absolutely honest – this is an activity I still have a love/hate relationship with. I now genuinely enjoy the sensation of pushing myself physically – but pedalling and going no-where is a tough taste to acquire.

(for the benefit of my bike obsessed friend, despite this I’m not getting a real bike. Not yet anyway…)

I feel undeniably better once I’ve stepped off my torture simulator though – and the sensation was pretty damn awesome when I did so last night because I’d managed to keep going for 54 minutesDuring this personal best time (according to Apple Watch) I’d burned 668 ‘active’ calories and eradicated 853 overall. Whilst cycling I had an average heart rate of 115 bpm and ‘travelled’ 11 miles.

This had initially been on my usual level one hill climb setting – but when that ended and there was still juice in the tank I’d started a harder ‘random’ program with much more resistance to see how much further I could go – and how much my legs would endure.

Back when I first got on this exercise bike in early 2016 I managed 0.4 miles in four minutes without any resistance on the pedals (essentially I was just freewheeling) before I had to stop.

Once again I have a tangible and significant non-scale victory that reminds me where I’m going, makes me recall where I’ve been and focuses a spotlight on where I am – which is fitter than I ever remember being in my entire life.

This is despite still being somewhat heavier than I have been in the past.

On top of all my exercise this week I’m still laser focused on (translation = frikkin obsessed with) the quantities of food I’m consuming and the calories that they contain vs the ones that I’m burning.

My readership will therefore no doubt be distressed to find out that I’m still more than willing to inflict pictures upon them of what goes into my stomach. Furthermore I plan to prolong this torture by supplementing it with detailed statistics showing how hard I worked to make my fat wobble during the day.

Although there’s another dimension to this. I’m actually not just doing this for me – although that’s a massive part of it.

On occasion readers have commented that things I’ve said or done have prompted them to take action themselves. Honestly it’s a nice feeling to think I’ve helped or inspired someone else – despite the fact that it also usually makes me feel rather self-conscious. So, because of these kind words I’m exhaustively blogging this week’s efforts to turn around my weight little gain.

I want to demonstrate what happens (or doesn’t happen) to anyone out there that may be feeling like giving up or that’s struggling that when you choose to use disappointment as motivator rather than a stick to beat yourself with and really pay attention to what you’re doing with your body good things happen.

Even though I’ve made a lot of progress so far I can still be accused of burying my head in the sand on occasion. I did last week – otherwise I wouldn’t have gained weight.

So – here is how yesterday (Tuesday) panned out:

Lunch

  • Stir fry veg (all speed food – seasoned with soy sauce, a veg stock cube and garlic)
  • 100g frozen prawns (105 kcal)
  • 2 salmon steaks (230 kcal)

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Dinner  (I don’t normally eat rice, so this is my ‘new’ thing for the day)

  • 1/4 savoy cabbage, handful of green beans, chestnut mushrooms, red onion, fried in fry light and seasoning (all speed food)
  • Bachelor’s Super Rice (Golden Vegetable – 1.5 syns / 360kcal)
  • Can of tuna chunks in spring water (120kcal)
  • Can of sweetcorn – (120kcal)
  • 2x apples as a snack (they weighed 267g so approximately 125 kcal)

(total for the day not counting speed food1060 kcal approx)

Thanks mostly to my unusually long stint on my bike the exercise related calories for the day look pretty awesome, and appear (if correct) to obliterate everything I’ve consumed!

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I’m getting more and more intrigued by what this (frankly obsessive) level of counting everything will mean.Will it actually translate to in pounds and ounces lost when I step on the scales on Saturday, or will the exercise offset it?

I honestly have no idea and have learned never to take anything for granted when it comes to the scales. I hope it gets me back on track though as I’m not sure I can remain this driven week after week!

However internet – it really makes me feel really good to know that ten months into my weight loss journey (when in the past at this point my resolve has faltered and I’ve chosen the wrong path) I’m not taking a defeat sitting down.

I… No – WE can do this.

Project lettuce continues…

Davey

 

How to spot fibs

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that weather forecasts are a complete irrelevance – and that any accuracy they might randomly spurt out is as much by chance as it is design.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

It was supposed to be grim and rainy today (according to multiple sources) but instead it’s been pretty damn nice outside, and a planned walk with a friend has ended up being a refreshing and invigorating brisk stroll in the sunshine under blue skies instead of the hunkered down rain-fest I was expecting.

Let’s face it – four to five miles in the pouring rain is no-one’s idea of fun, so it’s always a plus when there’s a nice day to accompany exercise.

I’m feeling good at the moment partially because I had a nice twalk, drank lots of coffee and sat outside Starbucks in a chair with arms in total comfort, but also because I’m still on track for my Saturday weigh in. I’m determined to make it as stress free as humanly possible by being absolutely certain (before I get there) that there’s no way on earth I can have screwed it up two weeks in a row.

Yesterday’s food was again on plan, and whilst dinner was possibly larger than it should have been (I couldn’t resist eating the rest of the chicken in the pan) it was a really satisfying day food and exercise wise. Food eaten on Monday was:

Lunch

  • 2 medium microwave potatoes (approx 150kcal)
  • Cottage cheese with chives (88kcal)
  • Salad (all speed)

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Dinner

  • Swede mash (approx 40kcal)
  • Chicken breasts (approx 500kcal) fried (in fry light) with two cloves of garlic, 1/4 savoy cabbage, 1 red onion and mushrooms (with a ‘free’ Bisto chicken stock pot)
  • 2 Boiled carrots

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Dessert

  • 1 banana (90kcal)
  • 250ml fat free yogurt (145 kcal)
  • 30g rolled oats (118kcal)
  • Frozen fruit (grapes & blackberries + a few small cherries) (50-70kcal approx)
  • Cinnamon

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(approx 1200 kcal for the day)

You may notice that my oats, yogurt and fruit actually come at the end of the day rather than the beginning. I’m not much of a one for breakfast though, so I do it this way because it works for me. The evening is a danger zone in my experience, so having the flexibility to have a nice (healthy and filling) treat when my resolve is weakest is important.

In the spirit of trying something slightly new each day I decided to cube and mash some swede yesterday afternoon which was flipping delicious! 😋

If you don’t normally do this then I strongly suggest trying it. I used a seasoning grinder from Aldi and no butter or milk etc to mash with – just a tiny bit of the cooking water. The result was both sweet and savoury. Honestly the memory of the taste is making me drool as I type even now.

If you don’t have an Aldi close by or shop elsewhere I’ve added the contents from the label as they’re pretty easy to combine by hand.

Once again I managed to keep the calorie count roughly the same or lower than my active calories. My exercise for the day ended up around 200kcal less than the day before – but still equalled my intake – so I’m happy that it’s another notch on the giant redwood sized ‘good Davey’ post rather than on the diminished sliver of wood and pile of sawdust that contains the markers for ‘norty Davey’.

(spelling intentional. I love ‘norty’. It’s ace 😄)

In other job hunt related news I’m coming to the conclusion that the only way to determine whether lies are coming out of a recruitment consultant’s mouth is to ascertain whether or not they are speaking.

If they aren’t then you can be relatively certain that there are no outright fibs, half truths or convenient prosaic fictions being pushed in your direction.

Recently I’ve been gaining a more nuanced insight into their complex language of subtextual meanings. I now know from experience that:

  • ‘Your CV is still under consideration’ translates to ‘I haven’t actually sent it to the employer yet, but thanks for reminding me!’
  • ‘I’ll try and get you some feedback’ translates to ‘ I will be going to the pub soon because it’s past 3pm and it’s also my day off tomorrow. I have no intention of calling you back. Ever.’
  • ‘I’ll keep your CV in mind and let you know if any further roles with your skill set come up’ translates to ‘It’s highly unlikely that you’ll hear from me ever again as I have the attention span of a gnat and only ever look at the CV that’s at the top of my inbox.’
  • ‘We would like to act on your behalf and take the effort out of searching for a job’ translates to ‘We will stick your name into another giant database and send your details to loads of inappropriate employers for roles that you are either not qualified for or interested in and then try to charge you for what we laughingly call a service. We will also use your details to sell to external marketing companies who will contact you endlessly by e-mail with offers of overpriced training that will ‘lead to employment’, but that in reality is almost certainly not going to.’

However – there’s little point in taking any of this personally – and I guess it’s just the way of the world. Optimism in these circumstances is something that’s easy to loose, but crucial to maintain. I aim to make sure I keep doing things to ensure it doesn’t wane.

The trick is to get up early, do some exercise, look for work, drink lots of coffee, chase up previous applications, make more applications, keep in contact with friends, do more exercise, eat healthy food and dream a little bit (but not too much) about the future, eat more healthy food, and then go to bed at a reasonable time.

So, with that in mind internet I think it’s time to hop on my exercise bike for half an hour before I decide what to make for lunch. I always feel better when I’m out of breath.

Everything I eat after this point tastes just a little more virtuous than it otherwise would…

Davey

Sixteen inches smaller

Day two of ‘operation salad’ is in effect and so far things are going very nicely, although last night I found myself to be incredibly peckish which was annoying.

As well as trying to eat significantly less calories this week I’m also trying to eat less in terms of portion sizes. Usually this makes me go quietly insane.

I’m not so bad during the day when I’m busy – but when my time isn’t occupied in the evening I’m my own worst enemy.

Sunday came in ‘on budget’ however and finished with the following food consumed.

  • 4 x pork medallions (134kcal each)
  • 1 x large baking potato (90kcal)
  • 2 x sweet potato (130kcal)
  • Salad and home made salsa (all speed)
  • 7 or 8 Pickled gherkins (speed)
  • Can of mackerel (180kcal)
  • 2x sugar free werthers originals (1syn)
  • Cup of light hot chocolate (2syns)

Dinner looked pretty nice on the plate yesterday evening too. I’d made a red pepper, Chinese leaf lettuce, celery and mandolined carrot salad for speed. Next to that are garlic and sea salt wedges I’d done to accompany the remaining home made salsa left over from Saturday’s group tasting session.

The salad dressing is cider vinegar and wholegrain mustard and ‘yes’. It DID taste as good as it looked. 😏

I don’t faff about counting the speed food as it’s so low but I think the day came in at around 1000 kcal.

I know I’m not supposed to worry about calories on Slimming World – but I don’t want to leave this week to chance.

I also did the following exercise:

So – I’m counting yesterday as a tick in the ‘win’ column. This should be a day where I burned a lot more than I consumed, and therefore will hopefully equal weight loss.

There’s also some other good news to be had today, and it’s pretty darn great – even if I do say so myself.

After my post last week regarding the stress I’ve been going through surrounding clothing (and what I can affordably wear now that things are getting big) I made a few test purchases.

One of these was at my traditional high street source, and two others were via online stores reccomended by readers.

The first of the two online ones (from Jacamo in this case) came today and I took the long route around Warwick, through the park and over a couple of hills to pick up the parcel.

I no longer have stuff delivered to my house if I can help it, and instead get it sent to local drop off points approximately two miles away. This means that I never miss a delivery AND I get exercise walking there to pick it up.

When I got home (after a drink) I opened the package. It contained two 4xl tee shirts and two pairs of 50inch waisted jeans.

Now – I’d bought all four of these items fully expecting them to be snug, and to have something to work towards. My trousers in particular I assumed would be a significant work in progress.

Not so. My new jeans not only fit but there’s room in the waistband for me to put my fist in there easily! I will need to wear them with a belt and can start to use them right away!!!

This is now the lowest sized pair of jeans that I have owned in recent memory. I think this actually takes me back to a period in history before the millennium – as I have absolutely nothing to compare with them in my wardrobe, apart from the 52’s I’ve been wearing that were at the bottom of my clothing suitcase. They were purchased in 2008.

(Prepare for a gratuitous bold capitalised font)

THIS MEANS THAT I HAVE NOW LOST A STAGGERING SIXTEEN INCHES FROM MY WAISTLINE!!!!!

So there’s my non-scale victory for the day. Heck – this one will probably last me for the month!

In other unrelated news I watched ‘Sully’ (the story of the Miracle on the Hudson) the other night.

If you like Tom Hanks then you’ll love this – as he’s at his best playing the modest Everyman hero that he does so well. Plus it made me cry. Twice. So it’s probably good for a date night too (since Valentine’s Day is edging ever closer) as long that is as you are going on a night of romance with a partner that has a stiff upper lip.

One of you will need keep it together so they can be in charge of passing out the tissues to the blubbering wreck like me!

Anyway – time to cook dinner… I still haven’t decided quite what to have yet internet – but whatever it is there won’t be many calories!!!

Tune in for the next exciting instalment of ‘the tubby man eats lettuce‘ later this week, where our hero might just grate some ginger and make something nice!

Davey

Lettuce move on

It probably comes as no surprise that I awoke the morning thinking about yesterday’s small weight gain.

However, it may come as a surprise to some (it certainly did to me) that I was laughing.

Somewhere in the back of my subconscious while dreaming I’d been playing with puns and had tickled myself pink with a potential post title. I’m groaning as I type it (with a wry smile) but the frankly awful pun was “lettuce move on’.

The point behind it was that rather than see my gain as the traditionally apocalyptic event it might have been in the past it presents a great opportunity to get back to basics, buy lots of lettuce, eat loads of fresh vegetables, cook some new meals that I’ve not tried before, keep walking and exercising and generally feeling good about life rather than dwelling on the 2.5 pounds 0f fat/water/muscle/brain (we all know its most likely to be the latter) that I added to myself last week.

For once I’m even willing to embrace the metric system and note that in kilos I only put on 1.13kg. That’s so inconsequential that it’s almost not even a number. Other, more important and august numbers are probably at this very moment looking down at it with a justifiable sense of disdain and calling into question both it’s value and highly questionable (and possibly scandalous) lineage.

The great thing about a gain is that I like salad. I love it in fact. Lettuce is like a friend that’s never ever let me down (apart from an unfortunate incident with a carving knife and a caterpillar in the 90’s) and continues to have my back when things get tough. Flanked on either side by intimidating looking bags of carrots and followed by an army of tomatoes it’s always been willing to go into bat for me when times call for it.

Several readers so far have suggested after my rant about clothes the other day a number of places that I could purchase various items – and I’ve not only taken on board what they’ve come up with, but even whipped out my debit card and bought a few items.

However – these are slightly aspirational purchases. The shirts tug a little when I sit down, and I’m sure the online items (when they arrive) will do too. That’s kind of the point though. I’m not going to be triumphantly wearing these items just yet. I still have clothes that fit. These are for the next stage, a teeny little bit further away.

So – I’m going to smash it this week and get rid of that gain.

If anyone has any (Slimming World friendly) recipes that they think I should try to achieve this aim then feel free to post them in the comments. If I like them I might just give it a go and post the results!

In the meantime internet prepare yourselves for a week of posts that will most likely be overly burdened by pictures of my food. If I have my way you’ll soon be salivating and looking with disinterest at the awful pizza menus that invariably keep falling through your letterboxes.

Lettuce begin.

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Davey