Guest Blogger: Davey – Learning to Live Life

It’s not every day you’re asked to write a guest post for a fellow blogger’s site – but since Julie asked how could I refuse?

Many of you who are regular visitors to my site will know my story – but for those that aren’t bored already, here it is in a shorter format ūüėĄ

Source: Guest Blogger: Davey – Learning to Live Life

To covet or not to covet

I read a quote in my latest self help manual yesterday which has made me think hard overnight about my motivations in life. 

It was a simple enough soundbyte but (as a lot of time is the case) a small, unexpected thought (triggered often when you least expect it) can pry open a crack and let you look at what lies beneath. 

I’m sure to a greater or lesser extent we are all creatures of plurality. 

By this I mean we have multiple and often competing facets to our personalities. We may for instance be prim and proper on the outside – but inside hide more mischievous or naughty streaks that occasionally get released. 

From time to time we may even wonder which of these is the ‘real‘ us – as they in turn take control of our actions at key or unexpected moments. 

The truth is we are probably ALL of these things – depending on the time of day (at least in my case). 

The throwaway quote that piqued my interest yesterday was this: 

‘People say my phone sucks. No it doesn’t. The shittiest cell phone in the world is a miracle. Your life sucks. Around the phone.’

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I suppose this hit home because (despite my windswept and bohemian aims lately to gradually need less and covet fewer material things) I have recently found myself continually drawn to looking at new phones. 


It’s utterly pointless and the quote is spot on (apart from the bit about my life which I quite like currently). 

My phone, despite being a couple of years old is indeed a miracle. I’m writing this post on it, as I’ve written nearly 3/4’s of my entire blog. It’s also provided all of the photos for my website, and occasionally videos too, as well as capturing every move I make with GPS and monitoring my health progress every second of the day. It also keeps me in contact with the world and does all of this quietly and miraculously from within my pocket.

Yet I still want a ‘better’ one

Why? 

What possible reason can there be for this? 

It makes no sense. It does absolutely everything I need it to and much more besides. 

I have no such impulse when it comes to my car. 

My trusty VW has travelled nearly 169,000 miles and I ultimately want it to get to 238,000. 

This is no random number plucked out of the air – it’s because that’s the distance to to the moon and I think it would be really cool to own a car that I could say I’d driven that far. 

If a bit wears out on it I get it replaced with a new one. 

Technologically speaking my car is a dinosaur fossil and my phone is a flying saucer – full of indescribable miniature wonders. 

Maybe, much like dietary and exercise related changes I’ve over-estimated my ability to rapidly modify this aspect of my personality and underplayed it’s significance. 

I’ve wanted new things and gadgets for so long and used them (in a similar way to alcohol or food) to paper over emotional cracks that I no longer truly know why I want them – I just quietly obsess, turning prospective purchases over and over in my mind. 

Do I really want a new phone or am I unconsciously diverting my attention away from other issues?

I almost certainly don’t need one. 

I know I don’t have the spare money to get one, or an income that would enable me to justify it. 

So why can’t I stop thinking about it? What else is going on deep inside that’s making it difficult to get around this?

Unless you haven’t picked up on it today I’m in a very reflective mood. I’m also (if I’m honest) struggling a bit in my mental battle with my worst impulses (food – I’m looking at you) and I’m more downbeat than usual because of it. 

I want awesome weight loss on Saturday but I don’t think it’s going to happen. 

In two weeks I will have been attending Slimming World for a year – and in that time I’ve achieved much – but sometimes (and this is one of those times) I end up feeling like it’s never enough. 

When I’m like this I feel that there is always more that I could have done, extra effort I could have made and things I could have achieved but haven’t. 

Ask me what they are. 

Go on. 

See what I say. 

The sad truth is that I honestly couldn’t tell you at the moment. It’s just the way I feel. 

It’s ridiculous. I know it is. It’s utter madness and it irritates me that my mind is still capable of unfairly berating myself in this way – but it’s still a fact of life sometimes. 

I think that this may go some way to explaining my phone obsession. 

I do know that currently I feel like I’m at a crossroads of some sort – but I don’t know which way to turn. It’s foggy there and although I can see the start of all the roads at the junction I can’t see where they lead, and I’m unure about my motivations for travelling down them. 

Do they just look nice or will they take me somewhere that I want to be at the end of the journey?

Sometimes I feel liberated by the unlimited possibilities lying in front of me and at other times (like now) I feel a creeping sense of paralysis. 

Maybe part of my new process involving self help manuals and introspection is the catalyst here. Maybe I’m confronting things and thoughts about myself that I’ve previously shied away from – and trying to make sense of it all. 

I’m still in many ways torn between missing parts of my old life, where I was comfortable but unhappy – and at the same time enjoying my current existence where I’m happy but far less secure. 

I’m constantly wondering where the balance lies. 

I’m also coming to terms with the fact that unlike the life I had before, which was static and staid the future is fluid and seems ever changing.

In order to adapt to that I too need to be different and continually agile. I probably won’t have to re-define myself once either, but many times

Furthermore the ‘security’ I felt in my old job was (I now realise) a complete illusion – and a convenient fiction that I sold myself so that I’d keep getting up in the morning to go somewhere that I didn’t want to be. 

Ultimately, like everything does, it ended and I had to become something new whether I wanted to or not. 

Thankfully by the time it happened I was ready and I welcomed it. 

Some of my obsession with exercise is tied to this and I’ve become so driven partially because I needed to feel capable of physically taking on the world around me. 

Thankfully as a consequence I no longer feel threatened by it, unable to move through it, over it, under it or in it. 

Mentally though…

That’s another matter internet. I still don’t feel like I’ve cracked that. 

But I’m working on it, and no new phone in the world will help. It has to come from within. 

I need more coffee. 

Davey

Mostly broken but still functional 

I felt like a broken man when I woke up yesterday. 

I knew that my enthusiastic tramping around the Malvern hills on Sunday may have repercussions but I was expecting it to be in my knees – and not… well… EVERYWHERE

OK – I’m probably overstating it a little – my upper body escaped largely unmolested – but every time I tried to sit, walk down stairs or gradients my legs started screaming. 

Oddly my knees were absolutely fine. Not a single twinge. I’m actually really glad about this because I always thought I’d done long term damage to them while I was massive. My main issue was instead the front of my thighs which were complaining like they never had before. 

Around this point (whilst gingerly hoisting myself on and off the loo) I received a text from a friend wondering if I fancied a walk around St Nics park. 

We’ve not had a chance to catch up for a couple of months now thanks to various circumstances, so I immediately replied back that I’d love to. It would also be a good opportunity to try and stroll away my aches and pains. 

Sitting down all day would do them no good at all – despite that seeming a very attractive alternative. 

By the time I met her I’d already walked a mile and a half (cursing each downward hill like a drunken sailor with Tourette’s) and was a little warmed up. 

Thankfully though our walks have never been about speed. They’re always just a really nice chance to chat and catch up on family events or Slimming World progress. 

They’re also usually a smashing opportunity to see what’s happening with the swanling and the other people we both meet regularly in the park. 


As it happens the swanling (which I saw from a distance last Thursday but couldn’t get a good photo of) is now all grown up. 

This makes me both happy AND sad. As a friend said on Facebook when I posted this picture yesterday we’ve both grown and changed a lot over the last year – and our progress seems to be inextricably interlinked in my mind. 

To see it proudly and capably making its way in the world is a wonderful thing. I’d be lying however if I said I didn’t miss the little ball of fluff that last summer was busy surviving the gradual demise of its little siblings. 

Still – the world is always changing and we have to adapt and change with it if we want to survive. This little fellow is no exception. 

Neither was the curly haired toddler I usually see wrapped up warm in his buggy with his always chatty mother. She is never less than delightfully complimentary about my weight loss when I see her – so ranks highly on my list of people I like to bump into. I always walk away from our chats with a smile and a little spring in my step. 

Her little one is now out of his pushchair and walking slowly around the park with his mum. This little fellow’s grin (much like the enthusiasm of his mother) is completely infectious – and his impossibly clear and sparkly brown eyes never fail to remind me how wonderful it must be to be a little almost brand new person with the world waiting you to grow up and explore it. 

After a couple of laps my friend and I hugged and headed off in our respective directions to continue our days. 

By this time I felt that if I stopped I probably wouldn’t start again. My legs still felt awful

This could be bad news as I had another walk with a friend planned for the early evening – and we never fail to have an excellent natter. It was something I didn’t want to miss. 

So I kept walking. 

When I’d finished I went home and kept myself moving about with housework and cooking (it’s a soup themed week at SW and I was making an appropriately speedy beef and swede stew) before heading out once more when my friend arrived.

She (like me) is always checking her watch for her step count – and last week I was marginally beaten in our increasingly regular (good natured) battle to be the king or queen of putting one foot repeatedly in front of the other. 

By the time I’d finished yesterday though I think I’d taken pole position (at least this time – she’s quite feisty and I expect spirited competition next week ūüėĄ).

I also smashed my record for distance walked in a day – and managed over sixteen miles!


When I awoke today (and multiple times in the night) I was hoping that the aches and pains would be subsiding – however I probably should have taken into account the fact that I clearly don’t know when enough is enough any more. When I should have been resting I instead went out walking like I was on a mission. 

Only a fool would do the same again. 

So today I did the same again. 

As I type I’m sitting in Solihull after a completely unplanned (but immensely enjoyable) early morning walk down the canal and around town to Warwick Parkway three miles away (the out of town train station as opposed to the closer one around the corner). 

I have a coffee in front of me and I’ve been reading a book. In case anyone wondered whether I’m still reading self help manuals – I am – and at the moment I’m making my way through this:


I’ll be honest – so far I’m not a fan. 

For someone that claims to be an optimist he has a pretty gloomy assessment of the world at the start of the book. Essentially his opinion is that everything is out to get us and every social and political structure is designed to control or enslave us. 

This may or may not be true. In some respects I often think it is – however I’ve come to the conclusion that living your life motivated by the claustrophobic awareness that invisible forces are trying to crush you is no way to exist. 

Whether it’s a reality or a fiction I have pretty much zero control over it and I only form such opinions because I’m continually drip fed them by a 24 hour media cycle which at times I feel I can’t escape. 

If I choose not to watch and worry am I stupid or am I just happier?

Personally I find I’m just happier. 

It’s clearly a personal choice though and others may find not knowing or acknowledging what’s going on in the world equally as stressful or upsetting.

Furthermore they may believe that my lack of political engagement exemplifies everything that’s wrong with modern society. They may be right – but I don’t care. It’s all too depressing and I no longer want to engage with it. 

Either way so far the author and I seem to fundamentally differ in our world views and unless he cheers the **** up in the next few chapters I’m moving on to greener pastures. 

So – in the meantime I’m going to indulge myself with some window shopping, and looking at things I probably shouldn’t covet any more (but still do a little bit). 

I can’t help liking shiny things Internet but I’m trying not to!

Davey

Malvern Knees

In front of me as I start this post is an ice cold pint of Diet Coke and some rather nice looking daffodils. In all honesty I feel like today (more than most days) I really deserve this drink.

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This morning I was wide awake at 2am.

I’m not sure if it was the neighbours having a row that woke me up or whether them shouting at each other only¬†kept me awake – but eventually all I could do was write off the night and get up.

This wasn’t altogether a bad thing though. The clocks had changed and I’d had an early night so it wasn’t the end of the world.

As I sat awake I started looking for places that I might go for a walk today. I was at a loose end for the majority of Sunday, so getting a head start on some exercise seemed like a good way to begin my morning.

Workouts will be especially important to me this week. I have extra motivation thanks to my slower than usual weight loss last week. I want my twelve and a half stone certificate next Saturday, and to get it I need to lose 2.5lbs.

After a little browsing and researching I settled on the Malvern Hills.

I’ve been meaning to go for ages and have suggested it to lots of people but for whatever reason it’s just not happened or the weather has been miserable. Today however the forecast was excellent.

I see the Malvern Hills¬†as¬†a great way to test my limits. I’ve not been challenged by¬†inclines on this level¬†since I started losing weight.¬†If I eventually want to do Snowdon I had to see what my stamina ceiling is.

It was totally dark when I got in the car, but by the time I arrived at my destination the sun was just coming up Рand the car park (British Camp) was mostly deserted.

I guess in some respects this location for parking could be considered cheating.

It is after all a good half way up the full height of the hills, and designed for tourism with a hotel and a cafe nearby. According to the online guides however this route is a pretty steep incline and clearly is intended for fitter walkers.¬†Initially I was going to go for another location which was ‘easy access’ with gentler inclines and smoother paths but as I passed British Camp I thought ‘What the hell! You don’t know until you try!’

Although the route I took to the summit wasn’t particularly far the steep slopes and killer steps¬†meant this took me a little while – but nowhere near as long as I expected. I have to say I’m pretty impressed at how long it took for my legs to tire. Although I paused a few times for a breather I was at the top¬†in a surprisingly quick time and admiring the view.

It was pretty windy when I got there so by the time I was standing at the top I really wished I’d bought a scarf as I suddenly¬†had¬†a totally frozen face and I really missed my beard.¬†On the plus side¬†thanks to the exercise I was nice and toasty everywhere else!

The main issue now though was –¬†I was on¬†the top – but what should I¬†do next?

I looked around and quite a way away in the distance I could see a tiny stone column on top of another hill, so I thought I’d see if I could make my way toward it. Before long I’d travelled up and over¬†a few more peaks¬†and found myself at a stone signpost that was pointing at my objective.

Whatever it was it appeared to be on¬†Midsummer hill, and the obelisk was called…. ‘obelisk’.

Descriptive. Clearly at this altitude there’s no need for further explanation.

No matter. An objective is an objective.

The path led through mud, sheep and some light woodland, but¬†just over an hour after I’d left my car¬†I was there! According to my watch I’d walked¬†was just under two and a half miles – but truthfully it had felt quite a bit further.

Although I can clearly now do such a walk with relative ease (and even I felt I was rather¬†brisk given its undulating nature) I’m not used to this kind of terrain at all. My knees¬†really felt¬†the strain¬†on the downward sections.

I’d like to say the monument was a revelation and that revealing its secrets¬†was worth the workout – but apart from being an impressive pile of bricks I can’t mislead you. The inscription was possibly¬†interesting if you’re are a local Malvern historian, but otherwise… not so much.

The view from beside it however was fabulous! The hill that I started at was now teeny tiny (it’s the lump in the middle on the left!)

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At this point I thought I’d set my Apple Watch to a walking workout and go¬†back the same way I came to see if I could do it quicker and get my pulse rate higher. The route was almost completely deserted when I started out – so even if I was a sweaty mess very few people would see me if I collapsed in a dripping heap.

I actually ended up getting a little sidetracked however.

I took a slightly longer route back (at least it seemed to be) because of this sign.

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A frikkin GIANT’S CAVE?!!!!

How could I pass that up?! It was a cave Рbig enough for GIANTS!!!  I immediately took the alternate path and headed for the underground cavern of wonders.

When I arrived there were already some giants standing at the cave mouth.

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However Рwhen I got closer I realised that they were actually a boringly normal family of people with a disappointingly small child and a cute dog.

Furthermore my cave of wonders was SIX FOOT DEEP AND SIX FOOT HIGH.

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As the family left they said ‘there’s a giant hand print at the back!!! As they walked away throwing sticks for their delightful¬†pooch I ventured in to see the GIANT HAND PRINT.

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So it’s fair to say that Malvenians (or whatever the people who live in this¬†area like to call themselves) are a whimsical bunch like to be understated when describing ¬†their monuments and¬†overstated¬†when describing their cracks in rocks and daubing on walls.

It was a good workout though and¬†I can’t complain!

The views were¬†superb and all the the paths were well maintained, clear and easily navigable (if sometimes a little rustic). Sadly though¬†by the time I sat down in the hotel nearby where I’d parked (after travelling¬†back down the really steep slopes at the start of the day) my knees were killing me.

This was a bit annoying – as I felt like I hadn’t done a whole lot. My leg muscles felt like they had way more in them, but my knees (particularly tendons I think) were screaming – a pain I’m not used to at all.

After sitting¬†for a while to let it wear off I decided that since I’d already paid for the all day parking that I’d just take it slow, carry on and walk down the path alongside the road to the bottom of the hill.

I had originally planned to walk the rest of the range of hills behind the hotel as well, but when it came down to it although I wasn’t phased by the prospect of the climb I couldn’t face any more ridiculous downward inclines. The road too was downhill – but nowhere near as bad as the walk I’d just done.

Plus – at least if I walked to the bottom of the hill I’d just stood at the top of (and back up) at least I could say I’d walked completely from the bottom to the top!

As I was heading down with this new objective in mind I noticed toward the bottom of the slope people were leaving a really nice looking church after a morning service with daffodils clutched in their hands. While stepping around them as they got into their cars I noticed that I was standing next to a famous grave.

Sir Edward Elgar was buried in the cemetery, so I thought that while I was there I might as well take a look.

Compared to the cave and the monument this at least delivered on the promise of being a grave. I couldn’t fault its ‘graveness’ and since¬†I’ve never before visited the grave of someone that was famous I think I can tick this off my bucket list.

‘Visited the grave of Elgar.’

Tick.

Thats one more thing I don’t have to do¬†before I die!

At this point my already painful knees were now really really painful so I decided to walk back up the hill to my car and make my way home.

Again I set my Apple Watch workout to capture what I was doing. Although the lower part of the gradient was gentle it was continuously uphill for over a mile (with 288ft of elevation) and became quite a bit steeper the closer it got to the British Camp car park. My heart rate was continually at 138/140 bpm toward the end and I still felt I could keep going.

I didn’t have to stop once and¬†I actually really enjoyed feeling the burn!

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By the time I’d reached¬†my car I’d walked a total of almost nine (pretty punishing) miles around Malvern. During them my watch considered 112 minutes of my movement to be exercise/cardio. I burned 1750/4099 active/total calories – which¬†should help¬†towards¬†the weight I want to lose next week!

Now I’m home and I’m absolutely knackered – but today has been a big step. I’ve experimented and I’ve found yet more places I can go and more things that I can do.

I have walked up and down gradients that not so very long ago I simply wouldn’t have been able to – and regardless of my knees¬†I loved every minute of it!

A year ago internet I wouldn’t have even gotten out of the car. I’d have driven past and looked at the view from within my comfortable little bubble.

Thats never, ever, ever, ever going to happen again.

Davey

Body Magical

Yesterday¬†definitely felt like summer had landed. The sky was almost a pure blue all day long and it was just warm enough to walk around in a shirt and vest rather than wrapped up trying to keep dry in¬†supercoat (TM) –¬†which I¬†left at home on the coat rack.

I did have a secret weapon with me yesterday whilst walking though.

My mate is akin¬†to a magic lamp with a sunshine genie inside. Sometimes I feel like all I have to do is rub his head and the sun will come out. Almost without exception he’s proven a¬†seriously good luck charm¬†every time we’ve been on a stroll – so it was no surprise that there wasn’t a bit of rain to be found while¬†me, he and another friend¬†made our way along¬†the Stratford Greenway.

This isn’t the first time we’ve¬†done¬†this route – back in January we had a similarly great day for it (here) and (cursed by his own good luck with the weather) last time¬†my¬†companion¬†actually ended up¬†sunburnt in early¬†January.

Being of the balding persuasion however I wasn’t taking any chances. I was buried under my wooly hat. Oddly the thinner I’ve gotten, the more I’ve felt the cold on the back of my neck (which in retrospect I realise had a few more rolls of insulation previously).

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Yesterday was slightly odd because it was the second time in two days where I’d been out walking and catching up with ex-colleagues and we’d bumped into yet more ex-colleagues.

I have to say this kind of thing used to rank in my top ten of ‘most hated things that Dave hates‘, as whenever I met people out of the blue I was instantly thinking about how much bigger I was or wasn’t since the last time we met. It used to make me feel like I had to apologise for gaining weight (although in reality this was in my head) and ultimately always left me very low.

Now however I get the absolute opposite – compliments.

Depending on how I feel on any given day this can be almost as awkward, as I always become¬†quite self conscious (but grateful) when they’re given. However I’ll be honest – telling someone you haven’t seen since you were around 35 stone that you’ve lost twelve of them is a really really nice feeling.

Probably thanks to all the walking yesterday¬†I slept like a log¬†last night – and that log clearly wanted it’s¬†full eight hours. I hit the pillow and was completely oblivious to the world until I woke up feeling totally awesome and started thinking about weighing in.

I wasn’t expecting very much from today.

Although I didn’t really signpost it in my updates both Saturday and Wednesday this week were days where I fell off the wagon a little. What I ate wasn’t bad per se but the quantity and manner in which I did¬†it wasn’t good at all. I know for a fact on Saturday I well exceeded my recommended daily calorie intake and just picked constantly at one thing after another. The ‘things’ on their own were fine, but then if you eat all of the ‘things’ then you’ve done quite a bit of damage.

I felt I’d pulled it back later in the week mind you – but didn’t feel significantly different weight wise this morning. However¬†I AM feeling a bit trimmer – which¬†is probably because it was a good¬†week workout¬†wise.

I can now stay on my exercise bike hill climb setting for an hour quite easily – and that equals around 12-13 virtual miles cycled each time. I did 2¬†x 1¬†hour sessions and 4¬†x 34¬†minute sessions totalling approximately 54 (virtual) miles.¬†To add to¬†that¬†I also walked just a shade under 60 miles, so I’m happy with my progress. My stamina seems to be continually increasing and I just want to do more and more!

The scales largely ignored this though and as I expected focused mostly on my naughty deeds – telling me that today I’d lost 1lb.

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Honestly though this doesn’t bother me in the least. Forward is forward and as long as I’m moving in the right direction I’m happy.

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I find that weeks like this are just as useful as the ones with stratospheric losses – although sometimes it can be hard to get into the right headspace to have that perspective.

What I mean by this is that it’s a good reminder that there are no cheats and everything has a consequence.

It’s fine to have an off plan day and its totally cool to temporarily take the brakes off – but if you do then you won’t have the same results as the weeks where you don’t.¬†Truthfully these weeks now serve as motivators for me and I want to take them¬†and use it as fuel for the following week’s fire.

I’ll be doing my best to improve upon it next Saturday for sure!

What did surprise me a bit was that today Angie informed me that she wasn’t ignoring my body magic awards any longer.

When I started exercising I decided (and told her as much) that I wasn’t going to do it for awards – I wanted to do it for enjoyment, and honestly that’s totally what it’s been about for me. I’ve loved every minute of getting fitter – and never even considered for a moment where I was or wasn’t on the Slimming world body magic scale.

Today however I received all four awards in one go and slimmer of the month!

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These awards are split into four sections:

  • Bronze –¬†45 minutes of moderately intense activity per week in 5, 10 or 15 minute sessions spread over at least 3 days and maintained for four weeks.
  • Silver – 6¬†activity sessions of 15 minutes per week or 3 sessions of 30 minutes spread over 3 to 5 days¬†and maintained for four weeks.
  • Gold –¬†10 sessions of 15 minutes per week (or 5 sessions of 30 minutes)¬†spread over 3 to 5 days¬†and maintained for eight¬†weeks.
  • Platinum –¬†At least 10 sessions of 15 minutes per week (or 5 sessions of 30 minutes) – maintained indefinitely going forward!

So – yay for Slimming World! It’s wonderful consultant and the group are always there to remind each other what we’ve accomplished and to look on the bright side of life.

I cant think of a better place to spend my Saturday morning!

Except possibly a coffee shop Рwhich is where I walked to immediately afterwards for a drink (with a lovely chatty and smiley friend) before nipping to Aldi and then the park, where I whiled away the remainder of my afternoon watching a lady training her enthusiastic and amazingly obedient sheepdog to do tricks.

Honestly internet I think the pooch was better house trained than me.

I’m sure it glanced over disapprovingly as I ate onion and chive cottage cheese with my fingers, munched on an apple and watched the world go by without a care in the world.

Body magical.

Davey

Self help – book 2

Well I learned a few things yesterday. 

Firstly supercoat (TM) was a superb purchase. When worn in the freezing cold with driving rain there’s no better place to be. It’s warm and it’s dry and I love it

Secondly Porche and transit van drivers speed up when they see you passing large puddles. They are reprehensible human beings who deserve to listen to James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’ on a loop until the end of time whilst strapped to a bed of nails. 

Thirdly my trousers and underpants are NOT waterproof, and this is worth bearing in mind given the waterfall like run off of moisture that supercoat’s rain proof exterior creates and the waves produced by idiots in 911’s. 

Fourthly I am an unexpected convert to the power of goal setting and self help books. This (given my previous feelings on these subjects) is probably the most revelatory of the four points, but comes last because the first three are way more amusing.  


When I arrived (rather waterlogged) at my destination yesterday I had 25% of ‘Own it: regain control and live life on your terms’ by Sandra Webber (link) left to read – and I was unexpectedly looking forward to it. 

I like the title ‘Own it‘. 

Taking responsibility for your past and present actions in life and being honest with yourself is really important to me – and this consequently hits the right note. 

I read the remainder of it whilst munching my way through the salad bar – which is definitely worth ¬£3.99 and the 6.5 mile round trip walk required to eat it (driving there is for the weak). 


(Note – in the spirit of full disclosure this plate may not represent the author’s only visit to the salad bar…)

As I munched away (and my clothes dried on the radiator next to my table) I realised that I’d firmly decided that this book has been WAY better than the previous one. As I seem to have already mastered the art of saying ‘f*** it’ (which was the book’s primary message) it ultimately will have limited use. 

This one has made me think a lot more about what I really want from life, how to achieve it – and the strategies I might use to obtain it. 

Oddly – despite the author of this book being a seriously goal oriented person (something I never used to consider myself to be) it’s made me realise that I may be more like her than I originally thought. 

She bases her life and the book around an acronym.

G.A.M.E. – which stands for:

  • Goal clarity – high performing people are clear about what they want from life and are motivated by goals. They may have lots of smaller goals rather than one large one but this characteristic unites them. (I have goals in life that I’m working towards – but no fully formed ones yet that are career related)
  • Act daily – are you executing on your plans every day and following through with them? This is all about remaining focused and not getting sidetracked (This is something I need to work on. I get distracted easily. Ooooh I got a text!). 
  • Momentum – related to persistence, continual progression and physical fitness. Are you agile mentally and physically? (This is traditionally an area I’ve also been very weak in, even though the physical side is now coming along nicely)
  • Enjoy and Evaluate – the whole point of changing your life is creating one that you will enjoy. You need to be able to step back and ask whether this is the case, and if not understand why. (I’m fully able to both enjoy and evaluate things. I score one out of four! Yay!)

Now – as I stated in a previous post I’ve never liked this kind of thing in the past. Naturally I find I distrust anything that provides a formula for success. My rationale for this is ‘if it was that simple then everyone would be doing it.’

However – I’m beginning to think instead that maybe (just maybe) it really IS possible to quantify the steps you need to take in order to succeed in life. 

Maybe the reason everyone isn’t successful is that very few people are willing (and I count some elements of current self and all of my old self amongst them) to take the time and invest the effort to do what it takes to truly make transformative change. 

There were a lot of exercises after each chapter (most of which I haven’t completed fully just yet) that really made me think about not only about what motivates me and makes me happy, but also the type of person I am. They have however left me (in a good way) with more questions than answers. There are a lot of things I need to consider over a longer period. 

One of the more sobering aspects of the book though is the author’s categorisation of personality types. These (she suggests) fit neatly into three groups. 

  • Rays of sunshine
  • Cloudy skies
  • Dark storms

Honestly, after reading this I can see (at different times in my life) I’ve sat in all three camps. 

Around the time of 1999/2000 I’d definitely become a dark storm. I felt that I was a failure in work and romance, that life was consequently a waste of time and that despite what I felt I deserved the worst would always happen. This was an inevitable FACT.

When people suggested otherwise or tried to put a positive spin on my doom laden view of the world I knew that I was quite capable of draining their will to live and capably convincing them that my negative evaluation of life was the absolute truth

For a time I’m sure people avoided me for this reason – but I viewed it (incorrectly) as realism. All of the happy people were merely deluded fools that were yet to learn how crap life was. 

Occasionally since then I’ve slipped back into this way of thinking. I know this because I consciously tried to change after I’d been made to realise how people saw me. Due to this I was hyper aware about appearing to others as a negative person and usually recognised quickly when I did. 

For the most part because of this (since 2001) I know I was the second personality type – cloudy skies

This version of me was in a phase of his life where he felt sometimes positive and capable of being a motivator – but he was still regularly in danger of returning to negative ways of thinking. He regularly swung in both directions.

A cloudy skies person will not necessarily like the job they’re in but they will tolerate their situation because their wages may fund the lifestyle they are used to. Organisations in particular love these types of people because they’re steady, usually reliable and they rarely leave employment or make drastic changes in life. 

The expanded description of cloudy skies in the book is unnervingly accurate in describing me as I was up until a year or so ago – and I found myself constantly shaking my head with annoyance as I read page after page of what was basically a version of me that I really didn’t like, and honestly would rather forget. 

This brings me to the final personality type – Ray of Sunshine

The characteristics of these people are that you feel better after spending time with them, they’re high energy but not hyper, they’re warm and friendly, they’re generous, they’re healthy and vibrant and take care of themselves, they are self aware, and are real and authentic. They help and motivate others. 

This is the type of person that I aspire to be

I canvassed a few friends (those that I knew who were willing to give me both barrels if needed) to see which camp they thought I was currently in and sent them the full lists from the book. 

Some of these traits I think I have – and some feel I need to work towards – which also appeared to be the consensus in my (not very scientific) friend poll too. Although at the moment I display a lot of traits from this group but occasionally (they said) I revert to ‘cloudy skies’ – which I totally agree with. 

Guilty as charged. 

It’s nice though to think that lately I fall more into the ‘Ray of sunshine’ camp than the other two, because a year ago I’m pretty certain people would have given me very different answers. 

It’s also nice to quantify these characteristics and be mindful about which ones form the lion’s share of your personality. Actually putting names to them will (I think) will help me remain focused on being the one that I want to be. 

The book was also full of little thought provoking quotes – and one that really drew my attention was a sentence by Frederick Nietzsche (the German philosopher) in a section of the book about goal clarity. It was:

‘He who has a why can endure any how.’

This hit me like a brick – and I immediately sent it on to a friend who’s been having a tough week. 

It pretty much encapsulated all of my efforts to lose weight. In this respect – unlike most other aspects of my life, I have a big overriding goal – to be as healthy and as fit as I possibly can and never go back to the way I used to be. 

I can endure any pain along the way if it means that ultimately I get what I want. 

I don’t think I’ve shirked any part of this process – and it made me realise that in this area of my life I’m everything that I also want to be in other aspects of my life. 

In this area (even though I still have a long way to go) I’m a success. 

I have goal clarity, I act daily, I have momentum and I continually enjoy and evaluate how I’m doing. So – now ‘all’ I need to do is figure out what else is important enough to me to spark the same behaviour in my career. 

I still have to figure out though internet, what that career will be…

I recommend the book though. It’s also free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited on Amazon – or have a 30 day free trial like me! ūüėČ

Davey

Health victories

It’s been a good day for non-scale victories.

This morning was my pre-testing session at my local surgery before my diabetic appointment in two weeks Рand I had unexpectedly lost track of time whilst working on a little project.

The surgery is a mile and a half from my house Рand when I set out I had just over half an hour to reach my destination. In the past this would spelt disaster Рor translated into a journey in the car.

Not these days РI just went for it and trusted that I could make it in time. I know exactly how far and fast I can walk these days, and today was no exception. I really put my back into it and actually beat my current mile record by two seconds, doing the first one in 16.31.

What a GREAT way to start the day!

After¬†I arrived at the doctor’s¬†and announced my presence I took a seat in the waiting room. The last time I sat in these seats (I usually go to a closer surgery in the same practice with different seating) the arms on the chairs were still cutting into my thighs.

Today I sat in perfect comfort with room to move. These seats are no longer a problem!

Then I was called in¬†for my short battery of tests. My extremity checks¬†(to see¬†whether the¬†sensation in my feet has been impaired by diabetes) were all perfect¬†– and the nurses can now also feel my¬†pulse in my feet (they couldn’t find them when they were fat and swollen with fluid a year or so ago).

Then the nurse double takes started.

The first happened when I stood on the practice scales Рwhich are now capable of weighing me! 

‘Wow!’ said the nurse. ‘Have you REALLY lost 12 stone in a year?!’

‘Yep.’ I replied. ‘I’ve stopped taking all of my diabetes medication.’

‘All of it?’ She said, looking straight at me. ‘It says on the notes you were down to two…’

‘Yep.’ I replied. ‘A month and a half ago. The notes are out of date. I’ve stopped all of it. My levels are now in the ‘normal’ range. I’m hoping that today’s blood test will confirm my home tests.’

‘Wow!’ She said again. ‘I truly believe you can reverse type two¬†– and you have shown what you can do with some effort!’ She turned to look at my notes again and paused.

‘You need to watch the drinking though.’ She said, glancing at the notes ‘That’s a lot of units a week. How much do you drink now? Honestly?’

‘Nothing. I gave up in January 2016 – haven’t touched a drop since.’ I said.

‘Wow!’ she said. ‘You completely stopped?’

‘Yep’ I replied. ‘All gone.’

The nurse shook her head and updated the notes. ‘OK.’ she said. ‘Let’s check your blood pressure.’

She wrapped the cuff around my arm, told me not to talk (it affects the results) and started the automatic machine going before she turned away to scroll through my notes. It quickly pumped in some air and the cuff tightened briefly on my bicep before slowly releasing its pressure as it took its readings.

Once finished, it¬†beeped and she turned to look at it.¬†‘Wow!’ She said. ‘That’s really good!’

‘What is it?’ I asked.

‘124/70’ she said. ‘Thats really good!’ She said again.

Now – I don’t really know much about blood pressure – so after I left the surgery I looked this up. Apparently¬†your blood pressure usually increases with your age – so the younger you are the better your blood pressure is expected to be.

The reasons behind this gradual increase are thought to relate to:

  • Age-related changes in hormone activity and profile
  • An accumulation of poor dietary choices
  • Insufficient physical exercise
  • Atheromatous plaque in the walls of arteries
  • Decreased efficiency of the heart

Researching further I found this chart from the British Heart Foundation. I’ve highlighted my age group in red.

This table will give you an idea where your blood pressure should be with respect to your age.

Men 16-24yrs 25-34yrs 35-44yrs 45-54yrs 55-64yrs 65-74yrs 75+
Systolic Blood pressure – SBP 128 131 133 133 137 140 141
Diastolic Blood Pressure – DBP 65 72 76 76 76 73 68
Women 16-24yrs 25-34yrs 35-44yrs 45-54yrs 55-64yrs 65-74 yrs 75+
Systolic Blood Pressure – SBP 117 118 121 127 133 140 144
Diastolic Blood Pressure – DBP 67 69 72 73 74 72 70

(*Statistics courtesy of the British Heart Foundation. – See more at: http://www.coronary-heart-health.com/blood-pressure-results.html#sthash.TkRsCwPu.dpuf)

I was previously on the borderline for high blood pressure the last time I was checked – now I’m not just normal, I’m better than normal.

I am actually lower than the 24-34 old age bracket!

I’m really hopeful that in two weeks when I get the results of my HbA1c¬†test that my blood glucose levels will still be in the ‘non-diabetic’ range. The surgery¬†is also taking the opportunity to check my kidney function and my cholesterol as well.

The latter has always been a worry, and so far I’ve not made much of an impression in¬†that area¬†of my health. Despite my efforts it’s remained higher than it should be. I want it to be better.

you know what though – despite my worries about cholesterol all of this today just underpins much of what I already know. I’m fitter and healthier now¬†than I have ever been in my entire life and I¬†still have the weight of another fridge freezer to lose.

I left the surgery on a high and spent the rest of the day walking and reading (more on that last bit in¬†my next post) – and as I sit here typing now I’m in a totally amazing frame of mind.

IMG_1094

Yay for non scale victories internet! They’re priceless!

Davey

Self-help – book one

Well my self-help book cherry is well and truly popped.

Today I sat down and read from cover to cover ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k: How to stop spending time you don’t have doing things you don’t want to do with people you don’t like‘ by Sarah Knight (link).

I guess that the point about these kinds of books is that they enable to you to question what you agree with and decide what works (or does not work) for you. In that respect this book has been a triumph – because in large part I totally agreed with most of it.

However,¬†any¬†profound revelations that I uncovered lay in the fact that realised I already gave way less f***s than this lady originally did – and I’m not at all surprised that she had to find a way of giving up so many of them.¬†Some of her chief concerns appeared to be seriously¬†middle class – and I can’t imagine myself ever losing sleep over whether or not I should be guilt tripped into buying a friend’s home made organic peanut butter.

(Hint to any friends currently blending organic peanuts into paste with a view to selling them to me Рit will end in disappointment.)

However what it did make me muse upon¬†was the fact that I appear to have nailed (or at least be in the process of nailing) the ability to say ‘that’s just not important to me any more‘.

There are some key takeaways for me though from this book that were useful.

The author came across her philosophy in life (and a title to partially rip off it seems) while reading ‘The life changing magic of tidying up’ by Marie Kondo (link). Oddly (at least from my perspective) the only thing that she seems to have taken¬†on board from this Japanese ode to neatness¬†was ‘tidy up your sock drawer’.

I don’t actually possess a sock drawer. I possess instead various piles of folded laundry which never seem to complete their migratory journeys back to storage. I’ve continually put off (after many false starts recently) the task of truly becoming zen and uncluttered. I always get bored before I get done, which is a bad thing. The argument is that a tidy space leads to a tidy mind – so this is something I’m going to take away from the book and try to work on.

I’m going to try to get rid of things I haven’t used for a while and only keep the things I love.

Then there’s honesty.

I like to think I’m pretty honest anyway (after all you’re reading the output¬†of this aspect of me) but the importance of saying how you¬†really feel about things in life can’t be underestimated and it never hurts to remind myself of this.

Being honest with yourself and others is something that will set you free.

If you really want to complicate your existence then try and be someone that you’re not. It’s exhausting when you hide who you really are –¬†and the only way out of this self imposed trap is to rip off the band-aid, say what you think and¬†what you want from life.

Next – finance.

I’m going to try and stop worrying about money.

The author makes a great point. Time is a finite resource. Money can always be earned. There will always be a way to make ends meet – but time is fleeting, and you can’t get it back. Every hour I waste being unfulfilled is an hour closer to my end.

It’s way more important than my bank balance.

This is a difficult one for me to be truly unconcerned about though – after all everyone needs money. However – reading this has helped me unpack my feelings regarding work and the process of earning it a little, which helped.

I’ve always been quite proud that (prior to my current stage of life) I’ve never been unemployed – apart from brief periods when I was a student. My family struggled a lot with this in the 80’s and I grew up wanting to always have a job, and more importantly wanting to be a stable and trustworthy employee – which I think comes from my mom’s rhetoric (she was very much a worker bee like her parents before her).

They’re laudable aims.

However they’re also motivated by my feelings¬†about how¬†other people see me – which brings me to another of the author’s¬†points.

I need to stop caring what other people think.

Some years¬†ago I went on a life skills course, and it suggested that there were two kinds of human beings. Those that were ‘away from’ and those that were ‘towards’.

Truthfully I think this approach may be a little too reductive to stand up to intense scrutiny Рbut I like the simplicity of this way of looking at things because in my case I relate to it strongly.

The away‘s were people whose motivations were related to consequences. They made their decisions based upon what the outcome would be if they didn’t do anything. For instance – they were on time for work because the result of being late would be getting into trouble. In order for them to change course there had to be something disagreeable on the horizon.

The toward‘s were people who were goal oriented. They were motivated by objectives and things they wanted to achieve in life. They were on time because that was the standard they aspired to¬†and they succeeded through planning and following role models. These were people who wanted to win.

It may or may not come as a surprise that when I took the tests associated with this my scores were way off the chart on the side of ‘away from‘. I realised that because of this I was often a leaf in the breeze. My decision making process was simply to take the easiest path that brought the smallest amount of conflict, effort or resistance until something disagreeable came along and then use that as a catalyst for change.

I didn’t do forward planning or goals. I took life as it presented itself¬†and consequently events often shaped me rather than the other way around.¬†It’s probably why I never decided ‘what I want to be when I grow up.’

With regards to employment my only driving¬†motivation for a job¬†has been that I’ve always been worried what people might think of me if I was unemployed or decided for a while to not work and do my own thing in life.

The question is – ‘why should it bother me?’

The answer is of course – ‘it shouldn’t.

Ultimately I have to succeed and make a living, but how I do that and the timeframe in which I decide which route to take is one that needs to be of my own choosing. Anything else will result in a repeat of the last few months.

Finally the author also noted that not giving a **** about puppies is a bad idea. I can’t agree more.

Everyone should give a **** about puppies.

Cute-puppies-dogs-37395739-1600-1200 2.jpg

So Рthe next book I think has to be about goals and structure. I know how to NOT do this, but what happens when I try and build my life around goals and objectives (other than those related to health and fitness)?

Is that even do-able for someone like me?

We shall see internet.

This is my next book. Own It: regain control and live life on your terms Рby Sandra Webber (link)

Davey

Photobombed

Since I started blogging it’s not unusual for me to suddenly stop and take a photo of where I am – which I never used to do that much. I find myself often writing opening lines of posts in my head as I walk or playing with the construction of a paragraph that I’m thinking about.

I generally forget these fragile baubles of thought¬†because I am a shocking amnesiac so it’s usually fairly pointless. Much like a crossword or sudoku it’s all just transient¬†mental gymnastics.

I don’t always do this though. A lot of the time I just pour out the contents of my head and see where they take me. It’s often this approach that ends up giving me the most personal¬†insight.

When I AM trying to write something specific that I’ve planned however I find that a photo seems to anchor a thought for me. I’m far more likely to remember what I was thinking at any given moment when I look back at it. It’s why I take so many.

Plus I think they make my posts more interesting.

Today I was thinking about the park I was walking in (Markeaton) with a friend in Derby – and the history regarding some recently unearthed Manor House foundations in the grounds that he’d been sharing with me on the way.

I was wondering whether some background to the whole place (which seemed very nice) would be appropriate for a post and tried to get a shot of the park that would distract from the rather grim and grey skies today and serve as context.

My friend however had different¬†ideas – and despite his otherwise mature demeanour (he’s a far more responsible adult than me) I discovered today that he has a penchant for photobombing.

Honestly I can’t complain. The photo was boring before he decided to enhance it so you’ll all just have to take my word for it that the park was lovely – and that it was full of ducks, trees and interesting rubble.

I think I broke his (usually absent) love 0f walking today though.

By the time we reached the ‘non carbolicious’ pub he’d chosen for us to eat in (to protect my weight loss bless him) after seven miles the poor guy¬†had already been stretched past his normal tolerance levels and was in dire need of food and drink. I have to admit I was pretty peckish too!

My choice today was a garden salad with steak and chicken.

IMG_1087.jpg

Saturday¬†wasn’t a great day food wise. I ate ‘all the things’ when I got home yesterday evening – and mostly because I couldn’t be bothered with cooking found myself eating snack after snack after snack after snack (after snack).

The cumulative total probably wasn’t all that awful but I was annoyed that I hadn’t bothered to make a proper meal like I should have.

Today therefore is an SP day – which in Slimming World terms means speed¬†food (basically non carb veg) and protein only.¬†This may sound a little harsh – but just ignoring that I ate too much yesterday won’t equal weight loss tomorrow – and I’d rather not step on the scales expecting a kicking next Saturday.

Although I was a little tired before lunch, unlike my companion I could have walked and talked for the rest of the day or until I was on my knees if it meant more progress toward understanding what my next step in life was going to be.

We both discussed a lot of possibilities during our parkland exploration¬†and so far I have¬†plenty of ideas – but at the moment there’s nothing jumping out at me as a firm favourite.

As I drove home to Warwick after our meal and chat¬†there were therefore a number of thoughts on my mind about what I’d be doing during the coming week¬†to move forward. I may have given up my job but I refuse to be a bum that stays in bed late and doesn’t do something to progress in life.

I promised myself last week that on top of lots of exercise next week I’d be reading – and I’d be diving into the kind of texts¬†I traditionally have an utter distaste for.

Self help books.

Those that know me will already have heard¬†that the root of this lies in one place – and it’s centred upon the irritatingly square jawline of someone that makes me grind my teeth every time I see his face.

Anthony Robbins.

giant-steps-9780731815463_hr

Honestly I know that this is completely irrational. He’s probably a nice guy and¬†I’ve never even read one of his books – but I can’t get past how I feel – and I’m not sure I ever want to (apologies to some who are¬†near and dear to me that¬†I know think the absolute opposite).

However – despite my unwillingness to budge on my ‘no Robbins‘ mantra¬†(this also applies to ice cream) I must accept that my ‘no self-help books’ rule probably doesn’t do me any favours when I’m searching for¬†answers.

It’s time therefore to budge.

For this reason I found myself in Waterstones yesterday standing in front of a large shelf of such publications and trying to find one that I liked amongst a bewildering sea of eye catching book spines.

The only common theme among them seemed to be that their titles all appeared to bear little relation to their subject matter and it seemed impossible to choose by tagline alone.

It also appeared to be impossible to physically reach the books – as a woman (it seemed very much in the right place and browsing for the appropriate subject matter) noticed me over her shoulder and moved to block me from reaching the shelf.

As I moved closer to the books she responded and moved into the shelving, covering more of the books and turning her face slightly away from me Рpretending not to notice my presence. I moved away, also pretending to look elsewhere and she stepped back, away from the books.

I thumbed a title on a ‘sale’ stand behind her – feigning temporary interest in ‘The Life of Pi’ and then gradually moved back around to the (now clear) right side of the small shelf.

Deftly she noticed my returning presence (It must be my new alluring Lynx body spray) and moved in again to block me – once more pretending to read the same book.

After a short while of us both engaging in this silent and very odd book blocking ballet I realised that I was now wondering less about what I needed and more about what specifically she was looking for help with, because it definitely seemed to be a pressing concern.

I decided to leave rather than confront.

Then – just as I was going – something caught my eye. I’d seen it in the shop window some weeks before – but now, all of a sudden, being the only title¬†left within reach it was like I was being herded¬†toward it.

Maybe it was meant to be.

You have to start somewhere.

1

I must hurriedly point out that I currently have no-one in my life that I don’t want to spend time with – but I would like to know how to worry less about what I think I ‘should‘ be doing and find a way of living a life where I do something I want to do rather than a life filled with things I don’t want to do, so I procured a copy.

Who knows. Maybe I’ve just fallen for the magic of a clever title and will find little substance within.

Only lots of coffee and reading will be able to determine this. Book report to follow internet.

Davey

Endangered

By the time my friend and I had returned to my house last night I think we were both tired. 

We’d walked around 6.5 miles (total) to the local Harvester on the outskirts of town and back. While there we had both hit the salad bar with complete and gleeful impunity – asking for large plates so that we could test the limits of the staff’s patience while we constructed ever higher mounds of tomatoes and grated carrot. 

At a very reasonable ¬£3.99 each we both also got second helpings and chatted while we munched at length about how virtuous and thrifty we felt. 

My friend is (like me) also becoming obsessed with fitness goals and it’s nice to have a jokey rivalry when we meet. 

Almost instantly we raise our wrists and compare her fitbit stats to my Apple Watch ones. 

She beat my step count yesterday – but I’ll get her next time around. She’s going down and no mistake!

Even though both of us hadn’t been shy and helped ourself to (lots of) seconds, there had been no meat, no stodge, no fat, no chips. Nothing in fact that made either of us feel like not making the walk back. 

It was a leisurely stroll through the darkened and sleepy streets of the town as we discussed life, jobs, relationships and the future. 

By the time we hugged goodbye (despite her victory in the step war) it’s safe to say that peace had descended on the world. It had been a busy day – but it had all been ordered by conversation and all that there was left to do was sleep. 

In total I walked 71 miles (105km for my Euro readers) for the week and it’s safe to say I was both surprised that I managed to fit it in around my last few days in work – but also that I’d remained focused on it despite everything else going on. 

When my head hit the pillow I was still thinking about all of the possibilities that the future now held. 

At 5pm that day I had said goodbye for the last time to my short lived (but very nice) colleagues from my now ex-job. 

Ever since I’ve been filled with a whole mix of emotions and my brain is on fire with all of the different suggestions people have made about what I could possibly do next. 

When I slept I slept like a log however. 

I didn’t dream. There was no fear – just me turning off all the alarms on my phone, putting my watch on charge and nodding off. 

After my exercise bike this morning (I see no reason to stop now just because I don’t have a job) I looked in the mirror. My waist definitely looks smaller. 

It’s not an optical illusion – even though I thought it was to begin with. If I undo the belt on my new Jacamo jeans they simply fall down. The waist is now way too big. 

When I arrived at Slimming World the ladies in the queue were also pointing out that I may need new trousers soon – and they’re not wrong. 

They’ll do for the moment though. 

In the meantime I was way more interested in what had happened on the scales. I know I’m trimmer – but how much weight had I lost after loads of exercise?

A lot it seems. 

Today I lost 8lbs. 


I’m now the proud owner of a 12st certificate, meaning that roughly speaking I have around 7.5 – 8st left to go before I get to where (I think) I will be comfortable. 

It’s difficult to tell though. I have precisely zero idea how I will feel from here on. It’s all totally new. 

This week is somewhere I haven’t been for two decades. I’m now (approximately speaking) somewhere around 1998 in terms of my weight. It’s been so long since then that I no longer remember how it felt, what I wore, or what I was capable of. 

The truth is probably not very much, despite being way smaller. 

Although I didn’t drive back then I went everywhere on the bus, drank heavily, smoked, ate complete crap, and did a lot of other questionable things that my peers also did in the 90’s. 

This means that I’ve NEVER been as fit and healthy as I am at this moment in time EVER

It’s quite jaw dropping to say that. 

In the space of a year I’ve moved from being at the lowest point in my life to (without a doubt) the highest – and there’s still more to come. 

Have a look at these pages. 




When I got home today I sat quietly in my kitchen and just looked at them feeling emotional. 

They represent a lot of pain, happiness and personal growth. Because I’ve written about those days I can go back in time on my blog and look at each and every date and remember exactly how I felt. 

In most cases I don’t need to though. I remember all too well. 
However – despite the absolutely invigorating realisation that I’m at my peak I STILL HAVE ANOTHER FRIDGE FREEZER TO LOOSE!

Do you remember this guy from October 2016?


I do. 

He was really happy because he’d lost 7 stone that day – but I know his shirt tugged around the waist when he sat down in the car on the drive over to Currys before his SW meeting that morning. I remember it bothered him and detracted from the victory a little bit. 

That shirt went to charity long ago and I can now walk to Currys. 

This fridge freezer is no longer an impossible mountain. It’s no longer a burden. It’s not a wall I can’t climb over. It’s not a barrier to success. 

Dragging this fat around with me is actually helping me loose it!

While I was knocked off the top spot in the step count war, my active calories and total calories burned every day is stratospherically high and absolutely smashed my friend’s total. 

Carrying this added bulk everywhere I go means I work twice as hard to go the same distance as my peers – which in turn means I burn more and loose more than I otherwise would. 

Fat has oddly become my (fast fading) faithful companion. 

It’s realised the burden it’s been in the past and knows it’s days are numbered – but as it goes it’s decided it’s going to do something useful in order to try and make amends for all the pain and discomfort it caused.  

I no longer care about its instant removal Internet. It’s welcome to join me and help out – it just better get used to it’s endangered status. 

Davey

Checking out my ass

The other day my friend started laughing at the sight of me.¬†It hadn’t been long since I’d seen him last – but clearly it was long enough to provoke a reaction.

He’d come over so that we could both go to the cinema to see¬†Kong – Skull Island in 3D. It turned out to be just what I needed¬†during the middle of a stressful week. A giant gorilla stomping through a land of teeny tiny things and smashing other big things was quite invigorating and I’d recommend it to anyone that likes a good monster movie.

There are PLENTY of crap ones out there, and this is not one of them.

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My friend though was perhaps expecting a different kind of large primate when he arrived at my house.

‘I’ve got to stand in the hall. I can’t stop laughing.’ he said as I stood in the kitchen.

I looked at my tee-shirt and my trousers. Had I spilled something down myself without noticing? He was staring at me in the hall laughing quietly and covering his mouth with the back of his hand, in which which he held a chunky striped scarf.

‘I’ve never seen you so small!’ he said, looking me up and down.

It was true – although until he said it I’d never realised that was the case. I¬†first met¬†him in¬†December 2000, and by that time I was busy packing on the pounds after a bad relationship breakup. Now I stood before him as someone quite different.

This moment stuck in my mind as we walked to the cinema that night (I specifically suggested we didn’t drive) and to a greater or lesser extent it’s been with me ever since.

I used to hate the way that people looked at me. In much the same way as I assume women get annoyed¬†by men who can’t seem to avert their eyes from bosoms I have always found gazes lingered on my stomach, and sometimes never left. Children were even worse.

These days people stare for different reasons.

On a stroll¬†last night a female friend of mine (while I walked in front on a narrow path) said ‘you look so much thinner from behind!’¬†I jokingly pointed out to her that she’d just admitted that she was¬†checking out¬†my ass – and we laughed at the silliness of the moment – but again it lodged in my mind.

As I exercised¬†in my lunch hour today I was thinking about both events and I realised that the demographic of people whose eyes linger the most has radically changed. It used to be people that didn’t know me who would unashamedly stare.

Those that were familiar with my shape would usually be kind enough not to. They would instead steadfastly maintain eye contact, which was sometimes almost as noticeable.

Now it’s flipped on its head. The people I know are now continually looking me up and down – as if they’re watching for the next instalment of a soap opera and want to see what happens next.

People I don’t know no longer seem notice me, and I appear¬†to be largely anonymous. I used to hate the looks I got¬†on the street – but I don’t seem to get them at all any more.

Now I only get stares good¬†reasons – and it’s really great.¬†It keeps me motivated and on point – and this week I’ve been a man on a mission.

For some time now I’ve been walking (as a rough average) around 35-40 miles a week. This usually means general everyday¬†movement¬†from A to B mixed up with some exercise themed brisk marches.

However on Monday when I was walking my stress off (and just couldn’t seem to stop all day long) I wondered whether I could now achieve 70 miles in a week. Why not see if I could just double it? What would happen to my weight loss in a week if I did?

The timely theme of last week’s meeting was exercise – and what would happen to inch loss vs what would happen to weight loss. Muscle weighs more than fat, but it’s smaller, and uses more energy.

Will increased exercise this week mean less weight loss and less inches around the waist or lots of weight loss and no inches?

We will have to see. This week my eating has been pretty darn good and so has my activity.

So far since my weigh in last week (from a walking perspective) this is what I’ve been up to.

  • Saturday – 9.64 miles
  • Sunday – 9.40 miles
  • Monday – 12.36 miles
  • Tuesday – 9.26 miles
  • Wednesday – 6.39 miles
  • Thursday – 11.21 miles

Today so far (it’s 6pm on Friday) I’m already at 5.37 miles and shortly I’m going out for dinner with a friend. It’s approximately a¬†6.2¬†mile circular walk¬†to the local Harvester (where they have unlimited salad for ¬£3.99!!!)¬†which should take me to around 11.5 miles.

That means I’ll have – for the first time in my life – managed (approximately) 70 miles in a week!

It makes me wonder what I could really do in seven days now if I put my mind to it and did absolutely nothing else. How far could I get and if I did, where would I go? Would it bore me to death or would I enjoy it?

If only I had somehow recently cleared my calendar and had some spare time looming on the horizon…

Davey

Crutches

It’s been a quite stressful week so far. There will be more to come on that topic in another post as I make sense of it all, but for the time being I’ve been trying really hard to keep my head down and focus as much as possible on moving forward in life.

When things cease to make sense in one area it’s often the case that you fall back on¬†whatever¬†crutches you normally rely on.

crutches

I’ve had a lot over the years. As long as I can remember I’ve used¬†things like alcohol and food to take the sting out of life and allow me to deal with everyday occurrences. To a greater or lesser extent I still have an unhealthy relationship with food and the quantity I’m capable of eating. I’ve written about it a lot but still struggle with it.

I’ve mitigated it by radically changing the kinds of food¬†I eat so that it no longer has the impact it once did – but I still suffer from compulsive behaviour in this respect. I’ve tried to bury this (in the absence of an obvious cure) with activity – and for the most part it works.

I’d go so far as to say as it’s my new crutch. I get physically twitchy without activity now. Thoughts about how I’ll fit it in, what I’ll do to get my cardio stats up and how long I can do a given activity¬†for fill my head all the time.

I realised a few weeks ago while arranging for a stroll with a friend that I had to get on my exercise bike beforehand and sweat – just in case I didn’t do enough on my walk. Like a teenager drinking cheap vodka before going to a¬†nightclub¬†I had started¬†pre-loading exercise before my workouts.

Not so long ago I commented (regarding¬†a speech by Ewan McGregor’s character in Trainspotting 2) that I deeply related to a quote¬†that it was essentially ok to be an addict – as long as you directed and focused that addictive behaviour¬†towards something beneficial.

When I hit a rough patch on Monday I definitely had a choice –¬†I could open the fridge or do something else.¬†In the end I used my new crutch – exercise – and I instead walked (without exaggeration) until my feet bled.

At the moment as I sit typing I have five large plasters on the soles of my feet protecting tender areas and honestly I’m glad they’re there. I’ve taken an almost perverse pleasure in walking on them during my lunch break today – and as crazy as it sounds I think I now understand why.

I am glad of¬†the pain that they provide. It reminds me that nothing that’s worth having is easy, and that giving up is not an option. You have to sweat for what you want¬†and keep sweating. If something hurts then you may have to stop and rest for a while, but then you get up and keep going as soon as you possibly can.

I used to have a wry smile when people I knew told me how good exercise made them feel. I never understood it. How could something that made me feel so uncomfortable ever be something that was enjoyable? It seemed like complete nonsense – but as time has gone on I think more and more I’m beginning to understand it.

Like an eating disorder exercise is a form of control. It’s the ability to manipulate your body and impose your will upon it. It’s one of the few things in life that you can have absolute power over, and it’s compelling and addictive to feel in control and capable where once you¬†were¬†not.

As I move through the world now I’m more at home in it than ever. I can do things I never thought possible a year ago and I have energy levels and capabilities I’ve never had in my entire life. It gives me a buzz that I didn’t believe you could find outside of other, more harmful alternatives.

Today though I’m wondering where¬†the euphoria that I am now¬†finding in exercise is leading me. It’s motivated some surprising decisions this week and I’m sitting here wondering whether the path¬†that I’ve both decided upon and taken a few days ago could ultimately prove to be absolutely the wrong choice.

There are times that I’m so unsure of my true motivations that I feel quite adrift and lonely. It’s often difficult when I come home to an empty house to sit in the silence and find balance in my thoughts.¬†Will¬†I always simply exchange one obsession for another in an effort to find equilibrium while I swing like a pendulum between extremes?

I hope with all my heart that this continuing swing toward a better life is one where the pendulum will never head back in the opposite direction. For once I pray I can not only grab, but hold onto the ledge on the other side.

Oddly tonight I feel empowered by my choices but also unsure of what lies ahead Рand my house seems unusually quiet.

More on this topic later.

 

Davey

Something new

Note – this is a time delayed post, written earlier in the week on Monday.

It’s amazing how much energy stress or worry¬†can produce.¬†I’m not normally prone to it – but when I woke up¬†this morning my heart was pounding.

This was prior to getting on my exercise bike where my entire workout was conducted with my eyes closed – pedalling faster and faster, and harder and harder until I was completely worn out.

By the time I got off I’d made up my mind.

Back in February 2016 I’d made a choice. A big one. I was changing my life, and going to do something entirely different (link). My path¬†took a number of unexpected turns shortly after this and I remember feeling at the time that things were unfolding the way that they were meant to rather than the way that I’d planned them.

Around this¬†time I became preoccupied with the idea that (although I’m not religious in any way) there was a reason that things were happening¬†the way that they did. I began to think that in some way the universe was listening to me – or maybe for the first time I was listening to IT.

It was a scary and turbulent few months Рbut also exhilarating because for the first time in as long as I could remember there was no set future. It was all wide open and I felt I was standing on the precipice of potentially great things.

For the most part I’ve used the time I’d had since then very wisely. I’ve made big strides toward being the person that I want to be – but I don’t think that I’d accepted quite how much the changes in my physical state have affected my aspirations and my priorities.

For some time now I’ve had something formulating in the back of my mind. It’s an ideal that’s not fully realised, and in some ways may even be a little naive – possibly silly – but I just can’t get it out of my head. It keeps coming back to me and I’m constantly on the cusp of vocalising it but never quite fully forming the words or structure behind it.

In essence it’s about reaching¬†a state in life where there is an ever decreasing sense of want. I hope as time goes on to need less and less in life. Practically this means I will seek less¬†material wealth, I will spend less,¬†I will use less resources and I will have less¬†negative¬†impact on the world around me.

I want to leave a positive and healthy legacy behind me and not damage other people or the wider world.

Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not yet at the stage where I want to¬†grow dreadlocks and chain myself to a tree – but I want¬†to continue to be less of a consumer and more of a creator.

This is all airy fairy stuff though.

In itself this nebulous daydreaming¬†is not yet a philosophy – or even vaguely close to an answer to life’s questions. Instead it’s more the beginning of a larger¬†internal discourse I’m having with myself about how I get closer to something resembling this state.

Whatever it¬†is though it’s¬†been gaining more and more purchase in my subconscious as time goes on.

However, as important as this¬†is to me it’s competing for brain time with another set of thoughts that I’ve been subconsciously preoccupied with. My aspirations for the future have come into conflict with the reality of what I’ve been doing day to day.

At the risk of sounding like an idiot – I’d stopped listening to the universe.

This morning on my exercise bike, whilst sweating and panting, I accepted what I have already known for a while deep down. At some point a few months ago fear had quietly crept into my decision making process.

This slowly began to undermine my willingness to be truly different from the man I was.

When I was faced with the choice of uncertainty or stepping back into my previous comfort zone I realise now that I (mostly because of self doubt) chose the familiar option when it presented itself. When I looked for and accepted a position in a company recently (with the best of intentions) I was foolishly attempting to re-create the patterns of my old life.

I thought I could just step back into those well worn shoes¬†– but it turns out I can’t. Not only do I feel trapped by my decision to go back into an office but I feel I’ve somehow compromised the precious ideals that I started out with a year ago.

So this morning I quit my new job.

I didn’t do this because it was a bad one –¬†or because I didn’t like the people – but because¬†I’m not the same person any more.¬†

I just hadn’t realised until now how different old me was¬†compared to the me sitting here now. Old me would have ignored¬†this moment of clarity, and buried his head in the sand. He’d have drunk himself into a stupor in the evening after being moody all day and not faced up to it. He’d have done this every subsequent day, going¬†to work and spending his life pretending because he was afraid that that his job represented the sum of his capabilities and the pinnacle of his achievements.

Without one what would he be?

‘Nothing’ was the conclusion he always arrived at.

Every single time old me took the safe path, with security, comfort and wholly without risk, danger or excitement.

Sitting here now I feel heroic, stupid, vulnerable, happy, angry, confused, sad, elated and many many other emotions. I don’t know whether I’m making a massive mistake or whether for the very first time I’m truly exercising my common sense. It’s all very confusing.

I don’t really know what comes next – I just know now that it’s not what¬†came before. It has to be something new.

Davey

Productive weekend

I woke up today thinking about the overall theme of yesterday’s Slimming World meeting ¬†– which was the importance of exercise.¬†The message that all consultants had been mandated to give to their groups was that a sedentary lifestyle was something that was pretty much as big a killer as smoking and drinking.

Simply being thin is not enough. You need to get fit too. If you don’t you’ll live a shorter, and probably sicker life.

I can’t agree more, and like many of the messages given out by Angie in our group they are timely and relevant to me.¬†In the back of my mind for quite a while I’ve had something related to this on my ‘to do list’.

As I’ve lost weight my body’s internal structure has become more and more visible to me. I can now see things that were previously hidden from view like the veins on the back of my hands, the muscles in my biceps and forearms or¬†feel the bones in my bum and shoulders when I stand and sit.

It’s great to see them again – but they’re in definite need of toning. I haven’t yet decided whether or not this¬†means joining a gym (I’m trying not to discount this any more after saying ‘never again‘ for some time)¬†for¬†some strength training or doing something else entirely.

For the time being I’m satisfied with working on the cardio side of my fitness (which is good for my heart and vital for¬†my diabetes) but I don’t think I can put this off for much¬†longer.¬†In the coming weeks I think either additional work will be needed to address this or maybe even a slight change of focus and priorities.

That’s in the (near) future though and at the moment I’m just trying to do as much as I physically can with the time that I have spare – and this weekend thankfully¬†I’ve been gloriously active, focused and very¬†upbeat.

Everything in my mind is currently in a ‘you can do this!’¬†phase. I can see my 12 stone certificate on the horizon and I want it so bad I can taste it.

Irritatingly however this morning I also had a large blister to contend with after my walk to the Newbold Comyn Arms.¬†I didn’t really notice it until I got home yesterday and padded¬†around the house without my shoes – which was when it really started to hurt.

These puffy little swines were initially just a fact of life when it came to exercising as a larger man but (perhaps naively) I thought they were becoming a thing of the past. Last night this initially confirmed in my mind that there was already a tangible change after sitting down all day at work for two weeks, and it temporarily made me a bit annoyed.

However I’ve since realised that this initial (overly¬†paranoid) assessment was¬†probably wide of the mark.

In reality I still walked a lot last week (40 miles!) and worked really hard to keep my momentum up. The fact that I’ve been sitting all day long should be neither here nor there as long as I use the rest of my time productively.

I realised this afternoon when I got home that the actual cause was probably far less insidious and furthermore turned out to be irritatingly obvious.

The insoles in my walking boots (which you may remember were at the cheaper end of the spectrum when I bought them) are slipping backwards toward my heels when I walk for some¬†bizarre¬†reason – and leaving a ridge of rubber at the front of my shoe where my toes overlap them. It’s almost certainly this that’s causing my epic blister and¬†either means I need new boots, new insoles – or maybe both.

Either way I chose to ignore it’s pulsating presence today. Such things are an inconvenience at best and nothing that a few plasters can’t put paid to. Consequently¬†a¬†gentle throb was my constant companion on my exercise bike this morning and then¬†(despite lacking a formal invitation) it also joined me for a¬†long¬†walk around Warwick and Leamington to indulge in¬†coffee and much window shopping.

Partially because of my blister, but also because I turned out to be in a meandering mood I set out with zero objectives this morning¬†other than to clock up miles. I wasn’t interested in speed – but instead wanted distance.

I’ve been in and out of all manner of shops and galleries (art is expensive!!!) walked from one town¬†to another town, then a retail park, along the canal, through parks, explored a little woodland and finally did a bit of grocery shopping before¬†strolling back to home with a carrier bag full of vegetables for my evening meal.

Weather wise it eventually turned out to be¬†quite a nice day – although when I set out it was rainy and a little miserable – so I chose to wear only¬†supercoat‘s¬†waterproof outer lining and removed the¬†detachable¬†fleece inside.

I also brought peaky out of temporary retirement.

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Although there will always be a special place in my heart for peaky, Supercoat¬†is still my most loved item of clothing. This is mostly because it comes from a ‘normal’ person’s shop, but also¬†(rather vainly) because I think I look slimmer in it.

However I’m becoming acutely aware of its limitations.

It does a simply wonderful job of stopping water and rain getting in (it’s windproof as well!) but sadly also manages to prevent any moisture exiting too.¬†When I’m walking briskly¬†this can end up leaving me with a veritable river of perspiration in the sleeves – which frankly is not a pleasant sensation.

However it’s not really designed for exercise – it’s purpose is¬†to keep me dry from rain and warm – and it succeeds on both fronts.

I still love it regardless of the fact that while I sat and typed the first part of this post¬†it was inside out, dripping and sitting on the naughty step (well it was actually a chair) next to me in Starbucks. Now as I finish the post in the evening it’s once again gently steaming itself dry¬†in my hallway downstairs.

So Рwhat has it helped me do this weekend?

At the time of writing Saturday and Sunday myself and both parts of supercoat have clocked up nearly 19 miles, done 139 minutes of cardio, burned 3800/10140 active/total calories and walked almost 40,000 steps.

I probably should have sone some hoovering, washing up, dusting and laundry mind you Рbut in the last couple of weeks such things have slid further down my list of priorities Рand frankly they were never all that high to begin with.

However, although my guilt trip alter-ego is telling me subconsciously that¬†I’ve done little lately which could¬†be considered ‘productive’ in a housekeeping sense – I feel I’ve instead done much that I consider to be important to my health.

Honestly I can’t think of a way that I’d rather spend a weekend.

Internet – I think all this exercise¬†has¬†earned me a big bowl of beef stew, which is currently bubbling away downstairs as I type. I’m going to enjoy every (calorie counted and on plan) mouthful.

Davey

Greatest Loser

It’s early on Saturday and I’ve had a lie in. I stayed in bed until 7.30 – which (to me at least) seems disgustingly decadent.

The first thing I noticed when I decided to scrape myself off the pillow was a text from a friend asking if I would like to go for a walk after our weigh in. It couldn’t have come at a better moment – otherwise I’d have gotten up and just be pacing around thinking about the scales.

Now instead I’m thinking about twalking – which is infinitely better.

I’m also looking at my Apple Watch. I don’t like how it looks in the morning. None of the rings are filled and I instantly start thinking that I need to get the cardio one sorted¬†ASAP.¬†Whatever happens on the scales in a couple of hours the weekend is for EXERCISE and I need to get focused.

Time to get on my bike for a quick hill climb programme before a shower – then off to weigh in.

Busy busy busy!

(author sweats on his torture simulator, washes, weighs, walks, eats and walks some more before returning to his keyboard)

When I arrived to the usual warm hello’s at group and stood on the scales I was pleasantly surprised to see that I’d lost 2.5lbs.¬†I hadn’t however mentally noted quite what this meant until the eagle eyed weighing in girl smiled and pointed at the readout.

It said 22st 13lbs.

I’m now in another stone bracket.

I’ll be honest – this put a bit of a lump in my throat.

I’m not exactly¬†where I was before – but I’ve come so far now that half a pound means almost nothing to me. The lightest weight I have recorded in recent memory (barring being a teen) was in 1999, just before the millenium. I was 22st 12.5lbs.

(Have a look at my weight loss history here (link) in a post from last August. The shirt and much of the man I talk about in that blog¬†seem like a long way in the past now…)

After some chats and coffee the group got down to the main event – which was the ‘greatest loser award’. This was a chance for the three people in the group that had lost the most weight to talk about their personal motivations, progress – and what it had meant to them.

I find the two¬†women that talked about themselves before me genuinely amazing, and it’s not because of the amount that they’ve lost (which is a lot!) but because of their mindset.

They keep chipping away at it week after week, come to group week after week, focus on their health week after week – and never take their eye off the prize. They and others like them keep me motivated and I love to see their faces when they’ve done well. Looking at their before and after pictures and stories about how their health has improved is really heartwarming.

When it came to my turn, honestly I didn’t really want to stand up and talk about myself – but purely because I had all my old¬†clothes with me again (and this time my old belt too, which I put a new notch¬†in this morning to show where it needs to be to hold up my current trousers) I stepped up¬†out front with Angie (our SW consultant) and started to talk about my journey.

(photos used with permission – those I didn’t ask were edited out!)

I sometimes think that ‘journey’ is a little corny.

I use the word¬†often and then almost immediately regret saying it for some reason – but today it seems apt. What I’m doing IS a journey – and although whilst I’m often moving physically I’m also travelling¬†mentally and emotionally through a new landscape every day. While I do this I’m also learning (in public) to deal with the sometimes painful realisations, memories and thoughts that are associated with great change.

Although I feel comfortable discussing my¬†weight loss with most people¬†– sometimes when I do I tend to reveal a lot of myself. Though I’m never really guarded (truth and honesty are¬†very important to me) sometimes this can lead to me suddenly feeling more than I expect to as¬†I talk about what I’ve done, why I’ve done it and what has changed in my life.

Today was no different, and at times I felt my voice break as I talked.

As many readers know this all (sort of) started in earnest with the death of my mother last January, it continued with my decision to finally face up to the fact that I used alcohol as a crutch, to eventually stop drinking, progressed with my first step through the door at slimming world, and I’m still going.

The crazy thing is that as I talked to the group and detailed why I didn’t want to have gastric surgery, how I’d stopped taking diabetes medication, how I’d slowly (and painfully) increased my exercise levels over many months to where I am now and what motivated me I felt¬†that people most wanted to understand¬†how I had maintained the willpower.

I’ve mentioned before I can be determined – but having thought about it further today I’m not sure its just determination. I don’t think I could maintain willpower to be something that went against my nature for a year.

It just wouldn’t happen. The cracks would have already shown and widened as time went on. The wheels would have already fallen off the bus.

I do this because I can’t fail. I can’t go back to being the man I was before. His world was shrinking every day and his options were decreasing almost in front of his eyes. He was tired of life and he was dying.

He had given up, and if I’m brutally and painfully honest he actually had decided he wanted to die but didn’t truly realise the enormity of the choice he’d made. He just didn’t see another way out.

I don’t feel I need to be determined or retain unbreakable willpower. I don’t think I possess it honestly.¬†What I do have is the willingness to be better than I was and to finally learn from my past mistakes. To move ever forward and not backwards.

It’s also nice to get stickers though, as well as¬†hugs and appreciation for my efforts, and today was no different.

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I talked about all of this and more with my friend as we walked after group today. We delved deep into eacother’s past and motivations – sharing both the good and the bad about the events that made us who we are now, and understanding a little more with each step about why we came to be standing on the same pair of scales and going to the same meetings every week.

People are frighteningly similar when you get talking to them. You can see echoes of yourself everywhere.

The beauty of realising this is that (with this newly discovered sense of common purpose and shared pasts) we can often find the sense of belonging and camaraderie that we need to keep moving forward.

We’re never alone. Not completely. We might choose to be momentarily apart from others, or convince ourselves for a while that no-one understands our pain – but it’s self delusion.

Someone does. Most people do in fact. We’re all so painfully alike and flawed that it sometimes amazes me that world peace doesn’t spontaneously break out every day.

Sometimes common purpose isn’t profound though. Sometimes you just want to walk with someone that you like, for nothing else other than to share time, to feel good and have a bite to eat, and that’s exactly what we did as we headed to the Newbold Comyn Arms.

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Although this looks like naughty food this local pub owner’s daughter is a member of Slimming World and the food on the menu (or at least some of it) is SW¬†friendly.¬†You’re looking at a roasted butternut squash, wild mushroom and spinach lasagne with low fat cheese and coleslaw + side salad.

It was delicious!

Furthermore by the time we had walked from group to the pub and back we’d nailed seven miles and a there were a fair few calories burned.¬†We’d both¬†made a really¬†positive¬†start to the week!

So internet Рthats my slightly emotional and reflective but absolutely joyful day. As with every Saturday since last April it has been spent with absolutely the best kind of people Рwho are trying to improve and live better, longer, healthier and happier lives for themselves, their family and friends.

On we go together! One day at a time.

Davey

Getting fitter

Although I’m often unable to tell whether I’ve done well or done badly on any given week with my eating and exercise I feel rather¬†adrift today. I really cant figure out which it’s been over the last seven days¬†and I’m trying¬†to figure out¬†whether sitting at a desk for 8 hours Monday to Friday¬†again is going to affect my weight loss¬†negatively or not at all.

I’ve been watching the TV this evening since I got home whilst idly¬†adding up all of the miles that I’ve walked this week according to Apple Watch – and much to my surprise it’s sitting at exactly 40.

However, while I’m quietly impressed with this total (and the fact that¬†I started strong at the weekend and hammered out loads of exercise) the beginning of the working week found me feeling both tired and hungry.

By Wednesday¬†I got a sort of ‘second wind’, changed up a gear and started to put some effort in again. This evening I’m sitting here feeling like I’m finishing today having done well. I’d be lying though if I said I felt it had been a¬†stellar week overall – but I can’t decide¬†whether or not this is just me being hard on myself as usual.

One thing I do know for sure though is that I can feel my fitness levels noticeably increasing.

When I first started regularly doing¬†my exercise bike’s 30 minute hill climb programme in the mornings (which has a two minute warm up and the same again as a cool down at the end) I was able to do around 6 miles in 34 minutes. This morning when I finished the readout said I’d done 7.5 miles.

The sweat was dripping off me at 6.45am as I sat panting in the dark of my spare room¬†before my shower – but that’s encouraging progress – and it makes me really happy that I can now do something I couldn’t before.¬†I can really feel the difference both in my legs and in my overall stamina. It takes a lot more for me to get out of breath now – and I also notice this when I’m walking.

I headed out to explore the walking opportunities around where I work¬†again at lunchtime today. The weather wasn’t as nice as yesterday and it was a little cooler – but crucially it was dry and bright.

I realised half way through my route that I can have an almost completely unbroken walk as long as I’m careful to watch the traffic on the country roads. Unlike my treks¬†around Warwick and¬†Leamington I don’t have to wait to cross roads filled with traffic for anywhere near as long as¬†I normally would – if at all.

This gives me the opportunity to just concentrate on walking as fast and far as I can¬†– so I can utilise my lunch hour to it’s fullest extent.

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Here again is an example (which I honestly find really surprising) where I have tried for what seems like ages over the last couple of¬†months to get under 17 minutes a mile, and now it’s just suddenly not only become¬†do-able but¬†repeatable.

Don’t get me wrong – this pace leaves me panting and makes my legs really ache – but I can do it. I never used to be able to – and now all of a sudden not only have I been able to do it once but I’ve done it again.

It’s becoming my new normal.

I flipping love this internet – and regardless of what happens on the scales tomorrow this is what I’m going to try and remain focused on.

It’s not easy though. I want a good loss. Think nice thoughts for me!

Davey

From determined to hungry and back again.

Despite my post on Sunday (titled ‘determined‘) striking a defiant ‘can do’ tone and me completing an epic day of activity (at least by my standards) if I’d written a post on Monday it would probably have been titled ‘hungry‘.

From the moment I woke up until the moment I hit the sack in the evening all I could think about was eating – and if I’m honest I acted upon these impulses¬†– although still made ‘good’ choices.

Regardless of me eating the right things (and by this I mean there is still no processed or junk food in my life) I was still aware that I’d eaten too much.

Maybe it was a consequence of this mild lapse that Tuesday was also a struggle, but for other reasons. My malaise yesterday was less related to food, and more to energy levels.

I found myself hitting the sack last night at an appallingly early 8pm. I was fast asleep by quarter past, and apart from a sudden wide awake moment at 1am this morning (thinking about work related things I’d been learning the day before) it was a slooow day exercise wise – much like the one that preceded it.

Today therefore I’ve been filled with diet related guilt and trying to confront the elephant in the room.

Activity on a work day.

Thankfully it’s been a good time¬†to wade in on this subject. Although overcast it’s been strangely bright today. There were showers on my drive in this morning but the remainder of the day has been¬†dry and relatively warm.

Every day for the last three weeks I’ve been jumping on my exercise bike at 6am – and rather like I hoped its become ‘the new normal‘. In fact I’d go so far as to say that¬†at the moment I no longer¬†consider it as counting toward my daily activity. Occasionally I’ve resented the early start and not enjoyed it – but I’ve got up every day, started¬†pedalling – and crucially completed every single hill climb¬†without stopping early.

It’s now just something I do every day.

I still miss the walking though – and decided this lunch time that with the good weather I had no excuse not to go and explore a bit locally.

I’ve been warned by my new colleagues to be careful with walking along the country lanes nearby¬†– so I’ve been a little on my guard. Apparently not so long ago someone from my workplace was killed when they were hit by a car at lunchtime walking down these¬†where the paths disappear into hedgerows and there are lots of blind corners.

My headphones remained in my pocket today. It was just me and the ambient noise.

This wasn’t a bad choice – and although I only managed¬†two¬†and a half miles or so in my lunch hour¬†it was quite pleasant. There are lots of fields and open land locally and once you step away from the main road the traffic noise largely disappears.

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There’s something really wonderful¬†about getting out and about in the middle of the working day. It re-connects you with the world, and takes you out of whatever mindset you had before the walk. If you’re really lucky nature is also ready and waiting with open arms to say hello as well.

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Just around the corner is a really nice little church which looks like it might have some nice stained glass windows inside. Although I didn’t have time for a look around I’m going to have to go back and have a look at it from the inside.

I particularly like the bell tower – as I’ve not seen one quite so open to the elements for a while. It’s quite an interesting architectural feature I think – although it seems to be lacking anything vaguely resembling a bell!

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I was planning to go for a walk when I got home in the evening as well – but when it came down to it I honestly didn’t feel like spending the length of time it would take to burn the calories that I wanted to, so I elected instead to have my third workout of the day on my exercise bike – making the total for the day 4.35 miles walked and¬†13.5 (virtual) miles cycled.

This leaves me at 93 minutes of cardio and around 1600 active calories burned – but I fear I will have to do much more for the rest of the week if I’m to have a good loss on Saturday.

Sigh.

I never feel like I’ve done enough.¬†

I wonder sometimes if anyone does?

It would be nice for once to put my head on the pillow and think (without any voices in the background) that I’d done all I possibly could on any given day – rather than feeling that I hadn’t accomplished what I should have done.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t sit around feeling down about this – but this sensation¬†almost never leaves me¬†and the¬†thought process is¬†there in the back of my mind no-matter what I’m doing.

Sometimes it really wears me out.

It’s like I’m competing with an ideal of myself that some hidden part of me set without ever letting me know what the parameters were. All I know for certain is that whatever the goal is I never meet it – and regardless of what I accomplish¬†I can’t sit back and relax physically or mentally.

However – on the flip side of that coin I’m now also¬†someone who is driven, and needs to be.

If nothing else this eternally vague sense¬†of personal dissatisfaction propels me off the pillow without pressing snooze at 5.50am and makes me willing to improve every week – and in that respect it’s supremely useful.

Three cheers internet for negative obsessive compulsive behaviour thats been re-purposed to benefit the fatty afflicted by it!

Davey

Determined

Something that’s surprised me lately is how I have begun to¬†react to disappointment.

I could easily have been criticised in the past for using failure as an excuse to give up. I also actively shied away from competition of any kind because I knew how I felt when I lost. It left me feeling diminished somehow, and it almost never resulted in a will to do better. Instead it just confirmed my already negative feelings about my abilities and got stacked on the pile of other similar experiences labelled¬†‘evidence that Dave is not good enough’.

A few weeks ago I had a massive weight loss, which came as a huge surprise to me.

Don’t get me wrong – I worked for it. I mean I really really worked for it. I counted every calorie, exercised loads, ate way less than I normally did¬†– and it all paid off in spades.

The thing that was slightly different about that week compared to others is that the Saturday¬†before I’d put three pounds back on. It was a huge kick in the man globes at the time and I was angry with myself.¬†Initially this began to¬†turn into self recrimination – but then for some reason that suddenly morphed¬†into determination.

My friend has a nickname for me. She has taken to calling¬†me (amongst other whimsical things) a ‘determined f****r’.

It’s partially related to something she made me realise many months ago when I said to her in passing that I wasn’t an ambitious person.¬†She poked me across the table and said ‘you’re talking crap – you’re the most ambitious person I know!’

I was more than a bit surprised.

She made me realise that evening in the pub (as she gently read me the riot act over a glass of diet coke) that ambition was not solely related to industry and that just because I didn’t want to be CEO of a fortune 500 company I was still driven in other ways.

‘I don’t know anyone else that has changed their life in the way that you have.’ She said.

‘That takes ambition. You’re AMBITIOUS!’

If you read yesterday’s post I was underwhelmed with my weight loss – despite my certificate and bothered by silly numbers in trousers. For a moment I took my eye off the prize and forgot to stand back at and look at the bigger picture.

That picture is rather lovely when viewed with a sense of perspective. I’ve lost eleven and a half stone. I don’t know anyone else in my private life or past that’s done that.

Not only have I done it once –¬†¬†I’ve done it twice (I lost 10st before putting it back on in 2008).

I know how to do it the wrong way and now (hopefully) I know how to do it the right way.

So – when I woke up this morning I was driven. I had a lot of plans for the day – and TOP of the list was fitting in as much exercise as I could. My Sunday morning alarm went off at 7am, and I was on my exercise bike by 7.30.

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The weather was supposed to be crap today – so if my plans (walking with a friend at 10am) were derailed by rain I could at least say I’d done my bit.

By the time my friend arrived for our planned walk I’d also filled the slow cooker and was beginning to cook my lunches for the week at work. I had forgotten to buy ham slices for my mini quiches however – so (since it wasn’t yet raining and look quite nice) we decided to walk to Sainsburys two miles away and get a coffee at the same time as my ham.

After some brisk twalking there and back (along with plenty of caffeinated chatter in Starbucks) we bid each other goodbye and I carried on with my cooking – now armed with the right ingredients.

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I chopped up a salad for work, ate four of the mini quiches that I’d made, boxed up the rest, and in the meantime¬†cooked¬†a chilli for tomorrow and the day after. I gave the slow cooker a good stir and then headed out for my next appointment.

Logan.

The cinema was a mile and a half away – so I decided to go for it and see if I could beat my mile record. The last time I managed a 17.23 (my previous best) in the park on a flat surface with no roads to cross and no gradients. This was over busy roads and with hills – but what the hell. I’d give it a go.

I only managed to beat it – 17.14 and an average pace of 17.10!

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This feeling of success was greatly enhanced when I was waiting outside the cinema (slightly early) for my brother and his wife to arrive.

As he rounded the corner and walked over the road I noticed he wasn’t he wasn’t paying any attention to me. I assumed he was having a bad day and was in a grim mood – until I saw a surprised look on his face as it lit up and I caught his eye.

‘I didn’t recognise you!’ he said.

As we went into the cinema and the lights went down I asked him ‘were you joking or did you really not recognise me?’

‘No – honestly! I looked right through you and didn’t recognise you!’ he said.

I was a bit stunned. My own brother no longer recognises my shape.

We watched the film (it was excellent – I highly recommend you go and see it), said our goodbyes and made our separate ways back home.

The weather had changed. It was getting cold. freezing in fact – and I was stuck waiting for the traffic to let me cross the road with a biting wind in my face.

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As I stepped off the kerb I felt a spring in my gait and realised that despite having already walked a lot that I had more energy in the tank.

Despite being delayed I thought I’d go for it again and see if I could once more improve on my time. This time I’d walk as fast as I possibly could and only stop if things really started to hurt.

When Apple Watch tapped my wrist to tell me I’d done a mile I checked the time and nearly stopped dead on the spot. Despite waiting at the road to cross, despite walking up a hill afterwards, and despite the wind being against me I’d smashed it again!

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I can now do a mile in 16 minutes and 33 seconds!!!

By the time I reached home I was in a supremely good mood. According to my stats today I’ve done 21,180 steps, walked 10.61 miles, burned 2080/4867 active/total calories and completed 150 minutes of cardio.

Now was the time to celebrate. With food. GOOD FOOD.

I opened the lid of the bubbling slow cooker.

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Inside was a stew made with: chopped chicken breasts, a leek, a medium potato, half a swede, half a courgette, one large carrot, a carton of passata, a can of chopped tomatoes, three cloves of garlic, an inch and a half of finely chopped spanish chorizo, 3 bay leaves, a chicken stock cube, salt, ras el hanout seasoning and cinnamon.

It smelt and tasted divine.

I’ve just finished a bowl of it while I’ve been writing this.

Almost as soon as I arrived home the heavens opened and I can hear the rain hammering down outside my window. I’m warm from the exercise, full from the soup in my belly, supremely happy with my level of activity today, over the moon that my own brother didn’t recognise me.

I’m generally a bit high on life.

So – this is the way I mean to go on this week. I’m not going to think about how much exercise I can’t do – I’m going to think of ways that I CAN do it, because somehow, by hook or by crook I’m going to nail that 12 stone certificate, and I’m going to do it soon.

Do you know how I know that internet?

I know it because I’m a¬†determined f****r, and I’m not going to take my eye off the prize this week, or the next, or the one after that. I’m going to own it and I’m going to nail it.

Davey

Silly numbers

Well the first full week of my new job is over Рand today was the crunch day. What had sitting all week done to me? Had I lost any weight?

On almost every day¬†since last week¬†(I had a little wobble last night and ‘used up’ all the nice things such as ham and flavoured cottage cheese in my fridge) I have been very good indeed.

I’ve been eating lots of fish and either salad or stir fry every day¬†– and taking it to work for lunch (in much smaller portions than I normally have) along with an apple or two.

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(my dinner on Friday was salmon, prawns, broccoli, a bag of stir fry vegetables and some peas with soy sauce)

I’ve not eaten off plan once. Even slips like last night have been accounted for.

I’m still preoccupied by the walking though. I already¬†miss having the time to meander¬†from A to B at my own (usually quite brisk) pace profoundly, and I can’t stop thinking about whether I’m doing enough or not.

As I type I’m still perspiring. It’s 4pm and I’ve just climbed off my exercise bike after my usual 30 minute hill climb. I’ve also walked around seven miles prior to this so far today – and have just filled my cardio ring on Apple Watch twice over. I have more planned for tomorrow and will do the same distances again on Sunday¬†if not more.

I’ve got to make the most of the weekend.

My ‘excuse’ for an early morning walk (before Slimming World) today was that I needed trousers – badly. The last pair I purchased were actually for job interviews (link) in early December, and I’ve been hitching them up and pulling them in with my belt in order to keep them up in my new job all week.

They don’t look stupid but they make me feel a little self conscious if I’m honest – plus I only had one pair, which means there was no choice but to wash and wear.

Before I went out I thought I’d check the label in the old trousers – which were made from quite comfortable material and just try for a smaller pair¬†in the same range. I was a bit surprised by the sizing when I looked in the back. I hadn’t realised they were a 56in waist.

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The jeans I currently wear are a 50in waist – but if there’s anything I’ve realised it’s that sizes vary wildly, so¬†when I arrived at the shop I cautiously asked for a 52in – which much to my annoyance fitted perfectly.

I begrudgingly bought two pairs – one in grey and another in black.

I know it really shouldn’t matter. It’s just a label – but it’s a higher number than the one in my jeans and it means I’m annoyed¬†with myself.

This is regardless of the fact that I can actually get a pair of 48in jeans on now

I will say though that (despite being able to do up the waistband button on the denims¬†I tried today)¬†it’s not flattering, and I think visually wearing them in company¬†may even constitute some kind of crime that’s related to gross public indecency if I ventured¬†outdoors.

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Maybe another day then. The 48’s can wait.

The gentleman in the shop was kind enough to turn my trousers up an inch for me while I tried on tops and other items Рuntil half an hour later when I left the shop with a nice smart 4XL brown check shirt and my newly shortened trousers.

But stupidly Рas I walked away with my carrier bag РI was falling into my usual trap.

The trousers I bought in December were falling down. They were at least four inches too big Рand yet I was telling myself I was a failure because of a number tag that said 52 in the back of my new pair.

I started at a 66in waist back in January and was wearing 64in when I started SW – which now look ridiculous on me (link). Why on earth was I thinking thoughts about anything other than success?!!

If I’m honest when I arrived to weigh in I was still stuck in this train of thought. I felt¬†deflated and a bit low – and in between the clothes shop and the meeting I had convinced that I was about to compound the horrible number in the back of my new trousers with a bad result on the scales.

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I ended up losing a pound and a half and picked up my much coveted 11.5st award as well.

It’s a massive milestone.

Again though¬†I still took this in much the same way as I did the number in my trousers. I had lost weight – and yet it still felt like I’d not done enough.

However this is why I go to a group.

As always, they were lively, happy, friendly and there were lots of hugs. People shared their thoughts and tips Рand one delightful young lady even shared the unwanted contents of her kitchen with me (I now have larger slow cooker Рyay!) which was gratefully received!

By the time the group had finished I felt a little better, but my mojo was still partially missing in action. 

Then, as we were stacking up the chairs and getting ready to leave someone said something to me that changed my whole outlook not only on the day but on where I was before vs where I am now.

It wasn’t a throw away comment either – and it meant a lot to me.

Honestly I don’t think anyone’s said anything like that to me for a very long time and it changed my perspective significantly on how other people might¬†see me now.

Given my feelings after the firework incident the other evening I don’t think it could have come at a better time – and as I sit here typing with my exercise bike cooling down in the corner it’s oddly not my certificate, or the numbers in my book that I’m thinking about.

It’s that one thing that someone took the time to walk over and say to me, because they thought I might need to hear it.

So – once again I’m reminded that other people (such as the cheerful and chatty companion on my walk this afternoon) make life worth living.

If I followed my old patterns, and listened in isolation to all the negative crap that I can beat¬†myself up with I would probably get no-where, or even begin to backslide on days where I can’t seem to make sense of my feelings.

However, again and again people step out of no-where when I least expect it and pick me up and elevate my thoughts – bringing me back to where I need to be.

There are lots and lots of negative things in the world Рbut my certificate and my group are NOT among of them. Today my loss is not just a number.

It means a lot lot more.

Davey

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A work in progress

Sometimes feelings from the past come back when you least expect them – and last night I was rudely reminded of how things used to be out in the big wide world.

After work, bothered by the thought of my impending weigh in on Saturday and about¬†the number of miles I feel I haven’t walked this week I headed out for a brisk stroll to Leamington and back.

I was also busy trying to switch my brain off and filter all the useless and non-productive thoughts that go through my head (that I needlessly worry about) from the things I focus on less and actually need to consider more.

Although I’m generally positive¬†I sometimes find that a healthy sense of perspective is a tricky¬†thing to maintain. Like a lot of people I think that I’m often guilty of letting what are actually very small fears temporarily dictate my internal narrative and overwhelm all of the positive things¬†in my life.

I find lately though that my thoughts always comes into better focus during exercise.

Maybe it’s the endorphins, maybe it’s the change of scenery, maybe it’s just coincidence.

As I walked it was working. My thoughts were collating, my grumbles had slipped away РI could see some clarity. My mood was improving.

Then all of a sudden I noticed what appeared to be a cigarette butt bouncing behind a passing car to the right of me and looked around. It’s orange embers and sparks were dying quickly as they spread out by my side.

Then there was a loud bang, and I realised that it wasn’t a cigarette – it was a firework.

I jumped – and was immediately jolted out of my train of thought.

As I looked after the car that was disappearing into the distance I realised I had no hope of getting the number plate. It was too far away and turning a corner. All that all I could tell was that it was a silver BMW.

It was gone moments after, and all I was left with was a raised pulse.

I’m not blowing this out of proportion. It was a banger. I wasn’t in danger. The people in the car were medical miracles – and living examples that human beings could against all odds survive brain donation.

Things happen, and there will always be idiots in life. I’m not of the opinion that all of a sudden my neighbourhood has become any more antisocial than it was the day before.

However Рthe event did something quite unexpected.

I immediately thought ‘They did that because I’m fat.’

Then I stopped for a minute. I’m still big – but I’m no longer standing out in crowds like I used to. I’m not that size any more. I’m no longer almost 35 stone.

At times though I’m instantly transported back to being that person. It’s like I’m still covered with¬†his body – and occasionally I react with the same emotions and feelings he did. I expect the lingering looks that he received, and deep down I also think I’m going to receive the same abuse.

One of the questions I keep getting asked (when discussing the amount of weight I’ve lost) is ‘Do you feel different?’

I’ve always responded to this question with ‘Sure – I definitely do. I’m no longer carrying 11+ stone around with me. In every measurable way I feel physically healthier, fitter and more vital. I feel very different.’

However – when this question was asked of me earlier in the week by someone I’d only just met they replied to my usual response with ‘No – I mean, do you think the same way that you used to?’

It made me pause for a moment because I realised that I’d been answering this question for almost a year the same¬†way because I’d been thinking about it the whole time solely in terms of my changing dimensions.¬†To me the query¬†was all about numbers, and detailing the effect of dropping the immense burden that I carried everywhere and¬†which¬†so drastically limited my mobility.

Then quite out of the blue I’ve been reminded that changing the outside doesn’t necessarily change the inside. Deep down I’m at times still dealing with a lifetime¬†of incidents like this¬†and this¬†and this. What I sometimes feel is a¬†seemingly endless history of abuse that stretches back to early childhood means that I still expect people to see me and react in a way that they probably¬†no longer do.

The idiot with the firework is long gone – and I really couldn’t care less about him or her.

The universe will sort them out soon enough. Things have a way of balancing themselves out.

The person that lives within me though is still here, and occasionally I become him again – just for a brief moment.

The duration of the feeling though is not significant. The issue for me is¬†that fact that it’s still present¬†at all – and I don’t want it to be. I want instead to be a continually confident person – no longer tied to the past – and living his life completely free of worry¬†about what will happen when he interacts with the world.

These days 90% of the time I manage it – and I hope that as months, and eventually years continue to pass that this ability will grow and grow until I one day I no longer second guess myself and don’t expect the uglier side of people to be directed at me without warning.

I look forward to it – but I’m clearly not there just yet.

In the meantime internet I’m changing my answer.

It’s now ‘Yes – I feel physically very different – but sometime it’s not so easy to forget who I used to be. I’m a work in progress.’

Davey