Fatman!

It often says more about the person making a judgement of someone else than it does about the person they’re judging.

We’re all basically a complex set of rules and mental flow charts designed (as we grow) to make sense quickly of the world around us. We categorise based on good or bad experience and because of this are able to make ever quicker complex judgements based on what happened to us in the past.

I used to get picked out and abused on the street a lot.

Newer readers may not be familiar with this aspect of my weight loss journey but it was a constant reminder of how people saw me and it stopped me from going out unless absolutely necessary for a long time before I joined Slimming World.

It was the subject of several posts (Link) (another link) (yet another link) and it happened so often back then often I mostly just kept my mouth shut and tried to move on. I would be abused by teenagers hanging out of moving cars, drunks, white van drivers and more often than not (although usually this was observational rather than malicious) children.

I was minding my own business in a shop today, looking at the items on the shelf in front of me and listening to some quiet, chilled jazz on my earphones.

Then behind me I heard an enthusiastic child.

Fat man!‘ He shouted really loudly.

I turned around.

Physiologically I noticed my pulse rate quicken, my cheeks flush with embarrassment and my temper begin to flare. My jaw had clenched and I was about to unleash a cold, hard stare at whichever hapless parent was in charge of the little swine behind me.

Until I saw the child.

He was excited, jumping up and down and happy, holding onto the hand of his dad as he dragged him toward a video game.

‘Look! Batman!! He repeated.

I unclenched everything – now annoyed with myself instead of him.

I’d mis-heard, then instantly leapt to judgement and filled in the blanks. I’d painted the mental picture I’d expected and in a heartbeat returned myself to a feeling that has been absent for many many months.

It wasn’t pleasant.

A few people have said to me lately ‘I’m not being funny – but you look normal now.’

Shortly after the words have left their mouths they then (all) falter a bit – desperate not to be simultaneously insulting and complimentary in the same breath.

I’m not insulted though – and I always appreciate their words because I know they come from a positive place. I also know from experience that it’s also sometimes pretty hard to say (without causing offence) that someone looks better now than they used to.

The underlying issue is that I still struggle to get my head around the concept that I no longer look ‘abnormal’ – which frankly I did before

Granted – there is no ‘normal’ – and if you parachuted me into the middle of a society not currently in the middle of an obesity epidemic that didn’t sell plus sized clothing of any kind I’d still stand out like a sore thumb.

At the moment though I’m a big guy – but maybe no longer unusually so.

I guess the question is when will this revelation sink in mentally – and how long will it take for this knee-jerk fight or flight response to children and white van drivers dissapear?

Like everything I suppose this will take time. In the meantime however I’ll have to console myself with the pleasant surprise that there are little geeks growing up in the world who also love Batman.

Let’s face it internet – Batman is cool but Lego Batman is just frozen in permafrost! 

Davey

Towards the future

There’s nothing like an incentive to do something.

I couldn’t help laughing when I visited a pub today – and sitting in the urinal was a green splash guard with a tiny goal and a little plastic football. It was an amusing and diverting way to make sure that clients who may be a little worse for wear focus on the task at hand.

(picture on my Instagram – I won’t inflict this on my delicate blog readership!)

I was there for a brief half way sit down and a pint of Diet Pepsi in the of middle a humid and sticky walk along the Greenway from Kenilworth to Balsall Common and back.

As I twalked with my companion I reflected that this heat was not something I’d have stepped out into a couple of years ago. I’d have stayed indoors and not gone anywhere for fear of looking sweaty and out of place.

If I had today then I wouldn’t have heard all of the birdsong, seen all of the lovely views and talked about all the things I did.

It’s often difficult to find motivation though. Sometimes you need a LOT more than a tiny plastic goal in a toilet. I’ve learned the hard way that doing something because someone else wants you to often fosters nothing but resentment and turns them into your jailer.

The only sure way to know you’re going to follow through with a commitment is to really want change.

It’s all very well to feel dissatisfied with your lot in life. It’s even easier to complain about it – but what does it take to make it so disagreeable that the status quo can no longer be tolerated and you finally get up and do something?

It’s not a question I can answer. Not for other people anyway. Their snapping or breaking point will probably be very different to my own.

I started thinking about this initially after yesterday’s Slimming World meeting – and considering why so many times in the past I’ve failed, lost my way – or ignored the truth about my health.

I know what the precise event was that began to change my perspective – but why (in that particular moment) I was open and receptive enough to switch my focus – and what gives me the determination to carry on day after day with the same mindset is something that I would have to say I still can’t fully explain.

As I walked today I discussed with my friend aspects of my last major relationship (which is a long time in the past but I’ve never truly let it go) and the regrets I still have about changes that I needed to make but never wanted to make and ultimately did not make.

I was discussing the pointlessness of hiding things from partners – and had to confess that I hid the truth of who I really was all the time when I was with my ex. I smoked in secret, drank when she went to visit family, ate extra meals and lied about it – and made being cared about not just difficult but turned it at times into a pitched battle of wills.

At times I’m outrageously angry with myself that someone that I dearly loved was pushed away from me partially because of my inability to be a different person.

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As I look at old photos of who I was then I’m also filled with sadness as I recall what I did and the stupid games I played whilst eating mints and pretending my cigarette lighter belonged to a friend. I may be smiling in the picture but I know now I was starting to flush everything away.

I see someone much thinner than the man I became but already very unfit. I see his potential being completely wasted. I know that he wouldn’t really emerge from his downward spiral (at least not properly) for two decades.

The man I am now (both physically and emotionally) is probably the one I needed to be for someone that I deeply loved years ago – but that I couldn’t be at the time.

It’s incredibly frustrating.

However – there’s paradox here – because I wouldn’t be who I am now if I didn’t carry this regret buried deep down inside me.

You see – I can’t answer completely what got me up at 7am to work on my garden for four hours before I went for an eight mile walk. I can’t really tell you why when my mother died it suddenly prompted me to take a different, less self destructive path.

I can however write a list of all the things that cumulatively, over a LONG period of time combined together to provide a tipping point – where I had loaded SO MUCH failure upon SO MUCH regret and SO MUCH lost opportunity before I said ‘no more‘ and started to turn my life around.

Sure – I wish that I’d come to this point sooner. I wish I hadn’t done so much to push away and alienate someone that I cared about – but what happened happened. Even though it was painful and still hurts deep down it was necessary. Without this sorrow I’d have no perspective and no willingness to hold onto what’s real and needed in life.

Do I wish that things were different?

Only every day.

But then I realise what I have now as I work in the garden and walk with my friend in the sunshine. Then I wouldn’t change a thing.

Yesterday a fellow Slimming World’r asked me for my before and after photos. and I updated my ‘about‘ page to show where I was a year ago vs where I am now. I then sat there looking at them for a while full of mixed feelings.

I don’t really recognise the man in the before photos any more. He’s almost as distant to me as the man pictured above, despite the two decades separating them. I struggle to relate to his world view, his fear and his lack of vitality.

I remember him well enough though and I don’t like him.

However he made me what I am at this moment. His picture helps me get up to work on my garden – and makes me want to walk further and faster every day until one day I’ll be running.

Unlike him though internet I’m no longer running from the past – I’m running towards the future.

Davey

Burgers, salsas and fourteen stone

I’ve spent another day hacking away at my undergrowth and as of this afternoon (I’m writing the start of this post on Friday evening) I’ve practically finished the right hand side of my garden. After a few hours in the morning, a visit to the tip with another nine bags of clippings and a half a green bin filled shortly after I came back I’m well on the way to starting on to the other side.

It’s hard to believe the difference since last Sunday – or that I’ve managed to keep at it for 4-5 hours a day. Sadly what’s even harder to ignore is that it’s barely 40% done.

The left side is going to be a big task.

At the moment I have other things on my mind though. It’s food tasting day tomorrow at Slimming World – and these are occasions I genuinely enjoy.

The point of them is discovering something new – I try and make a different dish for each one (If you want to see what else I’ve made follow the recipes category on my archive page).

This is mostly because I tend to cook the same meals a lot of the time without a huge amount of variety. When I’m forced to experiment it pushes me out of my comfort zone and makes me switch up my habits.

Tomorrow (as it’s summer) I thought I’d do something with a barbecue theme. I’m making some chimichurri beef burgers, a few salsas and some sweet potato paprika and garlic seasoned wedges.

All of the dishes I’m cooking are free on Slimming World’s plan.

The beef burgers would probably be a bit of a faff to do in the morning – so I’ve made the patties up tonight from the following ingredients (I doubled the amounts to make some for myself too – so the pictures aren’t showing the same quantities as the recipe):

  • half a small onion finely chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic finely chopped
  • half a tsp of salt
  • half a tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp of freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp of freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes
  • 500g of 5% fat beef mince

Instructions – fry the onion on a low heat for 5 minutes until soft and then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Let this cool while you chop the herbs, and add the other seasoning to the mixing bowl. Then add the mince and the cooled onions and garlic and knead it for a while until all the ingredients have a good consistency and are well mixed together.

Once this is done make them into patties. I made 10 of them rather than the suggested 8 in the recipe so that they cook quicker and all the way through. I don’t plan to poison my fellow slimmers in the morning!

(author puts the patties in the fridge under some tinfoil and retires to bed via the shower. It’s flipping warm tonight!)

Well – I didn’t sleep so well. The heat didn’t help although it was mostly due to the usual musings about weight loss – so at 5.30 I decided to stop staring at the ceiling and make some salsa instead.

The first of the three was a ginger, coriander and tomato one. The ingredients (finely chopped in all three) are:

  • 2-3 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2cm piece of peeled root ginger
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sweetener (I used stevia)
  • seasoning to taste

The second (and probably the tastiest) is the pineapple and red chilli one:

  • 250g fresh pineapple (I used slightly less)
  • 1 deseeded red chilli
  • small bunch of fresh mint
  • the zest and juice of a lime

Finally – the third is a summer watermelon salsa:

  • 1/4 large watermelon (remove any seeds)
  • 1 deseeded green chilli
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • small bunch of fresh mint
  • seasoning to taste

Once these are complete they needed to be chilled so I spooned them into the tupperware I’ll be transporting them in and popped them in the fridge alongside the burger patties.

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It’s raining outside now (it’s 8.45) which is quite nice. The thunder that came with it has broken the heat and it’s now a tiny bit cooler.

In keeping with the (loose) theme of a summer barbecue that originally inspired me I’m going to cook the burgers on my George Foreman grill, which will hopefully give the burgers a ‘griddled’ look. It’s been languishing at the back of my kitchen cupboard due to restricted space for ages (my slow cooker won the toss) and I think it’s about time it came out to play.

I’ve also prepared the garlic and paprika sweet potato wedges and they’re ready to go in the oven. I’m going to have a shower and get cooking shortly after.

(author heads off to shower before preparing yummy treats and heading off to weigh in.)

Well – the burgers and the wedges turned out pretty nice and it was all I could do not to tuck in before heading off!

There was lots and lots of delicious food at the group – and no-one brought the same things along! There were some really cool fruit kebabs, canapés made with wholemeal bread, crustless quiches, chicken nuggets, marshmallow and cheerio cakes, rice dishes (I’m definitely going to make Angie’s egg fried rice myself!) and a really scrumptious lime flavoured dessert.

All in all everyone seemed to really enjoy the wedges and burgers. I’m glad I made a variety of salsas as most people only seemed to try two of the three. It seemed quite naturally that most ended up disliking a random one because of a particular ingredient, which I fully expected and was why I’d made more than one in the first place.

I’d kept the burgers and wedges warm in tinfoil – although the former had dried out a little in my opinion. However, regardless they still tasted really nice and I’m now very glad I still have a few in the fridge for tomorrow!

Sadly, despite the fringe benefits of all the food tasting today the group was surprisingly small.

As always however there was plenty to talk about – and the weather seemed a constant topic. Most people had struggled with the heat it seems and it was pretty clear that everyone I spoke to felt a bit more sluggish – and suspected they were holding onto water. I definitely feel like this too – and have noticed that my shoes in particular have been tighter around the ankles over the last few days as the heat has increased.

However – I still managed to do enough to finally frikkin get my

FOURTEEN STONE CERTIFICATE!!!

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Given all my hard work in the garden and walking this week I really wanted to lose a bit more – but you know what – it’s not a race to the finish line. The weight’s going to come off bit by bit and hopefully next week will an even better one if the temperature drops. I’m confident it will all be gone eventually!

Quite unexpectedly (while I was munching away on all the virtuous food) Angie also presented me with the Man of the Year Award for my group and a cool little coffee mug!

So – that’s it for my day’s update. I’m dog tired and honestly I don’t plan on doing a great deal for the rest of the day.

If anyone needs me internet I’ll be munching on the leftover salsa, producing chilli flavoured bottom burps and drinking coffee from my new mug (parp).

Davey

Coombe Abbey

When I lived in Wales I was convinced that (maybe with the exception of Scotland) I was fortunate enough to hang my hat in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK. I loved every bit of the countryside around Aberystwyth and over the years I’ve continually felt a yearning to return.

However over the last year I’ve come to realise that although the character of Warwickshire (where I currently live) is very different (there are no sandy beaches or craggy mountains for instance) what I have now is also pretty enviable in a different way. As I’ve said before – there are huge parts I’ve just never explored – and had absolutely no idea that they were there.

Thankfully I have a friend with a fetish for maps who is just as keen on exploration as me. Today wasn’t a particularly intrepid walk in terms of exercise (it was flipping hot so neither of us fancied a mountain climb) but it was to a location completely new to me.

She had suggested we walk to Coombe Abbey and country park (link).

Our relaxing 5.5 mile round trip started at Binley woods under the shade of its beautiful little bridleway.

It was about a mile from where we parked to the Abbey grounds – and approaching it from a distance (as opposed to parking in the grounds) was absolutely the right way to go. As you get closer and closer the long tree lined avenue draws the eye in and you can’t seem to look anywhere else but the beautifully framed building in the distance (which is now a Hotel.)

The original Abbey dates back to 1150 when it was founded by Cistercian monks, and it eventually became the most powerful monastery in Warwickshire. It’s primary revenue stream (producing fine wool for buyers all around England) changed the economics of the region and helped to make Coventry an important centre for trade in the middle ages.

In 1603 the seven year old daughter of King James I came to be educated (and live) at the abbey. Two years later Guy Fawkes’ plan to blow up the houses of parliament with gunpowder included a plot (once the seat of government was gone and the King was dead) to kidnap her and install the young girl on the throne as a puppet monarch whilst he and his co-conspiritors worked to return the Catholic faith to Britain.

It’s chequered and often violent history (there have apparently been several successful and failed assassinations on the premises) may explain the moat and boat portcullis either side of the bridge on the path leading up to the (absolutely lovely) hotel.

(or it may just be for decoration – I have no idea!)

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We decided after a little look around the gardens to explore the nearby woodland and headed off in search of shade. The sun (at around 10am) was becoming pretty hot – and before heading in we both stopped to have a quick drink and re-apply our sunscreen.

The grounds and woodland are both incredibly well managed – and it was really nice for a change to visit a formal and ordered garden. Everywhere we looked there were little flashes of colour from both wild and planted flowers.

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Love was also clearly in the air for Ladybirds. They were in abundance by the water and regardless of me peering in on their moments of bliss they didn’t seem to mind and just got on with business…

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I can scarcely imagine better planning of a walk. Today – as the sun beat down above us in a largely cloudless sky we were shielded from the worst of its effects by a continually shady canopy and beautiful dappled light – which from time to time opened up to bathe the forest floor in sunshine.

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We were planning to take the longer of the two walks around the country park (around the outside of the lake and back to the front of the estate – but it seems that this part of the park (at least currently) is not accessible.

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Despite the locked gate there was a really nice little birdwatching hide nearby that was completely empty (we definitely came on the right day) and afforded some really nice views of the nesting Herons.

There was a huge potential variety of birdlife to see – and I think I really need to come back with some binoculars.

Sadly my camera phone isn’t really capable of doing any of the views from within justice.

I uploaded a video to YouTube to give you an idea of the amount of Herons – but what’s really hard to see is the tree that I’m focusing on is FULL of them.

The audio gives an idea though of the variety of birdlife all around…

This is one of those times that makes me REALLY want to get a better camera!

Almost as soon as we’d started it seemed like we (following the medium access route on the above map) were back at the abbey grounds – where patiently waiting for us in the lilly pond were possibly my favourite things in the world.

Swanlings!

Once I’d adored them for a while it was a perfect time to stop for a coffee (my poor bald head was baking) and thankfully there was a nearby visitor centre (also mostly deserted) where we could sit and relax for 20 minutes.

After this (with occasional little fluffy clouds now populating the sky) we headed back out of the grounds, along the bridleway towards Binley Woods and back to the car.

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After another quick coffee at my friend’s house and a hug we parted ways. I needed to get back home and make the most of my time. The day was barely half way done and I still had my garden to think about.

I’ve still got a long way to go – but this week has been a big one with regards to exercise. I’ve spent at least four hours a day working on it and bit by bit I’m slowly making progress.

When my friend and I started on Sunday it (rather shamefully) looked like this.

Since then (whilst trimming and mowing) I’ve pulled what seems to be miles of ivy out of the lawn, chopped up all of the branches I’d previously left on the patio, cut down three large bushes, and uncovered the path.

I’ve taken around 30 large bags of garden waste to the tip and this evening (after filling a few more sacks with ivy and bushes) it looks like this.

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While I’ve been uncovering the real shape of the garden It’s also been lovely finding all the little bugs, creepy crawlies and other resident wildlife lurking in the undergrowth. Wherever possible I’ve tried to leave them alone and make sure they have a chance to carry on living where I found them – such as this little guy who was quietly hiding under a plant pot.

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After taking a photo I quietly put the pot right back where it was and moved right along.

As of this evening I’ve almost finished the right hand side of the garden – although I discovered the hard way (whilst wearing rather thin gloves) that the last bush with the little orange/red blossoms (I have no idea what it’s called) is covered in super sharp evil little thorns.

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Frikkin OUCH!

I’m going to cut it right back to a stump and see if it survives. I rather like the look of the flowers – but in its current state it’s so out of control I can’t see a way of salvaging it without being brutal.

Soooo – on the plus side this week I’ve been exercising my self to bits.

I’ve generally felt like I’ve climbed over an assault course every morning. This means that I’m working parts of my body (mostly the backs of my legs and my arms) that don’t normally get a lot of focus.

On the negative side all the constant aching also means my muscles will probably be holding onto water (especially given the heat) and that doesn’t sound like a great recipe for the scales on Saturday…

I’ve had a good week with meals – but I did last week too and somehow managed to put half a pound on.

(insert unhappy face)

One can only hope for a good result internet!

In the meantime I’m going to carry on with my pruning. Laters!

Davey

Be kind to eachother

I’ve been trying (it’s almost impossible) to avoid the news reports today. The details that are slowly emerging of the suicide bombing in Manchester last night are incredibly moving – and each time I turn on the radio I hear of a parent talking about a near miss or a sense of shared horror that ones so young could be taken so senselessly. 

It’s at times like this I’m glad that I don’t have children of my own. Events like this make you want to pull the world closer to you, protect it and never let go. If I did I don’t think I’d want to let them ever leave the house again. 

However we can’t plan for anything like this. Life is chaos and we can’t control it. We have to accept that sometimes it’s just randomly and brutally cruel. 

The only answer I can give to such an event is to keep trying to find beauty in life wherever it’s hiding and do the best I can to be kind to others. Maybe by doing this in some small way the callousness of a violent minority intent on polluting our society will somehow be offset. 

It seems desperately inadequate to say something like that – but I refuse to feel anger and hate. It just pollutes everything and furthers the agenda of those that would narrow our world view. They hope that by fostering division and distrust that the only recourse we will be left with is to react violently and indiscriminately. 

I prefer to live in hope. 

Hours before all of this carnage unfolded I took some photos of the new swanlings in the park, posting one on Instagram, and keeping some back for my blog. 


At the time they lifted my spirits – and although my thoughts about them have a more somber dimension this afternoon they still do

My friend (feeding the ducks with her daughter) had sent me a photo of them only the day before. When she did there were seven babies. 


Now barely 24 hours later there are only four, but they’re persisting and clinging on to life. 

Specifically because of this today they make me happy. 


Last year only one of an original litter of 6 managed to make it to full term – but I still see him/her occasionally in the park, charting a proud (but currently still lonely) route along the river. 

Anyway… (sigh)

Moving on…

For the last few days I’ve persisted in my efforts to batter the garden into submission and so far the whole space looks loads better.  


After Sunday’s effort I spent most of Monday attacking it as well – on top of some previously planned walks in the morning and afternoon. 

I had planned yesterday to mow the lawn and start on the right hand bushes but as I did so and filled refuse sacks with grass it became quickly apparent that the lawn had become riddled with ivy and I was exposing a rather large problem – a large network of vines. 

I’ve had issues with ivy on the back wall of my house for a while but never on the grass, and i discovered that it had made it all the way (both in the the grass, under the grass and through the earth) to the opposite fence.  

By the time I’d finished yesterday I’d mowed only 3/4 of the area that was strimmed on Sunday and filled 12 garden refuse sacks with ivy (which was a swine to pull out without snapping the tendrils) and grass. 

The upper half of the garden is way worse than the lower part and I’ve still got a lot to rake out. At this rate there won’t be much grass left, as it’s being mostly yanked out along with the 6-7ft tendrils snaking their way over to my other border. 

By the time it came to go to the tip (it closes at 3.15pm and I’d also run out of bags) my back could take no more. When I finally conked out later in the day (after a five mile afternoon walk) I felt like I’d truly had the mother of all workouts. Everything ached. 


Although it got a bit confused with the difference between my walking and gardening Apple Watch reported 32,293 steps – which I think is a personal record for one day’s stats. 

Today all my aches felt worse and I really didn’t feel like getting out of bed at all when I woke up. 

My arms honestly feel like I’ve been trying to bench press a truck – and the backs of my thighs are in knots. What I’m doing is clearly good for me – but that doesn’t make creaking around the house (or the garden) any more palatable.  

It’s also begun to worry me today that I’m going to be disturbing some lovely bird life as I continue with my drastic pruning. There appear to be thrushes and robins going in and out of the foliage to the left of me all the time and one in particular has been flying back and forth with my newly created twigs and is clearly making a nest somewhere very nearby although I can’t see where. 

Others (Robins mostly) are taking advantage of the dry earth I created with my raking and have been engaging in spirited dust baths, chirping and tweeting as they do so, whilst I’ve quietly watched them at a distance with my coffee. 


One little guy in particular has been inquisitively following me about for two days now, hopping in close to have a look, cocking his head, grabbing a worm and then flying off into the nearly foliage. 

However I’m committed to cutting it all back – but if I find anything obvious I’ll try to cut around it. I don’t want to ruin some little bird’s chance at a life. 

I’m driving on regardless because it’s been looming over me both literally (it’s about 10ft high on the left hand side) and metaphorically for ages. 

The garden started to get really out of control in line with my worsening health and the more that slipped the bigger the problem got. In my head (despite my progress) it remained huge – and had become something that I thought I couldn’t do on my own. The reality is however that things have changed and I’m now capable of sorting it out. 

In much the same way as not wanting to be a marathon runner – but wanting to be able to eventually run – I’m doing the garden predominantly because I can. 

It just so happens I’m also rather enjoying myself in the process. 

Anyway Internet. I must get on. 

Don’t give in to hate and just be kind to eachother. 

Davey. 

Frogs and blue steel

I neglect my garden. There. I said it.

I’m a bad bad boy – but I’m trying to change (slowly).

My friend however is someone that has significant interest in horticulture and I think my lack of grass and plant husbandry is something that definitely offends his eyes. He’s been gently suggesting we have a crack at it for a few weeks – but for one reason or another we’d put it off.

The problem is that once you let it go a bit wild (which I did when I had a lot of mobility issues) it’s a pretty tough sell to get out there and make a start. It’s also far more fun to go for a walk and enjoy nature elsewhere that seems a bit less like a pain in the ass.

My garden at 10am definitely looked like a serious pain in the ass.

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However – when there are two of you to tackle something it can be quite enjoyable, and today there were three. However I have to question the work ethic of the third participant. He seemed completely disinterested in hard labour and instead far more focused on a deflated football from the undergrowth.

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Despite multiple suggestions that he take over filling my recycling bin with twigs there was little to no interest and eventually I just let him get on with chewing leather.

It’s very hard to get good help these days.

It was pretty encouraging as I worked to notice the physical changes (in the last 4 months or so since I last had a crack at this) and how much easier it now is to bend down, and work at lower levels than my stomach used to make comfortable.

It really used to make my back hurt as well as making breathing harder – and although it’s still got more heft than it should do there’s little getting in the way any more. I’d even go as far as to say because of this specific change I genuinely enjoyed bringing order to chaos.

There does however appears to be a fringe benefit to letting your garden get a little out of control. The local frog population appears to have benefitted immensely from my absence. They were hopping all over the lawn as it was strimmed and either made their way to a nearby bush for safety or (like this little guy) were deposited in a clump of greenery further up the garden.

Three hours, several coffees, one completely jam packed recycling bin and another 10 refuse sacks later (thanks to the help of my most excellent friend) everything definitely looked tidier!

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Tomorrow I’m going to mow the rest of the grass flat (today it was still too wet from yesterday’s downpour to do anything but strim) and make a start on what I think is a large Buddleja crispa bush to the right. Once thats been chopped down to a stump and taken to the tip then its time to have a go at the left hand border (which I’m really not relishing).

For the moment though it’s nice to just see the patio again!

Despite his pitiful level of assistance with the weeds Boris also appeared to be satisfied with what had been accomplished.

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Afterwards I made another strong coffee, bid my mate farewell and killed another two birds with one stone by going grocery shopping after dropping the contents of my garden at the tip.

Consequently this evening I’m looking forward to what is going to be a very hearty beef stew – although irritatingly I neglected to get some Chorizo and Bay leaves – so I’m going to have to get a little inventive with the seasoning.

This is particularly irritating because I managed instead to buy things that I didn’t really need – including an item that was totally irrelevant – but that I’m convinced elevates my already jaw dropping good looks to another level entirely.

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It’s next to impossible not to ‘vogue’ when I put these sunglasses on, and I just HAD to buy them (dah-links!)

So – if the residents of Warwick see me posing and pouting whilst out and about over the coming weeks they’ll know that it’s probably caused by my sleek new eyewear which seems to unconsciously make me want to perfect my Zoolander ‘Blue Steel’.

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I have a little work to do – but I’m sure you’ll agree that the raw animal magnetism that my new sunglasses bring to the table makes the lack of a spicy paprika sausage and bay leaves almost forgivable.

Anyway internet, I better get on with chopping my carrots, swede and leeks. This evening’s awesome symphony of food isn’t going to get cooked by my devastatingly hot side profile alone – regardless of the fact that it will almost certainly contribute to bringing my stew to the boil.

Davey

Too busy loving life

I was talking to a fellow slimmer this morning about the battle to stay positive – even when injured. I reflected on this afterwards and in truth I remember when it happened to me (thankfully I’ve been ok for quite a while – although my plantar fasciitis never truly left for good) I felt like I’d hit the bottom of the barrel emotionally.

I earnestly wish her a speedy recovery so she can get back in the saddle ASAP.

An incredibly active friend has been telling me stories like this for years – and each time she’s broken, snapped, pulled, torn or dislocated something significant (this has been something of a theme over the years) I’ve not long after seen her long term mood take a turn for the worst.

I’ll admit – in the back of my mind – I always half wondered why she didn’t just get an XBOX and settle into a 48 hour Destiny marathon. After all it worked for me. Why had everyone else in the world failed to realise how good this was for the soul?

I used to be very enthusiastic about this game. It filled my life almost as completely as I filled my armchair (which I eventually broke with my impressive bulk).


Thanks to my XBOX being almost as much of a digital spy as my Apple Watch I know that whilst practically immobile I played this for 1052 hours. 

To save you working that out if I divide this figure by 24, I sat motionless in front of it for almost 44 solid days. Or – if you prefer to look at it like a job and divide it based on an 8 hour working day that works out to 131.5 days. If you want to know how it stacks up per annum that’s 26 weeks (based on a five day week) or half a year

Amazingly I did all of this before I started losing weight or being made redundant.

If only I’d been paid for my time…

I haven’t really played games for any significant period for quite a while. Readers may be surprised (given my currently unemployed status) that I don’t feel I have the time anymore. I’m too busy with other things. If I do play it’s not long before I succumb to guilt and go for a walk (if I haven’t done so already) or jump on my exercise bike.

I miss exercise when it’s not in my day and when I can’t do it I get jumpy and irritable. I’m also absolutely certain that I drink as much coffee as I do because it’s a good excuse to go for a walk. The nearest Starbucks is 1.84 miles away. A steaming cup of joe means at least 4 miles of walking.

In retrospect I’m genuinely glad I listened last week to the people urging caution about my running attempts because today (free from the aching that had dogged my thighs for almost a week) I really needed to be on point and able to pour it on.

I needed a win.

This was mainly because (as expected) I didn’t lose anything in the scales at all. In fact I put on half a pound. 

Whilst it’s something I saw coming a mile away it still doesn’t make it nice to see on my ‘report card’. Ideally I’d like to see a steady loss every week instead of the rollercoaster I curently appear to be on.

I really can’t account for why this is. The last few days in particular have been between 1500-2000 kcal and I’ve burned a lot with exercise. Food wise I’ve eaten VERY healthily.

I’ve given up trying to figure it out for the most part though and have to tell myself over and over that this is just something that happens. The weight will be gone eventually and all I have to do is keep looking forward. In the meantime there are other wins to be had.

For the last few weeks I’ve not had any certificates for my progress (it seems that they are a rare commodity when you reach a certain level) but today in group Angie presented me with three in one go!

I have plans for these babies further down the line and I’m keen to collect as many as I can! As nice as they are to have though these are past wins representing things I’ve already done.

Today I needed another, tangible indicator of continued (even if it was gradual) progress.

And here it is.

I’ve been chasing the sub 16 minute mile for a long time and today (admittedly with a little downhill section and a lot of perspiration) I frikkin did it!!!

15 minutes and 27 beautiful seconds!

So there it is. Progress doesn’t have to be on the scales.

It can also be the lovely comment from a lady who almost didn’t recognise me today. It can be a chat to share encouragement with a fellow slimmer. It can be the phone call I just got to go for an impromptu walk with a friend and his daughter in the park. It can be the weather as the sun peeks from behind a cloud and reminds you that you’re not rooted to your armchair. 

That reminds me internet.

The armchair that I used to fill, where my stomach reached the ends of the arms when I sat in it.

Not any more.

There’s so much room in it I no longer fill it unless I sit differently.

Pfft. Half a pound. Whatever.

I’m too busy loving life to worry about it. 

Davey

Sea of velvet

My fingers are cold. Now I’m thinner I feel temperature drops in my hands a lot more than I used to and today they’re aching a bit.

Rather than turning on the heating though I’ve jumped into some fleecy jogging bottoms and have been warming my frosty digits with a large steaming mug of lemon and ginger tea. The warmth of the ginger is just the right thing to have after a long walk in inclement conditions and it compliments my relaxed mood as I look out of my window.

It doesn’t look like it’s going to stop raining any time soon – and the world outside seems to be getting another good dousing.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. My friend who has an allotment plot is quite pleased with how things have been panning out recently. His vegetable crop is definitely benefiting from the UK’s suddenly damp period.

However – from my own perspective I’ll be quite glad when it goes back to raining occasionally rather than every frikkin day. Although – when you time a walk just right (today it was just drizzle rather than a downpour so I’m only slightly soggy) it does admittedly make the world look pleasantly moist and green.

Everything seems to have a sense of life and freshness if you arrive just after the clouds have deposited their cargo.

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This morning I’ve been exploring again around the canal, fields and country roads of Hatton and Warwick – and have not long finished a really enjoyable seven and a half mile circular walk that took in all three. I’ve done bits of this separately over the last few weeks but not combined them all together in one go before.

Although the skies remained steadfastly grey today one of the things that always manages to cheer me up is wildlife. As well as the usual birdsong there’s also been an ever present sound of mewing lambs wherever my friend and I walked today. Much like my trek around the fields near Offchurch on Monday (link) the eyes of the permanent (and woolier) residents never seems to be far away.

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The crops are also shooting up furiously since I walked here last only a few weeks ago and the fields of wheat now stand at roughly waist height. Just like the produce on my fiend’s allotment they are hungrily sucking in the favourable light and the humid, damp conditions.

They look absolutely stunning at the moment – and it’s like walking through a huge sea of continually shifting velvet as the ears sway gently in the breeze.

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As soon as you’ve taken in the lambs and wide open green fields the hedgerows and woods close in again and as you walk you’re enveloped in a shady country lane once more – with next to no traffic.

All you can hear is… well… nothing!

It’s blissful.

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Occasionally I accidentally catch a programme on the radio called ‘Ramblings’ (link). Although I’ve always enjoyed listening to it in the past it often struck me as odd that a programme about taking in beautiful walks was something that was developed for and remained on radio rather than television.

However – the more I go twalking the more it makes sense.

Although the programme title’s dual meaning was never lost on me in the past (people on it ramble verbally while they ramble physically through the countryside) I never really thought too much about why the programme works before until relatively recently.

I think it’s because the combination of endorphins and the equality of walking side by side, looking forward (for the most part) means that we often discuss topics that people maybe wouldn’t approach the same way if they were sitting down, face to face and eye to eye.

Someone said to me recently that they have the best conversations with their children (often about difficult topics) when they’re driving, looking out of the window, next to each other and watching the world go by. I think the psychology of this is strikingly similar. It always seems to me that there’s little fear of judgement when we chat side by side without direct eye contact – and I wonder if it’s why walking and talking go so hand in hand.

Either way – I’m not complaining. It definitely makes the miles pass more quickly – and by the time we’d finished both myself and my friend were pleasantly warm (I was actually rather sweaty!) and pretty satisfied with the day’s activity.

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As always though my thoughts on a Friday are leaning toward my Saturday morning weigh in. Last week I had a pound to go before getting my fourteen stone certificate. I’d like to think I’ve done enough over the last seven days to secure that – but who knows?

I can never tell whether success on the scales awaits me or whether i’ll just need to be patient for another week or two.

Lately though it feels like I’ve not had much consistency. I’ve had big losses and then nothing much to show for what feels like a lot of effort or even a maintain. I’m not complaining though – as overall everything has been going completely in the right direction.

At the time of writing (who knows what the rest of the day holds?) this week I’ve walked 55 miles and cycled (on my exercise bike) around 8/10 – which is maybe a little less than recent weeks – but at the same time I’ve been making lots of salads and not eating very much in the way of meat (but plenty of fish) so on paper things look promising.

Pushing the scales in the opposite direction may be my increased focus this week (as it’s been raining) on using my weights to work on my upper body. I’ve really noticed the difference in my arms and shoulders from this – and although I think they still look rather weedy its early days and I’m really pleased with my progress. As I’ve said before, if this slows my weight loss then so be it. I want to be fitter as well as thinner!

Anyway – it’s dinnertime and I have a hankering for another large salad.

Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow internet! I want that certificate!!!

Davey

 

Stamping in puddles

At least in my neck of the woods the weather has been fairly awful this week. It’s been oddly humid as well as occasionally cold – and it’s not been pleasant when it comes to activity. 

Yesterday I had the appetite of several cart horses that hadn’t eaten for a week and it was frankly all I could do to stop thinking about eating. 

Every time I looked out of the window it was miserable – and I decided that there was no way that I was going out to get a second soaking in as many days. 

I almost changed my mind later in the afternoon after a chat with a friend until I realised that my walking boots were still squelchy and damp from the day before. I decided therefore to move them closer to a radiator and make do with my exercise bike. 

For whatever reason though I couldn’t make it to the end of my usual hill climb programme. My legs just didn’t have it in them and I retired after 25 minutes to sit quietly panting and annoyed with myself. 

Consequently everything I ate yesterday came with an accompanying sense of guilt, which if I’m honest is still lingering a bit today. 

Guilt is not necessarily a bad thing though – because whatever yesterday’s exploration of the deeper recesses of the fridge means for Saturday’s weigh in I wasn’t staying indoors today regardless of the weather. 


Not having waterproof trousers though makes a walk along the river into town a tough sell. As I now sit (steaming slowly dry whilst drinking coffee) I have very soggy thighs and because of this today I’ve been looking abstractly at getting some. 

If my purchase of supercoat has taught me anything though it’s that outdoor clothing is one of those areas where you really do get what you pay for. 

Supercoat wasn’t cheap by any means – but given that it has a detachable fleece inside and waterproof overcoat that could be worn separately or combined with its lining means that I think in retrospect that the expense was mostly rooted in it’s dual use. 

It’s certainly waterproof but (whatever it’s claims at the time of purchase) it’s not breathable

If I’m honest it’s my own fault. I bought it for only two rather superficial reasons without thinking too far ahead. 

  1. I had just got a new job (which I no longer have) and felt I could justify treating myself.
  2. It fitted – and I was blown away by the fact I could wear ‘mainstream’ clothing from a high street store for the first time. 

I’m sure you’ll agree that neither of these are very considered approaches to spending money on an item – but you live and learn. 

The fact is that a lot of my walks are occasions where I’m chasing an optimal exercise heart rate (around 90bpm usually) and when I hit this I tend to get a bit sweaty. 

Both the fleece and the overcoat contain this perspiration when fully zipped up on rainy days – resulting in me getting slowly steamed until my clothes underneath look like I’ve been standing in a shower anyway. 

I think this is just something that for the time being I’m going to have to live with though. 

When I bought supercoat I felt it looked quite flattering – but I also tried on a fleece in the same 3XL size (on the 9th February). Whilst putting together this post I was looking at the photos I took at the time – and comparing them to the ones I took in the Sainsburys hoodie I tried on last Sunday (14th May). 



There are three months between these photos. In the top one I was 23st 10lbs and in the bottom one I’m 20st 9.5lbs – almost exactly three stone lighter. 

I think that the mirror (and angle) is definitely flattering in the Sainsburys pic – but I know that in the February image I’m wearing a 4XL tee shirt (as opposed to 3XL below) and jeans with a 4inch larger waist (although these were getting quite loose at the time). 

Therefore spending £12.50 on a pair of supermarket jeans that will only last a few months but will be worn almost daily seems reasonable – but buying a properly breathable walking jacket and waterproof trousers that will be worn only a few times seems completely pointless. 

It’s both wonderful and frustrating in equal measure to have this dilemma. 

For obvious reasons I’m over the moon with my progress – and it makes me ecstatic (plus as I type it puts yesterday’s excesses firmly into perspective) but it’s annoying because I know that it’s a waste of time buying things that won’t last. 

As I read back over what I’ve written however I’m reminded that this is why I write my blog. It gives me the benefit of perspective. 

When I sat down to type I was soggy, peeved with my eating – and generally feeling a bit glum about my lack of exercise yesterday. However my endless logging and documenting of everything that I do (which must often bore you poor souls reading) continually pays huge dividends for me. 

It’s absolutely great when I can post before and after pics with a gap of a year that show radical change – but honestly sometimes I need something a bit more subtle. It’s easy in lower moods to convince myself I’m making slower progress as time goes on – but I’ve just proved (in real time to myself as I write) that even in the last few months there has been noticeable improvement. 

So I’m going to keep walking and getting wet inside and out for the time being. 

I’m also going to not beat myself up about not completing my workout programme. At least I’m getting up and doing something instead of nothing. 

You know what internet – I’ve just talked myself into walking in the rain again. If anyone needs me I’ll be stamping in puddles and getting soaked outside with a big grin on my face. 

Oh – and if a certain purple person is reading – chin up chuck. You’re doing just great and will be back on track in no time 👍🏽

Davey

Fetishes and man jeggings

It’s been a soggy, grim, rainy, cold, humid and generally miserable looking grey day.

However – I’ve enjoyed every sodden minute of it.

Sure – the countryside has been more of a challenge this morning than it would have been on a sunny and dry day – but I’m a believer that not only is it just as nice to walk in the rain – but that you can enjoy most kinds of weather as long as you have a good twalker in tow.

I’m not sure why but I took a photo of my feet at the start of the day. I was sitting in a nice dry bus shelter in Offchurch waiting for my friend to arrive and playing with the remote camera function on my Apple Watch.


I was (if I’m completely honest) trying to figure out whether my favourite Peaky Blinder hat makes my head look odd now that I have no beard and a smaller face – and while I was in the process of taking random pictures to assess the situation I pressed the wrong button.

Look at them.

Aren’t they cute?

They’re all warm, cosy, dry and have been lovingly accessorised with with freshly laundered jeans that are delicately scented with spring flower fabric softener freshness.

Underneath the hems of this bouquet of trouser material my double ply super soft walking socks were hugging my feet like a nurturing mother with newborn babies.

All was well in footland. 

Later it was a different story.

However – I’m getting ahead of myself.

I discovered today that one of my long term friends had a closely guarded secret.

She has for many years hidden a secret fetish – and it wasn’t until today that she confessed her darkest desires to me (looking over her shoulder to make sure no-one was listening) and told me what really made her excited when she spent time alone (and sometimes with select others).

‘I like a good map.’ She said. ‘You can’t beat a good map.

I’m an open minded person – and although this is pretty niche it wasn’t as bad a fetish as I’d expected. I like her – so I’m willing to overlook this relatively minor deviance.

Besides – there was a twinkle in her eye when she looked at me – and this clearly made her happy. Where was the harm?

Sure enough it turned out that she was fully Ordnance Survey and GPS enabled. With her carefully prepared and detailed study of potential orienteering challenges she was completely ready to take us over hill and dale.

It was actually quite nice to know that I was with someone that had full awareness of all elevations and hidden pathways dotting the countryside – so I surrendered myself to her predilection.

The walk she was taking us on was a circular one – and can be found here.

The great thing (I soon discovered) about this route was that the vast majority of it was totally off-road through fields and farmland.

It’s not normally my kind of territory – but it’s undeniably good exercise, and even at a leisurely pace keeps the heart rate up as you trundle along chatting. There are some really nice views as well – although most of it was sadly buried in cloud today.

The nice thing about this stroll though has been the variety. One minute you’re looking far off into the distance of the surrounding fields and countryside, the next you have a sheltering canopy of trees and carpets of little flowers alongside the path.

There’s also lots of wildlife – and plenty of birds (too fast to photograph) complemented the multitudes of sheep and occasional friendly horse. This fellow was a little ‘chompy’ and after I realised he seemed to really like the taste of my hand I withdrew to ensure that it remained attached.

Neither myself or my friend was in a rush today – and both of us were more interested in chatting then route marching.

If anyone at around midday UK time noticed a calm in the air or an unexpected silence that seemed to make everything a little more peaceful there was a good reason. Today we set the world to rights as we twalked and meandered effortlessly through all manner of topics as the mood took us – occasionally laughing about slipping on mud or climbing over hidden or slippery stiles.

It was great.

Who cares about weather when you have good company?

In all the walk ended up being around 7 miles – and took a very leisurely 4 hours or so. However – this rather languid pace can be accounted for by the fact that we also stopped at two pubs for coffee along the way (it would be rude and uncivilised not to stop for caffeine at least once on any journey of worth) and wandering towards and around various items of interest.

Now that I’m home I feel warm and satisfied. It’s been a nice day.

However – not everything in life is satisfactory. 

I ordered some Jeans last week from Jacamo that arrived today – and (since I’m still learning about the cutting edge of fashion and style) I had ordered a stonewashed black pair of ‘tapered‘ denims.

I now know that tapered basically means ‘skinny fit‘.

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What twisted evil villain dreamed up the idea of a ‘skinny fit’ range in oversize clothing?

For those that have not encountered this modern ‘hipster’ take on jeans – close your eyes and imagine what trousers would look like if you didn’t fancy expending useless energy climbing into them every day – and instead decided to opt for body paint instead.

Yep – it seems that I had inadvertently discovered MAN JEGGINGS. My biggest surprise once I’d pulled them on was that they didn’t come with a free pair of Ugg boots…

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On the downside this means that they have to go back to Jacamo.

On the plus side this ALSO means I’m going to use the money that I get back from them to go and buy a cheaper pair from Sainsburys!

So – its been swings and roundabouts…

Yay!

Anyway – I have things to do this evening and I must get on with doing them internet. It’s stopped raining so hopefully I’m not going outside to get yet another soaking!

Davey

44 inch victory!

I know now that everyone with cautionary comments about my weight and my plans for running may have been right. It was Thursday evening that I made my first attempt – and today I’m still suffering. 

This evening though it seems like the tail end of it – but yesterday I was really struggling. My legs had completely locked up and very unusually I felt like a vacuum had sucked all of the energy out of me. I ended up sitting in a pub for an hour to catch my breath on a two mile walk home from town yesterday and boy did I need it.

After a class of diet coke whilst watching the TV in there I could barely get up again – and when I got home a while later fell asleep on the sofa. I eventually slept for between 12-14 hours (I was occasionally awake in between) and clearly badly needed the regeneration time.

Because of this all I really had planned for the today was to do some grocery shopping and relax.

Or at least this was the plan until a friend unexpectedly popped around for a coffee.

It used to be the case that people I considered to be bad influences were the ones that said ‘come to the pub’ or ‘do you want a cigarette?’ or ‘would you like to supersize that?’. However now my world is very different. Maybe by virtue of being more energetic and upbeat I’ve attracted similar people to me – or maybe I’ve sought them out – but either way I know so many people willing to go for walks or even just discuss exercise and how to do more that it’s difficult to avoid them.

This particular friend is like me. She too craves the digital validation of her wearable fitness device. If it doesn’t tell her she’s been good then its a bad day, and it’s time to do more.

While she was here we discussed our addiction to this particular piece of technology, and also various upper body exercises that we’d been doing to improve our muscle definition. I said that I planned to finish the day on my exercise bike to give my legs a break but she (like the bad influence she clearly is) was quick to say ‘but Dave – it’s looooovely outside. You should go for a walk!’

Irritatingly she wasn’t wrong. It’s been stunning all day – and I was in a great mood.

Part of the reason for my frame of mind was my shopping trip earlier in the day. I’d popped into Starbucks for a coffee because the car park at Aldi was completely rammed at 12.30. There was also a lengthy queue along the road to get in, so I did a u-turn and went for a drink instead. As I sipped my coffee and looked at my watch, waiting for the crush to subside I decided to go and try on some of the clothes in the adjoining Sainsburys TU department and see what had changed due to the last stone I’d shed.

Quite a lot it seems!

I now fit into a 44 inch waist pair of TU jeans and 2xl t-shirts and sports tops.

Oddly none of the the 3xl shirts fit – and seem to be for men with a much smaller stomach – but flipping heck who cares?!

It seems like a long time ago (actually only just over a year) that I was a totally different guy, sitting in the same shop, drinking the same Starbucks coffee – but knowing these items (merely feet away) had no hope of fitting.

Although these items are a little snug now they are perfectly wearable – and if I had to wear then I could (and would).

To put this into perspective the cheapest jeans I can get from Jacamo.co.uk are £20 a pair and thats only if I buy two pairs to get a discount. The ones from Sainsburys are £12.50 – and have comfortable stretch fabric like the Jacamo ones. Furthermore they’re well made and nice material! The hoodie too (which I really liked) was £16 and that compares to the online alternative of £20.

I didn’t buy either as I don’t really need them just yet – but I’m going back there in a month or so and I’m dropping cash!

Anyway – when my friend left me with the idea of a walk hanging in the air as she skipped off down my garden path back to her car I couldn’t resist – and frankly I’m glad I didn’t.

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After cooking a quick and light mushroom and onion stir fry with salmon and prawns (seasoned with a veg stock cube and some soy sauce) I headed out to explore and fill up my exercise stats. I eventually did a five and a half mile circular walk through St Nicholas park, Old Milverton, St James the Great churchyard, the Saxon Mill and then back home.

An old work colleague who rows along the river in the morning past St Nicholas and Warwick Castle had spotted a new family of swanlings yesterday (there are apparently 6-7 babies) and I wanted to see if I could find them for myself. Sadly however there were no cute little balls of swanfluff to be seen (just lots of sleeping ducks) but the light in the park was wonderful under the trees!

It wasn’t exactly grim by the time I reached Old Milverton and St James either. Since the last time I’d visited there the fields (recently sewn) had become a sea of green. I’m not sure what’s been planted though. Usually it seems to be rape – so I’m expecting all this to shoot up and become yellow – but I may be wrong.

I couldn’t make up my mind whether or not to stop for a drink at the Saxon Mill when I arrived there – but all of the outdoor space was completely full of people and I really didn’t fancy sitting indoors on such a lovely evening.

Outside was fresh, cool and perfectly complimented by the river and the sound of the waterwheel – so I just stopped for a few minutes and took in the view. This really is one of the nicest places to put a pub that I can possibly imagine.

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So – now I’m back home and thinking about what to watch this evening. I may look for a film on Amazon Prime. My trial subscription runs out tomorrow so I might as well squeeze the pips out of it.

Laters internet. Time to chillax!

Davey

Good result

In space no one can hear you scream.

However in the cinema people can definitely hear you s**t yourself – and given that I’m usually the world’s biggest scaredy cat (who famously threw his popcorn all over the place in Jurassic Park and could only watch Scream from behind a pillow) I was expecting the worst when I went to see Alien: Covenant last night.

However – I thankfully managed to hold it together throughout, and was still mentally in one piece when it came to the walk home (alone and in the dark) from the cinema.

It was an excellent movie and (if you’re into Alien – but maybe not so much if you’re expecting Finding Nemo) I urge you to go and see it. If you liked Prometheus then you’ll love this.

I think it carries the narrative forward from that film really really well. 

I’d also strongly suggest watching the YouTube prologues before you go. They don’t spoil the film at all – and instead give you a little snapshot of the crew and their relationships, along with some of the back story associated with Prometheus.

It will come as no surprise to most that there were other reasons however I wasn’t fully invested in being terrified.

My blog late last night (link) describes one of the reasons – but the second is related to (as is customary for a Friday evening) my usual concerns about whether I’ve lost any weight – because it’s been a heavy week for exercising.

In the past Angie at Slimming World has suggested that the (large amounts of) cramp I currently feel means my muscles will be retaining fluid as they repair and improve. This seemed to hold true last week when after a week where I didn’t deviate once from the plan I managed to put a pound on.

Aside from my jogging attempts since then I’ve briskly walked over 70 miles – furiously pedalled around 20, done numerous upper body weights sessions and spent several hours working quite energetically in the garden.

Consequently I’m aching. A lot.

One can only hope that when I head off to be weighed shortly that this doesn’t mean I gain for a second week in a row.

Not only have I been exceptionally active but you’d think I was bugs bunny if you’d have seen my dinners this week. I’ve eaten (rather large) salads fit for a king and generally thrown myself wholeheartedly into preparing really really healthy and tasty low calorie/syn food all week long.

We shall see…

(Author leaves to shave and have a shower before going to group)

Well – I’ve recovered the pound I put back on and then some! This is a good result!

I’m still not sure why I didn’t lose anything last week though. It didn’t really make much sense at the time and still doesn’t – but since I’ve managed to turn it around today I’m not going to dwell on it. It’s highly likely to be muscle mass/water retention related because I don’t think I’d lose this much otherwise.

I’ve eaten properly – and I’m about as far from conventional ‘diets’ as you’re likely to get. I’ve just been consuming tons of good things and haven’t starved or deprived myself in any way.

Interestingly if you add up the sum total of pounds lost and gained in the above shot over the course of 7 weeks I’m still managing to average 3.35 pounds p/w – which is awesome!

Furthermore with today’s 7lb loss I’m now convincingly in the 20st weight bracketI have only one pound to go and I’ll have lost fourteen stone!!!

Anyway internet – I need to go out and get some more exercise. My legs feel like lead weights and my thighs are a tight cramped knot of pain and creakiness. The only fix for this is walking it (gently) off.

I might see you while I’m out and about hobbling from A to B!

Davey

 

Advice

Right Decision, Wrong Decision Road Sign

Well today everything muscular between my knees and my groin aches after yesterday’s attempt at jogging.

The pain is identical to the post downhill cramps I felt after walking around the Malvern hills – but nowhere near as severe thankfully.

However (and forgive me if I’m captain obvious but all of this is completely new to me) what it makes me realise is that my thigh muscles need quite a bit of improvement. Their currently creaky status has meant that for the first part of today I’ve taken it relatively easy.

However – doing nothing is never an option these days, and by the time the early afternoon arrived I was getting itchy feet and decided to hop on my exercise bike for a bit of low impact cardio to see if I could banish the cramp before I walked into town to meet my brother.

This was just the ticket until around 11 minutes into my hill climb programme (ironically just before D-Ream ‘things can only get better‘ started on my playlist) the pin holding my seat in place managed to dislodge (it’s spring loaded and also has a screw thread which had apparently unwound over time) and sent me careering downwards towards the floor until I stopped abruptly around 15 inches later.

Thankfully my seat is well padded – and nothing was broken (on me or the bike).

(Author pauses for a while to engage in a conversation with a friend not dissimilar to other conversations he’s had today. It leaves him in a reflective frame of mind and he decides to change what he’d originally planned to write in his post.)

I can be a very determined person.

When I really set my mind to something it rarely deviates. Sometimes this serves me well – and my motivation to lose weight is a positive example of this personality trait. At other times I’m aware it can also manifest itself in less constuctive ways.

A few people – who are very well meaning, and whom I respect a great deal have raised concerns with me today about my couch to 5k plans. All of them are universally happy that I am making fitness progress – but they’re also worried that I’ll injure myself – particularly my knees.

Consequently I’ve been thinking on and off a lot about this today. Originally I’d been fairly resolute (maybe even bullish) in my willingness to carry on regardless. It took a lot to muster up the courage to go out and jog in public yesterday and I didn’t want to listen to anyone telling me not to after I’d jumped over what I thought was a massive hurdle.

Until that is someone finally said in response to me this evening ‘you know your own body best’.

I had to stop and just admit that the truth of it is – I don’t – not any more anyway. It’s all completely uncharted territory for me. Sometimes I’m amazed by the fact it can do something it never used to do before and at other times I’m surprised and frustrated when I discover a limitation.

It can move from being exciting and wonderful one minute to unexpectedly annoying the next.

Lately I’m jam packed with what seems (to me at least) to be insane amounts of energy. I don’t really say no to anything anyone suggests these days when it comes to exercise – unless it involves money. I just want to do more all the time and explore new challenges.

I’ve never felt like this in my entire life

It’s wonderful – and although I have occasional moments where things get me down I generally feel like each day at the moment is a gift.

Compared to the prison of my own making that I used to live in I now have almost complete freedom to move around a world that I’m only just beginning to get to know all over again.

It’s the almost bit that niggles me though. I want it all and I want it NOW. I’m very much like a child in this respect and at the risk of being trite or flippant – I think maybe I want to run when I’ve only just learned to walk.

Maybe I need to listen to other people and err on the side of caution. People a lot lighter than me have ruined their joints with running – some of whom have today urged me to calm down.

No-one is telling me I shouldn’t ever do it – they’re just saying that I shouldn’t do it yet. 

If I don’t pay attention to them and really hurt myself then what kind of fool would this make me?

Probably the worst kind.

No-one that’s contacted me wants anything but the best for me and I think that it’s this that’s currently giving me pause. I probably need to put my enthusiasm and determination (and maybe my pride) to one side on this topic and listen – regardless of how temporarily deflated it may make me feel.

I want the world internet and I want to run over it, climb up it, abseil down it snowboard through it and glide on the air around it.

But I can’t.

Yet.

But I will. 

Thanks to everyone that cares. You all mean the world to me – even though I can occasionally be a teeny tiny bit stubborn (once in a blue moon).

Davey.

Couch to 5K

It’s early evening on Thursday and I’ve done something I swore I’d never do.

I’ve ignored the embarrassment, I’ve paid little attention to the discomfort and I’ve been doing it in public.

It all started on Wednesday – when during a day of rest I decided that I’d do some dancercise (my word for jiggling around the kitchen while I cook) to make sure my Apple Watch’s exercise ring got maxed out. I’ve managed to get my heart rate up into the mid 120’s doing this and it genuinely tires me out as much as an exercise bike hill climb!

Obsession with my watch stats is what makes the difference (for me anyway) between a day where I would otherwise fly under the radar and do nothing or end up doing all of the somethings.

There’s simply no hiding from the spy on my wrist. I either do what it expects or I don’t. There’s zero compromise. If I ignore it then my little green ring doesn’t get filled and that will frankly drive me insane.

So – there I was, filling my ring whilst watching my chilli con carne cook – and I realised that for around five minutes I’d effectively been jogging on the spot.

Then it suddenly hit me. If I could jog on the spot then maybe I could jog in a forward direction as well…

So (unwilling to go outside) I began to jog the small distance between my back door and front door, up and down my hall – continually turning around at each end and speeding up a little each time to see how it felt. Although this wasn’t really jogging in the strictest sense (it seemed more like energetic waddling) it also wasn’t walking and that’s progress.

Doing this barefoot wasn’t ideal though. Until today I didn’t own a pair of proper (and by this I mean suitable for real exercise) pair of trainers under 10 years old where the soles weren’t hanging off. So this morning I headed into town and bought some cheap (but also rather swanky looking) running shoes.

While I was in Sports Direct (otherwise known as the pits of Mordor judging by the employees’ faces) I had a ‘smack around the cheeks with a wet haddock’ moment.

Almost EVERY line of clothing they sell is available in both a 3 AND 4XL!!!

So – for another 45 mins or so I fumbled through their sale items finding one thing after another that not only fitted – but fitted REALLY WELL!

I ended up getting some dirt cheap Slazenger jogging bottoms (also in the photo) to match my trainers and headed off home.

(Via a coffee shop. Just because. I can’t help myself. I’m an addict.)

I have to be honest though. This sudden impetus didn’t come solely from within. My friend had mentioned to me the other day that she was planning to start running herself and was going to give the ‘couch to 5k’ podcast a try to see how effective it was.

She quite often prompts me to think about things that I would probably otherwise ignore (and I love her get up and go attitude) so I thought I’d try to do it at roughly the same time as her. She’s a LOT fitter than me, but who cares – it would be fun to see if I could manage to keep up!

I headed over to the NHS website (link) to see what all the fuss was about, followed the prompts and downloaded the app for my phone.

This app is quite cool – with a few different celebrity voices – and as I headed out to try it I chose my usual exercise music playlist along with Jo Whiley to talk me through the process.

It starts with a 5 minute warmup and then has 7 one minute jogs (at your own pace – not too fast) punctuated in between with 90 second bursts of fast walking to keep the heart rate up. I started on the streets around my house but was near a local industrial estate shortly after the first jog started – and since there was no security, people, or cameras after the first jog was complete I just started doing laps of their private car park.

From an ‘out of breath’ perspective I found this totally do-able. It seems that I’m fit enough to not be gasping for air after jogging – which is very encouraging.

However from a back, boy boob, wobbly flappy belly and knee perspective I definitely felt the 21 stone I still currently carry everywhere. Crucially though I was still doing it. I was jogging in laps around this beautifully desolate little car park in almost total seclusion.

However – rather annoyingly the app crashed on the last run and instead of a final 60 seconds followed by a blissful cool down I ended up doing two and a half knackering minutes of jogging before I realised it had killed my phone. Somehow the screen zoom had been quadrupled (making entering my password impossible) and there was no other way to get around it but a complete hard reset.

According to the app reviews I’m not alone in experiencing this – so one can only hope it’s uncommon rather than something that occurs each and every time. However – this is a major turning point. I haven’t jogged or run anywhere for around thirty years.

I’m just going to leave that hanging in the air while you soak up its significance.

Tonight, while clad completely in mainstream clothes from a high street retailer I went jogging for the first time in three decades

I started my current journey back in January 2016 completely unable to walk to the end of my road – and have now managed to take my first tentative steps towards running.

I jogged for a combined total of eight and a half minutes. 

Truthfully I’m feeling elated but cautious. I’m putting a LOT of pressure on knees that have already had a very hard life – but I’m hoping that I can keep this up and with all the correct warm ups from the app do it without injury.

The journey to 5k starts here Internet!

Davey

62 seconds

It seems that for some reason I became the target of a spammer this week – who decided to pepper my blog with unwanted comments and odd messages in a variety of languages. 

For a while I completely turned off commenting (and the notifications) and shut up shop until they went away. Thankfully this seems to have worked and after a couple of days the floods of crap appear to have stopped. 

It struck me at the time though how much of a pain this would be if my site was a business and if I wrote or updated it for a living. It must be incredibly frustrating to see something that you rely on for an income brought to its knees for no apparent reason other than some idiot trying to attract a higher google placement for whatever cons they’re trying to pedal. 

Thankfully however I could just get on with other projects (of which there are a few) and try to get some impetus going for a good loss at my next weigh in. The good weather so far this week has fitted in just perfectly with my need for exercise and has also to made my recent purchase of a number of new tops worthwhile. 

A light and breezy Hawaiian shirt is just what’s needed for sunny afternoon walks in the countryside!


I bought several of them in a act of quiet rebellion if I’m honest. They represent (to me at least) something of a ‘**** you’ to the outsized clothing industry. 

I’ve been forced for a decade to wear the (mostly) drab crap that plus sized clothing manufacturers deem is suitable for a fat man. 

There’s simply no other choice when you reach the high end of obesity. You wear what fits – not what you like or clothes that reflect your personality. 

Consequently I promised myself that as soon as more colourful alternatives became available that I’d dive right in and buy them. Now (almost) all of the shirts that I own are seriously incompatible with migraine sufferers but suit my attitude to life perfectly. 

They scream to me ‘I want to go outdoors and I’m not afraid to be seen!’  

That’s why I love them. 

Their tendency to propel me outside means I’m also making solid progress toward my week’s objective – which is trying to make sure that I get a win at Saturday’s weigh in – and in the process wipe out last week’s small gain. 

To this end I’ve been exploring a bit more around Hatton and the Grand Union canal this week. In the process I realised that (despite what I consider to be fairly extensive local exploration in the last year) I’d missed out on some truly lovely little views of the Warwickshire countryside that are just round the corner from where I live. 

Now the weather is a bit drier a lot of the previously boggy fields that I avoided on walks are now traversable. I can easily stroll through and around them to get from A to B without playing a game of mud avoidance hopscotch. 

So far because of this I’ve been notching up around 11 miles a day since Saturday and have also hit a couple of other little milestones. 

One of the most important to me so far is that I managed to further drop my top speed of walking a mile to 16.02 from my previous best of 16.33. 


This 31 second improvement may not seem like much to the casual observer but ever since I started Slimming World I’ve been chasing (metaphorically speaking) one of the male ‘target members’. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the term – a ‘target member’ is someone who has managed to reach their personal goal and attends the weekly sessions only to keep focus and maintain their weight/fitness. 

I want to be one of these people very much. 

In the first few weeks of me attending the group he casually mentioned while we chatted that he usually walked four miles in the morning – and that this distance took him an hour. 

At the time this speed seemed to be light years away from what I was capable of. A 15 minute mile was impossible back then and it was taking me well over an hour to do just one mile with lots of bench rest. 

However this real world example of someone at their correct weight working out gave me something to aim for – and over a year on I’m still striving to reach that target. 

At the time I naively thought it was mostly a case of getting stronger but I realised pretty quickly that it was just as much about dropping pounds so that I didn’t have so much to carry. 

There are physical limitations to the speed you can move with a lot of bulk in tow. 

With this in mind I eventually guesstimated that it would probably take me well over a year to get there – and that prediction hasn’t been far off the mark. I still have 62 seconds to eradicate but I’m well on my way. 

It might not happen today though. I feel super creaky from my exercise during the last couple of days and weights in the evening. 

Either way Internet – it’s time for me to get back out there and continue working towards my goal. Sitting on my bottom talking you you guys will get me nowhere fast!!!

(Author grabs coffee and heads out wearing another loud shirt)

Davey

Tinkerbell 

Compared to yesterday the weather today is a riot of blue skies and sunshine. It’s frankly glorious and because of this I was genuinely torn between my ever pressing need to sort out my back garden (which regular readers will know is an objectionable task only because of my continued procrastination) or just dissapear for a walk.

Hmm… Should I choose adult responsibility or childish frivolity?

(…)

I’m going to leave you for a moment to try and figure out which I went for.

(…….)

Screw the garden. It never stops growing anyway. It’ll be there tomorrow!

Davey go walkies!!!

So – I contacted my friend and hastily arranged a meet up. His usual companion (Boris the frenchie) has been ill this week – and (as it seems is common with this breed) the poor little fellow has had a cripplingly bad back. He’s still on medication for it and he’s not his usual self.

He hasn’t been able to hop up onto the sofa, go for walkies or anything…

The poor little guy! 😢

So – my companion left Boris at his mom’s house and we took her dog for a walk instead. This little girl is super timid but unbelievably cute.

She’s a crossbreed I’ve not personally encountered before – and is a Pug/Jack Russell mix – which I’m informed makes her a PugRussell. Her name was originally ‘Tinkerbell’ when my friend’s mom got her – but they (thank heavens) refer to her simply as ‘Tink’.

I think standing in the middle of a park and calling out ‘Tinkerbell!’ over and over in the middle of Coventry if she chooses to run away wouldn’t be a good look for anyone not participating in a Peter Pan convention – so I approve of the abbreviation.

Personality wise she reminds me a lot of my own Jack Russell from years ago – and is very timid when it comes to other dogs. However there the comparison stops.

Facially she’s Pug though and through.

It was a great day to be in Memorial Park (if you like dogs) as the RSPCA were holding an event (although I’m not sure entirely what for) and the place was virtually wall to wall with pooch owners strolling around with practically every breed imaginable.

There was also a separate 10k charity event taking place at the same time – so between the multitudes of walkers, joggers and dog owners the place was a hive of activity.

If I’m honest it was maybe a bit too busy for proper exercise – and our walk was a slow moving affair. Consequently as soon as I got home an hour or so later I made myself a flask of coffee and headed out for a slightly more brisk walk.

It’s all very well not minding that I put a pound on yesterday but that isn’t quite the same as not caring.

I can deal with it quite easily as long as I know I’m doing something to address it – and in my case it means paying close attention to what I do and what I consume – so I’m not planning to just put my feet up this week.

However it’s difficult to know lately what kind of balance I have to strike. Recently I’ve often been confused by my levels of exercise vs my scale results, and never seem to be able to reliably guess how it’s going to go on any given week. When I first began Slimming World exercising as much as I could meant seriously good results – these days it doesn’t always seem to translate into a significant weight loss, and sometimes even does quite the opposite.

Although I shouldn’t let this play on my mind too much.

I’m still sometimes afflicted with the rather narrow minded attitude that decreasing numbers on scales are the only indicator of progress – which they absolutely are not – but I do have to take a moment and remind myself of this occasionally.

There are other (way more important) indicators of progress.

Although I’m not going into detail just yet I’ve started a couple of balls rolling over the last few days that relate to things which simply wouldn’t have been possible not that long ago. If they come to fruition then I’ll report back here – but for the time being I’m keeping quiet.

However the very fact that I’m thinking about these things (and furthermore that I’m willing to put a metaphorical and literal foot forward towards them) is a huge indicator of where I am in life now and it makes me feel very positive regardless of how they turn out.

Either way – exercise is awesome. Even if it slows my losses from time to time I don’t think I can stop craving it – or wanting to improve my capabilities – and today is no exception.

After heading out of the door I decided to walk to the supermarket a couple of miles away and get some bits and bobs for a picnic lunch in the park.

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Despite doing Slimming World, and it NOT being a calorie counting diet I think it’s folly to ignore your intake if you want to see results. Counting everything (when you can) even if it’s just for a week to get back on track has given me some of my most significant losses and turned around many a dry spell.

As picnics go this one stacks up pretty well from a calorie intake perspective.

  • Chicken Tikka slices (180g) – 212 kcal
  • Cottage cheese with chives (300g tub) – 176 kcal
  • Tomatoes – 96kcal
  • Apples x 2 – 142kcal
  • Mini gem lettuce x2  – 30kcal

Total – 656 kcal.

However – despite my intention to find a shady bench by a river somewhere to eat I was enjoying the walk so much I never actually got around to having any of it until I got home!

You see – it’s still a complete novelty to me to not only be outside on a hot day, but to be outside on a hot day walking briskly (with a heart rate between 105 & 120) and not being uncomfortable, drowned in sweat, hurting, burning and generally feeling completely miserable.

When it feels this good to be moving why stop?

So I didn’t. I just kept walking – and by the time I reached home with my uneaten picnic I’d easily nailed my daily 30 minute cardio target and more besides. My lunch had become a totally guilt free meal.

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This evening I’m making a beef stew – and as it takes a few hours to cook properly I’m going to make a start right now.

From what I can see internet the weather for the coming week has more of the same in store for me – and I can’t wait to get out there and make the most of it!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Davey

 

Iron clad sentinel

It’s been grey and drizzly all day long – and I’ve somehow (after a week totally on plan with plenty of exercise and also getting into smaller clothes) managed to put a pound on.

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‘Oh dear.’ You might say.

‘I bet Dave is unhappy’ you might add.

Far from it‘ is what I’d reply if you did.

I expected a maintain last week and my jaw hit the floor when I’d lost seven pounds – so I’m taking it on the chin and moving right along.

One of the great things about going to my group and getting news like this is that almost everyone else there lost a good amount of weight this week – and a friend finally got the certificate she’s been wanting for ages!

Sometimes it’s just as nice to see the people around you winning at life. It just makes me smile when I see other people getting what they deserve and feeling happy! My group rocks!

I’ll admit though I don’t want this result two weeks in a row. I’m going to take this blip and use it as fuel for the fire to power some good weight loss next week.

In the meantime though I’m focusing on other victories – because frankly this past seven days has been exceptional in other aspects of my life.

  • I’ve had some really kind and positive feedback from the school where I did my talk on Wednesday – and it’s left me on something of a high.
  • I’ve got a whole bunch of 3XL tops that not only fit me – but (in my opinion at least) look ace and feel really comfortable.
  • I’m now wearing 46 inch waisted jeans – which arrived with my tops and they are actually loose. These are maybe a generous 46 – but M&S jeans start at 42 inches meaning I’m only about 4 inches away from the top end of the high street. This is unbelievably encouraging.
  • Despite my abortive attempts with planking I’m already noticing a difference in muscle definition (and maybe even mass) with my dumbbells. After 4 sessions I am also recovering noticeably quicker between different exercises without the additional cramp appearing afterwards that I had when I first started.

All of these have combined to produce in me a very buoyant frame of mind.

This upbeat mood has propelled me from the meeting today on a lovely walk with a friend from group, which took in a lengthy stretch of canal, a pub lunch, a stroll through Jephson Gardens, a coffee, a meander through a leafy little dell in Leamington and finally back to my doorstep – some 9.5 miles later.

I didn’t retreat to any kind of man cave and sulk. I don’t do that any more.

A pound on the scales is an enthusiastic visit to the toilet away from being a distant memory. It’s yesterday’s newspaper in terms of my life and not what I’ll remember when I think about today.

In contrast what I won’t forget is the conversation and banter with my fellow Slimming Worlder as we twalked about everything under the sun whilst strolling, feeding and watering as the day enjoyably and languidly progressed.

Although appearances may suggest otherwise our tasty lunch was totally Slimming World Friendly at the Newbold Comyn Arms (menu) and particularly satisfying. This was mostly owing to the fact that we had walked all the way there (4 miles) to eat it.

I went for the ‘Lower Fat Beef Kofta Kebabs served with zero-fat minted yoghurt‘ as a starter (they were spicy!!!) and as a main (since it was so nice the last time) ‘Lower Fat Roasted Butternut Squash, Wild Mushroom and Spinach Lasagne (made with low fat cheese, served with winter slaw and salad (no dressing)

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Now I’m sitting at home in my comfy armchair, in my nice tidy living room, and as I type listening to Jamiroquai’s exceptional new album ‘Automaton’ (currently playing is one of my favourite tracks – ‘Dr Buzz‘.)

I feel relaxed and happy.

I’m now going to cook some dinner (I’m thinking chilli) and then find a movie or a box set to watch.

Hell – I’m feeling so decadent that I might even play a video game. 

Life is good – and it’s only that way because of perspective. This currently stands like an iron clad sentinel between me and negative thoughts and is being continually reinforced by friends and good company – who have combined to make it a practically impenetrable wall.

I’m still laughing about the moment today when my twalking companion decided to playfully bounce a sugar cube off my forehead while I wasn’t looking. This landed in my after dinner coffee right under my nose, showering everything with Americano droplets and immediately made me grin – but the icing on the cake was when she (horrified at where it had landed) dived in after it with a spoon saying ‘Oh no! I’ve put syns in your coffee!!’

She really made me smile!

I must also make a particular ‘shout out’ to a mate who upon returning from her holiday yesterday deployed her new follicle related nickname for me and actually made me spit my salad out laughing when she referred to me as ‘cueball’.

I’m still sniggering about this baldy insult for some reason!

People are ace. Groups are ace. Don’t wander through life alone. Go out there and find someone to meander through a park with or send a funny text to. They will make the difference between a day full of grey skies and drizzle being miserable – or the best Saturday that it can possibly be.

It would have been superb to lose a pound – but I didn’t.

Next week I will internet – and it will feel that much more of an accomplishment thanks to the additional anticipation.

Davey

Starting point

Although I’ve had quite a few milestones over the last year I’ve hit another quite unexpectedly today. It’s not a ‘scale’ or a ‘non scale’ victory but instead an experience that’s caused me to pause and reflect on what might come next.

But I’ll rewind a little.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I started writing today’s post I was sitting in the reception of a school. I was quietly looking at my visitor’s pass and the really nice light brown stair carpet nearby. I’d had a sudden realisation that there wasn’t a single carpet in any of my schools as a child -but here there was one – and it looked pristine.

However – instead of being here under the pretext of evaluating the rugs – I was waiting for a teacher to come and chaperone me to her classroom. She had kindly invited me to come and speak to her sixth form ‘A level’ group about the psychology of weight loss.

Her class was apparently interested in discussing the supposition that diets don’t work and that any weight lost on such plans will inevitably be regained.

Regular readers will know that this is a topic close to my heart and from time to time is something that I still worry about. Not only have I been in this ‘yo-yo’ing’ no-man’s land several times but I have the (stretched) tee-shirts and the photos to prove it. Despite the fact that standing in front of a class of people I didn’t know seemed a bit daunting (and might possibly dredge up some bad memories) it also sounded like something that would be pretty cool to do and push me out of my comfort zone – so I said yes!

When I awoke was hungry. I don’t normally want breakfast – so I’m pretty certain that this was related to a minor case of stage fright. However – instead of going down the (seldom successful) denial route I instead prepared for the journey with some virtuous nibbles.

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to have a banana and some carrots nearby and to stuff your face with cucumber and tomatoes than to end up eating crap in a service station.

When I arrived (very early) I parked up nearby and set off for a stroll around the area with an objective that I should fill my watch’s exercise ring before I started. Thankfully nearby there were a couple of little hills to walk briskly up and down for a while – and I rattled off my cardio for the day pretty quickly.

Consequently when I finally presented myself at the school gate an hour later I felt pretty good – and when my host arrived shortly after she found me in reception all warm and cosy from my stroll quietly considering the soft furnishings.

The class that she introduced me to were a friendly, engaging and bright bunch. Each one of them (some even attending in their free period!) came with insightful and thought provoking questions about how my upbringing, family life, the media, genetics and even mindfulness had played a part in my personal process.

Oddly – as the Q&A went on I realised that before I arrived I had envisaged myself standing in front of these students and touting myself as an example of what NOT TO BE, and a cautionary tale of where one might go wrong in life.

Then I was asked by one of the students whether I’d inspired change in anyone I knew because of what I’d accomplished.

I couldn’t get this question out of my head as I drove home. I’ve been asked this before – but I’ve dodged the answer most of the time and felt embarrassed. However, the truth of it is I have seen such changes in others occasionally – and I like feeling like I can help other people.

However I still believe that you can’t just rock up and make someone successful or change them for the better with a neatly written list of self help tips or a glossy book. You never know what someone will latch on to, what will be personal, or what will mean something to them.

There’s no one answer for everyone.

People don’t change their habits spontaneously in my experience unless deep down a part of them wants to. Because of this I’m not sure that you consciously ‘inspire’ anyone – it just happens when you least expect it. They are often just waiting (whether they know it or not) for a catalyst to provoke a change that they already know deep down they have to make.

Some will find it – some won’t.

But you can try to give a good example to other people and present the best possible version of yourself to everyone you meet. 

In my previous life I know I wasn’t very good at doing this. I suspect if many people I know were really honest with me they would tell me that I could very often be accused of not practicing what I preached. I knew deep down (particularly related to my job – but also at times in my personal life) that I didn’t always lead by example – and that used to irk me. I definitely hid from the reality of this for a long time – but now I think things may be different.

Maybe for the first time today I began to realise that trying to be a good example to anyone that may be watching is something I really really strive to do. However it’s more fundamental than that.

It’s actually become something that motivates me now and makes me genuinely happy. Without realising it I think I’ve felt like this for a while. Standing in front of this class of fresh faces today I felt I learned as much about myself as I imparted to them (maybe more) and I definitely left feeling both energised and alive.

I need to take a long hard think about this – but when I first started writing my blog I was preoccupied with something that was driving me quietly crazy. I couldn’t answer the question ‘what do I love?’

I’m not sure internet – but I may have found something in that room that is the starting point of answering that question…

Davey

Planker

I tried ‘planking’ last night. 

For those of you outside of shadowy organisations like the CIA who have never tortured anyone (or tried to actively hurt yourself) here’s a picture of a planker engaged in a vigorous plank. 


My friend had suggested to me that instead of sit-ups and ab crunches it may be a good way for to introduce core strength (a term which a year ago would never have passed my lips) which for me is seriously lacking at the moment. 

Everything I read about this exercise online starts with casual statements such as ‘hold the position for 30 seconds’. 

My mate had already suggested that this may be a goal rather than a starting point – and he wasn’t kidding. 

I could barely hold it for five

Although honestly I probably should have done my dumbbell workout AFTER I tried the position rather than before – but this is definitely a lesson learned. 

The irritating thing about all this though is that my stomach (at the risk of mixing metaphors) is really my ‘Achilles Heel’. 

This morning I’ve been half heartedly clothes shopping again (otherwise known as trying lots of stuff on before handing it back) and it now stands out like a sore thumb to me (apologies again regarding the metaphor mangling) that the vast majority of my remaining bulk is situated around my waist. 

Every shirt I try on that’s a 3xl fits around the shoulders and arms but the stomach has very little breathing room. Sitting down is a complete pipe dream in most cases – at least if I want to keep the buttons on my shirt. 

The weight around the middle also makes the aforementioned planking a profoundly uncomfortable activity. I think I may need (at least for the moment) stick to ab crunches. These at least don’t have such a crippling relationship with gravity. 

This leads me to another issue on my mind. 

Mirrors. 

There are some days I have a really healthy mental self image – where I’m cooking on gas and see only the benefits that my increased fitness has brought to my life. 

There are other days however (yesterday and this morning for instance) when I look in the mirror and feel little else but a mixture of sadness and anger. I rarely stand in front of the mirror naked for precisely this reason – as I never know quite know how I’m going to feel. 

I do know that thinking negatively about my body is something that’s self defeating. I am what I am for better or for worse – but I’m starting to see someone looking back at me that is becoming surrounded by way more skin than he needs. 

The fat that’s remaining isn’t filling the space it has available like it once used to – and inevitably gravity has stepped in to take control of the situation. 

I’m really against the idea of surgery related to this – but nevertheless I still occasionally find myself fixating on what I’ll be left with. 

I’m not sure whether this can be classified as realism, narcissism or pessimism. For the last two days all I know is that my self image hasn’t been rooted in optimism. 

However – I’ve learned that this occasional lack of joy in one area actually signposts positivity in another. 

I suppose when it comes down to it my evaluation of myself in the mirror says quite a bit about other mental processes – which are beginning to deliberate semi-regularly about how I will be seen by a prospective partner. 

This in itself is a really good thing – because the dialogue I’ve been having internally suggests that a future relationship is a possibility rather than an improbability. 

When I last lost a lot of weight and started thinking this way (now a decade ago) I couldn’t deal with the associated emotions and papered over the cracks with well established bad habits that resulted in me putting everything I’d lost (and more besides) back on. 

One thing’s for certain though. I’m going to need a LOT of planking and improvements to ‘core strength’ (I still can’t believe I’m using that phrase) before I feel vaguely comfortable in that area. 

However – I mustn’t forget where I came from vs where I am now. 

Whilst trying on shirts I was also trying on trousers. These were oddly very encouraging compared to the shirts (particularly given that they’re all about waist size) and I was encouraged to find that some of the 46 inch jeans were actually quite loose. Others fitted me pretty snugly. 

I started at 66 inches – which is something that’s now inconceivable to me. Bending down in the street to tie a shoelace wasn’t just difficult – it was completely impossible – so if ever there was something to be thankful for and proud of then that’s probably it. 

It’s not the only thing though – as the somewhat odd thought processes of the gentleman in the outsize clothing shop reminded me today when I mentioned I’d lost thirteen and a half stone.

‘Have you been ill?’ He asked. 

‘No.’ I replied – a little surprised at the question. ‘You have to work at losing thirteen stone – it doesn’t just happen by accident.’ 

‘Yes – but you could have had a serious illness.’ He said, looking me in the eye. 

‘Thankfully not.’ I replied. ‘I lost it with diet and exercise.’

He seemed stumped and dropped the subject. Clearly in his mind this kind of thing only happened when you were circling the drain of life. 

I smiled as I left the shop – but I realised as I walked to the park to meet a friend that he probably wasn’t that far from the truth. I may not have had cancer – but it was in every respect that mattered a terminal illness. 

So – I choose to forget that certain shirts don’t fit, and that I’m never going to have Brad Pitt’s abs. 

Here, right now, sitting on the park bench that I walked five miles to get to, I am reminded that whatever I look like now and will look like in the future, life is a gift – and one that I’m no longer squandering. 

The shirt will fit soon enough internet – and one day I will be able to do a sit-up. 

Davey