Spinning and cartwheels 

Well the week hasn’t continued as it started. Yesterday morning at 3am I awoke feeling very strange indeed. This resulted in a sudden dash to the smallest room of the house where my chief concern swiftly became whether I should be sitting on the loo or crouching in front of it. 

Frankly I felt totally destroyed for the entirety of yesterday and apart from multiple dashes to the toilet I eventually ended up in bed for almost 36 hours

To make matters infinitely worse this meant that after less than three weeks in my new job I had to phone in sick with probably one of the most overused and half backed ‘sickness and diarrhoea’ excuses known to man. 

In my mind it practically screams ‘I can’t be bothered to come in today and this pathetic excuse was the best I could come up with at short notice.’

To add insult to injury my OCD is in freefall thanks to the dent yesterday left in August’s exercise stats. 


I know that in the great scheme of things this doesn’t mean anything but I’m truly obsessive about some things and this is a bit of a kick in the man globes. 

On the plus side I think I managed in the space of the last 36 hours to throw up or evacuate everything in my entire body and barely managed to hold down 6 satsumas late yesterday evening. This means in real terms I’ve eaten practically nothing (although I’ve had plenty of fluid) for almost two days

Since I still have zero appetite it’s highly likely I’m not going to end the month worrying about a weight gain as this week started really well from an intake and exercise perspective – so I guess every barf laden cloud has a silver lining. 

Anyway – many apologies internet for the grim subject matter – but this is a ‘warts n all’ blog so the rough comes with the smooth. Now you know all the gory details. 

You’ll get a more upbeat post when my stomach stops doing cartwheels and my head stops spinning. 

Davey

Not a single moment wasted

Despite me originally intending to do a new walk today I changed my plans late last night when I was unexpectedly invited out for a bank holiday lunch at the George in the Tree at Balsall Common.

I’ve been here a few times in the past – but not often for good reasons.

Most recently this perfectly nice pub has somehow become completely associated in my mind with meeting relatives after my mom died in January last year – and a sense of personal failure surrounding this already grim event.

Not only did I have to agree funeral details with relatives that I hardly knew – but also I was hovering around 35 stone and visibly not coping very well at all in life.

This was me around three weeks after those events, having not long given up drinking, but still three months away from joining Slimming World.

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It occurred to me when a friend suggested I join them there today that not only I could start to attach more positive memories to this place but that I could kill two birds with one stone and also get my exercise in for the day.

I could probably now walk all the way there from my house –  but then making my way back would probably have been a step too far.

It’s a round trip of 20 miles.

When I wasn’t working if I overdid things then I could just rest up the day after for a bit. However now I don’t have that luxury. I need to be match fit every day to walk back and forth to my job.

I opted instead for the shorter Kenilworth Greenway (about 11 miles round trip), and leaving my car at Crackley Wood – which means I didn’t have to walk along any busy roads and that I also got some nice views too.

The woods looked great just before 10am today, and a wonderful dappled light was playing on the ground everywhere as the canopy above me gently swayed in the breeze.

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Initially this morning was a little overcast, despite being quite warm – but as I moved through the woods and onto the greenway it was clear that any clouds were not going to last long, and they were swiftly clearing to make way for blue skies.

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I didn’t really know exactly how long it would take me to walk to my destination, so I tried to keep exploration and the impulse to photograph everything to a minimum and just keep moving forward.

Although the Greenway is pretty easy going on the way to Balsall Common it has a continuous incline. When I first did this walk (link) back in April I forgot to set a workout programme – but when I checked Apple watch I remember it showed my heart rate as above 100 bpm. My workout today shows an average of 88 on the outward journey, and on the greenway I didn’t once see it go above 95 – which is really cool progress!

I’m definitely getting a lot fitter!

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One of the things that I really love about this particular walk is the bridges.

This is for two reasons.

Firstly (and quite without warning) I’ve become a huge fan of red brick construction. It really boggles my mind that these days we just set steel rods in hundreds of tons of concrete, bolt it all together, and voila!

A bridge!

Sure – they’re strong, light, flexible, resilient and safe – but boy oh boy is concrete UGLY. In contrast railway bridges pieced together, brick by individual brick – now THOSE are things of beauty.

Secondly this Greenway and its bridges are slowly being eaten by nature – and that too is jaw droppingly lovely at times.

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When I finally arrived at the Beefeater I was a lot earlier than expected. The whole walk (almost exactly five miles) had taken around 90 minutes, so I sat outside in the shade and changed my (slightly sweaty) teeshirt for a long sleeved one I’d brought along to look a little more presentable.

Shortly before midday I went in and was led to the table my friends had booked.

It was a booth.

There’s still a part of me that has a complete meltdown when I see fixed seating.

I can’t seem to get it through to my panic subroutines that I fit into them now – but I guess thats because it’s really only been a few months since that’s been the case. Partially because of this I’m still taking evidential pictures to prove to myself that I can do it – which I’m starting to think may be a little daft.

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However I still find it almost as much of a novelty as seatbelts that actually go around me and click into place in other people’s cars.

I may stop taking these kind of pictures one day… but not today!

I’d already decided waaaaay before arriving that I wasn’t going to get into an ‘I’ve done lots of exercise so I can eat what I like’ mentality, and that I was going to avoid things like mixed grills (what I used to choose when I came here previously) and instead have a salad and a baked potato on the side.

I ordered the chicken Caesar.

What arrived was not Caesar salad (not in my eyes anyway) and was clearly deep fried breaded chicken. Normally I wouldn’t go near anything fried in breadcrumbs – but I reasoned that at the very worst this would just use up my syns for the day and negate some of my exercise I’d already done, so I tucked in.

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Honestly – I’m glad I did, because with the (butter free) baked potato I’d ordered on the side this ended up being quite filling and tasty – which was a complete win.

As it’s been a while since I’d seen my friends we sat chatting over drinks for a while after the meal ended. They’re absolutely loving their National Trust memberships at the moment and are using it regularly to go and explore some of the local National Trust estates.

I’d not considered joining before – but they may well have sold the whole thing to me! However – that’s for another day when I have some spare money. In the meantime I’m strictly a cheap walk kinda guy…

A twalker can dream though!

After we said our goodbyes I headed back (a slightly longer way) toward my car. It was now getting a LOT hotter and I’d changed back into my short sleeved top. In retrospect (as I sit scratching my sunburnt upper arms while I type) this may have been a tactical error – but you live and learn.

The way back was at a slightly slower pace, and it gave me the opportunity to look a little closer at the hedgerows and bushes, which were full of butterflies!

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I also just missed a shot of a bird of prey hanging on the breeze over the fields surrounding the walk. As I readied my camera it swooped towards its target and disappeared from view. I can’t say for sure what it was but I think it was a Kestrel.

Since getting any pictures of things in the sky seemed impossible I busied myself instead with the floor, which I ‘d realised was covered with hidden mushroom colonies!

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By the time I arrived home I felt well exercised, satisfied, and like I’d made full use of my Bank Holiday weekend.

There was a time when I’d have bought myself a new video game and many litres of wine for such an occasion – but I think the way I use my free time now is a far better use of my health and happiness.

I’ve managed 35 miles and around 70,000 steps in the last three days.

I feel content, pleasantly tired and I know that when I get back to work tomorrow internet I’ll have a sense of pride that not a single moment has been wasted.

Davey

 

Napton on the Hill

It’s a bit of a scorcher today – and the weather frankly couldn’t be better for a bank holiday weekend.

Although I did go walking yesterday, in the end I stopped at only eight miles and really couldn’t be bothered to walk any further. I think it’s because I’ve walked most of the local routes to death.

I needed something different.

I awoke therefore this morning not planning to waste a moment of the day – and immediately started looking for a new Warwickshire walk on the internet.

My friend’s used http://www.walkingbritain.co.uk quite a lot when she’s suggested places to explore, and so far they haven’t been bad at all – so I decided to try a new circular one from the same place.

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I’ve no companion today (cue violins and sad music 😢) so if I was going to be intrepid and get well and truly lost then I’d have to make sure I took emergency rations.

So, after making a flask of emergency coffee and grabbing some emergency chewing gum I set off to do this walk. My starting point was at the Bridge Inn on the A425.

After a short drive out of Leamington (I was unable to find this pub on my satnav) I finally noticed it as I drove past. It was completely hidden amongst the brambles on the side of the road.

This was the first clue that the walk I was about to embark upon may have been devised some time ago…


Still – pubs may close but paths endure.

I left my car in the spookily empty car park (containing only old beer kegs and tarmac) and headed off into a nearby field.

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The sky today looked absolutely awesome.

It’s been completely cloud free all day long – and whilst this would have meant crispy Davey in the past, for some reason these days my skin is infinitely more resilient. Nevertheless I’d liberally added suncream just in case. Most of the walk would be relatively flat but some would be up on hills as well.

Immediately I felt that I’d made the right choice looking for new territory. Upon reaching the top of the first field I was greeted with nothing but total silence (and photobombing cows).

I don’t think they’re used to seeing people in Hawaiian shirts at 9am on a Sunday…

I was close to Napton on the Hill, and about half a mile of gentle undulating grassy hillocks later I was near a country lane heading down toward the village.

Here was the first of many indicators that this walk wasn’t written yesterday. I came across the first of lots of padlocked and chained gates. There has been little choice today but to get climbing – which thankfully I’m now capable of doing.

Half a year ago this might have been a deal breaker. I’d probably have had to turn around and go home.

Not today though!

When I arrived in it the village was both pretty and sleepy. There was barely a soul around.

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Here the instructions for the walk appeared to be a little misleading – but with the help of Google Maps I found my way to the next step of the walk – which was a public bridleway.

To be fair the village has a LOT of new houses so it’s hardly surprising that things aren’t quite the same.

I’m going to hazard a guess and say that the local land owners don’t like walkers. Each gatepost I found with a marker for the trail around this part of the walk had the direction indicator smashed off.

All that remained were slivers of plastic.

Thankfully I have a compass and OS Maps (thanks to a kind cartophile friend) on my phone – because without them the signs that remain leave a lot to chance.

All the time as I was walking the guide kept suggesting that I’d catch glimpses of the Napton Windmill – but try as I might I couldn’t see a thing.

These kinds of landmarks are usually really hard to miss – but it was nowhere to be seen.

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However it didn’t really matter. The fields were lovely and green, full of flowers and butterflies, and the hedgerows covered in warm, ripe blackberries to snack on as I walked.

I carried on – noting as I exited the last of four fields that around here the farmers appeared to be both armed and dangerous.

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On the bright side though this was when I first started spotting Speckled Wood butterflies – of which there seem to be LOADS today.

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So far I’d taken no wrong turns of any real consequence – but shortly after I turned off this country lane I misread the directions and started walking the wrong way down the Oxford canal.

It wasn’t until I realised I was going up locks that I noticed my mistake and headed back in the opposite direction.

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I don’t think I’ve ever walked along the Oxford canal – but this little stretch is really pretty – and quite busy. Here the local pub was thriving – and although it was closed I popped over to take a few pictures as it was really well kept. There was a marquee set up in the grounds, and it looked like tonight there was a big celebration planned.

It struck me as a really lovely place (and day) to have a wedding reception. There was plenty of open space and the weather would be perfect for it today.

As I continued further along the canal the towpath slowly narrowed until there wasn’t much at all. I’d joined at bridge number 115, almost walked to 116, and had to make my way back to 111 – which was where my car was parked.

I trundled happily along, sipping my emergency coffee and taking photographs.

Is there anything better than strolling along a canal in complete peace and quiet?

Well, yes as it happens. It gets a bit better when you finally catch sight (faaaar in the distance) of the mythical windmill  that you’ve been hunting in vain for two and a half hours!

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After stopping to capture a shot or two (yay for 30x optical zoom!) I moved on.

The hedgerows along this canal are wonderful. Apart from all the birds there are blackberries all over the place, and even apples in a few places hanging down from above. Nestling in the bushes are all manner of little butterflies, dragonflies (camera shy ones sadly) and huge spiders.

If you’re interested in looking then there’s never a dull moment.

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Then – almost exactly five miles after I’d started I turned the corner and saw bridge 111. There was a little gate and steps up to the rather sorry looking pub car park – and my (thankfully not stolen or vandalised) chariot of desire (or ‘elderly Passat’ to the less romantic members of my readership).

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Weight loss is a fickle mistress however and I never trust her intentions. Despite this being a good start to the day it was barely 12pm – and there was plenty more time to fit more activity in.

So – after going shopping at Aldi (and meeting a SW target member from another group who has lost tons of weight and looks amazing) I decided to walk into Leamington Spa for a coffee the long way and take the even longer way back

As I type (currently) I’m sitting in Old Milverton by St James the Great and watching the farmer on his combine harvester.

(author walks home)

Well. I’ve redressed the balance. Apple Watch says 13.26 miles walked today, meaning that I’ve caught up from yesterday and have already have a little wiggle room on my 10 mile a day average.

Next I’m going to make a MOOHASSIVE chilli con carne and veg out in front of the TV whilst I fart myself to sleep.

But what to do tomorrow internet?…..

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Davey

San Francisco to New York

Bank Holiday weekends have been something of a non event for the last year, so it’s nice to wake up today knowing that I have to savour the small amount of extra free time – just like everyone else.

It’s going to make this weekend just that extra little bit special – which is an unexpectedly nice feeling.

So far my new job appears to be going well – and while it’s still very early days (I’m initially working slightly shorter hours whilst in training) for the time being any worries that may have been associated with an inability to keep my exercise momentum going seem to have largely evaporated into the ether.

I ended my second week on the job week with 75 miles under my belt and an average of 20,935 steps walked / 4650 kcal burned per day.

My overall step count was 146,551 and they helped to burn a total of 32,556 kcal.

Although, some of this is open to dispute, as I realised yesterday that I hadn’t adjusted my weight in Apple Watch’s settings for a while. This means its calculations are probably a bit off and that I’ve probably not burned quite that many calories – but either way the point is I’m not moving any less than I was before I started my new office based job.

In fact if anything I’m doing slightly more and could actually beat my monthly PB of 284.6 miles. I still have six days to go and I’ve so far been averaging 10+ miles a day.

miles and steps inc partial Aug17.jpgI’ve not included a table like this in my blog for a while (they aren’t particularly interesting for the average reader I don’t think) but I was interested this morning in what had been happening since I’ve not been working towards my old Land’s End to John o Groats goal (link).

If you remember – by the time mid April 2017 had rolled around I’d managed to walk the (virtual) distance there and back since I’d joined Slimming World (link) and in the above table you can see that prior to that moment (in March) I started pouring on the gas to get my totals up.

Broadly speaking this level of activity has remained the same ever since – and when I look deeper into the data (that Apple Watch is always gathering) in the five months since then I’ve done another 1,326 miles. 

Initially when I started adding all this stuff up (link) I did so because (having walked 19 miles in a week for the very first time) my friend pointed out I’d managed the length of the English Channel.

I was blown away.

Now I sit (slightly more stunned) looking at Google.

I’ve been searching for examples of what the 2881 miles that I’ve walked since I started translates to and it’s epic.

Not only have I lost 16 stone so far – but by the time this month is done I’ll have walked from San Francisco to New York.

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When I consider that at 34st 8.5lbs I struggled just to get out of my armchair just last April this is a pretty significant milestone!

It’s also quite telling that (since I first put my Apple Watch on in September 2015) I’ve only just reached this iOS activity achievement. 

It’s for hitting my daily move goal 365 times. 


Part of the reason for this is that I used to set the target differently – but these days I regularly also get this achievement. 


That’s for quadrupling my move goals. It requires me to burn 1600kcal through activity (not just the calories you’d normally burn from just being alive). 

All this is also pretty pertinent given recent articles in the news surrounding a report by Public Health England (PHE). In it they shared some rather grim statistics about how exercise has dramatically tailed off recently in The country’s over 40’s. (BBC news link)

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This news article states:

PHE is focusing on those in middle age, because of the drop in activity levels. 

It is recommended that people do 150 minutes of activity a week, but nearly half of those aged 40 to 60 fail to achieve that and one in five does less than 30 minutes.

While a daily 10-minute brisk walk will not get them to the recommended level, it will be enough to start making a difference to high blood pressure, diabetes, weight issues, depression and anxiety and musculoskeletal problems such as lower back pain.

I couldn’t agree more. It wasn’t until I started regularly doing over 30 minutes of cardio a day that my diabetes began to retreat.

Now it’s completely gone.

Anyway – it’s Saturday (nearly 10am) and that means I need to have a shower and go to Slimming World for my weigh in. I’ve a sneaking suspicion I may have stayed the same or put a couple of pounds on this week. I’ve been craving apples and cottage cheese (maybe I’m pregnant?) all week long, and if I’m honest I’ve probably eaten more than I should have – but we’ll see.

Maybe it’s been offset by activity? Who knows….

(author goes to group)

Well – activity appears to have helped make the difference this week – and I’ve managed to lose another 3lbs!

I’m one pound away from my sixteen and a half stone certificate!!!



Furthermore – in 3lbs I’ll be under 18 stone and into the 17st bracket

I was 17st approximately when I finished school at the age of 16 – and I’ve only ever been in that weight bracket twice in my life. 

Once as a teenager before I lost weight and once as an adult as I started piling it back on

It’s taken me almost three fifths of my life to get back to where I will be soon and flipping heck that achievement feels good. 

Howver there can be no pauses for breath. It won’t happen by magic. I have to want it. 

My friend asked me today what I planned to do with the freedom of my bank holiday. It wasn’t a difficult question to answer. 


As Angie said to our Slimming World group today ‘if something’s working for you then just keep doing it!’

I couldn’t agree more. 

As always internet – whatever ails you, whatever you’re struggling with, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

It doesn’t matter how slowly you move – you’re moving faster than the other guy/gal lying on the sofa with a remote control. 


Davey

Generous comment

I woke up very early this morning – most probably because I also went to bed very early. 

I’ve noticed that a (probably inevitable) consequence of working all day AND fitting in 20,000 steps is meaning that on some days I’ve hit the sack at 8.30pm – which was what happened yesterday. 

Ostensibly I’d planned to read for a while – but instead woke up much later with my iPad unceremoniously resting on my nose. 

However – it turned out to be a really really good call, as by the time I’d had a shower and got dressed this morning the sun was streaming through the curtains. 

I decided to elongate my morning walk with a few more miles, and as I sit typing over a pre-work coffee I’m already at five miles and 10,000 steps for the day, so the effort required for the rest of the afternoon is pretty much removed – which is a real bonus as I need to do some work in the garden this evening. 

The park looked fantastic at 7.30am.  

I really wish I’d brought my camera along because it was squirrel and bird heaven today. They were everywhere – making nests and nibbling acorns. 

It’s a great day to be alive – and I realise that whereas I used to avoid the sun and my mood was constant (although probably constantly downbeat) now I find that like the rest of the world I’m happier when it’s brighter. 

My last (somewhat somber) post was on a grey, oppressive day with grim skies and a pressing humidity. I felt sluggish and the weather looked awful. The words probably reflected the weather.

Today I don’t feel that way at all. 


This is definitely a good thing, because I awoke to something interesting on Facebook. 

I’m often bowled over by people’s warmth and kindness. One of the outstanding things about the last 18 months has been without a doubt the positive support that people have given me on social media – and because of that this blog has been a significant turning point in my life. 

The boon of ‘putting myself out there’ on things like Instagram and WordPress is incredibly multi faceted though – and sometimes the friendship that’s extended comes presented in quite a different format. 

An Instagram post I’d also publicly shared on Facebook yesterday had been receiving some feedback. 



Occasionally in life people are so self aware and so generous of spirit that they KNOW already that meeting them in person would be a colossal mistake for anyone else, so they make absolutely sure that it won’t happen, and honestly it’s REALLY helpful. 

There’s nothing worse than being disappointed by someone you trusted – so finding out right at the beginning of a potential friendship that someone is a bit of a twit saves a lot of time. 

What I found most interesting about this post (now deleted – and not by me) was my reaction to it.

I’m not angry – or upset. 

This is really strange – because an early feature of my attempts to lose weight happened to be instances like this or this where random members of the public decided it made their day complete by calling me a fat **** whilst hanging out of cars or vans. 

Rarely did they slow their cars down enough in those days to be accountable for their opinions however – so I’d never know who they were if I met them again. 

At least this gentlemen has the decency to be absolutely open with his opinion and give me the benefit of avoiding him in the future. 

Win! 

There’s more to this incident though. In the past something like this might have buried my mood in a dark hole in the ground for ages – but you know what – it really doesn’t matter one little bit. 

Furthermore I wrote this NOT to push him into the limelight or draw anger from anyone toward him. I purposefully deleted his name because he probably has his own issues that are way worse than mine. 

I’m writing this because people just like me read this blog, and they too have probably been ‘impaled’ on the business end of this kind of comment in the past. 

You know what? 

It doesn’t matter. 

What matters is that you get up and keep trying every day to be better than you are now for YOU and not for them. 

You might be overweight now – but you can fix that. The odds are that whoever slighted you in whatever way will always be an idiot – and that’s a lot harder to remedy than dropping some cuddle muscle. 

So Internet – keep putting yourself out there, keep trying, and ignore anyone that has the potential to bring you down. 

You’re stronger than you think. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

Davey

Walnut cheeks

If I’m honest I’ve been in a bit of a grump today. Outwardly this (I think) wouldn’t have been apparent – but deep down I know I’ve not been firing on all cylinders. 

I also know why. 


I joked to a friend the other day that if I were to text her a picture of my behind (which I would not) it would look a lot like the puppy pictured above. 

This isn’t funny. 

Well – I guess it is and it isn’t. Today I don’t feel it is. 

The more weight I lose the more my butt begins to resemble my brain, and whilst I’m acutely aware of the mileage this visual parity affords me in terms of jokes and self deprecating humour there are times (like now) when I don’t see the funny side at all. 

I just look at my twin walnuts and think ‘what have you done to yourself you ****ing idiot?’

In moments like this a deeper part of me even asks whether or not I should carry on losing weight at all – and whether I’m just better keeping some of my current heft to fill increasingly loose areas of skin. 

These thoughts don’t come very often but when they do they tend to dovetail into other satellite worries and become more than they really need to be. 

Last night I had an epically real ‘girlfriend’ dream. It was one where I woke up on a high, thinking that the dream was real, that I was happy and in love – until moments later when the penny dropped, which left me feeling crestfallen and lonely. 

Ultimately I got back to sleep and had another (better) dream – but just like with a really bad nightmare the fallout from such subconscious self flagellation hangs around long after it arrives and simply refuses to leave. 

It was in this frame of mind that I started comparing myself to another slimmer on Instagram (not something I normally do) and then at 6.30am on the loo found myself fixating on the fact that he was celebrating getting into a pair of 36 inch waist trousers. He’d dropped 15 stone to do this and was justifiably proud. He’s now around the same weight as I am and he’s doing great. 

In contrast my waistline is between 42 and 40 at the moment. Just like him I started with a 66 inch waist.  

Clearly (to a man sitting alone in the dark on the bog at 6.30am with an arse like a saggy Bassett Hound that has successful relationships in dreams only) this meant I was a failure. 

It’s utter nonsense of course. Nothing could be further from the truth. My posterior may be saggier than it used to be but it is also very muscular under the surface. 

My subconscious relationship worries may play themselves out in my dreams occasionally but I’m not a lonely man and I know when I decide to find someone that it will happen. 

I also know that everyone has a different body type and that other epic slimmer probably carries his weight somewhere other than his waist – which is where most of mine collects. I’m no better or worse and it’s not a competition. 

This mature and well reasoned logical self awareness didn’t stop me angrily storming out of the house and around the park several times before work this morning though. 


Not even the serenity of last year’s grown up swanling (who came over to say hello as I walked past) managed to placate me – and when I arrived at work to continue the day’s training I felt stupid and unworthy for most of the day.  

It wasn’t until much later in the evening (whilst twalking with a friend) that my mood even partially lifted. 

There was a time that (on an unconscious level) I believed that a problem shared was just a problem that two people now had. 

I don’t think that way anymore. Everyone reading this is part of my process. 

Talking is good – either on the page to an invisible audience or to a friend you’ve known for years. 

Even if you aren’t looking for an answer, just saying some or all of what’s worrying you out loud and yanking it out of the shadows is enough – and doing it with exercise mixed in is even better. 

So far (partly because of how I feel) I’m still keeping up my 10 mile a day average (I’ve done 12.5 today!) and it’s this that makes the difference between a day where I sink or swim. 

As long as I keep moving and keep doing something – anything – to maintain my momentum then I’m good. If I do this then I can see progress – even if it’s not on the scales. 


Plus (when I remember to bring food bags) I also get free healthy treats – and tonight, when I’ve finished writing this I’m going to have a bowl of fat free natural yogurt, chopped banana, cinnamon and the bag of blackberries that I walked four miles to obtain. 

Food rarely comes as guilt free as this. 

I’m going to savour this while I eat it internet – and try to think good thoughts so that tonight I get some better dreams. 

Fingers crossed. 

Davey 

Naturally thin

It’s a lovely day. 

When I say that I don’t mean it’s lovely I mean it’s LOVELY. 

That’s not just because the sun is shining (it currently is) or because the sky is blue (that’s also the case) or because its warm enough to walk around with a teeshirt on (check) but because the world is full of people

Some days I just happen to bump into ones I know all the time as well – and that’s probably what makes it so good. 

That’s been happening all day so far. 

There was a time I knew next to no-one locally (not even my next door neighbour) but these days I don’t have to go too far in my local area without meeting someone I recognise – even if it’s just in passing. 

I even know the cheerful old ladies in the next street who live next door to each other because I walk past their bungalows and stop to chat occasionally about the weather and poke fun at them for checking out all the younger guys walking past as they sit outside keeping each other company whilst drinking lazy cups of tea. 

This morning my first random meeting was at the Saxon Mill near my house – where a member of our mutual Slimming World cosa nostra was sipping a cup of tea with her mother in law. 

We said hello and chatted briefly about how we were doing and the local area – with me suggesting some nice walks and their associated distances. 

It’s great when you meet unexpected smiles around the corner. 

I couldn’t stay too long however as there was an eager Boris with a squeaky ball nearby desperate to run around the nearby fields. 


Although my friend knows his dog better than I do I’m lately struck by how much straighter he’s walking these days. 

Since his recent back problems Boris has been undergoing a lot of physio and walking on a treadmill in a water tank to correct his slightly crab like gait when he trots. The work that my friend and his canine therapist have done together has definitely made him fitter and healthier – and the little guy seemed full of beans today. 

He’s a real companion dog – and doesn’t take separation well (this is both a blessing and a curse I suspect) – but it always makes me smile to see how he watches his master and is rooted to his side at all times. 


As we walked today I reflected upon my decision to NOT get a dog of my own 18 months ago. I’d dearly wanted one – but decided that it would make finding a job more difficult than it needed to be – and if I’m truthful I don’t really regret the decision. 

It wouldn’t have been the right time back then – but at some point in the future it’s still on my bucket list. For the time being though I’m just enjoying sharing walks with friends’ dogs and the occasional poochsitting engagement. 

I think I’ll know when the moment’s right. Then I’ll do it. 

For the time being though I’m still just revelling in the freedom of a life and perspective that is currently without limitations


However – I have to be vigilant. 

I confided to a friend recently that whilst some people see me as determined and single minded (or stubborn) and view those traits as the reason I’ve had such recent success with weight loss, the truth (as with most things) is a little more complex. 

Often I’m afraid. Really afraid. 

I catch myself in moments where I see a shadow of my old behaviour and in that split second the memories of who I was, how I felt, what I looked like and what people must have thought of me come flooding back, and it’s this that causes my fear to kick in. 

Yesterday evening it did a little. 

Although I didn’t make bad individual choices I ate a LOT of good food yesterday evening. 

Truthfully it wasn’t a massive amount compared to what I used to eat – and neither was it hugely calorific – but I nevertheless dread the arrival of the seemingly bottomless pit sensation that I occasionally feel I need temporarily become a slave to.  

It’s this that provides my drive and it’s this that’s providing my impetus today. 

I’ve been walking all morning on and off and I’m at around seven miles for the day so far. I won’t stop until I get to at least ten and I’m not going to eat much (hopefully) tonight. 

At the moment I have a phrase that I hate in the back of my mind. It occasionally crops up in group. 

People who are naturally thin.

It’s complete nonsense. 

No one is naturally thin

Every single time that I’ve screwed up with dieting it’s been because I got comfortable. I either relaxed half way through the process because I stared feeling healthier and happier and slipped into old habits – or I got to where I wanted to be and then thought I could eat ‘normally’. 

The problem is that people like me don’t understand ‘normal‘. 

How many times has someone said to you ‘my friend/brother/partner/etc can eat what they want and they NEVER put weight on!’

This is probably true in a way. They do eat what they want. They most likely can eat a kebab and a large bag of fish and chips – maybe have a few beers to wash it down and then reach for the Haagen Daas when they get home. 

But do they then wake up and do it again first thing in the morning? Do they do it again the following evening? Do they go for a run? Do they have a much more active job?

It’s highly likely that their ‘night after the day before’ is completely different to the way mine used to be – because I’d just wake up and repeat the exact same behaviour all over again. 

One of the hardest things to come to terms with in my life has been that there are no ‘naturally thin’ people – but there arenaturally self regulating’ people. 

I also had to recognise that I can’t get to the ‘end’ of my Slimming World journey – and I’d be an idiot to try. 

I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life because if I don’t I’ll end up doing the same things all over again and dying a miserable, bed ridden lonely death. 

Wow. OK that was deep. 

But it’s totally true

I try to motivate myself with this every day – and each little fall from grace isn’t a failure. It’s a reminder that I have to work at being a ‘natural self regulator’ at all times. 

If that makes me seem determined, or even obsessive then I’m fine with that. 

Whilst it may be deep the side effects are continued happiness and vitality. 

16 months ago my BMI looked like this. 


Now it looks like this. 


And I’ve gone from this man 

To this man


The uncomfortable – but undeniable truth for anyone on a similar path is that what we have to do is accept that profound, lasting and meaningful change means never going back to the same habits that we had before. Only by breaking previous paradigms can we escape. 

Only then internet can we become naturally thin. 

Davey

Unexpected generosity 

My chariot awaits outside. 

Not in a ‘Cinders – you’re going to the ball!’ kind of way but instead in a ‘I’m really old car and you need to take me for an MOT‘ sense. 

At this time of year ownership of an elderly vehicle (she just turned 170,000) is less than worry free, and I’m hoping that there’s not much wrong – but at the same time simultaneously bracing myself for a financial kicking. 

However on the plus side it’s Saturday morning and I haven’t lost any sleep over whether I’ve dropped in weight or not. 

That would be silly. 

Instead I lost sleep thinking about all the things I need to remember for my new job and going over the training I’ve had so far in my head. 

Grrr

I think Friday nights and sleep just aren’t meant to go together for me. I’ve slipped into a routine over the last 16 months of being a crippled insomniac once every seven days and I really wish it would stop. 

Last night when I went to bed I was really tired too. I’d realised at the absolute last minute that it was a food tasting day in group and that I had no food in the house to make anything and no time to plan. 

If you’ve not been reading my blog since the beginning you’ll know I like these events and usually try to prepare something new (you can find recipies I’ve tried and previous events like this here) in the process probably putting more pressure on myself than there really needs to be. 

This resulted in me rushing around the supermarket late yesterday evening, agonising over what to cook that would fit in with my MOT at 9am (I have to walk two miles back after dropping the car off meaning less time to prepare) and finally ‘giving in’ a little and deciding on a simpler choice. 

Mini crustless quiches. 

I had finally prepared a batch by 11.30pm and went to bed, leaving them to cool overnight. These thankfully taste really nice chilled, are totally free on Slimming World and can be easily transported in Tupperware. 

When I cook these my fillings tend vary but this time they contained onion, spring onion, courgette, broccoli and chopped bacon medallions. These are all fried together on a low heat in spray oil for 10-15 minutes until soft but not quite brown. 

The ‘crusts’ of the quiches are two wafer thin slices of sandwich ham pushed into each muffin hole of the tray, whilst the filling is 6 eggs beaten together with half a tub of Aldi Quark. 

Pour the whisked mix into the ‘cups’ of ham in the tray (about 2/3rds depth) and then add a heaped dessert spoonful of the bacon and veg from your frying pan. 

Put the lot in the oven for 20 mins on a medium heat and then let them stand. Allowing the teeny quicheettes to cool overnight will result in a tray like this…

(Vegans please avert your eyes)


If readers haven’t tried these before then I heartily reccomend them. They keep for days in the fridge and they’re great for packed lunches or salads.

(Author pauses to agonise about the potential for progress on the scales)

So – how do I think I’ve done this week?

Well the answer as always is ‘I haven’t a clue’. 

I’ve not had any ‘bad’ days, stayed within my ‘syns’ (apart from being a little over on Saturday thanks to some hi-fi bars) or not had any at all on some days. I’ve also stuck to my usual daily 1700 – 2000 kcals. 

From an exercise perspective over the last 7 days I walked a total of 77 miles and 157,000 steps back and forth to work or around parks and fields. 

If anything my (smart and brand new) 42 inch work trousers already feel a bit looser around the waistband – so I think I’m still trimming up. 

But results on the scales? 

Hmmm I don’t know…

Anyway – it’s time for a shower and an MOT (for the car. I’m not having an MOT in the shower. That would be silly…)

(Drops car off and finds a short cut on the brisk walk home to save half a mile!)

Unexpectedly I’ve arrived back with time to make some potato wedges, so at least it looks like I’ve made an effort!


I like to season these with smokey paprika, roughly chopped garlic, and dust with salt and cracked black pepper. Then I liberally coat them with spray oil all over and bung them in the oven spread out on a tray as flat as possible. 

For the sake of cooking time these are actually closer to chips than wedges but they tasted niiiiiice!

(My chippy wedges took about 35-40 mins on high in my (gas) oven if you’re wondering… I used to par-boil them but I don’t do this any more.)

Well – group went well – and there were some lovely foods brought in by other people to much on!

Thankfully I could do so without guilt today because I managed to drop another 2.5lbs and also got slimmer of the week! 

Yay!


While we munched each other’s snacks we all voted for the woman of the year for our group – and I think it’s fair to say that although sadly only one could win they were ALL worthy recipients of praise for persistence and effort – and their stories about their weight loss efforts were both touching and heartfelt. 


One of them also wore some strikingly alluring footwear – which (despite her often saying otherwise) just reminded me how much her confidence and happy inner self have come to the surface since I first met her. She always makes me want to keep going and keep trying – and regardless of how she occasionally feels she should remember that inspiration is a two way street

My group is full of such nice people! They all get together every week and share the good and the bad without any judgement whatsoever and I love going there.

It really sets me up for the week ahead!

It seems that this week stories weren’t the only thing being shared however – and at the end of the group Angie gave me a carrier bag with a virtually brand new fleece in it from a really really generous guy in the 8.30 group that takes place before mine. 

He’s a regular reader of the blog on my Facebook page and always supportive with his comments, so I’d like to publicly thank him for his kindness.

It fits perfectly and came at just the right time!


He didn’t know this when he gave it to me but 5 minutes before my group started I’d been called by my garage and informed about my MOT failure. 

It wasn’t the apocalypse – but this is all relative. When you have no spare money and a while until your first pay cheque every penny counts. 


Bye bye £360 and hello new brake callipers and pads. Still – easy come easy go, and this is infinitely preferable to my brakes failing

Whilst I don’t have a paycheck NOW I will have one soon. 

Besides (although we all need it) over the last 18 months I’ve been reminded time and time again that money is irrelevant when you are surrounded by good people and you’re focused on putting good vibrations out into the world for everyone else. 

Of course, the best vibrations come from being caffeinated and at the moment internet I have waaaay too much blood in my coffee stream

While I attend to this emergency (with a four mile round trip into town to remedy the imbalance) I hope that you too are suffering an embarrassment of interpersonal riches in life – and that for every time you trip there’s a hand there to help you up and set you back on your way. 

Davey

Archeology

So far so good.

I’m keeping up my walking average as well as working – and up to this point it’s not been anything other then pleasurable. This week though I’ve been blessed with relatively clear weather – until this morning when for the first time it turned on me. The damnable downpour that happened overnight affected my sleep as well – and at 2am I was awoken (and every subsequent hour or so afterwards) by the sound of torrential rain outside.

When my alarm finally went off this morning at 7.30am (the first time I’ve needed it this week) it was still raining and to be frank I really wasn’t in the mood for setting out early for a longer walk/drenching than I absolutely had to have.

However as of yesterday I was actually ahead of my planned walking schedule (70 miles a week) and at the end of five days (I usually count from Saturday morning to Friday evening) when I hit the sack last night I was at 55 miles.

So far I’ve been accomplishing this with a combination of setting out early and walking a really long way to work, briefly popping out in my (short) lunch break and also walking in the evening – which I’ve managed to fit in twice this week with friends.

One of the things that I must admit has worried me a little about being newly employed is that my (lately very strong and extremely important) social circle has revolved around a lot of daytime twalking excursions. I’ve become a little preoccupied over the last four days with how I can make sure that I keep these going somehow.

I feel that they’re vitally important both to my sense of emotional well being – but also physical progress.

These frequent twalks have provided much impetus – and knowing that my calendar has been packed with lots of ever pending exercise has left me continually planning my next move – as well as ordering chats and conversation topics in my head for when I catch up with people after not seeing them for a while.

They’ve kept me alert in so many different ways.

(Author stops typing in his favourite coffee shop. He needs to get to work)

It’s now later on in the evening, and it’s been a packed day.

This evening a friend and I decided to go for a long walk around the outskirts of the Warwickshire Golf Club in Leek Wootton. It’s around 4.5 miles in total, and was a great way to top up my distance totals. As I type I’m now at 67 miles at the end of day 6.

This was just what the doctor ordered. I have a flame griddled brain. The only way to organise a frazzled mind however is exercise. Lots and lots of lovely exercise.

My new job is a LOT to take in. The training so far has been quite intense (but very good) and I’ve left every day so far feeling that I’ve probably forgotten more than I’ve remembered. Somehow though it seems to come back the day after and I realise I’ve soaked up much more than I thought I had.

We parked up near the church in Leek Wootton and after heading up a nearby marked path we were soon on the outskirts of what appeared to be the land of tellytubbies.

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I’m no golfer – and I’m often left bemused about why people get so obsessed with such neatly manicured artificial hills or feel the need to whack little balls up and down them – but in the wonderful afternoon light today I could actually see the attraction.

It looked like a lovely place to spend some time, and I guess that these unusual people like to gwalk as much as I like to twalk.

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The outskirts of this area (which forms part of the Millennium Way) are quite rural however, and although you never completely lose sight of the golf course you’re also not in a completely artificial environment – just one that’s quite well looked after.

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It’s also a terrific place to see wildlife, and there were some really beautiful dragonflies floating about in the tall grass, along with lots of birds – but none of them wanted to pose for photos sadly.

However there were other, slightly less camera shy residents of the area that didn’t mind me zooming in for a closer look.

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As nice as the wunny babbits and horsies were – both my companion and I quickly lost interest in all of them when we idly began munching the contents of the nearby hedgerows.

I keep meaning to carry food bags to collect blackberries so that I can freeze them at home – but always forget. Both of us were kicking ourselves after trying some of these because they were absolutely delicious.

So much so in fact that we stopped for a full fifteen minutes, fell almost completely silent and just stuffed our faces with absolutely natural and gratis SPEED FOOD. We must have eaten the equivalent of a generous punnet of these each, before finally moving reluctantly on with blackened fingertips and the warm, sweet taste of the sun ripened fruit still on our tongues.

By the time we reached the club house and took the path across the nearby field back into the churchyard the shadows were beginning to stretch further and further into the distance – making the clear blue sky and hazy orange light a wonderful combination for taking in the distant view of Warwick.

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Sadly the days are quickly getting shorter though.

With the winter drawing in and people needing family time in the evening I suspect that my next few months of exercise will be largely solitary ones. If I’m honest this is the thing I feel more than a bit sad about when I think of my new job. Although I’m ecstatic to have secured it I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little in mourning for my loss of liberty.

However it is what it is. I need the change that something new will bring, and so far my mind is alive with new possibilities. In every other respect I’m ecstatic about how things are shaping up lately and I’ll keep going either on my own or by someone’s side.

Nothing is stopping me now.

However – as I walked home today, I couldn’t help but ponder what the future holds for me with regard to companionship.

Somewhat unexpectedly after yesterday’s post was shared throughout a whole load of Slimming World people via my consultant I had a rather large spike in traffic, and way more comments in social media than I expected to get, or have ever had before.

Amongst the many gracious people wishing me all the best for my new job and complimenting me on the before and after photos several of them asked me (with reference to my picture in the mirror) whether I was still single.

I’ve found it interesting that as I drop more and more weight this is a question that I get asked with ever increasing frequency. Although it’s something I really don’t mind (it’s quite flattering actually) it makes me reflect on why people ask it. I could look upon this with annoyance and think ‘why wasn’t I seen for the man I was inside rather than the shell on the outside?’

It’s pretty clear from the fact they’re mentioning it now that visually there are currently fewer barriers (other than the ones in my own head) existing to stop me finding a partner. It’s also clear that beforehand (when people viewed me differently because I was fat) that there were just as many barriers as I thought there were.

Or were there?

Was I really capable of having a relationship either physically OR emotionally?

Being a man in a jacket that fits, looking clean-shaven and smiling is more than it seems superficially, because I know that regardless of how bad I looked back then, who I was as a person was profoundly different.

I feel I now have more to offer everyone that enters my life – regardless of who they are or why I interact with them. I’m a person with significantly more to give than I ever was before – and I like to think that it’s not just my slimmer waistline that shows through in my photos, but the happier inner me that I’ve painstakingly recovered as I’ve returned to health.

Rather than surgery, in many respects I sometimes think I’ve been performing archeology on myself, and painstakingly brushing away topsoil to uncover everything that was previously buried and hidden from view.

The truth of it is that I chose to be single. It wasn’t about the weight initially – but as it became more of a problem I just accepted that I wouldn’t be a great catch for any lucky lady. As time went on I found I wanted it less and less, and suppose I just learned to be alone, making the most of other friendships instead to fill the gaps that traditionally a partner might have catered for.

Somewhere along the line I created a personal narrative in my mind that I didn’t want a partner, and as such I stopped thinking about it – but like so much of being overweight I am increasingly noticing that as I strip away the physical layers I also strip away the emotional layers that I buried myself in for years.

I’ve not felt a ‘spark’ for a long time – and I often wonder if whatever mechanism that previously caused it to happen in my mind still works. I’ve subconsciously said ‘NO‘ to love and relationships for so long that I think I’ve forgotten how to switch it back on.

Maybe now internet, as the nights draw in and the summer slowly cools it’s time to think about where I find warmth – and when I do who I’ll choose to share it with…

Davey

Davey and the holy grail

This week has been a rather unexpected (but welcome) change of pace – and quite out of the blue I have seen my circumstances totally change.

Back in my very first post (here), way back in February 2016 I had a plan. I’d decided that I’d leave my job and that I’d spend a year changing my life. For the very first time in my life I decided to take a massive chance and I ‘outed’ myself in public as someone that had a drinking and an eating problem.

I’m not sure that (to those who knew me well) either of these things were exactly a revelation – however, to those who didn’t know me intimately some of what I was going through probably came as quite a surprise.

Ultimately however events conspired to change my decision and I stayed in my job while I dealt with the drinking aspect of my (multiple) problems – only (ironically enough) to be made redundant anyway slightly further down the line.

My feelings about my company hadn’t really changed in that period though, and I still felt a real sense of dissatisfaction with the type of business (shareholder owned and dollar motivated) I worked in and their attitude to revenue generation. Although I would never say I was badly treated (in fact quite the opposite) ultimately everything came down to money – and people were eventually seen as just numbers in an expense ledger.

After a while we numbers became surplus to requirements and were replaced by cheaper numbers in countries elsewhere.

Ever since then I’ve been a little stumped about what I could do for a career and what would genuinely be different to what came before.

If I’m honest it’s been rather paralysing.

I’ve found myself torn between the romantic notion of living an uncomplicated life in a job that’s largely manual (Postman) and the other side of me that deep down fearing that this would most likely leave me feeling mentally unchallenged and financially much worse off than I really wanted to be.

But what was the alternative?

Then – quite out of the blue last week I was offered a job interview.

This was a very last minute affair – and I didn’t know that I actually had it until almost 5pm on Thursday. My interview (I was told) was scheduled was for 10am the following day.

(gulp.)

Thankfully a lot of things were already in place. I’d managed (with a lot of hunting and frugal choices) to find just enough items to form a nice smart interview outfit. I’d only managed to get a cheap pair of nice trousers that fitted me on WEDNESDAY.

The great thing was though that I felt really really good about myself when I put them on. Everything felt just right and I didn’t feel like I looked out of place or abnormal. I had (without consciously trying to) put together a complete outfit from charity shops made up entirely of high quality M&S clothing – and I felt good.

It didn’t stop me popping into a shop with a huge full length mirror (I don’t have one) before my interview though just to make sure.

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It’s hard to overstate how important this photo is to me.

Anyone who knows me from my previous long term employment will never have seen me in the workplace like this. These kinds of clothes were impossible for me to wear – and I dressed in the same gear regardless of whether it was for work, home, special occasions, weddings or funerals.

This outfit (and a few other shirts) is pretty much what I wore ALL THE TIME – day in, day out.

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After looking in the mirror for a while I moved on to my interview and shortly after I was starting a two hour question and answer session and desperately trying to recall the finer details of the brief online research I’d done the previous night about my prospective employer.

I wasn’t sure how it was going. I felt I’d messed up early on – and at the close of the session I was then asked the question that I’d been dreading.

‘What have you done with the last year?’

I’ve been worried about this not because I felt I hadn’t accomplished anything, but because of the shame I used to feel about how out of shape I’d let myself get before I took action.

In order to talk about my triumph I would have to admit my abject failure, and for a long time I’d seen that as something I was completely ashamed of.

However, in that moment, wearing those clothes, and feeling physically great I decided to say that with my year off work I had lost over fifteen and a half stone, changed my life in more ways than I had time to describe (although I did try) and that I had become essentially a new person.

I still left convinced I had screwed up the interview and that I hadn’t got the job.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when two hours later I received a call to tell me that not only did I have it but that I started immediately after the weekend on Monday!

As I type I’ve just finished the second day.

It’s very early on, so I can only be cautiously optimistic, but so far I appear to have found an ethically aware and community focused employer that genuinely believes in existing for the greater good. Furthermore it has something that for me is the holy grail.

It’s local.

I can walk to work and have exercise and fitness built into my job! 

I’m now one of those lucky people who can wear two types of footwear in one day. Trainers for my 2+mile walk to work and smart shoes when I arrive.

This might seem like nothing to most people. To me it’s everything.

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I will also get to use my brain a lot – and there appear to be many potential future possibilities within this company.

So – at the moment I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve managed in the first two days alone to walk 17 miles. This is just the distance to and from work with a stroll at lunch, and pottering about later in the evening! Added to my weekend walking I’m currently bang on 40 miles for this week with three days still to go.

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I’ve been getting up a little early to take the long route and it’s been lovely getting fresh morning air as I make my way to my new job. It looks like I can relatively easily keep up my rough average of 60-70 miles a week, and they’re good miles that get my heart rate up!

However – I’m cautious. It all seems a bit too good to be true at the moment – and I’m just waiting for the hammer to drop from somewhere.

Hopefully it won’t. I have my fingers crossed that this will work out.

In the meantime I’m just going to carry on as normal. For me it’s business as usual in my personal life. It has to be about exercise and moving forward to get to my target weight.

In my work life – who knows?

I am finally on a new path internet and it’s really exciting!

Davey

Grasshoppers and Atomic Blondes

Atomic Blonde is an awesome movie.

I’m just going to get that out of the way from the word go. If you like your action slick and stylish with a pumping, and totally authentic soundtrack that completely evokes memories of the period (1989) then this is the film for you.

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I went to see it late last night and shortly after midnight left the cinema still absolutely buzzing and chatting it over with my friend as we walked back to my house along the dark and strangely quiet streets.

We were both of the opinion that Charlize Theron and James McAvoy absolutely knocked this out of the park – and although I (kind of) guessed what was going to happen from the beginning, the payoff at the end of the movie was still nothing less than completely satisfying.

If you’ve not seen the trailer yet then you can find it here.

However – if you also fancy buying the (awesome) soundtrack then I’d advise NOT getting it on the currently ridiculously trendy vinyl format. Amazon appear to have temporarily allied themselves with Sioux Indian tribes and are busily engaging in modern day scalping…

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However – if you can pick yourself up off the floor after that whopping £50.99 kick in the man globes (or sensitive lady parts) it is possible to get it cheaper. iTunes (if you’re feeling virtuous) is more reasonable – but I’ll leave it up to you.

Go to see it and then try not to want the sountrack.

I dare you.

Another reason to love this film by the way is found in the evocative East German punk grunge backdrop – and graffitied concrete decay surrounding the Berlin Wall prior to it’s fall. One thing in particular that stuck with me in a club scene was a glowing neon message on the wall in the background.

It said simply ‘Everything you want is on the other side of fear’.

I’ve not seen or heard this phrase before – and it metaphorically stopped me in my tracks. The words could have been pulled right out of my head that morning and thrown onto the screen in front of me later the same day.

I was talking with a fellow Slimming World’r outside of our group on Saturday and we were both reflecting on how life has changed for us – particularly regarding how in our past lives (losing lots of weight is for those that go through it something akin to a reincarnation experience) we’d learned to just say ‘NO‘ to everything in life, because of long held and deep rooted feelings about how embarrassing saying ‘YES‘ would be.

Saying we WOULD do something as opposed to NOT doing it would usually mean we were in unfamiliar places, out of breath, in pain, unable to fit into seats, sweating profusely climbing stairs – and a whole variety of other tortures.

So we instead just said ‘no’. All the time.

This meant the world just got continually smaller – and our attitudes to everything (without realising it) began reflected our fears in order to explain our behaviour. ‘No’ provided an invisible barrier, that eventually we didn’t even recognise existed until it was stripped away.

As time’s gone on both of us have started saying ‘YES‘ all the time, and trusting that things will work out, because we’re now stronger, more nimble and more able to cope with the world.

It’s a difficult habit to get out out of though – and we agreed that it sometimes still requires a conscious decision to say YES after decades of automatically saying NO – but when you DO then your world starts to blossom.

It’s really true. EVERYTHING you want is on the other side of fear…

I awoke today really early, and still in a blindingly good mood thinking about this, so I decided to spread cheer/p*** the neighbours off and mow my lawns.

It was glorious outside at 8am – but it’s been a few weeks since I paid the garden any serious attention and it was looking a little ‘fluffy’ around the edges. It was a perfect opportunity to stick some chilled out beats on my headphones and go for it.

I’m absolutely addicted to this track by Pogo at the moment.

He’s hands down my favourite source of unique YouTube music – and I consistently go back to him again and again. I must have listened to this track about 100 times already and it was only uploaded by him yesterday.

It was also a really nice soundtrack to a sunny sky and swaying trees and grass.

I’m pretty glad that I’m not a lawn Nazi. If you let it grow a little bit there’s so much more interest to be found.

My frog population seems to have retreated a little – but all of a sudden (with a lot of dead ivy leaves falling from my tree after I cut their roots) I have a mushroom invasion – and seemingly out of the blue I noticed yesterday that there were some pretty epic ones hiding in the grass.

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As well as this (when I eventually took my headphones off) I realised that the lawn was absolutely alive with masses of little crickets – who were all making a symphony of noises.

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If they weren’t chirping away all over the lawn then they were languidly sunning themselves on the warm wood of my shed. There were whole colonies of them, just chilling out and saying ‘please take a close up photo of me whilst I relax!’

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Who am I to say no?

After a couple of hours of weeding the borders and mowing my front and back gardens they were back to (almost) good order.

Once I have some more space in my green bin I will have to attend to the bushes to the right out back – but otherwise it’s in good shape at the moment for the autumn and I won’t have to spend much energy keeping it in a tidier state.

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Anyway – thats my lot for today.

I’m going to sit out there with a cuppa later this afternoon and read a book. It’s all ready for me and I don’t aim to keep it waiting. Before I do this though – I have a busy busy busy day tomorrow, and need to post some eBay items as well as prepare some food for tupperware storage.

I only just realised internet that my local post office is open until 10pm on a Sunday! That’s the bestest thing ever in the history of really awesome bestest things.

(Yes. It’s true. I’m very easy to please!)

Davey

Sweet Sixteen Stone

Although I didn’t get upset about last Saturday’s unexpected weight gain I’ve been trying really hard to focus over the last seven days on forward momentum – and making each day one that I consider to be positive so that I can turn things around.

Although a well rounded ‘positive’ day is also an emotionally balanced and productive one – I mean in this case specifically how it relates to the amount of calories I have taken in vs the amount I have expended. 

Although I haven’t taken a tally of each individual morsel of food that I’ve eaten as I have at times in the past I don’t think I’ve had over 2000 on any given day (except possibly last Saturday) and on most days (certainly Wed-Fri) I’ve consumed well under. 

I’m guesstimating that I’m at around 1700 to 1800 on average. 

As regular readers will have observed I can get pretty obsessive sometimes about this. In last week’s image therapy session the (guest) consultant was talking extensively about step tracking with smartphones – and asking members to keep a note of their daily totals and then try and hit 10,000 a day.

I do this kind of thing already, and I’m always poring over my stats. So – because I have pre-existing OCD in this area and I was staring at a membership book showing a weight gain this made me want more than 10,000.

I resolved to double the target and set myself a task of doing an average of 20,000 per day.

I’m quite happy to say I’ve managed to do it – and truthfully I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!

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Per day this week I’ve done an average of approx 22,000 steps, 11 miles, and burned around 4.6K total calories – which hopefully will translate into some solid progress on the scales at weigh in.

However – I never know. Exercise can often have the opposite effect – but even if it does there’s no denying that this week (no-matter what happens) has been a success in terms of goals achieved.

(Author goes to bed – it’s 3am and for a variety of reasons sleep has not come easily)

It’s later in the day now – and I’ve just walked into town. 

I’m in a great mood!

Last week’s unexplained gain has been swept away by a superb loss on the scales. I’ve also got a new certificate – and I couldn’t be happier. 

I’ve now hit the (frankly bizarre sounding) SIXTEEN STONE mark. 

Saying it out loud sounds unreal enough – but typing it seems to be even odder for some reason. It’s an insane amount of weight and I long ago ceased to be able to visualise what it represents. 

Sixteen stone… It’s totally nuts. 

I’m a stone away from having lost TWO OF MY REGULAR WALKING COMPANION. A whole living breathing twalking person that’s been with me over hill and dale during the last year has almost been shed twice

As I sit in a coffee shop typing this I realise I’m shaking my head from side to side at the absurdity of it all. 

(Author shakes head from side to side…)

(Author considers the absurdity of it all…)

One of the good things about keeping track of my progress on the Slimming World site and having access to their usedul graphing tool (which I’m sure my teacher friend thinks could be better 😏) is that over time I can see that the losses are almost a completely straight downward line. 

I’m still managing to keep an average of between 3-3.5lbs going – which I honestly never expected at this point in the game

When I have a week like last week I could have easily given up and said ‘screw it’ in the kebab shop – but now when I look at the bigger picture here I’m reminded that over time it all evens out

All I have to do is keep moving forward. 

Things have come a long way because of this mantra. Even now I (in a very literal sense) just keep putting one foot in front of the other as best I can and try to trust that I’ll keep moving forward. 

The constant hope is that what’s in the rear view mirror will not only remain there but that it seem more and more distant and disconnected from me as time goes on. 


I remember crying after taking the above picture 16 months ago. 

I wrote about it here

That post seems so long ago now – and reading it still makes my lip tremble and my heart flutter a bit. I’m not sure that there will ever come a time when the intensely painful memory of that moment will not be etched in my mind. 

Anyway. That’s enough ‘deep Davey’ for one day. It’s lovely outside and I plan to enjoy the living heck out of the afternoon. 

Whatever you’re doing internet I hope you’re enjoying it – and that if you’re having a tough time you remember that whatever you’re struggling it’s only as impossible as you believe it to be

On the 16th April 2016 today was impossible. 

Yet I’m here. 

It was possible. 

Step back, get some perspective and look again. 

You can do it.

Davey

Slow mo me

Fundamentally this week for me has been about forward progress, challenging some thought patterns about what I need from life and focusing on self improvement.

I’ve felt like I’m at something of a pivotal point in my personal ‘journey’ (I rather dislike that word if I’m honest but rarely know what to substitute it with) and I’ve been taking stock of all the things I’ve done and how I’ve felt as time has moved on.

Yesterday’s post was something of a revelation to me in that I felt I’d really learned something genuinely new about myself and quite without realising it had turned an emotional corner. It wasn’t until I started writing about it that I registered how important it was – and how crucial it will be to my continued progress as I move forward.

This morning I woke up just before dawn – and by the time I’d had a shower, got dressed and stepped outside the sun had just begun coming up. When I’d reached the park it was already becoming a truly beautiful day.

IMG_4131There are few better places in Warwick to see the sun come up than St Nicholas Park.

I can’t believe that prior to my attempts to improve my life that I visited this place only a handful of times in the decade and a half that I’ve lived here. In many respects now it’s become something of a gentle and nurturing parent – showing me new facets of of myself as I’ve changed and grown.

It’s allowed me to sit on its benches when I couldn’t walk any more, lie on its grass when I could no longer stand, introduced me to many people I didn’t know previously – and watch its many feathered offspring grow in parallel with my own development.

 

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When I see the sun come up here it’s symbolic of much more than just a pleasant walk in the park. Whereas before it was just a convenient place to get fit now I see it for what it’s always been. It’s a living, breathing space sitting at the heart of the community with personality that I’ve come to feel deeply attached to.

Every time I visit something subtly changes. The light is different, an occasional heron launches itself from a reed bed as you pass or tiny little mushrooms pop up before quickly disappearing again a few days later.

If I’m lucky (and I invariably am recently) I’ll see someone I know pass by. Sometimes they’ll be on foot, and sometimes they’ll be using their own methods of transport.

Today an old friend and colleague passed by during his morning exercise.

One can’t help leaving this space feeling both invigorated and alive – and today I’m in a great frame of mind.

Next week is going to be an even busier one than usual for me – and this afternoon whilst thinking about the future I was looking again at this photo comparison.

In some ways I feel that to get hung up on the superficiality of how I look is rather shallow. I try not to be vain, but this is something different entirely. It’s more of the same pride from yesterday’s post.

I was really happy with these pictures (and I still am) but what I failed to mention at the time was that the guy from December 2016 on the left (although it’s not in the pic) had to wear a very large belt around his trousers, that he purchased at the same time.

‘New’ Davey is actually wearing the SAME belt in the Aug 2017 pictures on the right.

It’s a little modified now though.

In the interests of economy I’m more of a ‘make do and mend’ type of person these days – and there’s very little you can’t do to an old belt with a sturdy pair of sharp kitchen scissors and a hole punch.

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If you look carefully at the top portion you can see the indentations where I started to use the belt from the 3rd notch in. I then made more and more holes as I lost weight until it just got too cumbersome and heavy to wear.

In order to use it now with smart trousers I’ve hacked a 15 inch chunk off the end of it, made some more holes – and I’m now using the 2nd one along. All in all I’ve dropped around 14 inches between the two pairs of images above, and that outfit on the right is part of the reason I feel so confident and happy at the moment.

Another is that while looking at the stored photos and videos on my computer I found something that I thought had been deleted long ago.

It’s of me – or at least I think it is.

It seems like someone else now. At the time I was fascinated with the new slow motion video mode on my iPhone and temporarily willing to demonstrate it’s brilliance by allowing my brother to film me, thinking I’d just get rid of the evidence later.

Clearly I got drunk and forgot about it – but I’m glad that it didn’t end up in the trash.

Tomorrow is weigh in day. Who knows what will happen, but when faced with such clear VIDEO evidence of how far things have progressed, how can I fail to be anything but happy with where I am now?

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere or anyone else.

Davey

No limits

One of the things that I’ve sometimes found difficult with my weight loss progress is how to judge success. It’s a really malleable and ethereal concept at times – and I’m continually struck by how small and unexpected things often mean much much more than the massive ones.

Last week I (very unexpectedly) put weight ON when I stood on the scales.

I’m past the point now where I’ll turn myself emotionally inside out worrying about one week where things don’t go as expected – but still I’m likely to be a bit more miffed with myself if it’s a couple of weeks in a row. I still want a good loss on Saturday and I’ll probably be annoyed if I don’t get it.

I’m used to thinking like this now though – it’s been my weekly routine for the last 16 months. I’ve very much judged my success in life over the last year in terms of weight lost and fitness gained, and when I feel I’m not achieving ‘enough’ (whatever that is!) I still get a bit too self critical.

However there are other things that unexpectedly stand out as moments of triumph and I’ve had one of them today.

I realised whilst discussing with someone I’d never met before what I felt I’d achieved in the last year that my thinking (mostly within the space of six months) has changed significantly.

Six months ago (despite writing a frank and truthful blog) I still found myself agonising about whether to tell people face to face (that I didn’t already know) about my weight loss.

The reasoning (in my mind) was that I had let myself go for so long that people would suddenly grasp the truth – that I was actually a huge failure. They would realise in that moment of clarity that regardless of how I looked and behaved NOW that beforehand I was someone that had let their life fall apart in a dramatic fashion – and that they would think that it was only a matter of time before I did it again.

Paradoxically, despite my honesty in the pages of my blog I continually felt a lot of fear about such interactions and never knew quite how to handle them. Even if I decided to be honest (which in most cases I did) for days afterwards I would be terrified that someone was judging me and that ‘I’d let the cat out of the bag.’

However today I realised something. Whereas beforehand I carried shame with me all the time now I carry pride.

I can walk into a room with confidence on both a physical and emotional level, knowing that what I’ve accomplished so far and what I still plan to achieve is something that few people in life have done – and that just because I’ve failed in the past it doesn’t mean I’m a failure forevermore.

In fact now I think quite the contrary is true.

As my confidence and self worth have grown I feel like I have much more to offer the world than I ever did before – which is not something I thought I’d find myself saying before I started writing my blog – or (if I’m truly honest) for a while after I began.

So how do I measure success?

Well – having not stood on the scales yet this week I can’t confidently say that it will be measured in pounds and ounces.

Since I’m not climbing any mountains I can’t judge it with physical prowess.

Since I’m happy and emotionally on an even keel (and thankfully I am 95% of the time) I can’t say that I feel particularly more wonderful now than I did at the same point last week or even last month.

What I can say is that (probably for the first time) today I felt a genuinely swelling sense of pride when I told my story to some total strangers and I watched their faces change and saw them visibly sit up and listen.

I can say that when I told them that six months ago I wouldn’t have wanted to let anyone know who I was – and would have hidden from my past self I grew in confidence.

I can say that when I told them that everything I was wearing came from charity shops and that this gave me a sense of personal triumph my chest swelled.

I can say that when the words left my mouth and I said ‘I have lost over fifteen and a half stone, and I’ve gone from not being able to walk to the end of my street to climbing Snowdon’ I felt physically six foot taller.

So – who knows what will happen when I stand on the scales?

More to the point who cares?

Sure – I want to loose weight – but I’ve said it before and I will say it again – whatever life throws at me, and whatever changes come my way in the coming year I know I can face them, and furthermore I know I can beat them.

One thing I can confidently say internet is that I now have no limits.

Davey

Wyken Slough nature walk

Today was supposed to be more inclusive of gradients and hills – and I was originally planning another exploration of the hills and tracks around Ilmington – however at 5am I was awoken by the hammering rain outside my window.

Fields full of livestock don’t make for particularly good walking after a huge downpour – and you tend to find that the corners where stiles and gates reside have two different kinds of deep mud. One smells really bad and the other smells almost as bad…

So my friend suggested that instead we take a walk along the Wyken Way – which is just on the outskirts of Coventry. As it’s somewhere I’d never been before I was pretty happy to go somewhere new – especially one with a nature reserve along the way.

The start of our walk was on the canal – right next to our parking space – and immediately as we crossed a bridge onto the towpath I could see that recent regeneration of the area had taken place. Both sides of the bridge were adorned with some really cool metalwork wildlife sculptures – which (like the signs dotted about nearby) suggested that there were Kingfishers locally.

Sadly – despite both of us saying we’d never seen one before none were apparent as we made our way along the canal side. What was apparent however was that swanlings seemed to have a pretty good life in this area – and even before we got to the nature reserve I saw probably the largest surviving armada of them that I think I’ve ever come across.

Given that the brood that swans normally seem to have appears to be around 6/7 – unlike the swans in my local park – this family looked like all of them had all survived, which was really incredible!

They were all really lively and healthy too – and very inquisitive indeed, coming up to see us and nibble the grassy bank.

Further up the canal we came to a fork – and stopped to briefly ask for some directions. The canal volunteer in the blue jersey retreated into his little hut, and much to the obvious delight of my companion returned with a huge OS map – and proceeded to point to where we were and where he thought we had to go.

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I was quite impressed – but as we moved away twalking and laughing my friend quietly pointed out that hers was a better resolution and showed much more detail.

I could be wrong but I think I detected a teeny tiny hint of competitive cartography in my vicinity. Never compete with a girl’s map resolution. It will end badly.

The opposite side of the canal appeared to mostly be taken up with national grid infrastructure – and there were many warning signs, along with lots of ‘planted steps’ for water voles, of which there were allegedly loads.

However they seemed to be hiding in the same place as the Kingfishers today because despite them having tons of places to climb in and out of the water they all seemed to have gone on holiday.

I imagine they were probably sunning themselves on a nice beach elsewhere while we stood in the rain on the bank opposite their empty homes waiting for a fleeting glimpse of their noses.

However although there were no voles there were some interesting bugs on the opposite bank…

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After a while (and a particularly muddy field full of cow s**t later) we found ourselves on a path to the Wyken Slough Nature Reserve.

As you may expect the rain has been a constant feature of the day – and despite the really rather miserable conditions it can produce (wet legs and leaky boots I’m looking at YOU) there’s also some real beauty to be found when things get a fresh soaking – and along this tiny overgrown lane everything seemed to be about to drip, but not quite making it to the ground. Every bush and branch had a weight and pregnant poignancy that probably only lasted for a matter of minutes while we were there and then was gone again.

At that moment in time everything looked wonderful.

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It was around here that we got a little lost – and spent a while walking into bushes and routes that effectively became dead ends around the back of an industrial estate.

But exploring is fun!!!

Getting lost is fun!!!

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This didn’t last for too long however and we soon found our destination – along with a huge marsh of bullrushes.

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On the other side of the path however was an army of swans, ducks, gulls and coots!

I couldn’t make out whether they were happy to see me and wanted food, or whether I was in imminent danger, as when I moved in for a closer look the swans (of which there were a LOT seemed to be making a rather direct path toward me…

Unbeknown to me my companion (clearly enjoying the sight of me being stalked by a swan or two) was taking a video of her own…

Thankfully I didn’t get mauled and won’t be appearing on in any swan snuff videos on YouTube any time soon!

Shortly after this we decided to head back to a pub we’d passed earlier on the walk at the canal junction and have a bite to eat. We eventually found ourselves inside what turned out to be an unusually busy Tuesday lunchtime service.

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However, despite the Greyhound proclaiming it was a ‘triple award winning venue’ (and I hate to be critical but if the cap fits) it seemed to be staffed by people who had no idea who should be sitting where or the order in which people should served and were surrounded by lots of tables full of customers waiting for their lunch. Each table’s occupant looked either very annoyed or very bored and had half empty drinks glasses in front of them along with irritable, hungry children.

After we’d had our drinks we decided to move on rather than order and wait an eternity for food and have a coffee at home – saving £5.50 for a baked potato in the process.

This actually turned out to be quite fortuitous – because on the way back from my friend’s house (after being pleasantly caffeinated by her) I decided to check Kenilworth to see if there were any unicorn trousers. 

I found not one, but TWO pairs within budget! I’d wanted to pay no more than a fiver – but each were £3.99 – and my favourite of the two was an almost BRAND new M&S pair!

I have no idea what’s going on with the residents of Kenilworth – but the tags were still on one shirt that I picked up today – giving a clear indication of just what a bargain hunt my clothes shopping has suddenly become!

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I now have multiple really really nice outfits of practically brand new clothes in my wardrobe for less than the cost of a single shirt when I was an 8XL guy!

To be honest it’s been a great day. 

I’ve had excellent company and lots of chats with lots of friends. I’m also seriously winning with regard to non-scale victories.

If I ever ever decide to backtrack on any of the good choices I’ve made lately in life I want to remember how I feel today – and I’m so glad that I’ve gotten into the habit of writing it all down so that I can prove to myself if I need to what I feel and sound like when life is good and things are clicking into place.

I can walk for miles, I have great friends, I can get into cheap good quality clothes – and I have a sense of positivity that not only propels me forward, but that occasionally I can see rubbing off on others in a way that it never used to.

Although from time to time I have bad days internet the vast majority of them now are ones where I lift my head off the pillow and I’m just thankful I get another day full of possibilities.

Even if they so far have not contained a single Kingfisher…

Davey

Introducing friends

This morning I’ve been out with a couple of firm friends, who only met each other for the first time this today…

Initially they were quite wary – but in no time at all after some introductions they were getting on famously.

Probably bonded by their mutual love of bird watching Boris and Freckles seem to get along pretty well when they first met, and happily sniffed each other’s behinds for a while as their pet humans above greeted one another with (less socially developed) handshakes.

I doubt that Freckles and Boris would have minded me joining in – but I didn’t want to intrude and instead stuck to human pleasantries. Also – as fragrant as their behinds must be I was actually more interested in the other wildlife – of which there was quite a lot today at Arrow Valley.

The Pooches also seemed unusually willing to be photographed this morning.

Normally they refuse to stay still for the camera, yet today here they were allowing me to take snap after in focus snap.

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You might think that I’m a charming Dr Doolittle given how calm and collected they are, or what sweet little cherubs they have been to pose for my photo. However what you can’t see just behind me is the piraña like feeding frenzy going on.

A little girl was flinging giant lumps of bread to a growing collection of birds at the official ‘invigorate the ravenous little monsters with wings‘ baked goods slinging platform – and Boris and Freckles were both transfixed by the resulting commotion.

As I turned away from them to watch it struck me that some days what initially might seem like a great stroke of luck is actually the exact opposite.

Sometimes life isn’t what you expect when you’re the little duck that catches the golden crust.

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I think that the moral of the story today is ‘don’t **** with the seagulls‘…

As we left the beleaguered little quackers and continued around the park it was clear however that not all was well elsewhere. The strike by refuse collectors in Birmingham is having a pretty dramatic effect on this usually well kept space and the bins are currently overflowing at each and every corner.

(you don’t need photos of this – it was grim)

People have left carrier bags full of rubbish close to them and as you might expect with a lot of wildlife around these are quickly getting ripped open. Frankly the park is a mess today – and I really hope that this doesn’t hurt the birds – especially the fledglings.

On the main island there are a few nesting Herons – and from what I read on the visitor centre bird spotting chart they have some young with them. However when I looked I couldn’t see any – and only one of my full zoom photos of an adult came out clear enough to use.

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Apart from the overflowing bins and the skinhead-like seagulls though Arrow Valley was quite serene today. Whilst idly strolling we did around 3 miles around the reserve – all the time with Freckles and Boris sniffing away in the bushes and trotting back and forth to say hello to passers by and other dogs.

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As lovely as all this was though I must fill my green exercise ring on Apple Watch (which sedate strolls do not do sadly) otherwise my OCD will cause my head to explode. As lovely as my amble was I needed to do MORE!

Since I am still in need of a pair of black trousers, I headed out when I got home for a brisker walk into town to try and find some.

Sadly these are proving difficult to find – especially given that I have mentally budgeted only £5 for them. All in all I walked a further six miles trying to find my mythically cheap item of unicorn clothing and returned empty handed – but I will persevere!

(I have heard a rumour that there are some in a pot – just at the end of a rainbow!)

On the plus side every step I do is something toward the scales next week – and given that the theme of last Saturday’s image therapy session was step counting and ‘body magic’ (exercise with Slimming World counts to awards) I’ve been trying to keep my numbers up.

On Saturday I finished with 21,314 steps, Sunday was 13,057, and today is currently 22,110 – so I’m hopefully on track for an average of 20,000 a day (around 10 miles).

I’m also trying to ‘tweak’ my food a little bit to reduce calories and today swapped out kidney beans from my favourite chilli dish and replaced them with an aubergine and some chopped green and black beans (both of which came from a friend’s allotment and were delicious).

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The other ingredients were a courgette, broccoli, red pepper, leeks, mushrooms and 5% fat pork mince. The seasoning was cumin, smokey paprika, chilli powder, salt, a beef stock cube, some garlic – and finally to season some freshly chopped coriander was thrown in at the end.

Honesty this was so good that I may just forgo the kidney beans altogether from now on. A can of them has 280kcal in it – whereas an entire aubergine has 50Kcal – and 100g of green beans has 25kcal.

Thats over 200kcal saved today!

Finally – Rusty McBike is now back in the saddle!

Well – at the very least Rusty has a new (old) saddle (courtesy of a friend’s dusty garage contents) and although I’ve not yet had a chance to properly test her out on a long journey yet things currently seem very secure indeed.

She has even got a new donated strap-on gel butt cushion to alleviate the intensely bruised bottom that the previous saddle was immediately capable of giving me. It’s early days but I’m hopeful that this superb combo means that we’re going to be very happy together.

If worst comes to worst another friend has been a dumpster diving hero and secured yet another saddle clamp from the clutches of a nearby skip (in the right hand pic). As rough as it looks as long as I have a spare then I’m pretty happy.

It saves money on eBay and every little bit can go to my unicorn trousers!

As soon as I get a chance I’ll take her out for a spin and let you know how I get on. It’s most likely to be Wednesday however as I have even more planned for tomorrow! Time and tide waits for no man!

Anyway – I must get some sleep – nighty night internet.

Davey

Wardrobe malfunction 

Although occasional insomnia sucks the catch-up sleep that follows it (at least in my case) is glorious. It’s now 6.25am on Sunday, the sun is coming up, birds are singing and I have about 11.5 hours of solid grade A shut eye under my belt. Honestly I feel like I could conquer the world!

But what to do with my Sunday?

(Author decides to move a wardrobe. Just for the hell of it.)

Well – I think that I can say with considerable authority that falling down the stairs being followed by an IKEA wardrobe wasn’t the plan for the morning.

I had been meaning to move one of my two wardrobes into the dining room of some time so that I had a place to hang clothes after ironing. Unfortunately while moving it I completely misjudged the weight and it slipped on the top stair – pushing me backwards as it fell about half of length of the staircase.

Thankfully I managed to stop myself after a few stairs with one hand on the rail and the other on the wardrobe. However – although I was unscathed my furniture wasn’t so lucky…

Mind you – as annoying as this is if I’d been doing this 15 stone ago the ending to this morning’s moment of excitement may well have been quite different. About two years ago I slipped while getting into my car and grabbed the steering wheel. This fared way worse than my bannister when faced with my (then) 35+ stone weight.


So, annoyingly – although this was very nearly the start of a ‘Darwin Award‘ story (idiot crushed to death at 6am by IKEA wardrobe) I like to think it’s actually more of a non-scale victory.

My smashed up furniture may disagree with my positive spin however…

But what to do with the REST of my Sunday?….

(author decides to do some organising then make do and mend)

Well – after a few nails were applied to what remained of my wardrobe I was still able to use it as a clothes organiser. Sadly the doors are now basically junk – and it will definitely need replacing – but hey ho.

It will do for now.

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You might ask why I need a ‘clothes organiser’ downstairs rather than a wardrobe upstairs – and there’s (at least in my mind) a good answer.

Increasingly my store of clothing has become little more than a conveyer belt. The problem has actually gotten so bad that shirts are piling up on chairs because after a few wears and washes they simply don’t fit properly any more.

On the left is one 4XL and several 3XL’s that are almost too comical to wear but that I can’t yet face parting with because I like them. They’re not quite so large yet that I want to give them away.

The items in the middle represent things that I can currently comfortably wear and things that (to the right) are becoming wearable. To the far right is one smart striped M&S shirt that I can just about do the buttons up on – and it’s flipping lovely.

The pile at the bottom in the bin liner is 4XL clothing that’s now mostly destined for charity, and apart from the jacket and hoodie on the left everything is now graded in the order that it needs to be.

I can now finally see what I can and can’t wear at a glance.

This (for the time being) is my relationship with clothes. Nothing is has a sense of permanence and no item usually gets worn more than a few times before I have to say goodbye to it.

On the one side its annoying – but on the other also quite exciting. For the first time lately I have a variety of things that I like the look of to choose from, rather than depressing tents that just used to cover me.

(having mostly gotten over his traumatic furniture loss the author heads out for a walk)

IKEA has become something of a theme of today – and whilst passing the recycle centre on the way to the supermarket today I noticed a POANG footstool. My friend had said that if I saw another at the same price as mine to get it for him, so I popped in to grab it (It was £5 – an absolute bargain!).

However, right next to it was an almost brand new POANG chair.

Readers will know that I already have one of these but have been way too much of a sissy to sit on it (I have been convinced I’d break it) but my experience with the wardrobe, the bannister and my memories of the steering wheel made me think – ‘you know what – I’m going to make my house more comfortable for new Davey rather than the old me’ – and I bought it too for £15 (also an absolute bargain!).

I decided to put the other one in my study where I have a nice view out of the window.

This time however – rather than screwing around and just looking worriedly in its general direction out of the corner of my eye whilst sitting in my HUGE armchair (if you want to see how big it is look hereI’m actually sitting in the damn thing and it’s REALLY comfortable.

I’m not just static either – or propped up against the wall. I’m confidently bouncing up and down in it! However – when I take a selfie for the blog – I’m reminded of the next thing that needs sorting out.

Rusty McBike‘s saddle…

It’s not the best to be honest – and is rocking back and forth like a see-saw, which is hardly surprising as its a teeny tiny bit corroded underneath. Annoyingly it seems that the stem on Rusty McBike is actually different to other newer bikes (it’s 25.4mm rather than 27mm), meaning that when I borrowed my friend’s stem and saddle yesterday it didn’t fit because it’s too big…

My other friend in the however reckons that it can all be fixed with this item:

23606The problem is that I’m wary that my weight will make the same thing happen again – as it happened on my last bike years ago as well.

I know this is probably just in my head – but I can’t help it!

(author wanders off to wrestle with corrosion and his feelings about breaking things because he’s heavy)

Well – the saddle came off a little easier than expected – now all I need to do is replace the clamp – or maybe even the entire stem. I found an alternative style (which is integral to the pole) that makes me feel a little less paranoid, and looks like it’s far less likely to rock…

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Now all I need to do is try and find a second hand one or a really cheap one…

Guess what Davey will be doing next week internet!

Davey

Fragrant butts

My usual Friday night insomnia has been more rampant than usual today/tonight/this morning or whatever it is now.

I suppose that it’s Saturday (regardless of what my brain thinks) as I’m currently sitting outside Sainsburys waiting for it to open at 6.25am. I’ve been up all night faffing about – simultaneously too tired to do anything productive, but far too awake to go back to sleep.

The reason I’m here is that I decided at 5am to take back all of the coffee I ordered by mistake the other day (8x200g packs of beans rather than ground coffee!) and to use this daft task as an early excuse to go for a 4 mile walk before I hit the scales.

With this chronic lack of sleep you might expect me to be grumpy – but I’m actually in a darn good mood despite being tired.

Why? You may ask. The answer is some clothes shopping that I engaged in yesterday.

As regular readers will know my absolute favourite things lately are charity shops. They represent the removal of some serious financial chains that I’ve carried around for a long time.

Back in late December 2016 I needed some smart clothes relatively quickly and at the time the ONLY choice I had was the outsized clothes shop in Leamington.

Shirts were all £40 or above. Trousers were all £40 or above. Belts £20 or £30 depending on the buckle. I looked for my shoes and a tie elsewhere.

In the end to look smart for an interview (which irritatingly only materialised in February when the trousers had begun to get quite loose) I spent over £200 – which (after being made redundant six months previously) was waaaay outside my comfort zone.

I was also really unhappy with how they made me feel at the time (although I didn’t make a big deal of it) and didn’t properly try the bits of my outfit on all together until January 2017 – when I decided to take some photos.

These snaps never saw the light of day because I was so unimpressed with how I felt I appeared when I tucked my shirt in.

My face says it all.


Now I’m in need of smart clothes again, but THIS TIME I’m no longer held hostage by one shop and totally dependant upon what they have in stock.

After hunting around for a couple of hours yesterday and annoying many many women by monopolising the changing rooms over and over again I found some serious bargains – and although I’m still hunting for a darker pair of trousers I’m pretty happy with what I managed to find.

I’m also pretty chuffed with the visual difference between January and now (apologies for the blurry photo)!

The clothes I’m wearing seem to be pretty much brand new from what I can tell – and I feel really smart for the first time since 1999 (no joke).

  • Trousers (Jacamo) £3.50
  • Jacket (M&S) £6.99
  • Shirt (M&S) £2.75
  • Tie (M&S) already owned
  • Belt (Amazon trader) £1.50

Total spent so far to outfit myself (if I buy nothing else) is £14.74.

Compared to January I’m not only physically healthier but financially in the pink too – and furthermore many of the clothes that I purchased a few weeks ago as ‘aspirational items’ now fit me!

All of this makes me feel flipping tremendous – and I think that the buzz that this has produced is what’s kept me awake overnight, because rather than worrying about what the scales will have in store for me I’ve been thinking about the future and what I can do now as opposed to what I can’t.  

Anyway I must get back home and get ready to go to group…

(goes home, gets changed and heads out)

Well the scales this week are evil.

Last week I had an epic loss – and after another really really really good week where I’ve been completely on plan (I estimate 1500-2000 calories per day MAX) somehow I’ve managed to put 3.5lbs ON!


I can fit in smaller clothes this week than I could last week and I’ve felt much lighter and trimmer but that’s not all.

On top of that I’ve walked 62 miles!

Truthfully I don’t know what else I could have done to lose weight.

For the last two weeks there have been different consultants and they each bring their own scales – and honestly my first impulse because of this was to blame the weighing in machines because they were different. However – other people lost weight – which immediately undermines any grumbles I might have about technology getting in the way of my progress – and if I did choose to use this as an excuse it would also detract from their hard earned progress, which they deserve.

I’m just going to have to take this one on the chin and be happy for those that did well and know that it will be my turn soon. Something inside me somewhere is holding onto something or some muscles are bigger and stronger so I’ll just have to accept that.

Anyway. I can’t be angry. Not when I have a dog to play with.

Immediately after group I went for the second walk of the day – which seemed appropriate as the image therapy session was all about body magic and counting the steps that you do to make sure that you supercharge weight loss. Despite the fact that it clearly hasn’t worked this week the more that I do the better I feel.

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However – the weather wasn’t planning to let me cheer myself up without consequence. It absolutely slashing it down in the park when I met my friend and Boris the frenchie.

Getting outdoors, even if it’s under a large umbrella just makes everything better. You can twalk away about nothing and everything, just watching the world passing by and dogs occasionally sniffing each other’s butts.

You can’t fault an animal whose chief pleasure in life is derived not from wealth, status or power – but from the aroma of another mutt’s behind.

Sigh. If only life were that simple.

Eat, sleep, poop, sniff butt, repeat.

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It seems to suit Boris pretty well – and just watching him chill out after our stroll makes me happy. He has the right idea. After all – why should I let anything as trivial as some odd results on the scales bother me when life is otherwise so good? I’ve walked ten miles and 20,000 steps so far today. I could have gone home and stuffed my face but I didn’t.

It’s all a matter of perspective internet.

Plus fragrant butts.

They help too.

Davey

 

 

Diabetes progress report

There are few more gratifying things in life than seeing the long term benefits of choices you’ve made come home to roost. Real, lasting change takes time to achieve and I honestly don’t believe that there are genuine quick fixes to anything – just continued perseverance in the right direction.

The more you do the right things the more they become a permenant way of life.

It’s been a few months since I mentioned diabetes in my blog – and if I’m honest on a day to day basis I’m sometimes beginning to forget that this is still sitting in the background and lying in wait somewhere in my body.

It seems like a LONG time ago that every Sunday afternoon I was putting 7 pills per day in my weekly pill dispenser and then having to remember to take them at several different times of day – as well as testing my glucose levels before I drove my car.

I still refuse to think ‘Yay – my diabetes is gone and I’m cured!‘ though.

Some may think that viewpoint reeks of pessimism rather than optimism – but to me it’s still very much an ongoing condition. I try to expect the worst but continually work towards the best possible outcome.

In order to do this I imagine myself always looking over my shoulder at a stalking predator. In my mind’s eye it’s a big cat that’s already tasted blood but that has been caught by the tail and temporarily caged. It’s pacing back and forth in its flimsy confinement and watching what I do.

It’s biding it’s time and waiting to break free.

The diabetes that this cat represents will always there in my (already damaged) pancreas, and if I drop my guard it will almost certainly attack again. This point of view keeps me committed, because I know that if there is a next time I might not be able to turn it around.

It’s much better to keep on the right path.

A week ago I had a blood test to make sure everything was ok after I stared getting a lot of light headed moments when standing up (link). Thankfully (or annoyingly – depending on how you look at it) these now appear to have largely stopped altogether. I had one whilst climbing Snowdon – but otherwise there’s been nothing at all. It’s just inexplicably disappeared – in the same way as many other things come and go as my weight drops.

Often there seems to be no explanation – they’re just…. no longer there.

My blood work appears to reflect this. There’s no abnormality in my kidney function or anything else that would give an indication of why I started to feel this way. It’s a little frustrating to not know why it started so suddenly and then completely stopped – but I’m honestly just glad that it’s gone.

Hopefully in the cases of the readers that replied to my post saying that they too experienced issues like this during weight loss it will clear up too.

One of the plus points about having a full blood work up though was that I got to double check my HbA1c (blood glucose) levels. It’s always comforting to make sure that everything is still ok now that I no longer take any medication.

Although I manage my diabetes via diet and exercise alone now this approach was never something my doctor suggested – she just confirmed that I was in a good place when I was tested and that I should be ok to carry on with what I was doing.

Annoyingly I feel I’ve received very little official support with my condition.

Regardless of that though I’m charting my own course, and I’ve been living this way this since early January (link) and it’s been working.

At my checkpoint diabetic review in April (I keep having to proactively ask for these as my practice seems to continually forget) I was told that my results weren’t even on their diabetic chart now (link) and this morning the news was that it’s improved even more!

Today I’ve been told (only after asking) that it’s dropped even further to 28.

For those unfamiliar with my diabetes progress so far the readings below are the ones that I’ve recorded since my diagnosis (I kept far more detailed home ‘finger prick’ tests too – but see these as ‘official’ results).

I’ve (for the first time) added in brackets what was going on health wise at the time as well – as well as a picture (where I have one – in a lot of cases I refused to be photographed or deleted selfies) from that approximate date so that readers can see the changes that have happened in relation to what I was doing.

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  • Jan ’14 94 (Drinking heavily, eating to excess, no exercise, over 35st)
  • Apr ’14 46 (moderating eating habits, still drinking, no exercise, over 35st)

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  • Jan ’15 40 (moderating eating habits, still drinking, no exercise, over 35st, embracing beards)

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  • May ’15 66 (Drinking very heavily, eating to excess, no exercise, over 35st)
  • Feb ’16 74 (before Slimming World and one month after giving up alcohol)

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  • Jun ’16 51 (beginning to exercise but still at the 32.5st mark)

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  • Sept ’16 30 (walking regularly at significantly increasing distance – 28.5st)

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  • Mar ’17 29 (regularly walking over 70 miles a week and doing between 30-60 minutes of cardio a day – 22.5st)

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  • Aug ’17 28 (by now I’ve reached a level of fitness where I can climb Snowdon – 18st 11)

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My HbA1c reading isn’t a figure that I expect to see continually moving in a downward trajectory. At the moment it’s absolutely where it needs to be. I needed to get it down to normal ‘non-diabetic’ levels and find stability – which I think I’ve pretty much done. However – as I still have weight to lose (around 4 stone) so it’s not surprising that there’s still some wiggle room.

It won’t be until I reach my target weight that I’m going to be able to start assessing and understanding what my body does normally because currently every result and every test is effectively taken on a backdrop of continually shifting goalposts.

Either way – I’ve felt a little low over the past couple of days, and this news is a timely reminder that the year since I was made redundant has been (and I’m not over stating this) the most productive and rewarding phase of my entire life. 

It’s really rare that anyone (certainly myself) can say something like that – and as I prepare for the next phase of my personal evolution for the very first time I can look back at a period of eighteen months where I have continually improved – becoming healthier, more positive, physically (and emotionally) stronger and more agile in every way.

However – the exciting thing about all this is that I’m not yet where I want to be. I refuse to believe that I’m even close.

Sure – I’ve now lost well over 3/4 of the weight that I planned to lose – but with each literal and metaphorical mountain that I climb all I see is a new horizon – and a new objective to work towards.

If I’m to maintain and improve upon what I’ve achieved so far then I’ll never be ‘fixed’. I’ll just be a constant work in progress, always wanting to be a little bit better in some way or another. Hopefully this way I’ll never again fall back into my old anesthetised and numb state of just existing. 

I intend to spend the rest of my life internet -however long or short it is living. 

Davey

Transportation upgrade

Today has the capacity to be a downbeat one – but honestly I don’t plan to let it get the better of me.

I dislike dealing with officialdom at the best of times, and today is unfortunately one of those days where I have to. Although I often find that the reality of such encounters is far better than the confrontation I’ve imagined it doesn’t make any such appointments less stressful for me in the lead up to them.

Since I need to create my own positive mood today (no-one else will do it for me – it’s just me vs men in suits) I woke up this morning with a basic plan in mind.

Firstly I had a shopping delivery to get out of the way.

No – you haven’t misread that. I’m still tighter than a camel sphincter in a sandstorm – but I got an £8 voucher from Sainsburys online (with free delivery) if I spent over £25. It sounds daft – but even with almost 1/3 off my shopping this voucher is still not necessarily cheaper than shopping at Aldi – unless I used it to buy items (in bulk) that I knew were cheaper or unavailable at Aldi or Lidl.

So – I ordered 6 bags of Soya mince (£1.50 for 500g. Sainsbury’s own brand is really tasty in a chilli and very low calorie compared to meat), and 8 bags of espresso coffee -which was on special offer anyway.

What arrived was four bags of mince and two bags of soya protein meatballs (also £1.50). When the guy on the doorstep saw my crestfallen look he refunded (and let me keep) one of the bags of meatballs, saving me a bit more money and I signed to let him go on his way.

Result!

Until that was I put all the coffee on my kitchen counter and realised I’d bought beans not ground coffee – when I don’t have a frikkin coffee grinder!!!

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Still – it’s at least amusing, and probably a very good opportunity to buy a cheap one and get all snobbish with some freshly ground beans when people come over for tea parties.

In a round about way brings me onto my mild cliffhanger of an ending yesterday. Although my walking and climbing was finished by the end of my post, a (possibly) new love affair with coffee and a brand new chapter in my fitness was beginning.

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Firstly my friend decided he no longer wanted his coffee machine (he was upgrading) and in an act of brazen generosity gave me his old Gaggia. This is a little more ‘hands on’ than my other alternative ways to make coffee – but (from my experience in the brief period of burly barista style ownership so far) produces espresso shots at a strength that ‘blow the bloody doors off.’

However – this enhanced sense of energy came in very useful after my shopping delivery.

So – onto the second thing I left out of yesterday’s post.

For some time I’ve been pretty paranoid about a certain method of personal transport. I have many bad associated memories of breaking them, bending them, and falling off them when I couldn’t support my own weight. I’ve frankly been a mass of negativity and pessimism about this particular way to get fit.

So I’m experimenting a little, challenging myself and branching out.

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Yesterday I took ownership of the first bike I’ve owned in nineteen years.

My friend sourced it for me cheaply around the corner from him (it was only £35 – yay!) – went and had a look at it on Sunday night, and had it waiting for me in his garage when I arrived. It comes with a nice, thrifty ‘pre-loved and a little rusty‘ vibe to it – and really doesn’t look like an item that will attract many bicycle thieves – which was one of my other concerns.

I drove it home yesterday evening from Derbyshire on a borrowed bike rack (something else I was pretty wary about, having never attached one to my car before) and parked it up in my hall where I could quietly view it with unguarded suspicion and wariness.

I was still looking at it with the same expression whilst I sipped my second espresso shot this morning.

Faint heart never won trim waistline though – and before lunchtime I took it out for it’s first spin!

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Honestly I’d built it up in my mind to be way worse than it was in reality (which I’m sure you’ll agree is a theme of people with weight or fitness issues that stretch back many years) and I was surprised at not only at the distance and speed that I travelled, but that I was cycling up gradients (albeit not insane ones) without any problems.

The gears worked fine, the brakes stopped me when things crossed my path and the bike felt sturdy – if maybe a little ‘boneshakery’. The only issue I had was with the saddle coming loose and slipping back a bit close to the end of the ride, separating and invigorating certain aspects of my undercarriage..

Who needs testicles anyway? I have it on good authority from my lady friends that they’re totally overrated.

When I looked at Apple Watch’s stats upon arriving home I’d done a little under 6.5 miles in around 37 minutes. This is particularly interesting because thats almost exactly the distance my exercise bike says I’ve travelled in the same time frame – which means it’s actually relatively accurate!

Anyway – it’s still early days. My friend is one of the ‘lycra elite‘ and I have a long way to go before I reach the dizzying heights of his Bradley Wigginsesque accomplishments – but it’s a start.

Only time will tell whether this becomes ‘a thing’ for me – but at the very least it gives me new travel options for work and shopping. At the very least I feel pleasantly well exercised today and I still have a whole bunch of walking left to do this afternoon – so as far as I’m concerned it’s already a good day!

And on that note internet I must head off to do battle with officialdom.

Davey