Security blanket

It’s fair to say that this week and last have been ones where I feel I’ve really struggled to remain on course.

I mean this from both an emotional and dietary perspective – and I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t been thinking about eating pretty much everything around me during pretty much every moment of every day.

The beginning of the week seemed to be worse than the last few days – in which I’ve managed to metaphorically grab myself by the shirt collars and give myself a good hard slap.

For the first time in a very long time I’ve found my subconscious constantly whispering negative things in the background. It’s also been pretty vocal in it’s opinion that I should ignore healthy eating and instead ‘treat myself’ to something ‘nice’.

It’s only the benefit of hindsight that tells me where this ultimately leads however – and it’s definitely NOT to Davey’s happy place.

I know from bitter experience that this inner narrative, telling me I should relax my focus, is instead another disguised voice that’s actually worried about many other things, and looking for comfort in its old habits, because it knows that in the short term it’s an answer of sorts.

I’ve lost count over the years of the number of times this seductive voice has said ‘you’ve had a hard day – you deserve to relax and have some decadent snacks or drinks’.

It’s led to the evening flying by in a blur and ending in either a food coma or a hangover (or both) and I have to continually remind myself of the grim reality of not maintaining focus.

Diabetes for one is in the rear view mirror. It’s on a big, gas guzzling motorbike, and although I lose sight of it’s bright headlamp from time to time I have to imagine it as something that’s always in dogged pursuit.

It’s not gone. 

I’m convinced it’s merely lurking in the background. 

However despite my somewhat gloomy assessment and the potential for its return one day this is also something I view as a benefit.

When I think how lucky I am to have reversed the condition it helps to keep things in perspective when I have weeks like this. 

I also keep looking at the inches I’ve lost – which at the moment is a big motivator – because for the first time there are no clothes in my wardrobe that I consider ‘aspirational’.
They all fit.

However I don’t think it’s going to be a good result today – which is a shame because I feel I need one.

(Author goes to group – but not before sitting quietly in his spare room for a moment looking at clothes and then deciding to take something with him to help him re-focus)

Well – it’s as I feared. I’ve managed (after last week’s maintain) to put three pounds back on.

I’d like to say that this doesn’t matter to me. I’d like to say it means nothing in the great scheme of things – and I’d like to say I don’t feel really upset – but I’d be lying.

I feel like I’ve let myself down and the tipping point that I wanted to reach where I have lost more than I weigh is now a little bit further out of reach than it was this time last week.

As I sat down after the result, every part of me felt like it was sagging.

I don’t mean in a physical, rolls of fat kind of way – I mean that I felt dejected. In the moments after stepping off the scales I felt just like a football with its air slowly escaping. I didn’t feel the usual indignation I have when I have a gain. 

Usually in response I want to kick the stuffing out of the week ahead – but today I felt like the only thing getting a kicking was me.

It’s all in my head though. 

It always is. 

No-one else is thinking about me in negative terms or questioning my ability to carry on. It’s only my fear talking and I need to just pull my socks up and get on with it.

The image therapy session began as usual and bit by bit Angie worked her way through the people on her tablet until she reached me and noticed the gain I’d had. 

She looked up, a little surprised – and asked if I was OK and whether it was expected.

I confessed. 

It was.

I told her and the group that I’d eaten like an idiot for the first four days of the week – and counted virtually nothing the way I should have. I confessed to snacking on lots of cold faggots from the Tesco deli counter (162kcal each) and to just generally losing the plot a bit.

Then – in response to her query about how I was going to re-focus – I pulled my security blanket out of my bag.

My old trousers. 


In case the pictures may appear showy (I asked someone to take them when the session ended for my blog) I didn’t bring them along for attention grabbing purposes. 

I put them in my bag before I left the house because firstly I really needed to remind myself what I’ve done and how far I’ve come

Secondly I badly needed to draw on the support of the people at the group and have them lift me up

When I heard the gasps from new members who had never seen me at my worst and the exclamations of incredulity from the regulars (many of whom were there on my very first day) it reaffirmed everything.

The people that I see every Saturday know how hard it was for me back then to walk, move, sit breathe and get up and down the stairs into the school hall. Their reactions help me remember the feelings that brought me there in the first place.

I kept the trousers on for the rest of the meeting, resting my flask of coffee in the sagging crotch, and occasionally folding my arms in there. 

The lady next to me commented in a whisper that she couldn’t believe the difference and rubbed my shoulder. 

As I gazed down while Angie continued and children played nearby I thought idly that as well as a coffee I could probably have fitted a few bags of shopping in there as well. 

The ridiculousness of this item of clothing isn’t lost on me. The excesses required to make me big enough to wear them seem obscene to me now – and as everyone looked at me in amazement I remembered how it used to feel to be stared at for all the wrong reasons. 

Back then I was a failure. I couldn’t cope with anything – but I can now

Today when I woke up I felt weak. When I stepped off the scales I felt deflated and down. These feelings are transient though and they won’t control me.  

A small detour isn’t a failure – it’s just part of the process. 

By the time I left the group today I felt accepted, understood, supported and capable of picking myself up, forgetting the bad week I’ve had and trying again

I’m not where I want to be yet internet – BUT I WILL BE SOON. 

Davey

Exposed foundations

Last night I had a vivid nightmare. 

In this lucid (partially waking) waterfall of subconscious fears I had rented my home to a close friend. I’d done this in the hope that it would be looked after in my absence. 

I can’t remember where it was that I’d gone or indeed how long I’d been away for – but when I returned my friend had hired an unskilled private contractor to dig down into my garden and undermine the foundations of my house. 

When I arrived for a visit my friend didn’t mention to me that anything had changed and left me to find out for myself that the underbelly of my home had been exposed. 

It was now propped up only by three slender, insubstantial concrete piles. Wires, plumbing and broken floorboards were dejectedly hanging down from holes in the floor above the freshly exposed soil around twenty feet below them. 

I felt betrayed by someone that I’d trusted implicitly, upset that the biggest asset in my life was in danger of total collapse and was suddenly faced with a new and uncomfortable reality

Now I’d seen my home from this unusual perspective I knew the fragile nature of its existence and how it could so easily be taken away from me. 

When I awoke I struggled for a moment to separate reality from my dreamscape. 

My first thoughts were about the betrayal by my friend. Why had they done this? What possible reason could there be for their behaviour? Didn’t they love me anymore? 

This one thought dogged me for the first few hours of my day – until (after going out for a walk to shake off the feeling) I continued reading a book I’m currently working through about a potential career direction and realised that I’d completely missed the point of the nightmare

My foundations are currently uncertain. They feel like they’ve been removed (by me) and I have the most important things in my life resting upon complete uncertainty

A lifelong friend has always referred to me as ‘risk averse’ – and this is certainly something that I’m happy to admit I’ve been in the past. 

I’ve always sought certainty over chance. I don’t normally gamble on anything and tend instead to go for courses of action where I have a fixed outcome presented to me. 

Today I realised that the inner me is terrified of what I’ve done to myself career wise. Suddenly I feel I’ve become a high stakes gambler, playing a game of chance with foundations that I had always viewed as solid and unchanging. Instead of being conservative I’m spinning a wheel of fortune to determine what will happen next. 

I used to ‘know’ who the old me was. He was above all else employed and because of this I felt he was dependable. I thought people viewed his ability to remain unchanged as reliable. I believed that this made him appear trustworthy

Now I’m having to re-assess how not only how I see myself but how I feel the rest of the world sees me. All my beliefs about who I am are once again being challenged and long held personal certainties seem as if they’re tumbling through the air like a juggler’s skittles. 

Whilst there is now infinite possibility in my life I have no experience at all in turning this looming uncertainty into something that is capable of helping me survive financially and this is conspiring to skew my perspective of my self worth, capabilities and sense of personal security. 

Today – totally out of the blue I’m feeling lost, alone and fearful. Every potential decision suddenly seems to carry a weight and consequence completely out of proportion with its reality. 

I’m bewildered over why today this fear has hit me in such a profound way – and honestly I want to return to my bed, pull the covers over and curl up in the dark. 

I’m determined not to though internet. I’m carrying on by walking, reading, writing my way through it. 

I just hope the feeling passes soon. I’m trying to tell myself that putting one foot in front of the other is enough, and that things will work out. 

Hopefully at the moment forward IS forward and my speed in life doesn’t matter like I currently fear it does. 


Davey

Alcester to Wixford with Tinker

Tinker wouldn’t stop wagging his tail or licking me. He similarly refused to stop climbing up to shoulder height and playfully nuzzling my face. As time went on it also seemed he didn’t have any immediate plans to stop sticking his tongue in my ear, and appeared completely unrepentant about finally flopping onto his back and lying belly up on my lap expecting his tummy to be tickled.

I instantly liked him – and we’d only just met.

IMG_4650

Tinker is barely 6 months old, and his fur is as soft as a baby’s hair. He has the enthusiasm of a schoolyard full of children – and it’s infectious. It’s really hard not to smile when he’s running round open fields in huge circles and jumping in as much mud as possible while his owner tries (somewhat unsuccessfully) to reign him in.

I digress though.

I’ll rewind a little.

I was joining Tinker and his owner for a walk from their home in Alcester to the nearby village of Wixford for lunch at a pub called The Fish (link). As we set out (knowing my strange agnostic predelicion old churches) my companion suggested we have a look around his village (where there’s a really nice one) which suited me as I’ve never before walked around Alcester.

As well as having lots of charity and coffee shops it seems to have a few absolutely lovely buildings and streets as well, which are full of old world character. The oldest one I saw dated back to 1444 – which gives an idea of how long the town has been standing.

Sadly the house itself (called The Beehive) was a little underwhelming from the outside – but elsewhere there were far more picturesque streets, and clear evidence that the local garden centres are flourishing.

Near to these twee little streets is the central church (St Nicholas) which sits at the heart of the village and has a rather unusual clock. It’s built into the corner of the church tower, so that it can be seen from the length of the main high street.

IMG_4703.jpg

Inside the church is clearly much loved – and as well as having some nice sculptures and relief carvings also has (in pride of place) the old mechanism for the clock tower which was made in 1682. Apparently it was in use right up until 1975 when it was finally replaced by an electrical mechanism.

I might be wrong but I don’t think my Apple Watch will last 300 years… This timepiece was clearly built of stronger stuff to last!

However – as interesting as this was, waiting (im)patiently outside was a rather excitable pooch – who wanted to go for a walk (in huge circles).

IMG_4712.jpg

As we moved out of town and into the countryside I found myself in yet another part of Warwickshire that’s completely new to me – and it seemed absolutely lovely.

It keeps taking my breath away just how many places there are to explore around where I live, and just as soon as I’ve found one place to mooch around and think I’ve seen most of what there is to offer, another pops up to remind me that I’ve still barely scratched the surface!

IMG_4731.jpg

 

The walk from Alcester to Wixford is around three miles and in between there’s another super cute teeny tiny little church – which sits pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and looks very twee indeed.

Sadly it was also very closed – so I couldn’t have a look inside. All I could do (at the request of my companion) was pose for a photo outside.

IMG_4741.jpg

Soon after this we were on the high street in Wixford and since the whole village is barely a mile across we were at the pub in no time at all.

Now…

The pub…

How to describe it?…

IMG_4811.jpg

Well – imagine a country pub, full of old world character, a roaring fire, heavily varnished wood, dusty bottles on shelves and red leather seating with tarnished brass foot rails leading along the base of an ancient and well worn bar.

old pub

Then forget all that – because the fish is as flamboyant as they come!!!

There’s a pained shark’s head above the frikkin door and the only brass I saw was the

GIANT MONKEY WEARING A GOLD CROWN ON THE BAR!!!

IMG_4808.jpg

IMG_4746.jpg

If all that isn’t an arresting enough sight the back wall has a moulin rouge style diorama with a fully animated ferris wheel, a life size dancing mannequin in a tutu, a model of an elephant and a picture of a swan saxophonist!

IMG_4747

If this sedate and relaxed attitude to interior design wasn’t arresting enough above the bar were also several camel heads all proclaiming that patrons should not ‘get the hump!’

IMG_4750

My companion hails from London – and I’ve heard him say on many an occasion that he’s ‘got the ****in ‘ump’ so to have this instruction in his local boozer must seem like God came down from heaven and provisioned him with his very own personally customised watering hole.

I’ll be honest though – knowing him as I do I doubt he would have chosen the style of lighting they did…

IMG_4751

However – we were here for the food and company. The service seemed very friendly and the menu looked like there was a lot of choice. Being very generous my companion very kindly refused to let me buy my own lunch, and treated me to a moroccan spiced lamb salad with minted yoghurt.

I’m not sure how many syns were associated with the ciabatta garlic bread – but I couldn’t resist eating it (plus it was really nice!)

IMG_4771

As we sat outside eating (and Tinker ran endlessly round and around the empty beer garden in energetic circles) I couldn’t help but focusing on the nearby bridge.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs I’ve become something of a lover of redbrick construction – and this particular one is of a kind I’ve not seen before. At either side was an eye catching circular tunnel – presumably added to facilitate the easy movement of livestock and pedestrians.

What an engineering masterpiece!

How cool is that?!

As I sat down to write this I couldn’t help but look up the history of this beforehand – and although its Grade II listed there’s not a lot about it on the web, as it seems that all historical data is held at the Warwickshire County Records office (link) rather than being online.

However I did find out who built it, when, and for how much..

bridge 1bridge 2

One can only focus for so long on architecture however when there are unusual geese floating by.

IMG_4799

I wish I’d brought my superzoom camera with me today. Without it I missed a kingfisher, a hawk, and couldn’t get anywhere near as close in as I wanted to with this little brown and tan guy.

What an interesting beak and colouring he has!

I did manage to get a little video though – and you can just about see him in the background.

After we’d watched the wildlife, chatted about bridge construction methods and finished lunch Tinker seemed eager to continue running in endless circles elsewhere.

He’s got the kind of eyes that you just can’t say no to – and who were we to argue?

IMG_4815.jpg

By the time we’d reached my companion’s home we’d walked around seven and a half miles, talked about many interesting topics, watched Tinker run back and forth through silage, eat sheep pellets, and completely fail to trace the scent of a peacock hen that was nonchalantly strolling over the road right next to him.

What he lacks in common sense he sure makes up for with enthusiasm! He’s got a lot to learn but I’m sure he’ll get there!

Anyway – this evening internet I have some more reading to do.

I’m still doing a little every day to move myself forward – and today I feel like I’m at one with the world.

The countryside, and the weather have been kind and the company has been great.

IMG_4716

Davey

Start as I mean to go on

One of my Slimming World consultant’s favourite phrases is ‘if you do what you always did then you get what you always got.’

It’s been going around and around in my head today (although not necessarily in terms of weight loss) and I’m consciously trying to not repeat old behaviours – and instead to channel her positive message into my actions. The nature of life is change – and the ability to embrace and capitalise upon it is paramount if you’re to make any progress.

To be fair she also regularly says ‘wrap some ham around it!’ (when referring to her preferred method of consuming Crudités) which I will admit is my favourite one of her catchphrases (there are quite a few) but I can’t apply this to my search for employment unless I plan to open a deli, so instead I’m cherry picking her baubles of wisdom.

As planned I got up (very) early this morning and got myself ready to hit the world with a neatly ironed shirt, trimmed nails, delicately scented armpits and a freshly moisturised complexion.

It’s highly likely that no-one will be looking at me today, but giving a damn about your appearance and feeling positive starts with taking care of the little things – regardless of whether you’re being watched or not. If that means getting up and looking good for no-one but yourself then that’s what you do.

Photo on 25-09-2017 at 12.08

I never have pyjama days anymore and try to start as I mean to go on for the day ahead.

Once the rain stopped hammering down outside this morning I briskly made my way into town with some suitably upbeat tunes. I was originally heading for the library, but then realised I couldn’t drink coffee (oh the horror!) or get free wi-fi there, so I re-routed at the halfway point and headed instead for Starbucks.

Today I feel driven – and my walking speed on the way to town appears to reflect this.

IMG_9A4254DD7908-1.jpeg

I remember a time not so very long ago when an average pace like this would have been a distant dream for me. Getting my mile speed under sixteen minutes was not only a significant challenge – but resulted in a lot of sweating and a pretty high heart rate.

Today not only did it seem do-able – I’d even go so far as to say it was enjoyable.

The other good thing about starting my day like this (as opposed to getting up and sitting at home to do some work toward my next steps in life) is that I feel flipping invulnerable after I’ve been exercising – and far less likely to think ‘can’t do‘ thoughts as opposed to ‘CAN DO‘ ones.

Already I feel better about things.

Although I won’t go into exactly what I’ve been up to today I’ve started researching two separate areas that could be a way forward (I’m still undecided about both), arranged a ‘taster’ life coaching session with a consultant for Friday, looked into the tax situation associated with potential projects, put some ideas down on paper – and also spent a while reading about something else that interests me.

It’s still grey out there, and it’s still raining but as I type (now at home) I’ve pounded over eight miles of pavements and definitely feel like I’ve made some progress.

I don’t think there are any quick fixes any more – and maybe that’s the lesson to take away from today. Rather than jumping into things in the vague hope that they will make me happy I plan to invest some time in research and get input from people who know what they’re talking about along the way.

Appetite wise today has been pretty good. I’m keeping a lid on things so far and will make sure that whatever I eat this evening will be prepared rather than picked at. So far I’ve eaten around 1000kcal and I plan to have a rather large salad to end the day with – which (counting the fish I’ll add to it) will come in at approx 500kcal.

This should leave a little wiggle room for some dessert hopefully.

I know I shouldn’t be counting calories on Slimming World, but it’s the only way I feel I can get myself under control when I want to comfort eat. There’s no hiding from numbers and it’s a LOT harder to bury your head in the sand when you know an apple is 74kcal and what it means for weight loss when you eat loads of them (as I tend to do).

Since I’ve been a good boy today I also plan to treat myself to a video game session later this evening. Lots of digital bad guys will be getting digital caps popped in their digital bottoms as the day draws to a close.

After all internet – a little bit of what you fancy does you good! 🙂

Davey

 

Damaged or incomplete 

Technology is wonderful. Until it isn’t. 

When you put your trust in something and then it ceases to do what you expect of it then (if like me you develop a relationship of sorts with a device) there are few things that can put you in a worse mood. 

Honestly my frame of mind hasn’t been too great anyway over the last week (apart from Friday at EGX) due having no frikkin clue what to do next in life – so when my Mac started to do strange things I started getting a little annoyed. 

If I’d have had a pram then my toys would have been thrown right out of it. 

Currently something VERY BAD is transpiring. 

Every single application refuses to open and instead throws up the same error message. 


A while ago this would have intrigued me. 

I’d have seen it as a challenge, rolled up my sleeves and spent my entire weekend trying to figure out what the issue was and then would have busied myself rectifying it. 

There was however a significant difference between that version of Davey and current Davey. Whilst I am still something of a nerdy geek – new improved me is far more likely to view time spent sitting tinkering as time utterly wasted

Yesterday (shortly before all of this nonsense started) I was already searching for motivation – and reasons to do more than just fiddle with techno toys. 

I’ve been saddled with a stress related bout of the munchies for DAYS now (I struggled yesterday too) and I’d been wondering how I could turn it around. 

I came up with the following. 

  1. I’m not cooking enough. I’ve been snacking a lot and not making the effort to make a proper, balanced dinner or evening meal. This has to stop. I need to spend more time planning and preparing. 
  2. I’ve not been drinking enough water. As I counted the cost of yesterday’s picking at the ‘nice’ things in my cupboard I realised I’d had about two pints all day. That’s not enough. 
  3. I need to focus on my jeans. 

The last point isn’t a spelling mistake. I’m not talking about genetics. 

I mean denim. 

I pulled my old 66in waist trousers out of storage and laid them out flat on the carpet, then took my current jeans off the clothes horse, overlaid them and took a photo. 


In my mind that’s what happens when damaged or incomplete file structures on computers become more important than going for a walk. 

So – I shut the computer down, grabbed my fleece and my hat and soon was out in the countryside near Ryton Woods for a four and a half mile walk with a friend. 

I’ll admit that I’ve been on a mission during a lot of my walks lately, and I think my companions may have noticed a brisker pace than usual. 

In truth I’m trying to bury myself in exercise – in the hope that things will click into place and that I’ll have a sudden twalking revelation in the middle of no-where and suddenly realise what it is I want to be when I grow up. 

The countryside near Southam and Ryton Woods failed give me absolute clarity so today (still avoiding my broken computer) I went out looking again. 

I stared the day with a five mile walk around Warwick and the park, went home and then ten minutes later headed out on another seven and a half mile circular route march from my house, round the Warwickshire golf course and back again. 




However – whilst I’ve smashed my daily goals, my body is bristling with added vitality and I’ve managed a lot of chatting with some lovely people I’ve still had no bolt from the blue or sudden profound epiphany

Furthermore – to add insult to injury when I got home my computer was still broken and had not magically fixed itself. 

Sigh. 

There were lots of pretty mushrooms today though so at least there’s that…


So – what to do?

Well – next week I’ve set myself the challenge of moving my ‘what happens next?’ agenda forward. Since I don’t yet know what my plans are, tangible success will be hard to measure – but I need over the next few days to approach it as I would a job. 

This means getting up early like I always do, making myself presentable, going out to the library or somewhere quiet, researching potential paths, and taking one (maybe two) positive, measurable and quantifiable actions in pursuit of my goals.

Granted – I don’t know what my goals are yet, so ironically enough this may well just be to ‘define my goals’, but even this is something I’m not sure about. 

One thing’s for certain though. I’ve got to get out of the habit of telling myself what I can’t do and start reminding myself what I can do. 

At the moment every time I think of something I’m waaay more focused on what could go wrong and how I could fail at it than I am about the exciting prospect of doing something with the potential for success and to truly change my life. 

Either that internet or I go with PLAN B, take a complete break from reality and become Lego Batman. 


BatDavey 🦇 

EGX Non-Scale Victory!

Yesterday was something of a personal triumph for me. Nothing particularly amazing happened in the great scheme of things, but what did take place probably wouldn’t have been possible even this time last year.

There are moments when for me everyone else’s normal still happens to be my amazing and this event is a significant non-scale victory.

I’d completely forgotten (until about three weeks ago) that I’d agreed waaaaaay back sometime last year (shortly after I started Slimming World) that I’d go to EGX 2017 at the NEC with some friends. It’s a serious geek festival for gamers – and it was something I’d dearly have loved to do many times in the past – but frankly I couldn’t because I was too big.

My friend has asked me a few times in the past to go with him but I was terrified of having nowhere to sit, being continually and embarrassingly drenched in sweat and suffering crippling back pain all day. I knew I’d not have been able to walk easily from the car park to the entrance when I was previously invited, let alone spend the day there exploring.

Instead I made excuses and said I was busy doing things that I wasn’t – or that the event wasn’t really my kind of thing, when really I knew it was.

I hated telling fibs – but I didn’t know how else to deal with it.

EGX is a big, brash, noisy and colourful event that’s spread out over a large surface area covering several exhibition halls. When we arrived at 11am they were just beginning to fill up with people.

DSC02898.jpg

It seems that in the last year things have really moved on, and by the end of today it was the turn of my companions to look tired and worn out from walking – but not me!

As 6.30pm rolled around and others were flagging I was still posing for selfies, chatting to people on stands, peeping behind curtains, wearing silly hats, looking at tee-shirts and trying to win freebies by posting hashtagged pictures of myself on Twitter.

IMG_4591

After yet, after seven and a half hours of walking, queueing and standing I was still full of beans.

Furthermore, I fitted into everything I sat on and climbed onto or into. I went everywhere, chatted with everyone that seemed to want to natter and didn’t for one moment feel out of place or unusual.

DSC03069

IMG_4578

IMG_4567

DSC02964

All in all the day was a resounding success – and was further enhanced by scoring a really cool freebie tee-shirt that actually flipping fits me!!!

This has never ever happened in my entire life! Absolutely every item of clothing that I’ve ever been given as a prize or a present has been completely unwearable – but not on this occasion!

Meet my new favourite tee-shirt!

IMG_6848.jpg

 

Anyway – today has been a long one, and somehow Friday has turned into Saturday morning. It’s 2am, and I’m knackered.

In 8 and a half hours I step on the scales and find out whether my largely awful week with a wildly undulating appetite (that I think I held mostly at bay) has been tempered by lots of exercise. I’ve done around 83 miles of walking and 162,000 steps this week.

That’s an average of 11.8 miles and 23,146 steps per day!

Last week I had two pounds to go before I weigh less than I’ve lost – but experience tells me that two rather epic weeks of weight loss are rarely something that continues completely uninterrupted for too long. At some point my body will no doubt slam the brakes on.

Still – if I get a maintain or a gain I really don’t mind.

The week may have started badly but it’s ended on a high note! I got to hug a Warlock from Destiny 2!

(shortly after this photo our intrepid hero was chased off by a grumpy Virgin Media employee for touching his mannequin’s bottom inappropriately)

DSC03071

(Author goes to bed feeling tired but satisfied, then gets up, drinks coffee and goes to group)

Well – the expected happened, and I maintained.

IMG_4604

I wasn’t alone today in this respect – and it was completely expected – so I’m not in the least bit worried about it. My averages are still on a continually downward trajectory, so all I have to do is get my head down this week, keep working hard and things will come good.

I’ve had lots of positive chats with people already today and I have a walk with a friend planned for this afternoon. Furthermore my calendar has another two pencilled in for tomorrow as well – so I’m starting the week as I mean for it to continue.

I am determined that I will be on the upswing of life next week rather than feeling sorry for myself (which was something of a feature of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) and this means that I have to make some (any) kind of tangible forward progress.

I have a few ideas about what that will be – but haven’t cemented them in stone just yet.

In the meantime internet I need to have a spot of lunch before heading out into the countryside! I hope you enjoy your Saturday!

Davey

Feature wall

Currently (despite my willingness to do so) the furniture and pillows remain uneaten in my house, and there are almost no rabid bite marks on anything. 

Ever since Monday afternoon I’ve swung between having no appetite at all and then suddenly feeling like I could chew my own arm off and stuff my face until I puke. 

Annoyingly when periods of stress or downbeat emotions arrive the old coping methods that I used to have are still sitting in the back of my mind biding their time amongst the cobwebs. Even though I would never listen to their requests both of my ‘I fancy a drink’ and ‘wouldn’t a cigarette be nice’ subroutines appears to be alive and well

I mentioned this to a friend on Tuesday and he told me that even after 30 years of not smoking his dad still occasionally feels this way and from time to time wants a smoke – so I guess sometimes you just have to ride the wave and keep focused on the fact that you’re doing yourself a favour by saying ‘no’. 

For my part I’ve fallen back on exercise to manage my stress – and reasoned that if I just keep walking and talking that things will eventually resolve themselves in my mind and I’ll also get some decent sleep. 

The latter appears to be something of a distant pipe dream, whilst the former is definitely a work in progress. I have ideas floating around my head (after plenty of suggestions) but so far no immediate plans of action. 

The events of the last couple of days aren’t the most awful thing to have ever happened to my stats however – and both Tuesday and Wednesday saw the demise of significant amounts of boot tread. 


Typically at this point I’d be focused entirely on that as an achievement but in many ways at the moment it seems oddly irrelevant. However I do know that the alternatives if I had not decided to go out and keep putting one foot in front of the other wouldn’t have been good. 

Yesterday morning the first part of my attempts to blow away my mental cobwebs came in the shape of Mick. 


Although perspective is almost entirely absent in this photo you can take my word for it when I say that this two year old Labrador (a stud for guide dogs for the blind) is massive

He usually goes for walkies with a nose harness but somewhere in the last few days this had gone missing and he was taking full advantage of the freedom this situation afforded him. 

His owner (whom I spent yesteay morning watching being dragged enthusiastically around Offchurch and it’s Greenway) joked that she really should have brought roller skates or a saddle along, because this horse of a dog is like a stallion. He goes where his nose leads and there’s little that can stop him. 

He’s quite lovely though – and as stressed as I feel deep inside it was impossible not to smile watching my companion shouting ‘MICK!!!’ at the top of her voice as he bounded off once more to investigate something of interest. 


Everyone needs an enormous black Labrador to drag them around the countryside. 

That’s just a fact. 

Unexpectedly my afternoon took me elsewhere in the Midlands – and I spent the early evening house hunting with another friend. 

Delightfully she has been passing by the area at the last minute (she sadly lives very far away now) and having read my blog the night before had texted today and asked if I fancied meeting up for a last minute twalk. I don’t get to see her very often so my answer to this kind of impromptu suggestion is almost always an enthusiastic ‘yes!’

As we walked around the outskirts of Solihull waiting for her scheduled appointment to view a property we chatted about recent events in both of our lives and my decision yesterday to leave my job. 

When I’ve explained why I did it to people, so far they’ve all immediately got it. 

Right off the bat

Furthermore they all seem to agree it was the right thing to do. 

Even though I’m a bit stumped as to what comes next it’s really encouraging to not have anyone so far shaking their heads in disbelief. Furthermore no one’s suggested that I get a brain scan or enquired how it is that I’ve managed to survive for so long without one. 

When we arrived at the house she wanted to look at there were already lots of viewers there, and the elderly lady employed by the agency to greet people stood waiting in the open doorway. Dressed almost entirely in well co-ordinated light beige clothes, she looked extremely chilly and was clutching her clipboard to her chest between folded arms like it was a hot water bottle. 

She was a slightly built woman that peeked over brown rimmed glasses at us as we entered the hallway of the property and I think that she’d already been there in a draughty house for a couple of hours. As she handed my friend one of the armfuls of printed floor plans she had on the clipboard she sighed a little and admitted to us both that she was in serious need of a hot drink. 

We made small talk for a moment and then started to explore. 

The house was lovely, with a lot of 1930’s character and plenty of potential – but it was sorely in need of a cosmetic overhaul. My friend is intrepid however and this is nothing that she hasn’t done many times over already. I can barely wire a plug, whilst she has re-wired entire houses

I let her get on with the business of her expert exploring and nosed around myself, heading upstairs to look at the view of the spacious garden. 

One thing that I immediately felt should definitely remain was the 1970’s feature wallpaper in the rear bedroom. 

It. Was. Epic!


Frankly I could have in popped a wicker chair in there, added some pot plants and an old turntable with some classic LP’s and just sat admiring the wall until the end of time (whilst abstractly dreaming about Farrah Fawcett). 

Heaven only knows why but this wall made me smile. 


As we walked back to our cars and compared our fitness device step counts (Davey win!) I mentioned how rare the moments have been in our long friendship where we’ve walked and talked together have been. 

Most of my memories are of us seated together – but we both agreed that the ones that really stood out were when I had periods of fitness and good mobility. In these times we actually went somewhere and when we did there was always something new and interesting to do. 

Those times (maybe like today with the feature wall) randomly remain in the forefront of our thoughts about each other above all else. As I drove home shortly after we parted I found myself more certain than ever that somehow I have to carve out a life with a balance between personal freedom and work necessities that allows moments like today to keep growing in number all the time. 

After all internet – without a memory of someone give you a hug after a long walk to a house with 70’s feature walls then whats’s the point? 

Life’s too short to be stuck doing something you hate and not hugging the people you care about. 

The trick now is to decide how to do something I love that pays the bills and also makes many more moments like this possible. 

Davey

Mirror images

I’m feeling rather low today and I’ve had hardly any sleep.

I’ve been walking around and drinking coffee for hours and hours and if I’m brutally honest I wish I had something a lot stronger to quench my thirst.

This is one of those times where I question why I’m writing about myself. I don’t know if in doing so I’m being stupid or courageous when I write about what I do or how I feel. I guess only time will tell. It’s probably a bit of both.

As I edit and check this post I’m worried that it will paint me in a bad light (mostly because that’s at least 50% of the way I view myself today) but paradoxically I still have a need to put it on the page. I guess I feel that If I write down how I feel and I’m not completely truthful then there’s no point doing it in the first place, so I decide to do it anyway.

So, firstly – the reason I feel down.

My new job has ended.  

I wasn’t pushed. Once more I jumped.

This morning I left my employment agency’s offices after a 30 minute long chat where I (politely and carefully) voiced a lot of frustration that I’ve mostly kept to myself so far. I spoke at length to the manager of the branch about why early this morning I’d walked a few miles to their office instead of my workplace and handed them my ID badge and resignation.

He listened very patiently and carefully and after I’d finished he shook my hand. I left feeling like over the last two months I’ve just made the same mistakes in life all over again. I think I’ve tried once again to re-create elements of my past and been met with something that doesn’t work the way I wanted it to.

I feel stupid – and that I should have seen earlier the reality of the kind of environment I was stepping into – but I didn’t. I focused on the fact above all else that I could walk to work and tried to focus on all the positives while I was there while tuning out the negatives.

Writing about what I decided to do this morning leaves me feeling very conflicted. I’m honestly worried that my actions may seem outwardly to friends and acquaintances like leaving employment is becoming something of a habit for me and that I’ll appear flaky or unreliable.

I hope it doesn’t – but I can’t control that. It is what it is.

It would be disingenuous of me to go into detail about my company, their actual working practices (as opposed to their public ones), individual personalities that I’ve brushed up against or the full reasons why I left, so I won’t do that. Without a right of reply that’s unfair and unprofessional.

I will say that I wasn’t alone amongst my peers in feeling that what I was sold in my early days of my training wasn’t the reality of the environment that I ended up working in. I ended up quite surprised about how quickly the feeling that something was wrong became very acute for several of us after our initial (very positive) impressions in early August.

Honestly I think the only difference between me and the remaining people (three of the others left before me) is that I feel I’ve already wasted far too much of my life to be unhappy and stressed in a workplace – and when I see the potential for that happening in spades then I now have to act.

It all came to a head in a meeting yesterday where I felt a colleage was treated (as I and others had been at different times too) quite poorly. When I left work yesterday evening I was 90% certain that I wouldn’t be returning. Just in case I didn’t come back I emptied all of my personal effects from my locker into my bag and walked home in the pouring rain feeling like a complete failure.

I’ve felt that way for most of the day – but it’s also mixed in with a sense that I’ve probably done the right thing.

The big issue for me though is that while I’m making great progress physically in life I’m once again feeling adrift and uncertain about my future and my career. I’m also angry because I keep saying to myself (and to others) that I want things to be different – and that I want something truly new – but then I always stop just short of it.

The reasons are a mixture of fear, self doubt and no small amounts of uncertainty about what I need to do in order to move on in life.

What I do know is that the guy that sits here typing now is in some ways still alien to me. A few years ago (mostly because of his physical and mental immobility) he would have stayed right where he was, telling himself endlessly that what he had in front of him was all that he deserved and that it was the best that he could expect from his future. He’d have stayed put because deep down he was convinced he couldn’t cope elsewhere and that he would fail if he tried.

Some of that fear he had still exists and I’m dealing with it today. It’s making its presence felt as the voice at the back of my mind telling me I won’t ever succeed. There is however another, kinder voice (that never used to exit) that’s struggling to be heard -telling me I deserve to be happy and that I shouldn’t compromise – that I’ve come too far to just settle.

I twalked with my brother today about my decision and as I did we discussed what I might do instead in life. He sipped thoughtfully on a pumpkin spiced latte (which it turned out he hated) and we chatted idly about the absurdity of many of our common hang ups.

As we shared what was going on in our lives and our feelings about the past (and our childhood) I was struck by how alike we can be. Often I think we find ourselves duped by circumstance into thinking we’re moving in different directions when in reality we’re going the same way but just choosing different methods of transport.

Then we passed a little alleyway.

We stopped talking as we walked into it and both looked at some graffiti on the wall.

DSC02878

‘I’ve walked past that face for ages…’ He said ‘but until we passed by today I’ve never seen the other face next to it.

I looked to the left of the image of the woman with blue stripes, and there was another, mirror image bordered in red. The nose of the woman curved the same way, the hair fell in almost the same patten, and the line on the chins of both was clearly meant to be a reflection.

DSC02883

Then my eyes were drawn to the love hearts on their jackets.

Although there was clearly an attempt to create a mirror image facially no such care had been taken with the pattern on the clothing – and I realised that the image on the right had larger, fully formed hearts that appeared to be well rounded and even growing. On the left they seemed smaller and more indistinct.

Then I began to look at the lips of the one with the red border.

Were they slightly more pursed? Was she scowling just a little more?

What if both of these were intended to trick the eye and to seem to a passer by not paying attention that these two faces were the same, when in reality they weren’t?

What if this was the same face, changed by life – and outwardly like the person she’d been before but internally either harder or softer.

Was the red banded woman before or was she after? How had she changed? Why was she different now?

Of course, the woman is a mirror – but the reflection is mine.

That wall is me, right now. Different in so many ways yet still not quite understanding how different – or indeed quite what to do with the changes, and how to fit into the world with them driving my choices.

If anyone wants me internet you’ll probably find me under a duvet still disappearing up my own backside trying to figure it out…

Davey

Boiling the ocean

After I wrote yesterday’s blog I started thinking about my early posts. As I’ve said a few times before here, although I love that people enjoy reading my blogs I do (maybe somewhat selfishly) write them primarily for myself.

Lately I’ve also realised that I’ve started to use writing like other people use sudoku – to relax and also stimulate my mind. Initially though my posts were primarily deployed solely as a method of creative therapy. They enabled me to gradually unpick and understand my thought processes as I laid them bare on the page day after day.

By the time I post this I’ll have done that 415 times – which I estimate equates to around 500,000 words.

I’m still not sure quite why I felt so compelled to do this in public – or why I suddenly became so prolific. I’ve certainly never craved the limelight in the past – and instead I’ve often actively avoided it. Oddly though, when I began to present myself in print with absolute honesty I felt less vulnerable when I shared my deepest darkest secrets with the whole world than when I took a picture of myself or looked in a mirror.

The thought of not only taking a snap of myself, but then resisting the urge to immediately delete it, and then even uploading it was very far away back then.

I hated the way I looked. 

That final step took a while to do – but I’m glad that relatively early on I began to include photos in my posts in an attempt to ‘normalise’ my mental image of myself through my blog and my Instagram page (link).

I remember suddenly feeling that it was vitally important to show where I had started and where I was going. I’d hidden for so long from cameras that my mental image of myself was insanely warped and this made a gradual but profound difference to my self esteem.

I feel very different about how I look now.

Instagram comes with a cool partner app called ‘layout’ which allows you to easily make comparison photos (such as the full length mirror one below).

I use it a lot lately to look at myself ‘before and after‘ in side by side shots.

Sometimes though (in a less immediate and more personal way) I can also achieve a similar effect with words – and this usually happens when I re-read a contemporary post that’s written when I’m happy and feel like I’m winning at life before flipping back to the beginning of my blog and picking a post at random.

When I went back to February 2016 this morning and read ‘little kettle’ it took me right back to a period before I joined Slimming World where I could barely move and was still wrestling with the reality of how to manage my time without alcohol.

It’s worth reading it before you continue.

(link)

Don’t worry. I can wait.

Done?

Ok – I’ll carry on.

It’s (unbelievably) almost six hundred days since I last had anything to drink and although there are times I think about it in a whistful way I don’t really miss it at all any more.

599 days

Things have moved on. 

Back then thay hadn’t though. The title of the post had come from a conversation with a work colleague. We’d been chatting about the height of the personal (metaphorical) mountains that we felt we both had to climb – and he had said to me by way of encouragement ‘you can’t boil the ocean’.

He’s right. You can’t fix everything in one go. You just have to start wherever you can and persist. 

It also seemed very apt at the time because it hadn’t been all that long since I’d truly felt like I was drowning. My mother had not long died (that’s why I refer to a bungalow being emptied) and I honestly could have followed her any minute immediately afterwards if I hadn’t take decisive action to change.

My exercise bike was agonising to sit on, and I could barely pedal because of the way my 66 inch waist rested and bounced upon my legs. I managed under five minutes freewheeling with no resistance and I remember it absolutely corpsed me.

As I read that old post it’s quite sobering to re-live how I felt both physically and mentally back then. I was trapped (or at least I thought I was) by circumstance, the literal and figurative weight of my past choices – and for longer than I could remember I’d thought there was no way out.

Before the 26th of January 2016 I was just waiting to die. 

But then just like pasting photos into layout and looking at a time lapse of myself I can now wind the clock forward 20 months to what I write in the present and there’s currently a different person constructing this post.

The list of his scale and non-scale victories is lengthy.

(author takes a deep breath)

His type two diabetes is in full retreat, his back is no longer agonisingly painful every moment of every day, his knees don’t continually hurt, he can stand still without physically shaking from the effort, he no longer suffers from cellulitis, his tendons aren’t torn, his ligaments have repaired, his ankles are not continually swollen with fluid, his rest is not continually interrupted by sleep apnoea, his skin adores sunlight, he smells better, he can breathe lying on his back, he’s not continually sweating, he’s no longer wheezing all the time, he can fit in a bath, his blood pressure is normal, his resting heart rate is around 20 bpm lower than it used to be, he can wear seatbelts in any car, he can sit in any chair – including fixed booth seating, he has dropped 109 kg, he has lost 26 inches from his waistline, he buys clothes for a pittance from charity shops and supermarkets instead of highly priced specialist retailers, he doesn’t wear glasses because his eyesight is sharper, he jogs up stairs instead of taking the escalator, he walks an average of seventy miles a week, he can climb mountains, he has cumulatively crossed continents, his mind is continually aliveand his sense of hope actually exists

In fact I’m almost the me I always wanted to be but never knew how to become.

I was ashamed to be the other man – but I’m proud to be the one I am now – regardless of my scars, stretch marks, loose skin and other assorted battle wounds. Despite all of it I’m still standing and I’m putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, after day after day.

You see – the thing is that my friend was right. You can’t boil the ocean. It’s simply not possible.

You can however drown if you don’t try to swim – but every time you paddle a bit more you edge closer to the shore.

You might not get there in a day internet. You probably won’t get there in a week. It even may take months.

If you’re anything like me it will probably take years – but you CAN get there.

Davey

On the bank of the Rubicon

It’s 8am and I’m lying in bed at the moment. It’s cold in my room and the duvet is warm. I don’t really want to get up yet and I’m a little stumped as to what to do with my day currently. 

This is mostly because I’m trying to slowly bring my bank balance back into a place that I’m comfortable with, and every time I think of something to do I end up stressing about the money I’d spend whilst doing it (even though none of my ideas for the day cost that much) and not about the fun I could have. Most of my plans therefore end with me thinking that I should maybe just go for a walk instead. 

This is also because I’m not expecting any great things on the scales today after my pig out session last weekend (link). 

Lord knows I don’t feel like I deserve a loss today. I’ve fallen short of my personal walking and steps goals this week (not by much though) and feel that I could have done more. 

However – despite this nagging worry I’ve also gone down a notch on my work belt and I can now get into some M&S corduroy trousers that I found in a charity shop a couple of months ago. It’s been my experience however that inch loss doesn’t necessarily correspond with weight loss. 

Stranger things have happened mind you so we’ll see. 

Anyway… time to get up, get ready and face whatever the music is that’s playing. 

(Author gets ready and goes to group)

As always the meeting has been lively today – and the topic of Angie’s talk was portion control. 

As many will know this is a big issue for me and although I think I’m getting better I’m often forced to admit that I still eat very differently to other people. 

The suggestion she made to have a smaller plate so I eat less is something I’ve already tried – and the consequence is that I inevitably end up having two plates of food

However – I must be doing something right. I do tend to fill these rather large plates with lots of vegetables instead of fattening things and today my attempts all week to shave 200kcal off per day to make up for my cereal bar mishap appears to have worked. 

I actually managed to lose 6 frikkin pounds!!!!



According to Angie my average weight loss is still 3.5 pounds a week. 

This surprised me to be honest – as although I can see consistency in my weight loss graph on the Slimming World pages I’d begun to think that I was slowing down. 

It seems not!

I’m wondering if this is in part due to the Bimuno powder I started taking recently (link) and I mentioned this during group therapy today. It seems that after reading my blog others in the group have tried the same thing and they too had some really positive IBS related improvement. 

(Once again I’m not selling this or promoting it in any way. My improvement may be diet and exercise related. I’m still on the fence over this stuff.)

From my perspective though the wind appears to have subsided and I’m pretty certain that the ‘barrel’ shape of my stomach has diminished. I’ve also not felt any stomach ache for a while (the kind you have if you feel a bit consipated). 

It’s just gone altogether. 

Either way, powder or no powder, keeping on going regardless of ups and downs in my moods or my eating has meant a consistent stone a month for me for the last 17 straight months

The certificate is lovely – and it makes me very very happy – but as I alluded to last week I’m also edging ever closer to a massive milestone. 

My own personal Rubicon is about to be crossed. 

In just two pounds I’ll have lost more than I weigh. 

This metaphor may seem like an odd one to choose – as it refers to Julius Caesar’s decision to cross a boundary into Italy with his army that plunged Rome into civil war. It was also the precursor to the start of one of the most infamous dictatorships in human history. 

However to me the phrase is apt because it means to me that this moment is an irrevocable point in time from which there is no return

Although I could return to my old ways I know deep down that too much has changed in me mentally to ever go down that road again. 

Whilst it’s possible it’s no longer probable. 

I’m certain that I’m never going back to who I was in January 2016 – and while the certificate I had in my hand this morning meant a lot to me this pending achievement means everything. 

I want this next week if I can get to it – but in reality it really doesn’t matter when it happens. I’m getting there and absolutely nothing is stopping me. 

No force on the planet can get in my way. 

I’m doing it internet. 

I’m crossing the Rubicon. 


Davey

Pumpkins

I’ve been twalking with a friend after work today  and I feel as if most of the conversation has been about me. I don’t like monopolising time with people and banging on and on just about myself but I’ve been struggling to work though how I feel over the last week.

All day long because of this my thoughts have been quite deep.

I barely noticed that I was standing in a huge pile of sheep sh*t today as I stopped to drink in the wide open sky and lush green fields around me.

I feel like I haven’t been on enough walks like this recently and it was nice to get out and shake off the day in the office. It’s been raining and windy all day and up until this evening not too great for exercise.

I hate it when I can’t go for a spirited walk because when I do it really helps to order my thoughts. I’ve been thinking about my future a lot and I’m really stumped – because when I try to imagine what I will be doing in years to come I realise that I still don’t fully understand my past.

When I recall my life it seems like I’ve spent almost all of it entirely lacking in ambition or drive.

I can’t say that I’ve ever understood the pursuit of material wealth or outward displays of status – and frankly I still don’t.

I mean instead that in the past I’ve been content to drift through the world like a twig on a stream.

I’ve usually waited for moments where the waters I’m propelled by become choppy or even threaten to consume me completely. I’ve used the ‘tides of life’ to inform my decision making process for as long as I can remember and in certain respects I’m aware that this aspect of me still plays a large part in determining my choices.

It would definitely be true to say that it was this lazy brinkmanship that started me on my current path – and that it wasn’t until I saw my own rather dark reflection in the face of my mother (a woman that I had little respect or love for) that I pulled back from the metaphorical edge of my personal precipice.

Most of the time I really don’t care what the reason was that started all this – I’m just glad it happened. However, there are moments (usually when I see elements of my old thought processes resurfacing) where I start to analyse how and why I’ve become who I am now and I keep coming to the conclusion that it isn’t because I’m a go-getter.

I fear it’s because I’m someone who is terrified of the consequences of inactivity rather than someone that’s goal oriented with an ideal future in mind to strive for.

Whenever I start thinking about this I look at things which I feel I’m driven to do and ask what informs that need.

For instance I’m still walking a lot and that hasn’t diminished at all.


Since I started my job almost five weeks ago I’ve maintained an average of 10 miles a day almost exactly and I’ve not let myself drop below this, even in a period where I felt really ill (peeky).

In real terms (bearing in mind that I currently work 37.5 hours a week) I fit in a lot more now than I was doing when I was just focusing on my weight and was unemployed. In the calendar month since I started work I’ve walked over 310 miles and 620,000 steps.

So – what’s causing this behaviour?

I often joke that I’m a bit OCD.

I’m not though really – and that would be doing an injustice to people that genuinely suffer from this problem. I don’t feel the need to turn a light switch on and off repeatedly so I doubt it’s this.

People regularly tell me it’s because I’m determined.

Often I don’t feel determined though. I just carry on and on putting one foot in front of the other because it makes me feel good. It doesn’t seem particularly unusual anymore – nor does it seem to take much in the way of willpower most of the time, so I’m not convinced it’s determination.

People have also (enthusiastically) agreed in the past that I’m at times pretty stubborn – and I’ve wondered if it’s sheer bloody mindedness that’s the root cause of my progress.

I don’t necessarily think this is true either – as a lot of my old behaviour in this respect manifested itself in an inflexibility when faced with change. Nowadays I try to enthusiastically say ‘yes’ to most things and just see what happens rather than my previous default ‘no’.

I guess it’s maybe more accurate to say that a combination of all of these things in larger and smaller measures have combined to enable me to be who I am now – but even then I feel they’re not the whole picture.

The thing is that I’d really like the reason for why I’ve come so far to be more than ‘I hated myself so much that there was no option but to change‘.

If I believe that the sole basis for my metamorphosis is the same behavioural trait that I’ve always had (wait until things are too much to bear and then act) then how do gather the self belief to move forward in other aspects of my life – such as my career and relationships (both of which are still lacking any significant direction or plan).

This brings me back to ambition.

In truth I have always viewed ambition only as aspirational thinking related to employment or wealth.

If I’m honest I’ve also probably had a very negative view of it in others and saw them as very different or even alien to me.

Recently however (around 9-12 months ago) a good friend pointed out to me that although I wasn’t interested in either of these things that I was actually very ambitious.

I just aspired to different things in life. 

Above all else I wanted happiness, health, love, friendship and inner peace.

In truth I have realised recently that I’ve always wanted these things. What I’ve struggled with is not knowing how to obtain them and what they actually meant. In the process of trying to deal with the vacuum that their absence created instead I buried my lack of fulfilment under alcohol and food.

This behaviour continued until paradoxically I ended up creating a situation where I had almost exactly none of what I wanted or needed.

The more I think about this the more I lose sleep.  I don’t want to repeat my mistakes.

I’ve had another night where I’m pondering on what comes next – and what I’m going to do in the coming phases of my life when I reach my goal weight.

In many ways this is a terrifying prospect because getting to the top of a mountain means one of two things. Either you decide to stay on the mountain and make it your home or you end up having to make your way back down.

Personally I plan to live at high altitude (it has a better view) but what I do while I’m up there is still up for debate.

I refuse to believe for a moment that reaching a ‘normal’ (I hate that word) weight will be the end of my forward impetus. When I get there I need to have something waiting there for me. I have to have a goal to do something else – to move forward in another way and to improve another aspect of me.

There has to be more – but at the moment I don’t know what that is or how I start it…

In some respects maybe this is a good thing. To remain in at least partially unfulfilled in some area of your life can only be a plus – because without a hunger for improvement there’s no need to get out of bed.

I feel irritable though.

Like I have an itch I can’t reach.

I can only describe the sensation as a need to search for something but not knowing why or what it is – and because of that is remains just out of reach and intangiable.

One thing is for sure – I’m not going to find the answer in the fields of Warwickshire tonight. There are just sheep and lots of pumpkins.

Sigh.

At the very least I hope I’ve laid the groundwork for some solid sleep.

Davey

Cold hands

Time seems to be accelerating at the moment.

With the benefit of hindsight I guess it always passes at a frantic rate, but over the last few weeks it’s seemed like a total blur – and now I’m working once again it’s becoming an increasingly precious commodity.

The days are also getting noticeably shorter – which makes the whole feeling more acute, and I’m cold.

Really cold.

Maybe this is making be feel a little somber this evening. The summer is evaporating and I’m just not used to feeling this way.

In my last job I had a huge fan on my desk and it was running all the time – even in the dead of winter or late at night. I used to joke with colleagues that I’d be sweating if I was locked in a freezer in the middle of the arctic circle – and it was probably quite close to the truth.

Yesterday’s clothing gifts were indeed timely. The warm jacket I was given has come in very useful. So has Peaky (my hat – not to be confused with feeling ‘peeky’) and my thermal gloves.

When I arrived in Leamington yesterday morning I’d already walked three and a half miles, but by the time I reached Jephson Gardens I was struggling to feel my fingers. It still looked lovely though. Despite the chilly temperatures there were still signs of life in the flower beds.

DSC02831

I’d come into town not only to meet my brother – but to have a look around the Leamington food festival.

I’m not entirely sure whether this was purely to prove to myself that I could go there without indulging or because of some twisted need to masochistically surround myself with cakes, jams, burgers, hog roasts, artisan alcohols, delicious looking olives and bread.

There were tasty things everywhere.

DSC02847

Probably the only stall that I could have truly taken advantage of was the speciality mushroom stand – which had some jaw-droppingly lovely (and allegedly very tasty according to the salesman) mushrooms of all shapes, sizes and colours.

Honestly if money wasn’t an object (which it most certainly IS) I’d have bought the lot – and not just because at heart I’m a FUN-GUY.

(Author is unrepentant and still tittering to himself despite his awful joke)

However – as nice as all the yum-yums looked, when I walked away from the assorted saprotrophs in the drizzling rain I couldn’t get over how the cold seemed to be penetrating my bones.

It didn’t seem to matter how fast I walked either. I just couldn’t shake the sensation.

This has been following me all day today as well. At work I’ve been putting my hands under my arms to warm them up so that I can type on my keyboard, and in between calls I’ve been holding tightly onto my coffee.

In my air conditioned office I’ve begun to realise that I’m no longer capable of withstanding cool temperatures in the way that I used to. As I walked home (in four layers of clothing) I began thinking about this, and it was still on my mind as I prepared a salad for dinner.

When I’d finished eating I then started looking at some old pictures (which often makes me feel a bit sad when I see myself struggling) to see if I could find any of my hands.

When I found the one below I can see clearly why things are different now.

Taken several years ago, and far from my heaviest weight, I’m holding my friend’s newborn baby. She was (and still is) a beautiful little girl with perfectly clear little eyes, and teeny tiny little immaculate hands and feet. I remember being absolutely entranced by how she stared right into my eyes and flatly refused to blink.

Amongst the happy thoughts I’ve got of that day I then remember that I couldn’t put her on my lap because I didn’t have one, and that my friend had to hand her to me because I was like a beached whale on his sofa.

I can see the redness in my cheeks and I know that I was boiling because their house had the central heating on.

Despite this though I can imagine why little children at the time seemed to like me so much. I was both extremely warm and probably insanely comfortable to perch upon.

IMG_0013

Fast forwarding to tonight and looking at my arms and hands now I’m struck by how swollen they look in the picture and I’m amazed at how different they seem currently.

I’m still not used to seeing the veins and musculature that’s always been in my arms, but has remained hidden from view for so long that they now look alien to me.

I can’t forget the moment (still fairly recently) when I saw the muscles in my right forearm move for the first time, and recoiled in shock, thinking there was something wrong.

It looked like an alien was moving around under my skin.

IMG_4476

Now I can also see the underlying structure of the bones in my fingers and it’s clear that when veins are closer to the surface and there’s less insulation that inevitably I’m going to get colder quicker.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. The girl who currently sits next to me at work had roasting hands when we compared temperatures earlier today.

In the past I’ve always had (what I felt were) reassuringly warm hands – and to now have the absolute opposite of this is just plain odd. To make matters worse I’ve also not worn my fleece lined slippers for many many months, and tonight when I pulled them from storage I noticed that they’re now as loose as hell and falling off my feet.

There’s no denying it internet. This increasingly insulation free boy is going to have to consider investing in some new thermal undergarments if he’s going to avoid looking like an character from Game of Thrones when winter draws in…

game-of-thrones-night-king-1035751

Davey

 

Impostor

I slipped off the wagon a little last night, and over indulged a bit. Let’s just say that where there whereas there were previously four boxes of Aldi Harvest Morn Benefit Cereal Bars (5 in a pack) in my cupboard yesterday morning there are now none. 😳

These are effectively cheap Slimming World hi-fi bars. You can have two as a healthy extra or one for 3.5 syns. They’re 70kcal each meaning a box is 350kcal. 

That’s 63 syns if I take off the two that were classed as a HE – but either way some hasty maths shows that this little piggy ate 1400kcal of tasty treats yesterday. 

Oddly however I awoke today not feeling pissed off with myself at all – and instead strangely satisfied – like I’d been really naughty but within known boundaries. 

I know exactly how much extra I consumed on Saturday – so now all I have to do is make some healthier decisions for the rest of the week. 

I’ll have a little bit less every day to make up for it. If I shave 200kcal off  my intake for the next six days then I’m back on track. 

With this in mind I set out into a rather grim and drizzly looking world today happy that everything was under control and that I could add a couple of extra miles onto my usual walking totals to help with my goals. 

Honestly this morning though I still felt a little emotional – but for other reasons. 

A few posts ago a very kind man in another of Angie’s SW groups that reads my blog gave me a really nice fleece that was now too big for him. 

Yesterday he added to this already huge act of generosity by dropping off a two piece suit, two pairs of 40in waist jeans and another (stunningly comfortable) winter jacket. 

Furthermore it’s an XL size – which I now realise the fleece was too. It fits me perfectly – and so do the jeans!


Just as a reminder – in April 2016 I was an 8XL shirt size and had a 66inch waist


One thing that people have remarked upon recently – and that I’m struggling to get used to myself – is how my legs look. 

Often I look down and I honestly don’t recognise them as my own. They look like sticks compared to the massive joints of pork that used to be there – and I’m often left dumbfounded about how they can look SO different to the way I used to. 

It’s so long ago that I looked like this that I can’t really remember how it felt or anything visual. I know that I used to own a pair of Levi 501’s with a 36in waist once upon a time – but that’s as far as it goes. Past that it’s all completely alien to me. 

In my head I’m still this guy with an outrageous gut and immense thighs. 

When I look in the mirror it still doesn’t make sense to me that I’m not him anymore. 


You’ll probably notice that I’ve also taken to referring to the person in these pictures as someone other than myself. In truth that’s how it feels

Whilst I struggle to separate my memories from the present visually my thought processes are very different these days and in every respect that counts I’m no longer that guy

The mind is a strange thing though. It can take you from zero to hero in an instant, or instead snatch defeat from the jaws of victory just as swiftly. 

Today whilst drinking coffee with my brother in town he mentioned something that he’d been reading and it hit me like a brick. He was referring to something called ‘Impostor Syndrome’ and I suddenly realised I’ve been in the grip of this for years

Effectively this is where you live in a perpetual state of ‘waiting to be found out’. 

This relates to you ‘knowing’ that you’re not good enough – and that it’s only a matter of time before other people realise the shocking truth too – and you’re unmasked in public as a failure. 

I had this for a decade and a half in my last job – and it’s also followed me everywhere in my personal life. Sooner or later (I’ve thought) people will click that I’m not worth knowing and walk away from me. 

It’s nonsense though. The lies that we tell ourselves are immense sometimes. 

If I couldn’t do my job I wouldn’t have been there for the length of time that I was. I also wouldn’t have been praised for doing it well by my colleagues or my customers. 

Similarly if no-one liked my in my social circles then I’d be alone and isolated. I’m not though – yet this feeling still persists – maybe less than it used to but it still has a hold over me. 

One of the revelations that related to this recently was when I started my new job (and my last brief one). 

I have been convinced for some time that if I tell people how big I was before they met me that they’d think ‘what a failure – how did he let himself become such a mess. It’s surely only a matter of time before he does it again. I don’t want to employ him or know him.’

I think it’s fairly obvious however that this imagined conversation says more about my view of myself than it says about other people’s real opinions about me. 

My imagined conversations are in fact variations of my own interior monologue and they say much more about how I see myself in darker moments than how my peers might view me. 

I shook hands with someone (meeting them for the first time) the other day before we sat and talked briefly about life and ourselves. 

The initial handshake was firm and solid at the start – but after I detailed how I’d spent the last year, and discussed my exercise levels and hopes for the future when we parted company his handshake was different. 

It felt warmer and slightly longer. 

Whilst the first handshake was a customary and standardised greeting the second parting one felt like it was from someone who was pleased that they had met me. 

It’s a different world out there now, and in some ways I feel woefully unprepared for what it holds. In many ways I’m back to year zero – and still learning what it is to not only be liked or loved (which to some extent has always been tainted by feeling like an imposter) but what it feels like to love and respect myself. 

I don’t think I’m in any way unique in this. People I know often say that they struggle to see themselves the way other people do – but in my case the landscape is still constantly shifting both internally and externally. 

Just when I think I’ve got a handle on things I’m reminded that I really really don’t and I’m forced once again to reassess my opinions and values. 

However internet this is a good thing. It means I’m alive, continually moving, learning and trying to be the best version of myself that I can be. 

I for one hope that when I’m eventually popping my wifi techno false teeth on charge many many years in the future I’m still excited that I’ve learned something new about who I am and the world around me. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. 

Every day is a gift. Use it to it’s fullest because life is too short to be unfulfilled. 

Davey


New teen

I made an early start today. I’ve a lot to pack into two days now if I want to get everything done. This working for a living lark doesn’t make fitting things in easy at all.

However – so far I’m making it happen, and as I was up early to get my shopping done before my first walk of the day. I’d have to do it quick because I had another appointment shortly after.

Today a good friend was coming back to Slimming World after a little time away – and I’d agreed with her that we’d go for a pre session chillout twalk around the park before we both stepped on the scales.

St Nicholas was nice this morning (the weather was lovely and mild) and there was plenty of life around – particularly joggers, who seemed to be constantly dodging my friend’s dog Pugly.

He perpetually wants to play and run around them – although I don’t think they they had time to reciprocate.

IMG_4457.jpg

After just under 3 miles we wound our way down the river and back to group, just in time for it to start – where Pugly began his usual task of begging for food. 

This little guy is really obsessed with eating – and in this respect I guess we’re kind of kindred spirits. I couldn’t help but laugh when my friend recently posted a picture of his ‘face of shame’ after he’d finally become enough of a puppy porker to set off the passenger seatbelt alarm in her car.

At Slimming World he’s in the right place for food optimising tips however. The venue was quite busy today and the group seemed larger than it usually is – with lots of familiar faces – and some that I haven’t seen for a while.

After saying hello to the ladies I stood on the scales.

Now – today I feel a bit different.

I don’t know whether it’s the probiotics I’ve been taking – or whether something else is going on – but my stomach definitely felt smaller this morning. So much so in fact that I’ve worn a shirt today that last week while I was ill had suddenly begun to seem tight around the waist.

I’m also now wearing a pair of 40in waisted jeans that were previously a bit… ‘Great British Bake Off’ (without the soggy bottom) but that now fit me perfectly.

PerfectBranMuffin-800.png

So – because of this I felt hopeful I’d lose something and was keen to get back to where I’d been before last week’s gain.

To be clear – I’ve done nothing new – no more exercise than usual (although this does mean that I walked a not insignificant 72 miles in total) eaten no differently – I’ve just kept sticking to what I know works and carrying on regardless.

I only went and lost eight frikkin pounds and got my sixteen and a half stone certificate!!!

IMG_4460IMG_4461

I’m now in another new weight bracket.

I’m inside the 17 stone range and am sitting at 17st 12lbs. I’m in a whole new teen!!!

In total I’ve now lost 16st 10.5lbs (106kg) !

As you can imagine this makes me exceptionally happy.

It’s also a great reminder that keeping calm, carrying on, not saying ‘screw it’ and most importantly sticking to what you know works will ultimately pay off.

Although there may be an occasional blip, my downward progress (when I look at it in the form of a graph) still looks like a largely straight line, which frankly I am REALLY REALLY PROUD OF.

IMG_4462

There’s only one way to celebrate an event like this – and that’s to go for another walk – which thankfully I’d already arranged for the afternoon.

I said goodbye to everyone and after a chat with Angie as I helped her pack things up I headed home.

For a while I didn’t think that my second planned excursion would happen, as periodically it’s seemed like monsoon season today. Before I left my house this afternoon I could have sworn that (as the rain lashed down and rolling peals of thunder boomed out after several cracks of lightning) that I saw India float past my house.

However – at the very worst this meant I’d just sit and chat with my friend over coffee so I drove over to her house as planned anyway.

Since the walk we were planning to go on would probably now resemble a bog we instead headed along a route we knew would be slightly less muddy and decided on another stroll around Coombe Abbey.

As always this didn’t disappoint – and immediately the skies cleared – making the way ahead look very appealing indeed.

DSC02730.jpg

As always Coombe is full of birds, and today was no exception – however there was an abundance of pretty much everything else you could imagine popping out of bushes and hedgerows today – including some baby deer and wonderful dragonflies – who I’m sad to say were both way too fast for my camera.

Other, more sedate creatures however were kind enough to pose for me as my friend and I languidly strolled around the grounds and surrounding countryside twalking the day away.

DSC02756

DSC02800

DSC02788

DSC02807DSC02811

However – as interesting as all of these were the one thing that really caught my eye, just as I was leaving the (largely uneventful but very relaxing) birdwatching hide was a Red Admiral that was warming itself on a post about 20ft away.

I have to say that once again I’m stunned at the images that my little compact Sony 30x superzoom can capture from a distance.

DSC02778

All in all it was a really well timed walk with some perfectly lit sunny moments where the world came alive both underfoot and all around us, showcasing the best that the countryside has to offer at this time of year.

Although there aren’t an awful lot of flowers around at the moment, every so often one manages to catch your eye, and particularly after a bit of rain you’re reminded how awesome the little things in life can look when you stop to pay attention to them.

DSC02763

Anyway – I feel good.

I’ve broken the back of the teens – and I’m in weight territory that I’ve not seen since about 1992. Those that are mathematically inclined will also note that there is a particularly significant milestone approaching that’s unrelated to a certificate – but that IS related to how heavy I am and how heavy I was.

Answers on the back of a postcard internet. Can you work it out?

Davey

Windy days

Earlier in the week I wrote a rather long post about plateaus. 

A couple of people I know wondered why at this stage in the game I was even thinking about such a thing – after all I’ve come a long way along the path I’m on. 

However – while travelling this route I’ve had a few little (or large) problems here and there, and if one thing has become a constant it’s that nothing remains the same. 

The issues I’m referring to are physical ones (rather than mental battles). They’ve ranged from simple blisters and the occasional back pain associated with the large amount of walking I that I do to much more tricky (and painful) things like shin splints and plantar fasciitis (which dogged me for quite a while earlier on). 

These are things I view as ‘par for the course’ though and I don’t really lose sleep over them. They’re an occupational hazard and to be expected for anyone that has an active lifestyle. 

If you use it you might hurt it. True fact. 

At the moment however I’ve been noticing that whilst everything else about me is shrinking my stomach has (at times) grown

This hasn’t been something I’ve been previously all that fussed with as overall it’s got a lot smaller over time – and this part of my profile is (ahem) something of a family trait

However lately I have noticed periods where my (usually comical) flatulence has become something far beyond something that I fell I can pass off as a joke.

It’s become so much of an issue at times that my eating behaviours have been dictated by whether I need to be around people or not. Because of this I have fallen into the habit of eating next to nothing until early evening.  

Initially when I noticed this beginning a few months ago I considered it an amusing if slightly embarrassing annoyance. 

To begin with I’d just become hyper aware that it’s been increasingly impossible to stealthily fart without my giant ass cheeks to subdue and regulate the escaping pump. 

I hadn’t realised how useful having a big fat ass was until it was gone. 

I know that this makes me an eventful companion to twalk with at times but thankfully my ‘mishaps’ are always taken in good humour. 

However around the same time as last week’s gain I noticed a significant increase in wind and problems with sleep. At the same time I had a barrel like feel around my midriff. My trousers had also become tighter at the waistband and this was accompanied by the kind of dull ache that I can only describe as a backed up bowel movement. 
My problem doesn’t seem to be regularity however. That’s not cureently an issue. Things are passing through ok – but I’m still getting huge amounts of flatulence and a feeling of bloating. 

I’ve looked up the kind of foods that can cause this (this also includes artificial sweetener) and it’s rather depressing – because it looks like my healthy shopping list. 

From the NHS pages

Some carbohydrates in food can’t be digested and absorbed by the intestines. These pass down into your colon to be broken down by bacteria, producing gas, which is released as flatulence.

Foods containing a high amount of unabsorbable carbohydrates include:

  • beans
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • artichokes
  • pulses
  • lentils
  • onions
  • prunes
  • apples
  • Brussels sprouts

The lists elsewhere go on and on – but I’ve decided I need to try something new. 

A friend recommended (and helpfully ordered for me) a probiotic product called Bimuno Powder – which she’s had a lot of success with herself – and for the last few days I’ve been trying it out. 


It’s early days – but I think there has already been some improvement. 

I’m also trying to cut down on portion sizes (again – this is still my weakness) and see how I go. 

So – who knows what this means for the scales?

Exercise wise I’m still doing all the walking I planned – and since I started my new job at the end of week four I’ve still managed to hit a total of 280+ miles and an average of 20000 steps a day. 

Yay!

My eating this week has also been completely in line with my plan and on paper I’m doing well. 

Bowel and retention wise though I don’t know….

We’ll find out tomorrow internet!

Fingers crossed it’s not a gain. 🤞

Davey

Baldy

I’m a true believer that pretty much every cloud can (with the right attitude) be found to have a silver lining. 

It’s all about perspective. 

Today I was treated to a wonderful dose of this on my walk home from work as I strode past a large group of rowdy looking teenagers. They were all clustered round a bench and I had no choice but to walk close by to them to get to the exit point. 

I don’t like gangs of kids. 

Not because I’m worried about being physically accosted – but because I always used to be verbally abused

This has let me to usually avoid all eye contact and try to become mentally invisible when I encounter such groups and today was no exception. 

‘Be a leaf in the wind Dave…’ I thought. ‘Just ignore them.’

I looked at my feet as I drew nearer and it was then that I heard them whispering. I glanced to the side and could see four of them were staring at me. 

Then I heard one of them say ‘on the count of three all call him…’

My heart sank. Really? Was this shit still happening to me? Can’t idiots like this just let fat people get on with their lives without abusing them in the street?

They drew in their collective breath beneath their hoodies…

Oi! BALDY!!!’ They all shouted in unison as I passed close by. 

I almost stopped to reply, thought better of it, and continued along my way. 

Although I’ll admit it wasn’t a pleasant experience I don’t think they’d have been satisfied with the grin they produced on my face as I continued on my way. 

‘Baldy!’ 

How great is that?! 

Eighteen months ago I’d have been a a ‘fat c**t’ or a ‘fat b***ard’ but now I’m just ‘baldy’! I no longer merit abuse based on my dimensions – now they have to pick on my challenged cranial follicles instead!!!

Now that’s progress!


Davey

It’s not a plateau

I don’t like the ‘P’ word. Not one little bit. I refuse to think about it most of the time because I’m now convinced it’s just a state of mind and that like anything in life it can be overcome with enough effort and perseverance.

The ‘P’ word in question is of course ‘Plateau‘.

This (from the perspective of a man who has struggled with weight all his life) was the point at which mythical forces aligned in your body during the process of weight loss and like an internal Gandalf stood on the edge of a dramatic precipice and shouted ‘No further. You shall not pass!’

In the past I felt I had evidence of this phenomenon and that I’d personally encountered it on more than one occasion.

It wasn’t fiction. Far from it. It was fact.

However – in reality (as with most things) there’s more going on with a belief in something like this than initially meets the eye.

If I’m brutally honest with myself the points where I ‘plateaued‘ in the past were the points where I lost my way, where I slipped into old habits and when I became comfortable.

Underlying all of these (if they aren’t already bad enough) was something I’d never truly admitted to myself back then. Although I think that I knew this on some level or another I couldn’t face up to it. This was that the fundamental beliefs and values that I held all my life had remained unchanged.

This of course didn’t apply just to food.

It applied to many things – and one by one, in order to make genuine progress (that I aim to be permanent) I’ve had to admit the truth about all of them to myself.

  1. When I tried to give up smoking for the longest time I still thought I could smoke occasionally – and that having an occasional cigar wouldn’t hurt on special occasions. Lies – even one is too many. If you’re addicted you’re addicted and there’s no such thing as ‘a little bit of cancer’.
  2. There was nothing wrong with my drinking. Drinking to get obliterated was just fine if I felt like it, and if I did so in the privacy of my own home it was perfectly OK. I didn’t need to drink – I did it because I enjoyed it and because I deserved it after a hard day at work. Lies. I drank to stop myself feeling pain or emotion and I also drank because I was addicted to the physical sensation it produced. I felt less when I was drunk and that enabled me to not face up to most things in life.
  3. My eating habits were ok – I just needed to eat ‘a little less’ of all the things I already ate – after all everyone else ate them – they were just ‘naturally thin’ or had ‘faster metabolisms’. All I needed to do was loose the weight somehow and then I could start eating normally again. Lies. I ate like a pig. Anyone eating 8500 calories a day is not eating normally. No-one is naturally thin. They simply do more and eat less. Anything else is a self deluding fantasy people such as me used to torture themselves with and as an excuse for their behaviour. I’ll never be able to eat like that again and I wouldn’t want to if I could.
  4. I was in touch with my feelings and I had no problems dealing with emotions or talking about them. My smoking, drinking and eating was completely unrelated to anything ‘below the surface’ – they were just things I enjoyed – and there was no inner conflict to resolve. Lies. I had been papering over the cracks with cigarettes, food and alcohol for so long that I genuinely couldn’t see myself hiding pain or sadness any more. It happened so fluidly and without conscious thought that it was gone before I could register that it had ever existed. In reality I only dealt with emotions through a process of detachment and use of logical analysis after the fact.

I know now that the ‘plateau’ wasn’t ‘a thing’ – it was a collection of issues layered on top of issues, smothered in more issues and topped with further issues.

I was continually doomed to failure with diets because I failed to make the true, lifelong changes in both mind and body that were required not only for continued short term success, but also for lasting lifelong results.

Instead, for most of my life, I took the path of least resistance to avoid conflict of any kind and refused to deal with one problem after another until the consequences of this physical and mental inaction became so toxic to my health that my choices finally boiled down to life or death.

This is a rather dramatic way of saying I don’t believe in plateaus any more – because for the first time in a long time I can stand back and see them for what they were.

They were just me – in denial.

For a number of reasons unrelated to food (more to follow on that subject in another blog probably) I suspect that I’m heading for a maintain on the scales come Saturday. After last week’s unexpected gain I want to be sure that if I have a ‘bad’ result two weeks in a row that somewhere deep down in my psyche I’m not going to slip into this pattern of thinking again.

The truth is though that the more I type and the more I explore my feelings on this topic I know I’m not going to.

But why am I even thinking about all this?

Someone helped me recently, probably more than they realise.

They have enabled me (through patient and careful support) to gradually see myself in a new light. This has had a huge part to play in enabling me both figuratively and literally to look at myself and appreciate my worth in ways that I’d stopped doing long ago.

It’s an ongoing and gradual process for me – but this individual just reminded me that there aren’t really any plateaus. There are just obstacles.

You can choose to be honest and open with yourself about what they are and any pain that they represent before you clamber over them, or you can use them as an excuse to go no further and as something to hide behind.

There are lots of things that could get me down related to my life – but I realised something this evening that I don’t think I’d appreciated the true depth of before.

My attitudes -which for so many years I believed were formed by logical analysis – were often predicated on similar lies to the ones above.

Lately I’m surprising myself regularly by making the absolute opposite choices about almost everything in life compared to the ones I used to make.

Yet the world around me hasn’t changed dramatically.

The people in it haven’t changed.

Places remain the same.

The fundamental shift is in me – and whilst it began with a mental choice in January last year the continued ripping up of my long held rule books isn’t really a mental process it’s a physical one.

I’m fitter, and I’m healthier. I’m more vital and energetic. I’m happier, I generally sleep well. I don’t feel pain every moment of every day in my back or legs. I don’t have a constant dull hangover. My ankles aren’t swollen and my calves don’t feel tight and itchy. I can breathe quietly and deeply without sounding out of breath. I sweat less. I smell better. My skin has a healthy colour. I have better eyesight. The whites of my eyes aren’t continually bloodshot. I’m more alert and I think quicker.

Physically the list goes on and on.

It’s this that’s driving the differences my decision making process – and it was this list of problems (and many more besides) which – without me knowing it drove every other judgement in my past life for years.

So there it is internet.

Sometimes even if you’re struggling to make headway you have to step back and see the obstacle for what it is.

It’s an opportunity to overcome something and reach your goal.

IMG_4131

Davey

The Snipe

Whereas I used to be the undisputed Jedi Master of not doing much at all, these days (despite probably needing to rest a little more occasionally) I can’t stop myself from endlessly moving from A to B.

It’s definitely an addiction now. I can’t do without it. I get really fidgety if I’m not outdoors when I have spare time.

I honestly feel like I’m cheating myself if I relax – and despite spending a lot of yesterday feeling a bit off colour it didn’t really dissuade me from still clocking up the miles, and I finished on 9.5 and almost completed my 20,000 steps.

When I awoke this morning at 6.30 my first thought (apart from wondering which herd of buffalo had been farting in my room all night) was to check the weather.

The forecast wasn’t good. Rain from midday onwards and some of it quite heavy.

Day ruined?

Hell no!

That’s just a set of circumstances that you find yourself having to take hold of events quicker than usual. I hopped in the shower, got changed, put some waterproofs and an emergency coffee in my rucksack and around an hour later headed out.

I’d consciously taken my cue from a bird from yesterday’s walk that never made the cut in my blog last night – who I’ve nicknamed ‘The Snipe’ after Kevin the bird in Pixar’s ‘UP!’

Kevin1

This was actually a female pheasant (link) who was (like my companion and I) was making its way along a footpath with dense borders on either side – but rather than take flight to avoid us it was perpetually running away from my companion and myself – and forever on the horizon, just out of zoom range from my camera and showing little more than tail feathers.

Finally we turned into a quarry and it made it’s escape on open ground, running with gusto for the security of a distant hedge.

I liked it’s style though.

I bet it really wasn’t sure why it was running – as there was nothing threatening about our behaviour – but nevertheless it was doing what nature intended it to do – and seemed happy enough.

I feel the same a lot of the time and I certainly did this morning. Despite still feeling slightly peeky (this is the correct spelling in Daveyland by the way for those who queried my choice yesterday. PEAKY is my hat – which is an easy mistake to make) I resolved to just get up and see where co-incidence took me.

Initially I thought I might go further afield than usual – but as I arrived at the train station the one I had planned to catch was just pulling away – with a two hour wait for the next one.

Plan B.

Stalking birds.

Although the weather was due to be awful later – by this point it was still quite nice – and there was even an occasional warm ray of sunshine.

This meant that when quite by chance when a Heron popped up from the river next to the bench I was sitting on in the park I got almost the perfect photo opportunity.

 

After a short while edging ever closer he/she finally sensed me getting too near and took off. After watching him gracefully re-locate I gathered my things together and checked my texts.

Ooooh! A coffee opportunity two miles away with my brother!

I slung my pack over my back, swigged the last of my drink and headed into town.

Along the way everything seemed quiet and green this morning – with next to no people at all down by the river.

There are usually lots of dog walkers and families passing through here and I’ve rarely stood by any of the bridges along the way without someone crunching along the gravel behind or in front of me.

Today though it was just me and pigeons – which for some reason made me stop and examine the rusty panels that I’ve blindly walked under many times before. They seemed strangely alluring in the light today and the greens all around me seem to be pulling the autumnal colours out of the metal.

I wonder how this will look when the leaves start to turn orange? I’ll have to come back and check in a few weeks!

DSC02701

IMG_4439

Within another 20 minutes I was in town and drinking my second coffee of the day – and chatting to my brother. I unzipped my bag when (picking up a menu) he asked if I was also eating breakfast in the cafe.

‘Breakfast is free today!’ I said as I showed him the apples in my rucksack.

This may seem rather cheap of me – but on my way into town there’s a really kind home owner that clearly has a lot of apple trees – and they leave their surplus fruit on the garden wall for people to take.

This morning I’d grabbed a few as I passed by and they tasted delicious!

img_8289

My brother laughed. I think he’s used to my penny pinching lately.

In contrast he’s got a shiny new toy and I couldn’t help but admire it’s heft.

It’s a chunky metal Android Wear smartwatch that wouldn’t look out of place on James Bond’s wrist. If weight is an indicator of quality then it’s definitely well made – and I began to wonder as I held it whether I preferred the square (which is maybe slightly nerdy now) Apple Watch face, or the classic appeal of a wearable with a circular face that actually looks like a real watch.

I’ve been thinking lately about Fitbits – not with a view to buying anything (with my non existent money) but just considering what I would do if my little friend suddenly died.

I doubt I would want to do without a fitness stat tracker anymore (it’s driven a huge amount of positive change in my behaviours) but now that my chief consideration is cost my choices would probably be very different if I had to make them again.

Despite me not liking the look of Fitbits I can’t deny that they do a very good job of their intended purpose, plus their phone application is superb – and way better than Apple’s own (IMHO).

fitbit-iconic

The latest Fitbit Iconic (link) however seems very highly priced (£299!) and even uglier and more plasticky than its predecessor, despite being loaded with really useful features…

My brother and I (and his wife) agreed that this soon to be launched Fitbit was designed for Shrek, said our goodbyes and headed off to enjoy the rest of Sunday – which by now was going to be pretty damp.

It had started to rain while we discussed watches, but despite this I pulled up my hood and carried on in the opposite direction to home. I’d only done five miles. There was more to accomplish.

Sadly there was little to tickle my fancy once the rain started – and I really did look for things to do! Everything appeared to be closing or had failed to open at all today,

Everywhere seemed empty of life and people.

I took shelter for a little while in another park. As I munched on an apple I watched some geese – who unlike me were total gluttons for punishment and had chosen (in the increasingly inclement weather) to stand on the edge of a fountain in the middle of a pond.

DSC02719.jpg

They appeared to be really enjoying the soaking!

However – despite the day driving me slowly back under cover or indoors as I type at home I’ve done exactly 10.5 miles, meaning that my beloved average is intact and I have 20 miles and 40,000 steps completed for the weekend.

(Author’s borderline OCD breathes a silent sigh of relief)

I came home and cooked a rather lovely (even if I do say so myself) dinner that was fully on plan and then made myself a syn free frozen berry and yogurt dessert – so although it’s been a scrappy day I think it’s still been a success.

I didn’t spend it slumped on the sofa – which is always a win.

I think overall I did the snipe proud.

In other (possibly irrelevant) news I turned the heating on today for the first time in months and then put some fleecy jogging bottoms and a thick jumper on.

I never used to get cold, but the more weight I lose the more I notice it.

It’s weird – but also kind of brilliant!

Davey

Peeky

Well, for a Saturday this is a late posting.

Normally I’d have done this ages ago – but today I’ve had to make a straight choice between squeezing the pips out of life and writing about it – and sadly my blog chicken cannot come before my escapades egg.

To be truthful when I awoke this morning I wasn’t sure how the day would end up – but I suspected it wouldn’t be good.

Whatever’s wrong with me is lingering – but not in a way that I can really put my finger on. My balance is just ever so slightly off. My is hearing slightly decreased too. This made me think I had an inner ear issue – but my stomach still feels odd (even a little bloated) and I’m still experiencing continually broken sleep.

Today I just felt odd. Peeky even.

This was confirmed by a fellow Slimming Worlder as I walked to my meeting.

‘You look peeky.’ She said, confirming my suspicion that I did indeed look ‘peeky’ as well as feeling it. She’s also a medical professional. They can tell right away.

‘I feel peeky.’ I replied – unable to muster much enthusiasm, probably due to my now confirmed diagnosis of peekyness.

I dragged my peeky body to the scales, which decided then and there that they hated me. They said that I had gained three and a half pounds after eating less this week than I have for a very long time, and throwing about a third of it up.

IMG_4423.jpg

They too confirmed I was really peeky.

Angie underpinned their opinion shortly after in group therapy, whilst I sat with my arms folded in front of her, probably looking a bit glum.

She had no idea about my earlier clinical diagnosis of peekyness, or of its potential debilitating impact.

‘Dave’s not himself today bless him’ she said, glancing at my face and then to the info of my gain on her Slimming World tablet. In truth (oddly enough) that was when the day turned around.

Group therapy always cheers me up. 

Although honestly the gain wasn’t going to get me down anyway.

It’s just a number, and it matters very little. That number will change next week, or maybe even the day after tomorrow. It will on balance always show a downward trend however, because that’s what I will it to be.

Nothing can be gained from feeling frustration about being unable to control my body occasionally. It will do what it wants.

As long as I keep treating it right as much as I can I’ll win.

It was while I was thinking just like this that Angie started talking about syns related to alcohol, pointing out as she did that I probably wouldn’t be interested because I don’t drink.

days since

It still seems odd to me at times that people see me as a tee total, completely sober person – but it’s true. It’s almost 585 days since I last had any alcohol – and my life is infinitely better since I made that choice.

I can also see how far I’ve come when I look at a gain and just know that it’s only an inevitable part of the whole process of losing weight.

It’s not the end of the world. It would be if I decided it was and grabbed a kebabbut I won’t. Back when that and excessive daily drinking was my response to crisis I looked like a different man.

IMG_4501

I don’t do self destruction any more. I have moved into the business of self renovation and instead I met up with my friend, headed to the outskirts of Coventry (near Coombe Abbey) and went for a five mile twalk with her in the Warwickshire countryside.

Boy – what a day we picked for it!

DSC02593

Everywhere I looked there were blue skies and little fluffy clouds and sunflowers

None of these were within video games, or on a nice bright HDTV sitting behind a closed curtain – they were out in the real world, where I live now, instead of my living room or my bed.

DSC02622

Even being diagnosed with full blown (and probably terminal) peekyness couldn’t dent my mood today. The world is stuffed with people I love, places I adore, people to talk to, things to learn or understand, choices to make, wonderful plants and wildlife to see and spiritual mountains to climb.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Life is a gift. 

I recognise this maybe more acutely than some other people because what they may see as ‘just a walk’ I see for what it truly is.

It’s freedom.

It’s a time filled with possibility and detail, surrounded with an infinity of nature and growth and I can move in or out of it as I please, without pain, discomfort or difficulty. I can climb and jump and put one foot continuously in front of another – or I can just stop and drink it in – freeze a single moment and hold it like a droplet of water on the end of a melting icicle and then watch it go.

DSC02617

There are some days I’m filled with remorse.

Days where I look at images of myself years ago and feel anger over the sheer criminal waste of a life that I lived.

I stand naked in a mirror looking at the destruction it caused and often it makes me feel the same way too – but then I stop that train of thought and realise that the gifts of my pain and sense of loss are profound.

they allow me to appreciate what I have for what it is and see the riches in my current life for what they are – and that no amount of the money I used to have could have purchased them.

On paper I don’t have much anymore. No well paid job, no new car, no new technological toys.

No wealth.

But instead I have everything.

DSC02629

This evening I went to some friends’ house for a meal.

They’re always good company. It was great to see them and their chirpy children – and as as the evening progressed I told them about my day, my progress recently, my love for what I do with my time now, the joy that my journey (and writing about it) brings and my plans for the future.

They’ve never heard my plans before.

It’s not because I’ve secretive.

It’s because I never thought I had a future before. I thought I’d die. I thought I’d have killed myself by now.

I didn’t though. By some miracle 585 days ago I chose to live.

Peekyness be damned. I’m not wasting a moment any more.

Davey

Bubbles says it’s not cakey 

It’s early morning and I feel mostly back on track, although to be honest my stomach still feels decidedly strange and I have an odd lingering light headed sensation that’s been with me for a couple of days now. 

I’m guessing that this is how ladies feel with morning sickness all the time – so far be it from me to make too big a thing out of it. It’s nothing I can’t work through. 

Thankfully my spiritited Bank Holiday start to the week has allowed my day in bed to not totally destroy my weekly exercise objectives of around 70 miles walked and 20,000 steps a day. 

Annoyingly though if I hadn’t gotten sick my totals could have been pretty epic this week. I was hoping I’d top 85 miles. 

However – I have to get on with it and keep moving forward. The weight won’t lose itself and I need to be positive. 

Yesterday (hoping I’d feel better today) I asked if I could go in to work early to catch up on some of the training I missed – which I felt was an irritatingly important chunk of knowledge. 

Thankfully they were happy to accommodate me which meant an early start this morning if I was also going to fit 12 miles into my working day and hit the 10 miles a day average that I like to have under my belt before Saturday. 

Depending on how you look at it last night I either had an irritating bout of insomnia or a pretty excellent reason to get up and start walking before the sun came up today – and it turned out that my inability to sleep really worked in my favour. 

The world looked fantastic this morning – and apart from an elderly Sikh couple also doing laps hand in hand (awwww – so cute!) I pretty much had the park to myself at 6.30. 


The mist was hanging over the grass and water in such a way that it perfectly filtered the warming orange sunlight every time I looked at it, producing a summery haze all around me. 

As I walked through the small wooded area near the river in St Nicholas it was impossible not to stop and admire it. 


As I sit (whilst sipping coffee, probably MUCH to regular readers’ surprise) looking at my exercise stats I can see already at 7.45am I’ve nailed almost 10,000 steps and just under five miles and the day has barely begun. 
Now all I need to do is go to work, learn lots of stuff, do lots more walking and drink lots of coffee. 

(Author goes to work)

Well I think it’s safe to say that whilst my day started with high energy levels something clearly still isn’t right. I’ve crashed completely this afternoon and my chin (metaphorically speaking at least) is on the floor. 

I’ve hit a wall at 10.5 miles and I’m not doing any more for the day. Although my current feeling of lifelessness is highly likely to be rooted in not getting much sleep I also still feel genuinely odd internally. 

Although a churning stomach and light headedness are my chief PITA’s currently at the same time my balance is slightly off as well – and my ears keep popping. 

It’s not making walking easy, and I nearly strolled into a tree whilst taking a swig of water on the way home through the park tonight. 

On the plus side I’ve almost managed my objective and my week has ended on a 68.5 mile total, and very nearly 20,000 steps a day on average. 

Considering I spent 36 hours of two days this week in bed feeling decidedly sub human I’m going to try and focus on not being peeved that I didn’t hit my objective (you know I am though -just a little) and instead work towards feeling good that I came so close in such a crappy week. 

One can only hope that tomorrow I catch a break and that the scales don’t pull some weird stunt on me. 

I only need one more pound until I’m 16.5 stone lighter (another certificate and sticker! Yay!) and another three before I’m in the 17st ‘something or other’ bracket. 

I’ll be happy with just the former – but boy oh boy Internet it would be REALLY nice to get the latter too 😄

P.S. 

An afterthought…

This author in no way endorses or indeed uses any cosmetic products (other than generic moisturiser and lip balm to maintain his youthful Peter Pan like complexion) but he found himself to be quite intrigued when seeing this following advert in Debenhams’ window earlier today…

(As he types he’s not sure why he’s referring to himself in the third person but quite likes it so will continue.)

What strange breed of lady or man (he wondered) would choose to buy (or use) any product endorsed by someone called ‘Bubbles’ from Oxford whose main bauble of glittering praise was that the product wasn’t ‘cakey’ 🤔

Any makeup sold on the basis that it ‘stays up’ (thinks the author) deserves to be in Homebase with the other plaster and wall preparations – not coating people’s faces….


Davey