Stay creative

I’m easily pleased.

Silly silly little things make me really really happy – and I’m thankfully not alone in this.

Today I was at the recycling centre in Leamington. I always pop in as I pass – and whilst browsing at the Age UK shop I saw a young girl. She was around 10-12 years old, wearing a fluffy pink parka with a warm looking fur collar and some matching woolly ear muffs. Both she and her mother were checking out the used bikes near the entrance.

One by one they went through the frames, colours and conditions. The quality of the bikes there often varies wildly – but there are usually diamonds to be found amongst the rough.

After a while of earnestly considering her options the girl had selected one that she liked. It looked sturdy and had purple handlebar grips which she clearly approved of. There was also plenty of tread on the tyres, and she had tested them over and over by pressing her tiny thumbs repeatedly into the back and the front.

No punctures. It looked like the one.

Her mother agreed with the choice and paid for the bike at the till.

Afterwards the small family (two little brothers were also in tow) left together, walking in the same direction as me.

As they made their way past Morrisons the girl (who had been trying unsuccessfully for around 200 metres to lift herself up into the high saddle) finally managed to get upright and pedal a few metres in front of her mom and past her (clearly impressed) siblings.

Her mother and she had smiles from ear to ear, and both were giggling. As I peeled off in a different direction I realised that I too had a big grin on my face.

Something that the last two years has shown me is that it’s possible to reset your life, to change your viewpoint, to want less and enjoy the smaller things in life.

Whereas in the past I thought nothing of buying a £1000 TV to take my mind off my problems I now find happiness in my 99p beanie – purchased from globalcare yesterday.

It keeps my head warm, saves me money and benefits charity too – just like the little girl’s bike.

My blog happened for a similar reason believe it or not.

I don’t do it for profit and instead I began to write it purely because I needed to feel like I create something rather then endlessly devour the output of others.

Maybe by being less of a consumer in my every day life, and putting something (anything) back into the society in which I live I’m making the world a bit of a better place in my own small way.

I remember that as a child my first bike was a collection of parts put together in secret in the loft that eventually became my Christmas present. To me it didn’t matter that my family couldn’t afford a new one.

It was the bike I wanted – and for the time I had it I loved it.

Over the years I learned to want new things – mostly because I saw other children with them, and unconsciously I began (in almost every aspect of my life) to become a consumer instead of a creator.

I forgot about the drawings I used to do all the time (mostly because my mother became jealous – and angrily said again and again that art was her thing not mine – that my creativity served purely to undermine her) and I stopped writing poems and stories.

I used to create a lot to excise negative feelings – but (partially because this seemed to antagonise my mom) I found it was easier to drink – and so bit by bit one activity replaced the other.

Instead I retreated and the more I consumed the less I created. Without realising what I was doing I ate and drank away the pain of many aspects of my childhood.

I did it for so long I ceased to realise that I was doing it any more.

Today though, watching the cheerful little girl, I remembered that little boy with his recycled bike for Christmas and the happy feeling it gave him to ride it back and forth outside his house.

If you want a new year’s resolution internet then maybe you can’t go far wrong with ‘want less and give more’.

It’s what I’m going to do – along with constantly trying to be a better version of myself.

Happy New Year’s Eve everybody. Have fun and stay creative x

Davey

Gangsta fisherman

Phew.

Busy day.

As always I’ve been trying to fit in as much as I can around my usual Saturday Slimming World meeting whist all the time keeping up my walking.

Partially because of the snow last week (and Christmas) I fell just short of my usual average per day – although not by much. It probably won’t come as a surprise to any of my regular readers with eyeballs however that this is something that’s intensely irritating for me – but it can’t be helped. My current average miles per day for December is still 10.2 – so I have a little wriggle room to play with – however there’s anther part of me that’s aware it’s dropped off a little bit – which is irritating.

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Flipping snow.

Next year I want to see if I can bring my yearly average up to 10 plus – which I think is totally do-able.

Anyway – next year’s goals are topics for another post. I’m still not sure what they’re going to be yet because I’m not currently at target. That’s my main focus and it’s what I want to achieve in the next month or so.

To be clear though – that’s a flexible goal. I’m very soon going to be in the business of maintenance – so I can’t focus too much on big losses any more. Slow and steady wins the race now – and the more I ease myself into the consistency of remaining roughly the same weight the easier (hopefully) it will be.

Many fellow slimmers have talked about their struggles with maintenance – and from the sounds of it this period of the ‘journey’ (damn that word!) is probably going to be just as challenging – if not more so – than losing the weight in the first place.

Thankfully I managed to lose some weight today (although it was nearly a maintain) and took off half a pound!!!

Amazingly – as this was Christmas week and most people were struggling with an onslaught of Christmas puddings and mince pies this was enough to make me joint slimmer of the week and slimmer of the month!

I decided to celebrate this by going charity shop diving in Kenilworth, and as usual the typically affluent and temperate Mediterranean waters of thrift stores in the town were delightful to float upon and full of things to catch.

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In particular this wonderful Gilet – which is in just the style I’ve ALWAYS wanted. I bought it immediately and I’m wearing it as I type.

Just kidding. 

The lady behind the till (clearly in need of an urgent eye test at Specsavers) stated that I looked ‘awesome’, and that I should buy it immediately.

‘I look like a gangster rapper!’ I replied.

‘Could be nice on a fishing trip?’ She said speculatively, tilting her head – and attempting to frame me in a flattering angle..

‘Only if I was a gangster fisherman.’ I said, taking it off and putting it back on the rail.

All in all I had a pretty productive trip – and I’m currently starting what I think is probably the final phase of my wardrobe re-tooling. As I get closer to target I’m realising that everything I have that’s 2XL finally has to be replaced with either a LARGE (have I mentioned I can wear LARGE things now? I might have missed that out before…) or an XL (although the tailoring in some shops like River Island or Next still makes XL look like a Medium everywhere else).

Thankfully it’s not a particularly upsetting process. There are a lot of bargains to be had and I’m less hung up on size labels than I used to be. If it fits I’ll wear it. I don’t care what the label says.

Well that’s not strictly true. Some labels have more relevance than others. I’ve been rather enjoying getting some mint quality designer labels lately…

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This BRAND NEW pair of gaw-juss denims is something of a steal – and whilst they’re an aspirational purchase at 34in (I estimate I need to lose about an inch and a half around my waist to get into them) they’re totally going to be decorating my bottom in the very near future, and it’s going to look super sexy in them thank you very much.

I’m also not going to give them up unless I’m mugged at gunpoint because they’re a little dearer online – even with the January sales…

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Anyway – I sincerely hope if you’re having a tough time over Christmas that you remember it’s just a moment – and if you’re a fellow slimmer and you’ve maintained this week or even gained a little cuddle muscle just remember that it’s evidence of nothing but the fact that you are enjoying a seasonal holiday – it doesn’t define you.

The new year is on the horizon – and tomorrow I’ll tell you about a plan… that I have for Jan.

If you think really hard ON it internet you might even figure out what it is. At least that’s the PLAN for JAN.

Davey

Davey on the wireless

As days go today has been a good one.

I’d go so far as to say it’s one I’ll remember for quite a while – because today was the first time I’ve ever been on the radio.

(If you want to listen to the interview on BBC iPlayer it’s here. This recording is available for 29 days, and the segment I’m on starts from about 1hr 16mins into the program and lasts for approximately 30 minutes.)

When I arrived at the BBC studios in Coventry today I was initially asked ‘what organisation are you with?’

‘Ummm…. I’m here on my own.’ Was my reply. ‘I’m the guest for the Connor Phillips show.’ There was a blank expression for a moment, then my name was confirmed and I was invited in, where I proceeded to take shameless selfies whilst the receptionist made me a hot drink.

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After a brief coffee I was ushered into the studio and met the (very nice) producer and assistant – both of whom thanked me for my time but also seemed mildly surprised at who was standing there.

I pointed them to my blog, which they brought up on their studio computer. As they both looked at my before and after photos they periodically looked over their shoulders to compare and contrast me with what was on their monitor.

Slowly the penny seemed to drop. I was the man in the photos.

It seems quite surreal when I’m faced with individuals that become temporarily speechless while processing how much weight I’ve lost. Now I’m getting close to target, it’s becoming a ‘thing’ that people can’t quite believe that I’ve done what I’ve done – unless they’ve known me for a while or have photographic evidence.

This of course just seems like my normal now. It’s not really odd to me because I’ve lived it.

I suppose that we naturally process what’s in front of us – and if what’s presented to us is a fifteen and a half stone ‘normal’ man then you don’t automatically think ‘I bet be used to be 35 stone, and I know just what he’d have looked like’.

The interview went well. Connor Phillips (the presenter) seemed both genuinely impressed with what I’d done – and also keen to find out more about my motivations and thoughts on what made it possible. He was also keen to probe about what my catalyst for change was in the first place.

I explained as best I could…

The interview (partially fulled by coffee and no small amount of nervousness on my part) went by pretty quickly – and before I knew it had ended.

As he walked me out Connor was kind enough to pose for a selfie with me shortly afterwards.

(he kindly granted me permission to use this on my social media)

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I’d been on the air only for around 30 minutes and as we wrapped up and I said goodbye to the team I tried to recollect what I’d talked about – but my mind was blank. As I walked back through Coventry a couple of miles to the outskirts where I’d parked (you need a good walk before an interview) I reflected on the content of what I’d said as it slowly came back to me.

I realised that there were lots of things that I had wanted to say – but that I’d lost the thread of half way through. This felt like I’d missed opportunities – but in other areas I think I also said more than I expected to.

Two aspects that were really important to me that I think I did manage to get across were (firstly) that diabetes doesn’t have to be an automatic slow death sentence – that you can make a change if you put in the effort and change what you eat and do, and (secondly) that when we do something significant like this we’re better in groups.

Something that so few (I think) fail to come to terms with is that mass produced food is crap whether you eat it in small or large quantities. It might be an unpopular view – but I don’t think that eating whatever the hell you like (but in ever smaller quantities) is the way forward.

Granted – not everyone has the problems I had – but I view myself as a magnified and extreme version of many smaller scale issues that I see other people struggling with. Although my condition got way out of hand none of it is unique. Basically I ate crap and drank too much.

Sound familiar to anyone? I bet it does. Maybe only the quantity is different…

The view I have now is that you need to change all of your habits in order to get better. You dont have to do it all in one go – but if you want to live longer and have better health while you do, eventually you have to cut out all the things that harm you.

This means accepting exercise into your life – and also eating ‘proper’ food – not mass produced junk like crisps and chocolate.

I’d rather get my calories from olives or an avocado than a curly wurly and a packet of french fries.

That way if I do then when I (inevitably) have a bad day and eat too much (which everyone does from time to time) I’m not eating the awful things that I used to because I no longer crave them and the damage isn’t so bad.

Sure – this isn’t the approach for everyone (in fact probably not many people at all) but then you have to ask yourself ‘how much do I want to change?’

However I still like eating some things in packets – I can’t lie. The fact is though that these kinds of foods no longer make up the majority of my food intake and are instead a very tiny minority.

The second point was about groups. Without mine I’d be no-where. My consultant facilitates an atmosphere thats both supportive and non-judgemental. It’s a safe space where you can make friends (of which I’ve made many) and just be honest.

It should be somewhere where you can go regardless of whether you feel you’ve done badly or brilliantly because the power of the group is that they support you. They’re there to make you feel better when you can’t do it on your own.

They’re the ones who at that exact moment when you need it the most care more about you than you care about yourself.

Anyway internet – that’s my day. After all that standing on my soap box I’m sure the universe will have a kick in the boy parts for me tomorrow and penalise me for relaxing a little at Christmas.

Thankfully Boris doesn’t care. I went over to my mate’s house to fuss this lovely little frenchie silly after the show.

He likes me no-matter how I look.

He even loved me back in February 2016 at 35 stone just after I ditched booze, and before I cut out junk, joined Slimming World and started trying to love myself.

The difference is now I can go on walks with him. and he has a lap to jump up onto.

How things change…

Davey

They just fit

Today has been a day for things that fit.

It’s always a moment of anxiety when you see a gaping hole and you think ‘I hope what I have will fit properly in there’.

This is never more true than of an electrical purchase – and when I dragged my old washing machine out from it’s usual resting place this morning in preparation for it’s replacement my mind just said – ‘the new one’s going to be too tall!’

However – it was nonsense. I was worrying about nothing – and if anything when the new one arrived it fitted much better than I expected it to because it has about 20 cm less depth than the previous one.

This is great because I love diminutive technology and it gives me more space in my galley kitchen – but not so great because I realised that the person who painted this room before I moved in decorated around the old washing machine – leaving an undecorated 20cm on my wall by the back door.

This means that that I’m going to need to do some painting. The plaster seems to have been left undecorated since the 1980’s and it’s seriously ugly.

I’m not posting a picture of it here because it looks truly awful (hence my cropping out of the left hand side) unlike my washing machine – pictured here with a full load.

It’s a wonder to behold.

It… like… washes… stuff.. and… gets.. things… like… clean!

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Truthfully though it wasn’t the first item of the day that fitted just perfectly.

That award went to some charity shop purchases (technically I tried them on yesterday in the shop) which I am absolutely chuffed to bits with – both in terms of cost and how they look.

I’ve never had a pullover jacket like this before and I really like the look. The offset zip around the neck is pretty cool – and the hood has a peak for rain – which is something I’ve always wanted!

The jeans are button fly Levis and are my first pair of 36in waisted Levi denims of ANY KIND since 1989.

That’s right people. The last time I wore an outfit like this I was in my mid teens.

That feels pretty special I can tell you.

I’m aware however that this isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about clothing that I can get into. Although getting into perpetually smaller items of clothing is really cool you might be surprised to know that my mind probably doesn’t work the way you expect it to.

A couple of weeks ago someone said to me that they were seventeen and a half stone and that they’d like to get down to my size.

I blinked.

He looked smaller than me though surely? I studied him while we talked and as I was listening to his words I was thinking about something entirely different. All that kept going through my mind was ‘he doesn’t look overweight at all – he just looks normal!’

After this I asked someone a pointed question.

‘Does he look bigger than me?’

Yes.’ came the reply.

I don’t know why this should have been such a surprise – but it was. I’ve spent so long being the biggest man in the room that even when logic tells me I’m not any more I really (absolutely honestly) struggle to take that fact on board.

This crops up all the time – and sometimes I have to prove to myself that my internal reality is different to ACTUAL reality.

Many who’ve been reading this blog for a while will know that my relationship with my current car (a 2003 VW Passat) began primarily because of two things.

  1. The seatbelt in the Ford Mondeo I wanted didn’t fit – but the one in the Passat did so I bought the VW.
  2. The dashboard in the Pasatt has blue lights. Blue lights are cool.

Point two is still close to my heart. My new kettle underscores this. I’m a sucker both for red things and things with blue lights.

I also still have a soft spot my old car. It’s only done 171,000 miles so it’s practically brand new.

My Passat has at times really suffered however. Before I started to lose weight my belly touched the steering wheel of this really large automobile. My weight also broke the seat – which needed to be tig welded and strengthened by a helpful mechanic.

I also broke the steering wheel with my bulk.

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However – despite not wanting to buy a new car I (at times) immediately think ‘oh – I won’t fit into one of those cars’ when I look at something smaller.

When this happens I recoil a tiny bit inside with worry.

This is particularly true of cars with ‘buckety’ style seats that have raised edges either side.

They’re meant to hold you in place but all they ever used to do to me was cause intense discomfort as the sides of the chair dug into each leg.

So – today I decided that I’d WELL AND TRULY lay all of my misconceptions to rest and walk to every garage I could find, sit in their smallest car, and put the seatbelt on. At the very least it was a good excuse for exercise.

The results (to me at least) were surprising – and despite thinking I would really struggle with some of them nothing could be further from the truth.

Volkswagen Up!

Nissan Micra

Peugeot 108

Mazda 2 (GT Sport)

Ford KA+

Vauxall Adam

Fiat 500

Yes – even the matchbox sized (at least from the outside) Fiat 500 is now a car I could happily drive every single day without any discomfort.

Every single one of these had a seatbelt that fitted me and I felt supremely comfortable at the wheel.

I was even tempted to ask the Fiat dealer to let me sit in their roped off prize exhibit – the original 1957 style model of the car that was in service for many many years before it was finally updated in 2007 – but at the last minute I decided against it.

The mental battle had already been won.

I have re-educated my perception of myself.

I know with absolute certainty that I can put on any seatbelt and I can get into any car I want to.

They all just fit internet.

They.

All.

Just.

Fit.

Davey

2017 retrospective (part two)

(Part one here)

July

The seventh month of the year is a big one and starts with me in unfamiliar territory.

My teens.

I haven’t managed to time travel to the 80’s – instead I’ve just about managed to creep into the 19st bracket, and I’m fighting to stay there.

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My efforts to power through small slump this are self evident though – and I decide that it’s time to really see how far I can go. One morning (for no reason other than to see if I can) I decide to get up and walk from Warwick to Solihull (link).

It’s fifteen miles and I’ve never tried to go this far in one day before.

Although it was essentially just an exercise in determination and distance this was and still is a very important achievement for me – because it truly meant that there was practically no-where any more locally than I could drive to and get stranded in (a big fear in my mind that was always with me) because of weight related mobility issues.

If my car ever broke down in Solihull and I needed to I could now walk home.

Transitioning mentally from a man that originally couldn’t walk to the end of his street to one that could walk to Solihull was both profound and emotional. Even more upsetting though, during the journey my Apple Watch was pronounced sick and in need of repair.

I leave my fallen comrade with Apple and I’m without it for over a week.

At home I’m still working on the garden and have finally managed to turn it into a welcoming (rather than impassable) space.

My ongoing dissatisfaction with items in my house also results in the death (by hacksaw) of an old armchair and the purchase of an Ikea Poang chair – which is a step in the right direction – but also something I’m too scared to sit on in case I break it (link).

As I continue to prepare for Snowdon I look for more challenges – and revisit Burton Dassett via a longer walk from Avon Dassett (link). I’ve also got Apple Watch back, and although the gap without it has left a big hole in my stats I couldn’t be happier.

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An important milestone arrives when I suddenly realise that I can now get into charity shop clothing – and I buy my very first wearable item from one (link) a Penguin jacket (which I was reliably informed was rather trendy).

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I take this item of clothing (and quite a few others) to Snowdonia where on Saturday July 22nd at around 19.5 stone I climb Mount Snowdon with a friend (link).

It’s one of the proudest moments of my life – and is both very emotional and extremely symbolic. I’ve come a long way – and it’s a superb reminder of how much can be achieved!

Mostly because of this strenuous activity Supercoat (which is now way too big for me) is given to my father (link).

I’m also suddenly in 40in waisted Jacamo jeans (link) and shortly after getting my 15.5 stone certificate I also climb Thorpe Cloud (link).

August

The start of the month is excellent (link) and my HbA1c level has now dropped further to 28. My diabetic nurse tells me that if I was re-tested at that point I would no longer be diagnosed as type 2.

My diabetes appears to be in full remission.

I’m once again preparing myself for a potential return to work by buying interview clothes. The physical changes since the last time I went about this around six months before are readily apparent (link).

On August 14th I start another job (link) in the hope that this time I’ve made the right choice. It’s different mainly because I can walk to it – so therefore I can build exercise into my every day routine without feeling like it’s unnaturally forced.

Initially my feelings about the job are really positive and I’m happy. I take the long route to work whenever possible and I’m loving how fit I feel.

I’ve come a long way in terms of body confidence too and have started posting comparison shots like this on Instagram to spur me on.

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It’s working – because by mid August I have my sixteen stone certificate and my the end of the month realise that I’ve walked (since April 2016) the cumulative distance from San Francisco to New York(link)!

September

The weather in September is great and although I’m working again I take advantage of it as much as I can in the evenings and weekends. I’m wandering over hill and dale with my camera and trying to capture as many pretty things as I can.

Quite out of the blue an unexpected watershed moment arrives on the way home from work and (as has happened many times in the past due to my weight) I get abused by a bunch of teenagers whilst walking through the park.

However – instead of calling me a fat c**t as I pass by (a previously preferred moniker such people had for me) they instead all shout ‘BALDY!’ (link) in unison – both stunning me and leaving me with a lot to think about.

If they don’t see me as fat any more and the worst they can come up with is an insult about my hair line – do I now look ‘normal’?

I’m forced to admit that my self perception is now seriously at odds with reality – and to further underscore this I slowly approach a significant ‘Rubicon moment’ (link).

I’ve slowed down a little – but I still have my 17 stone certificate.

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However – not all is going well – and once again I realise that the job I’ve chosen isn’t for me. I decide to leave (link) and once again I don’t know what this says about me to my friends or what it means for the future.

Without warning again I feel like a complete failure.

Something does manage to cheer me up towards the end of the month however – and I attend something I booked with a few friends the year before. It’s an event I probably couldn’t have gone to easily when I said yes to it – but my hope was I’d lose enough weight to make it a reality – and I did.

I’ve always wanted to go to EGX gaming expo at the NEC but was never fit enough to stand for the time required or capable of comfortably walking the distances required around the NEC.

When I finally made it I really geeked out!

October

Largely because of a my own sense that I was losing my way a little with my diet October was dominated by #onplanoctober (link) which kept me on the straight and narrow.

I calorie counted every last morsel of food that passed my lips for the entire month.

If I’m honest this really tested the limits of my patience – but I’d promised that I’d do it – and by the end of the exercise it paid dividends because in the space of 5 weigh in’s I managed to lose 16.5lbs.

Mid way through the month I get my 17.5 stone certificate and I’m also handed a little cardboard bauble for a Christmas tree. I write something on it and then largely forget about it…

This also means that my Rubicon moment has finally arrived — and on the 7th of October I’ve finally lost more than I weigh. I make myself a Club 50 award. Over half of my original body weight has now gone.

img_4882In the first weeks of the month I start speaking publicly at Slimming World meetings (link) about my weight loss. In total I do nine of them in Warwickshie – and they’re all a humbling experience – but also very rewarding.

To see how far I’ve come in the pictures I pass around and hear the gasps in the room when I put on my old clothes is quite emotional.

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I also return twice to (the now colder) Malvern Hills  (link) and Ilmington Downs (link) for more attempts at both – and I’m struck in these locations by how much easier things are getting.

Although I still have weight to lose I’m pretty darned fit at this point – and I barely get out of breath on the ascents.

I finally get around to compiling a list of non-scale victories (link) which I read to my friend for the first time and both of us start crying. In response to this I realise how important the recognition of these accomplishments is and I make a regularly updated site page (link) and add something new each time it occurs.

By October 28th I’ve lost a staggering 28 inches from my waist (link) and my photographic diary of February 2017 to October is showing some serious progress.

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Furthermore I’m also able to fit into my very first LARGE items of clothing (link) and ever since I mention the word LARGE at every opportunity I get. This means that since getting into a LARGE I’ve said LARGE a LARGE number of times.

November

November kicks off with me getting an 18 stone certificate and a Mr Sleek award – which is a bit embarrassing – but also a really nice pat on the back!

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My public speaking has also been received positively, and because of it I’m offered some work at a local company in a temp role – which comes in very useful as it manages to stem the outward flow from my bank account and promises to make Christmas a little less daunting.

On the 6th of November I start my job and find that (being something I’ve never done before) it makes me feel quite alive. I also get to walk 3 miles there and three miles back every day which means that I can keep up my now regular average distance of 10 miles walked per day (link).

It’s getting colder though and it’s not only the floor thats frozen – my hands and feet are too.

I keep up the walking however – partially because I rather like my new place of employment. I like it enough in fact to apply for a permanent position at the company (link) for which I’m accepted.

It’s also another thinly veiled excuse to dress up for a job interview, which underscores just how much I’ve started to enjoy clothes shopping and looking smart.

It’s my new thing!

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November ends with another first and I meet a fellow blogger (link) who comes to visit for the very first time! I have a real live internet friend with a face and a body and everything!

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December

The final month of 2017 finds me in an unusually festive mood and after no small amount of agonising I decide to do something for the first time in my adult life.

I buy a Christmas tree (link) and I put my little October cardboard bauble amongst it’s branches. It’s hastily scrawled words are now a reality!

I’m also now officially into 36in trousers, meaning 30 inches have been lost from my waist’s starting point.

I get my 19 stone certificate (link) on December the 9th – which is quickly followed by another unusual event.

I go dancing (with Angie and my Slimming World group) for the first time since the 90’s – and I have a fantastic time. All in all I’m on the dancefloor for around two and a half hours (completely sober) and I’m so pumped and full of energy I virtually skip home afterwards!

December seems to content to keep supplying me with firsts as well – and on the 14th I’m featured in the local newspaper (link).

img_1078This is followed soon after by an offer to appear on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio (link) which is very exciting indeed (it’s due to happen this Friday 29th December at 10-10.15am) – but for some reason I’m more preoccupied with my washing machine – which is completely broken.

Priorities eh?

That pretty much brings us up to date. I had a fab Christmas – and after discovering earlier in the month that I suddenly love red (link) and wearing geek things I did pretty well for presents!

So – thats 2017 almost at a close!

I hope you enjoyed reading the second part of this retrospective as much as I did writing it internet! Join me again in a year (if you’re not already sick of me) and we’ll see what comes out of the next twelve months!

Thanks for sticking with me – it’s a genuine pleasure to write something that people like to read and comment on.

You guys and gals make it all worthwhile xxx

Davey

2017 retrospective (part one)

As it’s fast approaching the new year (2017 where did you go?!) I thought that it might be about time for a look back at my highs (and lows) over the last twelve months.

One of the reasons I originally started blogging was to document my progress so that I couldn’t escape evidence of failure or success – and thankfully the focus that writing has given me has meant that my efforts have mostly resulted in the former – which is really pleasing!

(2016 retrospective is here)

January

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I started on a very positive note, in 5XL clothes, walking as much as I could and getting heavily into Apple Watch stats. By January the 1st I’d managed to walk 938 miles since I started slimming world (link) and was averaging around six miles a day.

I decided at the beginning of 2017 to cease my diabetes medication (after completely forgetting to take it on the 9th January) and instead monitor my levels with diet and exercise as my sole blood sugar modifier (link) for a month.

It was a bit of a scary time. I didn’t know whether this would damage me or whether it would pay off.

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Shortly after my beard also gets shaved off. Although everyone but one person that I solicited for an opinion seems to think I should keep it I’m sick of hiding my chins behind fur – which is the reason I originally grew it in the first place.

It had to go – and the air felt good on my bald face!

By the end of January I’d managed to get my ten stone certificate (link) and had reached the point where I had been alcohol free for an entire year (link).

It was also the month that I realised I could now fit comfortably in my bath at home (link) and was having some fun soaking for ages and marvelling at my unusually prune like fingers.

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February

Things started to get interesting in the clothing department as my size diminished. As the second month of 2017 appears (and I start to hit a 4XL shirt size) I begin to try and break free from the (very expensive) outsize clothing retailers I’ve been forced to use for many years.

By the start of the month I’ve lost 16 inches from my originally 66in waist and I’m able to buy clothes from Jacamo online for the first time (link) – which is saving me a lot of cash.

This also sees my first attempt to get back into employment (link) and I decide to accept the offer of a job close to where I used to work in Redditch. It involves a lot of driving again (something I originally didn’t want in my life any more) but seems to tick a lot of boxes. In order to keep up my exercise I start using my exercise bike in the mornings before work – but it’s a tough sell.

Partially because I’ve got a job I treat myself to my very first item of high street clothing for about two decades and purchase my 3XL supercoat ™ (link) from Debenhams.

It was far from cheap and I struggled to justify the purchase – but at the time I really needed a coat and also felt like treating myself.

Davey and his uni-colour dreamcoat were very happy together for quite a while – despite all of the ribbing that my miserable expression in this photo generated in social media!

I also made my first attempt at hill walking (I was beginning to work towards a goal of climbing Snowdon) and with a friend scaled the (not so) dizzying heights of Burton Dassett (link).

At the time I remember how surprised I was by how quickly I managed to get to the top and felt rather good about how far I’d come.

March

Despite much worry about how all the sitting in my new job would affect me (and whether it was right for me) I pick up my 11.5 stone certificate (link).

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I was happy with the result, but nevertheless continually preoccupied – and beginning to think that I’ve made the wrong choice for the all wrong reasons. I’m realising that I’ve accepted the job offer because of fear – not because it’s what I wanted to be doing.

With a mixture of feelings (mostly failure) I hand in my notice and leave less than three weeks after I started (link).

I’m glad that I’ve done it – because it underscores how much my priorities in life have changed – but I also feel very dejected for some time afterwards. I can’t escape the sense that people reading my posts (and those that know me) will think less of me for it not sticking with it.

For some time I genuinely feel that I’ve let everyone I care about down. I don’t know what to do with my life and it worries me.

However from a health perspective (which is my primary focus) things keep getting better and better. My blood pressure has now dropped from borderline hypertension to a range typically expected in someone 20 years younger (link).

By the end of the month although I’m unemployed again I’m also capable of clambering all over the Malvern Hills (link) which I do for the very first time. It really hurts afterwards though!

Due to this I feel like I’ve hit a big physical and psychological milestone and the month thankfully ends on a high note.

April

At times in April I’m aware that I’m dealing with a lot of unresolved feelings about who I am and what I’ve done to myself over the years. I’m confused about everything (except that I need to keep getting fitter), preoccupied with what to do next and don’t understand any more who I am, what I like or dislike and how I (quite literally) fit into the world around me.

Rather ridiculously I’ve also lost the weight of an entire mobility scooter (link).

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This means that physically I am beginning to view all of the furniture in my house and everything that I sit in or lie upon on with a new perspective.

Looking around my home just reminds me of a man that no longer exists and I’m periodically experiencing a lot of anger about this (link). I feel lost and like I don’t belong in what was once my only refuge.

The only way I seem to able to banish this is by going out and walking continually further and faster. A sense of progression in my fitness feeds my sense of wellbeing and despite largely ignoring my employment issues I’m doing well.

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Mostly because of this method of coping my diabetes remained in retreat despite my choice to discontinue my medication. Originally measured at an outrageous HbA1c level of 94 when first diagnosed in 2014 it’s now down to 29 (link) and my diabetic nurse is stunned at the turnaround – initially thinking that someone else’s results have been delivered to the practice by mistake.

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By the time April draws to a close I’ve lost 13.5 stone (link).

May

The month begins with my first ever public speaking engagement at a school in Derby to a group of psychology students (link). This experience gives me a lot to think about, as it’s something I really enjoyed doing – and it lifts my mood significantly.

It doesn’t hurt that the weather is nice either!

I feel so positive in fact that I decide to try running – and begin the Couch to 5K challenge (link).

Much to my annoyance however all who know me are concerned that I’ve started this too early. I’m 21 stone and they’re (quite rightly) concerned that this could de-rail my progress elsewhere if I injure myself.

I discontinue it after only one session and continue instead with my walking.

It’s working though – because by then I’d lost 22 inches from my waist. I can fit into in a 44 inch waisted pair of Sainsbury’s denims and get on a 2XL hoodie!

I’ll do my best though!

Join me in the next post internet for part two of the 2017 retrospective. It’s been a busy year and there’s still plenty to come!

Davey

Caffeinated geek

I’ve been a bit of a piggywiggy over the last 24 hours and have successfully consumed all of the nice things in my house that were meant to last me the entire week. However it’s Christmas and I’m sure that Santa will forgive a few little indiscretions.

I don’t intend to buy any more of them so from now on it’s pretty much salad or soup for every meal until I next go shopping!

As I mentioned yesterday my sleep was pretty much wrecked and I ended up snoozing through most of the afternoon and being wide awake all night (otherwise known as this morning).

Still – worse things have happened – and whilst I missed out on the day I got to open all of the presents that I’d been saving till Christmas Day (which I’ve never done before) at super early o’clock today.

It seems that people have somehow (I’m at a loss as to how this happened) come to the conclusion that I’m a caffeinated geek because pretty much every present appeared to relate to my twin passions in life, and oddly also my newfound enthusiasm for RED!

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Armed with some of these useful gifts (and refreshed by some epic sleeps) I decided that my Christmas day would (rather than the vegetative slump that I’d originally envisaged) be a darn good one for exercise.

Since I don’t have the ‘excuse’ for moving my bottom that I normally have (walking to work) I had to find other reasons – and today I decided to hit the local countryside and see if I could find coffee on Christmas day to keep my new R2D2 flask full.

I decided that a walk to Hatton would help in this pursuit – and despite the sky being grey and forbidding I ventured out into the wilds of Warwickshire.

After a couple of hours brisk walking I found myself at a Shell petrol station where there was a Costa express machine. Here I stopped for a little while and filled my flask with £2.30’s worth of Americano.

This was also apparently the home of the Mcdonalds litter bug (from whom I benefit immensely) with a bonus bean lying on the floor just outside.

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Given that this was about 10ft from a bin I’m at a complete loss as to the mentality of the idiot that dropped it – but who cares. I have its bean and it’s in the trash now!

I continued on down the canal from the petrol station and started to see several families out and about with some suspiciously new looking bikes underneath the children and lots of smiling faces. For the most part though it was supremely quiet and peaceful. It was generally just a boy, his Star Wars wind cheater, his R2D2 flask and some ducks.

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As I once more neared Warwick I decided to check to see if anywhere was serving coffee in town – and to my surprise Wetherspoons was open in the square.

Now – given my tee-total status it probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading that I rarely go into places like this – and I am most likely to be found in the nearby Costa or Cafe Nero instead. However this may be about to change – because of an apparently new policy that this chain of pubs has started.

The bottomless coffee!!!!

When I asked for a coffee on Christmas day the girl at the bar actually said ‘coffee?!’ and looked a bit confused that I wasn’t there for alcohol. I asked whether she minded me filling up R2D2 as well as a cup – and she didn’t mind one little bit.

‘Help yourself!’ she said.

So I did.

I had 3 Americanos for £1.20!

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As I was leaving it started to rain – but by this time I really didn’t care. I was buzzing from all the brown nectar and exercise. Oddly the light had changed, casting a really nice hue on the nearby St Mary’s church.

Warwick looked really nice, even in the rain – and I was reminded just how much I’ve come to love living here over the last couple of years since I’ve become more active. It’s a really nice little corner of the world that’s both peaceful and pretty. I never feel threatened or vulnerable when I’m out and about.

It’s really a privilege (considering where I mostly grew up) to be here – and I love mooching around it’s alleyways and streets.

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By the time I reached home my Apple Watch stated I’d met and exceeded my goals for the day – meaning that I can now spend the rest of the evening watching my Star Trek Blu-ray, playing video games and drinking (decaf) coffee until I fall asleep totally guilt free!

So – hopefully (whatever you’ve been up to) internet your day has been as pleasurable as mine!

Happy flipping Christmas Day!!!

Davey

 

Ghosts of Christmas past

It’s Christmas Eve. I’m lying in bed and my eyes are burning. They’re itchy and uncomfortable from tiredness mostly – and I suspect that this is because I drank waaaaaay too much coffee yesterday.

I think it was my way of celebrating my weight loss – but also (since it’s my last remaining vice) also my way of being naughty. Everyone needs something to make them feel decadent!

I think I’ve probably only had about two hours sleep. Last night was spent talking with my friend whilst wrapping our remaining presents (there were loads!!!) until around 1.30am (which is way past my usual bedtime).

Prior to this we’d gone out for a walk into Warwick and stopped for a Chicken Caesar salad at a little homely Italian restaurant called Piccolino’s just by the castle. I’ve never been there before – but I have to say it was really nice food and a surprisingly large meal for the price.

I’d definitely go back again.

It’s a testament to the quality of the food that I forgot to take my obligatory blog photo – so for that I apologise!

(Author has to get up, go to visit his family to exchange presents, walk into Leamington and back home again, before eating dinner of sorts – which mostly consists of lots of apples – and then annoyingly falling asleep at around 2pm, finally awaking at 9pm on Christmas Eve with the day virtually over.)

As I sit trying to complete this post (because I started so therefore I must finish) and wiping the sleep from my eyes with very little to show for the day something occurs to me.

What did I look like during other Christmases past?

To find out I open my photos app and start filtering by December and it’s not pretty…

It’s actually a little sad to begin with if I’m honest because despite some of the smiles I know how uncomfortable (both physically and emotionally) I felt when most of these were taken. Many of them I’m quite drunk in – which also takes me back to a big part of my life I’d like to forget.

The first is taken in 2003 at a work Christmas Party – wearing (from memory) a 6XL shirt.

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Then 2004 – maybe a little lighter (but not by much) with considerably more hair…

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The next one I find is at a 2007 Christmas Party – wearing a 6XL.

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Then 2008 wearing 7XL…

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December 2009 – I didn’t go to the Christmas party that year, although I cant remember why. I have no idea of the polo shirt size I’m in (I think it’s 7XL) but I know I look special in my 3D glasses…

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December 2012 – 7XL

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December 2014 – at my friend’s wedding – and now in the 8XL shirt that features so often in my ‘before’ photo comparisons. It’s my largest item of upper body clothing and I’m forced to wear it both to work and on special occasions.

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December 2015 – at my lowest ebb and getting more and more immobile. I’m no longer getting out and about. I’m rooted to my armchair and wearing a huge tracksuit with lots of give in the waistband.

I’m really not coping very well.

It hurts just to just sit still in my armchair – which is often where I’ve been forced to sleep because I can’t breathe lying down. I have begun regularly drinking until I pass out – to numb both physical and emotional pain – which I was doing at the time I took this picture.

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December 2016 – I’ve been sober for approximately eleven months and at Slimming World for eight months. I’m now beginning to see lots of changes. I’ve lost over nine stone and I’m thinking about going to job interviews in the future.I’m back down to a 5XL shirt and have made some good progress.

I still hate how I look with my shirt tucked into trousers – with good reason. However I’m walking as much as I can and feeling much better.

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Finally we get a little more up to date.

It’s December 2017. I’m wearing an XL Christmas jumper, 38in waist trousers (they’re loose – and need a belt in this photo).

I think I look genuinely happy and I know it’s because I have my life back.

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I guess that the point of this little trip down memory lane isn’t so much about torturing myself over why I didn’t do something sooner or how I got so low and so incapable of looking after myself.

It’s to show that in a relatively short space of time, when I decided to be different that I was capable of making great strides – and more of them than I ever believed were possible. It shows that whatever your ghosts of Christmas past are that they don’t have to define you – and that you don’t have to remain trapped in the same paradigms year after year.

Someone asked me recently how I managed to bear being incapacitated for so long – and truthfully a human being can get used to a lot.

None of it happened overnight, and much of it crept up slowly over a period of many many years as I self medicated emotional pain away with one substance or another. I barely noticed as one by one things became difficult or even impossible to do – until at the age of 42 I was practically housebound and weighed around 35 stone.

Downstairs I have gifts waiting to be unwrapped under my tree.

It’s the first Christmas tree of my adult life as many of you know – and it’s all the more special because of one little cardboard bauble sitting in it’s branches.

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Today I’m 15st 6.5lbs.

Hopefully soon I’ll be at my target weight and then the real battle begins, because losing 20 stone (as proud as I am of what I’ve done so far) is only part of the picture.

In many respects after almost two years of rebuilding my life I’m just back to where everyone else is. The next phase is to continue to build a different me. One that’s continually improving and evolving – not just physically but mentally too.

This is a version of me that doesn’t sit still for long ever again, and strives to be better in some way shape or form every single day.

I wonder where Christmas 2018’s photo will be taken and what I’ll be doing? I hope you join me in a year to find out internet – because I for one can’t wait to find out!

Davey

I own red

It’s fair to say that whilst I’m very much enjoying my new job that there was a mild, almost barely detectable mood of happiness when I left the office last night to begin a week’s break over Christmas and new year.

Only those with a trained eye (possibly a seasoned police detective) would have spotted the signs though.

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I would no doubt make an excellent poker player.

This is the first time that I’ve ever had a job that does this for it’s staff. Previously all of my work around this time of year has been for operations centres that have a 24x7x365 presence.

Any such lengthy time off over the holiday season had to be bartered for with colleagues and agreed many months in advance.

I have no complaints that I have to use some of my (yet to be earned) holiday allowance to make it happen. It enables me to do a lot that I’d have otherwise struggled to do (such as be in for my new washing machine later in the week).

In the meantime though I’m now stressing again about weight loss. It’s been playing on my mind that last week (when I unexpectedly gained three pounds) I technically lost my 19 stone certificate (although it’s mine and Angie would have to fist fight me in a cage to get it back lol).

I’ve now been ill for two whole weeks with the flu. I feel that during this period my eating hasn’t been quite as regimented as it was back in October when I had such good progress (check old posts tagged as #onplanoctober). The more run down and crappy I’ve felt the more likely I’ve been to reach for the fruit or have a second bowl of stew.

The positives of periods like this however are that I’m reminded what a ‘bad’ week looks like these days. In reality it contains absolutely nothing really ‘bad’ and only has over consumption of salad, fruit, low fat natural yogurt, cottage cheese, pickles, lean meat and coffee.

I’ve avoided every last cake and sweet that’s been waved under my nose (on an almost daily basis) in the office for the whole of the run up to Christmas.

I haven’t touched a single one.

It’s still possible to put weight on eating ‘good’ food though and thats always on my mind.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on my exercise and despite being ill I’ve managed to keep my activity going throughout November and December.

My personal target has been (for a while now) to maintain a daily average of 10 miles walking distance.

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(It’s worth noting that I had some technical issues with Apple Watch in June and July – so the totals on my iPhone health app remain irritatingly incorrect. They should be a lot higher, which is why I also keep separate stats.)

Despite all of the snow and rain we’ve had lately since I started my job on the 6th November I’ve only had to use my car twice. I estimate that this means that I’ve already walked 180 miles backwards and forwards to my place of employment.

In practical terms this not only means that I keep fit – but also that I’ve saved around £45 in fuel costs. Depending on petrol prices I suspect this means I’d be around £350-£400 a year better off, on top of being lots healthier and happier.

I might even ring fence that money and use it for something significant (such as a little climbing holiday in the lake district or Scotland) because to me it represents one of many savings that can easily be made in pursuit of a better lifestyle.

I know that not everyone has the luxury of being able to walk to work – but often they can park further away when they get there. There’s always a way to turn £££’s spent into lbs lost.

However – back to weighing in stress.

I’m thinking about all of the above because I’m readying myself for a less than stellar result this morning (don’t I always though!) and this week it feels even more important than usual because of my radio appearance next Friday (link).

I don’t really want to rock up to the BBC and have to admit that I no longer have my 19st certificate that I’ve put a bunch of weight back on – so this is playing on my mind.

However – in some respects there’s maybe a benefit to not being perfect and showing my fluctuations – because no-one is. I’ve also noticed that traffic to my site has often spiked the most when I’m feeling down (although this thankfully doesn’t happen often) or going through difficulties rather than just when I post stories of continued progress.

Arguably however learning how to deal with ‘failure’ and not implode (and therefore eat all the pies) could also be considered progress as well…

I think what writing this blog has taught me over a prolonged period of time is that we often don’t look for ‘perfect’ in others. We look for someone that’s gone through the same doubt and worries that all of us do and then watch to see how they’ve navigated it’s choppy waters so that we too can try and find our own way through something similar.

So maybe the answer is not to worry about any kind of perceived ‘failure’ I may or may not have had – but to just remember that we all get sick, and we all struggle to control our impulses, no-matter how far we’ve come in life we all just work to succeed as best we can.

Maybe this is what ‘naturally slim’ looks like?

Anyway – I must get ready. It’s the final meeting at Slimming World before Christmas and there’s a food tasting event and I need to prepare my snacks.

I suspect it’s going to be a little quiet in group today – but hopefully there a few tasty things to try too!

(Author weighs in)

Well Slimming World was fun today! We played party games and ate all the lovely food that we’d prepared for eachother. I also won something in pass the parcel (second year running!) and got a voucher for a free week that will come in really useful!

I’d decided to take a shortcut of sorts and prepare some couscous dishes (roasted veg sachet sourced from Aldi) which were quick and easy to make. I combined them with some of the Tesco’s Finest range of salads and some onion and mushrooms fried in spray oil.

Although there were some syns involved (I didn’t use the sugary dressing that came in a pot with the beetroot salad) these are what I view as good ones.

They’re not empty calories – and instead of being crisps or chocolate they’re filling and wholesome. These are the types of things I’m taking to work for lunch (although I usually make my own salads) and they stop me from snacking.

This approach to syns and the aforementioned exercise must be working – because I had a good result on the scales.

Whatever got (metaphorically speaking 😏) ‘stuck in the pipes’ last week appears to have dislodged itself and I managed to lose five pounds!

This means that I’ve not only officially got my 19st certificate back but that I’ve also made a start towards my next one. I’m now 5lbs short of my nineteen and a half stone award and (mind bogglingly) twelve pounds away from my twenty stone certificate!!!

Anyway – that’s all of my news for the time being. I feel really Christmassy today – because one of my oldest friends is coming over and I can’t wait to hang out and catch up.

We’ve known eachother long enough for Christmas to feel absolutely incomplete if we don’t manage to get together – so this evening both of our seasonal itches get resoundingly scratched.

In the meantime I found a really ace (large) fleecy top in a charity shop for £3.75 yesterday and I’ve realised that I rather like wearing red now.

In the past I always avoided it because I felt it would draw attention to me – when I wanted to instead feel completely invisible outside the house.

People bullied me and called me names anyway without the need for me to paint a big red target on myself – and the inevitable comparisons to Santa Claus happened every time I wore something even vaguely similar to this colour.

Now I don’t care. I flipping love it in fact.

I own red now internet. It’s mine. I’ve planted my flag in it and you can’t have it back!

Davey

Radio vs washing machine

I’m going to be on the radio…

But more of such inconsequential things in a moment…

It’s probably something to do with my time of life (which in my mind can only be described as increasingly ancient) that the prospect of a new kitchen appliance is today filling me with utter joy.

Although – if I’m completely honest the joy actually comes more the fact that I can get it installed and replaced in the few days I have off over Christmas. I’ve been stressed to hell about how I’d do it but now I have it all bought and paid for and cemented in my calendar.

When the younger members of my team at work today proclaimed that they were leaving for the evening to play football with their mates or going to the pub I replied (when asked what my plans were) that tonight I was doing laundry at a friend’s house.

I’m pretty sure that I came across as very rock and roll.

I just know they were impressed.

The reason for this fun activity is that after many years of faithful service my washing machine made a very loud bang a few nights ago and then started doing this in the middle of its spin cycle.

I inherited this appliance when I purchased my house and it’s been working tirelessly without skipping a beat (despite being really fugly) for 11 years.

Not bad for £50.

However now clearly something is amiss – and upon further inspection when this happened I found that the drum inside was moving with almost complete freedom. I immediately Googled my machine (a Bosch WFB 2004) to see if I could find a user manual with some troubleshooting advice.

It quickly became apparent that this model dated back to at least 1998 (the earliest mention I could find) and was practically pre-internet. It harked back to a time WAAAAY before manufacturers thought about uploading PDF user manuals, and I quickly decided that repairing it (it has always had a broken dial which required Herculean effort to turn plus some other drawer problems too) was probably throwing good money after bad. It almost certainly uses a lot of water and energy too.

I resolved to replace it.

All of this annoyingly happened the night before I started my new job and my immediate fear was that my very first request of my employer in my probationary period would be for time off to sort it out.

Thankfully I’ve not only found a worthy replacement but I’ve also managed to schedule it’s installation before the new year and before I’m back to work!

Meet my new best friend!

Isn’t she pretty? 😍

My sense of relief that I’ve got this sorted can’t be understated.

This was occupying my thought processes so much that when I received an unexpected (and unsolicited) call on Tuesday it was all I could think about.

‘Hello?’ I said, answering the phone, expecting it to be PPI or an ambulance chaser.

‘Hi’ came the reply. ‘This is ***** from BBC Coventry and Warwickshire and I’d like to ask you whether you’d be interested in appearing on the radio to discuss your weight loss.’

Stunned silence.

‘Well’ that’s ok…’ I said, gathering my thoughts ‘…but I need to replace my washing machine.’

It was now the turn for the other end of the call to fall silent.

‘…weeeelllll…. we have a couple of slots that might suit.’ The friendly researcher replied after a pause.

‘OK – but I really need to sort this out.’ I said ‘Can you e-mail me the details please and I’ll get back to you?’

I provided her with my address and ended the call.

It took a whole afternoon for me to realise that SOMEONE HAD ASKED ME TO BE ON THE FRIKKIN RADIO AND ALL I COULD TALK ABOUT WAS MY WASHING MACHINE!!!

I replied to the mail.

I’d be delighted to appear I said. Next Friday morning would suit me just fine and I’d be obliged if they could send me further details.

Today I got the confirmation.

I’ll be appearing on Connor Phillips’s show at 10.15am on the 29th December. The station is BBC Coventry and Warwickshire (link). If you live in the UK but not in this area you can find the show in the iPlayer Radio app – and on the web too.

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Hopefully my washing machine will arrive the day before as planned and I won’t have to cancel!

I’m not sure I’ll be at all interesting to anyone – but you never know! It will be a fun thing to do if nothing else (although a little nerve wracking!)

In the meantime I’m spending the rest of the day LIVING THE DREAM and doing my laundry at my kind friend’s house. Hopefully I’ll also be able to drink all of her coffee and fit in a good deal of nattering at the same time.

Rock n roll internet.

Rock.

And

Roll.

Davey

Thoughts on target

For the longest time now I’ve been having a variation of the same dream over and over again. It’s related to an old relationship – and whilst the dream itself makes me happy as it’s happening when I wake up and realise it’s just a fantasy I’m usually crestfallen and feel low for the whole day.

This morning I awoke early after having a very different kind of dream. It was completely new in every respect – and although the themes were similar the participants were different – as was my self image whilst it was taking place.

In the dream I was me as I am now – with all of my imperfections – and even when my fictional partner pointed out my saggy bits in a less than complementary way I stood with my hands on my hips and proclaimed that I felt only pride when looking in the mirror.

I didn’t care what someone else thought. I’d fought hard to be the man I am now.

I awoke with a feeling that I’d somehow turned a subconscious corner. Whereas in previous dreams I’d been worried by other people’s opinions, ashamed of my saggy bits or trying to hide myself from others this one was new.

I was a Postman in the dream – doing an active job (proudly) delivering Christmas post, and when (through a rather odd chain of events) I eventually ended up disrobing and had someone pointing at me they were quickly joined by another person (dressed like Santa no less) who proclaimed that they were amazed at what I’d managed to achieve and my chest swelled with pride.

I didn’t feel small, weak or insignificant and the dream (although being a bit fruity) wasn’t just about sex – it was about body confidence.

It was me saying to myself that I no longer cared what people thought because I was happy with who I’ve become and the man that I’ve made of myself.

I felt strong and in control and this carried over into real life when I opened my eyes.

Well – at least until I started coughing. This I don’t seem to be able to control.

I’ve now had the flu (or a winter cold – or whatever this is) for almost two weeks, and although I’m powering through it couldn’t really have come at a more inconvenient time.

First of all I started my new job (which so far seems to be going well) and on the day I began I was almost completely without a voice.

Today I’m a bit better – but I now have an annoying cough developing and along with my sore throat it’s getting right on my nerves.

It’s ok though. I can deal with it – but honestly I don’t hold out much hope for my weigh in at the moment.

Lately this hasn’t really bothered me too much because I’ve seen my progress for what it is – a collection of ups and downs with an overall downward trend. Blips are all part of the process.

However I had an unexpected call the other day (I’ll go into detail next week hopefully on that score) that’s made me a bit more mindful of where I am with regard to target.

Put simply I all of a sudden feel some real pressure to get a loss (or at the very least a maintain) and it’s playing on my mind.

Whereas I was making progress with portion sizes previously, this week I think I’ve been backsliding a little and not managing to modify my behaviour quite so effectively.

It’s really hard sometimes to look at food and gauge how much I should be eating vs how much I think I can get away with eating.

Consuming food ‘until I’m satisfied’ is still an elusive goal that I’m only ever comfortable to say ‘I’m working towards’.

There’s so much that sits behind every motivation to take another mouthful that often I have no idea what satisfies me or why.

A lot of the time I have to rely on a conscious decision to put the brakes on rather than a feeling that I’ve eaten enough and it’s more than easy to just ignore my better judgement and have another apple. Or two. Or three. Or four.

On the bright side of course they’re apples and not Big Mac meals, so there is that.

In other news I had an important ‘first’ recently. This was the very first time in my life that anyone has ever said to me ‘don’t lose any more weight – you look just fine’.

It kind of blew me away if I’m honest.

I know I need to lose more to make myself happy – so I’m carrying on – but I think I’ve decided that my target is now DEFINITELY being changed to 14st 8.5lbs.

This will mean that I’ll have lost 20 stone – which in my mind sounds like a nice round number.

I’ve also decided that there are a couple of anniversaries coming up that (if I managed to reach my goal by either) it would be a nice convergence of circumstance. The first is late January and the second is late February.

I’m hesitant to say that I’ll do anything by either date because truthfully I want the whole process to be as organic as possible – but if I do it then all the better – and I’ll explain the significance of them closer to the time.

On that note internet it’s almost bed time and This little imaginary postman needs his beauty sleep!

Davey

Croaky twalking

Not entirely unexpectedly I seem to be losing my voice.

Sure – the flu has been part of the problem – but mostly it’s my own fault. I keep going for exercise with people whose company I enjoy immensely and twalking all day long.

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Today (despite my hopes for the opposite) I’ve been in Malvern and the weather has been awful for the vast majority of the day. Apart from a brief window or two (like the one above) we’ve been saturated by rain and have been trudging through mud, snow or ice or whilst trying to see the path ahead through thick cloud.

I haven’t passed many others out there on the frosty hillsides today – but I did come across one or two fellow hill lovers that appeared a just a tiny little bit better suited than myself to the inclement conditions.

 

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Frankly they looked just as happy as the last time I saw them in bright sunshine during October (link).

It will probably come as no surprise however to anyone reading my posts regularly that none of the worst excesses of the environment bothered myself or my companion today. Sometimes when you’re just hanging out and chatting, you really don’t care what happens around you – and boy do we love to natter.

We’ve been setting the world to rights from 7.30am this morning until 5pm this evening when we finally said goodbye. Often we barely even noticed when the cloud temporarily broke and rewarded us with a fleeting view of the countryside.

It seemed incidental to our need to catch up on each other’s events.

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We just carried on, taking the more strenuous ‘over the top’ route wherever possible (some sections were quite dangerous looking due to the ice and best avoided) – putting on foot in front of the other – and stopping briefly only for toilet breaks and to put on some waterproof clothing until we reached our destination.

I’m so glad that last week I bought myself a new XL pair of waterproof over trousers to replace the 3XL ones I purchased for Snowdon in July.

Today they came in REALLY useful!

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Our destination was initially just for a coffee at the British Camp roadside cafe – and our intent was originally to do the whole length of the Malverns and back.

However when we saw the ice caked all over the steep paths leading to British Camp with warning signs proclaiming how dangerous the area was we decided to leave our packed lunch in our bags, let our coats dry on a boiling radiator for a while and instead pop into the Malvern Hills Hotel for a bit of hot food and a coffee or two.

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I decided to have the Sunday turkey roast with a side of winter veg (not pictured) whilst my companion availed herself of the carbs on the menu and went for the baguette and chips – which admittedly looked and smelled rather lovely.

My three roasties were very nice too though thankfully – although I have to say the two tiny ‘pigs in blankets’ and the stuffing ball surprised me. It’s the first time in a LONG time that I’ve eaten even a tiny bit of a traditional sausage or some stuffing and they tasted a lot different to the way I remember them.

I’ve been eating unprocessed food for so long now that I appear to have lost the taste for things like this – which is a really encouraging realisation!

We spent a lovely hour and a half eating and drinking whilst our clothes steamed dry on the hot pipes near the bar. After having to (quite literally) wring the water out of my gloves and fleece when we arrived it was nice to put something toasty back on for the return journey.

Even though the majestic vistas and blue skies that greeted me the last time I came to Malvern weren’t present today it’s actually been a good excuse to pay closer attention to the incidental details that it might otherwise be easy to pass by – and focus on the beauty to be found closer to the ground.

It’s insane just how wonderful the rain and damp makes some elements of nature look, and how it changes the tone of what you see every time you explore the same space in different seasons.

Moss and lichen appear to be flourishing currently – and swelling with life almost before your eyes. Similarly the mushrooms on tree stumps appear to now be gorged on the water that’s clearly been seeping into their structures. They’re surprisingly hard to the touch, and when you gently run a finger around their edges they feel both pregnant and solid.

Thankfully I no longer feel like one of them – which I did a little toward the end of the day.

As I type now I can finally feel the warmth returning to my hands and my feet (it’s taken ages!) and the pleasure is immense.

I’m reminded once more (as I sit here with my feet up in front of my Christmas tree) of the satisfaction provided by being outdoors and taking on the challenges that it throws at me, walking through them whatever the weather and just accepting it for what it is – enjoying it all the more because I know that I can deal with it.

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I can’t think of a better way to spend my weekend than on a freezing cold hillside, being battered by strong winds and soaked by driving rain with a really good friend.

I’d go back there right now if there was more daylight to be squeezed out of the day.

Well, maybe after another Lemsip internet.

There’s no need to be silly about it after all.

Davey

Gain response

My flu seems to be coming and going in waves. When I’m out walking (although my nose is streaming like a leaky tap) I don’t really feel that ill.

When I stop and sit I feel my jam packed sinuses, my head throbs and I’m ridiculously cold and achy. Annoyingly I also seem to be losing my voice a bit (I can see you at the back rejoicing) but hey ho.

Life goes on, and as one of the ladies pointed out in Slimming World this morning ‘it’s only man flu’.

I almost felt duty bound to point out that a member of the fairer sex gave it to me in the first place, and mine appears to be a less pronounced version than the one she came down with, meaning that by the time it hit my gender had already diminished the worst aspects of it and my weaker ‘man flu’ simply proves the superior coping mechanisms present in men.

However I decided not to say this in a room filled entirely with different hormones to my own, and instead stoically shouldered my burden.

It’s what us men do…

(Author pokes the internet bear with a stick and gingerly steps back)

Joking aside though I do genuinely feel like crap today and got virtually no sleep last night.

The one bright light in all this is that I’m convinced that this would be worse if I wasn’t going out all the time and still getting my exercise in regardless. It’s definitely helping me in terms of breathing and an overall sense of well-being.

Being outside and sniffly is way better than being stuck inside, sniffly and miserable.

Overall because of this I’m upbeat – which is a good thing – because despite having a completely on plan week I’ve had a blip on the scales and somehow gained three pounds.

It’s not the first time. This ‘speed up and slow down’ progress seems to be par for the course for me since early August.

I’ve mentioned it before – but the psychology of how I deal with instances like this now is very different to the way I used to cope with them, and in a way I’m glad that this has been happening.

I don’t get angry with myself needlessly any more. I don’t feel pressured by imaginary time constraints, I don’t feel that I’ve let myself down and I certainly don’t feel the need to face plant a pizza or kebab and eat until I’m sick because I’ve just confirmed by looking at a number on a scale that I’m a failure.

Although I don’t like the phrase ‘naturally thin’ (I prefer naturally self modifying) this is something that such people experience all the time – and I’ve come to realise the hard way that these fluctuations happen as part of normal life.

Furthermore they occur for a variety of reasons (I must have at least a half pound of snot backed up in my sinuses for instance and I haven’t yet been to the loo today) and as long as I don’t use them as an excuse for bad behaviour it’s just another week.

My clothes still fit, my resolve hasn’t changed at all and tomorrow (from a dietary perspective) will be the same as yesterday. So will the day after, and the day after that.

This will hopefully continue for the rest of my life.

I’m not interested in yo-yo anything or guilt of any kind any more. I’m just interested in eating well, exercising every day, looking after myself and trusting that in the end my body will eventually reward me with progress.

Or it won’t. Maybe it will do it the week after.

Who knows?

Either way there’s no junk food on the horizon for me.

Tonight I’m cooking a large healthy chilli with boiled rice and I’m following it with some natural yogurt and frozen fruit (two of my favourite things).

I’m also going to make myself a cous cous packed lunch ready for tomorrow because (come rain or shine) I’m setting out early and I’m going to do something strenuous.

This isn’t because I put weight on today. It’s because I structure my weeks in advance with calendar entries to meet friends and do ‘outdoorsy stuff’. This means that I always know that at least one day (preferably two or three) I do significantly more than on other days.

It’s the only way to keep my ten mile average up (work days typically come in at around 7.5-8.5 miles currently) and so far I’m maintaining that very effectively.

Anyway – hopefully tomorrow the sun will come out a little bit (it’s all drizzly today) and allow me to take some nice photos so I can show you all what I’ve been up to.

Today is just grim – but it still feels Christmassy!

So – if you’ve had a similar result don’t use it as an excuse!!!

Instead put on a warm coat – ignore the rain and join me in the outdoors, making up for it and moving swiftly on, being naturally thin.

Davey

Canal walking via Packwood House

I’m gonna get right out in front and just say it.

Star Wars was flipping awesome!!!

There. I’ve got it out of my system.

(No spoilers follow)

I have to hand it to J.J. Abrams (even though he only produced this time rather than directed) because not only does he know how to fill every shot with his trademark lens flare (and a look of gritty celluloid authenticity) – he really knows how to make an exciting, engaging, fan pleasing and actually in places quite surprising movie.

I honestly thought (having avoided all fan theory videos, spoilers and behind the scenes featurettes that I could) that there were just some things that would be a given.

I was wrong.

Most fans thought Disney’s first attempt to rekindle the franchise was very much a thematic remake of ‘A New Hope’ (which was by no means a bad thing in my view) and because of that I for one expected ‘The Last Jedi’ to be very ‘Empire’ – but it’s not.

I won’t spoil any potential plot points for readers or say where I thought it didn’t work quite as well as it could have – but I will say if you love Star Wars then JJ has your back. You’re in good hands.

Buy the ticket, dress up like your favourite character and go to the cinema.

(Oh – and Porgs are cute! 😍)

Phew. I feel better now.

Ok – on with the rest of the day.

DSC03715Today I’ve been out and about, blowing away as many cold and flu related cobwebs as I can before I start my new job on Monday.

Although I found out a while back that I’d secured it I’ve been doing my ‘new old job’ until yesterday when I took off one hat in preparation for a new hat and a new part of the office doing my ‘new new job’.

My cartography obsessed friend had been hunting about for a walk worthy of my last free weekday for a while and had come up with several choices – but ultimately we settled on this (link)

4C17A5C3-326F-49AB-AB48-24ECF2A47884Starting at the Navigation Inn (point 6) I had been informed that this five mile circular walk took in some rural countryside, a couple of local pubs and a lovely stretch of (previously unexplored) canal.

DSC03711DSC03712My friend is (ahem) prone to (ahem) taking accidentally scenic routes on the way to our destination and typically I’ve learned to add around 1/4 to the overall projected distance we might actually walk rather than just accept the initial estimate.

Truthfully I rather like this element of our excursions – and the fun of getting slightly lost has a pleasure all of its own.

DSC03724This photo, taken in a lovely snowy field should actually have never been taken, because by standing here we were already heading in completely the wrong direction.

To be fair to my friend however this is really easy to do when we go twalking because we rarely stop nattering – and I’m pretty certain that it’s this element of our time together that causes us to go ‘off piste’ so often.

The conditions were a bit icier than I expected today – as only a few miles away in Warwick pretty much all of the snow and ice from last weekend’s dumping has now melted away.

In parts our walk was simply a bit damp and muddy (particularly around Packwood House) where things seemed to have cleared up completely.

However – slightly further on and along the canal the absolute opposite was true – and anywhere that there was even the slightest bit of shade things were very different, with sheets of dangerous ice underfoot at pretty much every turn.

The waterway in particular looked spectacular – and the huge sheets of floating ice, partially broken by the passing boats looked incredible.

Most of the time however, both of us were just focused on not falling over or falling in – and trying to gain as much purchase underfoot as we could whilst looking at all of the really lovely bird life that can be found along the fields and hedgerows bordering the canal.

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One of the slightly annoying things about Packwood house (which was approximately half way around our route) was the rather officious gatekeeper – who refused us entry to the coffee shop because neither of us were national trust members.

This wouldn’t be a problem however if we agreed to buy a raffle ticket each for a pound a go.

Although this isn’t much money (and it goes to a good cause) both my companion and I objected to the hard sell of the lady on the door and had decided to use the loo and keep walking instead.

By the time we reached The Boot we were really ready for a drink – and boy was it an inviting little bolt hole.

Something I’d never really appreciated until recently was the warmth of an open fire.

It sounds stupid – but I never got cold in the past. I was always more than warm enough or simply too hot and sweating. Sitting in front of a fire was pointless – but today it felt sooooo good to take my gloves off and warm my hands by the lovely little fireplace near our window seat.

I mentioned this to my friend – and related to her how quite often I find a child like pleasure in things that others may take for granted.

A roaring fire is a pleasure I’ve never appreciated at any time in my life.

Even as a child I was chubby and never liked being close to any heat sources. Now I feel a continual need to drape myself around them whenever I find them.

After I passed my biscuit to my buddy and we drank our coffee we headed off for the last leg of our journey past the canal junctions (where the Grand Union and Stratford routes split apart) and back to the Navigation Inn.

This wasn’t a particularly long stretch – but it was by far the most slippery and downright hazardous. Both of us nearly came a cropper on the ice a few times and had to balance against a wall or hand rail.

By the time the Navigation appeared (after seven and a half miles of twalking) both of us were ready for more caffeinated beverages and stopped in for coffee round two.

 

My companion of course got the Belgian biscuit and the sugar remained in its little pot.

After yet another satisfying natter to complement the previous natter (that had been preceded by a long natter and followed by further nattering) we drove home (whilst nattering).

For my part I decided to walk into town for a coffee before all the shops closed and that’s where you find me now.

It’s been a good couple of days and I couldn’t think of a better way to begin my last (long) weekend before I begin a fresh challenge.

However.. it’s not over just yet. There’s more to come over the following days internet!

Watch this space 😄👍🏽

Davey

May the 4th

Today is a decidedly odd day – but in a really good way.

My morning at work started with my manager walking into the small office that I currently sit and saying ‘David – are you in the local paper?’

Just like that there I was (link)! In the news!

Truthfully I’ve known this might be happening for around two weeks – but didn’t know what format it would appear in or how it would look.

However – it’s a really nice feeling for your whole office to suddenly start talking and asking about it and congratulating you – particularly when a lot of them had no idea that you’d lost weight in the first place.

It’s also started some interesting discussions – particularly relating to diabetes, exercise, healthy eating and the seasonal perils of (what I imagine is) pretty much every office in the western world.

Mine currently looks like this. These little carb bombs are everywhere – which normally wouldn’t bother me in the least – but there’s a vague and constant lingering scent of chocolate that’s ever present at the moment, and I’ll admit to walking to work this morning fantasising about (rather randomly) how nice it would be to eat a mars bar.

I know that Slimming World teachings suggest that I could have one if I wanted to (and I probably would if the mood really overcame me) but I still feel that from a personal philosophy perspective foods like this are things that I don’t want in my life.

I can look and remember what a sugar rush felt like – or the wave of warm pleasure from eating a burger or pizza but I no longer want to experience it. I’ve had 30-40 years of excess and my pancreas won’t thank me for it.

Neither will my teeth which so far have never had a single filling. Ever.

I want them to remain that way.

Maybe it’s the wrong way to look at it but I don’t see the ‘treat’ element of this kind of food any more. Instead I only see the slow and destructive damage it causes with its seductive disguise.

When I was talking to a colleague about diabetes today I was reminded (it’s SO easy to forget sometimes) how lucky I am to have my (almost completely medication free) health back.

There’s no chocolate bar or burger in the world that tastes nice enough to warrant a return to type 2 (or type one).

Anyway – that aside today is a big day in more ways than one and I need to make tracks.

I’ll let you decide amongst yourselves why that is – but all I’m going to say internet is ‘may the force be with you‘ this evening 😏

Davey

Grumpy cat in the snow

Being good is a tough sell sometimes and today I really didn’t want to play ball.

I’ve picked up a bug of some kind – and whilst the person who I suspect I caught it off seemed to have been hit with a viral apocalypse (she was virtually at death’s door last week in the office) I’ve just felt cumulatively more achey and crappy each day for a few days.

It doesn’t help that the world is frozen solid at the moment – and because of this yesterday I took the unprecedented step of driving to work.

I know I know. I feel dirty just saying it.

The words drive to work should be outlawed – but nevertheless when faced with the appallingly icy pavements of Warwickshire and the largely clear roads yesterday I decided to take the easy option.

If the truth be told I regretted it immediately – because I just spent the rest of the day stressing about my exercise stats. When I finally came home I engaged in a less than pleasurable session on my exercise bike to try and plug the gap – but doing this whilst feeling achy and run down was just trying to hammer a square cycling peg into my round walking hole.

It just didn’t feel right – and I really missed my usual morning and evening constitutional.

To make up for this I decided to set out extra early today to compensate for being a bit slower and grab some Lemsips on the way.

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The moon was still clearly visible in the clear blue sky as I left the house – and everything felt extremely crisp and crunchy underfoot.

It’s at times like this that I’m really really glad that (in order to remain both comfortable and active) I’ve invested in some really good footwear, thermal socks, Supercoat 2, base layers, heavy winter gloves, a neck and face warmer and a seriously cosy Thinsulate wooly hat.

However – regardless of all of my cladding and insulation my head was still pounding, my nose still running and my limbs still aching. I really needed some kind of cold remedy and fast.

Irritatingly by the time I’d arrived at the Sainsburys local (a mile down the road) I realised I’d forgotten my wallet. To add further insult to injury I’d failed to re-seal my flask of coffee after drinking from it along the way and it had leaked over everything in my bag.

Part of me started to slip into Davey’s grumpy cat mode.

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That is – until the universe, impressed by my willingness to walk in all weathers despite the fact that I was feeling like a sack of crap decided to reward me with a bean.

The world is full of shocking litter bugs. How can people just sling their rubbish on the floor all the time? Thankfully it makes me happy that (like a human Womble) I find what they leave behind, make good use of it and tidy up as I go.

Who am I to complain if it means I keep getting little stickers entitling me to free coffee for my efforts?

It’s becoming something of an addiction to pick up and dispose of other people’s rubbish and in doing so I’m taking a real pride in where I live. The only thing that completely eludes me is how everyone thinks it’s ok to just throw their crap on the floor when they’ve finished with it.

Luckily the universe had my back and Sainsburys accepts ApplePay – so after waving my Apple Watch at the till I walked out with some hot lemon powders and cold and flu tablets.

After taking a couple of these I slowly began to feel a bit more human and continued on my way – skating and sliding around on some of the frankly treacherous pavements – which unlike the completely clear roads are deadly if you’re not paying attention.

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The extra focus required is a good thing though.

It’s impossible not to feel awake when you need to get to work on time as well as not break your neck in the process – and while you’re intently paying attention to every shiny crack in the pavement you soon realise that you definitely feel more awake and alive.

Plus when the sky’s as clear as it was this morning it’s hard not to be entranced by the little details along the way. I can’t help but stop sometimes and admire my favourite little bits of my route.

It looks absolutely delightful whatever the weather.

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So, I could have taken the car. I could have sat in air conditioned warmth, and I could have arrived having spent another hour in bed – but where’s the pleasure in that? I know for a fact that I’ve burned a nice chunk of calories – and that I felt better for doing so.

I still feel like utter doo-doo tonight, but I’m convinced that whatever this is would have hit me way harder if I wasn’t so intent on keeping fit and active. I’m convinced it makes the difference between just crawling into bed to die and carrying on regardless.

However – I’m still having an early night tonight. That’s just a given.

(sniffle, ache)

Davey

Dancing the night away

Waaaaay back in the 90’s I was something of a clubber. I really got into dance music for a while – and despite my inability (in my opinion) to look even vaguely co-ordinated on the dancefloor I usually got both hammered and lost in the crowd and it didn’t matter.

In much the same way as I expect football fans get carried away with the roar of thousands of voices rejoicing or howling in unison I often felt very at home in a tightly packed crowd of people. Despite the number of them surrounding me I never felt claustrophobic – but was instead totally lost in the music as the rhythm pulsed through the air.

However – my excessive behaviours, the death of a friend and a the start of a long term significant relationship changed how I viewed this part of my life. I stopped going out to dance the night away circa 1996. Until last night – because yesterday was the Slimming World Christmas get together.

This is me dancing with my consultant Angie – without whom things would be very different in my life.

She’s a special person and she knows the words to all the songs on every dancefloor it seems!

I can only imagine what she was like as a young girl with music, a mirror and a hairbrush. 😏

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Like many things these days this function is something that for many reasons (both physical and psychological) I probably wouldn’t have attended last year.

This year however I don’t feel like I stand out in a crowd any more.

Just as I was back in the mid 90’s I’m just a face amongst many once again. There’s nothing special or unusual about me visually and I can stand in a room filled with bass while surrounded by people, close my eyes, lift my head up to the sky and then just release when the beat drops.

Which I did. Over and over again for a few hours.

I’d forgotten the euphoria of it. It’s intoxicating and wonderful. Honestly I had no idea how much I missed it until I discovered it again.

That’s not to say you’re going to find me with glow sticks on a podium every Saturday night from now on mind you. Everything in moderation. I’m a bit balding and past all that now. Most of the ladies in the room could have been my daughter!

(If you want to see a snippet of my middle aged dad dancing then head over to my Instagram in the link on this page.)

What this does mean is that I won’t say no to a party if I’m invited, because now I try to say no to almost nothing.

By the time the day was done I’d smashed my exercise goals and clocked up around 32,000 steps according to Apple Watch. What’s even more interesting is that I barely broke a sweat in around two and a half hours of boogying. Back in the 90’s as a thinner but ridiculously unfit man with a very bad lifestyle I was typically drenched.

I fudging love being this fit!

As I walked home early this morning from the club with a (vaguely worrying) ringing in my ears and a fixed smile etched upon my face I looked around the quiet streets, and thought how much I’m enjoying life lately…

I stopped and looked up for the metaphorical piano.

Nope. Still not there!

Wait?… Was that?… A snowflake?

No – whatever it was is gone… It must have been my imagination.

(at this point in the narrative the author retires for the night. It’s 2am and his dancing feet are tired.)

This morning I woke up (without a hangover because I no longer drink – yay!) still thinking about the club and the dancing. If the truth be told I was still boogying when I opened the curtains…

To a winter wonderland!!!! 

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The whole world was covered in about 3-4 inches of snow – and this is the most Christmassy I’ve seen my garden for many many years!

As with the club the night before though a year and a half ago looking out of my back window would be as far as I think I would have managed to get. Walking in the snow can be sapping at the best of times – and it’s both harder and slower to get to where you need to be.

Add to that the fact that back when I was morbidly obese (even if I could have made the journey outdoors) I simply didn’t have the right clothing for the job and you’d have instead found Davey peeking out from behind his curtains, or deciding whether or to to brave the roads in his car.

Not any more.

I have Supercoat 2 (den den deeeerrr!), my zip up fleecey top, a neck warmer, thick gloves, a pair of snow boarding trousers and a great pair of warm boots.

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Thanks to an assortment of large (not sure I mentioned the size before. That was large in case you missed it) clothes from charity shops and sales I can venture out in warm, watertight and quick drying all weather gear designed for days like this.

Snow won’t stop me!

So – like the mildly deranged man I am I decided that since the world was hiding indoors I’d venture out to Aldi to get some shopping – where (delightfully) the car park appeared to have more seagulls than cars in it!

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After some shopping I slipped and skidded back home in my car and then went to pick up a package from the royal mail sorting office – which (very irritatingly in direct contradiction to the card that came through my letterbox yesterday while I was weighing in) was totally closed.

I decided regardless to walk into town for a coffee rather than drive. I didn’t like the idea of getting stuck behind a rear wheel drive vehicle (it’s hard not to laugh at BMW’s on a day like this as they wallow painfully up the shallowest of gradients, fishtailing as they go) and I wanted to see how I physically fared with the snow.

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As I walked in (despite the snow beginning to melt a bit) I could see little children everywhere being pulled on little plastic sled by their parents – and when I reached the Dell on the outskirts of town there was a lovely little snowman being built near the play area.

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The sorting office I’d visited earlier wasn’t the only thing that was affected. All of the busses in Warwickshire were cancelled and loads of shops were completely closed.

The Christmas market has never seemed so bleak.

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On this particular row there was just one guy at the end selling cheese – and from what I could see he must have been really happy that he was one of the few that made it into Leamington.

All I could hear as he processed his clientele was ‘sorry to keep you waiting sir!’ as he valiantly worked through the three deep queue of fermented dairy addicts in front of him.

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Then I finally sat down for a coffee (courtesy of my brother and his wife who I was catching up with) we just sat chatting and watching the snow flurries beat down outside.

It’s been a really lovely weekend.

I’ve hit a massive weight loss milestone (again), I’ve gone clubbing (again) and thoroughly enjoyed dancing the night away, gone hiking about in the snow (for the first time since losing weight) and now I’m sleepy – having eaten a huge slow cooker stew and only getting about four hours after getting home late.

I feel warm, happy and cosy!

Oh – and in case you’re wondering internet – my standards haven’t slipped. I gave the little gold chocolate to my sister in law 🙂

Davey

Unexpectedly belted at nineteen

There are many things to be thankful for.

If you think positively then the universe often provides – and sometimes way more generously than even I expect. I’m a great believer in thinking that the best will happen, because I find that quite often it does.

For instance – you’ll never hear me say ‘call me when you get back’ or ‘drive safely’.

This isn’t because I want someone to meet a brick wall on the way home or not arrive at all – but because 99.9% of the time everyone does.

All of the people I care about manage to tie their own shoelaces, turn off their gas, and not fall over onto beds of nails with boring regularity. Life isn’t like the BBC drama ‘Casualty’ (unless of course you work in an A&E dept) with deadly power tools lurking around every corner.

My default position is you’ll get home perfectly well without me stressing needlessly and you won’t drive like an idiot even if I don’t engage in pointless worrying.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t care what happens to you. Far from it. People that I love usually occupy the vast majority of my thoughts.

This morning I was thinking about something else however. I have a special occasion to attend and there’s a glaring gap in my wardrobe.

I’d gotten ready early because I wanted to nip into town before my weigh in and see if I could find a nice brown leather belt.

So far getting a nice one for a cheap price that wasn’t going to be huge or too small has proven tricky and I’m still hacking chunks an my old black leather one from my (already significantly reduced by that point) 50 inch waist that I bought for a job interview and this outfit in November 2016

Then rather bizarrely I found something just lying on the pavement outside a hotel on the way into Leamington.

It’s a thick brown leather belt from River Island – oddly enough in a Medium size – and it fitted my now 36 inch waist so perfectly on the very first notch that I was kind of taken aback at the sheer serendipity of it all.

I was going into town for a brown leather belt – and there, lying on the floor with leaves frozen to the buckle was just the thing I needed, in just the style and colour I wanted.

How can one fail to have a bad day after something like that?!

Well the fact is that they can’t.

After a bit of mooching around the shops (and a few nice little purchases) I headed back towards Warwick and my morning weigh in.

As I said earlier in the week I’ve been expecting a maintain or a gain and as it turned out I wasn’t too far wrong. After the massive and unexpected loss last week my body has slowed down again – but it’s still creeping along just enough for me to see a one pound loss.

This of course means that I’ve now lost a mind boggling 19 stone of body weight.

How incomprehensible is that?!

I must admit – I’m the one that’s lost it and I find it really hard to bend my mind around it. It’s absolutely insane that I’ve gone from looking like this in 2016

To looking like this in the same place and same seat today.

After leaving my group today I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription – and the lady that works there once again completely failed to recognise me.

In her defence though it’s been a few months and a few stone since the last time!

When I told her about my latest milestone she just stood behind the counter, looking at me with an open mouth.

She was just agog.

The thing is that this lady in particular knows more than most what I was going through. She dispensed the prescriptions for the Metformin and Glimepiride to manage my diabetes that I now no longer have. She handed over the frequent pain medication that I no longer need to help me deal with the back, knee, joint, muscle or tendon strains that happened all the time. She also has no need to put into little bags the ointment and antibiotics that I needed for my bouts of cellulitis, frequent eczema or other skin allergies that were aggravated by my frequent oedemas.

As we talked I realised how much I prefer the expression on her face now. Often I’m sure I saw pity (maybe even sadness – she’s a nice lady) and now instead I see admiration and happiness that I have my life back.

Who knows how long I’ll have the blessing of good health though. Nothing can be taken for granted.

As I mentioned to Angie today as I helped tidy up after group – I’ve done a lot to myself in the past.

There are some things I’m comfortable with discussing in public and some that are going to remain forever out of the wider domain. The odds because of some of these behaviours probably aren’t in my favour long term. I’ve done most things that are carcinogenic or supposed to damage my heart, circulatory system, kidneys or lungs and a few more besides over the years.

All I can do now is my absolute level best continuously – and to live each day as it comes, enjoying the wonderful gift of a life that I’ve given back to myself with hard work and persistence.

I’m not going to waste it or take it for granted ever again – and who knows internet – maybe this is why the universe has my back.

Davey

Nothing worth having is easy

It’s getting colder – and snow is forecast tomorrow.

This morning I got DRENCHED walking to work – but I have to say there’s a certain stoic pleasure arriving in the office looking like a drowned rat.

Mere mortals use their cars on days like today – but real men (and those focused on getting to target) WALK TO WORK COME RAIN OR SHINE!!!

Since it’s cold this evening (but thankfully not raining any more) and my 3 mobile Wuntu app has given me a FREE drink today (I like this kind of price. It’s my absolute FAVOURITE) I’ve ducked into a Costa coffee shop on the way home to snuggle up in the warm before tackling the next leg of my journey.

I’m currently half way down a large Americano and I’m in a terrific mood. The world can do its worst to me. I don’t care. Life is GOOD.

Everything is Christmassy in town and it’s hard not to smile when you see a big tree in the square.

I have to say though – my pessimism toward the possibility of having a loss this weekend is becoming quite evident – and I’ve pretty much convinced myself that it’s not going to be a good result on the scales come Saturday.

This isn’t because I’ve been eating badly mind you. I’m just sure that (given my topsy-turvy up/down history over the last few months) that I’m about due a maintain – particularly because of my epic and completely unexpected loss last week.

Who knows though? I could get my 19st certificate. It’s possible. Stranger things have happened!

Either way it doesn’t matter too much. Lately I’m judging myself much more on fitness and clothing than I ever used to – and boy am I enjoying fitting into more and more nice clothes!

I’ve also realised that two other areas that were previously concerns (of a sort) are for no immediately apparent reason changing in the background.

Firstly – portion sizes.

I’ve been experimenting with reducing the amount that I take to work with me. I know that the only other things available in the kitchen are pre packaged beige crap (crisps biscuits and chocolate) and that even if I was dying of hunger that I’d never eat them.

I just can’t bring myself to do it anymore. I’ve lost the taste for them.

Therefore I eat only what I have – and you know what? It’s satisfying me – and no one is more surprised than I am! However this is only a partial win as my evening meal portion sizes are still leaving a LOT to be desired.

I think (in common with most other slimmers out there) that my danger zone is still late at night, when boredom masquerades as hunger and I often struggle to differentiate between the two.

However – progress is progress and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Never in my life have I been satisfied with eating such small amounts and the longer that goes on the more I’ll get used to it.

Secondly – body self image.

Oddly the two questions I’m always asked about my weight loss are ‘Do you feel different? You MUST feel different!’ and ‘What do you do with all the skin?’

The first question often just makes me laugh. I mean – where do you start to answer something like that? Of course I feel different – but do I answer it simply? The truth it it’s almost impossible now – because everything is different.

There’s no aspect of my life that remains untouched by my weight loss.

However it’s the last question that’s (at times) preoccupied me the most because it’s a daily reality when I look in the mirror.

Truthfully I’ve thought about it more when I start to think about relationships than I do as something that generally gets me down. When it comes down to it (within reason) I don’t mind looking saggy in the mirror when I feel so good inside.

Although I like to look nice thankfully I’m not really all that vain.

However I’ve realised that my willingness to take pictures of myself (with clothes on) and a corresponding personal pact with myself to look regularly in the mirror (without them on) and try to accept who I am is paying off.

I’m no longer as fearful and worried by this aspect of weight loss as I once was – and that’s partially because there’s nothing I can do to change it. I refused to butcher myself with gastric band surgery and I will not do the same for the sake of vanity.

It’s not an option that’s ever been on the table in my mind.

If I’m not loved for my imperfections then I’d rather not be loved. As much as I like to think that I’d fall for someone’s personality I have come to accept that (whoever this masochistic person may turn out to be in the end) that they must do the same with me.

I’m proud of what’s left behind actually. I can see (dare I say the word?) evidence of a journey when I look in the mirror and a reminder of the struggle that I’ve gone through to learn that I can be a better man – and that I can love myself for who I am and what I’ve accomplished.

It’s taken a long time to get to how I feel today – but I thought that it was important to say here in my blog – because I know that when people ask me about excess skin in terms of weight loss that they’re often asking because they too are losing weight – and like I did they worry about what will remain.

What they’re really saying when they ask ‘how do you deal with all the skin?’ Is ‘how will I find a way to deal with it. Please help.’

Well – I’m here to tell you that if you focus on your goal and try to forget about things like this eventually they just sort themselves out.

Sure it requires a bit of work internet – but nothing worth having is easy is it?

You can do it. Never believe otherwise.

Davey

Today the universe loves me!

There are some days when you just know the universe has your back. They start well – and they just sail along quite nicely all the way through.

My first task of the morning (I had a day booked off and plans laid out in advance) was to hurriedly get some shopping. The moment I arrived outside Aldi (slotting into the perfect parking space in a largely vacant lot) and grabbed a trolly I knew it was meant for me.

Sitting in it was not only a shiny pound coin, but a McDonald’s coffee cup with it’s bean intact.

Since I’m a shameless magpie and it takes very little to make me giggle with glee, this on it’s own would have set me up for the day (I now have one full card and another with two beans on!) but then the sun came out as well and started smiling at me.

The shop was also pretty much empty, I got everything I wanted, wasn’t rushed at the till and got home in good time to put all my frozen fruit away before it went soggy. I then got changed and headed out to meet some friends for a walk.

Although we know each other very very well the three of us rarely get to hang out together – and we decided to walk the entire 7 mile length of the Kenilworth Greenway into Balsall common and top it off with a coffee at Costa.

This was a really delightful stroll if I’m honest – and involved a generous amount of twalking and catching up in general. Since I start my new job soon (I’m still in the new old one for a while) this is most likely the last chance I’ll have for a while to go on such a stroll during the week without booking annual leave or utilising a bank holiday – so I’m trying to make the most of my current role’s zero hour contract flexibility while I can.

Today I also had another task. For a totally separate reason I needed a full length body shot of me – and since I can’t do this on my own easily, when we reached an appropriately well lit area I asked one of my friends to take one.

I’m really happy with how it turned out – despite feeling I still have some work to do on my midriff.

The really surprising thing about this photo is that the Craghopper walking trousers I’m wearing are NOT a 36 inch waist as I reported the other day. They’re a 34! I completely read the label wrong! They’re a bit snug around the waist – but I don’t care – because the new fleecy top (which I found yesterday in a sale) I’m also wearing is a LARGE.

Since I love a good comparison photo montage – here’s new and improved Davey vs old and struggling Davey once more for your viewing pleasure.

IMG_0924

If the sense of well being from this photo alone wasn’t enough, when I got back to Kenilworth and bid my friends farewell and (because clothes shopping now appears to be my new ‘thing’) I hit the local charity shops with a vengence.

My word did they contain some low hanging friut today!

I’ve said before that the sole reason people in Kenilworth go shopping appears to be so that they can buy expensive clothes, leave the tags on them and then when they get bored of looking at their bulging wardrobes full of new things take the unused items to charity shops.

I’m not going to lie – whilst this behaviour is wasteful in the extreme I in turn benefit immensely from their willingness to spend money on a whim. Their actions meant that I got two pristine M&S suit jackets for £12.50, a pair of brand new M&S trousers for £4.99 – two lovely M&S shirts for £7, and a variety of gorgeous mint condition silk ties for £2 each.

The most expensive item that I blew cash on was a rather luxurious and fetching soft cotton beige cardigan – which If I had a pipe to accompany it I’m sure would make me look a bit like Hugh Hefner.

I’m not complaining at all though. Frankly if it happens to cause an rapid increase in bunny tails in my near vicinity then I consider it £7.99 well spent.

So – that’s been my day off.

Although… it’s not finished yet and the night is young…

Who knows what else it will hold internet?!

Davey