Filling evenings

Idle hands make work for the erm… supermarket.

I know that is isn’t quite how the mantra usually goes – but I’m having to face up to the fact that my tendency has been lately (largely thanks to the weather) to stay in at night and slump in front of the TV. When I do I’m usually thinking about food.

I’ve therefore resolved to find a reason to go out every evening this week to shake myself out of my comfort (eating) zone – and yesterday evening’s excuse was the cinema.

I headed off to see ‘The Darkest Hour’ – which has (justifiably) seen both the film and Gary Oldman nominated for Oscars.

His portrayal of Winston Churchill is a pretty mind blowing master class on how an actor can transform themselves for a role. It’s breathtaking to watch, and I found myself continually trying to see Oldman in Churchill’s face – and eventually giving up.

The metamorphosis is that complete.

Although at times I felt that the story had been embellished for effect (the London Underground sequence for instance) I highly recommend seeing it. It’s engaging and fascinating in equal measure.

If you’re wondering though – it’s not one of those films that necessarily benefits from being on a larger screen. It should be just as impressive on a television – but it does need to be watched.

Tonight I arranged to go for a walk with a friend (we sadly ended up at the pub chilling out and chatting in front of a roaring fire a it rained outside) and I’m planning other things later in the week to keep me occupied and take my mind off the contents of my fridge.

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When I’m doing things elsewhere (particularly when I’m with people) I’m FAR less likely to eat – which is good. When I have unstructured time on my hands I typically eat larger quantities.

I feel that I’m making glacial progress at the moment towards my weight loss goals and it’s irritating me. If my objective was to maintain my weight then I think I’d have pretty much cracked it with what I’m consuming at the moment.

However it’s not.

I’m still supposed to be losing weight and I have the best part of a stone to go. The problem is that I’m finding it a real challenge at the moment.

This is not me wanting to give up and do nothing and go back to my bad old ways.

Far from it.

This is just me aware that in just over two months I’ll have been defining myself by weight loss for two whole years of my life.

At some point really soon I’d like to stop that, begin the process of maintaining and transfer my focus to other aspects of my life.

I know that I don’t have to necessarily stop one to accomplish the other but now I no longer feel odd – and people keep telling me that I don’t need to lose many more weight it’s becoming harder to find the daily mental effort that restricting myself enough to drop pound after pound requires.

I’m also aware that thanks to saggy skin and a network of stretch marks I’ll never be perfect. Instead I have to find a place that I’m happy with myself.

Truthfully this can’t be too far away.

I look in the mirror now (at least fully clothed) I generally like what I see. Although I’d be grateful if some wobbly bits evaporated I’m fit and healthy with a surprising addiction to exercise that I don’t imagine will disappear any time soon.

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The feeling of getting up in the morning and heading out into the world never knowing quite what the weather will do is something I love with all my heart. It’s this kind of surprise morning sunrise that’s keeping me continually focused on being fit and healthy.

I just need to keep my eye on losing weight for a little longer…

For those amongst you wondering – I’ve carried on keeping a food diary for #onplanjan and despite not posting it for various reasons over the last few days I’ve still been filling it in diligently.

24th Jan
Chilli con carne leftovers + half a pouch of microwave basmati rice
Chicken and cottage cheese salad
Yogurt and frozen berries with banana

25th Jan
3x Aldi wheat biscuits (9 syns) with strawberries, blueberries and banana + unsweetened almond milk
Iceberg lettuce, 6 tomatoes & half a jar of pickled onions
Chicken, cabbage, mushroom, leek, onion stir fry with a baked potato
Yogurt and frozen berries with banana

26th Jan
Chicken, cabbage, mushroom, leek, onion stir fry with a baked potato leftovers
6 Braeburn apples
Romaine lettuce, carrots, pepper cucumber, tuna and mackerel
4 Aldi wheat biscuits (12 syns) with almond milk

27th Jan
5 hi-fi bars
Baked potato with tuna and side salad + 3 Large Braeburn apples
Chilli con carne with half a pouch of cous cous
Yogurt and frozen berries with banana
Pot of cottage cheese

28th Jan
Pot of cottage cheese, 6 fresh tomatoes, 2x corn on the cob and 4 Tesco Delhi counter faggots.
Butternut chops and leftover chilli
450g natural yogurt and berries (all speed)
6 apples

29th Jan
500g carrots, 6 tomatoes, cous cous, pickled onions, gherkins and can of tuna and tub of cottage cheese
Slow cooked beef stew with swede, leek, potato, butternut, red onion and chopped tomatoes
2xhifi bars (HE)

30th Jan
Slow cooked beef stew leftovers
500g carrots + 2 hifi bars (HE)
Stir fry chicken with courgette, red onion, mushrooms, leek and savoy cabbage with baked potato + cottage cheese
Yogurt + blueberries and banana
2xhi-fi bars (6 syns)

Exercise wise I’ve also done slightly more this month than any previous month.

At the time of writing I’ve averaged 123 minutes of cardio, 10.5 miles and 20,220 steps per day for the whole of January.

In the past this would have translated into an absolutely mind blowing weight loss – but now it doesn’t seem to any more.

All of the above is just me staying healthy!

Anyway internet – it’s getting late and thanks to me keeping myself gainfully occupied this evening my time has evaporated. I’m in need of sleep before being super super busy again tomorrow!

Laters!

Davey

Chasing a sunrise

I didn’t have a great night’s sleep last night. I had a lot on my mind and kept turning memories over and over.

However – whilst I think it’s important to take time to feel and process what I was feeling I also think that there’s no mileage in disappearing into a sea of misery for the sake of it.

Dwelling endlessly on things you can’t change isn’t healthy and after a period of introspection you need to get up, dust yourself off and do something positive.

In my case it won’t come as much of a surprise that I chose walking.

I left the house this morning two hours before sunrise (5.45am) in the pitch darkness (there and no streetlights at that time and you have to pray no dogs have left unexpected surprises) and started making my way toward the horizon.

Unsurprisingly (thanks to science proving the world is NOT flat) I didn’t reach it and the beautiful sunrise I was hoping for (it was lovely yesterday but I didn’t get a photo) never materialised.

However – it wasn’t of any consequence. Being outdoors is enough today. Doing anything positive is the right thing when you feel low.

You can’t expect a good mood to come to you.

Just like the horizon and the sunset you have to go looking for it.

You never know what you’ll find if you go hunting and whether once you’ve finished you’ll either feel better or worse – but in my experience it’s rarely the latter.

There’s too much benefit to be had from exercise and getting your pulse up to not feel even just a tiny bit more alive.

I’m also reminded when I spontaneously go exploring that there’s a world out there that’s still turning no-matter how I feel.

It’s full of life that’s continually in a process of renewal. To go outside is to be reminded that nothing is final and everything can change. It’s a positive and healthy thing to do.

Whilst it’s been freezing and miserable for weeks and weeks today it’s warmer – both in a very real ‘the temperature has gone up’ sense and in an allegorical ‘I feel better inside’ sense.

It’s difficult to look at little green shoots of life peeping out from under brown leaves and not feel happy – and to see the return of spring is a blessed relief.

The parklands have been alive with little creatures this morning – and for them too life just goes on. They’re busy pulling worms out of the ground or munching on bits and bobs on the woodland floor.

So far this morning I’ve walked just under nine miles and my legs are flagging a little, but I’m not stopping until I get at least 15.

It’s only 10.30 and I’ve still got a metric ton of cheering up left to do.

I’ve stopped for coffee while my feet cool down – and I can feel the pleasant aching warmth of my thighs as they relax from the exercise.

A few years ago my reaction to moments such as the one I went through yesterday would have been very different – but today I see the wages of a better approach to dealing with problems.

I’m hangover free, there are no fast food wrappers littering the kitchen work surface and I’m still in control of my own destiny.

The past may inform who I am and it’s the foundation upon which I’m built – but it doesn’t define me.

I’m not trapped by it. I’m gifted with the perspective it affords me – and for every negative aspect of my childhood there’s also a corresponding sense of satisfaction that if I haven’t already overcome an issue related to it then I’m actively working towards it.

If you’re having a shitty day internet then put your coat and shoes on and get up. Open your front door, walk through it and just stroll.

There doesn’t have to be a purpose. Do it because it’s pleasurable. Do it because it will change your point of view. Do it because the world’s beautiful.

Do it because life’s a gift and it shouldn’t be wasted on regrets.

Davey

Not my usual kind of post…

I can easily be accused of over thinking things at the best of times. Whilst this manifests itself as a benefit when it comes to writing it sometimes comes at a cost to myself, because I often have to get quite low before I come back up again.

There are days like today where I awake with a mind that’s filled with a crippling lack of self worth.

It doesn’t matter that I know logically that this is just a passing moment in time because deep down today I feel overwhelmed by fears and insecurities that have followed me around for years.

As much as I always hope they’re gone – and that they’ve been replaced by positivity or wiped away with my new lease of life they’re not really.

I’m always crestfallen when I find them still hidden in the background and I’m reminded again that my mother really did a number on me.

She left me with so much numbness in the place in my heart where there should be familial love and warmth that sometimes (on days like today) it feels like there’s a physical lump in my mind.

I try whenever I consciously think about her to will love into my heart and re-format everything about her memory.

I don’t want to feel anger or bitterness towards her because it’s unresolvable and it just diminishes me. I can’t open a door and ask her why she treated me like a possession or made me feel so worthless.

I’ll never be able to make her understand how hard it’s been to clamber out from under the weight of guilt that I feel for not missing her and instead feeling relief that she’s no longer alive.

I can’t get her to put her arms around me and hug me like she meant it any more in death than I could in life – and today – at this moment I just feel sad and angry.

I don’t feel any sadness that she’s been dead for two years now – I just feel angry that I was cheated out of the nurturing support that I should have had in life. I feel resentment that I turned to all manner of bad habits to expunge the pain that she directly or indirectly caused and I feel cheated out of the life that I deserved.

I see other people grieving when they lose a parent and although I understand loss (I’ve experienced the pain of someone that’s close to me dying) I can’t relate to what it must feel like to lose someone that shaped your childhood and youth into a positive and productive life.

I can only understand the final, guilty relief associated with a burden that’s been too heavy for too long being lifted from my shoulders.

Maybe I’ll never get over feeling like I don’t measure up to my own expectations or that I’m not good enough.

I hope not.

I hope that one day the memory of her voice (that seems indelibly burned into my brain) as she called me ‘sick, wicked and evil’ and the familiar look of disgust in her eyes will finally be forgotten.

I hope that one day in darker moments I won’t look back and think that she was right and that there’s something wrong with me.

Again – logically I know this is nonsense. She said these things whilst simultaneously telling me that she was being bitten by fleas irradiated by the Chernobyl disaster – which is not the product of a mind on an even keel.

All of this makes rational sense to me – but on an emotional level there are days like today when all I feel is crippling pain inside and when I could (if I chose to) obliterate myself in any number of ways.

I could eat to excess. I have a fridge full of food.

I could drink myself to oblivion. There’s a shop full of cider just over the road.

I could pick up a pouch of tobacco and roll myself a cigarette and keep smoking until all of the wonderfully scented 25g of Golden Virgina was gone along with my health.

Today it’s hard not to do all three – but I refuse.

I refuse not because I don’t want to – but because I do.

I’m thankfully also very very stubborn and I will not under any circumstances be diminished any more by her either in life or death.

Her power to make me less of a man than I should be is something that she’s no longer able to wield and whilst her memory may make me occasionally weak I’ve come further than she ever expected or told me I could.

Furthermore I did it all despite her.

For the time being I’m going to allow myself the luxury of not trying to think fondly of her. I’m also going to try and focus on my continuing gradual weight loss and the newspaper cutting that a kind member of my slimming world group brought in today to show everyone.

There are things to be thankful for – and the kindness of others makes feeling like I do at this exact moment bearable.

I have good friends and that’s a comfort.

Today though I’m just going to open the floodgates and let it all go before getting on with life.

She may have been troubled, she may have been mentally ill. She may have had a hard life and had good reason to have problems. There may be mitigating circumstances that surrounded her childhood that can explain or give cause for her behaviour.

I don’t care though today.

Today I’m remembering her the way she was in life.

She was bitter, resentful, hateful, unforgiving, deceitful, abusive and I should have no reason to feel guilt for not missing her.

Davey.

Two years sober today.

It’s December 31st 2010.

Like many years that preceeded that one I’m indulging in a festive tradition, which involves drinking to excess.

For some unknown reason on this occasion I take photos of me in my games room with my feet up on a footstool in front of the television. Both the bottle I’m drinking from and the glass in my hand have piqued my interest for some reason and I’ve documented them.

 

I remember waking up the next day, looking at my phone and wondering why I’d taken these photos. The bottle was empty and sitting in the recycling box next to several other flattened 3 litre bottles of cheap cider in the red bag beside it.

When I drank I made sure that I did the job properly. I never once opened a bottle of Southern Comfort during the holiday season without finishing it in one sitting and then moving onto something else.

In the forground of these snapshots my chubby fingers clutch a tumbler – and in the background I can see my badly swollen ankle. My leg doesn’t seem much better.

In a spearate, grainy and jerky video of the same scene I can hear my laboured breathing behind the camera.

I can’t believe I used to sound like that just sitting in my armchair.

I don’t breathe like that now when I’m climbing a mountain.

I continue to scroll through the December pictures and then find myself in 2014. I’m drinking again. It’s not surprising. I did it pretty much every night by then. My ankle looks worse.

A lot worse.

Compared to how it looks tonight it’s incredibe that by this point in 2014 I was still managing to walk anywhere – even if it was just hobbling to my car so that I could go to work. I remember cleary how painful it was to have my skin stretched so tight.

It felt like the surface of a snare drum and it itched all the time. The feeling alternated between a sensation that felt like frost before switching without warning to intense heat.

 

I continue scrolling and all of a sudden I’m in December 2015.

I’m drunk again and at my lowest ebb.

My mother was dying and I couldnt cope with life. My heath was rapidly failing and honestly most of the time I was hoping that a heart attack would just end it all and take away the pain.

Although emotionally I was hurting deep inside, physically there wasn’t a part of me that didn’t continually scream for relief. I was so heavy at around 35 stone that everything was painful all of the time and nomatter where I stood, sat or lay there was no relief to be found.

I could no longer sleep without being blind drunk and when I did I woke up panicking every hour during the night because I couldnt breathe.

For the man on the left every day was hell – and for the man on the right every day is a gift.

Sometimes the one on the right still struggles and tries to find the right path in life – but for the vast majority of time he’s winning.

The man on the left is someone that I loathed and couldnt look in the eye when I caught his reflection in the mirror.

The man on the right isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I’m proud of who he’s become. I like him. I’m amazed continually by his energy, positvity and zest for life.

The man on the left has been drunk for months and has no idea anymore what a day without a hangover feels like. The man on the right has now been sober for exactly two years this evening.

Those other photos are of someone else. Someone that I don’t remember.

That Dave is dead internet.

Long live Davey

Anniversaries on the horizon

After the euphoria of adrenaline that my short attempts to run produced on Sunday (link) I’ve been dealing with the after effect – which is raging cramp in my quads.

It’s not apocalyptically awful if I’m honest (I can still move) but it is surprising because it took a couple of days for the full effects to be apparent.When I climbed out of bed this morning it definitely wasn’t with my usual zesty spring and I’m sure I heard a creaking noise that sounded like a tree about to fall over in a haunted Disney forest.

Unsurprisingly this didnt dissapear with a couple of stabs at the ‘snooze’ button and after geriatrially pottering around for half an hour I headed off to the office. My walk to work was waaaaaaaay more of a chore than it usually is.

I felt sluggish throughout and didn’t enjoy it at all.

In a way this is good mind you – rather masochistically I like cramp. It means things are improving. I’m still not sure what to do with all this though. I’m cautious about what it means, and I’m still reluctant to give myself any goals that I potentially won’t keep. In the past doing that has proved to be both self defeating and demoralising – so I’m just going to see how I feel when I recover and decide what I want to do based on how I feel.

In the meantime I still seem to be subject to a rather insatiable appetite in the evenings – and whilst I’m eating good food I’m still eating too much of it.

21st Jan
Tub of cottage cheese
4 apples
Chilli con carne made with pork mince, kidney beans, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, red pepper
Yogurt and frozen berries

22nd Jan
Chilli leftovers + couscous
4 apples + tub of cottage cheese + 200g ham
Two bowls of slow cooker beef stew
Yogurt and frozen berries

23rd Jan
Slow cooker beef stew leftovers
500g carrots and 6 tomatoes
Chilli con carne + half a pouch of microwave basmati rice
Yogurt and frozen berries

I know that this doesn’t seem like a bad day on the page but I’m hyper aware these days that if I want to lose weight I have to do a lot more and eat a lot less, because I’m no longer benefiting (if you can call it that) from carrying around all that extra timber.

It’s way easier for the weight to fly off when you’re carrying lots of baggage on your person everywhere you go – and in many ways I’ve not significantly modified my eating habits for at least a year.

Maybe I’m being a bit hard on myself though. I’m suddenly aware that I’m being critical of my successes and looking down on what I’ve done…

I’m probably eating a bit less overall than I used to – but I feel that things (broadly speaking) have remained the same. This is almost certainly because every time I consider how I feel about reducing my portion sizes a tiny (yet uncontrollable) part of my brain begins to panic somewhere in a corner.

On the plus side (even though I’m judging myself harshly when I shouldn’t) I seem to have found a rough ‘maintenance’ amount of food for when I get to target…

However I still need to get to target!

Today it’s been all that’s on my mind – and to try and stop myself overeating in the evening I’ve been munching carrots and tomatoes at my desk and had some lovely healthy leftover slowcooked beef stew for lunch.

(author pauses)

Oh screw it. Who am I kidding?

I’m preoccupied by more than food – and I’m feeling self critical and a little maudlin because two anniversaries are on the horizon.

Although I didnt join Slimming World until April 2016 the turning point in my life that started all this was the death of my mother on the 28th of January, and my decision to finally stop drinking myself to death two days before she died on the 26th of that month.

 

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For all of the water that went under the bridge between us it’s sometimes easy to forget that when I was born she was a young woman of 28. Although I know a lot of her troubled history now at that moment in time she was just a young mother with a newborn infant in her arms and there was nothing was written in stone for the future.

For all she knew the bond that she had with me would be unbreakable and we would be inseperable forever.

Time changes many things though and that potential relationship never came to pass. At the end we were barely on speaking terms and communicating with her (at least from my perspective) felt agonisingly painful.

Even close to the end I counted the moments until I could leave her company and get blind drunk.

Maybe somewhat paradoxically today I found myself, sitting alone in my lunch break looking at a photo of her death certificate.

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It says ‘exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease’ as the cause of her death – and in the other significant conditions section the words ‘breast cancer’ in black biro sit there staring back at me from otherwise empty dotted lines.

I’ve not looked at this picture since the day it was taken – and it occurs to me that it was around this time that I began to accumulate documents, photos and paintings that I never really wanted to be in posession of or to own.

Like this piece of paper they’re all just scribbled words on a page but they hold a power.

Even now though for some reason I can’t bring myself to dispose of them, despite how they make me feel. They remain buried in drawers for another day filled with greater fortitude.

(sigh)

I’m not sure why anniversaries are so important.

It really shouldn’t matter that another year is about to pass by without her in my life – and I probably by now should have shaken off the ever present nagging sense of guilt that it’s not her death that I remember the most about those awful days, but my decision to stop drowning my problems in alcohol and to reach out for help.

It’s been 727 days since I put down my glass after finishing that evening’s third bottle of wine and never picked one up again.

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I’m still struck by the paradox that such an awful event caused so many positive things to happen in my life – and despite it not really being the true anniversary of either big moment I dedicate the rest of this post to her memory and what’s changed about my life since she died.

It’s all been seen here before – but I don’t care. It’s my blog and I’ll post what I like. I’m proud of it all, and also more than a little sad that things ended the way that they did before I made what sits below this paragraph happen.

Despite knowing that if she was still alive she’d probably find some way of undermining these achievements the fact is is that I owe every single one of them to her passing.

 

  • I was unable to sleep in any position other than my left side or sitting upright at 34st 8.5 lbs. Now I can sleep on whichever side I choose (including my back) and no longer wake up in a panic because I think I’m suffocating
  • I’ve walked the cumulative 3000 mile distance from San Fransisco to New York (and almost 1000 miles more) since joining Slimming World
  • I overcame Plantar Fasciitis, two torn calf muscles, ligament problems in my left thigh and shin splints caused by my weight and persisted with my walking and exercise
  • I’m no longer taking medication to control my (type 2) diabetes – and have a HbA1c reading of 28 compared to 94 when first diagnosed
  • My blood pressure is down from borderline hyper-tension to that of someone 20 years younger than myself
  • The usual resting heart rate of an adult male in his mid 40’s is around 70bpm. Thanks to all the exercise I do now mine is currently around 40bpm.
  • I’ve dropped from the 8xl shirt and 66in waisted trousers I was wearing to XL shirts/large coats and waist size of 34-36in (depending on the retailer)
  • I can put my socks on
  • I haven’t broken any furniture by sitting or lying on it for over a year and a half
  • I can buy clothes from pretty much any supermarket or high street store. They cost approximately 75% less than they used to at specialist retailers
  • I can now fit into cars and taxis, including the smallest ones available in all my local dealerships AND get the seatbelts on (I tried them ALL!!!)
  • I can take the train or the bus because I fit into public transport and can walk to and from where it stops
  • I can fit in my bath
  • I don’t get out of breath walking up hills unless they’re really steep
  • I can mow my lawns without being in agony – and maintain my gardens
  • I can stand up without grunting or straining from pretty much any position
  • My skin no longer burns instantly when exposed to the sun (often it doesn’t burn at all now) and I don’t have dry eczema all the time like I used to
  • I no longer wear glasses for reading and have dramatically improved eyesight due to my diabetes being under control
  • I can sit in restaurant or cafe booths – in fact ANY kind of fixed bench or table seating is accessible – as well as garden picnic tables and plastic chairs.
  • I can go to the cinema and not have to pay extra for premium seating because I don’t fit in the standard seat or am worried that they will break
  • I can walk up to 17.5 miles a day and average 20,000 steps daily and 70+ miles every week. Previously I couldn’t walk to the end of my street 200 metres away
  • I can concentrate for much longer periods and take in (and retain) information a lot faster
  • I need less sleep – usually 5-6 hours is enough now. I used to need at least 10 because it was so hard to get rest with sleep apnea
  • I can now walk a mile in 14 minutes and 51 seconds. When I first tried to do a mile it took well over an hour to an hour and a half with continual rest stops. I usually have to stop every 7-8 miles now.
  • I can jog up stairs
  • I can jog back down stairs
  • I’ve taken large amounts of outsized clothes to charity and by donating with gift aid have helped other people by doing so.
  • I haven’t had an alcoholic drink since January 26th 2016
  • I’m now able to buy clothes from charity shops as well as deposit them and when I do they cost around 1/8th of what I previously was forced to buy
  • I can take a selfie without hating myself
  • I have climbed Snowdon
  • I no longer have constant oedemas (fluid retention) in my ankles
  • I can go outside wearing shorts without feeling self conscious
  • I don’t need to get my shopping delivered and I often walk two miles to the supermarket and carry it miles back home in a rucksack
  • I can stand for long periods without crippling back, knee and tendon pain
  • My knees no longer hurt all the time. They used to be painful even when I was seated
  • I can’t hear my own laboured breathing when I sit and relax
  • I no longer sweat all the time regardless of the temperature and I need to wear thick socks, gloves a coat and a hat to go outside in the cold
  • I regularly meet lots of new people through my efforts, Slimming World and my blog
  • I’m now confident enough with my appearance and fit enough to stand and speak in front of groups about my weight loss. Previously this would have been impossible because I quickly became breathless and physically shook from the effort of standing upright
  • I no longer get publicly bullied and called names related to my weight by youths (and adults) on the street
  • I’ve gone from eating (and burning) 7,500 calories per day to around 2000 and because of this my shopping costs around 2/5ths of what it used to.
  • I can ride a bicycle again
  • I can sit in an IKEA Poang armchair without fear of breaking it
  • I can do press-ups
  • I can do sit-ups
  • I can climb ladders and use stepladders (none held my weight before) to get into my loft
  • People I know frequently fail to recognise me in the street until I speak
  • I’ve never spent more quality time with friends, family and people that I care about in my entire life – and when I do we’re usually exercising so I seem to be promoting positive behaviour in those that mean something to me
  • I no longer make excuses not to meet up with friends I haven’t seen for a while (or don’t see them at all) because I feel embarrassed about putting lots of weight on since they last saw me
  • My friends and family can hug me and put their arms all the way around me
  • I’ve appeared in the Leamington observer (link)
  • I’ve appeared on BBC local radio to tell my story
  • I can run (although not very well yet)

Davey

****ing amazing

Sometimes only expletives can describe how you feel.

I like to think that at all times I can navigate successfully around profanity when talking or writing with a deft linguist flick of the wrist – but AT THIS VERY MOMENT the only phrase that seems to fit my mood is ‘I feel ••••ing AMAZING‘.

Maybe it’s a hangover from my council estate youth or some other deep seated need that makes me want to occasionally pop out a well timed swearword – but (as those that know me will attest) there are times I can’t help myself.

You might ask yourselves (particularly if you’re a regular reader) why I feel so good.

You’d be right to do so.

On paper – given every other yardstick that I’ve judged myself with for the last two years yesterday would have been a bit of a blow. I had a gain on the scales that scuppered any chance of getting to my target weight by the 26th of January.

A year ago this would probably have devastated me. I’d be convinced that I was backsliding or encountering ‘the dreaded plateau‘.

However my outlook on life, my thoughts and my hopes for the future are all very different now.

This morning I tried on my charity shop 501’s and I have to say – this was a BIG moment for me. From memory the very first time I slid into a pair of these was in 1990/91.

I’m not 100% sure whether they were a 34 or a 36 inch waist back then – but frankly it doesn’t matter because I know I’ll never possess that adolescent 17 year old body again and I’m at peace with that.

All I can do is live in and love the one I have now because it’s the only one I’ve got and I’ll never get another.

I stopped off at a shop where there’s a huge mirror (my previous natural predator) to take some photos.

But not before I checked the price of a new pair. If you remember mine cost £10…

I think I like mine better 😊

You can make up your own mind about how they look (I know they don’t match my shoes) but when I sit and stare at these pictures I can really only see tweaks that I would like to change about myself. Overall I’m becoming happy with where I am.

My friend recently remarked to me that I had better stop losing weight soon ‘…before people start dragging you to food banks and shoving sausage rolls down your neck’.

She makes me laugh – but she has a point. There’s not much further to go, and once I get to my target I think I’ll be comfortable there.

However – this is not (as you might have suspected) the cause for my shocking profanity.

After returning home with my shopping I decided to briskly walk into town (as I often do) for some exercise.

It was freezing.  

It’s been raining and snowing – making the temperature pretty much zero today. It’s just miserable and the pavements are all slushy.

As I reached the bottom of the hill near my house my hands were still frozen and I wasn’t warming up at all, so I thought ‘nuts to this I’m gonna run.’

(The following will probably mean more if you live in Warwick and Leamington)

So I crossed the road and ran from the bridge over the river to Guide Dogs for the Blind, walked from there to the top of the road, ran to the bridge near the recycle centre, walked to their gates, ran uphill under the railway bridge to the traffic lights by Pets at Home, walked over the two sets of lights into the park behind McDonald’s, ran through the park to the exit by Aldi and walked to Starbucks at the Shires Retail Park 😲

All in all I think I ran (and I wasn’t doing the waddling jog that happened when I last tried to run at 22st) for just over half a mile.

Now before I get lots of comments – I don’t know what this means. I don’t know whether this is something I want to pursue yet or just something that I’m stunned by. I’m still miffed with myself over press-upgate and I don’t want to say I’m going to take up something in the heat of the moment that I don’t intend to follow through with.

I’m just sitting here pretty blown away by how I feel – because I feel ••••ing amazing!!! I wasn’t really out of breath while doing it either. My pulse went up and I eventually tired, but this was a muscular thing, and not a cardio one – so it shows that I can do it if I choose to and I could probably do it well.

Also unlike last time my whole body doesn’t feel like jelly and I’m not trembling all over.

So internet – I just wanted to tell you all that I feel ‘••••ing amazing’.

Davey

Greek god or blueberry muffin

It’s not happening. I just can’t sleep. Currently it’s 2.45am and I’m unable to clear my mind. It’s just continually racing from one topic to the next.

I knew that I was preoccupied last night when my stomach started playing its ‘I bet you can’t fill me‘ game.

In the end I showed it who’s boss. It was a hollow victory though because I just wound up feeling a bit sick after putting its challenge to bed.

A combination of the spicy foods I consumed and other day to day concerns therefore are currently conspiring together to disturb my sleep. Both my stomach and mind are relentlessly churning away like a washing machine.

There’s nothing serious happening though. Everything is ok in the grand scheme of things. The issue is that by nature I’m someone that likes to have a relatively logical order and process in the world around me.

When I’m confronted with something that I consider to be a barrier to that, which is a bit chaotic or temporarily defies my attempts to understand or explain it I try endlessly in my head to turn it over and over, find ways around the problem and make sense of what it all means.

Since 1am I’ve been doing just that – drawing logic diagrams in my head, mentally screwing them up and then starting over.

It’s something I’ll figure out eventually – but in the meantime it’s not helping me in terms of shut-eye (or with occasional moments of over eating.)

Yesterday I consumed a lot of protein. Way too much in fact. I got a large amount of chicken bargains in Tesco on Thursday that were close to out of date and reduced – which I realise now was a bit of a tactical error.

I bought too much (and I mean a lot!) and then convinced myself that they all needed ‘using up’.

Silly Davey’s Friday looked like this…

19th Jan
Crudités and two packs of chicken pieces
Cayenne and paprika beef, two packs of chicken pieces, swede, carrot, potato, onion and tomato stew
2x large spicy chilli chicken breasts
6x large gala apples
450g pot of onken ‘whole grain’ yogurt (can’t find this in the SW app but it’s got between 4.5 and 12 syns I reckon)

So – it’s ridiculous o’clock and I need to sleep but can’t. The only sensible thing to do is make a large, strong coffee and play some violent video games.

Thankfully I found another bargain whilst in Tesco on Thursday. The legacy edition of COD Infinite Warfare for £10.

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I’ve already played some of Infinite Warfare about a year ago (only campaign – as I hate online adversarial) and frankly it was a bit average – although it’s fun in short bursts, quite pretty in places – and has Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington (John Snow) playing a snarling bad guy in it.

The real sweetener is COD MW Remastered (an absolute classic) which made this particular edition of the game an eye watering £70 when it was originally released.

(Author shoots lots of digital things until most of the things are dead but then the digtal things gang up, retaliate and repeatedly kill the author who switches off the silly silly game in retaliation.)

Bah. I hardly play games any more and I think it shows. I’ve become totally poo at them. Often now I just find them frustrating, and none of this has helped calm my mind.

How unusual. I felt sure I’d want to nod off after ingesting lots of caffeine and doing something that flooded me with adrenaline…

(Author goes to bed. Still can’t sleep)

It’s now 8am, my eyes think my eyelids are Brillo pads, and I spent the last 90 minutes lying in bed drawing a diagram of my challenges, how they can be worked on and what I need to do to accurately describe and understand them. It’s not completely out of my head but it’s a start.

Now all I have to do is go and stand on the scales in an hour or so. I can feel my stomach still processing spicy chicken and I just know the result will be crap – but hey-ho. I need to go and take it on the chin like I would any other weekend.

It’s just another day and in the scheme of things it really doesn’t matter.

(Author gets ready and goes to group)

Well as expected the scales showed a gain – and frankly I’m not in the least bit surprised. My belly feels like it’s still got half a chicken jammed in my lower colon so I reckon I definitely got what I deserved. To days of packing away the protein isn’t without consequence.

So, I’ve back tracked a bit – but you know what? I don’t really mind if I’m honest.

It gives me something to work towards next week – and if I just take it on the chin and carry on it won’t matter one little bit. There’s no rush to get to target and I’m not putting myself under any needless pressure.

The fact of the matter is that I’m not on a diet.

I’m on a healthy eating plan.

Dieters want to lose weight so that they can ‘start eating normally again’ whereas I want to be healthy for life – and this is just life.

Today I’m moving on, happy and content and I’ve been shopping instead – and I could scarcely believe what I found.

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I last time I owned a pair of these when I was 17-18 years old at the start of the 90’s.

Back then a pair of 501’s was a huge deal to me. I wanted to look like Nik Kamen, and take my jeans off in a 1950’s launderette to the sounds of ‘I heard it through the grapevine’.

Consequently I didn’t miss a beat – after checking for holes and wear etc I just took them to the till and without trying them on just handed over a crisp £10 note.

I’ve been abstractily looking for a pair in my size ever since I started buying things from charity shops – but frankly now I’m purchased them I’m actually a bit scared to try them on.

I think I’ll do it in the morning.

I’m hungry and have prepared a super healthy salad, which will be one of many this week. I need to metaphorically tighten my belt – which now I think about it may be an anaolgy that works pretty well in terms of my new purchase too…

We shall see…

Wish me luck internet – I’ll let you know in the next installment if my 501’s fit and more importantly whether they make me look like a Greek god or a blueberry muffin.

Davey

Willpower under threat

I’m a bit annoyed with myself if I’m honest.

I’m not finding much long term enjoyment in doing press-ups, dumbell workouts or sit-ups at home every evening on my own. Frankly it’s been boring me stupid – and the more I think about why this is, the more I realise that I already know deep down.

I’m doing this in tandem with no-one and it’s not built into the structure of my life.

Willpower alone isn’t something that can sustain an activity that you’re not finding any enjoyment in. Walking works for me because I need it to go everywhere in my life at the moment and I use it to socialise.

Consequestly this is what’s happening:

Jan 13th
30 half press ups
20 elbow to knees
11 sit ups
15 second plank

Jan 14th
Exercise rest + 14 mile walk instead

Jan 15th
Planking (can last a minute at a time now)
Press-ups 20
14 mile walk

Jan 16th
Dumbell workout

Jan 17th
Rest day

Jan 18th
Rest day

As the above shows I don’t need to do situps when I get home from work – and the fact that I usually want my dinner immediately often takes priority.

The morning doesn’t work for me either.

I already get up an hour earlier to walk to work than I’d otherwise have to if I drove in. Getting up 90 mins early to do half an hour of weights before another hour of exercise (before I spend a whole day in the office followed by another hour’s walking home) just feels like overkill.

I do a LOT more now than I ever used to when I started this ‘journey’.

At the moment my daily average cardio exercise for January (according to Apple Watch) is 128 minutes. Crucially this is almost exclusively attributable to my walking – from which I get lots ofenjoyment.

I do my best to hide this though – especially on chilly and windy mornings like today when everyone else looks cold and miserable.

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Walking gives me so much morethan just grunting up and down doing press-ups. When I’m out in the world I feel connected to everything and alive. When I’m at home on my own lifting weights I’m instead continually trying to take my mind off something that I consider rather disagreeable.

Whilst facing my living room carpet I dont get to turn a random corner and see a beautiful sunrise like I did today and on many other days just like it.

Walking to work is a gift – not a chore and I don’t resent it one little bit.

I love it.

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I think I have to find another way to achieve my stated aim (increasing upper body strength) that doest make me eventually hate what I’m doing – and for the moment I don’t think I know yet what that is.

I’m managing to stick largely to plan with food however, and maintaining my food diary for #onplanjan regardless of whether I want to or not. Unlike doing sit-ups I very much want to eat food – so I’m already half way there when it comes to then writing it down afterwards!

13th Jan
Box of hifi bars (HE & 12 syns)
240g chicken + 3 Large apples
Two medium baked potatoes, tomatoes, pickled cabbage, can of mackerel, can of tuna and a tub of cottage cheese
Yogurt and frozen berries

14th Jan
Tomatoes and 160g chicken pieces
Chilli con carne made with pork mince, kidney beans, chick peas, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, courgette, green & red pepper
Yogurt and frozen berries + banana
6 apples

15th Jan
Chilli leftovers with basmati rice and half a can of beans + celery and tomato side salad
2x tubs of cottage cheese, pickled onions and olives
Yogurt and frozen berries + banana

16th Jan
Couscous + 5 bacon medallions, mushrooms, two tomatoes and onion
Beef stew with swede new potatoes, carrot, mushroom, leek and tomatoes
Yogurt and frozen berries + banana
Tub of cottage cheese

17th Jan
Beef stew leftovers with couscous
Chicken pieces
Huge Chicken and bacon salad
Yogurt and frozen berries + banana
6 cox apples

18th Jan
4x Aldi wheat biscuits (12syns) with frozen berries, blueberries and banana + unsweetened almond milk & cinnamon
Sprouts, broccoli, olives, chicken pieces and sliced beef
6 gala apples

Although when I look at this list it seems like a lot I’m not eating any more or less than I have in recent weeks. For the last four in a row I’ve lost weight, so hopefully this means that my continual efforts to track what I’m doing will mean that I still edge ever closer to my 19.5 stone certificate.

Anyway – tomorrow is Friday internet – and it’s the start of what promises to be a weekend that will fly by in a blur of activity. I have lots to get done!

I better get to bed and engage in some beauty sleep. Last night (for once) there was more wind outside my house (it blew over all the wheely bins everywhere and ripped things off houses and shops!) than there was under my duvet which in itself is a rare occurence…

Davey

Forever wardrobe

I’m going to hazard a guess and say that some retailers have suffered more than others over Christmas – and this is particularly evident in the January Sales that seem to still be ongoing absolutely everywhere.

I’m not complaining mind you – because at the moment I’m trying to build a ‘forever wardrobe’.

In many respects (after my clear out last weekend) I’m half way there for standard office and casual wear.

I still haven’t taken all of the larger clothes that I put in bin liners to charity yet but I’m going to soon. For those who were worried regarding my reticence – it’s definitely on my to-do list.

I’m not quite there for active outdoor clothing though.

This is an area I don’t want to skimp on – because this is the kind of hard wearing gear that I intend to use for many years and it’s something I’m really passionate about. I don’t want conditions of any kind to be a barrier to going out walking or trekking.

I’m an all weather guy now and forever – even if occasionally my extremities might disagree.

As if I needed a reminder of how cold they get these days (I know I keep mentioning this – but it’s a big issue!) this morning’s park walk was bitter in the extreme.

It’s been Thinsulate hat, down filled gilet and hoodie weather today

So – my core, my head and arms were catered for – but my hands?

Frozen.

I’d love to break into song and twirl around amongst snowflakes singing ‘let it go, let it go’ – but I’d be lying if I said that ‘the cold never bothered me anyway…’

So – after several miles around the park in Coventry, and a quick march into Leamington I finally decided (when I could literally no longer press buttons on my phone to respond to texts because I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore) that now was the time to spend a little more than I usually would on a pair of waterproof fleece lined gloves.

Until today I’ve had a few pairs of chunky and warm gloves of various sizes and styles but I’ve never owned a pair that don’t get totallysoaked when it rains.

Something I’ve also found useful are rubber grips on the palms. Having these means that I can drink from and carry a coffee flask without taking my gloves off. Non-rubberised palms mean the cup slips and you constantly have to grip things with a lot of force which just leads to fatigue.

I have a thin pair that have this kind of grip already – and I tend to wear them solely because of that. They’re awful in every other respect though and are practically useless on a day with anything other than bright sunshine.

My considered advice is never buy Karrimor anything’s. It’s all crap in my experience and is a false economy.

You’re far better off spending more money on an item that’s well made and will last.

So – today I went all ‘brand name’ on the problem’s bottom and found a Peter Storm pair in Millets ‘final reductions’ Bin with 50% off. This brought the price down to a semi-acceptable level so I dropped some cash on them.

This is one of those few instances where having hands that would typically be found on a pre-pubescent female dwarf comes in quite… erm… handy.

My teeny digits are not only useful for making Swiss watches but are also clearly the right size for a sale!!!

So far indications are good. I’ve walked a few miles in them and at the moment they seem to be working as advertised – although I’ve yet to test the waterproof claims.

Either way they’re relatively thin, allow me to continually drink coffee and my hands are toasty!

This makes Davey a happy boy!

You know what else makes me smile? It’s when I’m sitting quietly writing my blog and drinking coffee in Starbucks (I’ve been coming here regularly since I started walking from coffee shop to coffee shop to lose weight) and my regular barista walks over to me mid paragraph and says;

‘Every time I see you you’re smaller! How much have you lost?’

I got to reply in front of all the nearby people ’19st 5lbs’ and see her face morph into one of amazement and admiration.

THAT kind of thing makes my day almost as much as warm hands – although honestly it’s a close run thing – because her kind compliment made me feel really warm inside and has wrapped a smile around my face that isn’t likely to wear off any time soon.

It’s going to be there for the rest of the day.

I might have been worn out with the effort of this weight loss journey yesterday Internet – but these moments make it all worth it.

Davey

271 pounds down and nine to go…

There was a time when my weight loss horizon was a distant dream – and getting to it seemed like it would either take forever or at times simply never happen at all.

Today I’m yet another step closer to where I want to be but oddly (for the moment at least) I don’t feel excited – I just feel a bit worn down by the mental effort that’s sometimes required to achieve long term continual weight loss.

I’ve pledged to write everything down in Jan that I’ve done with diet and exercise – but truthfully it’s been grating on me a bit and there have been times that I’ve actually said out loud ‘f&&k this – I’m not doing it!’

However – this is mostly because I don’t want to admit what I’m actually eating – so it’s probably a good thing I’m doing it and remaining honest with myself and everyone else.

It’s been grim and cold this week and honestly when I get home I’ve just wanted to curl up under a double thickness duvet, eat cottage cheese or apples till I pop and watch Netflix.

There have been days when it feels like this is precisely what I’ve done and that I REALLY should have done something else.

11th Jan

  • Stew leftovers for lunch
  • 2x chicken breasts and 3 large cox apples + 2x tubs of cottage cheese
  • Frozen fruit + yogurt + banana

(No sit-ups or press-ups or dumbbells)

12th Jan

  • 4x Aldi wheat biscuits (12syns) with strawberries, blueberries and banana + unsweetened almond milk
  • Butternut, sweet potato, chicken, courgette + mushroom
  • 3 Large apples
  • Frozen fruit + yogurt + banana
  • Picked cabbage + can of mackerel

(Big dumbbell workout in the evening)

The positive side is that the rather epic portions of food that I’ve been eating are mostly free or speed foods – and in many cases this week (without really trying) they’ve been ENTIRELY SP.

(in SW terms this basically means meals consisting of just speed and protein food groups – which are good for boosting weight loss.)

Yesterday I experimented with some butternut squash and answered the question that must be on everyone’s lips.

‘Can I stir-fry butternut squash?’

Well – the answer is ‘yes. Sort of’ – in a kind of ‘no – not really‘ way – because what you end up creating is actually far from fried once you’ve cooked it long enough to soften the squash and make it edible.

However – at the very least I appear to have found a way to make really tasty ‘stirfrysoup’.

It’s a pretty quick meal to make too (about 30 mins cooking on a high heat) compared to boiling a broth in a pot.

This is chicken, mushroom, butternut squash, courgette, baby sweet corn, chilli and onion with a veg stock cube and 3 cloves of garlic.

It was huge and it was lovely and when it was cooked I ate the flipping lot of it last night.

Despite meals like this making me feel like I’ve really over eaten this week I’ve clearly still been eating the right foods because I managed to lose a pound and a half!

There’s only another two pounds to go and I get my nineteen and a half stone certificate.

So far I’ve lost 271 pounds / 123 kilos!

That kind of statement really requires a pregnant pause for effect.

(Author inserts pregnant pause for effect.)

It’s a lot.

I know that because people keep saying things to me like

‘That’s a lot’.

Honestly it’s ceased to make any sense to me on any level. The mad thing is I WAS THE ONE THAT LOST THE FLIPPING WEIGHT AND EVEN I CAN’T COMPREHEND HOW I LIVED WITH IT ON MY BODY FOR ALL THAT TIME!

It’s just an insane, perverse, incredible, upsetting, shocking, shattering number.

However it’s also a number that’s further away in the rear view mirror with every day that passes.

Onwards and downwards Internet!

Davey

From no future to 14 minutes 51 seconds

I don’t have a lot to say today.

It’s been a busy one that’s been filled with things to do, consider and evaluate. It’s fair to say that lately my comfort zones are being continually tested – and (probabably for the first time in my life recently) I’ve begun to realise that I really enjoy this being my reality.

After far too many years of feeling both unwilling or unable to cope with change somehow I seem to have become its poster boy. Now rather than shirk from the challenges that life throws at me I’m revelling in them – and thoroughly enjoying the way that this new attitude shapes my life.

I don’t know what’s around the corner any more and I love that. Uncertainty no longer equals fear. It means opportunity and possibility.

A couple of weeks ago when I was interviewed on the radio (link) I admitted to anyone caring to listen that two years ago I was basically waiting to die, and was planning my future around this happening sooner rather than later.

Furthermore I wanted it to happen.

I couldnt see a way out of the trap my life had become and it had overwhelmed every aspect of me. I was emotionally drowning and looking at disability aids for my house whilst considering how I could manage when (inevitably) I was no longer able to move.

It was a peverse way of thinking.

I see that now – but back then it somehow made sense in my head. Furthermore I had managed to rationalise it to both myself and others. In my own heavily self-medicated way I’d made peace with it. I could hardly walk and soon I probably wouldnt be able to walk at all.

Fast forward to today. It’s the 11th Jan 2018.

I stopped my exercise app on my watch at around 8.25am as I approached the front door of my office.

As I now do every weekday morning I’d just walked the three miles from my front doorstep to my office, and had felt the haptic feedback on my wrist as it double tapped me to say mile three was complete.

I looked down to check my splits, and this is what I saw.

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Ever since I joined Slimming World I’ve been trying to crack the 15 minute walking mile (I started at around an hour and half) and this morning I not only did it – I DID IT TWICE!!!

So – today that’s all I have to say internet. I have (almost) no other words.

Apart from these.

I’ve gone from being incapable of moving, morbidly waiting for the end of my life and seeing no future to walking a mile in 14 minutes and 51 seconds.

Davey

Fall amongst the stars

I’m quite surprised at how quickly things can change.

Weight loss (If you had as much to lose as I did) can at times seem like a glacial process – but in truth when I look at the stats I’ve lost quite a lot of weight at a pretty brisk pace.

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Over the course of 90 weeks I’ve dropped 269.5lbs, meaning I’ve had an average weight loss of 3lbs per week since April 2016.

As wonderful as this is if I’m completely honest I’m pretty much mentally at the end of everything in my life being about a number on a pair of scales. However – before everyone panics and reads that as someone giving up on a healthy lifestyle let me reassure you – nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s the exact opposite in fact – because this is me saying that even though I still have a little distance left to go with weight loss (I really really want that 20 stone certificate) I’m now at the point where I KNOW that this is my life now, and that I’m not going back ever again.

Some readers took my indecision about whether to get rid of old clothes as a worry that I might backslide – and truthfully in some ways it was. I’ve failed before and sometimes those memories are hard to exorcise.

People’s concerns made me think on the subject afterwards quite a bit though.

In my head this reticence to let go of ‘stuff’ relates more to my upbringing. These retentive impulses were primarily focused by memories of the lack of money that we had as a family when I was growing up – and the almost complete absence of new or ‘nice’ clothes that I wore all the way through school up until I was 16.

Mostly because of this I’m constantly dogged by a feeling that somehow it’s ‘wrong’ to dispose of perfectly good items of clothing, and I’m therefore wanting to hold onto lots of things probably more than I should do.

There’s another facet to this however – because nothing is ever simple when it comes to the psychology of weight loss.

It wasn’t hard for me to get rid of ‘fat clothes’.

I hated them.

NEVER wore them by choice, and instead felt like I had been held hostage by the retailers from which I had to buy them. Honestly when the time came to give them away I couldn’t wait.

I just wanted them gone and I didn’t care who received them.

However – the clothes that I’ve bought since, from high street stores and charity shops are items that I’ve had a very different relationship with. I’ve begun once again to take a pride in my appearance – and like to think that when I wear my current clothes that I look smart, presentable and above all else that I fit in to my surroundings.

The items that have recently migrated to bags represent things I wore to succesful job interviews, that I climbed up mountains with, that were the first pair of shorts that I felt comfortable wearing or things that simply just made me feel part of the human race again because they came from the same mundane supermarket that everyone else around me (that looked perfectly normal) was buying the same clothes from.

They have to go though. Everyone’s right. Holding onto them is pointless – and like many other things in life they’re dead weight.

My mother failed to realise this and as a relentless hoarder this behaviour literally buried her over time. At the end her house was jam packed with things she would never ever get the chance to use – but that she couldn’t bear to part with.

I’m still using the mountain of soap she left behind and I estimate I have another three to four years worth of showers to take before it’s all gone. The irony is she rarely washed (I’m not joking) yet had about six years worth of bars dating back to the early 80’s in her bungalow.

I view this as proof positive that the universe has a sense of humour…

I digress however – because I originally meant to say that whilst my focus is moving from weight loss I’m not losing any momentum – I’m just gradually transferring it to something else.

Fitness.

#ONPLANJAN is rumbling along and tying quite nicely into my other goal, which is getting stronger. If you remember I started January being able to do 7 press-ups and 7 sit-ups (feet under sofa).

Currently this is the state of play.

Jan 7th
Sit-ups feet under sofa – 15
(10 then stop then 5)
Press-ups 10
Half press ups 20

Jan 8th (I took a rest from exercise)

Jan 9th
Sit-ups feet under sofa – 18
(10 then stop then 8)
Dumbbell workout
Press-ups 18

Jan 10th
Sit-ups feet under sofa – 18
(10 then stop then 8)
Dumbbell workout
Press-ups 20

I’m pretty pleased that within the space of just ten days I’ve managed to more than double my capabilties. Although I dont think I’m going to hit my original target of 50 of each by the end of January (It was pretty ‘pie in the sky’ after all) it really doesnt matter – because I’m making significant progress.

As my consultant Angie never fails to remind us ‘If you shoot for the moon and don’t make it then you still fall amongst the stars‘. She’s absolutely right. Improvement is improvement no-matter how you look at it, and I’m done with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

My food intake has also been pretty good (although as always I’ve been eating generous portions – which I hope doesnt nail my progress).

Jan 7th
Apple
Pot of Cottage cheese + ham (100g)
Chilli con carne made with pork mince, kidney beans, chick peas, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, yellow & pepper
Natural yogurt banana & Aldi Black Forest fruits

Jan 8th
Leftover chilli + couscous
Salad + baked potato
Natural yogurt banana & Aldi Black Forest fruits
3 Large apples
Ham + cottage cheese

9th Jan
4x Aldi wheat biscuits (12syns) with strawberries, banana, raspberries + unsweetened almond milk
Pickled onions
Roasted parsnips, potatoes with sir fried garlic red onion, sprouts and chicken
Cottage cheese + corn on cob x2

10th Jan
Leftover Roasted parsnips, potatoes with sir fried garlic red onion, sprouts and chicken + couscous
2 x chicken breasts and 3 Large cox apples
Beef, butternut, sweet potato, mushroom, courgette, green bean and red onion & tomato stew

It all looks rather nice as well!

I hope your January activities are going well internet and that whatever your self improvement plans were that you’re sticking to them and feeling positive!

Keep it up!

Davey

Resting rates

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the details I posted regarding the guest speaker in my Slimming World group on Saturday (link). The facts and figures that he imparted to the audience really stuck with me – but of particular interest was the resting heart rate and what average people are vs fit people.

Up until that point I’d never really paid any serious attention to it – and I was way more focused on how high it got during exercise rather than what it did when I was slumped in an armchair.

I’ve been aware for quite a while that my peak heart rate was much lower lately when walking than it used to be – but if I’d assumed for a while that the less weight I carried the less my heart needed to pump blood around to enable me to move – and it was this that was the primary cause of the change.

I’d not really considered too much what this meant to my heart when I wasn’t moving – and what that said about my fitness.

In my blog on Saturday I stopped whilst typing, relaxed for a little while and checked my pulse on my Apple Watch.

It was 46.

I was pretty chuffed with this.

Then yesterday I started playing around with my watch and health kit on my phone – and realised that to my surprise when WatchOS 4 came out in September 2017 (link) it introduced the ability for my wearable to track this metric – and it’s quietly been doing so ever since.

So I checked my history…

What it’s been tracking is flipping awesome!!!

My resting heart rate is sitting solidly at 40-41bpm!

A bit of Googling shows what a guy in his mid forties should be and my mind is actually a bit boggled.

Unless I’m going crazy this says my heart is in exceptionally good health for my age. Given that just two years ago I couldn’t walk to the end of my road and looked like this:

It seems pretty amazing.

Honestly at this moment in time I couldn’t be more proud of the changes that I’ve made and to see such a profound indication that I stand to live a longer healthier life makes every single step I’ve taken and all the miles I walk every day totally worth it.

It just goes to show internet – where there’s a will there’s a way – and if a moribund lump like me can achieve a change of that magnitude then the sky is the limit.

You can be who you want to be – you just have to want it enough!

Davey

Another bin liner full

That’s it. I give up.

Short of having the heating on 24×7 (something I consider extremely wasteful) I think I’ve resisted the inevitable for too long.

I’ve purchased a hot water bottle.

It’s one in a huge line of changes that I’m just having to accept about my new life. I get cold and I struggle to stay warm. I’ve gone from BEING a radiator of heat to needing to be close to one at all times.

Tonight it’s going to be under my duvet ahead of bedtime and I plan to climb into an oasis of warmth – rather than shivering and curling up into a foetal position for the first 10 minutes like I did last night.

I have no idea how teeny tiny little birds with stick thin legs don’t freeze to death running around on the floor looking for bits and pieces.

I’ve seen loads of these lovely little pied wagtails around lately – mostly at street level locally – but today they were everywhere in the park too.

They scuttle about picking up bits and bobs in a very industrious manner before flying off in a cute lollopy, undulating flight.

How they can fly at all without becoming itty bitty cubes of ice is beyond me though.

The other birds also didn’t seem bothered in the least by the temperature today either – although they at least seem fluffier and more capable of keeping warm.

Although this patch was free of ice the pavements by my house and by the river seemed incapable of thawing – even in direct sunlight – and as I walked around St Nicholas park this morning with my friend I was once again supremely happy with my new coat purchase.

It’s doing exactly what it’s intended to do – which is keeping me warm and dry at all times. Plus it fits perfectly – unlike many other items I own.

Which brings me to another topic.

I’ve had to accept today that lots and lots of very nice clothes that I purchased are now too big for me.

I know this because one very vocal friend continually says ‘that’s too big for you’ when I turn up in an item of clothing that she disapproves of.

It didn’t seem to matter what I tried on today the same problem was apparent in seventeen of my shirts and I knew if I wore any of them in her vicinity then I’d definitely cop some flack.

Not that I mind of course.

Often I don’t even realise that things have changed until someone points it out or pokes me with a sharpened stick.

When I had a bigger stomach and I tried on a shirt or jumper I used to have a ‘tug test’. This was a quick pull of the available material around the waist in an outward direction and if it didn’t give around 4 inches room then I knew that as I sat down that everything would pull taught and I’d look like my buttons were about to pop.

I’ve begun to realise though that my seated waistline (now all the belly fat doesn’t pile up above my belt anymore) is largely the same when I’m seated as it is standing.

This seems to have just happened overnight (well in the last 3-4 weeks anyway) and whilst dramatic weight loss is clearly a thing of the past, becoming more slender and toned is very much a feature of the present.

Continual exercise (even just walking – but maybe also sit-ups) is really making a difference. It still makes me sad though that I now have yet another bin liner full of perfectly nice clothes.

I’m not sure yet what to do with them. Should I keep them ‘just in case’ or is that the wrong mentality? If I don’t and one day I need them will I regret throwing them away?

I never plan to be big again but there may be a time where I experience ‘fluctuations’. I don’t know what’s in the future. Maybe I should get rid of the lot as a statement that things will never ever go that way again – but it seems at odds with my usually thrifty approach to life – and wasteful in the extreme to discard them.

However – if nothing else there’s at least one up side to my ‘problem’.

Whilst rummaging around today I found a receipt from late January 2017. It was from an outsize clothing retailer in Leamington and it was for £110 – an amount more that Supercoat 3 cost me last week.

The contents of the docket? Three shirts.

I was quickly transported back to what buying clothes meant a year ago – and how I was held hostage by the prices that specialist shops can charge. They have you over a barrel – and if you want to look presentable you have no choice.

In contrast (as I looked through the newly filled bin liner of 2xl shirts) the very most that a single item cost me in there (apart from one impulse purchase brand new) was £5. The vast majority were £3.50-£4.00 – and that’s pretty much what I spend per item (including trousers and jeans and jumpers) these days.

So my wardrobe may be relatively bare again – but at least now the things I’m currently purchasing (hopefully) aren’t going to need discarding soon – and they won’t break the bank.

Anyway internet – I must get walking again. I’ve only done 10 miles today and I need to get another 3-4 in so that I can maintain my average for the week.

Plus I was a bit of a piggy-wiggy last night and sat munching fruit in front of the TV when I should have been doing something else with my hands.

After I posted yesterday’s blog stats (about how getting rid of a pound of fat requires over 3300 calories to be burned) I’m supremely aware that I need to move my ass 😂

Davey

Edging forward

Bye bye little pound of fat. You were a part of me last week, but now you’re just water vapour or gas – or something else.

Since matter can’t be created or destroyed this wobbly chunk of my ass or belly probably floated away into the clouds over the course of many many farts whilst walking to and from work and doing press-ups or sit-ups over the past week.

I’m not mourning it’s passing.

Today the scales saw my third consecutive week with a drop over the festive period – and although the losses aren’t massive I’m simply glad that I didn’t do any backsliding.

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This also (rather unexpectedly) managed to win me the Slimmer of the Week award – which was pretty surprising as it was ‘only’ a pound. However this happened mainly because I’ve managed to lose each week rather than being the one who dropped the most this on the scales (you can’t win it if you maintained or put on in the previous week).

It’s probable that the last stretch of my weight loss may turn out to be a bit of a slog in terms of time, but I’m kind of OK with that if I’m honest. I don’t think any more that I’m getting to my goal by the end of January (truthfully I didn’t realistically expect that I would) and the more I think about the subject the less I want it to happen.

I reflected upon this with a friend as I walked around the park with her this afternoon.

Although its freezing outside today the sky looked quite lovely – and snuggled up in Supercoat 3 I was as snug as a bug in a rug.

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It strikes me that whilst a while back slowing down with my weight losses may have been a problem (I’d probably have agonised and worried about it endlessly) now it might actually be a blessing in disguise.

If I’m inching ever closer to my goal weight in smaller decrements than I was previously then this also means that I’m pretty much already where I need to be (from a food intake and exercise point of view) to start maintaining my weight.

If I keep doing what I do now after I’m at target but with a little bit more food intake then that should translate to maintenance.

The pound didn’t happen by magic of course.

My #onplanjan efforts and my new years’s resolutions are on track at the moment – and this is making me feel like I’m both accountable and also making gradual but quantifiable progress.

Since my blog is all about honestly you’ll see in my food diary that I do take the brakes off a little after Slimming World’s weigh in sometimes, as my snacking today shows…

5th Jan
Aldi spicy cous cous + leftover chilli
240g Chicken pieces + 3 apples
Couscous + pickles and tuna + 3 apples

Press-ups 12

6th Jan
Box of Aldi benefit bars plus a box of hi-fi bars (Davey went way over his syns today!)
Honey roasted Salmon flakes
Baked potato + large salad (inc tuna and mackerel)
Natural yogurt and berries + banana

Sit-ups feet under sofa – 12
Press-ups 12
Dumbbell workout

Today’s meeting was even more worth going to than usual because Angie brought in a guest speaker – a local fitness expert called Ian from nobody’s perfect dance and fitness (link). He was there to talk about the benefits of healthy eating when combined with exercise.

As Ian was going through his speech I began making mental notes, because he had some rather interesting nuggets of info. These were particularly useful to me given my current objectives.

  • One pound of muscle burns 50Kcal per day. An extra 10lbs of muscle therefore burns 500Kcal per day.
  • To Lose 1lb of fat you need to burn 3500 kcal
  • An adult resting heart rate should be around 70bpm – those that are quite fit will often have one that’s much lower – at around 40/45bpm.
  • 100bpm is what the average person should expect whilst doing housework.
  • 140-150bpm = fat burning.
  • If you’re out of breath but still able to hold a conversation whilst exercising and you do this for 15 minutes then your metabolic rate will remain elevated for four hours after that activity, meaning you will continue to burn more calories that day than normal even if you do nothing else.
  • When you exercise the muscles underneath your fat become leaner, and tighten up, giving the impression that you’re thinner – and things like your waistline pull in, so you see inch loss
  • The toned muscles burn more fat, therefore accelerating weight loss
  • We spend the majority of our lives dehydrated and we should be having a litre and a half of water a day. This will reduce the sense of phantom hunger that being thirsty causes.

IMG_1573.jpgWhilst typing these titbits up for my blog I stopped for a moment, relaxed, breathed slowly for a while and let my watch keep an eye on my pulse.

Honestly the results made me smile. It’s just one more reminder of the progress I’ve made in life by keeping up the exercise day after day after day.

My resting rate is exactly where it should be – and demonstrates how much less strain there is on my cardiovascular system now compared to what it had to go through beforehand.

I’m in full agreement with Ian about all of this – and it’s a timely reminder that I have to carry on with my current course of action to build more muscle (not stupid amounts mind you) and keep it if I want to remain slender and fit for life.

Hopefully internet you agree and your new year’s resolutions are still cemented in place and you’re feeling strong!

We can do it!

Davey

Friends with dumbbells

I’m back in 1994.

I’ve been there every evening this week since I discovered that the HD remasters of one of my all time favourite comedy shows are now available on Netflix. I suppose it’s a consequence of being older that everyone else is beginning to look increasingly youthful around me.

This is particularly true in the case of Friends season one.

Look how ickle they all are! So cute and itty bitty!

Friends-S1Promo

Back in the mid 90’s the cast was REAAAAALLLLLY YOUNG!

  • Jennifer Aniston: 25 – 26
  • Courteney Cox: 30
  • Lisa Kudrow: 31
  • Matt LeBlanc: 26
  • Matthew Perry: 25
  • David Schwimmer: 27

The whole Ross and Rachael sub-plot is in full swing at the moment (I’m on episode 21) and their will they/won’t they on/off romance is just as cute as ever. The whole thing has taken me back to a (possibly rather rose tinted) simpler time in my life when everyone wore high waisted trousers and liked shoulder pads in their suits.

The laughs back in 1994 are easy and the whole show just makes me feel happy.

The truth is that things weren’t so easy back then – and it was around this period that I started to struggle in life, although at the time I never really recognised that about myself.

I guess that this realisation in the present day would have been something that a couple of years ago might have filled me with regret or driven me an orgy of denial – where I’d typically have eaten to excess or bought a few bottles of wine.

The truth is that whilst I’ve been watching over the last few days I’ve instead been doing my floor exercises and dipping in and out of dumbbells workouts.

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I feel positive therefore because I’m continually doing positive things and it’s a measure of how life has changed for me that when I do them they fill me with pleasure.

I can already feel improvements in my body after a really short time. I also now that I will probably feel even more soon because my arms feel like jelly as I type.

Jan 1st
Full press-ups – 7
Full sit-ups (feet free) – 0
Sit-ups feet under sofa – 7

Jan 2nd
Full press-ups – 7
Full sit-ups (feet free) – 0
Sit-ups feet under sofa – 10
Dumbbell workout

Jan 3rd
Sit-ups feet under sofa – 12
Dumbbell workout

Jan 4th
Full press-ups – 10
Sit-ups feet under sofa – 12 (7 then pause then 5)
Dumbbell workout

I’m not expecting any visual changes any time soon – but with that said this morning I made a new notch on my belt – so I’m confident that slowly and surely I’ll see my efforts bearing fruit.

At the same time I’m also sticking with my #onplanjan Slimming World objectives. So far my eating has remained in control as well and 100% on course. Bit by bit my Christmas and New Years’ (rather relaxed) attitude to dieting has begun to fade away and been replaced once more by resolve.

1st Jan
600g Butternut waffles + tub of cottage cheese
Butternut, canned tomato, courgette, onion, beef, potato stew
Natural yogurt – 100g blueberries, banana & Aldi summer fruits

2nd Jan
Leftover slow cooker stew with a mugshot mixed in
Baked potato + Tuna and Mackerel salad + cottage cheese
Natural yogurt banana & Aldi summer fruits

3rd Jan
4x Aldi wheat biscuits (12 syns) with strawberries, blueberries and banana + unsweetened almond milk
Chicken, mushroom, onion, olive, leek and green pepper stir fry with baked potato

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4th Jan
4x Aldi wheat biscuits (12 syns) with strawberries, blueberries and banana + unsweetened almond milk
Chilli con carne made with pork mince, kidney beans, chick peas, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, yellow & pepper
Rice pudding made with almond milk, summer fruits and banana + Stevia and cinnamon.

All the while I’m keeping up the walking – and I recently calculated that (as of the end of December) since joining Slimming World back in April 2016 (link) I’ve walked 4217.5 miles and taken 8,556,987 steps.

This means that I’ve almost managed to get from the UK to India, which with any luck (at my current rate of 300 miles a month) I should reach by the end of February.

india distance

I think it only fitting that when I do get there I celebrate with a (Slimming World friendly) curry in a local Indian restaurant!

In other news as I clocked up these miles walking home in the darkening half light this evening I found myself thinking ‘shouldn’t it be dark now?’

I then realised that the shortest day of the winter has already passed!!! It was Thursday 21st December – meaning that SUMMER IS NEARLY HERE!!! 

Well – it will be in about six months internet… but the anticipation is suddenly killing me!!!

Keep going with the New Years resolutions guys! You can do it!

Davey

My New Year’s resolutions

I feel now it’s the 1st January that I have to nail my metaphorical colours to the mast and publicly state what my new years’s resolutions are, because weight loss as a goal isn’t going to last that much longer.

I need to keep my forward momentum continually set to ‘constant self improvement’.

I’m keen that whatever I choose for this aim it has to be something that’s physically definable – and this morning I noticed a really good article in the BBC News health pages (link) regarding what kinds of resolutions people are likely to keep or ditch.

Encouragingly it seems to agree with many of the key things that I’ve written about over the last two years. Placed together I think they are (almost) all of the reasons that I’ve been successful with weight loss since I started in April 2016.

They can be broken down as follows.

  • Make goals measurable and achievable
  • Make them realistic
  • Involve other people
  • Publicly announce your plans – it’s harder to give up if you feel you’re being watched
  • Don’t allow a broad definition of ‘exceptional circumstances’ as a reason not to do something. If the house is on fire then you’re excused from going for a walk. If it’s just raining outside then you’re not.
  • Don’t set yourself up for situations where you’re likely to fail. Willpower alone will eventually wane. If you’re giving up drinking don’t do all your socialising in the pub. Go for a coffee or a walk with friends instead.
  • Be meticulous. You have to plan, so be detailed about your intentions.

Mostly because I’ve never tried to get ‘stronger’ (at least not seriously anyway) I’ve not really got a huge step by step agenda of how to achieve my primary goal – which is work on the muscularity of my upper body.

At the moment I have calf and thigh muscles of steel thanks to all the walking I do – but when I feel my biceps or chest muscles in comparison they’re practically non-existent. This is more apparent than ever now there’s less fat remaining to cover up the issue. The more definition I see in my arms the more I realise what needs to be worked on and where.

This isn’t just an aesthetic issue mind you. I’m sick of using a fork to release pressure on a lid so that I can open a jar of Aldi’s wonderful pickled gherkins.

It’s just irritating.

I also want to get into progressively smaller trousers and whilst the remaining fat is mostly around my belly I also still have a pot belly.

This needs to go.

So, essentially my stomach needs to be flatter, and my arms, chest and shoulders need to be bigger. With this in mind I took some (private) pictures of myself this morning so that I have a starting point that I can look back on.

I also tried two basic exercises – push ups and sit-ups.

Now – considering I previously couldn’t do either I’m not overly hung up on the fact that my performance at the moment is frankly pathetic because the whole point of improving something is that you’re starting at a point where you’re dissatisfied – so that’s a given. I’m not getting bent out of shape about it.

So – here’s where I am, and what I’m working towards.

Jan 1st

  • FULL press-ups – able to do 7 in one go.
  • FULL Sit-ups – 0
  • Sit-ups with feet under sofa – 7

Objective – be able to do 50 of the ones that I can already do and 20 of the one that I currently can’t.

Timeframeby the end of January.

I’m going to try and achieve this without joining a gym in the spirit of my usual ‘anyone can do it for free ethos’ and use what I have to hand. Pressups and sit-ups cost nothing so I’ll be doing these and other floor exercises whilst also using my dumbbells.

I’m starting small on my upper body work mostly because I want to make it achievable and not demoralising. However it’s also because I have a secondary objective.

That’s going to be #onplanjan – in which I will be doing the same as I did back in October (you can follow the links for #onplanoctober on my main page if you’re new and what to see what I did) and documenting all that I eat so that I can hopefully also reach target by the end of the month.

I’ve taken my foot off the gas a bit over Christmas and New Year and I need to push myself back into the zone.

I’m not alone in this and it seems that both myself and a fellow blogger had the exact same thought at the exact same time 😄. My good friend Hayley (link) blogged about this just the other day and I think it’s only fair that I join in with her initiative (plus it ties in nicely with my original bullet points!)

I plan to keep up all of my current walking objectives whilst doing this. That stays at 10 miles/20,000 a day on average. I love walking and can’t imagine how I’d feel without it now.

In other news it’s finally reached the time where I’ve had to admit that whilst I’ve had a whole load of luck with ‘standard’ clothing from charity shops my thrift store outdoor coats have left a lot to be desired.

Yesterday I was walking to and around Coombe Abbey with a friend and lately it’s been becoming increasingly apparent to me that I don’t have a truly all round and versatile coat.

I was once again wearing multiple layers to keep warm.

I have several coats that fit the bill for different occasions – but not one that’s adaptable if the weather quickly changes. Supercoat 2 (an old Peter Storm 3 in 1) was really cheap (£8 from Scope in Kenilworth!!!!) and it’s inner fleece is excellent (and I mean REALLY good – I love it!) but the outer shell is sub par.

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I can tell having worn it for a while why it was retired by its previous owner.

My light coloured coat in the Coombe Abbey picture (and the one below) is by Trespass and I’ve discovered the hard way that whilst lightweight and comfortable with lots of useful pockets it’s water resistant rather than water proof.

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When I visited Malvern the other week not only was I flipping freezing but it let draughts in and I also got utterly drenched.

It leaks like a rusty bucket in medium and heavy rain and my clothes underneath were literally dripping wet.

Today I decided that since I’m almost at my goal I’d take advantage of the final moments of the January Sales and buy myself a proper 3 in 1 coat that doesn’t leak like my £8 supercoat 2 does.

So – in order to make sure I can keep walking and keep fit whatever the weather throws at me I’d like to introduce to you the new love of my life – and what will hopefully my ‘forever jacket’ for outdoors pursuits.

(drum roll)

Meet SUPERCOAT 3!!!

It’s a largeZenith Extreme II Mens 3-in-1 Jacket‘ from Mountain Warehouse (have I mentioned I can wear a LARGE now?… not sure I have…) and aside from being in my new favourite colour and 55% off as of today it has the following benefits.

  • 3 in 1 – wear your jacket three ways. Outer waterproof shell, inner warm lightweight jacket and both together
  • Waterproof & breathable – our IsoDry fabric has a waterproof and breathable membrane to allow perspiration out, but keep you dry. Rated at 10,000mm waterproof and 5,000g breathable
  • Taped seams – to prevent water getting in the stitched areas
  • Hood – with a stiffened peak to add shape and structure to the hood to keep the rain off your face
  • Underarm zips – Extra ventilation zips to keep you cool

So far (thanks to today’s weather soaking me through to my under layer whilst wearing my Trespass jacket into town, and getting the same treatment on the way back wearing the new coat) I can confirm that it’s definitely breathable, waterproof, and super warm and cosy.

So – there we have it internet – my New Year’s resolutions and a forever jacket.

I’m starting the year as I mean to go on – putting one foot in front of the other every single day.

Davey