Growing a little

Unless you were blind when you read my blog entry yesterday you would have sensed a moment of personal crisis has arrived over the weekend – and that I was trying really hard to manage the fallout of feelings that I’d not realised were bubbling under the surface.

This was until all of a sudden they hit me like a tsunami.

I reached target in February 2018, have been changing and turning my life around for the best part of three years now and even now there are still moments when the fallout of years of self abuse and childhood memories of emotional neglect pull the rug right out from under me.

Thankfully I have good friends.

Friends who can hear words coming out of my mouth that don’t seem like things I would normally be saying, watch me melt down and then STILL put an arm around me, watch me cry and spend time talking me through it step by step and building me back up again.

God dammit I have a lot of baggage.

I’ve spent so many years isolating myself from the pain associated with being overweight and deferring the fallout from emotional losses that sometimes I have no words.

The legacy of a childhood with a continuously abusive parent that couldn’t show any real love is a long one, and even now in my mid forties I’m STILL struggling to come to terms with the fallout.

The 16 year old me in this photo was someone I used to think was at a great place in life. He was young, had starved himself thin after leaving school (losing five stone in a period just a little longer than the summer holidays) and was suddenly receiving attention for the first time in his life.

I recognise now that he was profoundly damaged but too naive to understand how badly.

He just lurched out into the world like a directionless man child desperately craving love and acceptance.

I feel like the last couple of days have been necessary ones – because although I’ve gone completely off the emotional reservation for a short while it needed to happen.

If it hadn’t I’d still be denying that the feelings I’ve been packing down for so long existed and trying to hide them or (even worse) resolving my thoughts in complete isolation.

No man is an island – and while I share myself and my vulnerability with the world much more than most there are many things that remain outside my blog.

These relate to people with no voice or events that I can never talk about openly.

It wouldn’t be right if I did.

Their legacy persists however and I’ve hidden behind food and drink to cope with that for so long that even now I do not know how to properly deal with some of them whilst remaining sober or without eating the entire contents of my fridge freezer.

I’m getting there though.

Today my blog’s sub heading feels even more prescient than usual because I’ve been reminded over the last few days that I, just like everyone else am just

learning to live life‘.

Sometimes I get it completely and catastrophically wrong – and thankfully this time that’s OK – because I haven’t damaged anything that can’t be fixed and I haven’t said anything that can’t be taken back – which is a blessed relief.

I will say this though.

My mother did a real number on me.

It’s unwise to speak ill of the dead – but her legacy haunts me even now.

The lack of any kind of childhood emotional support or help with development of coping mechanisms has led to an adult life lived full of best guesses, huge mistakes and a laundry list of regret.

In some ways this has been good as well as bad.

My experience is all the more valuable for my hard won insights.

When I’ve learned a lesson, even though it’s been painful to get there it means something in a way that it might not do if I’d just followed instruction.

As I mentioned to a lovely lady that came to visit me the other day (who really lifted my spirits as we twalked along the Kenilworth Greenway) there is no mileage living in the past.

My mother lived there all her life and her bitterness was all that was left by the time she finally died. When she did it was alone and surrounded by people paid to look after her instead of a loving family.

Her legacy though – for all the heartache it caused is still in many ways a positive one.

She may not have helped me be a good man, and she may not have demonstrated how to love and be loved in return – but she showed me the end game of a life lived like hers was.

Without ever trying to she made me want more for myself.

I’m not fixed. Not by any stretch of the imagination – but I’m learning how to live my life and I’m both asking for and accepting the help of people that care about me.

That’s all we can do I think.

Work through our pain, and wherever possible share it in forums like this so that others might see their own isolation or difficulties aren’t unusual or shameful.

They’re not broken or damaged like we so often tell ourselves we are.

They’re just human beings trying to find their way through life, love, self esteem, friends, family and everything else that fills your day.

It’s all unwritten, and I maintain that we’re exactly as good as we believe we can be. We can only try to have faith in our capacity to change and grow, do our best, help others and learn from our mistakes.

I feel good today.

Another life milestone has been reached and I think I’ve grown a little.

Davey

Still determined

I’m a man that feels he is need of a win today, despite (to all intents and purposes) already being someone that’s winning.

Outwardly things are often very different to what’s on the inside though, and I (like many people on the same journey) have times where everything tastes of ashes. I know that dark days are little more than fleeting moments though in the great scheme of things – and that all it takes is the gradual passage of time to get over anything – but occasionally perspective is elusive and there are times where I can’t seem to find it.

The last three days on and off  (despite what outward appearances may have suggested) have witnessed me feeling like this.

It doesn’t seem to matter how far I walk at the moment because there are thoughts that I just can’t escape easily. Elements of my emotional landscape that previously seemed secure and comfortable now feel like I’m trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole and I can’t understand why.

Some things can’t be changed though.

You just have to deal with them for what they are, try to accept them and focus on the things that you can make a difference with. I’ve learned the hard way via many many mistakes and failures in life that regardless of what happens there is always a way through it that doesn’t involve self destruction.

So many times in the past I told myself that because I felt down I deserved a junk food treat, or that alcohol was the answer to my problems, and not once did the bulging waistlines or epic hangovers do anything but make me feel even lower than I was before.

There are some days though…. Some days when I want to just say #### it and give in to my absolute worst impulses. Sometimes I do with regard to food – but that’s OK as long as I forgive myself and move on.

There are other times that I know if I start then I just won’t stop.

Thankfully I (mostly) understand now when my mood has an off switch and when it doesn’t. These days (whilst I still sometimes ignore my own advice) my coping mechanisms are also different.

In moments where I feel like I’m not managing very well I get up and I put in my shoes.

I look in the mirror in my hall and I tell myself that I’m worth more than my inner monologue suggests, and that I can be whoever I want to be in life.

Somewhere in the middle of my journey a friend told me that I was both ambitious and determined and I keep that at the forefront of my mind.

I keep telling myself it’s true – because up until that point (and sometimes even now) I’d never recognised these traits in myself, but they exist and I have to always hold onto them. 

I’m not unique though.

They exist in all of us.

So, on a day like today I pull on a warm coat and I head for a pavement, because there is always a world out there – and it needs us in it.

Sometimes our journey is solitary though, and that’s OK too because our inner determination (if properly nurtured) will remind us that regardless of what happens, no-matter how we feel, we can do it.

We can hit our goal and we can fit at least one square peg into a round hole.

In my case the peg is an average of 10 miles a day.

Every day.

Without fail.

It doesn’t matter if it’s freezing, and it doesn’t matter if it’s raining. The weather is immaterial. The miles are what count.

At the moment my daily average for October is 12.3 (a personal record) and during this month, regardless of how I’ve felt I’ve followed #onplanoctober almost to the letter.

It hasn’t been easy though. When it’s cold and dark and you’ve not been able to sleep or your negative thoughts will not turn off, the temptation to remain indoors and hide under a duvet by the TV is immense.

That’s not me though.

Not any more and never again.

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Whatever the world throws at me I intend to fight it and persevere, and to do that I need to be fit, healthy, vital and active.

It’s not just a walk to me though, because whereas previously the outside world had come to represent fear it’s now become my place of safety. I can travel anywhere I want completely unaided because the only limitations I have are the horizon and my mind.

My other place of safety is of course Slimming World, and when my mood is low I can always rely on it to lift my spirits, regardless of what happens on the scales.

Although Saturday was a day where I decided not to weigh in I have the Slimming World ball coming up next weekend, and because both me and my consultant will be there it would have been three full weeks (officially anyway) before I weighed in again.

That’s a really long time – and I’m not sure whether having that much leeway is a good thing for me at the moment, so today I went to a different group and weighed in on a different day at a different time.

It’s always great to see new faces and today the stories of the health improvements that the group had realised by following the plan and living better lives were legion.

Diabetes had been reversed, cholesterol was being beaten into submission, a pancreas had returned to life and the men and women seated in that hall were flourishing.

They gave me the win I needed.

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Some may say that my book ‘only’ says I lost half a pound – but if they do then they’re missing the point. It’s a win – and strangely this half a pound is one of my most personally impressive for a while because it means quite a bit more to me.

To do this took a lot more discipline than it may seem like it did on the page above.

Hell – even a maintain would have been a victory in my book.

Many of my Saturdays after standing on the scales are relaxed ones. Sometimes Sundays are too, and I tend to gradually address whatever damage the weekend has done from Monday through to Friday.

If it’s a bad week then bad things can happen.

I’ve seen it many times before.

Not this week. I’m determined not only to be firmly in my target range, but be as close to the bottom of it as possible when I climb into my suit and stand on stage to accept my Man of the Year award next Saturday, because this is something I can control.

Ignoring things and eating feelings does no good at all, and this is now how I cope in life.

I look at my Slimming World book and its numbers, my blog and its history, my health app and its cumulative miles and I have evidence of my determination, and what it can accomplish.

It’s why I’m sitting here now instead of dead – and why you are reading this.

So if you’re thinking you can’t then you’re wrong, because you CAN.

If you’re thinking you’re not worth it then you’re wrong, because you ARE.

If you’re thinking it’s impossible then you’re wrong because it’s NOT.

You too are determined, and you too have ambition. If no-one has ever cared about you enough to tell you this – OR TO MAKE YOU BELIEVE IT – then let me take their place.

It’s all true.

You can be whoever you want to be.

Davey

Consultants with puppies

Last night the munchies hit.

I was busy watching season five of Marvel’s Agents or Shield (it’s really good so far!) and I just wanted to EAT.

Normally I’d be able to resist this (especially as it’s the night before weigh in) but on this occasion I couldn’t. I needed to nibble and the urge wouldn’t go away – no matter how much liquid I drank.

Honestly I’ve stopped seeing moments like this as unusual. There are days when I’m tired, bored or just generally sub par for some reason and there’s nothing that will fill the gap.

I can defer the feeling, distract myself, bargain with my craving but sometimes it just will not go away.

However I’ve learned that there’s a way to limit the damage when I do decide to act on the impulse.

I don’t necessarily view this approach as restrained but I’m aware that others do – because what I choose to binge on these days is different to the huge Dominos pizzas I used to consume a few years ago.

Last night while sitting in from to the TV I went for it.

I chewed my way through two kilograms of carrots, 6 tomatoes, two jars of gherkins, a jar of silverskin pickled onions, a bunch of celery, two entire romaine lettuces and two bowls of blueberries.

In some respects this was daft because although it’s all speed food the sheer weight of all of this eaten quite late at night meant that I probably would be out of target the following morning.

I was in target two days ago and from experience as great as carrots are to snack on you won’t pass two kilos in time to stand on scales the following day.

Sure enough my scales this morning suggested I was out of range and the (ahem) bomb bay doors were refusing to open.

However – since I only have to weigh in once every eight weeks this actually doesn’t matter. What matters is I’m focused on being in target – even if carrotpocalypse arrived yesterday evening.

Not so long ago I’d have stressed and worried in the morning about not going to group and not weighing in (particularly because I’ve created an expectation in my blog that I will do so) but not any more. Today I went anyway and just sat and listened.

After all why shouldn’t I? I’ve been on plan and in range for the whole of October (#onplanoctober WORKS!) and I’ve been a really good boy!

It’s important to attend group regularly – and I always feel better for having done so. I know I’m not alone in this – as I said to another group member at the end of the session.

She looked like she needed a hug and she darned well got a good one.

Although I didn’t feel low today others may have – and there’s nothing but positive vibes to be found at Slimming World. I never fail to leave one of Angie’s groups feeling anything less than positive – no matter how I felt when I walked in.

Today though there wasn’t just Angie to thank for this. She rolled out her secret weapon this morning.

A cockerpoo puppy called Kiki! 😍

As regular readers will know I have a serious weakness for canines and the teeny tiny variety are the absolute best!

Kiki is so super cute and soft! She’s still got ultra small little milk teeth and claws and she is nibbling and pawing everything in sight, trying to figure out what it all is and how it tastes.

It was next to impossible to concentrate on Angie – but I’m sure she didn’t mind. There were plenty of smiling faces by the end – and even a hug or two.

So – the moral of the story is….

Well there are a couple actually internet.

  • Don’t get down on yourself if the scales don’t say what you want – it’s just not worth it and it’s just what they say that day. Tomorrow will be different if you put it behind you and carry on.
  • If you can make sure you go to group. It cheers you up and there’s always a friendly face!
  • Consultants with puppies are the best consultants.

Davey

Canal kittens

I’ve been lucky with the weather this week – although this morning appears to be doing all it can to buck that trend. I’m layered up this morning (it’s about 8am) because the wind is cold and the pavements are wet. Thankfully despite some overnight showers it’s currently not raining.

Other days have been kinder and when the sun’s been shining I’ve been exploring around the Yarningdale aqueduct on the Stratford upon Avon canal.

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This section of near Claverdon is one of the nicer places that I’ve ‘found’ recently – although admittedly this stretch was never ‘lost’ – I’d just never been there.

Just a few miles outside Warwick is an easy entry point onto it next to the Crabmill pub on the Henley road. From here I made my way several miles down its towpath with a friend on Wednesday. Pleasingly neither of us had come across this location before – despite us both having driven past it more times than I care to count over the years.

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As in touch as I am with nature these days though I’m not sure that the same can be said for cats. I seem to have completely lost my knack with them – because despite my obvious rugged charm it appears that the kittens clustered around this particular barge wanted absolutely nothing to do with me.

I passed by them twice, first trying to tempt a little black and white kitten to come and get some fuss and then an absolutely gorgeous little grey one on my return journey.

They were totally disinterested.

A man could take the hump if his surroundings weren’t so nice.

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In all we strolled just under six miles along this really rather lovely and rural section of canal – and it made a lovely change from walking along the Grand Union – which I’ve pretty much done to death over the last few years.

Sure – it’s just another canal – but there’s something about the tranquility of their still waters that becomes quite addictive.

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My companion and I enjoyed our walk so much that we plan to go back again and do some more exploring ASAP.

The architecture of this stretch of the canal seems quite different to others. The locks seem thinner, and the bridges are nearly all designed to lift like a drawbridges.

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The ones that aren’t have lovely little sluices at the sides, which seem to do a great job of pushing colourful piles of leaves into the water in swirling patterns.

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It’s a really nice part of the world to explore.

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I’ve also managed to get out and about to what’s becoming something of a familiar stamping ground of late – and on Tuesday did a rather epic (maybe a little too epic on reflection) 12 mile walk from my house in a giant circle to Offchurch and back again.

The tone of the Grang Union canal here is more urban – but I think rather nice in it’s own way, as some of the usual urban decay associated with proximity to such waterways is slowly turning into urban regeneration. With that comes art, and an entirely different kind of kittens that are far more likely to let me stroke them!.

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I find it fascinating that what would once have been considered vandalism (thanks to Banksy and others like him) is now art to be admired and even commoditised in such places.

Furthermore – rather then being an indicator of trouble it’s often seen as an indication that an area is ‘bohemian’ and that there’s new life and potential to be found locally.

I couldn’t have hoped for better weather to see it in either. It was (mostly) glorious that day – and further along the walk my companion and I rounded a corner to find a sea of colour.

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All of the fields nearby were full of little purple thistle like flowers – but I’m really not sure what they’re for or what they are.

I’ve looked online and the closest thing I can find to it is a ‘creeping thistle’ – but I’m not entirely sure that it’s a complete match – so if anyone reading knows what it is or why it’s planted in such large quantities (there were three huge fields full of it!) then let me know because I’m quite curious!

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I’d have happily knocked on the farmer’s door to ask – but for the fact that a passing elderly couple (also enquiring what the blooms were – we were all stumped) said that the rather temperamental land owner had recently been shooting at dogs, and that he wasn’t to be trifled with.

I’m not sure how true it is – but I’m keeping to the footpaths and not wandering over to the farmhouse to jab his doorbell nevertheless. Besides – I have my own land to tend to without worrying about being shot on his.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been bringing some order to my garden before the winter hits.

Parts of it have been a little neglected – but not because I’ve felt lazy. I’ve been cutting back one (rather huge) bush in particular which I purposefully left to grow pretty much out of control for the whole summer.

The rest of the undergrowth was looked after – but this one chunk of my border remained sacrosanct.

Long term readers will remember how distraught I was in June last year when (whilst hacking this particular bit right back practically to stumps) I uncovered a blackbird nest complete with eggs (link).

I was absolutely mortified and immediately tried to cover it back up the best that I could. Initially this seemed to work and for a while the mommy blackbird returned to sit on them.

She did so come rain or shine with the newly exposed nest often rocking violently back and forth in the wind.

The damage was done by then however – and the branches I laid back over the top of it in the hope of giving it cover eventually fell further forward in the wind, making the nest inaccessible. The blackbird was forced out and within hours the eggs were broken open and the contents eaten.

Nature is cruel and at the time this really got to me. I felt totally responsible for the loss of these potential little lives.

This year therefore the bush was left to grow because I could regularly see all kinds of birds going in and out. Even though we’ve experienced a dry summer the hedge still got bigger and bigger and looked more and more unkempt as the months went on.

Despite what the neighbours might have thought though I consciously resolved to leave it alone and I’m glad I did.

When I finally finished cutting it all back on Wednesday afternoon I found this – which made my (rather messy) choice something that I was rather proud of.

A new, used – and now empty nest. Evidence that new life entered the world because I chose not to prune. This really made me happy. Who needs a tidy bush when it means dead birds?

Not me.

However there’s another issue associated with leaving it to grow – because then you have to dispose of it all.

Since I’m not a fan of using the car to take rubbish (or me) anywhere unless absolutely necessary I resolved that all of the branches would fit in the bin regardless of how much they didn’t want to.

All they needed was a bit of energetic chopping and some stamping.

It’s nice to be able to do such things – because even a year ago when I was cutting this back I was six stone heavier and wasn’t quite nimble enough to climb into a bin!

Oddly I felt great at the time (I climbed Snowden at this weight!) but even though I’d lost 14+ stone by then I’m still taken aback by how my features have changed.

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A long time friend remarked to me yesterday that he realised he didn’t remember ‘old Dave’ any more – and that when he looked at recent side by side comparisons on Instagram it suddenly struck him that his past memories of times we shared still have me in them – but I look like I do now – rather than the big guy he knew.

What a thing to say!

How cool is that?!

The idea that I’m continually re-wiring people’s memories of me by presenting a newer version of myself thats fitter and looks radically different is fascinating.

Long may it continue internet!

Davey

999 days sober

I’ve only got ten hours to go before one of the more significant milestones of my adult life arrives.

At midnight I’ll officially have been stone cold sober for 1000 days.

It’s something of a personal triumph that I’m very proud of – but in many ways it also represents something of a bittersweet victory.

Whilst I can’t deny that every aspect of my life has changed for the better since I gave up drinking and lost lots of weight I’m also still plagued by endless regrets.

I know that I could have been a better person for many years and for whatever reason I chose not to be – and that hurts.

The self-recrimination that comes with swathes of largely wasted time are legion, and sometimes I find it very difficult to turn off.

Today is one of those days.

Despite knowing that what I’m writing about represents a massive victory (and that it demonstrates conclusively to anyone caring to pay attention that profound change after lifelong failure is possible) I’m still sad.

I wish it hadn’t taken so long to overcome the pain that I buried and held close to me. I wish I’d been more present in people’s lives when instead I withdrew.

I wish a lot of things – but I can’t change any of it.

I know though that this sense of loss is something of a paradox – because part of the reason I managed to do what I’ve did is because I hated what I’d become so much.

I had to get to my lowest point before I could begin to rebuild.

I’d gotten to the stage where things had to change. If they didn’t then I’d either have continued to kill myself slowly or eventually taken a more active role in the event.

So – today is a victory.

It’s a win in the ‘rest of my life’ column and that’s something worth holding onto.

Maybe it’s also a win for other people reading this who are trapped in their own personal repeating cycles of self abuse – because if I can go from a 35 stone man drinking three bottles of wine a night that couldn’t walk to the end of his street to who I am now then they can too.

It’s all possible.

It’s not easy though – and sometimes every single day is a battle – but it’s right there for the taking if you want it enough.

You can’t change what’s already in the past – but you can fight for a better future.

If you do then there’s real, tangible hope at the end of what may be a long and difficult road.

You just have to take the first step internet – and then take another and another until gradually you become the person that you always wanted to be.

Davey

Stardust and eggs

It used to be the case that an obsession with technology meant that you had a rather sedentary lifestyle – however these days (particularly today) I’m seeing evidence directly to the contrary.

The park has been packed this morning with crowds of people at it’s choke points (most have been dressed in black and look very pasty) all of whom are oblivious to people like me trying to get past. They’re all staring intently at their mobile phones and wandering around looking like extras from The Walking Dead.

Oddly this phenomenon doesn’t seem related to a single age group or sex – but appears to be crossing all demographics.

I had no idea what they were up to – and occasionally heard sentences like ‘I’m putting egg and stardust on!’ as I walked in between the little groups dotted around Jephson Gardens.

My curiosity eventually got the better of me and I decided to ask a man with his two engrossed sons what was going on. The boys had iPads and their dad was holding a large Android phone.

The younger (more fidgety) of the two children was relentlessly prodding a tablet that had a thick blue rubber case surrounding it. I noticed that it had either failed miserably in its job or had been applied after the device in the child’s hands had suffered a seriously smashed up screen.

The tablet seemed to be working nevertheless and he was furiously tapping here and there on it, intently working away at the task in hand. His father clearly didn’t think there was potential for digit lacerations – but to me it seemed like a clear and present danger.

All three were connected via three lengthy white cables to what I can only assume was a large power supply in the man’s messenger bag, which was hanging on a short strap in front of his stomach like a papoose.

They too were discussing stardust and eggs.

‘I have to ask…’ I started ‘..what is everyone doing? They’re all just staring at their mobiles!’

He seemed slightly irritated that I’d interrupted him, but answered me nevertheless, barely lifting his eyes from the screen in his hands as he did.

‘It’s an augmented reality game with a special event.’ He replied.

He didn’t look like he was planning to expand further but I dug deeper.

‘Oh really?’ I said. ‘Which one?’

‘Pokemon Go.’ he answered abruptly – before returning his undivided attention to scanning the bushes and chasing whatever creatures appeared to be visiting the area. He continued on his way in silence.

Ah. That explained it.

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When this game first came out in July 2016 I’d only just begun to try and get fitter by walking around my local parks – and had noticed many many people nearly walking into trees and rivers whilst hunting elusive little Pokemons (link).

At the time I spent a lot more time seated under trees than I do now…

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II wasn’t interested in this game at the time – which I found a little puzzling – as I was a devout video gamer back then.

I suppose I wanted to get as far away from the things that I felt had contributed to ‘my downfall’ as possible – and I’ve always viewed video games as one of them, although truthfully it was probably more of a symptom of wider problems than the cause.

The argument with Pokemon Go and other games like it is that they get people off their sofa and this means that they’re much more active than they otherwise would be on a Playstation or XBOX. If this morning in the park is anything to go by I can’t really disagree – although I feel that to call it exercise would be stretching the truth somewhat.

The game requires the bare minimum of movement from its players – and their engagement also meant that whilst they were physically grouped together the people playing seemed largely oblivious to their companions.

I guess the way that people interact these days is changing but I’m not sure whether this could be called progress or not. At least they’re not sitting on the couch waiting for a heart attack like I used to.

The fact that they’re outside (and together) is definitely a plus – and it’s nice to see that technology can play a part in encouraging this rather than preventing it – but I’d really love them to see what’s around them with their own eyes rather than via what’s appearing on their screens.

If they looked up and around them they’d see the most beautiful colours and sky as I have today whilst I’ve been wandering and eating my lunch.

 

However – not everything has to have colour. Some things look better if they’re a little more traditional and reserved – and with this in mind I can announce that I have finally completed the outfit that I’ve been putting together for the Slimming World ball in November.

I’ve been absolutely adamant that I didn’t want to wear a black tuxedo and black bow tie – and i definitely didn’t want to rent an outfit either.

This seemed to me like it was a total waste of money in both instances as I’m highly unlikely to wear this ever again if I own one and I’m just throwing money away if I rent it.

I’d like to be able to re-use it.

Plus – after some tests in M&S and Moss Bros I’m even more convinced that it would just make me look like a beardy Hugh Hefner.

 

When the missing piece of my personal puzzle arrived by courier yesterday I tried the whole ensemble on for the first time and took some photos for a few second opinions.

I’m loathe to reveal it just yet, in case I change my mind – but here’s a hint.

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It’s absolutely NOT this.

Right – now we’ve got that cleared up I guess I better let you know how I did on the scales yesterday.

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It seems that the week went well – although I would have preferred to lose weight rather than maintain. I want to go toward the bottom of my range (taking me down to 13st 11lbs) – but I’m detracting nothing from this. Crucially (and most importantly) it’s a win, my outfit fits perfectly and I’m still in target.

Now I’m in range I’ve stopped being quite so militant about #onplanoctober but I’m still taking very careful note of everything that passes my lips and paying close attention to my exercise as well.

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This month (according to my Apple Health app) I seem to be doing even more than I usually do – although to be truthful I haven’t been consciously trying to. I’ve just been keeping active and trying to fill my days productively, and this seems to have resulted in a fairly silly average of nearly 13 miles a day.

Still – it’s not forced in any way. I’m just genuinely enjoying getting out and about with people and chatting away about sunrises and changes of seasons.

My intention though is to be on tip-top form for the upcoming event – and since my consultant Angie is going to look like one of Charlie’s Angels when we stand on stage together (I s**t you not – I’ve seen a picture of her in the dress and she looks amazing) I need to feel my very best.

Anyway – that’s enough for the moment.

Feeling great and staying on plan means cooking proper meals and eating at the appropriate times, not just snacking – and so far I’ve been doing very well on this score. I have purchased zero Hi-fi bars or Aldi benefit bars this week (after recently identifying them as my ‘gateway drug’) and thats proven to be a great decision.

Last night for some reason I really hankered for garlic and my usual go-to chilli recipe found itself slightly modified to include virtually a whole bulb of the stuff and a few leeks.

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Needless to say there are times where it’s a good thing I don’t have a partner or smoke in bed – as I’m pretty sure I blew the duvet almost completely off on a number of occasions during the night.

A naked flame nearby my sleeping form would probably have meant that I’d have said goodbye to both my windows and most of the bricks in the front of my house…

Tonight I’m having a stir fry with smoked haddock.

I’m going to stuff another metric tonne of garlic into it and enjoy every last flipping mouthful!!! Feel free to pop round internet – that is if you no longer need your eyebrows and have lost all sense of smell.

Davey

 

Twalks and tweed

The last few days have been quite busy ones, filled by many twalks with lots of people and plenty of miles being slotted under my belt.

On Wednesday I headed over to Arrow Valley with a fellow Slimming World’r that I haven’t walked with for ages and thankfully we timed it really well. The day started cloudy – but then turned into an absolutely lovely afternoon.

We took full advantage of the sudden break in the (up till then awful) weather to do a several laps around the park before attacking the local Harvester’s salad bar.

Everywhere is looking delightfully autumnal at the moment and it won’t be very long before the trees are completely bare. All there’s going be to look up at soon will be twigs and sky.

Since forests are going to be rather bland to wander round in the coming months I decided to make the most of the scenery this week and yesterday also visited Coombe Abbey – which I’m hoping is somewhere that I can introduce a couple of blogging friends to soon when they next visit.

Not only does it have some smashing wildlife there – but also some beautiful landscaping courtesy of Capability Brown.

My regular twalking companion remarked that she’d been visiting this location for many years – but until yesterday had never noticed the domed building in the distance, which Capability intentionally (and perfectly) framed with trees and plantings.

My phone (in this cropped and digitally zoomed image) sadly doesn’t do it any justice and neither did the rather grey skies yesterday. I’m sure though that when I bring my photography obsessed friend here (even though it’s likely to be just as grey with a lot less leaves by then) she will be able to present it in a far better light!

When I set out this morning (super early) on my daily exercise the weather was different yet again – and the world was filled with mist and fog.

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I’m truly addicted to watching the seasons and weather change around me and in all of the little adventures above (maybe because of this) I’ve felt supremely relaxed.

In between my walks and talks (which since my last weigh in have totalled almost 90 miles!) I’ve definitely noticed a sense of… mental chillaxing.

Initially I (maybe rather negatively) viewed this as feeling ‘vacant‘ – but decided ultimately that a temporary absence of thought isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I’ve simply stopped worrying about a lot of things that were in the back of my mind and because of this I’ve not been plagued by outrageously lucid dreams and have been sleeping better over the last week.

In all honesty the only thing I’m obsessing over at the moment is a particular item of clothing that I’ve been attempting to find.

I’m trying to build a nice outfit on the cheap and I’m very preoccupied with the task. I’ve spent many many many hours over the last two weeks doing this and whilst this might seem like a complete waste of time to others – to me it’s been a total joy.

I love the challenge of finding the absolute best items at the lowest possible prices hidden amongst things most people would pass by and not give a second glance at.

Since a pre-loved shirt and a pair trousers in my sizes will now typically set me back £4 – £10 for both I have the ability to try new styles and colours continuously.

Since I’m still unsure what my ‘style’ actually is (do I have to have just one?!) I can just keep experimenting. I’m continually looking at different brands, patterns and fabrics everywhere I go and all of a sudden I’m very taken with tweed.

I’m not sure this pattern I spotted the other day would flatter me at all but I LOVE it nevertheless!

This particular suit is not cheap though (and I’ve zero idea where I’d wear it without looking like a pretentious idiot) so I try to find bargains where I can and not just leap toward the first thing I’m taken with.

My friend remarked the other day while I was trying on various clothing combinations at home with her (I badly needed a second opinion for an upcoming event and she’s a great muse) that she doesn’t have any female friends that own as many colour and clothing combinations as I currently do.

She’s not wrong.

Due to my squirrel like behaviour I’m running out of hangers and wardrobe space.

Yesterday I spent a while ordering all of my shirts, trousers and jackets by colour and style. I removed some that I’ve fallen out of love with (or that are now too loose) bagged them up so that I could donate them to the Red Cross and carried them there this afternoon.

It’s a nice feeling to be taking things back to charity shops – and although I’m continually aware that I shouldn’t be too vain I can’t help myself when it comes to constant wardrobe tinkering.

It’s not unusual for me to change my clothes 2-3 times a day sometimes and in contrast there were periods in the past I was forced to wear the same clothes for many days at a time. I never bothered to look in the mirror because the same depressing sight would greet me whenever I did.

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Back then I also used to shop very differently.

My clothes were either purchased online at a specialist outsized clothing retailer or at the local large and tall shop in Leamington Spa – where the owner didn’t look at me like I was a freak.

Typically there weren’t many options in a 66in waist and an 8xl shirt size though and regardless of how nice the staff were the experience was utterly demoralising.

Shopping for anything was exhausting – which was why I usually tried to get my clothes delivered. Even if I made the effort to park right outside the door of a shop and go in I didn’t feel like I could try anything on. The logistics of getting dressed and undressed in a changing room that barely contained my frame wore me out so much that I could hardly breathe afterwards.

I often purchased the first things that came to hand in bulk and because of this I often spent three to four hundred pounds in one fifteen minute burst of shopping. This might sound like a lot – but since a shirt and a pair of trousers in these sizes typically set me back £100+ this was very easy to do.

Honestly I didn’t care how much it costed when I was in a clothes shop. I just wanted the whole exhausting task to be over and done with as quickly as humanly possible so that I could go home and fall asleep in my armchair.

At the very most I repeated this miserable chore once every six months – or if an emergency arose where a belt buckle snapped (a surprisingly frequent occurrence) a pair of trousers burst a button or yet another crotch seam ripped.

It was an experience devoid of any enjoyment for me whatsoever and it frequently made me feel low for days.

I often ended up with £50+ shirts that didn’t fit and was often too ashamed (or couldn’t muster the energy) to take them back for a refund. On many occasions I didn’t even remove the items I’d bought from the bags they came in for weeks (if at all).

I hated everything I purchased because of the failure that the items represented.

Thats all in the past though.

Sometimes I feel that I should have forgotten about all of this by now (aren’t you all bored of reading about this yet?) and just embraced the new me – but truthfully it’s quite hard to do.

I’m still taken with the newness and wonder of it all – and I can help falling in love with every colourful item of clothing I see and how I look in it…

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Anyway – I’m super super tired now after lots and lots of walking from A to B today so I’ll love you and leave you for the evening.

Laters internet!

Davey

Very damp

Despite the absolutely awful weather today I’ve still been out and about putting in the miles.

The inclement skies have tested my recent statements about there being ‘no bad weather just bad clothes’ to the absolute limit, because it seems that not all of my clothes are… good.

I’m very damp.

In no particular order…

  • My trusty Berghaus walking boots seem to be leaking thanks to some epically deep puddles today and my feet are soaking wet
  • My ‘waterproof’ Peter Storm gloves (that I bought full price from Millets last year) needed around an eggcup of water (I’m not kidding) wrung out of each one of them when I sat down.
  • My Mountain Warehouse supercoat has (to be completely fair to it) kept water out of everywhere… Except its pockets
  • My waterproof Regatta overtrousers in contrast have been doing a grand job but the perspiration they cause when I wear them on longer walks undermines any upsides they might have regarding keeping rain at bay

When I started writing this post drinking whilst coffee in a pub (hiding from the rain with my overtrousers taken off and turned inside out) my outer clothing was all drip drying nearby.

By the time I reached home later in the afternoon the situation hadn’t really improved much and my feet were totally sodden and ‘pruney’ when my boots and socks came off.

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For the first time since maybe January I unclenched my wallet’s sphincter muscle and turned on the (cue drum roll) central heating…

Still – I may be wet and cold – but one thing I’n NOT is outrageously hungry after my 9 miles in the pouring rain. I’m not in the mood for food probably because I did a little bit of experimental cookery last night and the outcome was extremely satisfying.

To be honest it wasn’t really fine dining – but it did taste flipping delicious.

It consisted of a couple of packs of Aldi’s fajita chicken stir fry mix (which are admittedly 8 syns a pack according to the SW app – but they were half price – yay!) a punnet of mushrooms and a pack of Aldi sundried tomato and garlic flavour cous cous (0.5 syns a pack).

The whole meal came to around £3.50!

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I cooked the mushrooms, pre-marinaded chicken and stir fry veg (peppers and onions) for about 20 minutes, chucked in the sachets of sauce, stirred those in for 5 minutes – then sprinkled in the couscous and reduced the whole lot down for another five minutes until the couscous was swollen with flavour – then served it up.

Honestly this ended up being rather spicy but also felt like really comforting food for a cold and dark evening. Although it was definitely a bit higher in syns than meals that I’d usually cook frankly it made up for it by being so tasty that my tastebuds were practically ready to crown me emperor of the known universe for cooking it in the first place.

If there was ever a way to intelligently use syns with Slimming World then this is it in my view – because at least this way they’re filling you up rather than just hiding in empty calories like crisps or chocolate.

The truth is though that although I really enjoyed eating this I’m not really a fan of pre-prepared pack in sauces.

If you look closely at the ingredients for both the marinade that’s already on the chicken and it’s additional (admittedly optional) sachet of stir in sauce both have sugar in them.

The reason why this is included in any savoury food continually baffles me.

Why on earth does a fajita kit need sugar in it?

If I cooked this from scratch there’s not a recipe in the world that would say ‘and now grab a bag of silver spoon and start pouring‘.

Sometimes (like last night) I turn a blind eye to this kind of thing purely for cost and convenience’s sake as they’re usually one off’s – but honestly the presence of sugar in cook in sauces irritates the s&&t out of me. It’s no wonder the whole western world is lurching toward a diabetic and obesity armageddon when sugar is added to everything.

You may have seen my previous rants about this (and other similar food crimes) on Instagram…

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In many respects I don’t blame Aldi or it’s competitors for doing this though. Human beings are their own worst enemies.

Supermarkets taste test their products with consumers and then base their decisions on the feedback about what people prefer to eat. Sadly human beings seem to want more and more sugar. It’s just a fact of life I guess and I suppose that every now and then it doesn’t hurt to treat yourself.

Anyway – I’m very focused at the moment on eating the right kinds of things and accounting for all of it not just because of hidden sugar – but also because the Slimming World ball is coming up soon.

In early November I’m going to be up on stage to be presented with my Man of the Year award, and when I have everyone and their dog looking at me I want to feel (and look) my best.

I’m still not sure yet what ‘look my best’ will mean though…

Whilst I’ve been out today I’ve taken the opportunity to drip on the floor of some clothes shops and search for inspiration regarding colour and pattern combinations. I’m still no further forward with my decision – although I DO know that I’m almost certainly not going to pay the prices that high street shops are willing to charge me to do this.

I want to be frugally creative if at all possible and see what kind of an outfit I can pull together from ‘pre-loved’ sources.

This is considerably more stressful than just throwing money at a cashier when I find something nice – but on the plus side if I manage to pull it off I reckon I’ll be able to get a whole outfit for a similar or lower price than the (admittedly very nice) tie from Moss Bros (paired with the grey jacket in the last shot)…

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Either way – I find this kind of thing a fun challenge. Seeing individual items randomly in different places and then trying to mentally combine it with something else is a strangely addictive pastime…

Only time will tell whether I will be able to pull it off!

Watch this space internet!!!

Davey

Triggers and target outcome

I may be a target member (currently lapsed) but I’ll be completely honest and say that I’ve been like a cat on hot bricks about whether or not I’d be back in my target range this week.

I’ve been really really focused this month regarding my adherence to #onplanoctober and as I’ve previously mentioned this has paid dividends.

I’ve been closely monitoring and recording my eating, weight and exercise every day for the whole of the month so far. Even though I’ve not weighed in for the last two Saturdays I’ve barely taken my eye off the ball at all – and when I have I’ve forgotten about it and moved swiftly on the next day.

Whatever happened on the scales today would be by the skin of my teeth though – and I’m being completely open here when I say I even weighed my clothes before putting them on.

Furthermore I went for a long walk in the dark at 6.45am and I took ZERO prisoners.

Although for a while I’ve been able to easily get under the 15 minute mile mark what I’ve not really tried to do very often is sustain it lap after lap.

Since everyone needs targets, improving my 4 mile time has been something of a ‘thing’ for me.

When I first started Slimming World (some seasoned readers may remember) a guy casually mentioned that he walked four miles in an hour. Since it took me about an hour and a half to do one mile at the time this quickly became something I was obsessed with.

It took me a couple of years to get to the point where I could comfortably do the same – and now my breathing barely changes when I (regularly) crack the four mile hour.

My record for a mile walked (admittedly with a little jogging involved) is now 13 minutes 23 seconds – but I’m not really interested in short sharp bursts.

I want capabilities that enable sustained, effortless exercise and that means pacing myself.

Unfortunately that doesn’t yet equal shake free selfies in the low light conditions of the park at 7am or an expression that resembles a man that isn’t smuggling a coat hanger in his mouth.

But I digress – and I’m teasing you dear reader – because you no doubt want to know how I fared on the scales.

Since I have your undivided attention though I shall abuse it further and make you wait a little longer – because I have one more thing to talk about.

Triggers.

Angie was oddly enough talking about these in group today – which was prescient because it’s been on my mind all week long.

Hers was sugar – and in many respects when she became allergic to the stuff it was a huge tick in her personal win column.

She’s confessed both in private and in front of the group that since this happened she’s had to bulk up on other kinds of food because she’s struggled to keep weight on rather than lose it.

Without sugar in her life creating supplemental cravings (and the increased risk of diabetes) she flew down a dress size and is (in her words) ‘smaller than when she was born‘ now.

I’m not one to challenge a lady’s honesty – and I’ve never met her mother (who may be positively Herculean) but I struggle to wrap my mind around the logistics of that particular event.

I also can’t find any mention of it in medical text books, so I’ll just leave her tenuous statement (and mental image) alone for now and move swiftly along.

Personally I’ve never had a sweet tooth. My dad and my brother do – but it’s never been my Achilles heel.

I didn’t crave sugary food when I started Slimming World – and I haven’t had a chocolate bar for probably more than three years.

Instead my weakness is (and always has been) savoury food.

However – there’s one thing I do that completely undermines this blanket statement.

I doubt Angie noticed what was different about me as she talked about sugar being her weakness. If she’d been paying close attention she may have noticed that this week I wasn’t munching on a hi-fi bar.

They’re lovely.

I adore them.

I also usually eat an entire box of them on a Saturday morning during image therapy as my treat for doing well – and generally this is the start of a largely (or utterly) off plan Saturday.

I’m focused at the moment though. I’m having NO SUCH THING derail me and I’m making sure that I do as much as I possibly can to limit the days this month where I ‘screw the pooch’.

I didn’t buy any and therefore I didn’t eat any. When I walked into town for a coffee shortly afterwards I did so with (no joke) a pocket full of carrots.

So – my satellite objective this October is to avoid triggers.

When I do good things happen.

Like getting back into target baby!!!!

(Drops the mic, exits stage left)

Davey

Me forever

The weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse. There’s been rain, wind (a bit more rain) and dark cloud (with some more rain) to contend with today – but I really don’t care in the least (even though there’s also rain).

A friend remarked a while ago though (in a turn of phrase I’ve since adopted as my own) that ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothes.

I tend to agree. Grey skies are no excuse. Not when you have a lovely warm coat and a willingness to put one foot in front of the other.

By 9am I’d already managed to get five miles under my belt, and I often find that getting a chunk of exercise in early energises me and means that  i’ll probably end up doing more later too.

Regardless of what the weather decided to do for the rest of the day this meant it was definitely going to be a success.

I’m becoming quite fond of my ‘winter plumage’ too – and honestly (although I didn’t plan it this way) couldn’t have picked a better time to start pushing through some chin fur. Whether it’s going to stay or goes in the long term I don’t know – but it’s the first time I’ve grown once since hitting target and it’s great to compare it to bearded me back when I was at my heaviest.

This is something that always encourages me to keep my eye on the ball – and although focusing so much on how I look may appear vain I honestly don’t care. I actually like the new shape of my face now (which is wonderful when I consider that I used to hate it) and when I see the contrast to how it used to look it fills me with pride.

It’s the kind of thing that enables me to do what I did yesterday – which was speak to some upper sixth students at a school in Derbyshire about weight loss and the psychology behind transformative change.

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If nothing else when I go there they give me a fantastic food optimising lunch (a baked potato, salad, garlic mushrooms, green beans and asparagus with trimmed bacon!!!) and that is just one more reason to love speaking to the students.

There’s not much I won’t do for a free lunch!

It’s the second time I’ve talked at this institution in the last two years – and the teacher whose classes I met last time had been kind enough to invite me back to repeat the experience with a whole new set of fresh faces.

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I’m by no means an expert in this field – but doing this is something that gives me real pleasure. If even just one thing I say about my experiences in childhood, the mistakes I’ve made and the moments of insight that enabled me to correct my trajectory resonates with someone then that’s enough to make the trip worthwhile.

Maybe I’ll save someone else the pain and heartache that I went through.

It’s a wonderful thing to see a stifled yawn turn into a curious frown, and then eventually morph into a raised hand followed by an insightful question – because then you know that you’re speaking to the heart as well as the mind.

At that moment you’ve stepped into a shared experience, where something that you’ve gone through is similar to another person’s moment in time, and they’re temporarily pulled closer.

You can almost see their ears physically turn in your direction and a light go on in their eyes.

They may still be going through whatever it is  – or be searching (possibly without even knowing it) for a way of processing it. A spark ignites for the briefest moment and you know you’ve connected.

It’s really really cool.

However, the truth of it is that you never know with who or when you’ll make a difference. While you may speak to hundreds of people (I lost count a long time ago) it’s impossible to predict which ones your words or actions will resonate with or who will be truly inspired long term.

I couldn’t have predicted for instance that a woman would pull me aside recently (quite out of the blue) and tell me that a conversation I had with her almost two years ago in passing would have changed both her life and health.

At the time I was telling her that I felt Apple Watch (on top of Slimming World) had been instrumental in turning my life around. Its exercise statistics had enabled me to understand how I had made my diabetes retreat so effectively – and made it possible to connect the dots between increased cardio activity, weight loss and plummeting blood sugar levels.

Without its statistics I may not have.

I’d told her at the time that it wasn’t just a case of losing weight – there had to be a corresponding increase in activity too. Although I had no reason to think that she wouldn’t act on what I’d said, from a percentage perspective I find that very few people do.

That’s ok though.

I’m not attempting to convert anyone that’s not ready. If someone had tried to beat my metaphorical door down with unwanted advice back when I was in denial about everything then I’d probably have told them to get lost pretty sharpish.

Yet for some reason with her it struck a chord, and she was on the verge of tears as she told me about the impact I’d had. She’d absorbed my words after I’d left her that day and over time she too had used the Apple Watch I’d spotted on her wrist that day in the same way that I had.

She became stat and goal focused, and like me her obsession every day became filling the three little rings on her wrist.

The result?

Her type two diabetes is very nearly in remission. Her levels have dropped so significantly that her HbA1c reading is now in a ‘pre diabetic’ range. She’s lost several stone and she feels infinitely better.

She is also proud of herself – and justifiably so.

That makes every moment that I struggle, lose my way, find it again, climb back on the horse and try to be a better man worth it. It’s the difference between having a lunch of fried tomatoes and garlic (with a little brown sauce and pepper) as opposed to ordering a pizza or a kebab.

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Tomorrow I’m probably still going to be a little bit out of target – but for the whole of October I’ve gone back to basics. I’ve written everything down (apart from one day) and compared my exercise levels to my intake.

You know what?

It turns out that all the times I’ve told myself in darker moments that something has changed and I’m physically incapable of losing or maintaining weight were just nonsense. I just wasn’t facing up to what I was putting in my mouth.

I was temporarily eating too much and I wasn’t confronting it.

It’s that simple.

This isn’t me out to make anyone feel guilty though – because like everyone I speak to each of us is on our own path. I think I needed to step back from things for a moment. I needed to just not cope and retreat – even for a little while.

Oddly it helped. Maybe this helps other people too.

The thing is though that I know the old me is never coming back. The round face in the picture above that smiles but I know hid so much pain is firmly in the past. Even though my graph may go up as well as down it will always remain broadly constant.

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Rain or shine internet.

This is me now.

Forever.

Davey

One third never have

The weather has been fresh and bright today and I’ve been feeling positive.

The scales are being stubborn at the moment though. They’ve not moved anywhere for days – and despite the bright skies outside (and me feeling darned good) they are still stuck fast on pretty much the same annoying number.

Mostly because of a naughty Sunday I’m not making much #onplanoctober headway this week at all – but that’s OK for a number of reasons.

  • When all is said and done it’s just a number
  • It’s also one that’s not going up
  • There’s a big wide world out there – and it doesn’t do to focus on small things when the sky is so blue.

So – as always I’ve just put one foot in front of the other and tried to be a part of it as much as I possibly can.

Also – today I’m in a hat mood.

I really like wearing one occasionally (particularly when it’s cold – which it was early this morning) and when I do it’s also a great excuse to put a smart jacket on.

This item of clothing is actually a real feel good comfort blanket, and when I throw it over my shoulders it actually makes me feel a few inches taller. This is mostly because it’s the same one I wore to the man of the year final earlier in the year.

To remind me of this I’ve left one part of it just the way it was that day.

Although you wouldn’t notice it with a brief glance, it still has a faint hint of lipstick on the shoulder from one of the women that enthusiastically hugged me after my award was announced. I’ve bought a few jackets lately – but out of all of them this one (and its blemish) seems to make me feel the happiest!

Maybe it was because I was walking down the road feeling smart and totally ticketty-boo that I suddenly felt the need to buy a train ticket.

I didn’t plan to when I set out – but as I passed the station in Warwick I resolved to go to Solihull and do some mooching. Some moments later I was sitting quietly in the shade at the train station reading a left over copy of The Times.

It’s not a paper I’d normally buy if I’m honest.

I rather like the Guardian – but my loyalty to it is weak. I’ll read almost anything if it’s free. In this case though I picked The Times up solely because of it’s headline that 1/3 of under 25’s now drink no alcohol at all.

This is a pretty incredible statistic if it’s to be believed – and this evening it’s still on my mind. Maybe in the same way that more young people have decided to never smoke in the first place have they somehow also found a way of totally bypassing the pitfalls of alcohol abuse.

Could it be that they’ve pre-emptively cottoned onto the fact that they don’t need it to make their way in the world?

Good on them if that’s true – because I used to feel like I couldn’t do anything without it.

A lot of the posts that I’ve written regarding my experiences with alcohol have been about its relation to my weight and diabetes – but an equal (if not greater) part of its impact is the fact that for many years I’d convinced myself that I was incapable of most social situations if alcohol was absent.

In my case that didn’t mean that I was hideously drunk at every social event I attended.

Quite the contrary.

It meant that I often chose not to attend in the first place.

I’ve never had a problem talking in front of people that I’m already familiar with – but I had to admit (fairly recently) that talking to groups that I didn’t know was something that me caused a significant amount of discomfort.

I’d never really connected the dots on this particular issue before – but the more I thought about it the more it all made sense. How I feel now without it vs how I felt back then with it just underscored how much I’d used alcohol as a social crutch.

It wasn’t until I admitted this to myself that I could accept it had in many ways stunted my development. Without it in my life I’m much more outgoing than I used to be.

These days I’m regularly approached and noticed on the street (locally I seem to be recognised by a lot of people that I both know and don’t know!) and when I am I feel confident enough to shoot the breeze with them in a way that the old me never did.

‘Old Davey’ also have never dressed like I did this morning and would have been anonymously scruffy in the hope that he wouldn’t be noticed or looked at.

As I was thinking about this headline and how things had changed for me (whilst listening to some lovely chilled out Jazz by Coleman Hawkins which is my latest 95p CD from a charity shop) I passed by my old house in Solihull.

It always provokes a lot of memories when I see it – and it’s not somewhere I can just accidentally pass by. I have to go out of my way to get there – and when I do it’s because nostalgia and curiosity have gotten the better of me.

I make the extra effort just to see what it looks like now that someone else lives there – and with the exception of wooden shutters in the windows and a nicer car outside it still looks identical to the way that I remember it.

I guess the reason that I make such detours is that it was originally built (around the turn of the century) by my family.

They owned it until my dad sold it in the 90’s – but regardless of it changing hands it still holds a special place in my memories. Although I resided there as an adult very briefly (this is not where I grew up – only my father and his mother lived here for quite some time) it retains a kind of ‘mystique’.

I rarely think of my grandmother very much and didn’t really see her a great deal in the latter part of her life. This was for a variety of reasons, but particularly when I was younger it was because my mother wanted nothing to do with her- and that made visiting very difficult.

In later years the decision became mine – for my own (in retrospect silly) reasons – but regardless of this there are still many fond memories to be found when I think about her and the time I spent in this house.

It’s interesting to note that despite our limited relationship and mostly peripheral contact my thoughts toward her are free from pain or discomfort – which is in direct contrast to any that relate to my mother.

I think it’s true to say that my grandmother was a woman with her own (very steadfast and independent) mind. She too could be difficult to care about – but there were many things to love about her and the house in which she lived.

As a child I remember it being filled with the scent of her continually brewing (uniquely blended) tea leaves and with her fascinating but untouchable antique collection.

In her drawing room sat an upright piano next to a high quality record player with huge speakers.

Nearby on the bottom shelf of a large bookcase (with a motto that said ‘choose a book as you choose a friend‘) were lots of classical records and it was here that I first listened to Holst – The Planets.

I am still transfixed when I hear Mars, the bringer of war.

Although these things were mostly gone by the time I came to live there I remember a sense of optimism and positivity when I moved in during my early 20’s. My presence there represented a fresh start in life away from the controlling influence of my mother’s mercurial moods – and I felt that everything was possible.

I was also in love and preparing to go to university.

For the most part I believed that my fledgeling relationship and an education (followed by an imagined career as an awe inspiring teacher) would help me escape the negative influence of my mother.

Without her to drag me down I’d be ‘fixed’, secure, loved, healthy – and would leave my tendencies to over indulge and get apocalyptically drunk behind me. These connected threads of an imagined tapestry would converge with minimal effort and effortlessly weave themselves into a perfect future without her.

However – despite me removing my mother from my life – when difficult times arrived all of the negative coping strategies that I had originally developed to cope with her as a child and young man were still there.

Mostly because I was lonely without my girlfriend I ate like a horse and drank like a fish in my first year of university.

I still remember the look on my girlfriend’s face when she arrived to start her degree a year later – because thanks to my tried and tested remedies of smoking, eating and drinking my feelings away I had ballooned in weight.

I was already starting to find walking uncomfortable, had begun to rely heavily on my car. I was (even in my mid 20’s) dangerously unhealthy.

Alcohol (first used to deal with my mother’s abusive behaviour) was not only a comforter but had become an enabler. It excused all manner of bad decisions, made it possible for me to hide from the truth again and again – but also stopped me from stepping outside of my social comfort zones.

I was drinking largely in solitude by then.

It took me almost 30 years to break its grip and even now in many respects I’m still learning to cope without it.

So – here’s to the one third of young people that will hopefully never deal with the world the way that I did. May they grow up feeling capable of expressing their feelings without hiding from them, packing them away, or needing to anaesthetise in social settings.

I hope that they’ll just learn right away how to talk things out, to share their feelings, and be honest.

Maybe they’ll also come to see the value of a good hat too internet, because let’s face it – hats are just cool.

Davey

Belief

Even by my standards this evening I’m excessively caffeinated.

A bottomless cup policy is something that I continually fail to approach with any kind of moderation – and after around 8 Americanos earlier this afternoon I’m completely wired.

It’s propelled me several times around the park and raised my pulse considerably as well as leaving me with a banging headache – which is less than ideal.

I feel good though – which wasn’t how I ended yesterday, because when I finally went to bed I was mildly miffed with myself.

On plan October was going really really well – until Sunday when (for some completely unknown reason) I hit a speed bump.

I honestly have no idea why the day became one where the predominant theme was ‘hibernate and overeat’ but it did.

Thankfully (as usually happens) I over indulged in lots of good things such as mango, apples, melon, cottage cheese, ham, natural yogurt etc etc etc.

The list went on much further….

However – regardless of the fact that all of these items were ‘proper’ food rather than refined crap – they still represented a day where I felt I had no ‘off switch’.

Everything consumed was in the wrong quantities and nothing seemed to fill me up.

I prepared only one meal – choosing to snack on all of the food in sight instead of turning it into something that represented a lunch or dinner capable of properly satisfying me.

In retrospect I also failed to drink enough fluid.

Unsurprisingly because of this all I wanted to do in between my bouts of excessive grazing was sleep – and (rather unusually for me) this was what formed the majority of my Sunday.

I chose to write none of my dietary crimes down (like I have for every other day in #onplanoctober) which meant I’d pretty much accepted early on in the whole sorry affair that this was the way my day would go.

However I’m kind of glad that I had a relaxed eating day.

The dream filled and largely piecemeal sleep that I’ve been having lately (when combined with my unwillingness to have any kind of a lie in – because if you snooze you lose) has meant that day by day I’ve felt progressively more and more worn down.

By the end of my visit to Oxford on Saturday (after waking up at 2am that morning) I was pretty much asleep on my feet.

I guess yesterday was my body’s way of just calling a halt to proceedings and relaxing.

By my standards I barely moved and by close of play on Sunday evening I’d only just managed to get five miles under my belt.

Today though I feel quite different.

My scales registered a small gain this morning – but my rampant appetite (thankfully) appeared to be once more fully under control.

After confronting the damage I felt like I was completely out of the danger zone and determined to be back on plan from that point onwards.

At times like this I often find the little mantras from my Slimming World group bounce around my head and I hear Angie saying things like ‘on plan when you can’, ‘forgive yourself and move on’ or ‘if you reach for the moon and miss you still fall amongst the stars’.

Often these phrases completely pass me by in group because over the last two and a half years I’ve heard them time and time again. However on days where things haven’t gone quite so well they float to the surface, enabling me to ground myself and not to catastrophize events.

There’s a good reason that I’m highly focused on being totally on plan at the moment – and it’s because the next few weeks have a number of Slimming World related events in them.

Deep down though I’m dissatisfied with myself for being outside of my target weight range for the last few of weeks.

Sure – it irks me that I’m paying to weigh in again (although Angie is worth it) but there’s more to it than that.

It’s been gnawing away at me deep down because I’d really like to be able to speak from the heart during these (rather public) engagements.

I want to talk to people and answer questions about my achievements whilst actually feeling like I’m successful – which wasn’t the case while I was talking recently on the radio about heart health.

If I’m honest at the time I didn’t feel like I was coping very well – and I felt like a complete charlatan for implying that I was.

In reality though as I type I’m pretty much where I was when I hit my target weight and I’m painfully aware that success or failure is often simply a matter of my own (sometimes quite warped) perception.

All of my clothes fit, I feel comfortable, energetic and healthy – however I can’t lie and say that the numbers on the scales don’t matter because they do.

I want to be able to look people in the eye at these events and know that I’m completely in control of myself – and that I’ve overcome my recent mood dip and what I viewed as it’s corresponding fall from grace.

I’m aware (partially because well meaning friends have reminded me) that I’m over thinking everything related to my weight though.

I know that I’m my own worst critic and I also know that I’m frequently way too hard on myself.

I’d be a liar however if I said that my MOTY award didn’t have a bearing on this.

It’s amplified my desire to perpetually be a positive example to everyone that reads my blog – and as a consequence has increased the already huge burden I place upon myself to demonstrate that I’m ‘fixed’.

The truth is that like many of my fellow slimmers I tell myself that it’s ok to be fallible – but then secretly beat myself up whenever I am.

At the end of the day we can all only be the best that we can possibly be at any one given moment – and sometimes what we achieve may fall short of the expectations of both ourselves and others.

Today though (as I sit listening to my healthy on plan dinner cook on the hob) I feel like I’m doing ok.

I feel like I’m getting there.

I feel like the ability to fall and recover (which seemed completely absent for a month or so) is back again.

I feel like I’m winning and isn’t that half the battle internet?

Faith in yourself is everything – and the paradox of this (as with so much in life) is that sometimes you have to tell yourself it’s there and keep doing so until you actually believe it.

Davey

Hufflepuff outing

It’s been a nice day today.

When I hit the park shortly after 6am this morning the mist was rolling over the field and the sun was coming up. The sky was clear and it looked glorious.

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Today seems a far cry from the weather that seemed intent on soaking every last inch of the UK yesterday, which was a bit of a shame – because it was a day that I’d been planning for a few months.

I had arranged back in August to meet up in Oxford with a couple of fellow bloggers – and regular readers may have seen them crop up from time to time in my comments.

Hayley has her own funky healthy vegan take on life and Slimming World (link) and Marjolein (who is Dutch and has recently moved to the UK – yay!) writes on a variety of health and other topics (link).

It takes around 40 minutes to get to Oxford on the train from Leamington – which oddly I’ve never done before. Although I’ve been to Oxford quite a few times, like many other places I’ve visited most of my previous visits were dictated by my mobility. In the past I drove there every time.

I usually parked near to a cafe in Summertown and didn’t move very far at all.

The parking nazis have descended on Oxford with a vengence lately though and pretty much everywhere has a slew of no parking signs. Consequently going by car is a nightmare – so the train makes a lot more sense.

So –  shortly before 9am and a little damp from the rain I was standing at the train station in Leamington.

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When it arrived I instantly noticed Mar in the window in front of me – and thankfully she had an empty seat next to her so we got to sit together and say our hellos on the journey (this was the very first time we’d met in person!) which was really cool.

Things seemed to be working out well from a timing perspective too as when we arrived in Oxford Hayley was patiently waiting for us at the gate.

You may have expected an event that was planned several months in advance to be one that was finely choreographed and organised down to the last minute.

However – this wasn’t the case at all – and we’d only really got a vague idea of what we wanted to do. Since none of us seemed like we were ready to make a decision about making a decision and it was a really cold and miserable day we soon ended up in the one place we could all agree on.

Starbucks.

After a little ‘getting to know you’ session, a few cups of coffee and some visits to the loo we’d got a plan of action and headed off for the main attraction – which was the Great Hall at Christchurch.

As it happens BOTH of my companions are massive Harry Potter fans (apparently they’re Hufflepuffs – they’ve done tests to prove it and everything) and one had a secret weapon…

She came packing free entry to the great hall!!!

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Unfortunately the clearly unlaid plans of mice and men should probably have been laid a little betterbecause it turned out that the great hall was shut until 2pm…

So instead we decided to mooch about elsewhere. Thankfully nearby was the Bodleian library – for which we also had free entry (at least to a small part of it).

After speaking to the lady on reception it turned out that with Mar’s pass we could all go into the Divinity School but no-where else.

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The Divinity School is where Ron and ProfessorMcGonagall dance together in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – and the ceiling is seriously lovely.

Convocation House & Chancellor’s Court (which were just through that doorway) were however tantalisingly close, and when an extendable barrier was retracted we wandered forward to have a look – not knowing that this wasn’t allowed and that entry to these two rooms were part of the tour only.

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Thankfully we were only kicked out after we’d had a good look around!

Convocation House was apparently a meeting chamber for the House of Commons during the English Civil War and later in the 1660s and 1680s.

Who knew?  Not me thats for sure!

After Navigating the gift shop (where there were some frankly ridiculiously expensive pieces of furniture and cool magnifying glasses) we headed to eat lunch – which in all cases we’d individually made and packed.

Trying to find somewhere to eat for our combined dietary requirements seemed like it would probably cause serious stress – so we instead decided to surreptitiously munch our packed food in Cafe Nero over some hot drinks.

It was a good call – because the rain was showing no signs of stopping.

I once again nipped to the loo – and while I was away the next stop was decided. We’d visit the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology just down the road.

Now this is definitely my kind of place.

I love wandering around museums and staring at antiquities – particularly when they’re as lovely as some of the Chinese kimono embroidery on display.

How intricate are these?!

The contemporary Chinese art (revolutionary in it’s theme) was also quite interesting…

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However I found myself drawn largely to the antiquities section of the museum. Their carved Roman wall reliefs were rather impressive, as were many of the sculptures.

However many things pale into insignificance when you’re faced with a giant bronzed Greek bottom.

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Unlike much of the Roman era (who preferred to immortalise themselves in marble and stone) the Greek anatomy had taken on a sense of indomitable permanence that many of their latin counterparts had not.

Very few Roman men and women had heads, arms, legs (or indeed genitalia) still intact – yet this Greek bottom (and his special parts) were untouched by time, and as solid as the day he rolled out of the sculptor’s studio.

Impressive!

NOT as impressive though as the prices in the gift shop – which whilst cheaper than the chairs in the Bodleian were still no less ridiculous.

This is a £120 ‘hippy bag.’

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Now I’ve known one or two hippies in my time and I’m pretty sure that none of them would have paid £120 for a bag to carry their lentils and Greenpeace flyers in.

Nope. Wouldn’t have happened….

Unsurprisingly I exited my second gift shop of the day without any gifts.

The next stop was now the Great Hall at Christchurch -which by now was both open and absolutely besieged by coachloads of Japanese tourists.

I’m sure that this is familiar to anyone that’s seen any of the Harry Potter films – and it’s practically impossible to not be just a little bit excited to have a look around it!

Oddly though I was waaaaaay more excited to have a look around the Cathederal next door to this – which is a seriously impressive building – and if I had any kind of itch to scratch with regard to stained glass then it was well and truly scratched by the time I’d had a look around there.

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There was of course yet another gift shop nearby – and this time I came very very close to making an actual purchase…

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In the end though £15 for a wooly hat with Oxford written on it was more than the tightly clamped down wallet in my pocket was willing to relinquish – and I popped it back where I’d originally found it…

It seemed that Harry Potter was basically a license to print money here – as almost half of the Christchurch gift shop (which I imagine a decade or so ago would have been almost exclusively Oxford University scarves and hats) was entirely devoted to Harry Potter memorabilia.

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I wonder how many of these travel back to Japan?

Thousands I imagine!

I had no idea that the Japanese were so into Harry Potter!

Anyway – shortly after we exited the gift shop it was time to make our way to the station and catch our respective trains, which thankfully were all on time and came complete with places sit and natter (at least for me and Mar, since Hayley was travelling in the opposite direction) for the final leg of the journey.

By the time I got home and checked my stats for the day it seemed I’d walked quite a way around Oxford as well as back and forth from the trains I’d caught. My totals for the day showed a respectable 12.5 miles – and frankly when I hit the sack later that evening (after nodding off in my armchair) I slept like a log.

Here’s hoping that my hufflepuff blogger friends enjoyed themselves as much as I did.

We’re already abstractly talking (planning clearly is not our thing!) about where to go next…

Watch this space internet!

Davey

Dreaming before Lickey

Strange dreams seem to have been an unwanted feature of my life for a couple of days.

Some are recurring and not worth mentioning – but last night saw an entirely new variety arrive that I’ve never had before.

In this particular variant I was with some people (mostly a variety of random but well known public figures) and realised that each time one of them moved further away from me they came back much older than when they were near.

I woke up, realising that this was just a dream and that their advanced age was something to do with time moving faster for things further away from me than it was nearby.

I went back to sleep thinking that was that – but in my next dreamscape I was popping out to get a lettuce (yep I’m even DREAMING #onplanoctober eating at the moment!) and when I returned everyone was again older.

In some cases the things further away were gone completely and even the surrounding buildings had turned to dust.

I awoke once again, realising that in this dream it was loved ones that disappeared when further away from me rather than random famous people.

Noting it down in my phone I once again turned over and nodded off.

Then in a booming voice my inner monologue took control of my next dream and shouted at me ‘if failure was impossible WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I remember being paralysed and unable to answer the question – instead meekly replying that I wanted an ‘absence of want’ (oh the irony) in my life.

So – there’s a whole host of things to unpack and sift through today.

  • A fear that stepping further away from my comfort zone will result in loss
  • A concern that true change means that loved ones will drift away
  • A fear of failure causing a degree of paralysis
  • Guilt that I still covet material possessions (I really want the new Apple Watch) when I absolutely want to be anti consumerism.

As always walking seems to help – and I gave up trying to get uninterrupted sleep at 6.30am to hammer out 6 miles around the park.

Putting one foot repeatedly in front of the other doesn’t appear capable of providing any concrete answers though – but instead enabled a grudging acceptance that this sudden flurry of multicoloured dreams is a natural process.

I’m mentally decompiling after leaving my most recent place of employment – and my mind is still trying to make sense of it all.

I know I’m still questioning why I have such profound guilt about not having a job, when I know that I’m a burden to no-one and I’m supporting myself.

If this is that case what does it matter if I take a while out to reflect on what comes next and enjoy life?

The answer is it doesn’t matter at all – yet I’m still stuck in the mindset (which a friend referred to last night as a Protestant work ethic) that I should be doing something at all times to make me a ‘productive member of society’.

The book that I’m still dipping in and out of on Chinese philosophy (The Path) from a last week is obviously resonating with me and I find that I’m either consciously or unconsciously returning to bits and pieces of it throughout my day.

This is the one that’s still on my mind currently.

Mozi – on of Mencius’s contemporaries held a worldview that there are certain stable factors that can be counted on in a world that is largely coherent – and this assumption affects our decisions.

(…)

For Mozi and his followers, Heaven was a moral deity who laid out clear guidelines of right and wrong. Humans had to follow these guidelines in order to live a good life. If they did, they would be rewarded; if they did not, they would be punished.

(…)

We are stable selves who live In a stable world. We should act as rational-choice agents, calculating what will benefit us and what will cause us harm. If we look within, discover who we are, set out a plan for how we can flourish, and then work hard to fulfill that plan, we will prosper and grow as we should. In short, we are Mohists.

(…)

His philosophical writings sketch out his vision of a just society in which anyone who worked hard would prosper.

The counterpoint to this is that if you accept that everything is ordered and life outcomes are both quantifiable and consistently achievable through established methodologies (train hard and you’ll succeed) then the world essentially becomes a transactional place.

If you simply do what you need to do to prosper then you’re not doing things because they’re the right thing to do you’re instead doing them because they will ultimately benefit you.

This is of course a reductively simplistic way of looking at things – and the reality is that society needs a level of structure.

The generally accepted truth is that you can statistically improve your chances of success by doing certain things such as studying for qualifications or building stamina for a marathon.

However this view fundamentally ignores the truth of the world – and that is that our structures sit atop chaos.

They are applied so that we can cope with the underlying uncertainty of everything that surrounds us and they allow us to remove a potentially constant worry about what will happen to us in the future.

It’s all an illusion though.

I spent three years studying for a degree to become something that never came to pass.

Marathon runners might train for a year and then trip over a pavement slab just before the finish line.

You may climb the corporate ladder your entire life only to be made redundant suddenly with no severance pay.

The reality of our existence is that there is NO certainty – but the question this poses is how do we embrace chaos and move forward when we’ve been taught throughout our whole lives to live within a framework of order?

Sigh.

I don’t know.

There’s a middle ground somewhere that I’ve yet to find.

I’m definitely going through a period of existential questioning at the moment (this isn’t a bad thing – it’s a growth spurt) and I’m just going to have to hunker down while it works itself out.

In the meantime today I’ve been out twalking and exploring woods with a friend – and I’m happy to say that amongst trees there are still reassuringly ‘holey’ holes in the floor.

I like to illustrate this by pointing at them.

I love a good hole.

You can’t beat one.

Well – unless you consider mushrooms – because woodland ones trump holes.

Whilst my day may have started with me questioning the nature of the universe and my place in it – the remainder of my day was actually spent just being thankful that it was there in the first place.

I once again visited the Lickey Hills with my friend – and it represented a day of personal triumph for her.

Around seven months ago she fell over while we were walking here and badly damaged a ligament in the process (link).

Today was the first time we’d been back – and we picked a lovely time of year to do so.

Broadly speaking we followed the red woodpecker trail (around four miles or so) which was absolutely lovely.

It’s not too undulating – and it’s a really gentle and relaxing stroll for the most part – so it’s highly recommended if you’re moderately fit or recovering from an injury like my companion.

While the skies remained steadfastly grey (they turned irritatingly blue on the way home) the forest canopy and floor was a riot of interest and colour.

Autumn has to be one of my favourite times of year.

There’s a small sweet spot in this season where everything is green in the canopy above and everything looks red or orange underfoot.

It’s wonderful.

Around about now is that time and because of this I’m often more fascinated with the floor than I am the treeline – which was completely peppered with acorns and chestnuts.

Sure – grey skies aren’t as nice as blue, and I already miss the summer but you really can’t beat being surrounded by nature.

It’s certainly better than the comical stuffed animals in the visitor centre – which don’t appear to have been dusted or shown any love since the last time.

The fox still looks very sorry for itself.

And the squirrel still looks like it’s seriously cranky.

Mr rabbit has also seen many many better days – but I love him nonetheless.

So – despite being dogged by odd dreams I’m convinced that today is a great day to be alive.

I’m #onfire with #onplanoctober and #fuddinglovinit.

If you aren’t already exploring the woods or going for a morning walk then I suggest you do so now.

The shorter days are on the way and you need to make the most of the daylight internet!

Davey

#onplanoctober revisited

As soon as I entered the public toilet in the deserted changing room I knew I was in trouble. The walls were unbearably close, and covered in a thin later of fine soil.

The black plastic seat in front of me was cold and also covered in the same sprinkling of earth.

I could barely turn around, let alone undo my trousers – but the need was pressing, so (with great difficulty) I did – and once I was unbuttoned I attempted to sit down.

At this point the walls (which were already touching my shoulders) closed in a little more, and I realised I was wedged.

As I was assessing how to get out of this predicament I heard movement outside in the cold and echoey room.

There were many cubicles – but it seemed that the anonymous person joining me had decided (against all unspoken but universally understood toilet etiquette) to choose the one immediately next to me.

To add insult to injury he also started talking to himself and then (through the wooden cubicle wall) asked me a question.

For the life of me though I can’t remember any of the things he asked me about.

When I responded however he immediately parroted my answer back to me, reflecting everything that I’d said to him in my own voice.

Freaky.

Could this be the worst public toilet experience in the world?

Actually no – because at this point I woke up – wondering what the heck this dream meant.

Checking Google in the cold light of day suggests a variety of things relating to different bathroom dreams – such as me needing to release emotions or feeling like I’m unable to get any personal space.

None of them ring true – and universally fail to provide any suggestions about what the mirroring of my answers means – or why the man in the next cubicle appeared to have my own voice.

The simple explanation for the bathroom dream is that I actually needed the loo – which in this case was absolutely bang on the money.

After making a note of the dream I hurriedly headed to the smallest room of the house and engaged my sprinkler system.

Once finished I went straight back to bed and immediately nodded off.

As with many odd dreams though I find that now I’m awake again I’m mildly preoccupied with it.

I’m not worried or obsessing over it’s meaning mind you. I think I know what it relates to.

Control or a perception that I’ve not had any in certain areas of my life.

For a while I’ve felt that events have been controlling me rather than the other way around.

Over the last few days however I’ve turned something of a mental corner – and amongst other things I’m once again filling in regular food diaries.

Before the end of September I looked back on some of my old posts from around the same time in 2017. In these was following #onplanoctober (link) and decided I’d resurrect the practice again for a month.

Last time I did this the results were undeniably positive (link) and over the course of few weeks the extra focus showed some really positive progress towards my target weight.

Although I was a heavier back then and my goal now is maintenance rather than significant losses it makes sense to do it again.

I dutifully started on the 1st and am keeping a notepad file of all my exercise and what I consume on my phone.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done this.

For a long time I honestly felt that I’d ‘cracked it’ – and didn’t really need to write anything down anymore because food diaries were for people still trying to get to target.

However I’m also really aware that I’m not yet back in target.

Furthermore – due to being ill (I’m still not at my best but much improved in case you wondered) I didn’t weigh in last Saturday.

I’ve also booked a holiday with Angie for this coming week because I’ve had exciting plans on that day for months

The problem with this is that knowing I’m not going to stand on scales for a couple of weeks will almost certainly invoke my natural tendency to mentally relax and indulge a little.

It’s a slippery slope though – and regardless of how far you’ve come, whatever awards you’ve been given or whether or not you’ve appeared in the media being touted as someone that’s ‘succeeded’ YOU’RE ONLY HUMAN.

A little can soon become a lot and I’m only too aware of my proclivities in this area.

I’m not just a high achiever in the field of weight loss – I’m a flipping guru in the field of weight gain as well.

A few years ago I managed to lose ten stone (this isn’t my first journey on the tubby train) and then put it all back on at the rate of over a stone a month.

If my ability to gain weight was transposed into the field of martial arts I’d basically be Bruce Lee.

I’m that good.

The truth is that I really don’t want to write anything down.

In fact it’s the absolute last thing I want to do – and this tells me something really important.

If I don’t want to do it it’s because I’m hiding from the reality of what I’m capable of eating when I’m not 100% on plan.

Deep down I not only know that I want to over eat – but that given half a chance I will.

I also know what I need to eat in order to maintain my target weight – and I’m writing a diary to make 100% sure I’m consuming it and no more.

Since doing the same old things often results in bad behaviour I’m also switching up my routines and changing my meal times so that I stand a better chance of avoiding danger periods (usually in the evening) where I’m more likely to over indulge.

For a few months I’ve also been (mostly unconsciously) avoiding carbohydrate rich ingredients too – and I’m re-introducing some of these free foods to my meals purely for the sake of variety.

I don’t post pictures of food very often because I feel that this is something that the internet (and particularly Instagram) is already overwhelmed with.

The world really doesn’t need another guy like me posting pictures of his dinner every day.

In this case though I think it’s relevant – if for no other reason but to illustrate that I’ve used noodles in my stir fry for the first time in absolutely ages and I really enjoyed it.

In this case I used a couple of pre prepared stir fry vegetable and mushroom packs from Aldi, a few chicken breast strips, a load more mushrooms, a ‘cake’ of Sainsburys dried egg noodles (these have been in my cupboard for around two years!) garlic, a chicken stock cube and Worcestershire sauce to create something absolutely delicious.

But that’s not all…

It may sound nuts but I’ve only just realised that when making a stir fry (at least the way I usually do it) there’s a lot of water generated by the veg.

I’m sure I’m just not cooking it fast enough – but I don’t have a wok – and getting things REALLY HOT with spray oil never works out well in my experience.

So, rather than trying to cook the liquid off (your stir fry just gets mushy and overcooked if you do) or pour it away (meaning all that lovely flavour is suddenly lost) putting dried noodles in the middle of it neatly absorbs all of the excess fluid – and also has the added benefit of infusing the noodles with wonderful flavour.

Previously I’d always cooked the noodles separately – so this discovery is something of a revelation to me.

The taste difference is genuinely noticeable – and if you’ve never tried this then I recommend giving it a go!

Anyway – as you might expect I’ve been out and about walking since quite early – and have just stopped for fuel.

Since I’ve posted one picture of my dinner I may as well give you one of my lunch.

Sharing is caring after all…

In my case lunch happens to be another concession to carbs and is a chicken enchilada from La Tasca.

Thanks to my Wuntu app (which gives you lots of lovely deals and free things if you’re a 3 mobile customer) this meal set me back a wonderfully frugal £3.

Since the price is usually around £12 (which I consider too steep) and my mobile bill is £9 a month (from which I typically also get a couple of free coffees at Costa and Greggs) I can’t fault this particular indulgence.

On the plus side I also know that La Tasca’s toilet walls will NOT close in on me and the loo seat will not be covered in soil.

As far as I’m concerned internet that’s a win win win situation .

Davey