Project fear and a PITA

I’ve had a lot of success this week.

Since I started swimming again a really short time ago I’ve been going daily and working really hard to improve my stamina and times.

By Friday I’d progressed to the point where I was able ( relatively easily) to swim 1km in the same time as it took to do half that distance when I started.

Furthermore the first 500m of this is now almost continuous – although I have to pause a little at either end every 4 (ish) lengths.

I’m really impressed that I’ve managed to shave a whole thirty minutes off my original time in just 8 days.

However whilst I’m amazed that Apple Watch records stroke and biometric data underwater I’m less impressed with it’s continued predilection for randomly stealing 25m from my stats here and there.

20 lengths all too often gets recorded as 19 and I have no idea why.

I don’t really care though – because what’s more important to me than the time improvements though are my cardio profiles.

With a gradual (but really noticeable) increase in my shoulder and arm strength I’ve managed to sustain my heart rate at a higher bpm for longer every day. In just over a week It’s gone from a graph showing huge peaks and troughs to one with much more consistency – and that makes me really happy.

Regular readers will know though that I can be mildly obsessive.

It’s both a blessing and a curse – because whilst it’s enabled great things in my present I know only too well from past behaviour that it can be very detrimental to me if I’m not careful.

I can be my own worst enemy.

So far, rather than diminishing my walking distances (since I’m now spending around 45 minutes every morning swimming up to 1km) I’ve actually maintained the same level of activity there too.

That’s great – but it’s also caused a noticeable (and disproportionate) increase in my appetite.

Since I started swimming regularly (If you include a standard daily amount of 2500kcal for a man) I’ve been burning 4500 – 5000 total kcal a day – and overall my general activity has significantly increased.

Consequently it’s been hard to keep a lid on my impulse to just carry on eating until i’m stuffed during the evenings, and some days in this respect have been better than other (not so good) ones. This made my weigh in on Saturday a very hard fought maintain

I pulled it around only in the last three days of the week.

On the plus side though I still did it – and this result means that I’ve nearly managed two whole months of losses and maintains without a single gain. 

Probably as a consequence of my focus at the moment (combined with all of my extra activity) my right butt cheek is currently killing me. Yesterday (or the day before) I strained or pulled it somehow and when I move it’s causing me to stiffen up and limp.

Today I’m irritatingly ‘benched’.

Even with this annoyance there are things to be grateful for though. I prefer a tangible muscle strain to the amorphous and vague sensations of vertigo any day of the week.

At least it’s something that’s quantifiable and easily treated with rest.

So – rather than swimming back and forth at the crack of dawn this morning I’m instead forcing myself to take a recovery day and sitting here with a cup (or three) of coffee, listening to music on YouTube and reading whilst I dip in and out of writing this post.

I guess I’m still learning to chill out and be kind to myself – just as I keep telling other people to be when they ask me for advice. This mindset is particularly important to cultivate at the moment because anyone who tells you that remaining at target is as easy as losing weight is a dirty fibber.

Initially I didn’t find it much of a challenge – until I moved my goalposts down by 7lbs for the MOTY competition. 14st 7lbs seems (maybe in retrospect) a much easier place to stay than 14 – and I’ve no idea why.

I often feel like my body seems to lean towards the higher number all the time.

There are moments when I’m totally in the zone – but there are also others (like last night as invisible food fairies relentlessly consumed the contents of my fridge) when things aren’t so easy.

Mentally it’s sometimes also really tough to see a ‘maintain’ in my book and look at it as the total victory that it is. The psychological transition from being regularly praised and rewarded for losing weight to being expected to stay the same week after week is a hard one to get your head around at times.

When you get to this point in a journey like mine I think a conscious mental pivot needs to take place.

Your mindset has to change from one where success is defined by constantly heading on a downward trajectory to a recognition that your new objective must be consolidating what you’ve regained in life and marrying these wins with a constant drive for improvement in other areas.

Staying the same weight when you reach target quickly becomes a laborious task that sits alongside other newly important projects – and eventually you recognise that what you’ve actually done is nothing more than to create a solid foundation upon which other structures still need to be built.

Stepping outside of comfort zones is my current ‘theme’ at the moment and I’ve been quietly banging away at (drum roll)…

PROJECT FEAR!

This has absolutely nothing to do with watching horror movies or Brexit vs Bremain – but instead relates to dealing with underlying issues of body and self confidence in specific (and largely personal) areas of my life.

Neglecting to do this over the last few years created a crisis point several weeks ago – and has made me realise (if I didn’t already know) that burying any emotion or fear is a short term solution at best.

‘Relentlessly powering through’ is not dealing with tough personal moments in life (although I appreciate this approach is sometimes required) it’s just deferring them until a later date – by which time they will almost certainly be bigger than they were if you’d just strapped on a pair and dealt with them there and then.

Thankfully I feel that things (on a personal emotional level) are really rather looking up – and I’m learning to flex emotional muscles that haven’t been used for a while. With this in mind my current approach (to crib from a well known text by Susan Jeffers) is ‘feel the fear and do it anyway‘.

My reading material lately has reflected this and I’ve been working (slowly) through some interesting books. Today I’m exploring one called ‘Little Wins’ by Paul Lindley.

The blurb on this sucked me in by questioning why as adults we grow away from our child like states of eagerly trying (and often failing) to do many different things to cautiously avoiding situations where success isn’t a certainty or that we think will be diminished in the eyes of others if we don’t succeed.

I’ll let you know if I find anything interesting in it!

So – if you need me internet I’ll be focusing on my inner child whilst occasionally rubbing Ibuprofen gel into his posterior…

Davey

Slimming World Parliamentary Reception

A couple of days ago (on Wednesday) I went to the House of Commons for a Slimming World reception hosted by Baroness Benjamin.

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I know her better as Floella – because throughout my childhood she was a huge presence on children’s television – and also a quiet beacon (although I never really recognised it at the time) for racial diversity on a BBC that was largely populated by white men.

In person she’s quite something.

She seems eternally youthful – and possesses seemingly endless energy. During the two hours I was next to or near by her she never appeared to be anything less than continually animated and engaging.

Even when I presented myself in front of her and gushingly shook her hand later in the afternoon she was gracious and cheerful.

This was despite me making a ham fisted Oscar Wilde reference regarding whether or not she had a picture of herself at home going mouldy in the loft (the Picture of Dorian Grey).

Bless her.

She just stared blankly at me and unleashed a huge smile before warmly hugging me.

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Despite my clearly refined sense of humour falling largely on deaf ears with Floella the day went well and the themes she raised clearly resonated with many in the room. 

The topic was the startling increase in childhood obesity (something Floealla is extremely passionate about – she’s heavily involved in related charities) and what the government are doing to look at this from a strategic perspective.

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There were a few speeches – from the great and good within Slimming World and also a representative from government.

In no particular order we heard from the young slimmer of the year Charlotte Randall (link) (Instagram),  2017’s Top Target Consultant from Warwickshire Jodie Rigby-Mee (link) (Instagram) Slimming World’s head of external affairs Jenny Craven (link) and Conservative MP Andrew Selous (link) speaking as part of the health and social care committee. 

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I met a lot of people and shook a lot of hands, discussing many topics that were important to me and listening to other people’s opinions on what mattered to them.

There was also something of a treat for me – because one of the more personally interesting people I bumped into was a guy called Kennneth Fox. He’s an emeritus Professor at Bristol University (link) and has written and consulted extensively on the links between physical activity and psychological wellbeing.

These are subjects that have become very close to my heart – and I know from first hand experience how activity can change physical and emotional darkness into hopeful rays of light.

Kenneth has been working with Slimming World for around 20 years and (I discovered) was heavily involved in formulating their ‘Body Magic‘ plan.

For those unfamiliar with Slimming World this part of the plan aims to encourage members to get involved in regular exercise – and in its literature illustrates the benefits it can have when combined with healthy eating.

I’m proudly a Platinum Body Magic certificate holder.

I chatted to him and his lovely wife for quite a while – but finally I couldnt resist asking him about a burning question that had been on my mind from the moment I saw his name badge.

I wanted to know (when he had come into contact with people such as myself that have had extreme weight loss) how their heart health was afterwards.

What did he think about my resting heart rate?

Very encouragingly Ken didn’t seem at all surprised my my RHR (which readers will know has been a minor preoccupation of mine for a while since it’s typically 40bpm). 

When I told him that I ‘only’ walked (as opposed to spending ages in the gym, running marathons or climbing mountains) he replied with ‘Well I bet that you don’t walk slowly.’

‘No I don’t. Not any more anyway.’ I replied.

‘I tend to be quite brisk.’

‘You’d be surprised how quickly the heart reacts to moderate increases in exercise.’ He said.

‘It can drop down to the mid forties in next to no time – and what you’ve been doing probably has much more in common with the heart profile of an athlete than you realise. Regular cardio activity has an almost immediate corresponding impact on heart health.’

He sipped his red wine thoughtfully and watched my response.

I was listening intently.

‘When I get into my fitness my resting rate quickly drops into the forties.’ He continued, smiling at me.

I nodded. He was telling me just what I needed to hear.

This was really encouraging – because my GP had said that he had next to no experience of extreme weight loss and how it affects the body. Therefore (despite his assurances last week that my RHR was normal) I’ve still remained a little worried that my heart has its rate because I in some way damaged it when I was so obese.

Thankfully everyone is telling me the opposite lately. 

It’s very encouraging, because it means my long term health outcomes are really really positive

I’m really not sure how I’ve dodged so many health related bullets – and I’m of the opinion that in many ways I really don’t deserve the outcomes that I’ve had over the last two years

Not only do I feel lucky – but I also sometimes feel quite guilty, because I know quite a few people that have looked after themselves way better than I every did – and yet they suffer much more with ill health than I do now.

Life isn’t fair – and if anything their struggles continually remind me that I have a duty to keep doing what I’ve been doing – if for no other reason to show them that I appreciate what I’ve got and I don’t plan to throw it away again.

I need to persist with my exercise for THEM and focus on my continual self improvement.

Before long though the pleasant conversation (and the event as a whole) was coming to a close.

All that remained was to grab a few quick photos to mark the occasion.

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The one above also has the 2018 Greatest Loser Shaun Carrington – (link) (instagram) and 2018 National Mr Sleek Dan Sullivan (link) (instagram) in it on the right. Both of these guys posted their own images of this moment on Instagram and and I was amazed when they pointed out that this photo represented a total combined loss of over 58 stone!

(I also rather like it because of the rather amusing photobomber in the background who made me laugh out loud when I spotted the cheesy grin behind Jodie. She knows who she is!)

I walked away from the day filled with thoughts about how to formulate a post related to all this – as well as how to do it justice – but the truth is that my thoughts were elsewhere.

The Parlimentary event had been very interesting and it was lovely to meet everyone – but I find that sometimes when I sit down to write about my day the main events are often not the ones that bring my thoughts into focus.

There were a couple of things about that day that were a lot more important to me.

Firstly my friend – who also accompanied me to the Ritz – joined me on again on Wednesday. For this I was extremely grateful – although I doubt she grasped quite how much.

Being trapped in Solihull by Vertigo a week and a half ago on my own really dented my confidence because I didn’t see it coming. I was just stuck, out in the open and alone, feeling vulnerable and incapable.

It wasn’t nice.

Having a close friend with me that could look after me if something bad happened was a real comfort – and although I seem to now be over the worst with my inner ear infection (I didn’t have any attacks at all on Wednesday!) her being there made all the difference.

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The great thing about spending time with my friend (like many of my other really close ones) is that she knows how I think

Although I could have easily charged taxis from the train station to the Houses of Commons and back again to Slimming World’s expenses for the day nothing could have been further from my mind.

She instinctively knew this without me having to say a word.

We twalked the whole way from London Marleybone to the Houses of Parliament and back, and thoroughly enjoyed every step

The selfie of us is on the blue bridge in St James Park – and it was taken before we arrived at the reception.

It’s round here that the real point of my blog entry today can be found.

Here, all of the considerations about an event in a musty old building in the nation’s capital just fall by the wayside when I think back to Wednesday, because here the true ‘moment’ arrived. 

I honestly think that if I remember anything about this cold day in November 2018 it will be standing by a man feeding wildlife near the lake.

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I initially noticed him because of the bright green parakeets next to him competing for attention amongst the squirrels and pigeons (a known phenomenon in London – link).

Their plumage seems instantly out of place and it’s hard not to marvel at their strikingly beautiful colours and inquisitive personalities.

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I stepped over a couple of fences to get closer and record the moment, navigating around the man holding handfuls of nuts and trying to get a good photo for my blog.

Nearby though a couple of squirrels were trying hard to make sure my focus became them rather than the brightly coloured birds.

To the left of me I became aware of a little pair of watchful brown eyes…

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As I took photos one of them moved further to my left. As it did behind me I could hear my friend laughing.

What was so funny?

At the same time as I noticed a tugging sensation on my right trouser leg.

I looked around. 

What was causing that?

Then I felt the same tugging sensation on my left trouser leg…

All of a sudden I realised I was being besieged by squirrels!

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I looked down at my left thigh (as I felt the squirrel clinging to my right heading for my crotch) and started to take pictures.

Amazingly (unlike the more skittish residents of my local park) this seemed to be business as usual for these delightful little creatures, and he/she was happy to pose if there was the vague promise of food at the end of it.

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As I type the physical sensation of the warmth from this little squirrel’s stomach is still present on my leg, and it’s something that has been occupying my thoughts for the last two days.

This event has taken pride of place above everything else relating to my trip to London.

I’ve been trying to figure out why it means more to me than meeting a celebrity and standing in the seat of our democracy as an honoured guest and the truth is that this little creature represents (with the warmth of it’s under carriage) the connectedness that I now have with the world around me.

Honestly as I type these thoughts are almost moving me to tears – because every single element of the day that I experienced would have been impossible not so long ago

Even if I’d split the day into segments and tried to experience them on individual days (when I was at my emotionally lowest and physically heaviest point in life) I doubt I’d have been capable of completing one of them. 

Yet now my life is very different.

By the time I went to bed on Wednesday, after walking home from the train station my activity stats looked like this:

  • I’d swum 1km (in the time it took me to swim 500m only a week ago)
  • I’d walked 13.5 miles
  • I’d taken 25,984 steps 
  • I’d managed 211 minutes of cardio exercise
  • I’d spent 20 out of 24 hours standing or moving about
  • I’d climbed the equivalent of 15 flights of stairs
  • I’d burned 2,374 Active and 4,885 Total calories

These are all just numbers though.

Occasionally I look at them and forget their significance, instead thinking simply (and maybe self critically) ‘you could do more’. 

However – there are days (Wednesday being one of them) where I’m just profoundly grateful because I have a life that’s full of wonder.

I’m in awe of the fact that I can not only walk the distances I do, but sit on trains next to someone in complete comfort and pull down the little table in front of me without it resting on my stomach.

I get lost in the magnificence of being about to stand in a queue for an hour, followed by a reception for two hours, and then follow such things with a walk across London for another hour and a half without feeling any pain whatsoever.

I want to cry with joy because my pictures of a squirrel crawling up my leg are unimpeded by a massive stomach, and my leg is now small enough for a tiny little squirrel to hold on to.

I love that every day I can put one foot in front of another and see another wonderful part of the world, nomatter how pedestrian and mundane it may seem to other people.

Every moment of my life is now filled with the significance of insignificance and the wonder of the mundane, because to me all of it is fresh and new.

I don’t know how long my life will go on for, and I don’t know whether or not my health will always be this good, but I want to do everything I possibly can to make absolutely sure that I not only maintain it but show other people by demonstrating how fantastic life can be that they too can be something different.

I want the world to realise that without any surgery even a man who looked like this:

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…can change into this:

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I feel so much joy that instead of the ever present weight of an enormous stomach continually pressing into my giant thighs I can now feel a squirrel. 

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This, internet is the product of a life that is no longer being lived with limits.

It’s the kind of life that needs to be treasured and held onto because I’ve wasted so much of it – and I want to cherish every remaining second that it has to offer. 

I’m still learning to live life – and while I do I’m loving every single moment of it.

Davey

Massively small

It’s been a quiet few days and I’ve (so far) had no further incidents of vertigo since last Monday – which is a blessed relief.

The slightly worrying thing though is that there’s a noticeable ‘offness’ still present in my ears – so I don’t think whatever caused it in the first place is completely gone.

I’m hoping it’s receded far enough for a long train journey though because tomorrow I have to travel quite a distance.

I’m hoping that the day out isn’t going to be derailed (no pun intended) in the same way that pretty much everything else I’ve wanted to do since last week has been.

Health wise in every other respect I’m cooking on gas though.

It never ceases to amaze me what the human body is capable of when you push it or try to do new things.

When I first tried to swim on Friday (the last time prior to this was 20 years ago) it took me 51 minutes to do 20 lengths.

My arms were tiring quickly and I had to wait a while at either end while they recovered because I was scared that they’d run out of steam half way.

I really don’t want to be rescued!

I’m still not able to do length after length without stopping – but the down time in between them is rapidly decreasing.

Annoyingly today Apple Watch decided to ignore my first length in its count – but trust me when I say that this morning I did 20 lengths in almost half the time that it took me when I first started.

Furthermore when I’d finished, (since I had more time than expected before meeting my friend for a planned twalk nearby) I decided to carry on.

Again I was cheated out of the first length in my stats (I have no idea why this is happening and it’s annoying!) but this means that I can now do 30 lengths in around 38 minutes.

An extra 50% distance in 4/5ths of the time!!

How cool is that?!

It just goes to show how moderately sustained period of exercise (this is only my fifth consecutive day) can yield tangible improvements. You just have to stick to it and be a bit determined.

So why am I suddenly doing this and why am I so focused on the results?

Well honestly I have decided that I want to lose more weight – but as MOTY I cant deviate too much from the point where I won the title while I hold it.

However there is absolutely nothing to stop me replacing the fat I lose (there’s a fair bit left around my waist – a common problem area for guys) with muscle.

I want to see whether I can change my body shape – which outside of fat loss is not something I’ve earnestly tried to do before.

Currently in my mind’s eye I look like this.

But I’d really really like to look like this.

I’m pretty sure that my walking has afforded me quite muscular legs – but since they were always covered in fat as I developed their shape I’ve no idea whether they look better now than they otherwise would have done if I’d always been thinner.

My arms and shoulders however are another story entirely.

They’re pretty skinny now (there’s no fat at all in this area) and I’ve done next to no work on them over the last three years that I’ve managed to sustain.

Dumbbells suck.

Press-ups suck.

Pull-ups suck (and are also currently impossible.)

Swimming on the other hand does not suck so the likelihood that I’m going to carry on with it is (hopefully) high.

I should be able to see tangible physical changes too as I develop the muscles needed to swim continuously.

I’ve also got another incentive to change my shape further – because on Sunday I went charity shopping with a friend.

I like going hunting for new things with her because I feel that we tend to push one another outside of our comfort zones – and we get eachother to try new styles and colours that otherwise we may have completely ignored.

This picture is a new high point in my clothes buying career – because it represents something MASSIVE.

Or SMALL.

It depends on how you look at it.

For me it’s a MASSIVE milestone because the size label in this jacket reads SMALL.

Honestly I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about wearing clothing that’s so fitted (because frankly it makes me want to reduce my waist even more) but the honest truth is that I trust her opinion and she said that I don’t look stupid.

I’m not naive enough to think that everything ‘small’ will suddenly fit me (and I suspect that this Animal jacket is probably more of a ‘smaller medium’ than a true small) but I don’t care one little bit.

It is without a shadow of doubt the smallest item of clothing that I ever remember wearing as an adult (even my fitted waistcoats have more give) and it makes me happy – because even now I can see scope for improvements in my body and I want to work to achieve them.

It’s going to be a difficult balancing act mind you – because I’ve noticed that arriving hand in hand with significantly increased daily exercise is a growing appetite.

I’ve been rather hungry over the last few days and having stepped on the scales this morning I can confirm that a I’ve moved a couple of pounds in the wrong direction.

This is all good though – and I’m not worried.

Facing up to the consequences of what I do and what I eat is a continuous project – and figuring out how much my body needs (or doesn’t need) when I become more active is a learning curve like any other.

All I have to do is track what I burn, track what I consume and it will all eventually come out in the wash.

Anyway.

That’s the sum of the last few days.

Tomorrow promises to be infinitely more blog worthy because I’m attending a reception at the Houses of Parliament!

Tune in next time when hopefully there will be some pics of the event and interesting musings.

It could equally be a harrowing description of a vertigo attack whilst stuck in London miles from home.

Hopefully it’s the former internet….

Davey

Squeaking from below

Although at the time it fitted in quite nicely with my healthy eating regime my epic addiction to walking wasn’t something I planned in advance.

In truth my continued predilection with it related more to the fact that I’m a rather frugal person at heart.

It seemed insane to me that people paid for gyms to use a treadmill when there was a perfectly good pavement right outside their houses.

Furthermore (despite what many may assume) I’ve never felt like willpower was my strong suit.

It will eventually fail – so with regard to health you have to build active structures into your life that have as little friction as possible – but lots of fringe benefits.

Walking everywhere ticked pretty much every box for me.

In the early days it simply saved me money on the way to a coffee shop – and I made a pact with myself I’d never buy a coffee without getting to the cafe under my own steam.

I still do the same thing 99% of the time now and it serves me very well.

It also became a vehicle for socialising – and I’d accidentally I discovered an entirely new source of intellectual and emotional stimulation that also had the added benefit of keeping me healthy.

I fed the soul while I burned the pounds.

Later on it became my primary method of commuting to work and I walked six miles every day without fail thanks to this.

Mostly because of these things (and because I bloody love it) I’m pretty sure that walking will always be a part of my life.

I may just have found another hobby though – because currently all I can think about is swimming.

This morning I got up early and hit the pool again.

My split times seem to have already markedly improved from the day before – which I’m really surprised about. I expected a lot more pain in my arms and in fact when I awoke there was none at all!

Yesterday this was the result.

Today I felt more confident and really rather focused. My technique was noticeably a little better and my breathing had improved. Both need a lot of work though.

I screwed up on the distance today though and accidentally set the length of the pool to 20 rather than the total number of lengths to 20.

Either way I did the same distance as I did the day before in around two thirds of the time.

It’s clear that I need to work out exactly how my watch tracks the distance and strokes so that I get a true representation of whether I’m getting better or worse.

It’s a work in progress – but I plan to keep trying hard – for several reasons.

Firstly I was very aware that the same motivation propelled me to get out of bed and go to the leisure centre early this morning as originally motivated me to go walking.

I’ve paid up front, and it’s only worth it if I use it.

If you want to swim at any of Warwickshire’s municipal pools it’s either £4.70 on a pay as you go basis or £25 for a rolling monthly pass (with a £20 one off enrolling fee).

That means in order to make such an arrangement financially worthwhile I need to go for a swim ten times in the first month and six times a month thereafter.

That’s do-able.

Being tight fisted is a powerful motivator.

I’m going a step further though as an added incentive.

I’d like to at least halve the cost of going for a dip (making it £2.35 a go) and that means I need to go more than ten times a month.

If you can hear a squeaking noise it’s not a mouse. That’s the sound of my ass cheeks rubbing together…

Slimming World motivates me along the same lines.

As a target member I get to go to group for free as long as I remain within my range – and it’s a great incentive to keep trying hard every week.

The swimming has really helped me in this respect. Today and the day before have seen numbers of daily calories being burned (According to Apple Watch) that I’ve not experienced for quite a while.

Yesterday alone I finished the day on nearly 5000 (although to be fair on top of swimming half a kilometre I also walked 17.5 miles) and I’m on for a great total today too.

All of this meant I had a chunky 3lb loss and for the first time in a long long time I also won the slimmer of the week!!

Wow.

Swimming rules!!!

It’s also impacted my mood today from another perspective – because today my worst nightmare arrived.

I was a little surprised yesterday when I found that the Warwickshire changing rooms are now unisex.

That’s ok though – there are cubicles and in the morning it’s quiet. I’m not a prude either and in principle it doesn’t bother me.

Today though (directly after the morning fitness session) is a ‘learn to swim club’ with tons of little kids – and the unexpected side effect of this was that I found myself surrounded by lots of fully clothed mums and dads while I was standing in the shower in my Lycra pants.

But you know what?

Screw it.

After all the lengthy and fearful preamble to my inaugural swim yesterday I have realised now how much it doesn’t matter – and frankly I couldn’t care less if I’m standing topless in front of people who are either the opposite sex or fully clothed.

In fact I’d go so far as to say I don’t give a shit.

This is something quite profound.

I’ve actually made something of a massive mental leap in a very short space of time – because if (after years of fearing this) I can take off my clothes and stand, imperfect and half naked in front of random strangers then I can stand in front of a prospective partner and do the same.

The truth of it is that attractive people rarely look like someone we’d want to get to know if they lack confidence and stare at the floor.

Confidence is an alluring quality in itself and I aim to cultivate this part of me whether I’m standing in a three piece suit or the one provided for me on my birthday.

My personal project to increase my unclothed self confidence is in full flow internet.

I’m on the case and chasing improvements wherever I can find them.

Davey

Another fear conquered!

It’s been a rocky couple of weeks with one thing or another and if I didn’t know the truth already I’m now firmly of the opinion that I’m an awful ill person.

I’m sure we all have our moments – and that being sick suits no-one – but I feel being ‘benched’ way more acutely than I ever used to.

Especially when it’s a silly little part of my body (inner ear) causing all the problems.

Status update – I still feel ‘odd’.

That’s the best I can do to give this illness a voice. For most of the time it’s just a vague floaty feeling coupled with a mild earache and a sense that I may or may not feel a little sick.

Honestly if I was still a regular drinker this would have been lost in the routine of my daily hangovers (otherwise known as life back then) and I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

The only reason I keep picking up on this issue is that I’m usually on such good form – and I really notice when I’m even a little off nowadays.

It’s slowed me down this week – but thankfully I’m the human equivalent of a rubber band these days – and if I miss exercise one day or don’t feel like I’ve done enough during the week then I end up jumping into it with gusto as soon as I can.

Part of me says I should love lying in bed, watching Netflix or playing video games – especially with such a good excuse.

I hate it though.

These passtimes were such a huge feature of my existence not so long ago (and represent all that was wrong with my approach to life) that I can’t bring myself to do them for any length of time unless I absolutely have no other choice.

So – I needed to make up for a couple of days where I barely walked a couple of miles.

But how to compensate for not doing enough?

Well – maybe the best way is doing something new and facing up to a long held fear.

Today, after a lengthy morning walk around the park, for the first time since 1998 I went swimming.

Yep.

I only went and ****ing did it!

The truth about fears are that they’re always bigger in your head than they are in reality.

The horror of one day having to confront this has been growing and growing in my mind like a virus ever since I realised I could no longer physically or mentally face swimming.

I have been envisaging the absolute worst outcome for so long that it was next to impossible to approach it rationally.

I’ve had a few ‘standing on a ledge’ conversations with some of my friends about my self image related to this over the last few weeks.

However…

The world didn’t end.

No-one stared at me.

Everyone was perfectly nice – and a couple of them even made pleasant conversation with me when I paused at the ends of the pool to catch my breath.

The whole thing was completely uneventful – and that is flipping awesome!!!!

All I wanted was to be invisible – and I actually think I was.

I am very glad indeed that I bought some good trunks because they were absolutely excellent.

My new Speedos are flexible and supportive in all the right places and grippy enough to stay in place.

They never once rolled either up or down at the top or bottom, and when I climbed out of the pool there was no crack of doom to horrify the poor ladies behind me.

I’ll go so far as to say I felt damn good in them.

I’m not just saying that to overcompensate for negative feelings either.

I felt like I fitted in with the other pool users. I didn’t seem to be any larger or smaller than anyone around me – which is another massive step towards me re-aligning my skewed mental perspective of myself and how people view me.

Furthermore I fit perfectly into large skin tight Speedos.

I can also easily climb up and down the steps into the pool.

Hell – now I fit into the world.

Wether it’s wet or dry.

This might not be a surprise to those that look at me – particularly in my MOTY photos – and logically I knew this already but my inner child didn’t.

He’s still bullied, small and vulnerable.

He lives in fear of being picked on and needs to be led by the hand and shown that’s it’s ok to stand up tall in front of people.

Regular readers may remember I’ve done something like this before.

This is the same as me getting into every small car I could find in Warwick and Leamington (link) and proving to myself that I could get all of their seatbelts on.

Even though my logical mind knew that I could my child mind would have nothing to do with the concept.

Only by physically confronting irrational fears like this do I prove to him that there’s no need to be afraid.

So I swam.

I did it slowly and methodically, and it tired my (clearly weaker than they should be) arms out.

I need more practice and I need to get better.

So I bought myself a rolling swimming pool membership – and I’m going to improve.

This is where I start.

I’d also done two lengths before I started my watch’s workout – so I actually swam 550 metres (22 lengths of the pool) on my first attempt in two decades.

I needed a break between each one to rest my arms – but I felt good!!!

So – here’s to conquering fear and getting on with living the fullest life humanly possible.

If I can do it then anyone can.

Fear is the only thing stopping you.

Conquer it!

Davey

Lycra

I find myself unexpectedly awake in the small hours of the morning and I can’t sleep because I have a variety of thoughts rolling around my head.

I managed to get out of the house for a walk around the park yesterday and it felt good.

I’m useless at staying indoors and watching TV nowadays and I find it really hard to just take it easy.

Every moment I spend seated honestly feels like a moment of the life I have left is being wasted – and I’m struck by how much I’ve changed in this regard.

Although my inner ear issue is still apparent (I went for a coffee afterwards and nearly fell over when I stood up from the table in Costa) I awoke yesterday feeling both physically better and mentally determined.

For all of the things I feel I’ve overcome recently there are still quite a few topics that remain in the back of my mind – and I’m aware that some of them are going to be quite difficult to face up to.

One of them is skin and what’s left after weight loss.

It’s a topic that concerns almost everyone I speak to and almost everyone that contacts me to ask for support or guidance.

It occupies my own thoughts too and they’re often conflicted – because I don’t want an operation but I also don’t want to be perceived as a freak or oddity.

I’m never quite sure whether I put off dealing with how I feel about people seeing my body because I don’t feel it’s anyone’s business but my own or because I’m worried about how they will react – and how this in turn will affect me.

In truth I guess it’s a mixture of both.

I also live a very public life in social media (in a way that I would never have foreseen three years ago) and it has a big influence on my thinking.

The old fart side of me, born into a world without mobile phones, the internet and social media sees sharing information and images of how people look when not fully clothed (I’m not talking about porn – but rather underwear or muscle/gym selfies) as a vanity project that can only lead to peer censure and personal anguish.

You’re almost certain to get some negative responses – so why do it to yourself? Is the need to be loved so huge that it’s now also required from an audience who can never know the real you?

The other side of me (the one that emerged out of the offline 80’s and embraced social media with gusto) thinks slightly differently however.

He’s seen how people have reacted to his blog and his Instagram account.

He’s spoken first hand to men and women about how his struggles seem to have provided genuine inspiration and comfort to them – especially when they are coming from a similarly dark place in their lives to the one that he did.

He’s come to accept that facing up to the truth of who he is in public has enabled his words and actions to potentially help many others.

He sees the value in this – and a need to ‘give back’ and to do good in the world (even in a modest way) is a powerful motivator.

But my new, modern approach to the world and honesty with it can be a big (self imposed) burden.

Where does my wish to help other people outweigh my need to keep parts of my life private?

Where is the line drawn between altruism and maintaining my self esteem?

I don’t know.

I’m not sure I’m willing or able to cross such a line.

Maybe other men who’ve already done it and ‘outed’ their bodies in public on social media have already completed the work on my behalf.

Maybe there’s absolutely no merit left in doing so.

But – what I don’t know how it made them feel when they did it.

Did they feel a sense of catharsis when they uploaded a picture of their imperfect naked torsos and clicked ‘post’? Did doing so mean that the worst was over and they were ‘out there’ – free from the burden of hiding or did they upload it and instantly regret it?

I guess it’s an individual choice and an impossible question to answer when applied to what must be an incredibly diverse range of desires to be accepted, complex needs to be loved, and motivations to help others.

Regardless of this I made a big step yesterday.

I bought something I’d pretty much agreed with myself that I wouldn’t.

Figure hugging swimwear.

The very thought of it fills me with dread – but maybe it’s something I need to confront – because at some point I’m going to have to face up to how people might see me when I’m not fully clothed.

It certainly won’t be like the model in the picture on Amazon – who does little for my self image.

If nothing else he makes me want to buy a top as well and go ‘full burqini’ on the problem at hand.

I envy women in this case.

Modesty would be acceptable for them in the same way as wearing something revealing would – but for men I feel theres a different burden.

We go topless.

In our society it’s just what’s expected of us.

It’s what we do.

Often this topic rears it’s head in relation to breast feeding and women’s rights (#freethenippleI agree) but far less for men who really aren’t comfortable with being uncovered.

The whole topic makes me want to climb into huge a neoprene zip up bag, cut out some eye and snorkel holes and fashion it into a cover all swim suit before ever throwing myself into a municipal pool.

I desperately want to hide from the eyes of the world.

But you know what?

Why shouldn’t I wear a Lycra swimsuit?

Why shouldn’t I be proud of who I am after all I’ve achieved?

I want a full life in every sense of the word – and I feel that to achieve this goal I have to push forward aggressively with the complete normalisation of my self image and dealing with the reality of what’s left behind.

Blogging has become my new normal – but the question remains -can I share how I look in Lycra with my audience?

I don’t think so.

Not yet.

Maybe never.

I suspect that the world doesn’t need images of me in swimwear on its mobile phone browsers.

Currently a picture of the logo on my shorts and their tag is as far as I’m willing to go.

I can say though that yesterday when I tried these on and stepped gingerly in front of the mirror my feelings were not ones of horror or revulsion.

I actually thought ‘OK. That’s not so bad. I can work with this.

And that’s a start.

It’s the first step toward greater things.

I have yet to wear them in public though.

Simply pulling them on in the first place and knowing that nothing would be perfect was hard enough – and I need to do that a few times more to come to terms with it all.

I’ll keep you posted Internet.

Davey

Stability… or the lack of it

I’m not gonna lie. Today I feel physically and emotionally down.

I had a lot of plans for this week – some of which I’d been looking forward to for a long time and I’ve had to cancel all of them one by one.

The reason? It seems that my head’s sudden fascination with vertigo doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

Yesterday it unexpectedly reared its ugly head once again.

Monday initially started well enough – although in retrospect I might have missed some early warning signs when I awoke – because I immediately noticed that I was really congested and had earache.

Not a problem right? I’m a big boy.

Just get up and get on with it.

Two cold and flu capsules and some ibuprofen later I was dressed and heading for the train station. The plan for the day was to meet a friend for coffee (something we don’t get to do very often) in Solihull and I was really looking forward to a good catch up.

I purchased my tickets and sat in the cool of the waiting room at Warwick station. It was marginally warmer than sitting on the platform – but not by much.

I looked around for a heater that I could sit closer to but there didn’t seem to be one, so instead I picked up a copy of Warwickshire Life that was on the nearby table and sat on a bench to skim read it while I waited.

I was really cold – but everyone else around me seemed just fine…

Before long though the train arrived and it was here that I realised something was amiss. As soon as it had begun to move the carriage seemed to become instantly stuffy, warm and airless – which reminded me of something.

My initial attack of vertigo a week and a half ago had been while I was a passenger in a car coming back from the Slimming World ball. The exact same sensations had been apparent then and I’d become increasingly uncomfortable as the journey progressed until I could no longer bear it.

By the time I reached my destination (thankfully it was an express rather than local train) I was coping but not feeling too great. I noticed that I was covered in goose pimples and more than usually cold. Furthermore my nose was running like a broken tap.

Never mind.

Just get on with it.

I’d arrived a few hours early so that I could make the most of the day and do a bit of browsing around the shops. If nothing else my cold hands would be a good excuse to buy a cheap pair of gloves and maybe a cardigan to go under my jacket.

I walked slowly and carefully from the station into town and one by one started wandering in and out of charity shops.

Although there were lots of cheap gloves i couldn’t find a single pair that felt right (I have unusually small hands for a man) so I continued mooching until I found myself in the British Heart Foundation.

Hanging on the front of the rack as I walked towards the rear of the shop (do any other guys get really miffed that small amounts of men’s clothes are always buried behind acres of women’s clothes in every single shop ever?) was a really nice – and seemingly brand new – Taylor and Wright grey waistcoat in my size.

I wasn’t really familiar with the brand – but after a quick google I found that it was something from Matalan and that their waistcoats usually retailed at around £25.

waistcoat

I’ve slowly become a fan of clothes that are a little more fitted as my level of body self confidence has grown. This trend began when I won the MOTY award in July and had the benefit of spending a couple of hours with a stylist and personal shopper in London (link).

The really nice lady who helped me choose an outfit for the occasion made me understand just how biased I was towards really roomy clothes. By showing me experimental alternatives (in a non judgemental and supportive space) she underlined to me that I’d been choosing things that covered rather than flattered my shape for so long that I that no longer had any idea I was doing it.

As a consequence of that experience I now go for the snugger fitting 42inch chest in jackets and waistcoats rather than the looser 44’s.

Both work in truth – but oddly (and I never thought I’d say this in a million years) I rather like the ‘close’ feel of a waistcoat that fits perfectly without any margin for error.

Since it was a steal at only £4.75 I bought it immediately, pulled the tags off, put it on and buttoned it up.

With it and my jacket I at least felt a little warmer.

Or did I?

Now I was hot.

No. Wait. I was COLD.

No. Hot.

Ummm…

I stepped outside and continued to walk, hoping the sensation would go. Until I walked into what appeared to be a furnace on the upper floor of TK Maxx.

Initially I rather enjoyed the sensation of warmth when I walked through the door and walked up the stairs, until that is the room started spinning and I had to hold onto the racking to steady myself.

I quickly went back down the stairs and stepped outside to sit on a bench.

My nose was streaming, the world was spinning, my head was bursting and all of a sudden the world had become oppressively bright.

I pulled the peak of my cap down over my eyes and hoped the moment would pass.

But it didn’t.

After fifteen minutes I was becoming worried. Unlike on the previous occasion when I’d been surrounded by people that could look after me, yesterday, sitting on a bench in the middle of Solihull I was suddenly hyper aware that I was alone.

I immediately texted two friends (one of whom was on the way to meet me already) told them what was happening and where I was exactly – just in case.

After a while I was shivering.

I think this was because it was genuinely cold outside (later that day in Warwick there was hail and sleet) but by then I simply couldn’t tell.

There was a Boots Chemist nearby so I went inside to ask the pharmacist if there was an over-the-counter remedy I could buy.

There wasn’t.

‘It’s prescription only.’ She said looking at me with sympathy.

‘You could go to the walk in clinic at the hospital up the road?’ she helpfully suggested.

‘OK thanks.’ I replied, and headed for the exit.

I didn’t fancy another six hour stay in a hospital A&E department with the smell of (my own) vommit in the air. Hopefully the moment would pass.

I retreated over the road into the warmth of a nearby Costa coffee shop, and without buying a drink headed for the nearest available seat, sat down and tried to breathe slowly.

Before long I had my head in my hands and could barely move. The world was increasingly oppressive and painful with every passing moment and I couldnt lift my head up. Noise, light, vibration and temperature were all combining to assault my senses and the only respite came from closing my eyes, putting my head in my lap and cupping my ears with my hands.

I wanted the toilet desperately but couldn’t get up to go.

After an hour or so I marshalled the strength to call my doctor and beg the receptionist for an urgent call back from a doctor at the practice rather than an appointment. After around 20 minutes (much to my surprise) a doctor did call me – and I told him that the same problem had happened again. I needed an emergency prescription of the same medication I’d had before (Betahistine) sent electronically to Boots immediately – otherwise I had no alternative but to go to A&E.

He agreed to do this as long as I came into the surgery later that afternoon to be re-assessed.

I replied that I’d be more than happy to attend any social event of his choosing as long as he would give me the medication ASAP.

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Within ten minutes I had the pills in hand, had taken one and was sitting quietly in Boots waiting for it to take effect. Shortly after this my friend arrived – and a few minutes later (whether it was the drugs, a placebo effect or a just a natural improvement) I began to feel like I could move again.

Ultimately after two hours trapped in the open and virtually incapable of moving or interacting with anyone I made my way home again on the train and went to see my GP as we’d agreed earlier on the phone.

After much questioning and examination (he wasn’t the same guy i’d seen earlier in the week, or that I’d spoken to on the phone) the doctor confirmed my original diagnosis (vestibular labyrinthitis) and said that it should clear up naturally.

I needed (he said) to keep taking my newly prescribed second course of betahistine, carry on with my ear spray and also use a decongestant such as olbas oil to relieve the syptoms of my blocked ears nose and throat.

It’s not been completely plain sailing since.

I nearly fell down the stairs last night after going to the toilet when I lost my balance – and I’ve stayed indoors all day. This is partially because I’m a bit nervous about what will happen if I go out and also because I’ve been lurching between feeling absolutely fine (I do at the moment) and absolutely awful.

So – I’m a bit glum.

I’m really hoping this is gone soon – because if it isn’t the next step is a brain scan – and I really don’t want that.

Sigh. The last few weeks have been a real mix of highs and lows.

Here’s hoping things improve soon – I much prefer stability in all senses of the word…

Vertigo sucks.

Davey

Drive like a pensioner

The only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability.

I thought I knew the way my post was going to go today. In my head it was all mapped out – but then life decided it was going to head in another direction entirely.

The day started normally enough – with me in a terrific frame of mind. Yesterday had been a positive one, and I’d managed to continue my gradual downward trend on the scales.

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It was also a food tasting occasion – and I’d decided to make a chicken Waldorf salad from the Slimming World Free & Easy cookbook, which seemed to turn out really well.

Everyone seemed to rather enjoy it (including me) and the food tasting event appeared to be a success for all concerned.

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I spent the rest of the day walking and socialising – and by the time I hit the sack later that evening I was pleasantly tired and slept really well. In truth my quality of sleep was probably also because I’ve been drastically reducing my coffee intake since my vertigo incident last week.

Along with my ear drops this has helped and I’ve been feeling progressively better – even though my nose is still a bit blocked.

When I awoke today for the first of my two planned morning walks I was full of beans. I was meeting a fellow Slimming World’er and his excitable young pup (Reeba) for a few circuits of St Nicholas park.

His dog has some incredible energy. For every lap we did she must have accomplished at least another two, all the time chasing seagulls or running after squirrels and is basically the energiser bunny in dog form…

Despite the rather ropey weather it was definitely an enjoyable twalk, and I left the park feeling upbeat and positive.

I’d eaten rather a lot of fruit the night before (as well as a fair old whack of cottage cheese) and wanted to get a healthy number of calories burned.

I had definitely accomplished my starting objective – and already had eight miles under my belt by the time I reached home.

 

My next walk of the morning was due at 10am. This was to be through Crackley Wood and along a section of the Greenway near Kenilworth – and promised to be an altogether shorter and more sedate one.

Boris (my second canine companion of the day) is a much slower mover – and unlike the doggie equivalent of bottled lightning that’s Reeba he’s a plodder.

He’s also highly camouflaged.

Whenever I review snaps that I sneakily grab while he’s not paying attention (he refuses to look at the camera most of the time) I usually come to the conclusion that he’s the photography equivalent of a spot the ball competition.

Nine times out of ten he just disappears into the foreground or background.

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By the time we’d ambled along the Greenway and around the woods for a while it was almost midday when I bid adieu to my friend and his blendy pooch.

I hopped into my car to drive home.

Then the day unravelled…

There are many many things in life that I’m thankful for, but today it’s the fact that I’m naturally very cautious. In fact I often think I drive like a pensioner – trying not to exceed speed limits particularly around town.

Often I’m well under them which today was an absolute godsend.

As I headed home from the Greenway I passed Kenilworth park. For some reason or other marshalls in high visibility vests had closed off the road that led through the centre of town and the only option was to turn left at their barrier at the top of the hill and divert around the road block.

Ahead of me (in the middle of the road on a raised central reservation) was a young girl in big furry boots wearing a puffa jacket. She looked to all intents and purposes like she was about to chance a crossing in front of me.

She was quite young, and I wondered if she’d have the sense to stay put.

I slowed more than I normally would just in case as I took the corner (bearing right) and indicated to turn left into the road next to the marshalls.

As I did the sun came out from behind a cloud in the street I was turning into and temporarily blinded me.

I could still see the girl to my right though and she hadn’t moved.

However an old man with a walking stick had moved – and as I turned into the road he had stepped in front of my car.

completely missed this for a fraction of a second as the sun fell in my eyes and then when I’d could see again I was upon him.

He was suddenly about 6ft in front of me.

I immediately slammed on my brakes and thankfully (because I was travelling so slowly) I came to an almost immediate stop – but not quickly enough to stop the car from nudging him off balance and pushing him to the floor.

The marshalls and passers by quickly ran over to help him up.

I checked my rear view mirrors before turning off the engine and quickly stepped out of my car to help.

I was already shaking like a leaf, and as I rushed to his side I began to apologise profusely.

He wasn’t happy though and I couldn’t blame him. I was mortified that I’d come so close to tragedy and kept looking him up and down to make sure he was ok.

The man said that he was. He didn’t want help. He just wanted to go.

Everyone around him was staring at me with hard frowns and were also looking me up and down.

I wondered why for a minute – because it was him that had been lying in the road rather than me… I wasn’t hurt!

This was until I realised that they were trying to assess why I’d not seen him.

Was I impaired?

Was I drunk?

There was now a lady standing in between me and the man in a noticeably protective stance. She was staring at me very hard and looking very unimpressed.

‘I didn’t see him. I was looking at the girl.‘ I said to her. ‘The sun was in my eyes!

I turned around, pointing to where the girl had been. She was no-where to be seen and had carried on walking.

I’m so so so sorry! There was a girl there and the sun was in my eyes!‘ I said again to the man, looking around the woman and trying as best I could to explain to him what had happened.

Did he believe me?

‘I’m OK.’ said the man emphatically and also looked at me with disdain as he dusted his trousers off.

He said that he didn’t want any help and told the lady and the marshall that he was completely fine.

She looked at me again and stared hard into my eyes, assessing me.

The men in the high visibility jackets then pointed out that I was now blocking traffic and were on their walkie talkies to their supervisor. I needed to move my car they said – and I wasn’t to leave the scene.

‘I’ve no intention of going anywhere!’ I said. ‘I just want to make sure he’s OK.’

They looked impassively at me.

‘You need to move your car.’ they repeated. I looked behind them. The man was now moving slowly but surely away from us.

I looked at the road.

The traffic was beginning to build up – and they were right. I needed to move my car, so I quickly did so. Once I’d moved it further up the road and put my hazards on I jogged after him.

He was quite a distance away by now and looked irritated when I tried to stop him as he once again started to cross a road.

‘Are you sure you’re ok?’ I asked as I put my hand gently on his upper arm. ‘I’m SO sorry!!! I didnt see you at all! The sun was in my eyes and then you were just in front of me.’

He shook his head.

‘No it’s ok – I’m fine.’ he said.

He appeared to be ok. I looked him up and down for signs of injury. Was he shocked? Was he really ok?

The marshalls were also following at a distance, watching me and talking to their supervisor over walkie talkies.

‘Do you need an ambulance?’ They said to the man.

No!‘ said the man, still rather irritated. ‘I’m fine. I’m going home.’

‘Can I help you to get there? Can I walk you home?’ I asked rather weakly. ‘I’m so sorry – I just want to be sure you’re OK…’

‘I’m fine.’ he reassured me again.

I kept my hand on his shoulder looked him in the eye.

I was trembling.

‘Are you SURE?‘ I said once more. ‘I know you might not want me to after all this but I can give you a lift.

He turned to look at me and as he did his face softened.

‘Are YOU ok?’ he asked me.

‘You’re shaking. You look like you need a stiff drink. You should go and have a stiff drink.’

‘I don’t drink…’ I replied weakly ‘…and Ive never hit anything with my car, let alone a person. I was scared stiff. I didn’t see you…. the sun was in my eyes… I’m so sorry… are you sure you’re ok?’

He just looked at me.

‘The sun was in my eyes. I can walk you home. Are you sure you’re ok?’ I babbled. ‘You didn’t hit your head or anything?’

He continued to look at me, now shaking his head.

‘The sun was in my eyes. I’m so sorry.’ I said again.

‘Don’t worry.’ he said, and put his hand out, inviting me to hold it.

I put my hand into his. It was warmer and much larger than mine. His grip was both firm and confident. He started to shake my hand, looking me in the eye.

His hand was dry.

‘I didn’t hit my head. Thank you for stopping to make sure I’m ok – but I’m fine. No bruises and no harm. Go and have a cup of tea. I’m going home.’

He let go of my hand, turned to leave and walked away.

Another nearby marshall looked at me and also suggested that I have a stiff drink. I told her that I didn’t drink.

She too suggested I have a cup of tea instead.

I didn’t want one.

I stood there for a minute watching as he walked away, shaking like a leaf.

I could have killed him.

In the blink of an eye I could have ended his life and irreversibly changed my own.

Even now some hours later my heart is still pounding and I’m reminded not only that it’s a good idea to drive slowly, but that you don’t know what’s around any corner. I’m just thankful that he was ok and that the reminder I received to be a careful and considerate driver came without consequence.

Holy crap…

Thank goodness he’s ok.

Davey

Just a state of mind

I have lots of aspirations.

I’m not an ambitious person though – at least not from a career perspective.

I’ve never wanted power, wealth, money, fame or status in life and so far I think those are the right choices.

I was convinced for the longest time that this mean I was without aspiration – but it’s not true, because I just aspire to being OTHER things in life.

I aspire to being happy, to have good friends surrounding me, to be loved, feeling love in return and being content in my own skin.

I work at all of these as I bumble through life. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong. Recently I have more than enough evidence that the contentment bit needs work.

The truth of it is that to be loved you have to feel the same way about yourself, otherwise you’re just someone in need of an above average level of fixing.

Everyone is helped by others – but what I mean is that exuding confidence (not too much though) is fundamentally attractive.

Sometimes you can fake it – but long term I believe it comes from confronting head on the things that make you doubt yourself.

I’m probably more confident now that I’ve ever been in my life – and that’s mostly because I did a few key things.

  • I started sharing myself, my failures and my successes with the world, thereby removing any fear of being ‘found out’ at a later date or appearing weak in public
  • I gave up drinking, lost weight and forced myself to confront my demons without using food and drink as comforters
  • I work on improving my ‘sober, fit and outgoing’ persona every day

The truth is that you are never completely stuck being just one type of person unless you believe you’re incapable of being different.

No-one that has a fear of heights is incapable of jumping out of an aeroplane. The only difference between the person in the plane and the person on the ground looking up at them is a willingness to confront what scares you.

You can learn to be many things in life.

It’s probably true that I’m a ‘fake it till I make it’ kind of guy on occasion – because some aspects of public speaking still trouble me and I can’t completely switch them off.

Today when I write about aspiration I mean that I aspire to total body confidence – because it’s not 100% there yet.

I would love not to worry or care about what people might think of me undressed and I’m aware that this has at times led me to over compensate in the clothes department.

I own a lot of clothes.

If I subscribed to gender stereotypes (I don’t) then this would place me in a different sex bracket. However one of the reasons I don’t believe in definable gender traits is that I don’t know ANY women with as many clothes as me.

I think my need to always look smart and presentable (which is perfectly normal and not a problem – I enjoy doing this) is because I can control the image people see of me with different styles of clothes and largely be whoever I want to be.

I can be casual, daring, dapper or fun loving with the flick of a clothes hanger and I love that about wearing new things – even though I may not always take the items I really want to the checkout….

Now that my changed body shape has enabled this kind of casual experimentation I can choose to be a peacock or a pigeon.

I can decide to blend in or stand out at will – and that’s a powerful gift to give oneself when you’ve been bullied all your life because of how you look.

When I first started losing weight this was a constant problem (link) and as it’s progressed I’ve tagged a few posts where it’s either happened in public or I’ve been affected by the emotional baggage that remains (link).

The confidence of knowing I look ‘normal’ in clothes enables me to make a conscious choice about whether or not I want to invite comment.

The power has been placed back into MY hands when I do this.

When I was bullied in the past because of my size and called names I had no control and people with smaller minds than me continually manipulated my emotional state without warning and in public.

Now I’m confident enough to put on a flamboyant jacket and go out looking like a piece of modern art because I know that when eyes fall upon me they’re falling on my clothes and my personal choices.

I saw a wonderful pair of shoes at the ball last Saturday worn by someone who has just accepted a proposal of marriage.

His happiness, confidence and flamboyance just made me smile.

His shoes still make me grin – not just because they look ace – but because I too would wear them.

There was another guy with the most amazing embroidered green tuxedo – and he looked so awesome I had to go up and tell him he looked incredible!

They are me now. I don’t wear quite such flamboyant things yet – but I can if I want to and almost certainly will in the future.

If people don’t like what I choose to put on my body who cares?

I will wear what makes me happy – but it’s an important distinction to make that this is also my choice.

I am choosing by placing loud clothes on my body and accepting that this may invite comment – both good or bad. In doing so I’m fundamentally saying to the world by doing so to that I’m confident enough not to care what people say to me.

This way of thinking is a world apart from the mindset of bullied me.

His mood was always dictated by idiots that confirmed his worst fears continuously about how everyone looked at him (link) and he largely lived in constant fear.

Today I do NOT and I love that about myself.

I genuinely do.

I love that I can walk into a room in a suit and draw admiration because I look good.

That’s not me being egotistical or conceited (at least I hope not) because often it doesn’t matter what people think.

The decision I make about how good I look comes well before they ever provide feedback.

It arrives before I leave the house, as I stand looking at myself in the mirror. Right there in that moment I decide that I FEEL good.

When you feel good then you look good. You carry yourself differently and you maintain eye contact.

So…

What is it that I aspire to if everything is so lovely?

I want to feel the same about myself without clothes – because in that scenario I have no control over how people see me and the only armour I can wear exists in my own mind.

There’s so much ‘wrong’ with my body after huge weight loss that I could spend a lifetime of pain and surgery ‘fixing’ it.

If I make one ‘fixed bit’ however I’m pretty sure that the rest will just look bad in comparison.

Where do you stop? It just goes on and on and won’t fix low self esteem.

I also fundamentally disagree with this as a way to live my life.

I do not want to cut bits off myself because they are inconvenient and throw them in the bin.

It’s worth pointing out that one day I may change that perception and if I do then it’s my right to do so – however I hope that I don’t – because I suspect if I do start down that road it will be because I’ve become more concerned with what other people think of me than I am of my own self image.

At the moment I see that as failure but who knows how I’ll view it in the future.

It’s difficult though – when I know that the first question almost everyone wants to ask me (when I speak publicly about my journey) is about skin and what’s left behind after dramatic weight loss.

I know (because of this) that if I go swimming or take my clothes of for more (ahem) intimate reasons that I’m probably going to be confronted with the same reductive value judgements and that will require a strong man to deal with the resulting emotions.

Maybe even a stronger one than I am currently.

I still need to pluck up the courage to go swimming and that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon…

So – this is my project.

It’s the thing that I want to work on the most.

I will get better at this internet and I will grow my confidence – just like everything else I’ve learned to get better at.

This is just a state of mind and I’m going to learn to have it.

Davey

Vestibular Labyrinthitis, RHR & Carrots

I dislike doctors waiting rooms with a passion and in this respect I doubt I’m alone.

They’re always full of ill people and there’s nothing worse than sitting in one when you don’t feel really sick. Although… in my case I suppose that’s not strictly true because I don’t feel very normal at the moment.

Ever since my vertigo episode things have been a little ‘off’ upstairs and I’ve felt like I’ve had a mild hangover that’s stretched all the way through from Sunday to today. I also have a sore throat and aching ears. Despite taking the pills I was prescribed the symptoms seem to be persisting and I’ve felt a little disoriented, dizzy and ‘off balance’ ever since.

The A&E doctor suggested at the time that an inner ear problem may have been the cause of my sudden descent into temporary Vertigo Hell (link) however when I was examined there weren’t any issues that were immediately apparent.

Worryingly the only other possible cause he had to offer was ‘a brain issue‘.

Little did he know that many people have told me over the years (particularly the opposite sex) that I don’t actually have one.

Ha.

The joke’s on him!

Thankfully this problem doesn’t seem to be enough to seriously derail anything and I’m trying to take it easy by walking no more than 7 miles a day – which I’m sure you will agree means I’m practically stationary…

(Author is called from the waiting room where he’s been sitting to see the doctor. He then heads home after a visit to the pharmacy…)

Well, in the spirit of my usual disarming honesty I may as well discuss here what I talked about in my doctor’s consultation – because from a weight loss perspective I feel it has relevance.

My ears are also worth talking about before this. After my last blog a surprising number of people said they or someone they knew had experienced the same thing and this may be helpful. The causes and symptoms of what happened to me were unknown and terrifying – so I think it’s important I share what I’ve learned in case it befalls a reader.

I apparently have a viral ear infection called Vestibular Labyrinthitis – which it seems is a common cause of sudden onset vertigo.

This doesn’t require any antibiotics, is treatable with an ear spray (Otomize) three times a day – and hopefully in my case this will sort the problem out over time.

From what I’ve read in the literature (that the doctor helpfully printed out for me) the symptoms are pretty text book – so the search for my missing brain has been called off before it ever began. It seems like we’ve found the culprit thankfully – but I’ll keep you advised of the progress and hopefully let you know conclusively as time goes on.

The first spray of the day is settling into my ear canals as I type and I have my fingers crossed.

Whilst with my GP I also discussed something else that’s been in the back of my head for a while – but isn’t a topic that I’ve really paid any serious consideration to (or worried about) until quite recently.

My insanely low resting heart rate.

Adults (fit ones that is) normally sit at around 65 beats per minute, whereas I reside at a solid 40 beats per minute and I pretty much never waver.

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When I initially noticed this I was in a Slimming World meeting in 2017 and Angie had invited a guest speaker into the group to talk about fitness, how muscles burned calories and adult heart health.

It was at this point (when I looked at my Apple Watch, whose o/s had just been updated to enable the tracking of this stat) that I realised my resting heart rate was lower than practically everyone I knew – in fact it has more in common with an athlete than a man who had just moved from being colossally unfit to just walking an awful lot.

I dismissed it at the time and put this figure down to the fact that I was exercising so much.

I typically burned (back in 2017) between 1500 to 2000 extra kcal a day according to my stats. I never got out of breath and I was full of beans. Therefore my RHR had to be due to fitness right?

The more I thought about it though, and the more that health professionals (and pretty much everyone else) looked completely confused when they saw it (this has happened a lot, not just in hospital on Sunday) the more I wondered whether or not it was actually a problem.

The truth of it was I smoked, drank and ate to excess for years, did almost no exercise and was practically unable to breathe in almost every position.

How on earth could I be so fit now without any lasting consequences from the abuse I subjected my body to?

As I started to try and rationalise the problem in my mind I wondered if my excessive size and rapid weight loss with exercise had actually given me unexpected benefits.

  • Maybe my heart got super strong and muscular to cope with supplying 35 stone me.
  • Maybe because when I started to lose weight I also exercised and maintained the need for it to pump blood all the time it remained strong.
  • Maybe now because of this it was just chilling and relaxing.
  • Maybe it had remained capable of supplying two of me, and was therefore only bearing half the load it expected?

This is all plausible enough in my own head – but I’m no doctor and honestly I’ve never actually asked one directly whether there could be any long term consequences related to being who I used to be.

So, after a casual comment on my vertigo blog post relating to Brachycardia (a condition wherein an individual has a very slow heart rate) I decided that since I was visiting the doctor about my vertigo anyway I’d ask the (rather scary) question.

Is my low heart rate a problem?

The short answer is that it depends how you look at it. 

After listening intently to my heart and asking questions about whether I had any symptoms that could be problematic I’ve been told by my GP that I have an underlying condition that unless I seriously change my habits is completely untreatable.

My diagnosis?

I’m ridiculously fit and healthy and unless I start eating pies and lying on the sofa all day long immediately it’s unlikely that this will change any time soon.

It’s not often that you get such devastating news – but honestly I don’t think I can face giving up carrots so this is probably going to be with me for the rest of my life.

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All flippancy aside though – I’m aware that readers may have their own, not so great diagnosis or underlying heath conditions and may not be in the same boat as me.

It’s not my intent to be triumphalist about the fact that I’m healthy – but it IS my intent to highlight that from what seems like a place of absolutely no return, where a slow and very painful death seems to be the most likely outcome there is hope.

  • My diabetes is gone
  • My high cholesterol is no more
  • My blood pressure is normal
  • My heart is in rude health
  • My gout doesn’t exist
  • My sleep apnea is gone
  • My skin doesn’t burn in the sun
  • My calf muscles don’t instantly tear when I walk
  • My knees are no longer crunching when I move and aren’t agony
  • My plantar fasciitis is a thing of the past
  • I no longer get fluid retentive oedemas in my legs
  • I no longer need to wear glasses
  • I haven’t had an eczema outbreak in longer than I can remember
  • I have no crippling back pain any more

All of these things seemed completely impossible a relatively short space of time ago – and now here I am, still fighting the odds, and proving that a healthy diet and exercise along with clean living can produce what some may consider to be a miracle.

It’s not a miracle though.

It’s just absolute dogged determination to stick to my diet plan and sheer hard work every single day.

So – if you’re looking for an excuse not to, and thinking (because everything looks physically dire) that change isn’t worth it, here’s the proof that you’re just making excuses.

Just do it internet.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Davey

2018 Slimming World Ball Epilogue

You join me for the epilogue of my adventures in Birmingham. Part three is here part two can be found here and part one is here.

Firstly I apologise for the last post’s rather cruel click-bait cliffhanger.

It’s not my intent to worry anyone – but honestly jamming everything about the experience of the weekend into one post (whilst at the same time doing it justice) seemed frankly impossible. For those that are a little squeamish I also apologise. I end up in a bad way during this post.

So – on with the story…

I didn’t get much sleep after the ball – but I felt good. Even when sitting on the loo I at 5am I was still smiling.

(You’re welcome by the way internet)

After all – why shouldn’t I be feeling happy?

The night had ended with some great company, lovely conversations, the start of some hopefully excellent future friendships, some very enjoyable social media chatter with people I’d met as well as a comfy and cosy bed in a warm room.

Although I spent much of my time in a swanky hotel on Sunday morning staring at a dark ceiling unable to sleep I really didn’t mind. I’d navigated a massive evening of socialising and mingling without a single drop of alcohol (I only consumed water, coffee and diet coke) and worked through the nerves that I usually associate with such events really well. I’d been outgoing, chatty, managed to not clam up or find myself stuck for things to say – and I was actually really rather proud of myself.

Not so long ago when faced with a similar work gathering I’d unexpectedly clammed up and afterwards remarked casually to friends that ‘events used to be easier when I drank.’

I was almost immediately annoyed with myself after I said this, because what I realised was that I didn’t miss alcohol because I needed to drink.

I missed it because it had been enabling me for many years to avoid getting better at chit chat. Managing interactions whilst either mildly or completely under the influence of alcohol had made it possible for me to avoid improving my small talk.

In truth I don’t think I’d ever really tried to get to know people at social gatherings without additional lubrication. Rather than working on what was clearly a weakness (who would want to speak to a failure like me anyway?) I just cared less that I was continually below average.

In alcohol’s absence therefore existed little else but fear and nervousness.

Ever since I admitted this to myself I’ve been trying to ‘fix‘ it – and the only way to do it and remain sober is to continually push myself outside of my comfort zones. Familiarity is the key and this is my constant goal.

I therefore counted the previous night as tick in my ‘win’ column, and as I watched the time on my watch edge closer to 7am I eventually resolved to give up on sleep and instead got up to go down for an early breakfast in the Hyatt’s serene piano bar.

There was absolutely lovely classical music all around when I arrived (I was the first person there!) and the smell of freshly cooked bacon and mushrooms in the air…

 

The breakfast was particularly awesome – and since the previous night’s meal had barely touched the sides (I’m a guy in need of way more generous portions than the ones that were served up at the ball!) I ate this without any guilt whatsoever.

Mind you – I still avoided the sausages, hash browns and toast because I’m not going to change all of my good habits regardless of how great I feel!

Although I’ve often struggled with meeting new people one thing I’ve never been shy about is asking them for more coffee – and I was already on my second pot by the time my ‘wing-woman’ from the previous night arrived to share the table and chat about the evening.

By the time I’d finished catching up with her, the fabulous new woman of the year 2018 and a few lovely SW consultants on the next table I’d probably nailed about 6 pots of strong black coffee before headed to my room to pack and check out.

It wasn’t until long I was heading from Birmingham to Warwick in a car with Angie, her husband and Jodie – a fellow consultant.

Around about here something very very odd started to happen.

I don’t normally suffer from car or motion sickness but I felt my head becoming light, and the car suddenly felt oppressive, hot and decidedly uncomfortable. I took my hoodie off, tried to adjust the air vents and took deep breaths but nothing seemed to help the sensation.

I felt myself slowly going quieter and my conversation tailed off. I couldn’t look down or out of the window without feeling strange and soon asked my companions if any of them minded me opening a window.

Before long I had my forehead completely outside of the car at around 70 miles an hour and was desperate for a cold breeze and for all motion to stop.

I started counting slowly in my head to try and work through it. By the time I was nearing 500 I couldn’t take it a minute longer and asked Angie’s husband to pull over.

We stopped in Balsall Common at a Sainsburys petrol station and by this time I was finding it difficult to stand. I sat on a wall for a while to try and compose myself and noticed that I was shaking and clammy – as well as beginning to shiver. I couldn’t decide whether this was due to the temperature and the rain (it was drizzly and cold and I was in a polo shirt) or the underlying problem – whatever it was.

Surely it was just car sickness though right?

I needed to grow a pair, man up and get back in the car.

I was holding everyone up (not that they seemed to mind in the least). Since they all had to get back home to their kids and I was worried I would cause problems with childcare so I forced myself back into the front seat, holding onto a cold bottle of water (that felt wonderful against my skin) and hoping that things would improve.

They didn’t.

Barely half a mile down the road I was once again unable to carry on and practically staggered out of the car when the car stopped at some traffic lights.

I just opened the door unceremoniously and stepped out. Once more I was struggling to stand and shaking – but now the sensation was far worse.

What on earth was going on?

I tried walking back and forth but it was getting harder to comprehend what was happening. This was like travel sickness ramped up beyond anything I’ve ever felt before.

I couldn’t figure out whether I wanted to fall over, be sick, drink water, warm up, cool down or just pass out. If you want to step into my shoes then imagine the worst ferry crossing in the world on turbulent seas and then multiply it by the highest number you can think of.

Then double it.

In a final attempt to push on I once again got back into the car and hung my head out of the window. We were barely 6-7 miles from home – so at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.

It really really wasn’t.

Another mile or so down the road I begged Angie’s husband to stop and once more lurched out of the car. By this time I knew something was very wrong.

I was clinging for dear life to a wrought iron gate in someone’s drive, had no idea where I was and could barely stand. Before long I was fighting for consciousness and my companions were getting really worried.

They weren’t on their own.

I could no longer speak properly, my face was numb and I was unable to respond to questions despite what I tried to say. I could either stutter incoherently or was completely mute. Although I could hear and understand everything I felt completely incapable of interacting and every sound, light or movement was excruciatingly difficult to bear.

The world was suddenly oppressive and loud and everything was sensorily terrifying.

I could hear Jodie next to me on the phone to the emergency services and I felt Angie rubbing my shoulder and holding me upright. Before long (guided by a voice on the 999 line) they were trying to assess whether I was having a stroke or a brain haemorrhage.

I could see Angie’s husband out of the corner of my squinting eye standing in the driveway ready to flag down the ambulance that was apparently on it’s way.

How long had I been there? Time was losing all relevance and I was getting lost in the moment.

The more the questions I was asked and the harder I found it to say ‘No – I’m OK’ (when I clearly wasn’t) the more scared I became. Was I having a stroke? Was this the last time I’d be me?

What if I dying?

My companions (on advice from the emergency services on the phone) prised me off the railings and lowered me to a floor where I curled up into a foetal position on the wet leafy driveway – which belonged to a kind old lady (called Sue) who had rushed out with a blanket for me.

I heard Sue saying she’d recently lost her husband and had suffered a brain haemorrhage herself shortly after. She thought it looked like I was too – and then all of a sudden I stared crying.

I was getting progressively more and more terrified. What on earth was happening to me? I couldn’t uncurl my body, I was trembling more and more and couldn’t see properly. I could barely move or open my eyes and I could hear the growing concern in the voices of my companions.

All I could think was that they had to get home to their children and I was messing everyone’s day up – and this kept looping through my mind endlessly.

Then the ambulance arrived, the paramedics hopped out and I was loaded onto a stretcher.

They told me once in the ambulance that it looked like I was experiencing a vertigo attack. This was just confusing to me at the time – I wasn’t at altitude and I hadn’t ever suffered from vertigo. Were they trying to keep me calm because they suspected something worse?

Were they lying to me?

I could still barely move and the slightest motion made everything spin. The whole world seemed to feel alien and I still couldn’t speak. In minutes we were heading for the hospital but all of the roads were blocked.

Angie sat next to me in the cold and darkness of the ambulance and I heard her speaking to my brother and my friend on my phone – telling them what was happening. Suddenly I started to be violently ill – and began pouring the contents of my stomach into a vommit bag the paramedic had placed on my chest.

It wasn’t pretty – and all I could think was how sorry I was to be ruining everyone’s day – whereas all they could think about was whether I’d be ok. It’s funny how your priories get skewed at times like this…

After what seemed like an eternity we were at the hospital and I was loaded out of the ambulance in a mostly frozen position. By now any kind of movement was horrible and I just wanted everything – absolutely everything – to stop, regardless of what it was.

 

Soon I was in a cubicle, rolled onto a bed by a burly nurse and the lights of the room were dimmed which helped. Light and sound and warmth were the enemy. I wanted only silence, cold and darkness.

Not long after the nurse had helped me with some (ahem) intimate necessities the duty consultant arrived to confirm the paramedic’s diagnosis. After ushering my brother (who’s arrived shortly after) and Angie out of the room he started prodding and poking me all over and checking my vitals and blood pressure.

Earlier in the ambulance I’d mentioned that I’d lost a lot of weight in the context of saying that I had previously existing medical conditions that may have been contributing factors.

Although my diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are all currently in remission it’s always good to be forthright – however they didn’t seem to believe I was over 20 stone lighter until Angie confirmed what I was telling them.

They’d clearly relayed all of the info to the doctors and nurses regardless of whether they believed me or not.

‘Hmm’ said the consultant, looking at my arms and stomach. ‘I can see you’ve lost a lot of weight.’ He said, manipulating my rather saggy abdomen.

Sigh.

More fuel for my already paranoid self image.

‘Yes. I have. You’re all lucky you didn’t meet me three years ago.’ I replied, trying to be jocular, even though I felt anything but cheerful. ‘You wouldn’t have been able to lift me onto a stretcher or out of the ambulance back then.’

He nodded, engrossed in his work, and set about taking some blood samples and my pulse.

‘Your heart beat is really low.’ he said, sounding a little concerned.

‘It’s always like that.’ I said, lifting my Apple Watch. ‘The fact it’s over 50 now is abnormal. My resting rate is usually just above 40.’

He nodded again, looking surprised, but accepted it since I seemed to be really confident about what I was saying.

‘I walk a lot.’ I said rather pathetically.

‘Well I’m pretty sure it’s just vertigo.’ he eventually said.

‘What the hell!?’ I replied weakly. ‘Why would this come out of no-where, and why so bad?’

He sat on the side of the bed with one foot on the floor, like he was about to read me a story and turned to me to explain.

‘Well we’ll have to check your blood and confirm it – but these things can just happen. It could be an inner ear infection – but it could also be brain related. However everything that’s happened is just textbook for vertigo. Your brain, nerve impulses and inner ear are just out of sync and when this happens everything shuts down. We can give you an injection to block nerve impulses and some pills to help the side effects. Hopefully this will ease the symptoms and it will get better.’

Dr Ahmed seemed to be correct.

After jabbing a needle in my butt, giving me some pills and installing a drip (and around around six hours elapsing) I started to feel a bit more human.

I eventually left hospital with a prescription for another four days of medication that I’d have to return the next day to collect.

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After a short taxi ride and a rather ginger drive home with my brother (I had left my car and house keys at Angie’s earlier the day before) I was sitting in my house feeling decidedly sub par.

Truthfully I still don’t feel great but I’m just glad I’m able to speak and not curled up terrified like a quivering infant in someone’s driveway under a blanket.

Since I’m a cup’s half full kind of guy I have to look at the positives here.

  • When this happened I wasn’t alone, and the people I was with were absolutely legendary in their compassion and support. I cant thank them enough. Angie sat holding my hand in A&E waaaaaaay longer than anyone had to. If there’s a medal for consultants who go above and beyond the call of duty she deserves it. She’s a wonderful friend and no mistake.
  • If I hadn’t have lost all of this weight who knows what would have happened. This was yet another non-scale victory. Would I have choked when I was sick?
  • The ambulance and doctors almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to lift or treat me and I couldn’t have fitted in the cubicle bed.
  • I would also have been unable to use the bedpan whilst lying down. The nurse who helped me as I struggled to move and cope wouldn’t have had a hope in hell of shifting my position in bed back then.
  • I’m alive – and although I still feel… really odd… the worst seems to have passed.

It seemed that this was a relatively common phenomenon – and going to A&E is actually what the NHS website recommends in cases like this.

The following day (feeling like I still had a nagging hangover from an epic night out on the lash) I started browsing through their website and came across this – which is practically a boilerplate description of what I experienced.

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It doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was sent a photoshopped version of myself in a hospital bed (link) after a bizarre ‘catfishing’ incident but this was for real.

Although I normally don’t speak directy to people in my blog on this occasion I will because I’d like to finish by thanking each and every single person that helped me, showed understanding and compassion, and that has reached out to me via text and social media to check on me since this happened.

Sometimes I feel quite vulnerable on my own and they have all made me feel like I’m being looked out for. They have all reminded me just how much goodness there is in the world, how many selfless and genuine people there are out there and how I appear to be surrounded by them.

It’s times like these that I’m reminded possessions and status are completely immaterial.

True riches can only be found in the hearts of others – and I am a very very wealthy man in this respect.

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If anyone needs me internet I’ll be taking it really really easy.

Davey

2018 Slimming World Ball Pt3

You join me for part three of my adventures in Birmingham. Part two can be found here and part one is here.

When the last post finished I was standing on the stage at the ICC feeling more than a bit shell-shocked. I was holding my award aloft and looking past the blinding stage lights at an audience of a couple of thousand people. It was all very unreal.

In this practically perfect moment there’s a tall celebrity with perfect teeth (that I’ve just been enthusiastically hugging) standing between me and Angie. She’s been staring at him throughout the proceedings like he’s made entirely of chocolate and I’m wondering if anyone has a crowbar to separate them.

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After she finally let go of Rylan we headed offstage where there was a small gift bag waiting for each of us.

I forgot to ask Angie what was in hers (I think it was a necklace) but mine contained something rather lovely – a pair of onyx art cufflinks with three Slimming World red crystals inlaid in a row!

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This is a little gift that would probably have been totally lost on some people (I don’t think many men wear cufflinks any more) but regular readers will know that I’ve become something of a cufflink collector – and have more than enough shirts to pair them with and the willingness to make regular use of them.

I also think they look rather classy!

My official award looks darned nice as well – and I think it will go really well with my other two from Slimming World (I already had a 3rd place in the greatest loser competition and a semi finalist one from the MOTY event in July) but boy was it sharp and heavy!

This is a tricky trophy to hold!

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If I was mugged on the way back to the hotel then my assailants were going down! My newly acquired monolith was a solid glass shooting star with my name and title engraved at the base.

I absolutely totally flipping love it!!!

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I think it also looks rather nice when it’s offset by Angie’s simply stunning dress – which I’m sure you’ll agree she looks awesome in!

There wasn’t much time to take it all in though, because almost immediately after we stepped off the stage the Woman of the Year 2018 finalists gathered behind us to find out who out of the three would receive their coveted award.

I have to say (although I can’t tell you who actually won until it’s officially announced in the press) I totally called it!

All of the three on stage would have been very worthy winners – and looked amazing both in person and in their before and after videos as well as coming over as really nice people.

This lady however was someone that I immediately liked – she (for me anyway) was a great choice – and I’m convinced she’ll have a fantastic year!

You’ll all see her in the media soon enough and I’m convinced you’ll agree with me. She’s lovely inside and out – and this was confirmed when I got to talk to her and her partner later on.

Once the huge red tickertape of glitterbombs had gone off and Margaret had said her final closing words we all gathered on stage one final time to have a little moment before the food was (finally!) served at the tables.

It wasn’t meant to be Slimming World friendly (oh the irony) but by that point I really didn’t care.

It was 9pm, I’d barely had more than a cherry tomato all day long and would have eaten a scabby camel if it had wandered past me with ketchup behind its ears.

Thankfully this was fine dining and there was no need to gnaw furry humps.

  • Starter – lentil and coconut pate, harissa ratatouille, peppers, apricot ketchup and smokey paprika crackers.
  • Main – a daube of beef & brisket croquette, spinach, leek and carrot rösti with a green peppercorn sauce.
  • Dessert – trio of dark chocolate mousse & cherry compote with chocolate cookie, Bailey’s cheesecake with fudge and candy floss and a lemon curd with raspberry dusted coconut dipper.

At this point all that was left to do was dance and mingle!

I wasn’t really ‘feeling’ the music played by the (admittedly excellent) band – so I decided upon the latter option, and headed for the photo booths with my party (another SW consultant Jodie and her friend had been with us for most of the day and we were all keen on marking the occasion) where I had the chance to discover how I would look in a really tiny policeman’s helmet and a pink elephant hat.

I’m sure you’ll agree the answer is ‘very fetching’….

As we waited in line for the booths the conversations with the surrounding people started to follow a theme and began to underline what would be the other two main features of the evening.

  • Endless selfie requests
  • Enquiries about whether I was looking for love with men or women – as I had clearly looked very comfortable hugging Rylan and was rocking a rather Graham Nortonesque beard…

nortonI acknowledged to those intent on confirming my preferences that I’d accidentally doubled my target audience of stage – but told anyone who wanted to know that (despite how lovely Rylan was) I was definitely looking for a lady.

I then agreed to anyone who wanted a selfie that they could have one and upload it wherever they chose to.

In some cases I also got one in return!

If you want to see who these people are you’ll find more about some of them on my instagram feed (link) (which they were all happy to appear on – which is why they’re on here) as well as plastering me all over their own!

It was around about this time that I finally ventured onto the dancefloor (‘Uptown Special’ by Mark Ronson caught my ear and engaged my rythm) and realised the extent to which the ladies nearby me had taken it upon themselves to introduce me to other eligible women.

One person in particular (you know who you are) had appointed herself my unofficial ‘wingwoman’ and was doing an absolutely epic job of vetting every possible applicant that passed nearby for the position.

I have absolutely zero ‘wedding ring radar’ and since I approach every interaction with men or women as a potential friendship I’m totally useless these days at any kind of chat up or come on.

I’m absolutely paranoid about appearing like a pest or a lech by the opposite sex – and this (I think) usually leads me to be ‘friend-zoned’ in an instant. The truth of it is that this needs to change, and what better place to start learning about this side of myself than on a dancefloor in a room with nearly hundreds of women who all know I’m single?

I’m totally done with being alone.

I need someone to share my life – and I’m actively on the case.

My wing-woman was clearly a pro though, and rather than just pointing ladies in my direction she was also performing ‘forthright vetting duties’ and clearly had no fear about doing so.

‘Are you single?’ she asked them. ‘Are you looking for a partner?’ she replied if they nodded. ‘Would you like a selfie with the Man of the Year?’ she offered. ‘Maybe that photo would look better if you were kissing?’ she hinted if they did.

Much to my complete surprise this actually worked!

I can’t fault her enthusiasm for the task at hand (or indeed the results because she did a sterling job) and she quickly went from being a completely unknown person at the start of the evening to my favourite new friend!

The night went really well – and I felt like a million bucks when the dancefloor and hall finally began to empty at 1am. It wasn’t until quite late the following morning that I finally hit the sack, after being awake for around 24 hours…

When I did I had a big smile on my face.

The day (and evening) had been awesome.

But my adventure wasn’t quite over – and the experience wasn’t fated to end quite the way I expected it to because before long I’d be in hospital – and it was an altogether pretty scary experience.

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Join me next time internet for the final part of this story – the epilogue….

Davey

2018 Slimming World Ball Pt 2

You join me for part two of my adventures in Birmingham. Part one can be found here.

After the rehearsals we were all free to mingle and check into our hotel rooms. Thankfully Angie’s wonderful husband had transported all of the luggage by car whereas Angie and I had both caught the train – so there had been no need to carry anything but wallets and smiles.

We were staying at the (rather swanky) Hyatt hotel, which Slimming World apparently use a lot for these events at the ICC. There’s a sky bridge connecting the two complexes – which for the purposes of just being able to walk right in to the hotel from the auditorium (or vice versa) is ideal!

As seems to be the case when you’re a guest of SW they really look after you.

My room was a spacious and comfortable double twin (for myself and a friend, who was arriving later) but unfortunately you couldn’t really proclaim that the view was spectacular – because Birmingham is undergoing some serious regeneration at the moment!

After a short while chilling in my (very relaxing) hotel room my friend arrived and our little party met up in the bar downstairs. It was at this point that I told him about something I’ve actually wanted to do for a while – and on this particular day.

When I was made redundant in July 2016 (already a few stone lighter) I took this selfie with him.

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There are a lot of mixed emotions in that picture. At the time we were both leaving jobs that had defined our adult lives and had lasted for between 16 and 18 years. We’re both smiling but I know how we really felt about a whole variety of things – both employment wise and personally.

Life has moved on though and as it does it has a way of showing you that adversity can take you in one of two directions. You either fall over and don’t get up or you just carry on and do your best.

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Last night things looked a little different…

I’m of the opinion that we both look well despite the passage of time. The same but better.

He, like many others in my life, has been there every step of the way (literally – we twalk all the time) and it was great to be able to bring him along to the event with me to share the moment.

Shortly after we headed for a few complimentary drinks (diet coke in my case), a quick photo opportunity and then into the (now absolutely PACKED) auditorium.

As we took our seats down to the left of the stage (for easy behind the curtain access) I looked around me.

The table was perfectly arranged with little heart shaped boxes of minty sweets, glossy programmes and lots of pre-ordered drinks for the guests we were seated with.

The glossy brochure had my face in it (!) as well as the couple sitting next to us – Glyn and Gillian Woodward (link) who were really lovely.Between them they’d lost almost 24 stone – although Glyn told me he’s actually lost a further five stone before he joined – taking their total to a much bigger number!

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To be honest at this point all I could see were crudités, I’d not eaten at all so far, and by now it was around 7pm and I was ravenous.

I tucked into the olives and cherry tomatoes as the event began.

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What an awesome feeling it was! To be part of all this! It’s so incredible to think that I’ve moved from feeling so low and pathetic in life to being seated amongst all of these people both as a winner and special guest.

It was just mind blowing.

After a short speech by the Slimming World founder Margaret Miles Bramwell (who I’d been introduced to for the first time earlier that day) she introduced the Special Guest star – Rylan Clark-Neal onto the stage (who I’d also met earlier at the photoshoot) to great fanfare.

We were second from last in the final group to be called up – and while we waited at our table we got to watch from the other side of the curtain as all of the wonderful people went through their success stories.

Before long however WE were about to go out onto the stage.

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As we waited they played my Slimming Wold video – which I watched, with a lump in my throat.

Then, we were there.

Although I had absolutely no idea who he was before this event I have to say I rather liked Rylan. Although initially he seems all teeth and smiles the truth of it was he came over as a genuinely nice guy, and I found myself instantly warming to him.

He asked me what was important about the journey and staying on track – and although it wasn’t what I was expecting him to say it enabled me to talk about something that I’m really really passionate about.

Going to group.

If you have facebook then you can find a video of my moment on stage (it’s not mine unfortunately so it may at some point be removed) that’s pinned to the top of my public profile – here.

Although when Angie was asked her question and told the 2000 strong (mainly female) audience that I was not only single but ‘ready to mingle‘ (and she’s not wrong – I am) I feel that my surprising level of comfort with the cheerful compare may have muddled up her message somewhat because I immediately flung myself into his arms.

It got a laugh at least and he is absolutely lovely – so I regret nothing! He’s ace!

It’s not often that you’re made to feel like a rock star – and even now (with everything that’s happened lately with Slimming World) just when I think I’ve seen everything that my recent success could throw in my direction it ups the ante.

When this happens it shows me (once again) that their slogan ‘touching hearts and changing lives’ is more than just empty corporate rhetoric.

It’s a state of mind and a philosophy that seems to run throughout the DNA of the entire company.

It’s important to note that I’m not paid to say that and although I’ve have a title bestowed by them I’m a free agent.

I speak as I find – and I find nothing related to my own experience to stop me unreservedly recommending what they stand for and what they can help everyone achieve.

All who are associated with this juggernaut of an enterprise have in some way shape or form had a battle of their own that’s either being conquered, is still being fought, or that affects a loved one.

The select few who have never had to lose weight absolutely get the pain that others go through – and in my experience they want nothing more than to help people that feel they’ve lost all hope.

When a few thousand amazing people join together as both consultants and members competition winners the atmosphere is nothing short of electric.

It’s impossible not to be bowled over when such an audience not only greet you with applause but follow this with endless hugs, kisses, tearful sharing of stories, requests for selfies alongside genuine outpourings of solidarity and heartfelt understanding.

It’s like a tidal wave of compassion and it’s truly difficult at times like these to know what to say.

But once I’d said what I felt I had to I stepped off the stage and onto PART THREE

(you don’t think I’d tell you EVERYTHING that quickly do you?)

Come back next time for more…

Davey

2018 Slimming World Ball Pt 1

It’s difficult being a boy.

Girls have no idea.

We have to look nice – like an effortless flamingo, with plumage that’s at it’s best at all times.

At least that’s what’s I aim for.

My interior monologue doesn’t want to have anything to do with wearing the same items of clothing day in and day out any more.

That went on for too many years.

My apparently extrovert alter ego has been forced to wear ugly baggy clothes for far too long and he’s been rebelling ever since he became able to fit into mainstream items.

This (now completely dominant and extrovert) part of me wants to look his absolute best for the rest of his life and although he may not have the perfect body he’s healthy and happy and he can clothe himself not only with smart garments but with smiles and confidence.

(my alter ego also seems addicted to purchasing shirts…)

Consequently I’ve been trying for weeks now to put together some thrifty and smart looking outfits that won’t break the bank – but would still make me feel good at the Slimming World ball.

I needed a smart casual look for some pre-event celebrity photos (jeans and a waistcoat seemed like a good way to go) and then an even smarter evening option.

My first attempt at daywear didn’t seem seem to quite work…

Initially I thought that the final picture with the darker blue patterned shirt was the way to go…

However when paired with dark blue jeans (I love this particular pair of denims and they were non negotiable) the navy blue waistcoat seemed like I was wearing just a little too much drab colour.

So I went hunting and found a new waistcoat with a bit more ‘zing’ – which went really well with a plain shirt!

The next question was then what to wear on top of it – because every boy needs a smart jacket.

Ultimately I decided that a plain blue one was the way forward.

The total cost here was pretty wallet friendly!

  • Jacket (Racing Green) – free as part of my Slimming World photocall outfit
  • Jeans (Paul Smith) – £8 charity shop purchase
  • Waistcoat (Cavani) – £10 (reduced from £60) at TKMaxx
  • Shirt (Saville Row Tailors guild luxury double cuff) – £1.99 charity shop purchase
  • Tie (silk Jeff Banks) – £0.99p charity shop purchase
  • Shoes (Clarks previously owned) – sale price £20
  • Belt (M&S) – £4 charity shop purchase
  • Cufflinks (gift from a kind ex manager when I reached target)

Total cost of outfit – approx £45

The evening wear was actually something that I’d already managed to put together thanks to some seriously lucky ongoing charity shopping.

I’d decided to go (drum roll)…..

Full tweed!!!

  • Tie (silk Charles Tyrwhitt) – £2.50 charity shop
  • Jacket (Jasper Conran) £12.50 charity shop
  • Waistcoat (Jeff Banks) – £5 charity shop
  • Shoes – (Jasper Conran) – Free as part of my Slimming World photocall outfit
  • Belt – (Jasper Conran) – Free as part of my Slimming World photocall outfit
  • Trousers – (Racing Green) Amazon purchase with vouchers and a generous present from a friend – £70
  • Shirt (M&S dress double cuff shirt) £4 from eBay
  • Cufflinks (ebay) – £5

Total cost £99

The day started pretty early – and both myself and Angie and a few friends queued to meet The celebs (Rylan Clarke Thomas and Margaret Bramwell) for our photo call.

In the queue was a familiar face (and fellow waistcoat and loud shirt aficionado) the previous Slimming World MOTY 2017 Tony Westaway.

A nicer fellow is hard to meet – and it was clear that throughout the event he was prepared to continually go out of his way to make me feel comfortable and at home.

After a few photos and a brief catch up with some people from head office we moved on to the rehearsal in the ICC main hall – which is massive!!!

It wasn’t until I saw the room that I realised the sheer scale of the event. What I thought was a gathering for hundreds was actually a way larger – nearly 2000 in total!

There was an immense ground floor and a huge balcony also filled with guests!

As we went through the rehearsals (and I nervously made notes) I got to know a few of the people that were behind the scenes with us.

These competition winners had come from all over the place and hailed from every walk of life you could imagine with only one thing in common. They had all changed their life for the better because they’d decided they wanted to break the mould and embrace a healthy lifestyle.

As Angie and I stood backstage we watched the before videos of their journeys and honestly I began to well up a bit.

Quite often I hear words coming out of other people’s mouths in relation to their weight loss and personal journeys that feel like they’ve come from my own and it can be quite difficult to process.

While examples of adversity may be unique to the individual the emotions associated with them are often universal. When people speak from the heart about profound life changing experiences it’s never less than heartwarming to realise that there’s more to unite people than there is to divide us.

We’re all so similar in so many ways it’s mind blowing.

But that (for the moment) is the final part of tonight’s post. I’ve had an eventful 24 hours – and the rest of this story will NOT fit into even a jumbo sized blog offering…

Join me in the next post internet if you want to know what happened next!

Davey

 

Being a role model

So. October is once again a distant memory.

Hello November.

Last month’s legacy has been a mixed one. In one respect I feel like I’ve recently made genuine life progress and begun to confront something that I’ve been deferring for a long time.

In others I’ve been working hard to convince myself that I will indeed be slim for life – and that my history of continually yo-yo dieting is finally at an end.

At the start of the month I wasn’t at all convinced. My self confidence was faltering – and whilst winning an award for Slimming World was nice it didn’t really change the fact that I’m still trying to deal with and process many aspects of my new life.

I’ve moved from ‘pathetic’ to ‘successful’ in a relatively short space of time – but just because I’m ‘fixed’ on the outside it doesn’t mean everything is perfect on the inside.

One of the downsides to this newfound attention (as nice and exciting as it can be) is that when you’re losing weight in Slimming World groups you’re in a comfortable and supportive bubble.

Everyone’s in the same boat. We feel the other’s pain, and more often than not we navigate away from saying things to each other that we know may hit a nerve or that aren’t supportive.

We ourselves have a lifetime of learning what hurts our feelings and we don’t throw that in other group members faces.

In short there are many things in Slimming World you will never hear.

In the outside world though it’s all fair game – and you have to quickly develop a thick hide, because when you’re available on social media and appear in the press then the people contacting you for advice don’t necessarily share the same approaches.

Their goal is not to support you – more often than not it’s to get something from you – even if that’s with the best of intentions.

Often (because it’s the way of journalism or the public’s perception of how you should act if you’re present on social media) many people I’ve encountered since the award don’t bother to get into the preamble of getting to know me before lurching into some really quite intimate and personal questions.

If those relate to things that already occupy your thoughts or drive your fears then you’ve got to find a way of coping with lots of people asking you about them over and over and over again.

It doesn’t matter whether I’ve been asked about my journey by dieters or people who’ve never suffered with the same problem – the starting point always seems to be the same.

‘What do you do with all the skin?’

I’m not sure why this is the first thing on everyone’s mind because it was never the first thing on mine when I saw other people losing weight – but I’ll be really honest when I say there is a lot of it left, it does worry me that I’ll never be accepted or loved because of it and I don’t want to have to cut lumps out of myself to be feel better or because someone else wants me to be ‘normal’.

It undeniably hurts though sometimes to be questioned like this – and after the hundredth plus time (I’m not kidding – it’s probably a lot more) of politely answering this question whilst trying to be measured and helpful there have been moments where I’ve felt like screaming ‘it doesn’t matter – why don’t you just want to be healthy and to live a better life?!’

I don’t though.

Like many things this is something (for all the public wrangling I do with my feelings) that I internalise and I don’t usually talk about.

I’ve discussed it with a select few and shown parts of my body to only three other people since I started losing weight and I am terrified of how everyone else will look at me if they see me disrobed.

I can’t bring myself to wear short sleeved tops, shorts above the knee, or go swimming (yet).

I am not ashamed of who I am but I still feel that I don’t want to draw attention as a freak or curiosity like I have done for so much of my life.

I was bullied for so long in my past that the scars from it still run really deep.

Instead I want to blend, be part of everyday society and try to focus on the times that people say to me ‘you don’t ever look like you’ve been big’.

This worry about both acceptance and appearing ‘normal’ has contributed to a major meltdown recently – which as many of my worst ones tend to do – happened almost completely without warning and affected me (and I’m ashamed to say others) deeply.

I’ve been trying to convince myself that many things don’t matter – that’s it’s ok to still be alone at this point in my life, that the skin issue is immaterial, that I will eventually find someone that loves me, a life purpose that drives me like weight loss has, and that I have a future filled with health, vitality and companionship.

I also don’t want to be a fat, drunken failure again and my fear of this is always in the background.

Paradoxically this fear sometimes leads to me right back to the doorstep of comfort eating, and despite losing twenty plus stones I’m still capable of sliding backwards and ‘failing’.

The thing is that now (with my award) I feel much greater pressure to be ‘perfect’ than I ever did before.

Whereas prior to this I was just a guy in a little group in Warwick quietly trying to rebuild his life (albeit in a very public way) now I have the added status of being a role model to add to the mix (not my words – this is what people keep telling me I’ve become) and if you take that the wrong way it can be quite damaging.

The truth is that I’m having to continually confront and remind myself of the fact that to be a healthy ‘role model’ perfection is not required.

Unhealthy examples in social media of plastic smiles and perfect bodies make us all feel undermined and undervalued – and I’m just as guilty as anyone else of feeling like I’m less than I should be because I see a picture of someone who seems to have everything I lack.

I’ll never be Hugh Jackman or look like Chris Hemsworth.

The true role model though is NOT the airbrushed Superhero or Hollywood icon. It’s not to be found in the gym selfie with perfect skin tone and abs – and it’s not in the youthful swimsuit photo on a far away beach – because none of us can be that forever, and even if we are it’s just for a fleeting moment.

Life changes us and our bodies are reflections of the paths we take.

Our baby bellies tell stories of the joy that children can bring and our saggy parts often remind us that we’ve improved our health by losing the weight that once filled those spaces.

We’re more than visual perfection – we’re human beings and we are perfect just the way we are without cutting anything off, without colouring or bleaching our skin or burying our faces in makeup.

We have to make the best of what we have – and if we can do that with confidence then our smiles and our happiness become our social currencies – not the images of us without clothes or posing with a camera pointing down from the sky to get the best possible angles without chins.

So – October (for me at least) has been about getting back to dietary basics, of following the Slimming World plan, of writing a personal food diary every day, of going to group and facing the music or just going there because it helps.

#onplanoctober has worked.

Although I never told a soul this was how the month started on the 1st of October.

After a few really bad days (where if it wasn’t bolted down I ate it) the scales said I was ridiculously out of target.

Officially (in my mind) I was a failure again.

I’d not only taken the expectations of my friends but now also Slimming World’s officials and my blog readership and I’d failed all of them.

Catastrophe.

I was going to destroy myself again and it was all inevitable.

I couldn’t tell anyone the depths of how ashamed I felt that I thought I was once again eating the pain away.

These are all just things we tell ourselves when our negative inner narrative takes over though. None of it is true and none of it defines reality.

It just leads to bad decisions – of which I’ve made a few recently – and they all happen when I try to deal with things in isolation.

The truth of it is that on Saturday I will stand on stage and accept an award that in many ways I still feel I am undeserving of.

That’s not false modesty.

I know I lost huge amounts of weight. I’m not daft. I’m proud – and I totally killed that objective.

Yay me.

There’s more to getting an award like this though because it’s not about numbers. It’s about being judged ‘worthy’ – and how do you ‘win’ something with that criteria when surrounded by so many others who are just as deserving?

Not only do I struggle with being viewed as inspirational after years of being seen (by myself and others) as a failure – but I met many other men who were in line for the same award as me – and none of us were any less or more deserving of the award.

Yet for some crazy reason it ended up in my hands.

I want to be worthy of it.

I want to be a good example.

I want to be able to help people.

But flawless role models don’t help anyone.

They just show an image that seems to be completely unobtainable and convince people that the journey is impossible – that for whatever reason they will never have what that airbrushed social media personality has.

So I write about how much I fail as much as I feel I can in public- because I feel that my pain, regrets or insight might have value for others.

If they see my weakness they know it’s ok to feel their own – and believe it or not I’ve also found that this makes me feel stronger.

Sometimes I can’t bring myself to do it though and that last picture of me standing on the scales after a week of pigging out is one of those times.

I couldn’t post it or admit it a month ago. I just wanted to fix it without anyone knowing.

With some determination I’ve pulled it around however – and in doing so I’ve not starved myself. I’ve followed the plan, been honest with myself about what’s going in my mouth and I’ve done a LOT of exercise.

My record daily average distance (it’s now 12.5!) has been smashed due to my efforts and this month alone I’ve walked over 387 miles to reach my objective of being healthily under my target weight.

If you wonder what I’ve been eating every day then here’s a typical diary.

Lunch

  • 200g baking potato
  • Tub of cottage cheese with onion and chive
  • Jar of gherkins
  • 3 Tomatoes

Dinner

  • 500g 5% fat pork mince
  • Red pepper
  • 380g mushrooms
  • Large courgette
  • Small onion x2
  • 240g Kidney beans
  • Bunch of broccoli
  • Can chopped tomatoes

Dessert

  • 100g blueberries
  • 250g frozen Aldi summer fruits
  • 250g natural yogurt

Snacks

  • 2x apples
  • 2x conference pears

The point that I want to get over here is that in doing what I’ve done in October I’ve not starved myself.

Far from it.

I’ve just eaten (a lot of) healthy food and burned more calories than I’ve consumed.

I drew one of those infamous ‘lines in the sand’ that we all make from time to time after a bad patch in Slimming World and promised myself I will not not cross over it.

My personal line was the screenshot of the scales above.

Yesterday the impetus this picture of personal dissatisfaction gave me meant that I finished with a bang.

After an epic ten mile walk around St Nicholas park (even by my standards this was huge) that had an average mile speed of 15 minutes and six seconds I went home and stood on the scales.

Although they’re my scales and not Slimming World’s I know that they’re accurate (the one in group is always identical) and because of that I have demonstrated once again to myself on an ‘every other day’ basis that over the course of a month if I eat well and work hard good things happen.

I’ve dropped nearly a stone and a half.

It’s worth pointing out too that during the last month things did go both up and down.

There were some odd lurches back up on the scales in October that I simply couldn’t explain – but I stuck to plan, followed it all through and kept going.

So – if anyone out there wants to refer to me as a role model or an inspiration I’m not going to say I feel any more comfortable with the position than I did a month ago – and I doubt I ever will.

I’m still filled in dark times with a crippling lack of self worth and a fear that I’m not going to measure up to peoples expectations of me.

I’m terrified that I’ll let myself down too (my standards are way higher) and I’m often paralysed by how I’ll move forward in life or find love and acceptance in the world.

However – if there’s one thing I can do that will make that fear and insecurity worthwhile its sharing it and making sure that others looking to me for answers will see it’s ok to not be perfect.

It’s ok to fail.

It’s ok to not feel like you can cope from time to time.

It’s ok to worry about who will love you and what they’ll see when they look at you.

You just have to try and take each day as it comes.

If you do internet then good things happen.

Davey