(Author sips coffee and sighs…)
February so far appears to be going pretty well.
Life is coming together very nicely – and with the possible exception of employment still being AWOL I have to say I’ve rarely been happier. This is more than mildly surprising because it’s fair to say that there was a time when I felt I’d never truly be accepted by the world or fit into it.
The truth is that I now feel a part of my surroundings and community in a way that I honestly never have before.
It’s never completely plain sailing mind you.
I guess it’s a feature of life (if it goes on long enough) that just when you think you’re sorted, on an even keel and have dealt with all of your demons that you find more of them popping out of the closet completely unannounced.
Amazingly – as painful (and deeply personal) as some of these can be to face up to – this time there is a significant difference. Now I’m not only, fitter, stronger, and more resilient – but I’m no longer dealing with them alone.
With a new relationship has come a gradual realisation that I no longer have to be the sole guardian of my self worth and belief – and that (in the same way as I hope I am in return) someone else now has a spare set of keys to my emotional vault.
That doesn’t mean they’re controlling of that element of me – it means that they are demonstrating again and again that they’re capable of not only enhancing but supporting me too.
Already I’m acutely aware that this is regularly making me think in ways that otherwise I would not have if I’d been left in splendid isolation.
It’s a pleasure (although sometimes also challenging) to see parts of myself that have been dormant for so long slowly whir back into life as I explore what it’s like to become ‘us’ rather than just ‘me’. Furthermore it’s great to have someone with many of the same – but also a continually surprising and divergent range of interests.
Again and again though I’m confronted with a pleasingly similar set of likes and dislikes.
I’d always thought in the back of my head that my taste in clothes (which is developing into a more colourful and flamboyant one all the time) would be a tough sell for a person that liked a more ‘buttoned down’ mode of dress.
Furthermore I’ve been introduced to a new set of clothing passions – which are (in some cases) things that I would never have previously considered – but now I find that I’m an ardent fan of as well.
Whilst I’ve never been particularly keen on high heels (the potential damage they can do to feet has always scared the living heck out of me) if they’re worn occasionally and they’re both unique and beautiful I find that I am inexplicably drawn to them.
At the weekend I was introduced to ‘Irregular Choice‘.
Oddly a regular twalking buddy had mentioned the online version of this shop before – but until I’d walked through the physical door of its premises in Brighton I’d not connected the dots and realised that it was the same place.
As regular readers will know I’m a seriously thrifty person.
My charity shopping habits are a matter of public record and I don’t like paying high street prices. Something has to either be heavily discounted in a sale or ‘pre-loved’ for me to consider buying it.
This has enabled a lot of experimentation – and I’m still going through a ‘developmental’ period in this respect.
However – there are some things that are so individual and beautiful that their cost is offset in my mind.
Although I can wear nothing in this store (I saw no shoes at all for guys) it represents taste choices that I’ve never really considered – but that I suddenly love to bits. These shoes are the kinds of truly wonderful little pieces of art that I’d happily mount on my living room wall and admire from afar – yet they’re not much different in price from a pair of Clarkes or a mass produced pair of brand name trainers.
It blows my mind that I not only think this way – but that my opinions are shared. Not only is my experimental side okay but it’s suddenly something that’s being embraced with gusto.
Furthermore the nerdy geek in me (which represents a HUGE part of my personality) no longer feels the need to lurk in the background – which if I’m honest has not always been the case in the past.
This is so fundamental to who I am that without it I immediately feel like things are sliding in my life – or that I’m somehow heading for failure. It’s been so instrumental in my recent success that it’s forever going to dominate who I am as a person – and to know that I don’t have to hammer someone else’s square peg into my round hole is a joy that’s next to impossible to explain in words.
To know that when I’m navigating through a rainswept, muddy, miserable landscape framed by a grey sky with someone by my side that really doesn’t care what the weather is like as long as they’re outdoors is fantastic.
It’s much better though when the weather is just right and you can enjoy a cloudless blue sky while you sit down to look at the view whilst you sip your respective flasks of coffee and tea.
This weekend I’ve been exploring Birling Gap and the Seven sisters a little more.
However on Sunday I started at the other end of their span (last time I began my walk in Seaford – link) and I’ve decided that not only is it a really pretty little part of the world, but that I’m rather falling in love with it.
Although I never mentioned it in my previous posts this is the second time when I’ve unceremoniously felt my legs slip out from under me in the chalky mud around these parts. This glue like covering on the cliffs and in the nearby estuary has the habit of gumming up the tread on your boots and making it much harder to maintain a reliable grip.
When it’s combined with ice (as it was in the shaded parts of the seven sisters on Sunday) then it can result in a sore posterior and wrists – both of which invariably take the brunt of any sudden downward trajectory.
Thankfully it seems that another major benefit of me being a lot smaller these days is that my arms and ass remain unbroken when this occurs. All that gets damaged is my pride or the material in the rear of my trousers.
I don’t care though.
Muddy pants and boots are badges of pride – and I actually find it quite amusing that recently I’m slipping and sliding more than usual. As I headed home with the sun slowly going down over Cuckmere Haven the event barely even registered in my memory of the day.
My train of thought only moved on from the wonderful light and reflections when I started to think about what I was going to cook for dinner – which in this case was going to be for two.
This is a really positive new element in my life – because when I am preparing meals for someone other than just myself I eat noticeably less than I normally would when I’m on my own.
Not only am I more likely to keep to plan when I’m in company but during such evenings I typically spend much less time trying to modify or deal with the inevitable impact of solitary ‘boredom eating‘ – which if I’m honest has always been a big problem for me. It’s something that’s never really changed in all the time I’ve been attending Slimming World – or since I reached target.
My evenings have at times been a wasteland of cottage cheese pots, Aldi Benefit Bar wrappers and plum seeds or apple cores. I’m no different to anyone else with dietary demons in this respect.
It’s never really been a case of whether or not I will go off the rails – but how much I can limit the damage when I do.
Replacing this is a new push into making lovely meals that someone else can enjoy too – and thanks to many Slimming World food tasting sessions (and a willingness to experiment a little when they come around) I have a number of easy to make but delicious healthy meals in my cooking lexicon.
This ‘baked stuffed peppers’ example is something I first cooked (following guidance in a SW magazine) back in June 2016 (link) and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone that likes its ingredients.
I can confirm that it went down very well with its intended audience – and it’s so nice that this recipe is actually the reason that I started using 5% fat pork instead of beef mince in my chilli con carne.
It proved beyond a shadow of a doubt at the time that not only was it a significant upgrade from beef (I find that it’s far less chewy for one thing and almost identical in terms of calorie content) but the resulting taste was way better.
Furthermore its value (usually around £1 less than beef per 500g) seemed far more appealing because – since I cook a chilli every week without fail – this represented a saving of £52 per year – which for me is an entire week’s shopping in Aldi.
With all this good behaviour I’m well on track to being in target for my diamond member award – and last night when I attended one of Angie’s groups locally in Warwick I hit the weigh in nail squarely on the head.
After nearly a month out of group gallivanting around the country I managed a maintain – meaning I’m still smack bang on my target weight.
I’m still squarely in the middle of my target range – and this also means that the last entry in my book will hopefully be when I secure my diamond target member status.
I’m not sure I could have planned that if I’d tried – but when I do my Slimming World book will contain an entire and complete record of my journey from my first weigh in to this very significant milestone.
If you want to see the entire history of my losses (and occasional mis-steps) you can find them here (link) or have a look in my homepage menu.
If you’re on your own journey then I can’t overstate how important it is to keep a log of what you’ve done right (and wrong). If you’re following Slimming World I also urge you to take the time to update your progress online in the app or on their web page.
Their graphing tools have kept me on the straight and narrow throughout my time following the plan – and it never fails to fill me with a sense of pride when I see its variations slowly smoothing out into one long gentle curve downwards – followed by a (relatively) straight line.
Looking at a history of where you’ve come from and where you’ve ended up – as well as recognising that sometimes things will go a little topsy turvey and that if they do it’s totally normal is a real help in times when you really don’t feel like you can be strong or focused.
Anyway – my day is ebbing away internet and I need to get walking. I can’t sit here talking to you all day long, regardless of how nice it is to catch up.
Let’s do coffee again later in the week x