Epic

My initial response to my weigh in today was that it was ‘brutal.’

I said as much when I texted the galling news out to various interested parties.

They all responded supportively (as did my lovely SW group) and without exception started to re-frame the narrative for me and provide words of consolation.

In the words of one dear friend however it wasn’t brutal.

It was instead ‘epic‘ – and on reflection I think I prefer her wording – because whilst my gain can’t really be looked upon as a entirely positive trajectory it can (in the great scheme of things) be termed a victory of sorts.

It’s been three weeks since I last officially stepped on the scales and things have clearly changed.

However my victory comes not from the result scribbled in my book but from the attitude I have towards it.

I sat smiling throughout my group knowing that firstly yesterday morning (before eating pretty much all of my shopping stuck in various traffic jams for around four and a half hours on the way home from Sussex) I was weighing in at 15st 2lbs.

Therefore this isn’t all a gain that’s ‘real’. It’s the cumulative impact of lots of carrots, ham and plums.

It’s also related to several rather nice (reduced) Waitrose salads that disappeared at Oxford services around tea time.

I blame the evil woman with all of the little yellow stickers that compelled me to impulse buy all of the nice things and I blame the traffic for boring me into eating like a porky pig all afternoon!

However I’m not getting too bent out of shape about this.

I could have gone to KFC instead and experience tells me that the impact of this little blow out will be gone fairly soon.

Secondly I’m no longer Man of the Year.

This doesn’t make gaining weight my new goal, and it definitely doesn’t make it ok – but it DOES mean that when I slip up I no longer feel the added pressure to be perfect.

I’m just me, going to a group (relatively) anonymously again and having to look for support rather than being an example of relentlessly good behaviour.

I wish yesterday hadn’t unfolded quite the way it did though.

Irritatingly until then I’d been totally on plan all week and had been preparing and consuming wonderfully speedy meals for two every day while I’ve been down south helping my partner with her packing.

(These are baked stuffed peppers – which I highly recommend – the recipe is here link)

In some ways though my gain has been totally called for because I’ve done a lot less exercise recently due to being busy rather than active.

My right shoulder has been giving me problems ever since I pulled it three weeks ago carrying shopping and it’s not been quite right ever since.

It’s not like me to be kind to myself and rest up – but this time (having learned the hard way) I decided to just back off and stop pushing myself so hard.

Swimming regardless of the pain in my shoulder wasn’t going to repair a damned thing. In reaity there was more of a chance it would make my recovery even slower and until I hit the pool this morning it had actually been over a week and a half since my last swim.

Even though I’ve been doing less, in all truth I’ve carried on eating like a man swimming around a kilometre a day.

Regardless of whether or not you eat good or ‘bad’ food you can still eat too much of it.

I’m back on the case now though and with regard to my swimming my pace has thankfully only dropped a teeny bit since I last went.

I might be heavier but my cardio fitness is still there!

So – what else have I been up to?

Well – truthfully I’ve been relaxing a little over the last couple of days.

There’s still a LOT to do with regard to the move (there’s only 6 days to go!) but there’s only so much packing and stressing a boy (or girl) can take – and as such my partner and I disappeared to Brighton on Wednesday and then caught up with family and friends on Thursday.

Brighton was amazing – and on (almost) the hottest day of the year so far we wandered up and down the beach, stopping only to drink tea and coffee or admire the endless beach and blue skies.

When it got too hot we found shade behind some gabions on the beach covered in local photography.

There’s also a really cool little cafe on the prom near the i360 now which is a really amusing little bit of architecture.

I can’t help but admire the way that Brighton manages to be a little bit left-field, even in the traditional seaside cafe space.

There’s plenty to geek out to as well – and a mooch around the snooper’s paradise market is absolutely guaranteed to make a certain Dr Who obsessed person a little perkier.

(If you want to imagine a voice over to this picture it’s basically ‘got this, got that, have the audiobook of that, that’s good, got that, want that…’ etc etc etc.)

I also found a pair of dungarees that a I knew certain fellow blogger would love – and I wasn’t wrong.

It took a mind bogglingly long five minutes for her to order them online from the moment that I sent through a photo on WhatsApp!

She’s slipping lately.

I would have expected a much faster turnaround previously.

As well as bee themed clothing being a thing in the shops (they seem to ‘bee everywhere’ 😏) it’s also getting close to pride week and consequently everything is a little bit more rainbow 🌈 than it usually is.

I just love the inclusiveness and diversity that this brings out in people and the vibrancy of the clothing that it promotes in Brighton.

It just makes me happy whenever I’m surrounded be people just letting it all hang out and being completely truthful to who they are inside.

In the spirit of the place (and because I probably need to get a sun hat – my bald noggin got absolutely frazzled on Wednesday) I couldn’t help but try some alternatives a little outside of my usual comfort zone…

As well as rainbow hats I couldn’t help but marvel at all the beautiful shoes (and shirts) that the town has to offer – and thankfully it doesn’t take much to get my partner to have a look in Irregular Choice.

I can never quite figure out whether I’m dragging her in there or whether she’s dragging me….

The pair that grabbed my attention this time around were more suited to her than myself – but I love the clear sole and the pattern underneath (although I gulped when I saw the price – hence the rapid thumb movement!).

(Link to Instagram video of them)

I’m also quite taken by a pair of pumps in Schuh that I really think would suit my other half – but again at £75) they’re outside of my current comfort zone.

Every time I see a pair of Adidas superstars like these I’m transported back to the 80’s where I’m sitting watching (in black and white because we didn’t have a colour tv when I was little) Run DMC’s video with Aerosmith of ‘Walk this way’.

(Skip to 2.32 for the bit where they walk down the stairs in their bright white superstars! I just LOVE this moment!!!)

The pair I picked up are slightly different though. They have some really funky pearlescent stripes which add a cool ‘zing’ to their retro look when you see them moving.

I think they’re great – but are they worth the price? Personally I think not – but then again I’m pretty frugal.

Thankfully so is my other half so we left empty handed rather than £75 lighter.

We have more than enough to collectively shell out for at the moment with the upcoming move – and I’m really aware all of a sudden that I don’t want to make any impulsive purchases that aren’t needed.

It’s a bonus that we’re completely aligned in this respect.

This afternoon, when I was listening to a radio four trailer for a programme called ‘the money clinic’ (it’s on next Saturday link) I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief that this is the case.

There’s so much conflict to be found in relationships with regard to money, the lack of it, the way it should be spent or because one half of a partnership is more materialistic than the other.

I know from experience that this can be really damaging over time.

In a previous life I had a serious mis-alignment with a partner about how I should (or should not) spend my money and it caused more than a little resentment to develop between us.

It was also the reason for more than a few arguments and prolonged periods of frosty silence.

In many ways I tentatively entered my current partnership half expecting many of the issues I’d previously encountered in past relationships to once again be present.

Part of me assumed that it was only a matter of time before I found something that worried me, and I’d convinced myself before we met that a huge amount of compromise in any relationship was just a hidden reality waiting to make itself apparent.

I was certain that I’d never be able to be myself and that I’d only be accepted if I played a part rather than be truthful about what I needed and who I was.

When I began to fall for my partner I was ultra diligent (having been burned before) about looking for what I call ‘smoking guns’.

By this I mean that without fail every time I’ve had to look back and evaluate why relationships failed I’ve realised that I knew pretty early on (within the first few weeks typically) what the ‘straws that broke the camel’s back’ were going to be.

Without exception I thought ‘I can live with or change that later’ and in every instance that conclusion proved to be naively delusional.

In the cold light of day I usually had no-one to blame but myself because I realised that I’d known from the very start what the issues were – I just chose to ignore them.

I found out the hard way that if you go into a partnership wanting someone to be any different to the way they are when you meet them them then you’re already setting yourself up for a potential failure.

If you love what they are from the beginning and don’t expect them to change for any reason other than their own ambitions and hopes for the future then it makes life a lot easier.

Saying this is all well and good though.

When it came down to it I never expected this to be the reality of any relationship I found myself in. It seemed like an unobtainable idea that I’d ultimately have to compromise on if I wanted to find anyone.

Against all of my expectations it seems to have become a reality though because I love what I have right now and I don’t need anything to be different.

Something else had to change though to make sure that the same was true in reverse.

I don’t want anyone to see me as a ‘fixer upper’.

I’ve had to change in many ways in order to be capable of having a productive partnership.

Not only did I have to get rid of many bad habits but I’ve had to accept that in past relationships that I’d more often than not completely failed to communicate how I really felt about certain things until they became major issues.

I don’t do that any more.

I’m up front about what I like or don’t like and I try and be forthright and truthful.

I’m as honest in my real life as I am in my blog. There’s nothing hidden in the confines of my relationship, even if it’s painful, paints me in a bad light or is embarrassing to talk about.

One can only hope that the future is bright because of this because I certainly can’t control it.

It’s lunacy to think you know how anything is going to turn out. All you can do is build solid foundations, throw truth out there and hope that it brings love back with it.

So despite my gain I feel epic today Internet – and not just because my friend re-framed my wording – but because the future seems ridiculously bright.

Davey

Surrounded by boxes

There have been a few watershed moments in my life over the last few years. Some of them I’ve very much seen coming and have actively worked to achieve – however others have been less predictable and maybe because of that have been infinitely more significant.

I knew (at least after a while of proving to myself by giving up alcohol and losing weight) that I’d get to target.

I became single minded enough for this to be a foregone conclusion.

The only question left unanswered to me was the one of how long it would take.

I expected to reach my goal.

What happened when I reached that was totally unexpected. My success with Slimming World and the awards I subsequently won came completely out of the blue.

Once they’d happened in many ways my certainty evaporated and I tried to make sense continually of what it all meant. After much (over) deliberation I thought that I knew how they would impact me.

I expected to be more visible in marketing campaigns for SW. I hoped it would enable new career opportunities and I fully embraced anything of this nature when the opportunities arose.

There was no sudden cataclysmic ‘bang’ however.

I had a trophy and a title – but I was still me.

That ‘me’ as many readers will know is someone with a lot of baggage.

I wasn’t really prepared for what it all meant emotionally and how much I’d look upon it as a ‘weight of responsibility’ in the coming months.

It started to unravel a little in my mind fairly quickly if I’m honest – and after a particularly awful week of wondering ‘what it all meant’ on top of ‘where I should go next in life’ at the start of August 2018 (a little over two weeks after a press call at the Ritz in London) I found myself significantly outside of my target weight.

I couldn’t face my Slimming World group that Saturday morning, and instead I decided to go for a day trip to somewhere I’d never been to before and get some exercise.

If I couldn’t face the scales at least I could do something to help shake off my gain.

That walk on the 4th August last year turned into a random conversation with a Geography teacher on the top of Cheddar Gorge and it changed everything.

It couldn’t have happened without all of the other changes in my life – and even then – if not for a random convergence of circumstances it may never have happened at all.

If I hadn’t won the award I’d have never felt the added pressure and I may have attended my group instead.

If the sun hadn’t been forecast I may have stayed at home.

If I hadn’t had a second cup of coffee in Starbucks at the motorway services my life would have probably taken a different course,

As the chance decisions stacked up on my side, elsewhere on a camp site someone else had woken up in a camper van and was making her way slowly to the same spot that I was.

She was trying to make her own decisions in life and was also wandering and contemplating.

We consequently met on the top of a hill in the middle of the countryside doing something we both loved to do and just started talking.

We didn’t say much at first – and it was only the briefest of encounters – but it was enough to plant a seed.

That took a while to germinate but when it did it grew virulently and has taken root in every aspect of our lives.

I worried for some time about who I would be if I was no longer losing weight.

It’s all very well to say you’ve lost over 20st. It’s not easy to do, and consequently there are few that can lay claim to such a statement.

Sadly there are fewer still who can say it’s gone for good but if you can say these things should they define you?

Did I really want this accomplishment to be sole focus of who I was?

For a time it felt (through necessity) that it had to be that way. If I hadn’t made losing weight the fulcrum of my existence it may never have come to fruition.

I never wanted it to be all I was though and as I got closer to my goal I became increasingly concerned that this was what I’d unwittingly engineered.

Would I ever be able to disengage from what I’d done?

I have an uneasy relationship with my accomplishments relating to weight and fitness because whilst they represent proof of what I can do if I put my mind to it they also represented failure.

That might sound crazy to many – but think on this.

It’s impossible to have achieved such a milestone in life without first flushing everything away so epically in the first place.

I destroyed myself so diligently that by January 2016 I stood on the verge of death.

I was unable to care for myself and in comparison to everyone I’d ever known I was drunken a 35 stone disgrace.

When your ‘success’ is based on your ability to simply begin to do what everyone else around you has already done for the vast majority of their lives how can you not feel shame every time someone pats you on the back and calls you inspirational?

I did.

I was only too aware that what I’d done was reset my personal clock to zero.

In life terms I was now where I always should have been.

I was fit and healthy – but now also middle aged, single, unsure what to do with my future, and behind the curve in almost every measure of my life.

Externally I was suddenly a success, but internally

What was I left with?

What would happiness be?

Where would I find it?

In many ways this angst was the real gift that I received when I hit target and won my awards – but whilst it could have destroyed me, instead it propelled me.

I wanted more.

I wanted to feel the world and the life I’d missed out on during all those years of self destruction.

I wanted to say yes to all the possibilities that I’d said ‘no thank you’ to before – so I did.

In doing so something special happened.

Now I’m just days away from the next step in my journey because in just over a week my home becomes mine and my partner’s home.

‘Mine’ will be ours.

It’s been a stressful road to get to where we are now though – and at the moment I’m sitting in a flat full of boxes after a lengthy few days of packing, meeting family, DIY and boiler installations.

Her life is packed and almost ready to go.

She’s upended all of it to take a chance on me and move to Warwick and as I look around words fail me.

I had no idea how I’d ever step away from my losses and live a normal life (if such a thing exists) yet here I am.

I’m surrounded by someone else’s life in crates – packed solely because she needs me as much as I need her, and because neither of our lives make sense any more when we’re apart.

The crazy thing is though that while these contain possessions of a life the same length as my own I’m confident that much of it fills a mental space that’s similar to the ones back where I live in Warwick.

I’d push them all off a cliff tomorrow without hesitation if I had to make a choice between having this person in my life and not having her.

I know she feels the same – and it lifts my soul.

Her life is contained in these boxes – and she’s turned the rest of it upside down for us.

She’s telling me with everything she is and owns what she wants.

It makes me want to go back to the hillside on which I met her and shout aloud to the world how happy I am to be alive how lucky I feel.

This was my true gift to myself back in January 2016 I began to care about myself once more.

Inexplicably, and against all expectations I started to crawl out of the pit I’d dug for myself.

Now I’m here.

Now we’re here.

Life is beginning anew and I feel joyous.

Surrounded by boxes.

Davey

Shirts, stress and butterflies

Try as I might I can’t seem to stop feeling a little stressed at the moment.

There seems to be so much to do all of a sudden and so little time in which to do it.

Things need to be moved, cleaned, decorated, purchased, planned, implemented, fixed, fiddled with and just generally manipulated so that everything from my partner’s life fits neatly in with my own.

Combining the lives of two adults that have lived alone with their separate hobbies and tendencies to collect both furniture and trinkets is really tough at times.

What do you get rid of and what do you keep?

Rather shockingly I appear currently appear to be in possession of 99 beautiful shirts and of all the items that I can face getting rid of these appear to be the most impossible to separate myself from….

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I’ve resolved therefore (instead of discarding them) to hunt for better storage options – but currently there appear to be no immediately obvious answers with regard to where to put them whilst only in possession of  a modest budget.

Despite spending almost three hours wandering around IKEA in Coventry yesterday looking for solutions I came home empty handed.

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Well almost empty handed.

If you want free parking then you have to buy something – and if IKEA has one ability above all others it’s to present you with a useful little solutions to problems you never knew you had.

Whilst looking for ideas for my bathroom (my beloved has more of a requirement for shampoo and conditioner than I do in the shower) I found this useful suction cup holder.

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I have a habit of buying things in twos for some reason – which in this case is a good thing – because it didn’t occur to me until this morning that this item also made a great under kitchen cupboard spice rack!!!

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Not only had I found an unexpectedly joyful use for this I’d also managed to solve another more pressing issue – and that’s the continual hassle of making myself two espressos in the morning.

Typically the pesky conundrum of how to insert as much weaponised coffee into myself as possible involved me making one espresso, drinking it and then making another.

Imagine my surprise when I realised that there are larger cup sizes out there?!!!

Who flipping knew?!

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£1.25 for a double sized espresso mug?!

Shut up and take my money IKEA!!!

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(The author is well aware that in the background of this highly caffeinated selfie there is also a rotating spice rack sitting on top of his cupboard that is completely unused – but in his defence he won it in a Slimming World raffle and he never liked it. So there.) 

But I digress.

I have 99 shirts and nowhere to store them.

The irony is that the overwhelming majority of these have come from charity shops – and although I’ve been very thrifty (usually it costs me around £4 – £6 for a shirt) the reality has now hit me that I will also have to shell out for somewhere to store them.

My current wardrobe is woefully insufficient.

When I was fat (although I was a reclusive diabetic cripple on the verge of a painful death) life was much easier in some respects. I had one pair of 66in trousers and about 3-5 8XL shirts that fitted me.

Most of of the time I resorted to a purple one of them and stayed in that for pretty much every occasion.

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most hated photo 2 (1)

My previous inability to express myself through clothing has now produced a rather unintended side effect, and from a shirt perspective I’m very often very much like a child in a sweet shop.

If I find a hat or shirt that’s bright and vibrant I want to wear it – and I prefer to look a little dandy when I’m out and about.

I also notice that my significant other seems to encourage the ‘peacock’ side of my personality.

Occasionally I suspect it’s because she too has this side to herself…

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This means that the wardrobe space required for me is significantly more than my partner needs. When I had the house to myself it wasn’t a problem. I just decided that I would put aside a room for my clothes and it wasn’t an issue.

Now it’s not so simple.

This is something I feel quite acutely because I really dislike imbalance, or feeling as if I’m overwhelming someone else with my possessions.

My huge volume of shirts therefore make me feel uneasy.

In an ideal world I would have a bigger house and something like this would be an option.

It’s not though – so the hunt is still on.

I’m not yet ready to part with my pretty things so I might just (at some point in the future) have to convert the loft into a dressing room…

There are worse worries in life mind you – and I’m aware that this is very much a first world problem.

Worrying about having too much of anything is not the life I was born into, so in that respect I count myself as fortunate. I have relatively simple tastes and the world I live in provides for those in plentiful abundance.

It’s still hard to decide how to manage all of this and (diet wise) this has made me want to eat. In truth lately most things do – but I’m trying.

I really am.

IMG_3882I have to make good choices because I’ve been struggling a little with my back and my shoulder.

It’s made swimming something thats painful rather than relaxing so I’ve missed a few days recently (which also doesn’t help with my weight).

These injuries are mostly related to moving and lifting heavy items that are also unwieldy and (even though I’m bending my knees whenever possible) pulling something when I get into an awkward position.

Despite being told that I shouldn’t do such things on my own this includes rather dimwitted feats like dragging an IKEA Billy bookcase up my stairs alone on Monday.

My lower back hasn’t been quite the same ever since.

In my defence it needed to happen. The pending influx of boxes and furniture that’s arriving at the end of the month is making me rather obsessive about organising things so that I can relax and sleep properly – which last night (and the night before) didn’t really happen.

I had a fevered dream that it was all off because I hadn’t prepared enough – causing my partner to reverse her plans to move in with me.

Clearly I also have my own subconscious set of groundless worries about possible rejection that I’ve been pushing to the back of my mind.

All of my supermarket purchases this week have therefore had to be of the profoundly ‘good choice’ variety and I’ve been eating lots and lots of vegetables and fish.

However – it’s still the ‘lots‘ bit that’s tripping me up. My food diary (which I’ve stuck to diligently) is much longer than it really should be.

13th July

  • 2x oranges 
  • Half can of mackerel
  • Half a pack of chicken slices
  • Olives (2-3 syns)
  • Salad with mint sauce and whole grain mustard
  • 3 squares Lindt chocolate (6 syns)
  • Chilli con carne with rice
  • 1/4 melon
  • 1 Apple
  • 2 plums
  • Half a nectarine

14th July

  • 40g oats 
  • Nectarine
  • Plum
  • Half apple
  • Milk (HE)
  • 3.5 syns of cashews
  • Apple, plum, nectarine
  • Quorn/soya super small snack
  • Carrots
  • Chicken pieces
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • M&S Greek style strawberry yoghurt (0.5 syns)
  • Butternut squash chips, sweet potato wedges and a green pepper, garlic red onion, courgette, mushroom, chicken, smokey bacon and Quorn

15th July 

  • 40g oats 
  • Half Nectarine
  • Plum
  • Half apple
  • Baked potato
  • Tub of cottage cheese
  • 360g Piri piri chicken pieces
  • Lettuce
  • Gherkins & Tomatoes
  • 4 peaches
  • Tub of pinepple cottage cheese (3 syns)
  • 2 corn on the cob
  • Large mackerel salad with olives (15) (3 syns)
  • Aldi dominion sugar free sweets & Sugar free mints (12 syns)
  • Natural yogurt and frozen berries with pineapple cottage cheese (3 syns)

16th July 

  • Jacket potato with tub of cottage cheese and chives pickles and lettuce
  • 2x corn on cob
  • 4 peaches
  • 2x tubs of pineapple cottage cheese (6 syns)
  • Aldi Piri piri smoked mackerel salad with olives (11 syns)
  • Berries and natural yogurt
  • 6 apples
  • Frozen berries and 500g natural yogurt
  • Carrots

17th July 

  • Banana 
  • Tuna and mackerel salad with some olives and two corn on the cob
  • Gooseberries
  • 4x nectarines
  • Chicken salad with beetroot and olives – 1 syn
  • Aldi sugar free sweets (2 packs) 12 syns
  • 6x apples

My problem (as always) is that when I ruminate over things I eat – and even when it’s good food it’s still too much.

However – I’m keeping a diary and I’m being honest with myself about what I’m eating – as well as trying to limit the damage whenever possible.

Sometimes the best you can do is just try and take your mind off things by doing something else – and to this end yesterday morning I headed out with a friend to a place nearby that I’ve never vistied before.

Ufton Fields – which (according to the notice board) is a site of special scientific interest.

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Although this isn’t my usual kind of walk (it was short and meandering as opposed to brisk and lengthy) it was a welcome change of pace.

Ufton Fields was just the ticket, because if you march through a place like this without stopping then you’ll miss everything that the beautiful meadows and woods have to offer.

At first glance one may be forgiven for thinking that there’s nothing there.

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It initially looks pretty but quite unremarkable.

However – when you stop and look closer at what’s around you things start to move

There are all manner of little crickets and flies buzzing around the place – and for the first time ever I managed to get close enough to a meadow grasshopper (this is the predominantly green one, whereas the brown one is a field grasshopper link) to film the noise that it makes with it’s back legs.

(Please do watch the above one with the sound turned up, I apologise for the camera shake!)

Other little things are no less interesting – and the common red soldier beetle (link) is (in my view at least) a truly gorgeous little creature.

Where the real spectacle lies however is in the myriad of butterflies that were simply swarming around the bushes and meadows nearby.

I’d seen none of them before.

I dearly wish that I’d brought with me my ‘proper’ camera rather than just my iPhone as it has a much better zoom lens. However it’s all swings and roundabouts. My phone can do 4K video, whereas my camera cannot.

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Although I thought that this one with two sets of wings was a moth – it turns out (according to my diligently researching companion that day) that it’s a female large skipper (link).

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This slightly fleabitten (but no less wonderful) specimin is called a gatekeeper (link)

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This is a ringlet (link).

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This one is a female meadow brown (link)

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This comma (link) In my view stole the show though- and although I couldn’t quite get close enough for a good cameraphone photo I adore it’s colouring.

I was absolutely buzzing by the time we’d finished our (unbelievably short 1.5 mile) walk.

I was also unaware at the time that my attempts to document the wildlife were in turn being recorded themselves….

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However I’m not averse to some furtive photography and am always aware that at some point I may have to fight fire with fire…

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So – there we have it.

Some busy days have passed and there are even more busy ones ahead.

I need to get on internet!

Time’s a wasting

Davey

Food diaries

I’m going back to basics this week and I suppose that with this I need to fess up and ‘out’ myself a little.

I’ve been struggling to stay on plan for several weeks now – and a perfect storm of personal stress and more than a little avoidance about how to deal with it all has meant that (as many may have noticed over the last month) I’ve withdrawn from writing a bit.

This isn’t something I wanted or planned to make a permanent thing but the more my ‘unbloggable’ stress piled up (I won’t write about feelings relating to things like employment because it’s not professional) the more I retreated to food.

Not writing (and therefore not being completely honest) about all this didn’t help and it became all too easy to hide from the fact that (at least by my standards) things had gotten a little out of control.

Emotions have to go somewhere right?

When you’re packing them down continually and there’s no easy way of releasing them that will resolve the underlying issues then that’s where stress, worry, sleeplessness and depression come from.

At times over the last few weeks I’ve felt elements of all of these. With the help of my partner and my friends though I now feel like I’m finally making headway.

This step in the right direction is primarily represented by a food diary.

I haven’t written one of these for a while – but the truth is that without doing so it’s all too easy to just carry on ignoring what I’m putting in my mouth and overeat.

I took steps to reduce my stress over a week ago, and while one particular thing is becoming a distant memory it’s impossible to just flick a switch and say ‘I no longer feel like overeating’ because if you care to look for one there’s always a reason.

The tendency to find yet another excuse to put food into your mouth is all too easy – so on Saturday my partner and I fist bumped and committed to going back to basics, writing everything down and sticking to Slimming World’s plan 100%.

That means if it passes our lips we make a note of it and look up the syns for everything.

At the end of the day we send each other our completed diary and discuss how it went.

This is the perfect time to do such a thing because in two short weeks we start living together.

There’s still a LOT left to do if this is going to happen.

This weekend was spent exclusively sorting things at my partner’s home, helping to pack, stack, organise or recycle her accumulated memories and possessions.

It can be both physically and emotionally draining – and I know from my own efforts to streamline my existence that you occasionally unearth things you’d forgotten about or purposefully buried.

It’s definitely something that’s easier to do together – but since we live quite a distance away from each other that’s not always possible.

As soon as I got home yesterday and stood in the quiet of my hallway a mild panic began to set in.

How on Earth would I make enough space for all of the things that I’d just helped to put in boxes elsewhere?

Where would it all go?

I felt instantly hungry.

Thankfully I also needed to go shopping otherwise this could have been a really tricky moment. My fridge was almost completely empty.

I resolved to go for a swim first and try to relax – which helped when I reached Aldi and by the time I had a trolly in my hands I was in a much better head space.

I didn’t buy any treats because if they’re not in the house then I can’t eat them.

Once I got home (after packing my shopping away) I had a nice healthy lunch that consisted of a baked potato with cottage cheese and piri piri chicken pieces (with salad) and sat down watching the birds in my garden as I ate.

One of the things I can say is my food lately has been nice and colourful.

I’ve been food optimising whenever I can and having epic ratios of speed food.

One thing that I’ve always said to people when I talked as MOTY is that I consider myself to be very lucky.

Unlike many who I’ve met at various Slimming World groups I absolutely love the taste of both fresh and cooked vegetables and I could eat carrots and lettuce until I pop.

Oddly there are a lot of people that don’t feel this way. We live in a world of processed food – and some seem to live almost entirely on carbs – yet have still managed to lose weight.

At times I wonder how they’ve managed to get as far as they have by avoiding vegetables so diligently.

Even when I’m off plan I eat huge quantities of raw vegetables – so if you told me tomorrow that I’d only be able to eat salad and fish until the end of time then I’d be a pretty content man.

I do have failings however.

My weaknesses are mostly healthy free food (and snacks) that I overdo.

Cottage cheese is great but over the last few weeks when I’ve felt at my lowest I’ve occasionally eaten six tubs in one go.

It’s the same with things like hifi or Aldi Benefit bars. They’re great in small quantities but I struggle to contain my appetite as soon as I get anywhere near them.

One bar swiftly turns into one box, and then another and another.

Occasionally I’ve found myself eating ‘healthy seed flapjacks’ from Holland and Barrett. These are delicious, nutritious – but also insanely calorific.

Fruit consumption has also been a little out of control over the last month…

You can’t exercise your way out of eating the wrong things either – and lord knows I’ve tried!

I’m an active person and I’m proud of that.

It’s had an awesome impact on my life and I can see evidence of that in my blood pressure and resting heart rate – which I tested after walking up the hill to my partner’s doctor’s surgery the other day.

My blood pressure used to be 140/77!

I’m not so happy with my overeating though but – on the plus side there are no Dominos Pizzas, no kebabs and no burgers in my life.

I’m also thankful that (after three and a half years on the wagon) there’s no booze either.

It’s been an insane 1266 days since I last had alcohol of any description!

So once I’d eaten my baked potato, watched the birds in my garden, sipped an espresso and written it all down I made a start on my dining room.

Those who have been in my house will know that for a long time this space has been an unofficial walk in wardrobe – and since it’s close to the washing machine has also been where I iron, fold and dry my things.

Its purpose is changing soon though. When my partner arrives its new intended use is a ‘day room’ where we can sit together, admire the garden and indulge in our hobbies.

In order to make this happen not only do I need to re-home my clothes to our bedroom (I have a bit of a shirt addiction and this will be a challenge…) but there needs to be enough space on our moving day elsewhere to prop up flat pack items, pile boxes and dump luggage as well as enough room to unpack and work through it all afterwards.

It’s a challenge to say the least.

Overeating and putting on weight in the meantime will not help.

Making sure I get back to basics and maintaining a healthy lifestyle however will.

This means continually sticking to my objectives, going for walks, going swimming, food optimising, getting on with the job at hand and trying to make sure that regardless of stress I’m still the man I want to be (and that my partner deserves) at the end of it all.

In the meantime I can also take the occasional moment to remember how lovely the world is – and stop to look around me when I’m out and about trying to burn away calories.

It’s got life, colour and joy in it everywhere. All you have to do is stop for a moment and pay attention…

Davey

Outdoorsy

I get a lot of pleasure from lots of things that I never used to these days – but one that continues to surprise and delight me is my garden.

Long term readers may remember that back at the start of my journey in 2016 (when I still wasn’t coping with every aspect of life very well) this was viewed by me as something of a burden rather than a boon.

Right up until early 2017 I considered the maintenance of it to be a disagreeable chore rather than a chance to get out and have some exercise.

Consequently I’d let it slide into a shameful mess and I didn’t know where to begin. The problem just seemed too huge to tackle.

Although generally things were becoming easier for me as I lost weight the mental barriers were still bigger than I realised at the time and every time I pulled back the curtain of my back window (which usually remained closed – because out of sight is out of mind) I was convinced it was still beyond me.

I was doing a lot of walking back then though – and as well as becoming increasingly fitter I was beginning to fit into mainstream clothes more often than not. I was still a different man compared to the one I am today – and at 20st 10lbs still had quite a distance to go before I reached my target weight.

When I look back at my mindset then and compare it to the one I have now I can see that without doubt I was still being held back by an increasingly outdated perception of my capabilities. There were a lot of things that I was afraid of trying or tackling head on and certain tasks were so knotted up with fears and memories of how they used to affect me that I avoided them altogether.

This was until my friend eventually grabbed this particular bull by the horns and offered to help start me off with a couple of days clearing it (link).

I (maybe a little pensively) started with his support – fully expecting the (previously ever present) crippling back and joint pain to be immediate – and that I’d be drenched in sweat throughout. It wasn’t easy – but it also wasn’t the sweaty agony I expected – and as the days wore on the process slowly yielded pleasing results.

For one thing I could see my path and the fence again.

After many weeks of chopping branches up into little pieces, trundling back and forth with my wheelbarrow, filling refuse sacks and seemingly endless trips to my local tip I finally cleared it though.

My persistence had won the day but the fact remained though that my satisfaction from doing this wasn’t because I loved the process of gardening. I’d done it purely because I wanted to open my curtains and it had been bugging me for a very long time that I’d let everything slide so badly.

My approach going forward was therefore proactive and ongoing preventive maintenance. ‘Do a little a lot’ was mantra I adopted – and in doing so the garden soon became very much like washing or ironing because although I liked to see it look tidy – in truth it was just another chore around the house and very little more.

However this mindset wasn’t the whole story.

Whilst cutting the bushes back I’d been majorly upset that I’d accidentally disturbed a blackbird nest – and despite trying my best to cover it back up (link) ultimately the elements drove the little family out and their eggs were eaten (link).

I spent a lot of time watching this struggling little family and couldn’t help but fall in love with blackbirds – which (mostly because of their inquisitive behaviour) quickly became my favourite reason for having a garden.

They monitored my activities while I was working and bit by bit became bolder – following the cycles of my digging and mowing to get the choicest morsels for their dinner.

The more bugs and worms I unearthed the happier they were.

Then I started realising that if I made an effort to feed the birds in my garden and left places for them to nest (I stopped cutting back my bushes so brutally and left a thicker canopy) birds would come back and I’d always be able to listen to their pleasing twittering when I was in the kitchen.

Soon after I also started putting bird boxes and feeders in the garden which I regularly filled up with seed balls.

They’ve become quite popular…

The record that I’ve seen this week is five sparrows clinging to it – all chiselling away at the tasty treats – whilst blackbirds and pigeons hoover up the crumbs below.

Over time, and just like me, the garden has taken on a new lease of life.

It’s not just the birds though because I’ve realised that there’s another dynamic at play lately. I enjoy it a lot more with company.

Now the weather has improved when I cook for my partner we tend to sit outdoors and enjoy the birdsong and leafy ambiance together.

Whilst I was weeding my patio and path the other day I realised that I’m no longer making it look nice because I have to. My incentive to maintain it has now shifted and I’ve realised that I’m doing it not as a chore but because I want to share the space with someone else.

It gives me pleasure to know that they like it too.

A garden is a fascinating little eco system that supports any number of little creatures and tending to it (as well as continually being out and about in the wider world) keeps me feeling connected to it in a way that I never was in the past.

On Thursday (in between my various gardening exploits) I visited Coombe Abbey for the first time in a couple of months – and it didn’t fail to disappoint.

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Everything is in bloom – and this applies doubly to the wildfowl.

They’re doing very well indeed this season – and the swanlings (remember those?!) are clearly thriving because there’s plentiful food for them to eat.

There were seven in this particular brood. All seemed to be in rude health and were nibbling away at the wonderful green algae that was absolutely covering the pond they floating around in.

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Full tummies seem to mean more chilled birds – and neither the swanlings or the ducks at Coombe seemed to mind having their picture taken.

When you get closer to them the expectation is instead that you are very likely to have food – and as such a natural fear of human beings quickly evaporates and is replaced in almost all the birds by a willingness to eat seeds directly from your hand.

Coombe is hope to something else of interest though – and it wasn’t there when I last visited.

There’s now a ‘go ape’ facility there and the whole tree line in one area has been repurposed with all manner of climbing ropes, ladders and zip lines.

The prices are a little steep in my view (it’s going to be a wallet battering hour or two for a family of four) but I suppose if you want properly trained staff and good facilities then you have to pay for the privilege.

Whilst I was looking at the notice and saying I’d like to give it a go my friend pointed something out.

The weight I’d lost to get to target (if it was real live person) would have been too heavy to use the facilities! Furthermore if I’d been the same weight as I was when I started clearing my garden they wouldn’t even allow me to buy a ticket!

I plan to give it a go at some point though regardless of the cost because it looks like good fun. Plus over time I’ve realised that somewhere along the line I became ‘outdoorsy‘.

Anyway.

I must get on. I have a lot to do this weekend.

Once again I’m working towards making my partner’s move to Warwick a reality and there’s a whole load of things that need to get done before that can happen.

At least I know though that when she arrives the garden will look ticketty boo!

Davey

P.S.

These photos popped through the letterbox earlier, courtesy of the kind PR people at Slimming World. Friends think I know nothing about football – and that my lack of willingness to watch even world cup matches when they’re on means that I don’t have the first clue regarding the subject.

How wrong they are!!!

I for one will never forget meeting Gary Lineker – although admittedly I thought his ears would be bigger. It just goes to show – your heroes are never what you expect!

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The Slimming World Man of the Year 2019

I slept like a baby last night.

Well…

That’s not strictly true.

I actually woke up at 11.30pm on my sofa half way through an evening bowl of Weetabix (which I’d fallen asleep in the middle of eating around 9pm) before padding off to bed, where (once under a duvet) I lay motionless for the next 7 hours.

Today I still feel a little tired, but also very very content.

Yesterday I handed over the mantle of MOTY to another (very worthy) winner at the Slimming World HQ in Derby. As always the sparkly castle is a pleasure to visit – because the people there are always so nice – but if I’ve never been there without feeling a corresponding level of stress too.

Absolutely no-one makes me feel this way but me – and the reasons for feeling this way have been different every time. On this occasion I was mostly worrying about being out of target, not being quite as thin as I was when I attended last year and what I’d say to people.

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It’s all in my head though.

All of the clothes I wore fitted just fine, people kept telling me I looked smart, fit and healthy and my partner kept reassuringly squeezing my hand and telling me I was definitely her cup of tea as well as pinching my bottom when no-one was looking.

Thanks to litres of coffee (only having had a few hours sleep) I think I managed to work through my concerns and pulled off the ‘fully functioning human being’ look long enough to shake a lot of hands, feature in a lot of selfies, speak to a lot of people, and then drive home without appearing manic.

Well – maybe not in all of the photos…

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My smile can hide a lot though.

Sometimes in my head though I’m still the fattest man in the room and I’m not sure I’m ever going to get away from that.

It may well be with me for life.

Bizarrely though – despite feeling this way and desperately not wanting to be a disappointment to my assembled peers I was treated like a rockstar from the moment I arrived to the moment I left.

I lost count of the number of hugs and kind comments I received throughout the proceedings. Not only were the PR team and SW management all smiley and happy to see me again but the consultants and contestants all wanted to congratulate me on doing so well as well as ask me questions about how the year had been and how I’d found weight maintenance in the spotlight.

Consultants were even photobombing my selfies!

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Things continued to be slightly surreal throughout the day.

When it was time for a bite to eat I realised I was on huge TV just inside the doors of canteen – meaning that I ended up watching myself on a loop whilst eating the lovely (Slimming World friendly) buffet meal they’d laid on for lunch.

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As if things weren’t weird enough one of the PR team pointed out that things have changed a little since I last visited and that there’s now a MASSIVE life size photo of me (taken at the ball last November) on the wall in the Miles Bramwell suite!

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a static image of myself this big on any wall anywhere and I couldn’t help but take a photo.

My partner was also barely able to contain her glee and immediately bounded toward the wall like a Labrador chasing 20 tennis balls.

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That woman absolutely flipping LOVES Rylan Clarke-Neal…

The day wasn’t about me (or him) though. It was about the selection of the new Slimming World Man of the Year 2019 – and everywhere I looked there were nervous hopefuls flanked by their anxious consultants. Every last one of them were desperately trying to remember their five minute speeches whilst no doubt dealing with their own inner demons.

The field of contestants was a little smaller this year than last. The 2019 crowd had already been whittled down to a group of 37 (although oddly I only count 34 here) before the day.

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Crazily the same statistic from last year was in evidence – and the guys in this photo had lost an incredible average of OVER TEN STONE each.

As was the case for the MOTY event that I attended last year a random footballer (whom the ladies nearby had to tell me the name of) was the guest of honour. Apparently he’s quite famous – so I assume that my proximity will make other men rather jealous.

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Truthfully I was completely clueless – although I will say that Ex England International Emile Heskey did seem (as did Ex England International John Barnes last year) like a lovely fellow – and had a killer handshake to go with his rather imposing stature.

You can’t see his feet here – but he was wearing heels.

I’m actually taller.

He’s a midget.

True story.

I have to say that the event brought back a LOT of memories – but this time the pressure was definitely a lot less than the first and second times I had visited HQ. Now I was standing there as the 3rd greatest loser 2018 and the returning Man Of The Year 2018, rather than a nervous contestant.

Now no-one could take anything away from me and instead this time around I got to sit where my judges sat before – which was behind the groups listening to the stories of the contestants.

Hearing these brought a lot of feelings to the surface.

Some of them are because I remember only too well the pain these guys felt in life. I’ve been bullied like they have. I’ve suffered the same health conditions they too have pushed into remission. I’ve been told I’m incapable of doing things because I’m too big and like them now I can do anything I want. I’ve struggled to find clothes but now walk into any shop and wear what I want just like them.

I’ve also felt the continual rebuke of a toxic parent like many had done, lived through the consequences of how worthless they made us feel and recognised the sense of lost opportunity and wasted time that many of them were still struggling with.

Every one of these personal humiliations and regrets are with me all the time in the background. They’re my continual dark passengers – and when life is hard they ring the bell on my bus, sometimes causing it to stop or swerve.

Occasionally they cause the wheels to fall off completely.

Just like me though all of these men chose another way – and whilst none of us will ever be ‘cured’ (who is?) they now have the tools to build a better life that’s free from pain and humiliation.

Furthermore they now have a platform from which they can shout aloud if they wish. They can go on social media and back to their groups with their heads held high and evangelise about what’s possible with loud, happy, positive voices.

Or if they prefer they can just quietly get on with life and silently inspire those who are watching from the sidelines.

They certainly inspired me – hopefully in the same way I’d inspired some of them.

We all need a reminder of why we try each and every day to be better people and these guys certainly did that for me.

My part in the proceedings wasn’t without it’s responsibilities mind you because my function this year was primarily to speak to the assembled crowd both at the start and near the close of events.

This is a difficult speaking engagement – because I didn’t want it to be about me and what I’d done to win the award last year. They already knew how hard it had been to lose weight.

I didn’t need to tell any of them that.

Instead I felt it was vitally important to get across the point that no-matter what happened that day every single man in that room has changed their life for the better and in doing so they had almost certainly changed the lives of others.

They were all already winners.

I had more to say though – because it what comes next for them (and many other target members who go to a group each week) is no longer about a race to a goal weight. It’s now about the start of an ongoing and never ending battle.

This award (and reaching target) isn’t the punctuation mark at the close of a journey. In many ways it’s capital letter on another page at the start an entirely new chapter – because now they all have to live with the sometimes difficult reality of getting what they’ve always wanted.

They’ve made it.

They’re standing on the top of their personal mountain.

But what comes next?

The bigger question they’ll all have to address now is how to live a life that wasn’t available to them before, and how live with being a source of inspiration for others without being undermined by their inner monologues. Each and every one of them has a new voyage to embark upon – and that’s one of weight maintenance combined with continual minute adjustments to their self image and self worth.

Now they rebuild.

They can all do it though.

I know they can.

They have the support of their groups and their consultants as well as people at home that love them.

I did make it a little personal though.

I couldn’t help myself.

I told the room that just after winning last year I randomly met my partner doing something I’d never been capable of without losing my weight. I told everyone listening that I was in love and that the greatest boon of the whole experience was not the award I’d received but what it had enabled for my future.

I got to tell them what it all meant, how happy it had made me and then I gave them all their awards and shook their hands.

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It doesn’t get much better than that does it?

Not everyone can win though and shortly after the presentations the judges read out the names of the men that would move forward to the last part of the proceedings.

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This was the final group of ten – and every last one of them was a worthy winner.

As is always the case it’s practically impossible to guess in advance of an announcement who will take home the title – but you can usually tell who’s in with a chance because they have the ability to make you laugh at the same time as make you cry and the eventual winner certainly did that.

I spoke to many, shook hands with all, and even gave out my phone number in one case, because (I have to be honest) I feel a sense of kinship with these people. If ever they need my advice or help they only have to ask.

I won’t be mentioning his name here, because that will soon appear in the media, but I will say that (along with many other guys yesterday) he truly deserved both the award he received and the recognition of his achievements from all those involved.

So – that’s almost the end of a my period as Slimming World’s MOTY 2018. Once I’ve been to the ball in November as the outgoing recipient I’ll probably be quietly getting on with my life in blissful anonymity.

I’ve handed the baton over to the next man. I hope he runs like the wind with it and I wish him all the luck in the world.

2019 and the rest of his life will never be the same again.

Davey

The road to the Man Of The Year 2019

So it’s been a while.

How have you been?

Ok I hope?

Good.

I’ve missed you – but haven’t felt like I wanted to talk for a while because there’s been a lot going on that I didn’t feel I could share with you.

In many respects the last few weeks have been quite difficult, but in others they’ve also been extremely enjoyable. I’ve still been talking and sharing but recently I’ve been doing it in an entirely different way.

You see – whilst I’ve not been exhaustively blogging my hopes fears and dreams like I have in the past I’ve still had an outlet for my musings and I’m in a good place.

I now have someone to share everything with and we never miss an opportunity to talk when the need arises.

In this respect I’m more than OK.

I’m actually in a terrific place when it comes to matters of the heart and find myself to currently be insanely happy and fulfilled. Things seem to keep going from good to even gooder and if I was looking at me from the outside I’d probably be vaguely irritated by how contented I must appear because at times I’m positively floating.

My partner moves in with me in less than a month and therefore a lot of our mutual calendars have been (and still are) filled with the very real and very pressing practicalities of what it means to combine two lives that have been solitary for many years.

We’re joining mature households containing a lifetime of possessions, and in doing so simultaneously jettisoning items and approaches to life that we no longer need. We’re holding onto only the best and bringing those traits and posessions together to form something infinitely better than that which existed beforehand.

Consequently my mind is continually alive with the possibilities of it all and my heart genuinely skips a beat when I think about the enormity of it and what it means for the future.

It’s no longer me.

It’s US.

Much time lately has been spent in charity shops (admittedly this will not come as a surprise to many) but almost none of it has been to purchase anything – because bag after collective bag of DVD’s CD’s, clothes, electrical appliances, bric a brac and even furniture have now been donated or simply given away.

In some ways it’s galling.

How could we have spent so much on things?

In others it’s just confusing.

Why do these things mean so little to us now?

Mostly it’s just liberating.

We’re no longer reliant on things to make us happy.

Even if we decided against our current plan of action to live together (which doesn’t seem in the least bit likely) we would already both be in a much much better place because a lot of the deadweight and needless clutter (that neither of us really appreciated had been filling our homes) has already been jettisoned in favour of a leaner and more focused existence.

We need so little in reality.

There’s still a lot more to do but I’m enjoying the process of finding true worth in my possessions immensely.

At the moment I can’t sleep though.

As is sometimes usual with me – it’s 2am on Sunday morning and all I can think about is washing up my used tupperware and tidying the kitchen.

I’ve also pulled a muscle in my right shoulder and it’s niggling me. As I type the ibuprofen gel that I’ve just smeared all over it is thick and sticky on the surface of my arm.

I can feel it tugging like a second skin as my fingers play over the keyboard in front of me.

Whilst matters of the heart have been going well other things have not been so good and there have been some aspects of my life that (once again) aren’t making sense.

As of Monday I’m starting the hunt for another job.

As much as I was hoping that my role would be a good fit for me things didn’t work out so I took steps to move on – which of course has prompted my usual avalanche of self doubt and soul searching.

I’ve fixed so many aspects of myself but I still seem perpetually unable to find the same measure of happiness that I once found in my working life and it’s gnawing away at me deep down.

Why can’t I be satisfied? Why do I now question everything? Why do I want more from life but not understand what ‘more’ actually means, where to find it and how to achieve it?

It’s tough.

Something isn’t clicking job wise and it hasn’t been ever since I started to lose weight and gain independance.

I’d dearly love to know what the answer is – because in the meantime the stress and worry this causes me means that I can slip from grace and return to old habits. When I do I still have an unnerving capacity for over indulging to compensate for emotional dips.

Consequently my current weight is above where I wanted it to be.

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Thankfully I know deep down that while I may occasionally have my wobbles I’m never going to go back to the man I was.

Results like the one when I stepped on the scales last week and realised I’d gained 6.5lbs may occur from time to time, but now I deal with them and accept that life will just happen and when it does you have to cope with it the best way you can.

That may mean you struggle for a little while in some areas (such as dietary discipline) but then things will eventually get better. When they do you you will invariably find a way around whatever the issue was and afterwards you pick up the pieces, start doing the best that you can again and move right along.

The truth is that there’s no such thing as being ‘naturally thin’.

There’s just continued effort, and an underlying willingness to try (over and over again) to be a better person.

I beat myself up a lot when I shouldn’t – but even I know that my approach to health is so radically different from what it used to be that my current excesses seem comical in comparison.

So what do I feel guilt about these days?

I have eaten a lot of Weetabix. I have consumed waaay too much fruit, I’ve over indulged in cottage cheese and I have a definite weakness for scan-bran with Primula and Marmite.

It’s almost hilarious when I lay it bare on the page like that.

In one respect it’s proof that no-matter what you consume (good or bad) it’s possible to over indulge and screw up – and I could get down about once more proving that I still eat too much.

But…

It’s definitely not the same as what I used to do.

I used to be the guy who’s wheels fell off the bus each and every night of the week.

Again and again and again (link) I did this to myself.

Way to work (1130kcal)

  • Two double sausage and egg McMuffins – 1130kcal

Sandwiches eaten at desk (1725kcal approx)

  • 6 thick slices of hand cut bread (usually this was half of an in-store supermarket bakery 800g wholemeal loaf) (952kcal)
  • Benecol light spread – I guesstimate approx 20g (64kcal) per slice (total 384kcal)
  • Two packs of 125g ham – 290kcal
  • 3x tomatoes (67kcal each) and cucumber slices (10kcal) – (201kcal)
  • Two packets of Mccoys crisps (multipack ones are 141kcal each) (282kcal)

Evening meal (1595kcal)

  • Sainsburys 800g Taste the difference shepherds pie  (850kcal)
  • Approx 500g oven chips (McCain Home fries) (745kcal)

Snacks and drinks (3023kcal)

  • Sainsburys house Soave 2.25l (I would typically drink all of this – per 125ml Soave is approx 79kcal so it totals 1422kcal)
  • 200g ‘sharing’ bag of Doritos (894kcal)
  • Ginsters large Cornish pasty (707kcal)

Total (if I didn’t have an evening takeaway instead of a ready meal) – 7473kcal

That meant I lost control of everything – and that loss nearly extended to my life.

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These days my excesses are held in check by the structures I’ve incrementally built to support myself.

First and foremost these are represented by people.

I’m never far away from them and they keep me grounded. I always talk about and share what’s happening – be it good or bad – and this keeps me on an even keel.

 

I generally try and do this with exercise involved and when I can’t see them I walk or swim alone as regularly as possible.

In this respect I find that my addiction to the endorphins my activities provide is my new treat mechanism. Whereas in the old days I used food and alcohol to deal with good and bad times, now (whilst food can still at times be an issue) I use walking and swimming.

 

This means I’m always getting fitter ( I still average 8-9 miles a day every day) and compared to the first time I managed to swim 1250m (50 lengths of my local pool) I am now a stronger and more capable person in the water as well as in life.

So why am I contemplating this in the dark whilst my partner sleeps elsewhere?

Well it’s primarily because it’s been a year since I became the Slimming World MOTY – and I’m asking myself what it all means.

 

Have I been a good example? Have I lived up to both my own and other people’s expectations? Did SW make the right choice when they chose me?

I have no idea.

I really don’t know.

I’m currently out of target by half a stone but I’m also fitter (and noticeably more muscular) than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve tried hard to be the man I believe I should have always been and in doing so I’ve heaped pound ofter pound of pressure to be perfect upon myself in the dark of many mornings and sleepless evenings just like this one.

I’ve privately and endlessly agonised over whether I’ve matched up to the impossible standards that I set for myself.

I do this mostly because of this photo.

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You see – when I won my award a year ago I didn’t feel simply like I’d gained an accolade.

Instead I felt for the longest time that what I’d actually done was deny it to 50+ other men who had each proven insanely worthy in their own right. Every one of them had a heart wrenching tale to tell that day and I felt every drop of the personal pain that they shared.

In fact I went further than feeling it.

I took it, made it my own and used it as a motivator – telling myself that I had to live up to the MOTY title because if I didn’t then I was betraying everything not only I but they had achieved in their lives.

I still see many of them doing it each and every day on social media. They run marathons, inspire others, help their communities, do things for charity and have rich, rewarding lives.

The average loss per man in the room that day was over 10st.

How can you even begin to calculate what that means to a life?

I couldn’t and I still can’t.

I remember thinking at the time that the total represented a woman per man that could have been standing by the side of each and every face in the photo.

I didn’t understand back then that the thought probably reflected more about what I wanted from my own future than I realised – and it showed that deep down I’d started to hope that my future would no longer be a solitary one.

Although my award alone didn’t mean that I found love (and I believe I have) it sparked the events that caused me to meet the woman I now want to share my life with, and it was instrumental in starting the conversation on the top of Cheddar Gorge that ultimately drew this person toward me.

The words I wrote about my experiences relating to my involvement with Slimming World were read by her and the actions I took (and still take) to live up to the standards I’d set for myself seem to attract her even now.

Consequently this past year has been incalculably important to me.

With a marked increase in the weight I heaped upon my own shoulders however also came a lot of opportunities to inspire and touch people’s lives in a way I don’t think I otherwise would have.

I became a noticable presence in the press for a time, and my social media footprint (as well as traffic on this blog) took off in a completely unexpected manner.

Some conversations (often the most random and out of the blue ones) stopped me in my tracks because they’ve showed me time and time again that other peoples lives have been changed for the better because of what I’ve achieved.

Sometimes because of the words that I’ve written or said and on other occasions simply it’s simply the example that I’ve set. My father for instance (who was not previously at a healthy weight) is now 2/3rds of the man he was before I won my title.

I’ve proven that even when you’re close to death you can pull back from the brink, rebuild and have a life that’s worth living that can enrich the lives of others.

Later today (at Slimming World HQ in Derby where I’m attending the MOTY 2019 finals) I will hand that responsibility to another man.

If I’m honest it’s with a mixture of relief and sadness that I see this chapter draw to a close.

I feel relief because I can finally let go of the (self imposed) pressure, and sadness because it’s been wonderful and it’s changed my life.

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It’s given me a future with someone that I care deeply about, and along with my own carefully laid foundations has proven to me what I and others are capable of in life.

It’s been an amazing year.

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It’s going to be an amazing life.

Back soon internet.

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Davey