Kiril Valdez wants to be me

It’s been a while but today I’m back (just) in the fourteen stone bracket.

I’ll be honest – given the work I’ve done to lose the pound and a half represented in this picture I do feel a little dispirited.

I genuinely feel like I deserved to lose more – but when I break it down there is probably a very good reason that things are only just beginning to recover for me on the scales.

The last month – actually the last TWO – have been anything but ‘normal’ (if there is such a thing) and it has taken a while for new routines to bed in.

My house and my life are slowly becoming our house and our life together – and I’m continually amazed at how easy all this has been.

I’m sure that one day (when I stand on a Lego brick or slip in a mysterious puddle of tea) an apocalyptic argument or disagreement will arrive – but it hasn’t happened yet and I can’t see it on the horizon – even with the stress of unpacking.

All of the boxes are now gone but I’d be lying if I said I knew where half of my stuff was – and that’s not my usual norm.

I’m pretty sure that whilst all of the drawers and doors on our respective wardrobes and cupboards are closed neither of us has the foggiest where around 50% of our belongings are.

I completely forgot that there was a telescope under the dining room table.

Who knew?!

There is a semblance of routine edging in now though.

Meals, snacking and exercise seem to be all reassuringly under control once more and since my partner in crime recently obtained her gym and swim membership we’ve been to the leisure centre every day except for the bank holiday.

My other half also been investigating the classes and is once more getting her yoga fix – which made for a beamingly happy and bendy demeanour throughout the day.

Consequently our mutual results for for calorie burning this week have been very much improved and we both got a positive result on the scales.

Mine personal stats are definitely on the up now we’re into a routine that’s being carried out together.

Although this screenshot might not seem like a stratospheric amount of exercise I am now eating much less than I was previously.

Also the week before it without so much swimming was noticeably more sedate.

The ones before that were even less stellar…

The problem is that it’s always easy to eat the same amount that you normally do – but maintaining consistency when it comes to being active requires a more focused approach – and sometimes life just doesn’t promote it.

In my case I’ve only swum 12 times this month – and that has had a big impact.

Not getting into the pool represents 400-600 extra calories that usually get burned but simply haven’t been.

This has been a combination of injury (my shoulder is thankfully finally getting better!) and the process of combining two lives – but whatever the causes are I think I’ve conclusively proven that less exercise when combined with the same amount of (or more) food equals weight gain.

On the bright side being a little bit more porky doesn’t stop people wanting to impersonate me.

If there was ever a form of backhanded flattery it’s when the internet considers you interesting (or good looking) enough to use for catfishing some poor souls.

This week – once again my open online social media presence was used to create a fake Davey.

This probably should worry or annoy me but that’s never going to do me any good – so I’m looking upon it as a bonus.

No one would have wanted to impersonate me when I was 35st – so it’s a tick in the ‘win’ column from my perspective.

Whilst walking and swimming many many people contacted me to alert me to a scam account using my image.

I got out of the swimming pool and whilst changing unexpectedly met Kiril Valdez – my new alter ego.

Kiril (who I’m sure you’ll agree is a very handsome fellow with a rather dashing and debonair flair about him) had been sending everyone on my Instagram list friend requests until an eagle eyed person reported him and got the Instagram account banned.

Amazingly it seems 11 people responded to and accepted the friend request!

Regular reader may remember the first time this happened (link).

Incredibly is was almost a year ago when my image was last used to create a fake online persona – and on that occasion some evil sausage lured an unsuspecting woman into an internet tryst.

I was apparently in a committed relationship without my knowledge for three months before I was made aware that I had been horribly injured in an accident.

Shortly after this photo was sent to her the catfished lady in question was convinced to part with her savings. This was apparently to help me fictitious Davey out with hospital bills – so I was rather relieved to see that another similarly sorry saga had ended before it had begun!

Other than despicable fake me rearing his (rather handsome) head this week it’s otherwise been a rather blissful few days where we’ve been walking, talking, and doing things like gathering apples and blackberries from bushes and local trees.

You really can’t beat free food – and there’s rarely something that tastes better than when you’ve literally just pulled it from the branch or stem.

We’ve been using the (rather large) stash of now frozen berries that we brought home to make both breakfast (porridge) and desserts with.

Coupled with a yogurt maker (natural yogurt made with skimmed UHT milk is ace!) have been eating extremely cost effective and healthy meals.

I’m slowly working through the duplicate items in the cupboard too – and have been making use of rice, pasta and noodles way more than I normally would.

Although you can barely see it this naked chicken fajita was accompanied by some basmati and wild long grain rice.

Whilst this haddock and prawn stair fry had some Chinese dry noodles thrown in to soak up the stock in the wok.

I like using up things like this because not only does it cheaply bulk up a meal but I really want to recover a little shelf.

In other areas not so long ago it rapidly diminished…

My coffee storage cupboard – previously a place of highly caffeinated ‘Daveyness’ – suddenly became increasingly tricky to fill with packs of coffee machine pods.

This sudden lack of available shelving is a total mystery to me and I’m still trying to figure out precisely how it happened.

Thankfully very little gets past me and one day soon I’m convinced I’ll get to the bottom of it.

There isn’t a mystery out there that I can’t eventually solve.

Anyway internet. That’s my day so far. The rest of my evening will almost certainly be spent attempting to bring order to my study and resurrect an ageing PC that I built a long time ago. I’m currently kitting it out (on a tight budget) with some relatively new components.

It turns out that if you’ve been using a Mac for a decade though (instead of Windows) that things have moved on considerably in the land of Bill Gates.

To put it bluntly I have a lot to (re)learn.

Windows 10 seems almost as alien now as it did when I first turned on a PC with Windows 95 – although thankfully I still know my way around a bios.

On the bright side my 2nd hand (bargain) small form factor Geforce 1050ti arrived as expected this morning from eBay and despite all of my expectations worked first time when I installed it and it’s drivers!!’

I can only hope that the extra memory (which is still in transit from the internet) is recognised by my motherboard just as easily.

The online manual for it (an ASUS P6T) irritatingly contradicts itself on the topic of exactly what the maximum RAM is that I can put in the slots (intel’s XMS3 protocol in DDR3 is not a simple standard to understand or manage) and I’m fully expecting to be frustrated and thwarted by the experience when my new (old) modules arrive.

On the bright side all of my Steam games appear to have a new lease of life and a (frankly astonishing) frame rate boost in almost all cases.

Right. Geek update over. I’m off to the man cave.

Laters Internet.

Davey

P.S. Please try to refrain from pretending to be me.

Parks challenge

There has been a lot of inconsistency in my blogging schedule of late – and this is particularly galling when I think upon the subject because it’s quite a long way away from where I started off.

In February 2016 I began for the very first time writing down how I felt about life (link) and ultimately decided to set myself the challenge of writing down every day what was on my mind and (rather counter intuitively) sending it out for everyone to read without hiding behind a pseudonym or anonymous account.

Back then I had no one to talk about but me – and my life was as insular as it got.

I was recovering from the death of my mother, trying to take my mind off wanting to (but not actually) drink three bottles of wine a day and deal with a variety of health conditions.

Oddly though I was more preoccupied back then with an absence of love – and I didn’t mean romance.

That seemed impossible – and an issue for another day.

The problem instead was that I couldn’t say with any definitive truth what it was that I felt passionate about – because ultimately I didn’t really feel passionate about anything.

I binged on video games and box sets for my pleasure and consumed media in much the same way that I consumed food.

I gorged myself on it in an effort to feel the next emotion.

New game?

Great. I’ll preorder it because it will make me happy.

New season of xxxxx TV show?

Wonderful. I’ll get the wine in and do a marathon session.

Then through writing, (a small amount of) meditation, exercise and self improvement I began to see a new truth.

In trying to understand what it had been that was missing in my life by writing about the problem I unwittingly came to realise that the method of investigation was actually my passion.

I loved to write.

Furthermore I loved to be honest.

It was right there in front of me and I grabbed onto it with both arms and held tightly. Truth was my addiction now (although occasionally coffee took its place) and I was fast becoming a two a day man.

I dreamt blogs.

I spent all of my time writing them in my head.

Everything I saw was a new post just waiting to to take shape.

This was all wonderful – but you have to be careful what you wish for – because if you find out what you truly love then get it – what do you do once you have it?

If it’s there, in unlimited supply and all it takes is you being absolutely and completely truthful with the world then what would you do?

In my case I agreed (with myself at least) some ground rules.

I would write about no one but myself without express permission, I wouldn’t say bad things about others (even if they were tossers and deserved it) and I wouldn’t talk about my professional life.

The issue is that if the things on your mind are all of the above how do you carry on doing what you love?

My quiet periods are therefore moments where I choose to say nothing instead of something bad (or maybe even something good if it’s private) about a job, a personal relationship or finances.

When those things are pretty much the only things on my mind it leads to a kind of forced mental constipation – where I feel like I want (or more specifically need) to write but can’t.

No matter how much I strain or agonise the end result is always the same. I won’t break my rules and I won’t lie about my life just to force one through the gates.

However lately my life is in a good place and it’s given my posting schedule a laxative effect.

I’m feeling less backed up.

Everyone I want to write about is ok with me including them, every event is relevant and (at least in my mind) worth writing about and the weather is lovely.

Today (since I have a partner in crime with a new swimming subscription) I hit the pool early on and we hammered out a few lengths.

Very pleasingly (after around 40 mins of swimming) I was reminded by her that we both had to do Apple Watch’s bidding to get our badges for the ‘national parks challenge’.

I love that there’s someone else in my life just as addicted as I am to our little wrist mounted miracles and their motivational objectives.

In this case we had to walk three miles in a single workout (let’s face it this is hardly a problem for me) and there couldn’t really have been a better day on which to do it.

We wound our way around St Nicholas Park, along the river Avon, down the Grand Union canal, through Victoria Park and around Jephson Gardens before finally coming to a (rather sweaty) stop outside the park cafe where we took on tea and coffee.

The fabulous thing is that it’s not just me now.

We’re planning activities together, working towards objectives together and all of our goals in life appear to align in a way I’ve never experienced before.

I don’t care if the world is sick of hearing that I’m really happy because I am.

On the plus side it means I feel that all of the things that would normally cause me to curl up into a little ball and not write are completely absent.

On the downside part of that is because I’m deferring some of my problems and worries until later – so this particular state of affairs may not remain the same forever.

Next week and the week after will no doubt see me once again beginning to agonise about what I want to be when I grow up – and I’m really not looking forward to that.

Many things in my life are sorted and settled in a way that they never ever have been before.

Others seem more broken than ever – and their resolutions appear to be so far away in the distance that I’ll never find my way to them.

However – for the meantime I feel great.

My diet is good, my life is good, the weather is smashing and I couldn’t be happier.

Here’s hoping that you guys out in internetland feel the same way too.

Davey

More alike than different

In real terms I guess the week food wise has been a success.

After a rather off plan week leading up to last Saturday (while my other half was on holiday) I chose not to weigh in.

This was mostly because I knew I’d gone up a few pounds and also partially related to the fact that Angie was also away on holiday.

I like the variety of guest consultants as much as the next person – but nothing beats your own one when you’re feeling a little vulnerable.

Today Angie was back from holiday, so any semblance of an excuse not to stand on the scales had evaporated.

I had to rip off the band aid.

So far this week I’ve been losing weight – but in an annoyingly gradual way.

Sure – I get it. Losing weight sustainably shouldn’t be a boom and bust activity, and dropping a pound a week still equals 4.5st per year.

If I’m brutally honest a lot of my losses toward the end of my journey came this way – and I’ve played a game for a long time where I ‘sin’ and then ‘repent’.

Lately this behaviour has become more evident than ever and my Slimming World book shows the reality of me eating good some weeks to make up for others that are completely off plan.

On the plus side I only put on half a pound compared to where I was two weeks ago.

I guess I’m not alone in this kind of outcome because when I talk about this type of behaviour in group or to friends I get a lot of knowing nods.

As I helped tidy up after the session this morning I started packing away the new member table – and low and behold there was this sitting in the middle of it – which I’d never seen before.

I’m really proud of that particular photo – but the story behind how it came to be taken and the build up to winning MOTY also represents a significant amount of stress.

I was very aggressively focused on getting to the weight I needed to be that day and in many respects I lost that all important last half a stone completely the wrong way.

The ‘impact’ (if you can call it that because it sounds a little melodramatic) of this has remained with me ever since.

I’ve struggled an awful lot to both maintain the weight that photo represented and also keep up the austere mindset needed to keep eating only just enough to ensure that I didn’t balloon again.

For the whole of the last year I knew that Slimming World were likely to call upon me at any time (and they occasionally did) and if that happened (although I could say no to anything I didn’t really want to because I felt very responsible) I needed to be able to get into my smart clothes!

It was really stressful.

It still is.

I always end up hating myself when I eat like a pig after a period of abstention and then resent having to reign in bad behaviour to once more get to where I need to be.

It’s not a good way to live your life and I don’t want to do things that way any more.

My current drive is to establish a ‘new normal’ where home life involving myself and my significant other is as far from the land of yo-yo comfort eating and snacking as possible.

We both have the capability to do this to ourselves.

Scarily we’re more alike in so many ways than I ever thought possible and sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror.

She’s even a ridiculous geek who loves Pokémon like no other person I know.

When we purchased a copy of the new Nintendo Switch game ‘Let’s Go Pikachu’ yesterday (if ever I needed confirmation) I was immediately reminded that she was the woman of my dreams.

The fact we’re also similar in other areas has the pleasing side effect of us both understanding each other’s positive and negative dietary behaviours, accepting one another for who we are and enables our continually supportive collaboration.

Simply put we don’t allow each other to be negative about ourselves and we absolutely avoid any individual behaviours that may sabotage our mutual efforts to be fitter and healthier versions of who we already are.

There’s no sneaky eating and we never hide wrappers or stuff empty food packets to the bottom of the bin when we’ve been bad.

After all what’s the point?

Honesty needs to be everywhere in a relationship and you can’t expect to get it if you don’t give it in the first place.

Hiding who you truly are is a waste of time and I want us to be stronger together not isolated in the same painful behaviour patterns that have dogged both of us in the past.

For my part I’ve been hard at work making sure that I prepare (and we eat) regular and healthy meals.

This not only benefits us from a health perspective but it also cuts down on food waste on top of saving money.

In fact since my partner moved in my (now our) food bills have remained unchanged – because I was eating huge meals.

Now I’m sharing that same volume of food – meaning that in real terms the household shopping costs are the same but my personal intake has roughly halved (it’s probably closer to 5/8ths of what I was previously consuming) but over the last couple of weeks I’ve also been doing a bit less walking and a lot less swimming.

It’s been a busy time and as well as getting used to living with eachother we’ve still got a lot to do with regard to organising the house.

The latter is changing as of today though because now we both have a swimming subscription, meaning that there’s no excuse not to go for a dip together – which we did immediately after group.

There’s a reason though that I’m focused on this at the moment though – because I still have one thing outstanding related to my Slimming World MOTY title.

In early November (around 10 weeks away) is the 2019 Slimming World Ball – where I officially hand over my 2018 title to the new 2019 winner Ben Muscroft (link).

He looked super svelte in his photo shoot and the very last thing I want is to appear as if things have slipped for me since I last stood on the stage.

In so many respects the pressure is off – but in others it’s just as bad.

I want to look and feel the same way that I did on that day in November last year – and my objective is to gradually chip away at my gains until I’m there.

Keep your fingers crossed Internet! It’s by no means a forgone conclusion!!!

Although if nothing else it will give you all a good reason to come back here to check up on me occasionally as well as leave a supportive comment below!

Until the next blog….

Davey

What is my motivation?

Well as always I find it next to impossible not to beat myself up over what I perceive to be a total lack of impetus and progress on the whole ‘getting back to target’ question.

In real terms I’m currently only half a stone heavier than I was when I first hit target back in February 2018 – and in that respect I feel both fit and healthy.

That was a great day and I felt justifiably proud of my achievements.

I’ll never forget the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and how I cried when I got my target member certificate.

It meant the world to me then and it still does.

Logic tells me therefore that if I was a success in February 2018 then I must still be a success now – because I’m practically the same person.

There are however always other thought processes at work, because for a time after reaching my first target I carried on going.

I lost a further half a stone after that before I came MOTY, taking my weight down to 14 st – which (if I’m honest) became a real struggle to maintain.

Unexpectedly my life went and changed again – and before I knew it (flushed with the endorphins associated with a new relationship) I completely lost my appetite and dropped yet another seven pounds – taking my total loss to a rather mind boggling 21 stone.

For a while this seemed like a good place to be – but eventually I had to face facts. It happened because I was eating practically no food at all.

The same thing was going on with my new girlfriend and between us the weight flew off over a really short space of time.

Then things stabilised.

My appetite returned, I became less worried that occasionally I might fart in front of my partner and that if I did it would make her run for the hills.

She also confirmed that if I used the loo for a number two that I wouldn’t be ostracised from her life.

This came as a great relief – particularly as we had started to spend more than a couple of days together.

As my ablutions returned to normal and we started to have meals together I felt like I wanted to just enjoy life.

In some respects this meant that I also enjoyed it maybe a little too much because eventually several months later I found myself hovering around the 15st mark.

I will admit that this has some consequences – because a stone and a half means larger means that some of my ‘snug’ shirts and waistcoats (many of which were purchased at 13.5 – 14 stone) are now seem less than flattering and that’s a little depressing.

Fundamentally I’m a bit of a shirt addict.

However – these are just clothes and my body feels absolutely fine.

I’m still swimming, walking, spending quality time engaging in energetic activity in many areas of my life and just generally feeling as happy as a pig in poop.

Like most people however that sense of zen like calm quickly evaporates when I try on something that doesn’t fit.

I’ve become very fond of my cargo trousers lately and I’m ashamed to say that it’s because I feel like they hide a multitude of sins.

This is patently nonsense mind you.

I am not fat any more.

This is something that I still occasionally struggle to remember and keep at the forefront of my mind.

I always worry that the guy above is lurking in the background – just waiting to reappear – and by being 7lbs out of target I’m more like him than ever.

Crazy right?

It’s midday and I’ve already walked 6 miles and swum a kilometre.

We couldn’t be further apart and I’m undeniably fitter than I’ve ever been in my life.

Yet some of my shirts don’t fit.

I promised myself that I would never go back and buy larger ones – but maybe I’m just being stupid.

Maybe a wardrobe with ‘options’ is what ‘normal’ people have and they just accept that they will go up from time to time as well as down.

Or is this me trying to excuse my gain (which I view in my mind as a consequence of bad behaviour) and get out of the disagreeable task of losing weight.

I’m struggling with this at the moment – and it oddly it is NOT because I’m eating the wrong food.

The meals that I’m preparing are being consumed by both myself and my partner and she seems to be losing weight currently (which is wonderful because it’s what she’s aiming to to) whereas I’m remaining totally static.

I’m practically taking on the appearance of a bowl of salad due to the amount of fresh vegetables I’m consuming and yet it seems to make no difference.

I’m remaining static on the scales.

Sigh.

So – I’m happy, healthy, comfortable, fit, settled, and in a very very nice place in life. I feel loved and because of that I also feel attractive.

The latter may have something to do with the fact that I have someone constantly pinching my bottom while I’m cooking or washing up – but also because it’s pushing me to face up to how needlessly hard I can be on myself.

Again and again I was told I was too thin at 13.5 stone and that now I look healthy and ‘just right’ – but I’m still struggling to believe it.

The reality is that the jeans in this picture appear to fit me.

I tried them on the other day in Debenhams (despite all of my mental barriers about wearing ‘slim fit’ anything) and they were pretty darned comfortable.

What’s more I actually ended up buying them and my other half definitely approved – because I can confirm that the number of impromptu ‘butt grabbery’ incidents whilst working in the kitchen and putting together garden furniture practically doubled yesterday compared to my experience whilst wearing cargo trousers.

So what do I do?

I want to get back to my old target – but at 14.5 stone many of my shirts will still not be as loose as I’d prefer or simply not fit at all.

Does that mean I just accept that I’m this weight for the time being and stock my wardrobe accordingly or do I keep beating myself up and pushing myself back to my current target of 14st?

I just don’t know – and I’m wondering what my real motivation is at the moment.

I don’t have an underlying health issue to fix.

I don’t feel unloved.

I don’t feel unattractive.

I don’t feel unfit.

I’m wearing slim fit jeans.

What on Earth is my motivation to be anyone other than who I am?

If anyone needs me I’ll be pinching the bridge of my nose and looking thoughtful.

Davey

You’re worth it

Often I’m moved to write blogs not because something interesting has happened in my life – but because occasionally I feel there’s something more important to say.

A lot of the time this is because of private conversations and this leaves me with something of a quandary – because I don’t betray people’s trust and I certainly don’t write about them without explicit permission.

Their lives are their own.

Although some of the tales that motivate me to write are not mine to tell occasionally the sentiment behind them is universal and makes me feel that to do so is important so I’ll try and write today with the privacy of (many) others in mind.

Forgive me therefore if a certain generic vagueness on my part seems apparent because in this case it’s necessary.

Although this isn’t really about me there have been times in the past where it could easily have been – so I will begin by using myself as an example.

When I met and got to know my partner (who is not the subject of my thoughts in this particular case but is a good illustration) one of the things that initially surprised me was how long she’d been single.

It was roughly the same time as myself and this was (like me) completely by choice.

I wasn’t sure how this was possible at the time. She was lovely and instantly made me feel comfortable in her presence.

When she smiled her whole head lit up like a light bulb and made me grin right back at her.

Now – we tell ourselves convenient fictions at times. Mine for many years was that I was too big to have a partner.

It was a lie of course because all you had to do was (at least before the show was cancelled) turn on Jeremy Kyle and you could see that it doesn’t matter how big or small you are there is someone willing to be with everyone.

Accepting a partner on this basis this may not yield the right person for the right reasons – but if you prefer company to loneliness then compromises can easily be made.

Sometimes this is a conscious decision to accept second (or even third) best, and at others it’s an unconscious one.

Sometimes we don’t realise why we chose who we did until it’s too late.

Occasionally (particularly after a significant change such as weight loss) it takes us a while to realise why we share our days with someone that may not be the one for us.

Life in this respect is always a learning curve. Most of us don’t get it right first time – and that’s ok.

Personally I chose some time ago to be single instead of being alone in a relationship.

When I recognised the same trait in my current partner I instantly felt more attracted to her.

Here was a person that also chose occasional independent loneliness instead of feeling isolated in a relationship with someone she didn’t love – and that was compelling to me because it meant that when she decided to choose me (and vice versa) there was a damn good reason.

It meant there was a connection and a respect between us that seemed as if it was already underlined in bold ink and it also meant that if neither of us got what we needed from out relationship then it would not last long.

When two people who have successfully managed single lives for years decide to change their mutual status quo it’s profound because what those people have already proven is that they are strong enough to go through life alone.

When you meet and enter into a partnership with someone like this you know that if you’re an idiot, if you take them for granted, if you mess about or if the love is not real that they can (and probably will) walk away.

They can re-use the self belief and empowerment that they had before you came along, rekindle the flame of their personal independence and move right along.

It works both ways.

I had to accept that I need a lot from a partner and that I’m damn well deserving of it.

I deserve to be wanted.

I deserve to be loved.

I need to be thought about as special enough to make someone’s heart skip a beat for no reason other than I crossed their mind on a busy day at work.

We all need these things in a partnership – and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have them.

The motivation for me writing this comes from not one but several people and this is because over the last few years losing weight, speaking in public, being active in social media and being MOTY (meaning I’ve spoken to a frankly absurd number of people I’ve never met before and probably will never meet again) I have come across lots of individuals who don’t yet fully understand the importance of being single rather than being in an unhappy relationship.

Something that a lot of them have in common – and a worry they all seem to share (at least when it comes to weight loss) is to do with excess skin.

I’ve been asked about it over and over again and what I plan to do about it.

Interestingly the question is often framed within an expectation that once you’ve lost all your weight then the very next step you’d logically take is to undergo surgery.

Many TV shows seem to popularise this and many celebrities seem to do the same.

Somehow we’ve come to think that this is completely normal and consequence free – however the surgery (if you look into it) is not a quick and easy procedure.

It’s dangerous, can be life threatening – and it carries with it major chances of serious complications.

A tummy tuck (if that’s what you plan to undergo) has a seriously long recovery period and its execution is brutal.

It’s also not free on the nhs – and once you start where do you stop?

Create a clean spot in the middle of a dirty kitchen and see if you can resist cleaning the rest up. If you’re like me I bet you won’t be able to.

When I’m asked about MY skin however people aren’t really enquiring about what I look like under my clothes.

I’m not that interesting.

What they’re really saying when they approach me is ‘I’m terrified that no one will love me if I look this way in the mirror and I don’t know how to deal with that. Please help me.’

I get it.

I really really do.

We all think that for one reason or another someone will struggle to accept us for who we are.

Cosmetic surgeons prey like vultures on people like us whilst social media and glossy magazines fuel our collective sense of worthlessness when we look in the mirror.

We’re not pert enough. Our noses aren’t straight. Our teeth aren’t white enough, our lips aren’t as plump as they should be or we have laughter lines on our foreheads and around our eyes.

We are not perfect.

The secret is that none of us are and we don’t have to be.

Perfection does not exist – it’s simply a construct that we use to beat ourselves up with.

We can’t all look the same, with perfect boobs or skin that’s tighter than a snare drum – and neither should we try to.

Instead we all (especially those who have lost or are still losing weight) should aspire to do is make the best of who we are.

To do this we need to begin to love what’s inside – and recognise that by caring about and accepting your inner self you find confidence to speak to others.

This above all else is fundamentally the most attractive thing that you can bring with you into a partnership.

How many times have you seen someone wearing a ridiculous outfit that you’d never wear in a million years, but even though they have chosen to look LOUD they own that look?

Admit it.

You may not want to wear the same apparel but you admire them don’t you?

They don’t care what you think and they like the way they look.

They’re comfortable in their own skin (which is probably also not perfect) and they stand before you neither bothered if you agree with their choice of clothes or diminished if you don’t.

You suddenly realise you like them because they’re confident.

It’s attractive.

By this point their weight, stretch marks, laughter lines or anything else about them rapidly becomes irrelevant.

They’ve hooked us (either as a friend or prospective partner) with their inner confidence and how they use it to light up a room.

When they do they seem to effortlessly get our attention.

As hard as it’s been to deal with from a confidence perspective I’ve never wanted to remove my skin or enhance any other part of myself with surgery.

For better or worse I am what I am.

Furthermore (and this is important) I do not accept this has anything to do with whether I’m a man or a woman.

I’ve been told more times than I care to hear that it’s different for women – that men aren’t judged the same way.

Only up to a point can I accept this.

Sometimes there are different standards set for different sexes and it’s galling when they become apparent.

David Cameron wore the same suit for practically the whole time he was a Prime Minister and no-one cared – yet Theresa May was lambasted continually for her clothing choices.

One might argue that the media should have spent more time either intelligently focusing on them being sub par politicians or treating both equally – but I won’t delve any deeper into that.

My point is more fundamental.

We all end up eventually (either metaphorically or in actuality) naked in front of someone whether we do so as a man or a woman.

At that point being male or female doesn’t matter – because by the time we present ourselves in a swimming bath, a doctor’s surgery or a bedroom we can choose to either apologise for who we are and what we look like or we can say proudly ‘I don’t care – because this is me and whatever you think about how I look is irrelevant because I know I have value.’

This is just as true incidentally if you’re a disabled man or woman as it is if you’re an able bodied one.

Your confidence (or lack of it) will ultimately become the deciding factor in the level of happiness you’re eventually going to achieve in life.

It’s something of a lonely path at times however and this is not an always an easy choice to make – because it means that you will have to occasionally say ‘I prefer to be without someone’ rather than accepting a person into your life that does not love you and does not make you happy.

The trade off is that in the meantime the confidence we can all achieve attracts new people to us and because of this we already stand a better chance of leading better lives.

Your self worth will inspire others, and that they in turn will probably inspire you right back again – and that may be just when you need it the most.

Your quality of life will improve if you choose to love yourself before expecting it from others.

If you make this your mission in life then eventually you will have love in your life that does not require compromise.

You will not have to accept second best and there will always be a person to give you a hug – even if for a time that is not in the form of an intimate relationship.

There are a lot of people in the world and more ways than ever to connect to them.

Everyone can find friends on their journey.

Learning to love and cherish yourself may not come easy to you – but then nothing worth having ever does.

The truth is though that you can’t ignore the need to achieve this state of mind – and I would argue that you can’t do without it.

You’re a better human being if you take time to cultivate this side of your personality and it’s never too late to start doing so.

If you don’t have confidence then now is the time to start working on it.

Look in the mirror – put on a ridiculous shirt or blouse or go into a shop and try on something LOUD.

Walk out of the door in what makes you happy and remember it does not matter.

If what’s seen by everyone when you step outside in your bright top doesn’t worry you then extend that to your skin.

It’s the one thing you can never take off.

You can’t hang it on a peg and you should never be made to feel that you should remove it or that there’s something wrong with you because of the way you look.

As you sit now you’re as nature intended and whilst you can take steps with exercise to improve who you are there is no scenario that should involve you cutting off, trimming or tucking anything because another person tells you that you need to in order to keep them in your life.

You don’t need to get rid of skin – you need to get rid of the shallow idiot that doesn’t love you for the frankly amazing person that you already are.

I’ll be honest though and say that (even now) I occasionally have days where my confidence is in the toilet. Sometimes (although not currently) every waking moment seems like a struggle to accept the way that I look in a mirror.

One thing however is true above all else.

I would rather be alone than in an unhappy relationship – and that will never change.

Thankfully I’m not alone.

I’ve found someone that makes me feel both happy and accepted – but there are many I’ve met who have not and still struggle with this.

From time to time people reach out to me – and individually I regularly try to help – but for once I’m shouting this collectively to all of you that are reading.

If you don’t have this in your current relationship then you deserve more.

Believe it can happen, work towards loving who you are – and you will achieve it it.

At the end of the day you’re worth it.

Davey

Four Hovags and a smokey Koppla later…

Yesterday was a bit of a nothing day.

That’s not to say that nothing happened – but I was left feeling a bit flat after a rather disturbed night’s sleep.

For about a week now I’ve been waking up hearing what sounded like a fly trapped behind a curtain and it’s been bugging the hell out of me. It’s seemed like there’d been a constant buzzing noise nearby and I had begun to wonder if it was just my hearing.

I’m a light sleeper at the best of times and had concluded that it was probably my imagination because my partner was continually fast asleep when I woke up.

In the morning she also looked quizzically at me when I kept pulling back the bedroom curtain to check the windowsill as we ate breakfast in bed.

No dead flies.

No live ones either…

Then yesterday (in a change to the scheduled programme) we had to decamp to downstairs to sleep on the floor and sofa thanks to an early morning mattress delivery (due to arrive any time from 7am onwards!!!) and a separate recycling pickup of my old one.

The problem is we had no idea which would happen first – the delivery or the pickup…

This meant that by 9pm on Sunday night our existing mattress was sitting in the hall propped up against the wall. This was only made possible with a strenuous dragging session that took both of us to heft it over the bannister, down the stairs (it only JUST fits floor to ceiling!) and into the hall.

Then – after we finally nodded off – I woke up shortly afterwards.

That damn fly was back!

I carefully stood up from my roll mat on the living room carpet in darkness and crept toward the buzzing near my armchair. My other half was fast asleep on the sofa – but I could still hear it!

Blinking flip!

It wasn’t a buzzing noise.

It was a crackling noise!

As I edged closer to the source of the disturbance I realised that it hadn’t been a fly – it was an electrical short – and the noise had followed me downstairs only because we were charging multiple devices with this Ikea Koppla USB plug.

The reason the noise was different (and louder) was because prior to sleeping downstairs this item (which is brand new – purchased only last week) had been plugged in under the bed on my partner’s side. Unlike me she sleeps like a log – but thankfully I’m much easier to disturb and thankfully also appear to have rather good hearing.

I immediately turned on the light unplugged the USB charger and sniffed it – and sure enough there was a smell of burning from within.

My unceremoniously woken partner (wondering what the hell I was doing sniffing our phones) leant over from the sofa and confirmed it. The charger smelt faintly of smoke.

My mind started racing.

What would have happened if I’d have missed it? Would the house have burned down? Would we have spotted it before it was too late?

The possibilities were horrifying.

Either way I’m taking this back to Ikea and I’m going to seriously complain about it because to say I’m unhappy is an understatement.

Cheap shouldn’t mean dangerous – and this most certainly is.

On the flip side however I can’t fault the mattress delivery and pick up guys who arrived shortly after I’d eventually calmed down and nodded off again. They were here (almost) when they said they’d be and we now have a brand new place to sleep – which is rather fitting now that we’re beginning a brand new chapter of our lives.

Since I’m often unexpectedly awake at all hours of the night more than anything I wanted a mattress stable enough so that I won’t wake up my dearly beloved if (or should I say when) I need to get up at 2am.

The other issue is that the old one was a real source of deep personal shame.

In 2007 (when I bought my house) I purchased a bed and a mattress from Ikea. Not long after I came to the the conclusion that their products were sub standard rubbish.

The bed broke.

A lot.

I snapped the metal cross member running along the centre of the bed not once but twice and then after replacing both of these (thank goodness you can buy spares) I sheared the metal bracket it clipped into at the bottom of the bed clean off.

I had to face facts.

It wasn’t the Ikea bed.

It was my 35st weight.

The mattress didn’t fare much better than the crossmember. It it was no match for my bulk and I ruined it in under a year – meaning that it too had to be replaced.

I decided to go to an independent bed warehouse near my house to research possible replacements – but whilst testing out their various products by sitting on the end of each I broke the slatted wooden frame of one and fell right through it (along with the splintered wood and mattress) onto the floor.

I was on my back with my legs (perhaps comically) high in the in the air and I couldn’t get out of the frame without the help of the shop owner – who was as apologetic as I was embarrassed about looking like a beached whale.

It wasn’t easy for either of us to get me out of that position and I was so mortified that I felt I had no choice but to buy something simply to make amends for the destruction I’d caused. With this in mind I asked the man to recommend a significantly more durable alternative to my sagging mattress.

The replacement he suggested was as formidable as it was expensive and would have to be specially ordered in. It had reinforced metal supports on the sides, was impossible to bend in half (like its flimsy predecessor) and it had a network of rock hard pocket springs all over it.

It cost well over half a grand – which was a price I felt happy to pay back then. Throwing money at problems seemed a lot easier than facing up to the fact I had to lose weight.

Somehow (and I don’t know how) after it was delivered I managed to get it upstairs on my own – despite it being around twice as heavy as the one it replaced and me being 35st.

The effort practically ended me. I was soaked with sweat and had agonising back pain (as well as being completely exhausted) by the time I finally managed to manhandle it onto my bed frame.

That seemingly indestructible mattress lasted almost two years before there was a noticeable Davey sized indent in the middle.

Despite flipping and turning it regularly I’d managed to kill that monster too.

Not willing to replace it again so soon (and also not wanting to drag it back down the stairs on my own) I made do with it from that point onwards. I’d always abstractly planned to replace it at some point – and then (seemingly without warning) it looked like I may no longer be my bed’s sole occupant any longer.

The state of my mattress was something I immediately felt the need to apologise for when for the first time I hosted my current guest – and I’ve been hyper aware of it ever since.

It’s not just that I disliked it when I entered into a relationship – but because it’s been bugging me (along with many other similar things) since I lost my weight.

For the longest time I’ve felt that I’ve been inhabiting someone else’s home and sitting on his furniture – because almost all of the things contained within it are still items purchased by and used by a man over twice my current size.

So – although I’m not flush with cash it’s a good time to have a refresh – and after some joint investigations last week in Ikea Coventry we both settled on one of these and ordered it.

Despite the swift death of my last Ikea mattress I’ve decided to try again and see what happens.

The combined weight of me and my partner is significantly less than I used to weigh on my own (the difference is almost an entire person!) and since neither of us has plans to invite a 3rd party to join us any time soon this should hopefully do the trick for the foreseeable future.

In another frankly ridiculous realisation (after dragging this upstairs on my own) I was gobsmacked that the new mattress weighs approximately one quarter of the total weight I’ve lost.

Twenty stone is 280lbs – meaning I’ve lost over four times the weight of this Hovag.

How insane is that?!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had such a tangible non-scale victory, but this is a corker!

Despite how difficult it’s been lately to make the right food choices this is a reminder of how important it is to keep on doing so. Since I now have two to cook for (and I’m more motivated when looking after someone other than just myself) it’s becoming easier once again.

I absolutely love cooking for someone else and making sure that the ratios of speed and free foods are in the right proportions.

IMG_4522

Granted – I’m still going a bit overboard with the portion sizes but it’s all good food.

So – things are going rather well at the moment – although I’m not sure that the same can be said for my shed roof – which (I discovered today) may be nearing the end of its operational life…

Admittedly I’m no expert in these matters (if I was then the outcome for my roof may be have been somewhat different) but I think that either some serious repairs (or an outright replacement) are in order.

So – bit by bit I’m making progress – both in life, and with my home.

There’s always something to do though isn’t there internet?

Thats just what makes life interesting.

I don’t mind though because at least I’m not doing it with four Hovags on my back.

Davey

Box throne

Boxes are getting pretty tiresome.

There has been a lot of unpacking done over the last week – and now we’re down to the last few ‘sod it’ boxes.

These were the ones where the task of organising and packing at the originating end had become so tiresome that we lost interest and just threw it in a box.

In other instances there were just bits and bobs left that we decided were to be kept but that didn’t obviously go together with similar items in an easily unpackable collective container.

This is irritating enough – particularly when it seems like there’s no discernible end in sight – but also because we’re struggling in many cases to find room for the everyday items.

I’ve lost count of the bags of pasta and rice we now collectively have.

I’ve enough bacofoil to roast an elephant, enough cling film to wrap it in (as well as the herd from which it sprung) and enough greaseproof paper and muffin nests to make a lot of ele-cakes and ele-pies afterwards.

I also have more than enough Tupperware to store the ele-cakes and ele-pies in and enough knives and forks for a small army to eat them with.

If they can’t consume it all in one go then I have about a thousand food bags in which they can take their lunch home with them.

If the army returns (still carrying their packed treats) they can happily heat their meals up in one of the two microwaves that we currently have.

If that wasn’t enough there’s also a second sofa in our hall that we have no idea what to do with.

The original plan was to take it to the charity shop in the Leamington recycling centre – which was partially why we hired a van last week – but it seems that anything Transit Van sized is not allowed on to the site without incurring commercial vehicle charges.

If you want to go in as a residential customer then you can do so with six ‘free tokens’ that you have to apply for online. However you have to own the van in which the goods are to be transported and that needs to be registered in a Warwickshire postal code.

This set of hoops is particularly unhelpful if you’re a resident who hired a van rather than one that just happens to be lucky enough to own such a vehicle.

If you ask the council to collect your item instead they charge £35.

Even then the next pickup is at an ‘undetermined future date’.

It’s no wonder people fly tip.

We’re trying to do the right thing but the powers that be don’t make it easy.

Charities also won’t collect for weeks (and want the item to be ‘saleable’ but aren’t particularly specific about what that means leaving me unsure about whether or not to schedule an appointment weeks in the future only to be told it’s not wanted) so if we want to see the back of it then we’re basically in a position where I have to take a hacksaw to it or leave it in my hall permanently.

I might try my luck on Facebook and see if anyone wants it before I get the power tools out though.

Sigh.

Worse things happen at sea I guess – and today is weigh in day.

I know that I’ve lost weight since I last stepped on the scales – but how much is still to be determined by the official scales at group.

(Author goes to group)

Well a week and a half of making good food choices (even when eating out) and cooking great meals for two appears to have paid off – and although I’ve not yet sorted out the gain from two weeks ago I’m on my way to getting things under control.

It’s annoying to see blips like this – but also encouraging to remember that they are just that – blips – and that there’s no point turning a molehill into an insurmountable mountain.

It will come back off eventually. I just have to keep on chipping away at it.

In the meantime, between boxes there have been moments of blissful normality where I’ve been able to continue introducing friends to my partner, and (whilst I’ve been writing this) watch her indulge her passion in Pokemon – which she’s been playing the new demo of on my Nintendo Switch.

As a detached observer of this gaming phenomenon over many years I’ve never quite managed to figure out the allure of it – but if there’s one thing that I do love it’s watching someone take pleasure in an activity.

That lady loves to catch Pokemon!

She also knows all of their names!!!

I can totally get how games like this can suck people in – and it’s quite comforting to know that whilst different genres may float our particular boats, once again we are more alike than we are different.

As comfortable as we feel on this score however we can’t yet see a point where every possession we own has a home. That seems to be light years ahead in the future.

There is however a distant light at the end of the tunnel because we can now see the (middle of) the dining room carpet again – and if nothing else that’s cause for celebration.

All we have to do now is find a place to put the Ikea delivery that’s coming in the very near future.

That’s a worry for another day though.

Tonight I go to bed a happy (and slightly lighter) man, because behind the bedroom door the mountain of folded cardboard is now a little bit higher.

My box throne grows…

Davey

Pax

It’s been a busy couple of weeks – and the work associated with moving and unpacking my partner’s belongings (related to her move to Warwick from down south) continues.

The transportation side of things is now completely done – but the unpacking and integrating of all our possessions is still an ongoing daily task.

Neither of us is quite sure when it will finally come to an end but we’re gradually chipping away at it whilst decorating around the various boxes and bags.

It’s both wearing and exciting in equal measure – because after each roller full of paint goes on and each box gets unpacked my home is beginning to feel more and more like our home.

It’s all very invigorating but nevertheless I earnestly look forward to the day where phrases like ‘I can’t find my underwear’ are a thing of the past.

Well.

Maybe not always 😏

Almost all of the clothing my partner owns is still in boxes and the wardrobe required to rectify this won’t be delivered for a week and a half.

That’s by the by though. It’s just a matter of time and there are many wonderful things going on.

There have been lots of non-scale victories to be had from the activities associated with moving – and I’m continually struck by how not only mine but my partner’s lives have changed beyond all recognition.

We’ve both had a few SW (and general life) milestones where we’re trying new activities, experimenting with new styles or just able to do waaaaay more than we ever did before.

It’s wonderful to see us both growing in confidence in lots of areas just because we’ve found eachother.

Some things are tiny, such as being encouraged to buy trainers for the first time

Others are (on a personal level) maybe more significant.

These are related to things that I would not have been capable of four years ago.

This is Davey in a van.

There were some final bits and pieces to be removed and recycled from the flat and in order to do this the only way was to hire a Ford Transit from Enerprise rent-a-car and then manually dispose of them.

A few years ago a vehicle rental of any kind was completely out of the question.

In the case of a van I was simply too big to fit behind the steering wheel because of the bulkhead behind me.

The seats didn’t go back enough to accommodate me and my stomach pressed into almost all wheels in almost all cars, including my own.

In my own car the seatbelt only just did up if I reclined it and dropped the seat back.

My car seat had also been tig welded with a strengthening plate after breaking under my bulk.

To add insult to injury I also managed to snap my steering wheel in half by putting too much weight on it when I exited the car.

Nowadays I can not only fit in a van seat (the new Ford Transit Custom is very comfy by the way – and I’m TOTALLY sold on Apple car play which is absolutely the future!) but I can fill a van with box after box ferried from the first floor of my partner’s housing complex to a car park below over and over again.

I’m rarely put off by the physical effort required in any task these days – and my whole mentality has completely changed.

In ikea Coventry this week whilst shopping for a bigger wardrobe (boys need space for shirts!!!) I realised that I’d left my phone in the car.

This made me instantly paranoid.

What if someone saw it? Would they smash the window? What else would they take?!

I had to go and get it.

For those that don’t know Ikea in Coventry (unlike the older flat layout in huge out of town spaces) it’s a six storey building in the heart of a city.

The (huge industrial sized) lifts make the high rise shopping experience possible but I find that they’re also irritatingly slow to arrive.

So – instead of taking one to the car park – I jogged down from the 6th to the 1st floor, grabbed my keys and then jogged back up again from my car to the 6th.

Rather amusingly I met a bunch of complaining teens on the way back up, who’d thought it might be a jolly jape to take the stairs.

Most of them had practically expired between floors three and four – rather like a Duracell advert comparing where competing cuddly toys powered by inferior batteries had given up the ghost.

One teen had ground to a halt half way between floors two and three and was languidly slumped on the stairs, complaining bitterly (and very loudly so his companions could hear his wails of distress) about what an awful idea the stairs had turned out to be.

I skipped up the stairs two at a time past the lot of them with a chipper ‘keep it up lads – you’re almost there!’ – all the while grinning from ear to ear.

They were about 14 and I’m the wrong side of 40!

By the time I’d returned to the Ikea restaurant the coffee I’d left behind was still piping hot.

My partner (nursing a cup of tea whilst catching errant Pokemon on her phone at the Ikea Pokestop) remarked that although I felt a little warm I wasn’t out of breath and was still raring to go – plus I was back waaaay quicker than she expected.

This is NOT the way things used to go down in Ikea.

I used to shop at their Wednesbury branch with my brother before Coventry opened nearby.

Compared to the new multi storey layout they appear to be favouring these days it was as flat as 10 day old Coca Cola.

Walking around it was a crippling experience. Mostly because of constant back pain (but also because I was out of breath) I spent much of the time there ‘testing’ armchairs, sofas, office chairs, and beds, before eating lots of meatballs.

Then I’d languidly drive home where I’d usually fall asleep almost immediately.

In contrast on Saturday I spent five hours wandering around the Coventry store and just felt a bit thirsty.

Whilst moving my partner in has so far been a busy enterprise (we are surrounded by boxes) it has also been a great opportunity to eat proper meals together and make sure that both of us are back on plan.

It’s been something of a struggle in the largely solitary lead up we’ve had to the move date.

We’ve had a lot to do at each end – (largely on our lonesomes) and this has resulted in some bad food choices for both of us.

Regular readers will remember my somewhat epic gain on the scales a week and a half ago – and I now have a long way to go to get into back target – which I’m still toying with the idea of re-setting to 14st 7lbs.

My partner still needs to reach her target – but this (I think) is awesome.

Now we both have a shared goal and are very much in it together.

There are no excuses any more and our combined push is toward regular, healthy and on plan meals.

I haven’t been stepping on the scales very often at all recently – but yesterday things appeared to be moving in the right direction when I finally summoned up the courage – and as long as I don’t decide to say **** it and dive into a giant bin of flapjacks in the next two days I will hopefully be looking at a loss on Saturday.

So – things are awesome in a way that they rarely have been in my past.

Not only do I have enough (svelte and lovely) shirts to fill a large Pax wardrobe now but I have a handy pocket sized (also svelte and lovely) girlfriend to check out the interior and make sure it’s suitable for them.

If anyone needs me I’ll be contentedly grinning like an idiot with my head in a cardboard box full of maps or balls of wool 😊

Davey