Rage walking

I decided recently that I’d up the frequency of my posting again.

The truth is that I rarely run out of things that I want to explore in my mind – and writing my feelings down definitely results in a ‘release of pressure’ whenever I do it.

My blog means a lot to me partly because of this – but I also want it to be as authentic as humanly possible.

The biggest compliment I think I’ve been given regarding my blog (when I meet people for the first time in person) is that I sound the same in real life as I do on the page – and for me this equals success.

It means I’m being real and honest in everything that I write and for someone to ‘recognise me’ when I talk to them (after reading what I’ve written) is the highest form of flattery.

However in real life (just as with my blog) there are things that I often leave out of conversations.

I don’t want to appear miserable.

Self perception is a funny thing – and a long time ago I realised that although I considered myself a pragmatic realist others saw this as pessimism.

The flip side of this perspective is that these pessimists (realists?) can also consider optimists as deluded fantasists.

There’s no right or wrong way to think about things though and I’ve discovered the hard way that being relentlessly cheerful can cause just as much damage as being relentlessly negative.

If you don’t allow yourself to feel bad you can’t begin the process of dealing with whatever is getting you down.

I’m always hyper aware though that (in my view) I’m very much a down to earth realist and that my realism can often take the form of ‘expect the worst but hope for the best’.

To me it means not being wasteful with my resources or just expecting everything to go right – but I’m aware that it can also make me look more dour than Andy Murray talking about why he was beaten in a Wimbledon final.

I don’t like others to see my inner Murray and so (like most people I guess) I often self censor, so that my lows are mitigated in the eyes of those around me and I don’t get a reputation for being a miserable git.

This often means less blogs getting published – paradoxically at precisely the time I need to write more.

My recent spate of silence over the last few months has resulted from two things.

Firstly my personal life is very happy indeed – but it’s also quite private.

Secondly my work life is not so great.

The other issue is that the first point affects the second in a way that I really never expected it to before I was in a relationship. When I was single it was no-one’s business but my own if I couldn’t find my way in life and occasionally felt down about it.

If I couldn’t navigate through a down period then it only affected me and after a while it invariably sorted itself out.

Now (as well as being hyper critical of myself for my current inability to get the job I want) I have to navigate the guilt of how any moods I may experience in relation to this may affect someone else.

I want to be a productive and vital half of a couple, rather than someone that’s struggling and dragging someone else down.

However…

Before anyone highlights what a muppet I am – and that this is all in my head, let me assure you that I’m not only aware of this but I’ve been told on many occasions by my significant other that I’m just fine the way I am and that I have to let other people support me in the same way that I do for them.

I’m loved and I’m no island – and I need to continually remember these things.

It’s tough though – especially when you get ignored by agencies and employers (I feel as if I may as well post my applications into a furnace at times) or get turned down again after a another lengthy interview for a job that you know that you could do standing on your head.

‘Thanks – but no thanks’ is becoming a familiar refrain and this week it’s been in my face continually.

It’s also now been joined by ‘over qualified‘ (just to add insult to injury).

This continuing state of affairs has really dented my mood – and I went from standing on the scales yesterday morning and seeing a 2lb loss (compared to last week) to eating like there was no bottom to my stomach throughout the whole of Friday and this morning posting a 1/2lb gain.

I could look at this one of two ways.

I could say that I’ve failed and hammer more mental nails in the coffin of my already potentially downbeat mood or I could look at it as two weeks where I’ve lost a combined total of 9lbs.

I’m trying really hard to maintain the latter perspective – but it’s not easy.

Normally I don’t suffer from nightmares – but the night of my second employer refusal of the week left me with a doozy and I’m still struggling to shake the feelings it dragged to the surface.

It was definitely allegorical – but I really didn’t have to peel much away in terms of subtext to find the true meaning behind it.

My ex-girlfriend from many years ago was front and centre – and wanted to finally gave me closure about something that had been bothering me for a long time.

The dreamed revelation she delivered (although almost certainly fictional) was a kick in the teeth.

It turned out that she’d lied to me about moving on, finding someone else and getting married shortly after we broke up.

Instead she’d said this because she didn’t want me in her life.

In her eyes I was a failure and consequently there was good reason to lie and make sure that I had no more to do with her. In her mind the best way to do this was invent a fictional marriage – so told me she that she was in love with someone else and moved on.

I was a liability to be cast aside.

This has always been something that’s loomed large in my head. I couldn’t be the man I am now back then and the guilt drove me into the ground for years.

In the dream I also noticed that her skin tone was changing – along with other physical attributes.

I realised with horror that she was beginning to look just like my current partner – and as the nightmare continued it became more about what I could lose in the present rather than what I’d already lost in the past.

I awoke breathless and sweating at 4am in the dark and cold of a frosty morning.

I was both distraught and muted. I didn’t feel able to answer when an arm reached around me and asked if I was ok – I just held on tightly and told myself over and over that none of it was real.

It upset me though – and left me with a huge sense of dread and loss all day long.

I proceeded to eat both of my conscious and unconscious feelings – and started with popcorn for breakfast.

You know that the day isn’t going well when you’ve nailed 2000kcal of popcorn before lunchtime. Several tonnes of salad, cottage cheese, ham and fruit later and I still felt no better.

The truth is that this week hasn’t really resembled last week in terms of eating. Toward the close of it I’ve definitely been relying on my exercise to keep things under control.

On Thursday (whilst driving home after meeting a lovely friend in Oxfordshire) I received a call.

On it I was turned down by an employer for the first of two times this week – and upon reaching my front door found myself both angry and willing to harm myself with food.

I stood looking at the contents of the fridge for a while…

Rather than eat myself silly I elected instead to go for a ‘rage walk’ – which turned out to be a six mile route march in the rain around the streets of Warwick and Leamington Spa.

It’s rare that I get out of breath or perspire while walking – but when I got back later that evening I was soaked from both the rain and my sweat.

On the plus side these days I’m capable of walking 15 minute miles continually for at least 6 miles.

On the negative side I felt like I had to because I knew what was coming later that evening – and I also knew that the chances of stopping it were practically zero.

I was planning to fill my face and I did.

So – that’s how I feel currently.

Hopefully I don’t come across as too miserable – and you’re not all thinking that you should untick the ‘subscribe’ button on WordPress or block me on Facebook.

If there is hope and happiness to be found inside my head today it’s contained within the knowledge that tomorrow is a special day – and despite how I may feel about my (lack of) employment there are far more important things in my life to focus on.

I’m still getting up every day and trying.

I’m still loving life and loving my ability to physically move through the world every singe day.

I’m still in a good place – and a couple of crappy days does not equal a life of failure or days that others will follow it.

Tomorrow is as yet unwritten and I aim to try bending it to my will, and making it a good one. In the meantime I’ll just keep on keeping on.

Davey

Cat and mouse games

It’s Monday morning – and I find myself already deep in a mental game of cat mouse.

The cat in this case is the shadow of a dark mood which is quietly stalking me in the background.

The mouse is my threatened positivity, and it’s skittering along a skirting board of my mind, dodging traps, leaping out of the way of clawing paw swipes whilst aiming for the safety of a hole in the wall.

It’s also got a chunk of cheddar gripped between its teeth – which isn’t strictly on plan but it really likes cheese.

The cheese too is a metaphor.

My weekend was mostly good – but just like my little rodent avatar with his dairy obsession I really really wanted to overeat yesterday.

Although I made mostly good choices at the weekend by the time I hit my pillow late on Sunday night I knew I’d overeaten.

My calorie burn didn’t equal my intake – and there’s no escaping that kind of maths.

I’ve got a real weakness for popcorn at the moment and despite needing to lose weight I really don’t feel like I want to modify this particular part of my behaviour.

It’s important to have something that you want otherwise you’ll drive yourself insane.

200g of sweet and salted popcorn comes in at 44 syns – and since I can’t currently resist this particular indulgence I have to keep at the forefront of my mind a simple mantra.

If I’m going to commit this kind of crime then I darned well better be willing to do the time.

So why the guilt and self recrimination?

Well – despite having the best of intentions, despite walking all the way to the pool with my costume and towel on Sunday morning when I got there I decided not to go swimming after all.

I really wasn’t feeling it – mostly because I was far more preoccupied with little aches and pains and a deep seated tiredness than I did with being virtuous.

Instead my partner and I did a couple of laps of the park and went home for breakfast – which in my case was a whalloping bowl of fruit and cereal.

Although the rest of my day was relatively busy, it was damp and drizzly outside meaning that a lot of my time was spent indoors.

By close of play though I’d still managed to walk almost 10 miles but even so I couldn’t shake a sense of guilt and view the day as a bit of a failure.

I kept thinking all day long ‘I should have gone swimming’ and this endless thought loop was still on my mind when I fell asleep.

I really can be waaaaay to hard on myself – but there’s still a huge part of me that thinks if I’m ‘kind’ to myself instead then it will basically equal letting myself off for continually bad behaviour.

It’s a very tricky balance to strike – especially when you’re a little sleep deprived – which (being a problematic sleeper) I usually tend to be.

It’s best to try and be a positive person though – and in order to have something good in mind that I’m working towards rather than a bad thing I’m running away from I have set myself some objectives.

Everyone needs goals and I’ve now got not got one but two.

Although I’m currently over my goal weight and paying to weigh in again in theory I’m still a Diamond Target Member at Slimming World.

I have the badge and frankly they’re not getting it back.

It’s my objective therefore not only to get back into into target range ASAP (I’ve not set a timeframe for this as I don’t need the pressure) but to remain there and still be within my 6lb bracket by my two year anniversary in late February.

There’s not much in the way of bling or awards to be had for me at Slimming World these days but knowing that I’ve managed to (broadly speaking) maintain my losses for that length of time is something that’s really important to me (link).

It’s arguably much more so than badges and awards because doing this reinforces my certainty that I’ll never go back to the being man that I used to be.

Probably because of this I felt doubly motivated when I awoke this morning.

When I set off I raced to the leisure centre with as brisk a walk as I could muster and was pleased to see when I’d arrived that this had resulted in a 15 min mile.

This particular number (my regular speedy pace when I need to get somewhere quick without being sweaty) always makes me smile – especially when I think back to where I started in 2016 – because back then a 15 minute mile was a pipe dream.

It took nearly an hour to accomplish this at over 30 stone.

I tried to get to the four mile per hour mark for a couple of years before I managed it – and it times it felt like I’d never be capable.

What seemed even more inconceivable than walking speed though was that three years on from that starting point I’d not only be capable of doing it but that afterwards I’d feel like climbing into a pair of Lycra trunks to swim 40 lengths of the pool that I was struggling to waddle past.

Who could have foreseen that instead of looking at it forlornly from the safety of a park bench I’d be a regular visitor to the leisure centre?

Not me.

Now (although I’m far from the fastest swimmer) I can swim a kilometre in just over 28 minutes.

I think I’m right in saying that today represented my personal best for this distance – and it almost makes up for my popcorn.

I’m also keen to get to target again because lots of my trousers (whilst still ‘fitting’) feel decidedly ‘muffinesque‘ – which is not a good state of affairs if you wish to maintain a level of positivity.

Tomorrow I have something to do that I’d really like to feel good about both before and afterwards and part of the way that I plan to accomplish that is to dress smartly and look as ticketty boo as I possibly can.

There’s absolutely no substitute (at least in my mind) for a nice jacket and tie when you want to feel like you’re in control of a situation and full of confidence.

I’d go so far as to say that since losing weight and having access to more clothing choices than at any other time in my life having the right shirt (and tie) for the right occasion has never been more important to me.

It’s become so ridiculously part of my DNA that I now have enough shirts to change four times a day into a new one for an entire month without seeing the same one twice.

The only fly in the ointment is that currently they aren’t all 100% comfortable when I sit down – which is extremely annoying.

It’s going to happen though – and knowing that I’m not alone in my objectives (or battles) is a great comfort – because a fellow blogger I converse with all the time is not only feeling a similar tug in her togs – but also doing her best to address the situation. (Link)

Hayley has become a firm friend over the years that I’ve been writing about my own journey and I read her blog whenever I don’t want to feel like I’m on my own with my very public struggles.

Even though I tell the world how vulnerable how I am all the time it’s really nice to know that I’m not the only person that’s willing to fail and succeed in full view of the world – and that I do this in the hope that it will help both myself and others.

It’s often scary how similar our problems tend to be, and when I read her posts she proves to me again and again that as different as people can be we all share similar motivations, hopes, dreams, fears and demons.

For those readers who like to see a lady’s perspective on life and weigh loss that’s not just endless pictures of food then I highly recommend her thoughtful posts and often strikingly beautiful photos.

Anyway. I’ve been indulging my tendency to play with words for far too long and the day is ebbing away.

I need to get moving if I’m going to lose weight again this week!!!

Stay frosty and keep your chin up Internet. Whatever your goal is just keep working towards it!!!

Davey

Got my mojo back baby!

OK

I will get the obvious out of the way.

I’m NOT feeling down.

There’s not a single fibre of my being that’s blue, malcontent, irritable, sad, annoyed, dissatisfied or irascible.

I have my mojo back and I’m workin it baby!

Part of my mood is (as always) attributable to a calming (and creative) nearby presence, who – while I write – is creating her own unique little pieces of art and beavering away with pliers and metal next to me.

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It’s not at all unusual to see these little ‘jump rings’ floating around the house (occasionally the hoover finds more than it’s fair share) and in a radical departure from how things used to be I now find that I live in a world where (for the very first time in my life) I’m considering and appreciating the aesthetic merits of all kinds of jewellery.

This used to be something I wasn’t particularly keen on.

I have always viewed people (male or female) that were dripping in jewellery as materialistic. I didn’t understand why they needed such (usually golden) things, and for the longest time (mostly because I wanted simplicity but also because I had fat sweaty wrists) I never even wore a watch.

When I make the first tentative attempts to connect with my other half and we began to learn more about eachother I shared my thoughts on such matters.

She replied outright that she had a weakness for jewellery.

My honest thought at the time was ‘uh-oh… I hope she’s not high maintenance…’ but it turned out that nothing could be further from the truth – unless that is you count the endless cups of tea required to keep her running smoothly.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that she made a large amount of the jewellery that she wore herself – and what she didn’t construct with her numerous tools and materials was usually purchased frugally from very individual and bespoke suppliers.

I realised very quickly when we became closer that the items she owned were pretty much never made of precious metals or set with rare stones (many are constructed with  things like Lego!) but each and every item reflected her unique personality and tastes.

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Tonight, while I’ve been creating this post she created this chain maille bracelet – and it just blows me away that I have such a quirky and inventive little soul next to me whenever I need cheering up.

I can’t just expect her to deliver my good mood whilst I give nothing in return though.

At times this can be hard and I feel like I’ve struggled a bit in the last few weeks. I’ve had to lean into my partner and other people more than I normally would (which is a natural part of life) but this week I finally feel like I’m making headway again.

As I’ve mentioned in my last few blogs my mindset recently has been a carefully cultivated one that’s taken a lot of effort to turn into something that is once again positive.

After burying my head in the metaphorical sand for a while and packing a good few pounds back on in the process I decided that the only way to tackle the issue I’d created was head on.

I needed to work hard, try at all times to be a ‘can do’ person and follow the Slimming World plan, which for me means no longer giving myself free reign to eat like an idiot.

It also means moving my arse more because not doing so has been a big contributor to my weight gain recently.

So in an effort to change I’ve explored all around Warwickshire this week, and in doing so discovered that despite the cold and grim weather there are still many flashes of colour or interest to be found when you’re out and about.

For a start there are mushroom rings everywhere!

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I love that there’s always something new to find when you’re out walking. The natural world changes all the time – and the only thing I never seem to find when I’m outside in it is boredom.

It’s not just the natural world that holds joy and interest mind you.

Getting out and about regardless of where you go is good for the soul because there’s life of many different kinds of life to be found everywhere and lots of people to talk to or just watch as they pass by.

On Friday I walked into Coventry Market with a friend and we spent a while combing through the fruit and veg stalls where the variety and quality of produce puts most supermarkets to shame.

Around one third of these items are completely alien to me. I’ve never cooked with them, and I wouldn’t know where to begin in some cases (particularly with the bitter melon) but I love that we live in such a culturally diverse society that all of the Chinese, Indian and English sellers that were in the market have space for their wares and ALL of them seemed to have a bustling, diverse and above all engaged clientele.

There’s life inside that run down looking building that you can’t find in a supermarket.

Within its walls you can interact with, touch, smell, feel and examine items that aren’t everyday objects – or at least they aren’t to me.

In this environment my childhood returns to me – because a greengrocer was (back then) a daily reality in which potatoes were covered in dirt, cucumbers curled like springs and apples were different shapes colours, tastes and sizes.

Fruits and vegetables had bumps, knobbles and imperfections which I loved and shopping back then didn’t require removal of leaves and mud.

You got to see the way that items looked when they’d been pulled out of the ground – without them being sanitised and shoved in clear plastic to put under 24×7 spotlights.

I absolutely love the naturalness of this scruffy little place – and I can’t believe that until six months ago I’d never ever been there before.

If you haven’t visited yourself then leave your car (or bus) at War Memorial Park and take a walk into town (it’s only a mile away – you can do it!). If you have an Ikea Family card then you can also get a free tea or coffee in their nearby cafe.

If you don’t purchase anything you still get a cheap day out and some exercise – which I’ll admit was the main reason for this discovery in the first place.

This brings me neatly onto my next topic – because If you’re not in calorie deficit and moving about as much as possible then you won’t lose weight.

In my Apple Watch stats I haven’t failed to hit all of my daily exercise goals for over two years – but during the last few months I’ve gradually done a little less every day and eaten either the same amount or more.

My life is a pretty fine balance due to my reliance on rather large portion sizes, and I’ve had to accept recently that I simply cannot get away with eating huge volumes of (very good non processed and natural) free food without then immediately burning it off.

The truth is that although my stats look good they have to be viewed with a bit more of an inquisitive eye.

My walking distance is great – and it’s remained constant throughout the year (now I swim as well) at about eight miles a day.

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My average swimming distance shows that I do around 50 continuous lengths of the pool each time I swim, meaning I have great stamina. However what it doesn’t show in this average is that last month I went swimming less times in October than since I started in November 2018.

Bad Davey.

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The stats that really can’t lie – and highlight the dip in the number of times I’ve swum are my active energy ones (kcal expended through movement above normal ‘just living and breathing’ levels) and my exercise minutes.

Whilst they’re probably higher than a lot of people’s daily burn they have (by my standards) tailed off lately, and in August (shortly after I handed over to the new MOTY) they pretty much said ‘enough of this sh*t – I’m staying on the sofa.’

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As you can see in November I’ve begun to address this – and after a slow start to the month I’m once again cooking on gas. Since weighing in last Saturday I’ve managed to walk 80+ miles and swum 7.5km.

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After taking a 12lb gain on the chin last weekend I had two choices – sort it out with activity and a positive mindset or deal with it by burying my face in the fridge.

I’ve therefore been very active and very outdoorsy.

I’ve also cooked every large, hearty meal from scratch and prepared the breakfasts, lunches and dinners for myself and my other half each day (I just love cooking for us both) with feeling satisfied and full in mind.

There have been no complaints from her – and looking back at some of the week’s pictures I think you’ll agree we’ve not gone hungry!

It’s fair to say though that in between these shots an awful lot of plums and carrots also died to service our needs to snack between meals.

There were also some more serious transgressions involved though – and on Thursday I hoovered up 200g of sweet popcorn in one very flexible evening that equalled 44 syns. I refuse to feel guily though. I really enjoyed it – and after some epic exercise genuinely felt I deserved a treat.

I felt absolutely zero guilt.

Neither of us has.

We’ve instead had a pact that’s revolved around promising eacother that we’d focus on our individual sabotaging behaviours and do our level best to support eachothers’ success – which we have.

My partner’s weaknesses and mine are quite different – but we’re the same in that (like most people) we fall down in times of stress or worry. Although it’s been tough for both of us to turn things around it’s also been really empowering to take our bulls by their horns and wrestle them to the floor.

This week – thanks to our individual commitments (and efforts with walking and swimming which have been mutually engaged in as much as possible) this has resulted in huge strides.

We both had big losses on the scales this morning and for the first time in a while since I got my new Slimming World book (which frankly looks like a complete mess to me with its gains and losses) I feel really proud of myself.

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This morning I smashed out a 9.5lb loss!

Now – I don’t for a minute think that this is sustainable and I’m sure that at least half of this is fluid rather than fat. I know this because I can feel the bloat and swell when I’m not eating right.

If I change my habits then I pee like a racehorse for a day or two and then I’m magically a few pounds lighter. It’s only after the first couple of days that the real weight loss starts. With this in mind I’ve probably lost about 4-5lbs in real terms.

This is still a fabulous weight loss – but I’m not naive enough to think I’ll get this figure regularly.

I’ve been doing this too long now and I know my body.

When Angie asked my how much I wanted to lose by next week my reply was simply ‘a loss’, because to lose lose two weeks in a row with an initial spurt like that is no easy task and I don’t want to set myself up for a fall.

I don’t want to put anything on or maintain – just a loss is enough for me.

So that’s it.

The result of hard work.

Now to do it over and over again every week until I get back to target!!!!

Davey

Starting somewhere leads to sudden inspiration

Who knows where inspiration and motivation come from? I certainly don’t because oddly when I’ve looked for it (and by this I mean the true change inspiring kind that lasts) I’ve rarely found it.

I remain convinced that (like the chicken and egg paradox) you can’t have inspiration without some element of forcing yourself into the mindset to begin with.

Once you’re on the cusp of belief, and the ball starts rolling then it becomes a self generating phenomenon, and quite out of the blue you start to look in the mirror, feel upbeat, have a spring in your step and realise that you’re making progress.

Since Saturday this is what I’ve been doing – and it might be because there’s a phrase that’s been ringing in my ears. It was something (almost throwaway) that my consultant Angie said to me in Slimming World that’s been playing over and over in my head.

I popped into another meeting yesterday, not to weigh in but to keep my head in the game.

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Angie said to me in passing that I’m in a new phase of my life now, I’m happy and I’m settled, but that I haven’t yet found out what my new motivation is to stay at target – and that I just need to find something that works for me.

After the session ended I found myself walking and thinking about what she’d said.

My initial motivation to give up drinking in January 2016 (way before I joined Slimming World) was to be as unlike my mother as it was humanly possible to be. If I managed that then then the next thing on my list was to be was to still be alive afterwards.

The fact is I realised both objectives and more. I’m still here and I’m healthy (an emphatic tick in one box) and I’m also not a bitter, vindictive, manipulative or an isolated man (a tick in the other.)

The truth is though that whilst we may all arrive somewhere the journey is really only part of the experience. Settlers in a new land (after plonking down the contents of their wagons and pitching their tents) know instinctively that the process of remaining alive starts once they get to where they were going.

I would argue that it’s maybe the ability to survive upon reaching a destination that defines success rather than the difficulty of travelling from A to B – nomatter how epic the voyage was along the way.

Although I’ve always felt uneasy about the use of the ‘I’ word in the past to describe my path toward my target weight (link) I’ve also been very uneasy about people mentioning how incredible it was to lose 21st.

To be honest while I was doing it the numbers really didn’t mean much after a while. All I really cared about was that they were going in the right direction.

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Although I visualised them at the start by comparing them to physical objects in the real world (my favourite at the 7 stone mark was a fridge freezer – link) the truth was that although it was initially helpful to visualise my losses as time went on it became more and more nonsensical.

I tried to use things like a boat trailer and a huge gold ring that weighed 10 stone for their shock value (link) but objects I found online to provide these material representations of my milestone losses became so far removed from my everyday reality that (impressive as they were) they quickly ceased to be much of a personal motivator.

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By February 2018 I’d lost the weight of three fridge freezers or (rather mind bogglingly) two cement mixers (link) – but even now when I look at it knowing that it’s true such a thing doesn’t seem to be possible.

After a while it’s all just numbers, and nothing more.

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Then all of a sudden (around the time of the cement mixer) the unexpected happened. For the very first time in my life I had people telling me that I looked too thin and making me promise not to lose any more weight.

Instead of people being worried I’d eat myself to death they actually appeared to be voicing concern that I may diet myself to an early grave instead.

What does someone who’s struggled with weight all his life do with being told he should relax and that he needs to put weight on?

Well – obviously he relaxes and takes his foot off the gas – which brings me back to my original point.

How do make sense of all this mental spaghetti, deal with a weight gain and find the inspiration to turn it around so that you are motivated again?

Where do the inspirational go when they need to be inspired?

Many many people have asked me (and I think this often comes from the perspective of someone that’s never been seriously obese) ‘what was the moment that you decided to change?’ or ‘what was the straw that broke the camel’s back?’

Whilst I can understand the reason people ask things like this (they want a simple answer about to how to kick start their own route to success most of the time – or they simply want to have a concise and easy to understand soundbite to help grasp the enormity of it all) the simple truth is that almost none of the physical issues I suffered prompted me to change.

It was not wanting to be like my mother that started the ball rolling.

This for me has always been an issue – because I began a very positive journey from a place of emotional pain, and instead of moving toward the light I was instead moving away from the darkness.

This is an important distinction – because I didn’t start out in 2016 with the positive ‘can do’ worldview I have (more often than not) these days. I wasn’t someone that could. I was someone that hated the alternative so much he slowly began to change.

If you want to see how bad my life got without me doing anything to reverse course then have a look at my nonscale victories (link) and you’ll see how much I was capable of putting up with at 35 stone.

The fact is that when people ask why I didn’t do anything sooner (and as MOTY they did – a lot) they imagine themselves, already well and mobile. Then in their mind’s eye overnight they become the moribund lump that I was and they can’t conceive of how they (I) wouldn’t suddenly say ‘that’s enough – no more – I’m changing!’

Often people who ask me this question fail to recognise that cumulatively we can bear a lot and soldier on because ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back‘ often never breaks it.

The camel (in this case me) just got slower and slower and suffered more and more each day, never truly realising how bad things had become. It just accepted that is its life was normal because its memories didn’t stretch back far enough to remember a time of comfort or happiness. Pain has become all it knew.

It couldn’t believe things were ever otherwise and because of this change seemed impossible and the status quo inevitable.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve always been worried that my motivation wasn’t ‘to be the best me I could ever be’ or to ‘awaken my giant within’ (I hate Anthony Robbins and his square jawed face that so readily invites a rapidly moving clenched fist).

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I’ve always moved at light speed away from people like him.

You know…

The inspirational ones.

Maybe I’ve hit on another approach though – because in the absence of a stocky American in businesslike braces I think that the paradox of the chicken and egg is an important one for me to keep at the forefront of my mind.

Maybe there doesn’t have to be an answer or a motivator.

Maybe you just have to learn and accept that there are cycles.

Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. Sometimes you’re sad and at others you’re happy. Occasionally you’re rich and at other times you’re poor.

Life happens.

The trick is to remember that to recover from all such phases it takes is a starting point and a recognition that such periods are temporary. If you don’t start trying to be better or positive it’s highly likely that nothing on earth will make you that way. Even if people offer to help ultimately you have to be the one that wants it and chooses to accept it. In order for there to be happiness you have to create it or the conditions for it to arrive and then thrive.

Who knows where the first smile came from? They only seem to arrive when others smile at you first or do something to amuse you. I make a point of smiling at people to generate smiles in return because it makes me feel good – but I learned that behaviour from other people who did the same.

The first smile had to be created by someone somewhere – but where and how?

We’ll never know – and I will never know truly where inspiration (if there is such a thing rather then just a bunch of abstract moments and reactions) comes from – but I know that when I hit the swimming pool this morning I turned into a man on a mission.

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Currently as I type (it’s almost 9pm) my Apple Watch reports that I’ve also walked 11.16 miles and burned almost 3800 active calories today. Crazily that puts my overall expendature for the day at almost 6000!!!

Honestly the last time I did something like that was when I climbed Mt Snowdon (link).

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You might be worried that I’ve decided to go into austerity mode and starve or exercise myself to death in order to eradicate a gain – but nothing could be further from the truth. I really did’t intend to swim as far as I did until… well… I did.

I’m also cooking large, hearty meals that are full of speed and free foods for me and my other half. I’m just making sure that they’re all on plan and that they stop us craving the wrong things.

The point is I’m trying again and that alone makes me feel great.

Success is something else entirely and I just have to trust that this will eventually come if I keep working at it.

I can sense the self sustaining positivity starting to build and it’s a familiar and warm feeling that doesn’t involve me condemning myself or my inner monologue berating me for being a failure.

It’s almost positive enough to tell me that I look just fine in this photo taken before the ball last week with Alan Carr and Margaret Miles-Bramwell (which arrived today).

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It doesn’t really matter that in the photo I’m above my target weight – or that I felt awful and had a burst blood vessel in my eye. Weight is all just a number really. As long as I’m healthy who cares what it is – and I’m also not stupid enough to think that anyone could tell any of that just by looking at this picture.

They just think it looks like a great photo.

I suppose I do too.

So – here’s to not tying myself in knots, trying hard to be better and getting a respectable loss to start the ball rolling in group next Saturday.

Davey

Groove in a Mercedes

As I begin this post it’s currently 6am.

Although there is rarely a brighter smile in the room during daylight hours it’s fair to say that my partner is not as ‘morning capable’ as I usually tend to be and as I type she is nursing a cup of tea next to me with her familiar ‘early doors’ expression.

It’s quite amusing when she’s of this persuasion though because I always enjoy the challenge of turning her frown upside down.

Since we pinkie promised to both have a specific loss this week on our Saturday weigh in (I opted for 3lbs) our joint objective is to go swimming in the morning three times this week to keep our activity levels up.

Body magic is important if you want to be slim and healthy and it’s not enough to just eat less.

My other half is totally in agreement with me – but at this time of day the well is often dry.

I’ve attempted to replenish it with her customary jump start (a cup of tea) and whilst I sip my double espresso I’m patiently waiting for ‘daytime mode’ to arrive.

For the time being while it gradually rumbles into the station I am periodically grinning like a loon and occasionally prodding her rib cage to provoke mirth.

I know.

I’m not irritating at all – just insanely loveable – and depending on how quickly she remembers this in the next five minutes I’ll either get a punch or a laugh.

One never can tell at 6am – but I’m feeling good either way because despite the cold and darkness outside we now have our costumes on under our clothes ready for walking straight into the pool when the doors of the leisure centre open at 6.30am.

(Author goes swimming and picks up the narrative a few hours later with yet another coffee)

As I blogged on Saturday (link) my drive is not YET where it needs to be with regard to weight loss – but I’m taking strides toward MAKING it that way.

It doesn’t happen by magic. You have to work at a good mood. Get one day at a time under your belt and gradually it gets easier.

As a starting point after my crappy weigh in Saturday turned out to be a good eating day – and I already felt less bloated when I went to bed.

I also managed to get a good (although it could have been better) amount of exercise in along with the right amounts and types of food.

Sunday however was rather epic.

Initially we had planned to do something else but instead opted to go for a long country walk.

The inspiration for this was mostly due to the weather.

Yesterday started as a lovely (but chilly) Autumn morning with barely a cloud in the sky and for the first time in living memory it wasn’t chucking it down with sideways rain.

Rather than going for a swim where we couldn’t spend quality time together (or natter endlessly) I could introduce my partner to a part of Warwickshire that she’s not yet seen.

I’m gradually helping her get the lay of the land in her new surroundings and instead I took her to explore around the back of Hatton.

The route we took led us through some lovely green spaces and then down to the cafe at the top of Hatton Locks (where we stopped for a cuppa) before threading its way back along the Grand Union canal and into Warwick before finally we headed home.

This route’s not for the faint of heart – as the total distance is almost 11 miles – but once it was completed it was certainly enough to give both of us a virtuous feeling for the rest of the day.

Since we had an excellent Sunday immediately after an excellent Saturday (we had almost no treats and consumed only totally on plan meals on both days) I think it’s fair to say that our weekend was a success.

It wasn’t the only success though.

I rarely have non scale victories these days – but oddly enough (maybe the universe recognised I needed a win) one came to call unexpectedly when I found myself unable to get into my car on Sunday afternoon.

I rarely use my car but I needed to nip to the supermarket for the weekly shop.

‘Can you move your car please?’ I shouted up the stairs to my partner – who was in the middle of some work. ‘I don’t think I can get into mine without scratching your passenger door.’

‘No problem…’ came the answer ‘…but have you tried getting in your passenger side?’

I almost replied ‘I can’t!’ but then realised that I’d actually never tried to climb into my seat that way.

‘Ok’ I replied and headed back to my car.

Parking used to be a major issue for me in 2016. Because I was so wide I always tried to park with the drivers door next to something static like a kerb, trolly park or wall.

I’d been doing this habitually for years because if I didn’t then i knew it could result in big problems.

This was predominantly because of an event in the past that had made me so paranoid about parking that I often drove home again instead of being unable to place my car both close enough to a shop or place of business (I couldn’t walk all the way around even a small supermarket if I didn’t park outside the door) and with enough room to ensure that there was no way I could be blocked in.

Logistically if I couldn’t get into my door and had to wait for another car owner to return I was pretty much screwed without a nearby bench.

I simply couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes at a time in one place without my back and legs being in agonising pain.

The chance that I could cause damage to another car though was always my prime motivation for parking so assiduously.

On the 21st April 2009 I was forced to get out of a colleague’s car with limited space in my workplace’s car park.

I was too embarrassed to tell him at the time that I didn’t have enough room to get out so instead I struggled and breathed in as best I could before squeezing out of the car as his door rested against another car.

Although I tried to be careful there was no way for me to gracefully exit his and after I’d closed his door my heart instantly sank.

I had managed to gouge a deep scratch in the door of my director’s Mercedes – which I quickly realised was who we had parked next to.

Although he was (and still is) a lovely man it’s also fair to say he wasn’t the type to suffer fools gladly – and was known for speaking his mind at all times.

Since he was such an equitable man (rarely are bosses so supportive) you always knew that if you got a the hairdryer treatment it was well deserved.

His Mercedes was his pride and joy and (I learned later) had been bought on a very special occasion.

Despite probably being the oldest of its kind in the car park (back in those days we all had generous car allowances and it wasn’t usual to see someone pull up in a new sports car) he loved it to bits and scowled at anyone brave enough to criticise him for not getting a company car with a more current registration.

The ensuing conversation where I had to explain what had happened to him was both embarrassing and painful.

He was justifiably miffed but ultimately very good about the whole affair and despite me offering to pay for the repairs required he declined to accept my money, opting instead to leave the groove in situ.

This state of affairs persisted until a few months ago he restored the entire car, and in the process of doing so finally removed the reminder of my tubby transgression.

He even noted when he did that ‘The Lancaster scratch‘ was finally gone.

I wish he’d allowed me to pay when I did it, because despite the fact it wouldn’t have been cheap to fix as a one off repair I wouldn’t have had to see it in the car park every day for the next seven years.

Each time I did I felt the associated guilt and shame about why it had happened in the first place.

This may seem like a pointless story to tell – but this event had lodged itself so firmly in my psyche that on Sunday when my partner suggested I enter my car from its passenger door, my instant reaction was panic.

I couldn’t do it.

I wouldn’t have enough room.

I wasn’t flexible enough.

I’d break my car or damage hers.

Then, all of a sudden I had a ‘Neo’ moment from the matrix and heard a voice saying ‘He’s beginning to believe…’

I went outside, got into the passenger side and without any trouble whatsoever climbed over the centre console and into the drivers seat.

Who knew it was possible?!

Not me that’s for sure – and on reflection I have no idea why because it should have been obvious.

The moments where I realise things like this have changed so dramatically are becoming less and less as time goes on – but when they hit they never diminish in terms of their surprise value.

In some respects I find it intensely irritating that there such blank spots remain in my self perception – however there’s no denying that when I notice them they can prove very useful indeed.

In this case it reminded me just how bad things can get when I don’t try, how low I used to feel at that size and (even though I’ve regained some weight temporarily) how much better my life is now.

I used this positive energy to propel myself out of bed this morning and because of this both myself and my partner benefited from some great exercise.

My 1k swim was far from my fastest time or longest distance (mostly because I’ve neglected my swimming a little of late which has no doubt contributed to my gains) but it’s also a milestone of its own – and a far cry from where I started.

Amazingly it’s now over one whole year since I first plucked up the courage to go swimming (link) on November 16th 2018.

Crazily at the time my self image was really struggling.

I was (in my mind) too fat and too much of a visual car crash without my clothes on to ever inflict myself upon the eyes of others.

Yet I did it.

I took that first step and gradually began to improve.

Consequently today I’m still swimming – even though I’m around 2 stone heavier than I was back then – but crazily I have nowhere near the same demons to deal with.

Sure – I still struggle with my perception of how I look but I’ve learned to swim better and with my head under water – which I could never do before.

I have lots of loose skin and a belly that’s never gone away – but up to this point I’ve never seen another PERFECT person swimming in the pool alongside me.

Everyone I meet is also there to improve themselves and they all have wrinkles or fat or cellulite or hairy backs or post pregnancy tummys or flat feet or knock knees.

I’m not alone.

None of us are.

No one I’ve met goes swimming because they’re already super fit or heathy.

They go to improve themselves, become fitter than they already are and feel better all the time because they have more energy.

So – here I am on day three of trying to re-set my thought processes and I’ve just complimented my swim with a couple of laps of the park.

So far the world has been very accommodating. It’s not thrown anything awful at me, it’s burped up a lovely sunrise for my post swim stroll and it’s reminded me who I am now as well as why I did what I did to lose over 20st.

This forgiving world also (eventually) put a smile on my other half’s face – which ultimately put a spring in my step too.

Everything is cause and effect – but it all starts somewhere.

Whatever your goal is you just have to remember that you can do it.

You have to work at it though – and remember that even though you might not feel it today or tomorrow or even the day after – eventually you will because trying to make a positive change feeds positive outcomes and doing so puts a smile on yours and other people’s faces.

So if you’re in doubt about what to do – just keep swimming.

Davey

(Otherwise known as Dory)

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

I’m certain that it’s not just me it’s affecting but the weather currently is sapping my willingness to move. My usual enthusiasm for walking and getting out and about has been noticeably absent in the last couple of weeks. I’ve done it, but I’ve done less of it and I’ve not enjoyed it.

It’s not so much the rain that I’m bothered by – but more the cold that seems to be accompanying it.

To add insult to injury my boiler seems to be malfunctioning at the moment too – which to be fair is probably something that was inevitable.

Its usual reliable unreliability has been absent over the last couple of years -highlighted by the fact that its regular annual breakdown hasn’t materialised for a worryingly long time.

Yesterday (whilst shivering like a soaking wet lost lamb on a hillside) I realised that the heating that I’d put on an hour earlier had completely failed to materialise – meaning they washing that I was doing would not have a single warm radiator to dry upon.

After a while it did turn up – but only after a lengthy period where it was continually switched off and then back on again, which greatly amused my partner. I’ve managed recently to make her watch every single episode of The IT Crowd on Netflix and ever since she’s been quietly delighted by problems in life have been solved by this particular technical fix.

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We’ve also been bingeing episodes of Car Share together lately – and I think (despite her initial misgivings and general resistance to him) I have created a new fan for Peter Kay.

This mushroomed into us subsequently watching some of his stand up shows and now I’m not only able to deploy geeky IT Crowd jokes (is it plugged in?) and raise a grin, but when I reference garlic bread and double shovels I’m not left looking at a clueless expression.

It’s good that we have the ability to laugh about the same things because when we do it genuinely lifts my mood. I really need it at a time when the sky is grey and the mornings are dark, wet and cold.

I look out of the window when it’s like this and I just want to fill my face.

I know that there’s always an excuse for poor eating habits and lately the weather and being ill have been mine. In the past (when I lost an average of 3lbs a week for two years until I’d nailed 20st) I’d have been the first to metaphorically slap myself for making a listless excuse when I’d chosen the wrong type or amount of food.

I’d like to report that my ability to control my eating has been superb since the ball – and that I’ve been focused and on point – but if I did I’d be telling fibs because I haven’t.

I’ve not felt either motivated or in control – and annoyingly almost all of my excuses for bad behaviour are now gone. The cold I was suffering with appears to have finally shifted (sadly moving it’s place of residence to my other half) and since Wednesday I’ve begun to feel decidedly more human again.

My blood filled zombie eye is also returning to normal and I’ve been sleeping better again – which frankly is a blessing from the gods.

I can do with less sleep than most thanks to my already erratic nocturnal patterns but when it comes to getting only two hours a night every night it’s not long before I can’t cope anymore and begin to overeat.

I ummed and arred about whether to include my results on the scales today in this blog because frankly it all makes me feel like a colossal failure.Part of me wants to drift into anonymity now that I’m not MOTY but I have to remind myself that I was open and honest about my problems well before Slimming World gave me an award. This blog came before any such success and it (for better or worse) is a record of my highs and lows.

My weighing in book doesn’t lie, and neither will my blog.

I’m still struggling.

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The honest truth though is that if I hide from what’s happening it will only get worse – and although I don’t want people to reach out with advice or support (at this point it won’t really make me feel any better because I just need to get my head back in the game) I think that it’s only fair that I be open and frank about it.

I now have a lot of work to do but in the meantime its important for me to show others what’s happening in an effort to let them know that no-one is infallible, and even those who may appear to have discovered the magic formula for success are just as capable of falling from grace as the next person.

So – as grim and painful as it is to be failing in public it’s also important, because as soon as I do I feel the (literal and metaphorical) arms of others around me in exactly the same way that I’ve done for them in the past.

Going to group is the perfect place for that, and as always (despite really not wanting to face up to the scales) I went this morning for the love and support that I always find there.

It wasn’t easy though, and there was some tough love to be had – which to be honest I almost certainly needed to hear. My group leader Angie (always the concerned friend) shared with me some upsetting news today.

A male member of our group had passed away recently.

He had presented himself to her at the start of his journey with similar demons to the ones that I had (and in some cases I still have) but his path through life concluded more abruptly than mine. As she told me what had happened the tears were rolling down her cheeks.

It was a sobering moment, and watching the waves of emotion flowing through her as she told me left a huge lump in my throat.

It’s still there.

It’s been a tough time for things like this recently and as with the death of Gillian Woodward I discussed in my last post (link) this hit me where it hurt the most because four years ago I really wanted to die. It irks me even now that I had such a cavalier attitude to my own mortality – but back then things were very different. I had zero mobility, my life was all about emotional or physical pain management and I felt (probably very incorrectly) that if I passed away I’d leave nothing but a sense of relief behind me.

It was a convenient fiction however – and bizarrely existed because it was much easier to deal with than the truth – which was that ALL OF IT WAS FIXABLE – but I had to want to change and I had to work hard to do so. Gilllian’s death affected me because Glyn had been robbed of his life partner and the happiness that they had.

I now have someone to lose that I never did before.

With all of my newly found happiness comes a corresponding fear of loss.

I’ve joked in the past that it would be ironic if now, after all my efforts, a piano fell on my head and wiped me out – but in Glyn’s case the unthinkable actually did come to pass and when I spoke to him I couldn’t let go of his hand.

I wanted to take his pain away (even though I barely knew him) and reverse the tragedy he’d endured with every fibre of my being, but in that moment I felt guilt guilt wash over me. Rather than being completely selfless and compassionate I knew that I was also seeing myself reflected in his eyes alongside the potential for loss that I now have.

Angie reminded me today though (without saying as much directly) that it’s not just those I love that I can lose – but myself as well.

When I drop my focus I’m forgetting all of the pain and heartache that I caused myself in the past and neglecting fill my thoughts with the truth. I need to focus on the consequences that will come to pass if I choose the transient comfort of eating over health and well being.

It felt like crap to stand on the scales today and I didn’t enjoy it one little bit.

Am I therefore completely motivated to change?

Paradoxically not yet…

I do know though that this doesn’t happen overnight, and that if I have a good day, then another good day, and then another, followed by yet another that I will feel my positivity and drive return.

Motivation never comes out of thin air, and daydreaming about what you need to accomplish instead of getting up and making a start on doing it never resulted in anything.

You have to get off your ****ing arse, go for a ****ing walk, go for a ****ing swim, eat less ****ing food and make an effort to think more positive ****ing thoughts.

I need to take my motivation and turn it off, and then turn it on again.

I WILL BE LIGHTER NEXT WEEK.

Davey

Slimming World Ball 2019

History seemed to be repeating itself yesterday – and (for those readers with a long memory) I found myself once again really rather ill when I should have simply been enjoying the Slimming World ball.

Last year after the ball I ended up with vestibular labyrinthitis (link) and to say it was a terrible experience was a vast understatement because frankly when it hit with debilitating ferocity on the way home I have never been so scared.

When Saturday morning rolled around this year I was already at the tail end of a week where I’d barely left the house thanks to the onset of an awful head cold/flu which had slowly migrated to my chest.

I was also sure I’d put weight on rather than lose it – mostly because I’d barely moved and had been eating way too much in a fruitless attempt to cheer myself up. By Friday evening I felt like absolute crap and wasn’t feeling even mildly sociable.

Consequently my tuxedo trousers felt uncomfortably tight, meaning that my ever patient partner had to mollycoddle me as I moped about with an (even greater than usual) mess of paranoia and self deprecating thoughts.

People often say I’m way too hard on myself (they admittedly have a point most of the time) but despite deep down knowing this is true I can never stop the onset of impostor syndrome when I know people are likely to compliment me or call me inspiring.

I just don’t feel like I measure up to mine or Slimming World’s ideals lately (did I ever?) and rather than going out on ‘a low’ I’d wanted the whole event to feel like a triumph where I felt both comfortable and in target (which I’m not).

After practically no sleep on Friday night (as I tried to breathe through the phlegm on my chest and ignore the swollen feeling in my throbbing sinuses) I had given up trying to nod off and instead migrated downstairs to sit upright in my armchair. Time moves slowly in the dark when you can’t sleep and you know you have a long day ahead.

You think too much, and you rarely think positive thoughts.

My head hurt.

My eyes ached.

I felt fat.

The clock was still ticking though the time to leave the house was slowly approaching. My partner (aware that I was ill and stressed) was now sipping a cup of tea on the sofa nearby looking at me with concern.

I weakly smiled, passed her as her hand grazed mine and moved to the bathroom to trim my hair and beard.

It was at this point (half way through turning and trimming the left hand side of my head) that I noticed at least part of the reason why a painful sensation behind my eye had suddenly subsided when I had sneezed moments before.

It looks worse than it is – but it looks absolutely horrible.

Of all the days when I needed to feel confident about my appearance (where photos and selfies would be taken left right and centre) I suddenly felt that I looked my absolute worst.

My eye was filled with blood and my (usually dormant) eczema felt like it was in full swing.

I’m not going to lie. Standing in the bathroom, feeling ill with a half shaved head and looking like I was an extra from The Walking Dead the very last thing I wanted to do was be sociable.

I actually just wanted to cry.

Would I call someone and make my excuses?

I really really wanted to, and talked it through as my partner peered with concern into my eye.

However, much of the last few weeks has in some way or another been about both of us working toward a gradual ‘ball readiness‘ – so to just discard all of our preparation for the evening seemed like a major anti climax.

It had been an extremely enjoyable time doing this together (despite our often shaky self images) and one where we’ve demonstrated yet again how well we work together.When one is struggling the other effortlessly seems to notice and pick up the slack.

When we’ve been in and out and town we’ve been collaborating to find little bits and pieces for eachther that match our outfits and complement our personal styles. Often we spot things that the other one hasn’t – or even suggest a way around a problem that the other hadn’t considered.

Up until I fell ill this meant that (for the most part) it’s worked out really well – like this lucky spot of a delightful (and cheap!) sparkly necklace!

We’ve both relished the task of finding things like this in charity shops and reducing costs wherever possible. Some things we haven’t been able to find very easily though – and when we’ve met brick walls we purchased brand new things to fill gaps.

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In most cases we’ve been lucky enough to find pre-loved bits and pieces but getting ball ready still hasn’t been what either of us would call cheap.

It had still been a blast though and I’d been hoping we’d enjoy the night purely because of the joint effort that we’d put in and how much pleasure it had brought us. Then the flu unceremoniously stepped in and when we set out for the Hyatt hotel in Birmingham (mercifully she agreed to be taxi driver for the occasion) on a rainy grey Saturday spirits were slightly deflated.

This is one of those instances however where we lift eachother up.

We ended up talked and laughed along the route into town, nattered about silly things and generally tried to look on the brighter side of life.

Soon after setting out (it was a relatively uneventful drive with no traffic) we had arrived, checked in and done our best to look smart (but casual) for a photo and cuddle with Alan Carr.

This particular part of the day was mercifully brief.

My interaction with people (despite my tiredness and somewhat downbeat mood) was actually rather painless.

For some unknown reason I finally moved from being largely monosyllabic to verbal diarrhoea when I entered the photo booth (no selfies allowed sadly) putting my arm around Margaret & simultaneously pointing out to Alan Carr (nestling in my other arm) that he had embarrassed himself by wearing the same blue felt jacket and denim combo as me.

He took it well but I’m sure his confidence was crushed – because despite my walking dead-esque eyeball horrors I think I edged ahead with my tie.

Alan went with open neck and casual.

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The truth will be in the official photos, which I’ll hopefully get a copy of in a week or so – and then we’ll see how wasted or surprisingly alive I look.

After this we headed back to the hotel, got changed into some slightly more casual attire and headed to Wetherspoons nearby for a spot of lunch. Shortly after this (both dog tired) we plodded back to the hotel room and within moments could be found snoring away on the bed with the drapes closed and the lights off.

Thank goodness for blackout curtains and quiet daytime guests is all I can say.

After a fitfull snooze (which was no-where near long enough to make up for the awful kip I’d had two nights in a row) we hopped out of bed, had a shower and started to apply our respective war paint and clothes for the evening event.

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I think it’s fair to say that anyone would be proud to stand next to my better half.

I know I certainly was – and as we made our way across the skybridge from the hotel to Hall 3 of the ICC a lady (who I realised later the top target consultant winner Kathryn Cooke with her husband) asked us to take their photo – and in return she took one of us.

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The event was massive – and compared to last year an extra 1/5th bigger than 2018. As Margaret began her speech she told the room that there were another 500 guests in a third hall watching the event on a huge video monitor.

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In my case I was literally right at the front of the stage.

When the winning contestants (in this case the finalists for the 2019 woman of the year) were introduced by Margaret and led out to speak to Alan Carr there was absolutely nothing in the way to spoil my view!

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The whole event seemed to pass by much quicker than last year (Alan Carr was very funny indeed) and before long there on stage was my replacement.

Ben Muscroft – the 2019 Man of the Year.

For those of you that remember the event in November 2018, my consultant Angie announced on stage after I received my award that I was ‘single and ready to mingle’.

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It provoked a well meaning storm of hugs and later kisses that night (I even got a hug from Rylan!) and although being majorly embarrassing at the time (I never know how to accept compliments) was in its own way a big turning point – marking a shift in my emphasis from weight loss to the search for someone with which to share my life.

Unknown to me I’d already met that person and she was quietly reading my blog whilst making her own gradual decisions about whether she liked me. Consequently events directly related to that evening brought us together and because of that the 2018 ball is very significant to me.

You can imagine therefore how I felt then when Ben (someone who I’ve periodically been in contact with since the event in July) announced on stage that he had become engaged to his partner, having also found love and happiness with a fellow member of his local Slimming World group.

Alan called her up onto stage, and in a wonderfully life affirming moment they stood together looking as happy as it’s possible to be on a stage in front of 2500 screaming consultants and guests.

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As you might imagine with so many inspiring stories there were many moments during the evening that put a lump in my throat, but this was one of the two that meant the most.

I went over afterwards to tell them both how great they looked and how much happiness I wished them both.

‘To me it’s personal.’ I said.

‘I never thought that this was the way that my life would go. I thought it would end – and now I’m in love because of all of this – so I wish you all the best. Enjoy it because you deserve it.’

If they invite me to the wedding then I’m going.

The second poingnant moment came before the couple of the year 2019 were announced. I already knew what was coming because Angie had let me know some weeks before. The ABSOLUTELY LOVELY 2018 couple we’d met backstage at last year’s awards had suffered a tragedy.

Glyn was on my table, but his wife Gillian was not – having died a month prior from a sudden and unexpected illness.

He was there (I found out later whilst talking to him and holding his hand because I wasn’t sure how else to convey how I felt) that in the middle of the numerous and unexplained ‘events’ (I will not go into detail) she had suffered before she died she had told him that she wanted him to be happy, to live the life they’d both fought so hard for, to not be lonely and to go to the ball without her.

I honestly don’t know how to process how hard that must have been for Glyn, but there he was, smiling and getting on with things when deep down, with every hug and well wisher that came over to talk to him he must have felt like he was being pulled apart.

I had and still have a lot of respect for him. They deserved better – but I’m glad he and his wife got to win the award and have some really happy times before she passed away.

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In happier news I also got to speak to the 2019 winners (Katie and Tony Viney) and pass on my congratulations – despite Tony completely upstaging me in the most wonderful tuxedo jacket (and golden irregular choice shoes) I’d seen during the entire evening!

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Once all of the awards had finished and the massive tickertape parade after the 2019 Woman of the Year had exploded onto the stage we all headed up for one final moment facing the audience.

Once that was gone, I and all the others stepped off and breathed a sigh of relief. That was it for me. No more events. The MOTY 2018 experience was at an end – and what an experience it had been. Now it was time to enjoy the evening – and enjoy we did, because the rather delicious food arrived soon after!

By this time (around 8.30pm in a room full of people who love food) I think it’s fair to say that we were all hungry – and the masses quickly set about the business of eating and drinking. All around me those who had noticed a serious over abundance of blood in their alcohol streams developing began to set about returning Prosecco and Rosé wine to required levels.

In other news its nearly four years now since I touched a drop of booze – and despite what many may think I don’t miss it one bit!

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Once all was done the live music started – which turned out to be Scouting for Girls – a band who I’m familiar with but don’t really know any of their songs.

My partner on the other hand sang along throughout and was absolutely in her element!

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They were on stage for around an hour and did a quite varied set – although nothing that I felt I could bop along to.

I’ve always struggled with live music as an accompaniment to movement – but I can’t help myself when the DJ drops the right track at just the right moment on an old school set of decks.

The honest truth was that I never thought that I was the kind that could dance without some form of enhancement – but the fact of the matter is that it was just another thing I was scared of doing.

Now I don’t care what people think of me.

When the beats dropped (Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson was the rallying cry) I certainly stepped up – and with all said and done I must have been on the dancefloor (despite being filled with sudafed, ibuprofen and sucking strepsils) for around two hours.

In between this I also ended up having absolutely shedloads of selfies taken and people asking me for hugs – which was really really lovely!

Quite unexpectedly I bumped into a fellow blogger’s consultant – Amanda Bartlett Hill from Slimming World in Essex (Instagram link) after being asked to keep an eye out for her and grabbed hold of her to prove to my friend that we’d met and send her a pic!

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So – here it is! Proof – and a reminder of the promises made that evening 😉

Not all of the selfies were quite so flattering however – but none were more amusing than this one which I had to include just because

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Although the last dance was something I’d planned to have with my partner, when it came down to it we were so tired that we left before the song came on, walking back slowly and somewhat gingerly with ringing ears from the noise feeling more than a little elderly, but very very happy.

I said it to her that day and I meant it.

My partner was not only the main reason I ended up attended the ball (I don’t think I’d have made my own way on the train in the rain feeling as crappy as I did) but she was also the punctuation mark at the ‘end’ (nothing ever really ends) of this particular part of my journey.

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I’ve gone from a shut in recluse, drinking and eating my life away in an 8XL hoodie to dancing the night away with the focus of my world felling blissfully happy and complete even though I felt (and still feel) really ill.

We helped each other get ball ready – but ever since I met her she’s made me life ready.

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Davey

Monster gain

Well – regardless of how I say I feel about weighing in and being significantly over target today is the litmus test.

It’s 8am on Saturday morning and I’ve got two hours before I have to go and stand on the scales. It’s been eight weeks since I last faced the music and as a (in name only currently) target member I need to do this or my membership will lapse.

I’ve already walked around the park and back to home and I doubt it’s made any difference. I feel bloated this morning and I know the result will not be great.

(Author potters about, shaves his head and heads to group)

Ok. It’s confession time.

I already knew what the damage was going to be – but I also know that it actually represents a win of sorts.

If I’d weighed in two Saturdays ago (when I went to group with my partner but could barely speak to anyone because I was so upset with myself) I would have been around 16st 10lbs.

I know this because on Saturday morning buck naked on my own scales at home I weighed 16st 8.5lbs and my lightest weigh in clothes are 1.5lbs.

I was over a stone and a half out of target after several weeks of off plan emotional eating.

Today my scales told a slightly more encouraging but still rather sad tale.

So – on the up side I’d managed to drop over half a stone in two weeks.

On the down side at group I got an apocalyptic black mark in my book which now looks like this.

The kind lady on weigh in neglected to write the full gain down but I know.

It’s sixteen pounds.

However – it’s not as if I’m not trying to address it, and I’m not slumped face down in a multipack if crisps with a takeaway menu next to my phone.

I took it on the chin, went home and had a bowl of weetabix and some fruit followed by a few carrots and some ham.

Not long after I walked to the supermarket and did some healthy shopping before cooking a lovely on plan evening meal (chilli) for my partner and me.

Furthermore even though it’s rained for most of the day I have still managed to get eight miles under my belt and stay positive.

Screw depression and screw feeling like a failure.

I’m just another person continually battling demons and trying to find a happy medium.

As long as I keep sight of that and just keep swimming then I’ll be back to target in no time flat.

That’s the plan anyway!

Davey