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’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.
(Otherwise known as Dory)