Where shall I hang my hat?

I’m really conflicted at the moment and I don’t know which way to step for the best.

I can be my own harshest critic and for every time I’ve told someone to be kind to themselves I walk away and usually do the exact opposite.

Having lost such a huge volume of weight and for the last few years judging my success by whether I drop pounds in huge quantities or manage to maintain an exact (and at times maybe too low) weight has meant that it’s really hard to step away from this being an indicator for whether I’m doing well or not in life.

I know that I don’t want to put weight ON – but the question now is – why (or even do) I want to lose it?

This month has been an exceptional one in terms of exercise – and as well as walking over 300 miles I’ve also swum around 31km (a record 27 swims completed!)

The fact is that I’m fit and I’m also healthy.

Currently I walk to work and back – which accounts for six miles a day – and I take a single meal with me that I’ve cooked the night before. Whilst many around me go to the chip shop for their sustenance (and happily tuck into a lunchtime kebab) I stick with my home cooked food. Occasionally I’ll take some cooked chicken pieces – but it’s rare.

So – I don’t appear to be gaining weight currently (outside of small fluctuations) and my clothes fit pretty well now that I’ve got a few new shirts.

I do however have a lot of clothes that don’t fit – but if I’m honest this is mostly because I went absolutely nuts buying things when I pushed myself down into the 13 and a half stone bracket. I simply couldn’t help myself when I found that a medium item of clothing suddenly fit me.

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Whether I was too thin is probably open to interpretation but at 13.5st (according to my BMI) I was still overweight.

A year or so on and I’m a bit chubbier – but also more muscular – and the truth is now that I really rather like how I look in the mirror.

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Well.

That’s not quite true.

I’m actually less critical of how I look at this weight – and I’m not sure with all the loose skin I have that I will ever be able to say that I love what I see.

Maybe a better way to describe the current state of affairs it is that I no longer hate it.

But I digress.

The numbers on the scales are driving me nuts because I feel the continual pressure of them always nagging away in the back of my mind. In some respects it’s probably a good thing because only a few months ago I was completely off plan and getting bigger in a not very good way.

However a big part of my eating was related to being unemployed – and that problem no longer exists. Whilst my job is still a temporary contract I hope that it will turn into much more because so far (although there’s a load to learn) I’m really enjoying myself.

For the first time in a long time I’m getting up and looking forward to going into the office – and it also slots in well with my health and fitness goals. In contrast to this time two months ago I’m smashing my stats.

So – I’m struggling to see what my motivation for pushing my weight down below 16st is.

I’m loved, accepted, fitter than I’ve ever been, feel good, eat great food and almost everything passing my lips is something that I’ve cooked from scratch.

The thing is though that I can’t imagine not going to my Slimming World meeting because I love my group and it’s an important place to me. The sessions are both positive and worth my time, because they never fail to make me feel good.

I bet I’m not alone in feeling like this.

Life’s priorities change though – and now I no longer have a title I’m increasingly relaxing into the realisation that I don’t have to be anything I don’t want to be.

I certainly don’t have to make anyone other than myself happy.

We’ll see where I end up ultimately when my current 12 week countdown ends in a month or so. I said when I bought it that whatever weight I was when it finished was where I’d hang my hat and I meant it.

I think I’m going to let the universe decide.

Davey

Four beaner!

A camel’s hind quarters – if I was compared to it – would (even at the height of a sandstorm’s intensity) probably be found to be far more relaxed than mine. It’s entirely possible that there also ducks far less watertight down below than I tend to be from day to day.

Why you may ask am I mentioning this?

Well – today has been a four beaner!!!!

For those amongst you who do not know what this means, let me enlighten you.

When I started walking (as I began losing weight) I also noticed just how much rubbish Mcdonalds causes – because it tends to be absolutely everywhere. You simply cannot go for a walk anywhere without treading on it or seeing it in bushes.

The delightful ingrates who discard these wrappers have always annoyed me – and consequently I try and do my bit for wombles everywhere. When I’m not in an almighty rush I tend to pick things up and pop them in a nearby bin.

In particular I look for and pick up coffee cups – and when I do I take the bean off the side and pop it onto a card in my wallet. When I’ve collected a few (each card needs 6) I exchange them for a steaming hot cup of coffee.

Since I started walking to my new job two and a half weeks ago (backwards and forwards past Mcdonalds) I’ve found 8 beans and in the last month I’ve filled almost four cards, meaning that I’ve picked up 21 coffee cups and disposed of them.

In the last four years I’ve not had to purchase a Mcdonalds coffee once – yet have probably consumed between 50 – 60 of them.

I realised quickly that these beans (given that a coffee is £1.65 and you get a free bean on the cup) are worth 33p each – and yet people just throw them away again and again.

That’s madness!

People also walk past them and choose not to pick them up like I do (presumably because it’s rubbish) and leave them be – which I doubt they would do if they found the same value in cold hard cash lying on the floor.

This behaviour is so deeply ingrained in me now that on one of my very first dates with my partner I walked past a bin and immediately stopped to ‘de-bean’ a cup sitting on top of some rubbish close by before disposing of it.

I realised immediately afterwards that this may not have been the most attractive move on a date – but as it turned out I failed to deter my beloved with my thrifty behaviour.

Later she would say that she didn’t notice becuase she was too intently focused on my posterior, but I know the truth.

She admires the tightness of more than just one part of my hind quarters.

She also seems to admire me doing endless and largely pointless Bing searches – because I discovered about three months ago that if I did a certain amount daily I could exchange the Microsoft points they generate for Xbox gamepass ultimate vouchers.

I do 54 a day and various other little pointless tasks while on the loo – and for my trouble I get a voucher worth £11.99 each and every month (or thereabouts) meaning that I save £144 a year.

I used to pay £40 a year for Xbox live alone.

Now I pay nothing.

Thriftyness has become a motivating factor in many parts of my life – and when I completed the 26th swim of the month today I remarked to my better half that it meant the average cost of my daily dips had dropped to a smile inducing 96p (a single swim is usually £4.65 and I pay £25 a month for my pass).

Furthermore I still have another two days this month to swim before I’m done which means I can push it down further to 89p.

Screw fitness – I’m just trying to get my money’s worth and make the world a better place while I do it. So far this month I’ve also walked almost 300 miles – and that means I find a bean around every 14 miles I travel on foot.

There’s always a reason to do more and always a reason to get up at 5.40am to go for a swim – even if it’s just to see if the day is a four beaner!!!

Davey

 

Four years have passed…

Things have changed since 2016 – and rather surprisingly when a massive personal milestone arrived the other day it wasn’t me that remembered it.

As we walked down the street hand in hand my partner said to me ‘isn’t it the four year anniversary of when you gave up drinking today?’

She was right.

It had completely slipped my mind that on the 26th January 2016 I put down an empty wine glass and I never filled it up again.

Two days later my mother died – and in probably the most desolate emotional wasteland I could have chosen to do it in I began to cope with sobriety. In doing so I kicked a habit that had (at its worst point during her illness) had seen me regularly consume three bottles of wine or more a night.

For quite a while a counter has always been in the background of my mind – that continually added day after day, month after month and year after year.

The counter had temporarily switched off however.

I was in a happy place with someone I love and was going for a walk because we both enjoy exercising together. I didn’t care that I’d been sober for four years because I no longer see it as something that’s an issue.

I don’t count the days so much any more because I can’t imagine being that man now.

I’m just me, and me is sober.

My partner touched my hand again tonight as I sat down to write – because she knows that this date is significant not just because of the lack of alcohol in my life – but also the memory of my mother, and how she passed away.

‘Are you OK?’ she said.

I must have looked thoughtful – but I wasn’t down.

Time heals many wounds.

For newer readers that haven’t been with me since the start I have to be frank and say that my mother wasn’t a positive force in my life – and while no-one should be able to say that the death of a parent was a relief, in my case I’m sad to say that it was.

When my mother died it felt like a massive burden that had been there since I was a child had been removed from my shoulders. However – the demise of someone with whom you shared little else than continual animosity is not really a pleasant event no matter how much you disliked them.

You can see someone that wronged you pass beneath the waves and feel little remorse about their passing – but what you’re left with is often something far more complex. There’s often a tangled web of guilt, regrets, self examination, deep seated pain and more than a little anger to come to terms with.

If someone has wronged you – and I mean really wronged you throught your life – often it seems reasonable to hold on to the anger they’ve caused, because this is how you dealt with the problem when the cause of it was still around.

Such anger often acts to keep us safe, and bolsters our inner strength to resist or to overcome problems.

But when they’re gone….

What then?

The cause of all the emotional turmoil is suddenly removed and what remains is a directionless anger that serves no purpose.

It often has nowhere to go but inward.

Often the only person hurt by anger is the one left behind – because the dead will never know or be able to respond to it. They will never see the fires of your wasted and unproductive energy that still burn bright because of their memory.

I don’t believe my mother has gone anywhere but into the atmosphere as dust (I’m not religious) and therefore I decided early on that I would not waste any more time thinking about the things that she’d said or done to me.

Her power and her grip on me dissolved the day she died and whether I realised it at that moment or not I was suddenly and forever free.

I’m still free to live my life, sober, fit, happy and complete – and when I sleep these days it’s not alone. It’s in the arms of someone that cares for me and that I share my true feelings with every moment that we’re together.

Whilst driving to Aberystwyth the other day she and I were engaging in ‘road trip’ talk, and part of that idle nattering involved asking each other whether we would change anything about the lives we’d lived before we met eachother.

‘Do you have any regrets?’ I asked her.

The question provided much back and forth discussion along the route – and for the most part it seemed that there was little if anything we would do differently in our lives, because even the things that (at the time) seemed awful had (with the fullness of time) proven to be beneficial.

Even the harshest abuses and adversity had (like steel in a furnace) tempered our mettle and made us the people that sat before one another.

Even the heartache of having a mother like I did ultimately proved to be a bonus.

Whilst I’d have dearly loved to let go of the guilt I held onto for decades about being a ‘failure of a son’ a lot earlier than I did, the truth of it is that through all of the self destruction it caused I learned how to be a better person.

Although my mother’s example was a negative one over time it genuinely helped me become the man I am today. I saw her attitudes to life and others slowly destroy isolate, her over the course of her life and because of this example I consciously by chose to take different, more productive paths.

Directly because of the damage she caused my life turned out pretty great in the end.

I chose to make people a priority instead of viewing them as obstacles or adversaries to be outsmarted and I never find that this lets me down.

I trust people as much as I can.

I make it my default.

I give people the benefit of the doubt and let them show me that my trust is well founded.

I try to be honest and thoughtful as well as kind to others because I never know how my efforts will reverberate out into the world and touch other people.

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Sometimes it even affects the people that you care about – and when I was still 31st I went to visit my father.

He’d always been able to walk further than me and I had become used to him being fitter and more able than myself. However when I saw him in August 2016 I was shocked, because he was struggling to move with me from bench to bench along the sea front and needed to sit down regularly.

Amazingly I was fitter than he was – and it worried me.

His health had suffered much like my own – and in between the times that I’d been able to visit or he’d travelled to see me my father had struggled with his own demons and gained a lot of weight too.

He told me when I joined Slimming World that he was in the region of 20st – and remarked casually that I needed to lose him if I was to reach my goal.

At the time I remember thinking it was impossible – but as I lost more and more weight I have to admit that there was a growing sadness that I couldn’t change others the same way that I was changing myself.

Whilst random people online saw me as an inspiration and used me to fuel their own change the people that I really wanted to jump on board and make changes with me in my family continued to struggle.

My Dad did initially try Slimming World – but the willpower wasn’t there and he faltered. Then (he says because he realised that I had become lighter than he was) something magical happened.

My father started to lose weight all of his own accord and he continued to do so slowly and methodically until many months later he too had lost almost eight stone.

This is what we looked like together in Aberystwyth on Sunday.

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My mom was a difficult woman and she caused a lot of people a lot of pain for many years – but it doesn’t matter.

This photo is what I consider to be her legacy and it’s why there’s no anger or hatred inside me like there was in her.

By letting go of personal pain and embracing a better way all of the people left behind changed for the better.

(…….)

I spent a while looking at the photo above – and for the life of me I couldn’t think of what it reminded me of – but then it hit me.

It was another photo of myself and my dad – taken many many years before everything started to go awry and when I was infinitely lighter than him.

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He looks the same – and his happiness hasn’t changed. Although we’re apart more often than together these days that bond hadn’t been broken by my mother’s influence – despite her efforts.

But I digress.

I’m feeling reflective.

It’s four years on.

I’m still sober, I’m still happy, and life is good. 

I don’t need possessions or money and I live a simpler life where my feet carry me from A to B.

I send out the best of myself into the world and just trust that it won’t be taken the wrong way and hope that I accidentally help someone somewhere that needs a kind word.

After all – that’s what life is about.

It’s the journey that matters – not the mistakes.

Davey

Flat with a view

As I start this post it’s very dark outside and I’m awake.

This isn’t unusual because for over a month now I’ve been getting up at about 5:40am to go swimming in the morning.

Today and tomorrow however executive decisions have been made.

We’re having two days off – which is unusual.

This does honestly make me a little twitchy – because it means a streak will be broken in my stats.

By the close of play yesterday I’d surpassed my previous record for swims in a month – and completed 23 in January!

The number of swims I’ve done is one thing mind you – and even though I’m proud of this I’m even happier with the fact that I’ve never managed this level of daily consistency before.

I’m so focused on swimming at the moment that it’s crazy – and although my distance per swim is ‘only’ 1km (myself and my partner have to fit this in before work so we can’t spend too long in the pool) I’ve definitely gotten stronger by doing this more regularly.

Many people pass me in the pool (there’s a guy I know from my SW group for instance who seems to effortlessly glide past me twice per half an hour) but I don’t mind in the least.

Back in November 2018 I was a lot slower.

If I compare that time to yesterday’s stats there’s simply no comparison. I no longer pause between lengths at all – and where I started vs where I am now is poles apart.

I think it’s actually pretty crazy that I’m now four times faster than I used to be.

There have been major improvements not just in stamina – but technique – because when I started I also didn’t wear goggles and I couldn’t effectively swim under water or breathe properly when I tried.

I can now.

My partner was the same when I first met her – and although she was a better swimmer than I was when I started she also had the same nervousness about putting her head below the water line that I did.

We worked on this fear together in the pool one quiet morning in December.

I don’t think I’ll forget the absolute joy on her face when she swam beneath the surface with goggles on for the first time.

She’d never felt that it was possible before – but together we did it.

For almost a month since then she too has massively improved her technique and breathing to the point where she’s fast enough and confident enough to move from the slow to middle lane of the pool.

There’s very little difference between us in terms of capabilities at the moment and she’s already putting in times per length that I’d have been really proud of when I first learned the same techniques.

It’s meant that our exercise output and calories burned has massively improved in December and January – and although my average has tailed off a little since I started working it’s still pretty darned good!

As well as having my personal swimming goals I’m also on track for Apple Watch’s January challenge – which was to walk 280.3 miles in a month.

Given that I’m working again I’m absolutely stoked that I’m still managing to maintain this level of commitment to keeping fit – because it means all the difference now that I’m sitting in an office for 8 hours a day.

It just goes to show that there is time if you’re willing to try and fit things in.

I’ve also been almost 100% completely on plan – so I’m hoping for a positive result on the scales as a reward.

However – as I said earlier.

I’m not going swimming.

I’m also not going to group to weigh in either.

This morning I awoke to the sound of seagulls and I’m back in a town that I have a huge affinity for.

Aberystwyth.

My partner and I have rented a lovely little apartment with a great view of the town for two nights and plan to spend the day strolling and mooching before catching up with family tomorrow.

The first order of the day has been (of course) breakfast – which as anyone on holiday knows is a must at the hotel.

However this is self catering…

Thankfully I love cooking and I also adore the idea of a cooked breakfast when I’m away – so I packed all of the ingredients we’d need to have a great on plan start to our day.

(The prunes on the Weetabix are 6 syns by the way in case you wondered!)

(We eat and go outand I continue writing much later)

Our browsing has been rather enjoyable – and although the charity shops in Aber appear to be completely tapped out (it is a student town after all) we did find a really cool bargain on sale in a lovely shop called ‘Polly’ on the high street.

It’s actually one of three we discovered – with the other two being just over the road, but in the one we went into first there were a pair of boots that immediately caught my other half’s eye.

I couldn’t resist.

They looked super on her, would go with at least two skirts I could think of and all of her jeans. Plus they made her smile as soon as she zipped them up – so I quickly whipped them out of her hands and over to the till to buy them before she could object.

And why not?

I’m a man of means now and have been gainfully employed for two whole weeks!!!

If I can’t spend my outrageous wealth on her then what’s the point?!

After she’d chastised me gently for being mushy and buying gifts (I in turn reminded her about the jacket she kindly bought me for the Slimming World Ball in November – link) we took a walk to the end of the pier by the harbour and then back towards Constitution Hill.

Once there we quickly clambered all the way to the top and sat down to have a a drink and a snack.

It was here that my angel of tranquility and serenity temporarily lost her mojo.

Whilst my Apple Watch showed a healthy amount of exercise (46 minutes after our lengthy walk from one end of the pier to the other and back again) hers showed only 16 minutes.

As I strained to hear the sound of the waves over the grinding of her teeth enamel I already knew what was coming.

I could see her mind working away silently on how to fix her stats.

‘Shall we carry on walking to Clarach?’ She said.

The walk there was mostly downhill – but the uphill return would be even more cardio and it would undoubtedly fill her ring to the brim.

My little ray of sunshine is not a lady to take an unfilled ring lightly – and frankly it’s one of the many reasons I love her.

Whilst I’m easily the more obsessive of the two of us about most things, there are some areas where she’s either a close second or a clear leader.

I looked down at the flask of tea that she was drinking and for a moment I could have sworn that the metal looked like it was bending under her clenching fist.

‘I’d love to walk to Clarach.’ I said.

‘Let’s go!’

After a quick visit to the toilet (and once she’d rebooted her phone and watch) we carried on over the coastal path.

This is a lovely little walk with a view of the gorse covered cliff side below that looks absolutely fantastic by the way.

Clarach Bay itself though is just a rather desolate collection of static caravans and a shuttered up off season amusement arcade.

However if you look in the opposite direction it’s got a really rather nice view.

The beach (if you crop out the holiday park) is pretty cool and it’s a lovely spot (at this time of year for a bit of peace and quiet.

There’s no one around.

By the time we’d made our way back along the coast, down Constitution Hill and into town again it was clear that we were both flagging a bit – so the only clear choice was to get some lunch.

I’ve always had happy memories (from when I lived in Aber) of The Treehouse cafe.

In the 90’s it was at the top of town, then it moved to slightly bigger premises a couple of streets away.

It turns out that they’re moving again soon into the old Welsh School development by the railway station and I think it’s awesome that change is coming.

They’re totally organic (although I’m not particularly militant about this in any way) and their food tastes great.

After a long walk it was just what we needed.

I have to say that around this point I practically faceplanted.

I had been up for a lot of the night thanks to a very warm room and an unfamiliar bed – and this had begun to catch up with me.

We grabbed a couple of bits of shopping and headed home to have a cuppa and a rest before tea.

It was touch and go for a minute but I almost fell fast asleep right there and then.

The sofa was super comfy, the tv was playing Star Trek TNG in the background and I was just nodding off.

Thankfully I didn’t and managed to pop in some baking potatoes and set a timer on my watch.

The day finished with another on plan meal thankfully and although I’ve had more syns than I should have I think that for a holiday this has been pretty darned good.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be absolutely slashing it down – so I’m not sure whether it’s going to end up even vaguely like today.

We can only hope it’s not – but I lived here long enough to know that rain is all part and parcel of the deal.

Fingers crossed eh?

Anyway – for now I’m going to take advantage of the moohassive bath that’s in the flat and have a loooooong soak in the tub.

Laters Internet!

Davey

mmmmsk mmmmsk mmmmsk

Where does the day go?

As I type I’m already (metaphorically speaking) on my knees and practically asleep at the wheel (of life) but oddly I still feel really really good.

The fact of the matter is that despite all of my worst impulses regularly arriving in the mornings day after day, trying collectively to stop me from getting up and going swimming I’m (we’re) still doing it every single day.

Now I’m not sure how long my partner and I’s streaks of enthusiasm for swimming will last – but for me at least something (motivation wise) has changed. Rather unexpectedly its a (quite vain?) side effect of my behaviour that’s feeding my willingness to continue – because at the moment I have pecs and guns that are harder than I’ve ever had in my entire life.

I’ll spare you a picture.

In reality I doubt they’re all that impressive and there’s always going to be someone trimmer and fitter than I am.

I’m no musclehead and you will never find me lifting weights in the gym for hours. I’m still a proudly wibbly wobbly blancmange of a man thanks to losing so much weight – but I’m also proud that underneath my oversized skin there is a rather buff torso taking shape.

It’s not just happening to me either because I can see the same physical changes happening to my partner in all the same places.

Rather amusingly we often find ourselves giggling and comparing biceps – which is a place I never thought either of us would find ourselves in.

Truthfully when we first met its fair to say that we both had an awful lot of body confidence issues – but as time has passed we’ve both learned to not only love who we are in the framework of a relationship – but also begin the process of liking what’s reflected in the mirror when we’re alone too.

There’s a lot to be said for having someone to remind you every day that you’re attractive and that they are attracted to you.

After a while you have to either call them a liar or accept (when they pinch your bum whilst tying your laces for the 1000th time) that they may be telling the truth.

I’m never going to be someone that is completely confident with who they are and how they look – but I feel at the moment like I’m closer to feeling good about my body than I’ve ever been – which is odd given that I’m currently out of target and lots of my shirts don’t fit.

The truth is though that when they did fit at my lowest weight many people commented that I was too thin. Quite a few also asked me not to lose any more weight and some even suggested I needed to put some back on!

Imagine that! Being told you’re too thin after being 35 stone!

It’s a major compliment and a really unexpected non-scale victory  – but it also left me in an odd place, because when I was smaller I also had more loose skin. Now I’m bigger I look in the mirror and honestly at 16st there are parts of me that look more ‘filled out’ and less gaunt than they used to.

I think I actually prefer them that way…

However – mother nature can be a complete bee hatch and whilst my biceps, legs and my butt currently look better, my stomach (in my opinion) does not.

I wrote a while ago about my feelings regarding tummy tucks (link) . It’s something I would never consider – so if I choose to stay a little on the cuddlier side I’m going to just have to come to terms with it.

For now though I’m still trying to lose weight and see how I feel at 15st (if I get there) but I’m not all that worried because even where I am at the moment there are still major victories to be had.

On my way home hand in hand with my partner the other day I spotted a neighbour from over the road with his two young girls. They were getting into their vehicle – and as the children bounced into the back seats playfully I noticed that on the rear offside of the car (out of the view of the driver) there was a flat tyre.

I called over and pointed it out as he was pulling on his seatbelt.

He got out, walked around the car, checked the tyre, kicked it forlornly and looked miffed.

‘I only had that looked at the other day…’ he huffed.

His daughters looked worried. They were dressed smartly with sparkly rhinestones on their white trainers and looked like he was about to drop them off somewhere.

‘Don’t worry.’ I said. ‘I have a foot pump in my boot. Let me grab it and we can put a bit of air in it.’

I dropped my bags off in the house and grabbed the pump while my other half filled the kettle to make a much needed tea and coffee. I then walked to his car and took the cap off his tyre, before attaching the foot pump and starting to pump it up and down.

It wasn’t until I looked up that I realised he seemed a bit surprised.

I don’t think he was expecting me to re-inflate his tyre. I think he fully expected me to just hand him the pump and let him get on with the job himself.

On reflection I would probably be surprised too, because in that moment it occurred to me that we had never previously spoken to eachother before and I’d just decided to do the job that needed doing because I could.

‘Hi – I’m Dave.’ I said – pumping away and sticking my hand out.

‘Hi – I’m xxxx’ he said. ‘Pleased to meet you. Thanks for this!’

To the right of me I noticed his young teenage daughter had started rhythmically dancing in time with the sound of the air cycling in and out of the twin barrelled pump.

I laughed. ‘It does sound like it’s got a beat doesn’t it?’ I said – pretending to dance along too and making ‘mmmmsk mmmmsk mmmmsk’ beat box noises.

‘Have you and your missus just moved in? xxxx said to me.

‘Nope.’ I said. ‘Lived here for 13 years.’

He looked at me with a very surprised expression.

‘Oh!?’ he said – half as a statement and half as a question.

‘I used to be 35 stone though. I lost almost 20 stone – so it’s no wonder you don’t recognise me.’

‘No way! he said. I thought you were both new neighbours!’

I grinned – and looked down at the foot pump. The tyre was now fully inflated, so I stopped pumping, released the valve, clipped the pump’s barrel back into place and screwed the plastic cap back onto his tyre.

I stood up, shook his hand again, said goodbye and headed off to get my cup of coffee.

It wasn’t until I’d walked away, waving to his smiling young girls as they jumped into the car that I realised throughout the whole encounter I’d been furiously pumping up a car tyre, whilst laughing and talking to all three of them, and had not once been out of breath or tired.

Furthermore I’d just walked up a hill prior to the encounter and before that I’d been swimming.

I absolutely love that my neighbour thought that the moribund lump he’d seen in the past struggling to squeeze in and out of his car was someone else entirely – and that the energetic and helpful guy that shook his hand was someone new that had recently moved in with his attractive blonde ladyfriend.

This is why the freezing cold, damp (and often rain soaked) mornings so far have completely failed to dent my enthusiasm for just being the strongest, fittest version of myself that I can be.

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I’m fit and dancing on the street to the sound of a foot pump!

Furthermore my girlfriend and I are giving pickle jars what for as we open them with barely a grimace.

I might be tired – but its a good tiredness…

Mmmmsk mmmmsk mmmmsk…

Davey

The other side of the table

I was on the other side of the weighing in desk at Slimming World today (along with my beautiful assistant) filling in for the usual lovely ladies who are away on a course this week.

In truth – as the official ‘writer of stuff in books’ she had the harder task out of the two of us.

I just had to write out certificates – of which there were many 1/2 stones and someone’s first 1 stone.

It’s really nice to fill these in and clip a little sticker to the top for their book because I know how encouraging it is to receive ‘bling’ in group.

It can really mean everything – despite it ‘just’ being a piece of card and a sticker.

It takes you right back to how you felt at school and getting a little star on a chart for being a good boy (or girl) has a profound behavioural impact.

Oddly in all the years I’ve been coming to this group I’ve never sat in these seats (although I have done the cash desk) and honestly it’s been a bit of an eye opener – because people didn’t react in quite the ways I thought that they would when they received their results.

I couldn’t second guess any of them based on their body language in the queue.

I’m not sure why it surprised me so much from this perspective- because I’ve sat in an audience and stood in a line watching this many times.

However if you (or in this case my partner) pass on the results then individuals reactions feel very personal – because they’re directly responding to news you’ve had a hand in delivering.

I found myself feeling quite responsible for whether they smiled or looked crestfallen and I willed each one of them to succeed as they were asked to ‘step on’.

If someone loses a pound (or maintains) they can often appear rather crestfallen – despite this being a victory – and afterwards the highs and lows of people’s responses made me think about how I’ve been looking at my own losses and gains.

I doubt this will come as a revelation to anyone but I’ve always really really beaten myself up on this score.

It’s all very well to tell everyone else that they should be happy with what the scales say if they lose less than they wanted to (or indeed unexpectedly gain) but regardless of how I’ve personally done in the past my inner monologue has (more often than I’d care to admit) told me repeatedly that I’m a failure in all manner of ways.

There’s been more to this than just weight gain though – because when I pack on the pounds it’s simply a sign that something else is unbalanced and needs addressing.

I’ve made a lot of progress since the new year started though – and this week has been really good.

Actually I’d go so far as to say I’m feeling great!

I should probably be treating this mood upturn with a healthy dose of caution however – because I don’t know yet whether it will continue with quite the same intensity as I’m experiencing currently.

My fingers are crossed that it will though.

My new job is a temporary contract until the end of March – but whether they want to keep me on (and if I want to stay) I’m feeling really rather positive about what it means for the future.

Even if it doesn’t last it’s finally reminded me who I am and what I I’m good at.

I’ve agonised and agonised about what will or won’t make me happy in a job – and all of a sudden I’ve been doing something all week long that’s left me feeling genuinely satisfied at the end of my day.

Life really is about your perspective though and if I was a more negative person I’d probably be saying ‘but Davey- you’re back to the same place in life that you were 20 years ago and you’re starting again! That’s failure – not success!

However I’m not the man I used to be and the pessimistic side of me (although still present) has been in retreat for several years.

During this period I’ve fought long and hard for mundane things that I suspect many might take for granted.

My gradual (and often emotionally and physically painful) unpacking of who I really am, what I’m capable of and what I need in my life has left me with a different way of looking at things to the one I used to have.

After many years of struggle I have regained my health, I have found companionship, I have personal security, and now I have what might finally be a direction in my future career.

Even if it isn’t this job I suspect it will need to be one very much like it.

To have a sense that I might have finally come to some kind of conclusion about this is intoxicating.

It’s not the entire answer – but it’s a bloody big step in the right direction – and in my book that’s progress.

As you may expect it’s also had a positive impact on my mood – and my this in turn has had a corresponding impact on my eating.

I’ve not grazed at all during the day, had a relatively small lunch (leftovers) that I’ve taken to work with me – and then had a filling evening meal that’s usually followed by an on plan dessert.

Apart from Thursday where I just said ‘sod it’ and hoovered up a box of Nekkid bars (or at least their Aldi equivalents) I’ve been an angel.

Even when my partner has been absent (three hours extra at school for parents’ evening the poor thing) I’ve still managed to come home and cook myself a proper (although maybe a bit larger) meal.

Also the distance I’ve been walking from home to work has really helped because I’m absolutely smashing January out of the park in terms of exercise.

Curently all of my metrics are trending upwards.

Furthermore I’ve swum every day apart from bank holidays since December the 19th.

I’ve also walked an average of 10 miles a day in the last month!

Probably because of this I’m almost at an active average of 2000kcal per day for the month.

So what did this translate into in the scales?

Well – I had a pretty darned good result for the first time in a long time.

I also won slimmer of the week!!!

This all makes me almost as happy as when I saw what my other half had quietly purchased for herself on Etsy the other week (without telling me).

How cool is that?! I am not only in love with a geek that is so into Star Trek that she can argue why the motion picture is her personal favourite instead of The Wrath of Khan but she fills our home with cool stuff.

Sigh.

I’m tired – but happy and my shirts feel a bit better.

Now – on that note it’s time for tea.

Davey

Butternut squash and heavy heavy thoughts

Phew.

I’m pooped.

If you want to visualise me at this exact moment then close your eyes, and imagine a pair of baggy Star Wars pyjama bottoms, a nerd teeshirt and Christmas slippers draped loosely over my near completely prostrate form on the sofa.

Im slumping and loving it.

The damned scales haven’t shown a loss so far – which I suppose I shouldn’t expect yet. It’s only been a couple of days since weigh in and it’s not really a good thing to be standing on the scales – but I can’t help it.

It would be rather nice (given all the effort I’m putting in at the moment) to get a generous loss next week and I’m doing all I can to be good.

My helpful assistant lately has been butternut squash.

It’s a fabulous speed food and I find it’s really versatile when it comes to preparing the ingredients for multiple meals in one go.

I’ve slipped into something of a routine lately because of this – and a cottage pie is always followed by a slow cooker stew – and then by butternut squash chips.

If you find a LONG squash it’s ideal. You cut it in half just where the bulbous curve ends at the base and peel both halves, putting the long straight bit aside.

Then cut the bulbous end in half again so that you expose the seeds and scoop those out of both.

Chop one half up into very small 1cm square (approx) cubes and the other half into 2 cm chunks.

Put the lager ones in a sealable LARGE Tupperware tub with plenty of space in it.

Then cut the large seedless upper portion in half lengthwise, and put both halves down on their flat sides before cutting them into 1cm semi circles.

When you’ve done that (I do this in piles of three at a time) cut those into 1cm sq chips.

It doesn’t matter how long they are – only that they’re no thicker in the body than 1cm.

Place all of these in a tub and put them in the fridge for tomorrow.

The first order of the day is a cottage pie.

The ingredients for this are

  • 500g 5% fat pork mince
  • All of the 1cm cubes of squash
  • 2/3 large swede (1cm diced – put the rest of the swede aside next to the tub of 2cm squash)
  • Several carrots (1cm diced)
  • Chopped onion x2
  • Chopped courgette
  • 2 diced sweet potatoes
  • 2 diced medium potatoes
  • Grated cheddar (if you want to use you healthy extra on this)
  • 250ml boiling beef stock

Brown off the mince in a very deep frying pan or wok then throw in the carrots, half of the 2/3rds of chopped swede, the courgette and the onions and then pour over the stock.

Boil this down until there’s practically no moisture left in the mix and put it to one side.

While the contents of the frying pan are reducing boil the potatoes, the remaining chopped swede and the sweet potatoes in a saucepan, and when they’re soft mash them into a paste.

Put the contents of the frying pan into the bottom of a large flat based oven proof dish and then flatten it down before covering it with the mash, scoring the top with a fork and spreading your cheese HE sparingly on the top.

Cook in the oven until the cheese is golden brown

That’s meal number one (serve with the veg of your choice or eat it on its own – it’s full of speed!) and there’s more than enough of it to pop into some containers for you and your partner to take to work for lunch the next day.

Tomorrow you’re having a slow cooked stew! So before you go to bed full the rest of the 2cm squash Tupperware with a chopped sweet potato, chopped carrots, chopped onion, garlic and the other 1/3 of the swede

You need

  • 400g of chopped beef
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Cloves of garlic
  • The 2cm square squash you prepared
  • The other 1/3 of the swede (roughly chopped)
  • A sweet potato (finely chopped)
  • Carrots, diced
  • Mushrooms
  • A chopped courgette
  • A finely chopped leek
  • Cannelini beans
  • Small can of sweetcorn
  • Some dry lentils
  • Bay leaves
  • A knor rich beef stock pot

Before you go to work put the canned tomatoes in the slow cooker, then the beef, then the garlic and the stock pot along with the bay leaves. Put all of the rest (apart from the beans and the sweetcorn) on top in any order you want and force the lid down. If it doesn’t fit don’t worry – it will by the time you get home.

Put it on ‘high’.

When you arrive home after work lift the slow cooker lid and quickly pop in the beans and sweetcorn. Let them warm up for ten minutes or so before stirring it all together.

Meal three – butternut squash chip butties.

While you’re eating a bowl of stew (and popping some in Tupperware for lunch tomorrow) put the chips in the oven for 45 mins with some spray oil, garlic powder and Cajun seasoning.

When they come out then sprinkle with salt and balsamic vinegar.

If you want to use bread by all means do – but a chip butty is far more on plan if you use a weight watchers wrap. One is a HE and if you have two then it’s six Syns a wrap.

Just pop the hot squash chips into the wrap, squeeze it up so they mush up a bit and then bite into it!

Nom nom nom!!!

All in all this squash strategy nets two or three meals (I like big portions so for me it’s two) along with a bunch of carrots, a swede and a small bag of sweet potatoes.

The ingredients are cheap, on plan and filling as hell – plus when it’s freezing outside are awesome comfort food.

It’s worth noting that if you don’t want to use cheese on the cottage pie you can also mix in a tub of onion and chive cottage cheese with the mash.

It won’t brown as well but it tastes lush!

On top of all this cooking I’ve been smashing my swimming lately and have 25 straight days of hitting the pool (except on bank holidays) in the bank.

This means that so far January looks flipping amazing for calories burned per day!!!

I have to say that all of this is particularly awesome because at the moment (whilst I’d love to be in in target) I’m just revelling in being fit and healthy as well as seriously motivated.

However there’s also something a lot more serious on my mind – because today (after seeing a fellow SW man posting on Instagram) I watched part of a programme on iPlayer called plastic surgery undressed (episode four if you want to look).

This episode is all about tummy tucks and aims to make people face up to the visceral reality of an operation that can cost anything from 4-10k and require extensive convalescence (three months plus in some cases from what I’ve read) as well as having much potential for complications and dramatic scarring.

The chap taking part from SW is not someone that I want to vilify or shame.

He’s worked hard and I genuinely respect him as well as understand more than most people would what his thought processes are.

I want to be clear about this.

I’m not in the business of saying what people can, can’t or should not do with their bodies.

Particularly not him. He should be applauded for what he’s achieved.

However I have come to my own opinion on the matter and although I reached it well before watching this tonight it’s exemplified by the welsh lady in a red top above.

In the show she’s crying early on and talking about about how an ex partner had made her feel worthless.

She couldn’t go out, couldn’t go swimming, and after giving birth to three children had convinced herself that she was unlovable and ugly.

She wouldn’t wear a swimming costume to go to the pool with her children and still refused (at the time this was filmed) to step into a pair of jeans.

All because an arsehole had made her feel that she wasn’t good enough.

I get that.

It’s not just women this affects and I’m sick to death of hearing that men don’t suffer in the same way that women do when it comes to body confidence.

Once an ex said to me in a moment of unfiltered weakness after we’d made love that I’d made her feel wonderful.

She then concluded that if I had a body like one of my best mates it would have been perfect.

That’s never left me – so I had a lump in my throat as I watched the tears roll down this lady’s cheeks.

All she wanted was to feel better, to cut away the pain and to throw it into a bin.

She was so desperate to escape this emotional turmoil that she was willing to mutilate herself instead of learning to accept it – and in so doing attract someone with her inner confidence and winning personality.

She was on TV considering being butchered instead of coming to terms with the fact that her partner never truly loved her.

None of this is easy though and god knows I struggle with what’s physically left behind after losing the immense amount of weight that I did.

I never thought I’d find someone that would love what remained but find her I did – and love (as well as intimacy) is about far more than looking like a catalogue model.

It’s about honesty, compassion and a deep connection to the person in your arms.

I’m luckier than other people I know who haven’t managed to find a relationship like this – but I’m also not alone.

Through slimming world I’ve met many men (and women) who now have great lives and wonderful people to share it with – and share it intimately.

There is more to all of us than superficial extra or droopy skin.

We’re worth more than a surgeons knife and there should be far more emphasis placed upon coming to terms with being real and authentic versions of ourselves rather than chasing impossible dreams of perfection.

I will never have washbord abs.

I won’t get rid of my bingo wings.

My thighs will always sag.

My head however will always remain high – because it’s about more than that.

I’m confident that I represent an ideal that many should aspire to – and that to make the most of what you have – WHATEVER THAT IS – and own it.

Confidence and a smile are the most attractive feature in all of us – and as time scrapes away all that we pointlessly hold onto they will remain – and when they do they’ll keep the person that loves seeing them on you coming back for more and more.

Whilst your choices are your own I urge anyone considering this to think long and hard about why you want it and who you really want it for.

Watch the programme and make up your own minds.

I know what I think.

Davey

Rome is burning and diabetes isn’t returning

A new phase of life started on Friday and although my new job is currently a temporary contract (even if it doesn’t last) it will definitely keep me busy.

My role is a technical support one – and it’s apparent to me that (like with many jobs of this nature) that the bespoke environment(s) I’ll be looking after have services that are simultaneously familiar and yet also completely alien to me.

They’re different enough to what I know already to make my learning curve a steep one – and I think it’s going to be a challenge to juggle the pace of the workload whilst at the same time asking lots of questions about what I’m doing and putting my hand in the air for help.

I don’t mind though – in fact I rather relish the challenge ahead because when I’d finished on my first day I felt a little bit of trepidation, but also a sense that I can definitely do well in my new role with some hard work and personal development.

Plus, time flew by.

One of the great things about being made redundant from a job I’d worked in for more than a decade and a half back in 2016 was that I had to face all of the fears associated with stepping out of a well entrenched comfort zone and learning something entirely new.

Like many of us who suffer all the time from imposter syndrome we can go to work day in, day out, do our jobs perfectly well and still come home feeling bad about our capabilities and thinking we could have done more.

Often it’s very difficult to appreciate just how useful you are, how much you know and what you’re capable of when you do it all day long next lots of others doing the same or similar things.

The only yardstick you have to gauge your effectiveness is to look at colleagues nearby and essentially decide whether you measure up to them and how much they know.

I never felt like I did.

However (after redundancy hit and I’d gotten fitter) when I started doing different jobs in different environments that required me to learn and adapt to new working practices and subject areas I realised that I was a lot more capable than I had given myself credit for – and that my experience made me a valuable employee.

Translating that into a CV or interview has proved hard at times however and there are as many downsides to redundancy as there are upsides.

Whilst it’s empowering to realise that when a job finishes it’s not the end of the world (there’s always something else to go to) it’s not so great to constantly have to ‘sell’ yourself over and over again to prospective employers if you don’t like the job you end up in.

I don’t think this is something I’ve ever enjoyed (or ever will) and have always been mystified by those that find self promotion to be a natural skill.

Going into a room and basically saying ‘I’m great!‘ over and over again is not pleasurable and after I’ve had to do so I never feel like I’ve struck an effective balance between self effacing honesty and what people want (or need) to hear from me.

Either way though I now have a new start – and I plan to try and make the most of it.

Only time will tell what comes out of it – but I had a great first day and have a positive feeling about the whole kit and kaboodle.

The people also seem really nice and that’s a very good thing.

I did find myself shaking my head as I walked home on Friday evening though – because I’m not sure how I managed to end up in this role quite so out of the blue.

I can’t go into too much detail, but the convergence of circumstances that led to me being employed again were actually very random and I was left thinking ‘how on Earth did that just come to pass?!’

For the longest time I’ve felt like I’ve been beating my forehead against a brick wall and feeling lower and lower about where I was going in relation to employment. Then – completely out of the blue things just pivot and turn right around!

Although I haven’t felt this way for a while I’m of the opinion that once again the universe has been listening to me and must have figured that by now I deserved a break.

I will try not to let it down.

I have good reason not to.

One of the side effects of my recent mood dip (related to unemployment) has undoubtedly been a willingness to eat too much both to alter my frame of mind and occasionally pass the time.

Now I’m gainfully employed again I’m hoping my weight will head in the right direction organically rather than with too much brute force and self denial. I’ve always felt that a huge part of weight loss is simply having a full calendar – because idle hands tend to open the fridge!

Sitting down for eight hours a day in an office isn’t ideal either though…

Thankfully I will be walking to work every day – so even if I can’t (or don’t) swim in the morning there’s activity that’s free for the taking built right into my new job.

On Friday when I made my way to work (a relatively leisurely 2.6 miles which took me 44 mins) I felt that the weather also confirmed the universe’s revitalised enthusiasm for my happiness.

The sky was a funny colour that I’d forgotten it was capable of becoming.

IMG_6735.jpeg

I’ve been so used to seeing it grey and drizzly lately (there’s YET ANOTHER flood warning in effect in Warwick at the moment) that when it’s blue and bright I’m not quite sure what to make of it!

The only possible reaction is to smile like an idiot and take a selfie to prove it happened.

In other news… (minor rant ahead)

I have recently found myself ruminating over a train of thought that keeps popping back into my mind every time I think it’s gone. Fundamentally (and I suspect I’m not alone) I’m not sure I like the way the world is going.

Donald Trump and his lunatic approach to world politics is troubling enough – but I don’t mean that.

I’m talking about technology.

This is unusual for me because I’m an unrepentant geek at the best of times. I absolutely love anything with chips in it (apart from happy meals).

However things in the tech world seem to be getting to the ‘ridiculously pointless’ stage and a lot of new products and services on the horizon seem excessive even by my standards.

We seem to be creating more and more labour saving items that reduce our need to actually do anything productive at an ever increasing pace. Not only is this slowly turning us into a race of blancmanges but the environmental impact is immense.

Most of it will inevitably end up being shovelled into a landfill site in less than a year or two and the pace of this is only increasing.

I’ve been watching some YouTube videos from CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2020.

The recent event in Las Vegas left me shaking my head and wondering whether the Romans felt the way I do currently when they realised that the heights of excess they had begun to engage in were the beginning of the end.

They had a colloseum full of water and we have Televisions.

Thousands of televisions in fact – and each one is brighter and sharper and thinner than the ones that proceeded them.

Massive wall sized 8K TVs are now a thing, yet I still can’t see the point of 4K (there are virtually no TV channels that use it and most of them still don’t broadcast in 1080p) which is strange because I was deliriously happy when I got my very first HDTV.

I still am.

I love my TV and I’m not replacing it at the cost of thousands just to get more pixels in my living room.

It’s not just TV’s though.

The kitchen is the next battleground for the money in our pockets because fridges need to do more than simply keep our food cold. Chilly steaks don’t come close to wasting anywhere near enough electricity…

LG’s current smart fridge (whose door can turn transparent at the touch of a button and show everyone nearby your wilting lettuce and browning carrots) is something I’ve never wanted to buy.

fridge

Not only is it ridiculously expensive (link) but it misses the whole point of a door. Rather than using a techno screen to let you look inside YOU JUST OPEN THE FRIKKIN DOOR!!!!

It works with my tiny little under the counter fridge (and my freezer) and that cost £50 from Tesco in their value range of home electronics 10 years ago.

It still keeps the milk cold even now.

LG’s new one (shown at CES) has an OLED TELEVISION panel that turns transparent (if you’re not too busy watching Love Island on it).

If this isn’t pointless enough there’s also a techno brain inside the all singing and dancing new model with a rudimentary AI. It’s continually watching all of the food in your fridge like the murderous HAL 9000 (link) from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001.

hal2001.jpg

Overnight it LG-HAL can quietly spring to life and order more overpriced crap over it’s wi-fi if it thinks you’re running low on caviar or vintage champagne.

This isn’t the only ‘innovation’ from LG though.

If you choose to invest in the wider wirelessly connected and self aware LG ‘Suite of useless stuff I don’t need but want because my life sucks’ then the food in your (Terminator in waiting) fridge has ordered can be delivered to A FRIDGE IN YOUR AI ENHANCED LG FRONT DOOR.

Of course the LG front door to your house will also have a TV on the inside so that you can see what the weather is like outside.

Amazingly my wooden (TV-less) door is also capable of this feat via the magical trickery of something called A WINDOW!!!!

The ridiculousness of this techno door pales into insignificance however when you consider one of the winners of some websites ‘best in show’ category.

The wi-fi barbecue (link) that you can control with your smartphone even when you’re not at home.

Clearly in the western world (where we have more money than willingness to get off our arses) there is an untapped market for this kind of crap and everyone wants to barbecue their meat whilst sitting in the office on a conference call.

Sigh.

The point is that all of this is scary.

I don’t want my fridge to be in charge of my shopping and I definitely don’t want it to be connected to the internet or using my credit card to buy expensive cheese and biscuits.

Fundamentally however I’m more concerned with why we as a society are so preoccupied with making things that continually inspire us to move less and consume more. We already barely have to move a muscle to get our shopping online and can remain in our houses without needing to venture outside more and more.

If some sort of cataclysm happens how many people will just expire in their homes because they’re physically incapable of leaving them?

Rome.

I’m telling you.

Great-Fire-of-Rome-Featured-1280x720.jpg

I can hear Nero fiddling now…

Oh well – my job is making sure that if (when) the apocalypse arrives at least my partner and I have a chance of outrunning the fireball and out-swimming the flood and tidal wave.

We’ve been working hard on our fitness since well before xmas and have really really upped our games on the number of lengths we swim, the speed in which we complete them and the number of times that we’re going to the pool each week.

Although I never mentioned it in my previous post – when I had my positive outcome on my HbA1c result (link) my partner was (at the same time) receiving her results for the same blood test.

I’ve never discussed her diabetes in this blog before because I considered it private – but this morning (for the first time) I asked her permission to do so.

‘Is this ok with you?’ I said as we sat drinking our respective teas and coffees after a five mile walk and a 1k swim.

She thought for the briefest moment, sipped her tea, and then said ‘Yes – I’m fine with that. I think it’s a good idea to let people know what my results were.’

The reason that I wanted to bring it up is that when my partner and I met for the second time (though still just friends at this point) diabetes was a big topic of conversation. She told me for the first time on this occasion that she was a type two diabetic – and that her diagnosis had been much the same as my own.

I was 94 on the chart and she was 93.

However back then mine was in remission and hers was still unmedicated.

Later – when Metformin was eventually prescribed (as her levels crept higher) her focus began to shift and she became a lot more mindful of how much exercise she was getting and what kinds of food she was eating.

Gradually this has become more and more cemented into her way of thinking and combined with her also following Slimming World she does a lot more physically than she ever used to.

We also live together and part of that dynamic is that I’m the primary cook. This is mostly because I’m a bit of a control freak about preparing food – not because she can’t or won’t – but it means that I make sure that all of our meals are on plan and cooked from scratch.

I pack her off to work with lunch and breakfast too and those are no different.

I may overeat – but when I cook I overeat great food.

On top of what we consume we walk together every day and swim together as much as possible.

Our exercise levels aren’t identical – but since she too started becoming obsessed with her fitness goals on Apple Watch she’s made great strides. Today we’ve both walked around 9 miles and swum over a kilometre.

It should be no surprise then that her results came back on Thursday at 34 – and are now in the pre-diabetic range on the HbA1c chart.

hba1c-chart

It’s difficult to say how proud of her I am – because I’ve watched her get fitter every day, competing with herself more and more with regard to her split times in the pool, and now (like me before her) she too can see the results.

I’m chuffed beyond words that the person I care the most about in the world has now begun the gradual process of reducing her Metformin.

In three months she’ll have another review and we both hope that her results will enable her to either reduce her drugs even more and one day eventually give them up altogether.

It’s particularly important for me to say all of this – because almost without exception when I’ve met people through Slimming World who are overweight and also suffering from type two diabetes (when they work hard and make the same lifestyle changes that I have) the conditions that they all suffer from are abating.

It’s hard work and you have to do it every day – but it’s worth it.

I live in hope that one day soon we shall be a household (and society) that is completely free of diabetes medication, and will have realised and also be maintaining all of our personal health goals.

So – hopefully self aware fridges won’t take over the world after forming an alliance with their evil barbecue brethren because currently I’m rather happy with the way things are.

I’m happy, employed again, working on getting to target, opening my own fridge door, looking out of windows, walking everywhere and generally in a very good place.

If I needed a cherry on the cake my weigh in on Saturday also worked out ok.

One can only hope I can continue this downwards trend. I have eight weeks of my countdown remaining and then I’m calling target- wherever I am.

Davey

Diabetes update 2020

Sometimes it’s really difficult to know where to begin – because whilst I want to write about how I’m feeling and what’s going on in my life I’m also in one of those places where I have to self censor a little.

First of all – I’m feeling no small amount of relief that a recent blood test appears to be clear.

I had a health scare recently and without going into too much detail the worst case scenario appears to have been ruled out – which is nice – however I’m still none the wiser about the whole ‘event’ that caused me to visit my GP in the first place.

So far it’s not re-occurred (which is good) but I have no idea what caused it in the first place (which is not so good).

Still – if my car is anything to go by when you get to a certain age occasionally there are false alarms that clear themselves with no explanation.

My Passat’s dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree whilst driving to Coombe Abbey on New Year’s day and told me all traction control and ABS was offline. However once I’d ‘rebooted it’ (any tech worth his salt will try turning things off and on again) the issue disappeared without a trace and still seems reluctant to return.

I guess my body is the same.

Occasionally it will have ‘a senior moment’ and then get on with things as normal.

Sigh.

My advancing decrepitude means that I (like my car) will eventually leave more and more oil on the drive of life.

I may be paranoid – but one of the side effects of changing my body so dramatically (and having an occasionally pessimistic view of the world) is that I’m still waiting for the metaphorical piano to fall from the sky and flatten me.

Although life isn’t perfect there are times that I’m left breathless when I think about how many bullets I appear to have dodged over the years and that no-one who abused themselves as much as I did deserves the apparent good health that I now enjoy.

I do work hard for it mind you. It doesn’t just fall in my lap.

Although I’m out of target with Slimming World (and going nowhere fast this week with weight loss I’m sad to say) I still do a huge amount of exercise compared to most people that I know.

Since the 17th of December 2019 I’ve managed to go for a swim every day except on bank holidays (when the pool was closed) and walked almost 10 miles per day on average.

That has to be good right?

I’m over sixteen and a half stone at the moment and I’m constantly worried that I don’t do enough to maintain my health. However – when I look back to a time in 2018 when I was around the same weight but BEFORE I reached my target I did about a third less exercise than I do now.

I was still walking roughly the same amount but doing this alone meant that my average active daily calorie burn was much lower back then than it is now.

Back then I thought I was doing quite a lot – but it’s all relative and I was comparing myself to where I’d started.

In January 2018 I typically walked three miles to work, three miles back again and usually also took some kind of stroll at lunchtime or in the evening.

However when it came to January 2019 (after starting to swim in mid November 2018) things had noticeably changed.

Although my number of swims (and the distance I swam) tailed off a little (after my initial flurry of obsessive interest when I first started) I continued to swim at least 10 days a month.

More often than not I swim around 14 times a month (my record is 22) which is almost once every two days on average.

Mostly I motivate myself by using my obsessively frugal side to irritate me into action and try to drop the price per swim as low as possible.

A single dip in the pool without a membership costs £4.65 (or at least it used to – I can’t find the current price online) and a monthly swim only pass costs me £25.

If I swim 14 times it costs me £1.78 a go – but if I manage 22 visits it drops to £1.13 – which is a magical number because it’s cheaper than a £1.35 bottomless coffee in Wetherspoons!

I’m off to a flying start this year and my current energy output for 2020 reflects that fact.

As I type it’s 3am on the 9th of January and I’m going through one of those horrible nights when my mind is racing at 200 miles an hour.

I can’t sleep and my head is filled with numbers and words.

I’ve given up lying in bed trying to sleep and am instead attempting to calm my mind – by purging everything that’s flowing through it into spreadsheets and this blog.

I’m currently obsessed with balance sheets as well as this post because recently my bank account has only been heading in the wrong direction – and that’s downwards.

Thankfully that looks like it’s all about to change – because yesterday afternoon I finally found a job.

This is another area where self censorship conflicts with honest blogging because (like my health scare) the details of my employer and post have to remain private.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to blog about work or an employer whether one’s personal experience of them is good or bad – but I can say that (although it’s a temporary post) I’m hopeful it will lead to something more and I’m really happy that something has finally come up.

It’s also local (the holy grail!) and instead of having to drive I get to walk about six miles a day as I travel there and back!!!

The position is (once again) something relatively new to me in subject matter, so (once more) I have a lot to learn and a very short time to do so.

I want to be able to quickly demonstrate that I can be an effective member of my new team and whilst I’m sure I can do this there are always fears and worries at times like this that arrive to rob me of my sleep.

I start TOMORROW!

(Drums fingers whilst thinking…)

If nothing else my ‘outgoings’ spreadsheet looks a lot healthier now it has a rough projected take home salary on it – and since I decided not to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance whilst job seeking (I couldn’t face one more flipping time the way the whole process of signing on leaves me feeling) I’m no longer looking at monthly outgoings without any form of associated income.

It’s a good thing I’m frugal and don’t spend money unless it’s necessary because it’s been a lean (and sometimes worrying) few months.

Being unemployed (although by choice because I chose to leave my last post) for any period of time has not only had a destabilising impact on my bank balance but my mood too.

I’ve never been in any danger of real hardship – but the worry of what might happen if such a situation dragged on too long has meant that my moods have often been disproportionate to the true impact of the last few months.

I’ve managed to self-fund throughout my entire period of job searching and I’m proud that I’ve been a burden to no one but myself.

That at least has been something that’s made me feel good – but getting turned down a lot and not finding the work you want is tough going no matter what anyone tells you.

You question your personal worth all the time and how you’re perceived in the eyes of others.

More than anything I didn’t want to be watching my partner getting ready for work every day knowing that I wasn’t about to do the same.

This isn’t a man thing by the way – just in case anyone is wondering.

It’s a partnership thing.

I want to share the load, take the strain together in life and prove to her that she made the right choice when she took a chance on me.

I never want to be seen as a useless lazy lump on the sofa.

As much as I’ve made myself useful though I’ve not found that any amount of DIY, laundry, tidying or cooking for the home has made the persistent itch to be employed go away – and it’s been particularly acute now I no longer live on my own.

Back when I was first made redundant in 2016 (and my ‘crisis’ with what came next in life started) I was a bit more relaxed about this topic because the choices were mine to make and affected only me.

I can’t think that way any more though – because everything I do now affects my partner and I don’t want her to think negatively about our relationship for any reason.

I carry a lot of guilt about my failures in relationships as a younger man (although I’ve come to accept lately that problems in those were not entirely attributable to me) and I’m determined not to repeat my past screw ups.

Somehow though I need to simultaneously chart a course to being happily and gainfully employed again long term within the framework of US instead of just ME.

I hope this job is the one.

I really do.

It’s something small but it could grow into something really good – and there’s no way to find out whether it will or not without trying.

However – I digress – and run the risk of having a completely huge post (I’m probably already too late!) unless I pull myself back to the topic I originally intended to talk about.

Diabetes.

The blood test I mentioned earlier had a dual purpose – and it’s secondary function was for my regular HbA1c test to see how my diabetic levels are doing.

For those new to the blog I started as a type two diabetic (at around 35 stone) taking five tablets of two different medications and had a reading of 94 on this scale – which was ridiculously high.

My daily pill planner at that weight (particularly for a man in his early 40’s) looked awful.

As well as diabetes I took medication for high cholesterol as well as significant amounts of pain killers.

By the same time in January last year (as an unmedicated and much fitter man) my HbA1c was stable at 26.

Now (at 4am in the frikkin morning) I’m wide awake and wondering what my increased exercise will means when it’s combined with being almost two stone heavier than I was the last time I held these results in my hand.

I’m hoping that I haven’t undone my progress in any way – but only time will tell.

Anyway. I need sleep.

I have to get up in under two hours to get to the pool for 6.30am and I doubt I’ll be breaking any records when I arrive. So far I have just over two hours of restless tossing and turning under my belt and it’s simply not been enough.

Back later today…

(Author goes back to bed)

Well – maybe unsurprisingly I didn’t get to the pool at 6.30am – and instead a joint decision was made to have a little lie in until 7.

I did manage to make it to the pool though and squeaked in at 8.30am (just under the wire – the session finishes at 9) and managed to fit a quick kilometre in before the school swimming groups arrived.

The rest of my day has been busy busy busy and I’ve managed to touch base with a lot of people. This is pretty fortuitous – since I’m probably not going to be able to see them during the day for a while.

As always these meetings involved twalking and (I’m now sitting in the doctor’s waiting room after my diabetic review) I’ve managed to use my last day of freedom very productively.

Even before I reach home I have 14 miles on the clock – so I feel pretty pleased with my efforts.

My current active calorie burn is a satisfying 2200 and on top of that I have the results in my hand.

So – despite gaining a bit of weight my emphasis on exercise and not eating processed food (or at least doing so very sparingly) is still paying dividends.

My HbA1c level is now twenty four!!!

Somewhat annoyingly my Cholesterol has crept up again now that I’m off statins – but that appears to be genetic according to the doctor and my good cholesterol levels are a cause for celebration.

According to the doctor because of my lifestyle changes and continual emphasis on health it’s unlikely that this on its own will raise my risk of coronary heart disease.

So her advice (bless her) is to ‘just carry on with what you’re doing!’

Hmmm.

You can’t argue with advice like that!!!

So – it’s time to go home, cook something healthy and get ready for my first day at work tomorrow in my brand new job!

Let’s hope I can sleep!!!

Davey

The wages of cake

So, the results are in for the Christmas and New Year period.

It was a maintain.

Last week I lost 1.5lbs, and this week I gained it back again – so if nothing else in terms of the holiday season I’m no heavier than I was when I started which is a plus.

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In contrast my other half managed her second week in a row losing weight at probably the most difficult time of the year, meaning she dropped at total of 4lbs over the holiday season and because of this also took home the group’s Slimmer of the Week basket!!!

Now it’s my turn to try and emulate her good behaviour because its officially 2020.

Now the hard work starts.

Currently there are a significant number of shirts in my wardrobe that look like they’ve been sprayed onto me – and for anyone that’s been following my blog for any length of time they’ll know that this is a serious issue – because I possess more of this this particular item of clothing than any other.

My last tally came to well over a hundred and then I just stopped counting because I didnt want to stop buying nice ones when I found them. Thankfully my partner seems quite happy to encourage this particular element of my behaviour and she rather likes me in a more flamboyant shirt.

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Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not short of shirts and trousers that fit – but some of my absolute favourites are annoyingly out of reach at the moment, and I know that the ones I’m wearing represent (to me at least) someone that I’d rather not be at the moment.

However – there are still wonderful things to find – and (despite their tendency to appear in rather fuddy duddy shops for the middle aged and wealthier denziens of the world) for some time I’ve wanted a pair of Meyer trousers.

Prior to my dumpster diving approach to clothes buying I had no idea about these – but they’re ridiculously well made, comfortable and hard wearing trousers.

They also have lovely stitching and detailing – such as the lining which looks and feels totally awesome!

I picked these up for £5 in a Coventry charity shop – but if I’d bought them new the price would have been VERY different (link).

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I have some absolutely prized possessions like these (such as my Paul Smith and Levis 501’s) all of which were found in charity shops – which will last me a very long time indeed if I look after them.

Annoyingly I gave an entire suitcase full of absolutely superb makes of shirts, trousers and denims back to charity about six months ago because they were slightly too big for me.

Consequently I’ve had to re-buy these items over the last month or two just to maintain an operational wardrobe, but it’s been a valuable lesson.

I’ve come to realise that what’s happened to my weight is not failure.

It’s just life.

Well. It is for me and many others anyway.

I have a friend who remarked casually on a walk several months ago that she has dresses and other items of clothing that are well over 20 and sometimes 30 years old that she still wears regularly.

At the time I think she expected me to be horrified when she admitted this to me – but to my mind it represented an absolute dream come true and is practically a perfect description of the guy I’d love to (but don’t think I ever will) be.

For a start it’s environmentally friendly to use clothes for this length of time and because of that I definitely approve. It just goes to show that if you are careful and buy really well made items then they last longer than supermarket fashion brands.

However that wasn’t the only thing that stood out when she said it because most of all her frikkin weight hasn’t changed at all for thirty plus years!!!

The truth is that a huge part of me wanted to just lose all of my fat and then live in a dream world where I never craved anything ever again and where I was to all intents and purposes completely over all of my battles with eating.

I guess it’s why I found the end of my tenure as MOTY such a relief – because I wanted my existence from that point on to be about more than constantly checking and monitoring weight and tinkering with aspects of my diet.

In all honesty I wanted this blog and my everyday world to become a story where I was well adjusted, happily employed, busy doing things I loved and finally – secure in a relationship that makes me feel valued.

Maybe by now I’d have a dog…

Maybe some of that is just wishful thinking though (possibly not the dog though…) because I’ve realised that to leave oneself no breathing room or ‘space to fail’ with deeply entrenched eating habits is a bad thing.

At least for me.

I think I may have to accept that there will be periods in life where I’m the slimmest that I can be and there are others when I’m definitely going to be a bit more cuddly.

Thankfully I recently aquired a great barometer – and she’s proven that she’ll support me when I want to be lighter and also me when I’m a little heavier.

It’s nice to have a voice of sanity (attached to a finger invariably poking me in the ribs) when I’m busy trying to tear myself to shreds with negative inner monologues.

Truthfully though it’s actually helped to have my very first Christmas both off and on plan – and you can trust me when I say that I’ve enjoyed more than my fair share of Christmas cake and other treats!

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This Christmas has been very very different to any other year that I’ve experienced though and I don’t just mean in terms of my willingness to consume seasonal nom nom’s.

Since 2016 it’s been relatively easy to have an austere holiday period. I could sit alone at home, not having to acknowledge the time of year and treat each meal time the same way that I would on every other day of the year.

If I wanted to have a salad on Christmas day then who would care? It would after all be only me sitting in front of the TV with a Pyrex mixing bowl full of lettuce so it wouldn’t matter one little bit.

However – after reaching my target weight Christmas suddenly (and a little unexpectedly) became more poignant.

Whereas the 25th of December used to be just a another day on the calendar to me, over time it’s become something that carries a lot more weight than it used to. I’d even go so far as to say that events relating to it have (bit by bit) changed every aspect of my life.

Amazingly it’s only the third year running that I’ve put a tree up.

The first year (link) was something of a triumph for me to do it at all because doing so was wrapped up in lots of long held and very negative associations with my childhood.

When I finally decided it was time to make a change in 2017 the act represented hope and a sense that things were finally changing for the better in my life. I was on my way to target and the tree I bought ultimately ended up covered with decorations that were donated to me by the women at my Slimming World group.

It also had a SW cardboard wish bauble on it with my goal.

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Furthermore (although I didn’t buy it) I also had begun to try on some seasonally themed clothing – which was a major leap towards a festive attitude that I’d never felt before.

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The following year was quite different though – and instead of me looking at my delicately dressed tree as a symbol of all the positive changes that I’d made in my life (and a reminder of the generosity of others) I instead sat back and viewed it with an overwhelming sense of sadness because all of a sudden it made me feel crushingly lonely (link).

Things happen for a reason though – and as everyone now knows it was that post which prompted my current partner to reach out to me.

The rest (as they say) is history.

This year therefore is (what I consider to be) my first real Christmas since I was a child – because the entirety of it has been spent with someone that’s not only very important to me but makes me very very happy.

Consequently we’ve done Xmas properly – from unwrapping our gifts on Christmas morning (I used to open them as I got them more often than not), having a special dinner, travelling to see family, hosting family, eating cheese and biscuits, indulging a glass or two of Prosecco (I had fizzy pop instead) tucking into in some festive chocolates, playing board games, watching movies and also diving (with great gusto) into some more chocolate.

None of this was really on plan – and I couldnt really even claim it was ‘flexible synning’.

It was really just synning – and therefore my overall maintain is something that is totally deserved. If I (well more accurately WE) hadn’t been so focused on exercise it could just easily have been a massive gain.

Instead my other half and I managed for the entire two week holiday period from the 20th December to today (my partner is a teacher so was off work) to go swimming every single day that wasn’t a bank holiday as well as walking an average of around 9 miles.

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For me that meant about 14+ kilometres in the pool and almost 130+ miles on foot.

It’s going to be difficult to get out of the relaxed ‘treat myself’ mentality now though – but do so I must, because now Christmas is over, the decorations have to come down, and my exercise needs to continue without cake.

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Balls.

That’s going to be a challenge.

However – I’ve done it before and I can do it again.

Today (Sunday) we got up at 6.30am, got ready, walked two and a half miles to Leamington’s Newbold Comyn leisure centre, swum a kilometre (and I managed a record time for me of 26.50) had a sauna, sat in the plunge pool, walked two and a half miles back again, went straight out to do the shopping (Aldi is CARNAGE unless you’re there waiting for it to open at 9.55am on a Sunday) and then finally returned home to have breakfast and a cup of tea at 11am.

Now all I have to do is not eat everything in sight for the rest of the day and week ahead.

It’s going to be a tall order – but I’m willing to give it a go.

From this point on though (just in case) I’m not going to get rid of the jeans and shirts with a waist that allows for a little bit of wriggle room, but instead put them at the back of a shelf in my wardrobe and save them for a ‘rainy day’.

I’ve currently got nine weeks left on my SW 12 week countdown (I purchased it a while back) and by the end of it I’m calling target – wherever that may be because I have absolutely sod all left to prove and I’m still as fit as a butcher’s dog.

My current goal weight in SW’s system is 15st, and I need to drop a stone and a half in order to get back into that range (15st 3lbs is the top end), which I think is probably do-able in two months.

If I can get any lower then that’s a bonus – but this time around I’ve not got to worry about photoshoots or press calls at the Ritz – I’ve just got to get to a maintainable and comfortable number that suits me and doesn’t mean I have to buy another 100 shirts.

(At least another 100 in a larger size…)

Here goes nothing!

Davey

The road to 2020

People seem to be marking the turn of the year from 2019 into 2020 as an opportunity to look back not just at the last year but the last decade. As such there’s a storm of people in social media posting comparisons of how they look now alongside a photo of themselves in 2010.

Nowadays I’m not really all that sensitive about photographs of me – and I tend to let them be taken (or take them myself) regardless of how I may look.

I’m easily found in Google image searches – so why hide any more? I can’t really put the genie back in the bottle…

It’s oddly liberating – and even when I’ve had my identity stolen (which has happened twice now) it still failed to deter me.

In 2010 things were different though and I wasn’t so keen on having pictures taken of me.

Consequently only a few exist in my computer’s photo album. Two of them were taken by other people and one is a selfie. I’m not yet at my heaviest weight of 35st in any of these – and I know this from the shirts I’m wearing in the pictures.

They are 7XL rather than the 8XL ones I finally ended up in.

It’s often the case that when others look at a photo of you they make their own judgements. If they see you smiling and happy – their assumption is that that’s how you felt in that moment. Photos can hide a lot though – and I’m sure we all look back at them and can think very differently about what they represent to us.

In 2002 I watched a film called one hour photo (link) with Robin Williams where a technician becomes obsessed with the pictures he’s developing. Over several years he works on images of what appears to be a perfect family unit which ultimately results in an unhealthy and obsessive need to get closer to them.

In doing so he learns that the idealised family life with them that he dreams he is part of is far from perfect. Their beaming smiles in the photos he processes belie the truth – and when he discovers an extra marital affair his world (and that of the family) begins to unravel in a very unsettling way.

The premise stuck with me after I watched it  – and in a pre-social media world, before terms like ‘fakebook’ existed to describe our carefully crafted online profiles of perfect lives it left me thinking a lot about what really sat behind all of the photos that I had in albums.

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I’m around 32-33st in the photo above.

Depressingly it was taken after I managed to lose 10st on the Cambridge diet, but not before I packed it all straight back on again (at the rate of 1st per month!) as well as a little bit more on top for good measure.

I chose the seat I was sitting on because it was the only place in the bar my friend and I had met in that didn’t have arms on the seats. It was a large padded fabric cube in front of a huge wooden table and it meant I didn’t struggle to get in or out of where I chose to have a drink.

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In this second one from 2010 I’m proudly holding my friends new born daughter – who has turned into a lovely young girl as the years have passed.

This photo is happy because of this being the first baby I’d ever held – and I was amazed at how tiny all of her little features were. She was absolutely perfect and slept quietly as I held her.

I also remember though that (like the pub) there was only one place that I could comfortably sit in my friend’s house, and shortly after this I managed to break it – which meant he needed to repair the whole sofa.

I can’t look at this happy picture without the taint of that memory.

There were also more bizzare things to remember in 2010 – and for whatever reason around this time (her motivations were always opaque to me) my mother had begun to send me increasingly weird gifts in the post.

Periodically her texts and letters (all of which were corrosive and detrimental to my mental health) had caused me to withdraw, change my mobile number, not give her my new addresses when I moved – and gradually cut her further and further out of my life.

It didn’t stop her posting parcels to me via my dad however, and in one of these she saw fit to send me a jester’s hat.

IMG_1257I didn’t like it very much.

In another were some rings that she thought would appeal to me (modelled here by myself and my brother) but clearly would have looked more at home on the hand of Liberace.

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I never understood why she thought I’d appreciate these things back then (her letters suggested that they were genuine presents rather than passive aggressive jabs) and I still haven’t figured it all out to this day – but it’s a reminder (sadly) that not having her in my life since she passed away is something that’s made things better rather than worse.

She passed away in 2016 and gradually at this point my life started to improve.

I don’t hold any ill will though and try to think kindly of her.

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I don’t have much evidence of the types of food that I ate in 2010 but one photo reminded me that I used to regularly frequent The Racehorse pub in Warwick – where I ate the same types of meals over and over again.

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I dread to think what the calorie content of my cheese topped garlic bread, chips, sausage, pork chop, gammon and lamb cutlet was but it was a staple part of my diet for quite a while.

The point is I guess that things are (in every conceivable respect) are better now than they were 10 years ago.

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Admittedly I’m a teeny bit greyer now than I was 10 years ago – and I’m still an unapologetic geek (if anyone hasn’t seen The Mandalorian yet (link) I highly recommend it because it will help explain the beanie) but in almost every other respect my life is AMAZINGLY different.

For the first six months of 2019 I was still the Slimming World MOTY, and my photo is still plastered all over the wall at SWHQ – something that I still can’t quite get my head around.

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It’s true to say though that although this was a major high point of my time so far on earth over half of the last decade is period that I’d prefer to forget.

Many years ago I was a care worker, and as part of the role I volunteered to help put together the life story of a man I looked after.

His early adulthood had been a vital and exciting one where he had been a bomb disposal expert in the RAF. He was stationed in Germany after the war and played a part in removing much ordnance from cities that the Allies has bombed.

He was also engaged to be marry to a lovely German girl with blonde hair and a pretty smile.

This was until he was involved in a horrific car accident. When this happened not only was he badly burned and physically broken but he also lost the capability to retain any long term memories from that point on.

After years of waiting for him to recover his fiancé moved on – but her Black and white oval photo remained by his bedside.

She sent him a letter folded up inside a Christmas card telling him about her family and grandchildren. He cried each time he saw it and then stopped when he forgot what it was that he held in his hand.

He remembered his childhood and things that he’d experienced until the day of the accident – but from that point onwards everything was lost. Burning bread was forgotten as soon as it went into the toaster and cup of tea after cup of tea went cold as it passed from conscious memory to oblivion whilst sitting just outside his direct line of sight.

His surviving relative (a very kindly uncle) was the only man that knew him and who had remained in his life from the day that he was born until the day I’d met him, and he was getting old.

I sat with him for a long time looking through yellowed photos until everything just stopped in the mid sixties at the time of the crash. From that point onwards he had moved from medical facility to medical facility and care home to care home where nothing had happened to him.

Not one solitary piece of information existed from the early sixties to the late 90’s to describe what he’d said, done, written, thought or enjoyed.

For over thirty years he became a gap in history, and in 2016 I realised that I too was becoming something similar. I created nothing – instead consuming everything from food and alcohol to media and video games.

My life was an empty vessel.

So – even if I wanted to remember it, a good chunk of the last decade is only explained my my rather epic xbox live achievement history – which details the myriad of digital distractions that I buried myself in whilst I drank or ate away my life.

I don’t think that the next ten years will be like this though.

52D6656E-3966-4A57-B97C-6C51EAD661C3I might have made mistakes in the past – but I feel like things are finally different.

Sure I still struggle – but I’m more in control than ever before and that’s a good feeling. The road to 2020 may have been rocky but I have love, good health and a future.

Isn’t that all anyone can ask for?

Hell – at least I won’t regret the last four years – even if I still excel at screwing up occasionally!

Davey