The Slimming World Man of the Year 2019

I slept like a baby last night.

Well…

That’s not strictly true.

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

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

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

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

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It’s all in my head though.

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

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

Well – maybe not in all of the photos…

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My smile can hide a lot though.

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

It may well be with me for life.

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

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

Consultants were even photobombing my selfies!

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Things continued to be slightly surreal throughout the day.

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

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

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

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

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That woman absolutely flipping LOVES Rylan Clarke-Neal…

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m actually taller.

He’s a midget.

True story.

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

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

Hearing these brought a lot of feelings to the surface.

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

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

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

Occasionally they cause the wheels to fall off completely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They were all already winners.

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

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

They’ve made it.

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

But what comes next?

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

Now they rebuild.

They can all do it though.

I know they can.

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

I did make it a little personal though.

I couldn’t help myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Davey

Just a state of mind

I have lots of aspirations.

I’m not an ambitious person though – at least not from a career perspective.

I’ve never wanted power, wealth, money, fame or status in life and so far I think those are the right choices.

I was convinced for the longest time that this mean I was without aspiration – but it’s not true, because I just aspire to being OTHER things in life.

I aspire to being happy, to have good friends surrounding me, to be loved, feeling love in return and being content in my own skin.

I work at all of these as I bumble through life. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong. Recently I have more than enough evidence that the contentment bit needs work.

The truth of it is that to be loved you have to feel the same way about yourself, otherwise you’re just someone in need of an above average level of fixing.

Everyone is helped by others – but what I mean is that exuding confidence (not too much though) is fundamentally attractive.

Sometimes you can fake it – but long term I believe it comes from confronting head on the things that make you doubt yourself.

I’m probably more confident now that I’ve ever been in my life – and that’s mostly because I did a few key things.

  • I started sharing myself, my failures and my successes with the world, thereby removing any fear of being ‘found out’ at a later date or appearing weak in public
  • I gave up drinking, lost weight and forced myself to confront my demons without using food and drink as comforters
  • I work on improving my ‘sober, fit and outgoing’ persona every day

The truth is that you are never completely stuck being just one type of person unless you believe you’re incapable of being different.

No-one that has a fear of heights is incapable of jumping out of an aeroplane. The only difference between the person in the plane and the person on the ground looking up at them is a willingness to confront what scares you.

You can learn to be many things in life.

It’s probably true that I’m a ‘fake it till I make it’ kind of guy on occasion – because some aspects of public speaking still trouble me and I can’t completely switch them off.

Today when I write about aspiration I mean that I aspire to total body confidence – because it’s not 100% there yet.

I would love not to worry or care about what people might think of me undressed and I’m aware that this has at times led me to over compensate in the clothes department.

I own a lot of clothes.

If I subscribed to gender stereotypes (I don’t) then this would place me in a different sex bracket. However one of the reasons I don’t believe in definable gender traits is that I don’t know ANY women with as many clothes as me.

I think my need to always look smart and presentable (which is perfectly normal and not a problem – I enjoy doing this) is because I can control the image people see of me with different styles of clothes and largely be whoever I want to be.

I can be casual, daring, dapper or fun loving with the flick of a clothes hanger and I love that about wearing new things – even though I may not always take the items I really want to the checkout….

Now that my changed body shape has enabled this kind of casual experimentation I can choose to be a peacock or a pigeon.

I can decide to blend in or stand out at will – and that’s a powerful gift to give oneself when you’ve been bullied all your life because of how you look.

When I first started losing weight this was a constant problem (link) and as it’s progressed I’ve tagged a few posts where it’s either happened in public or I’ve been affected by the emotional baggage that remains (link).

The confidence of knowing I look ‘normal’ in clothes enables me to make a conscious choice about whether or not I want to invite comment.

The power has been placed back into MY hands when I do this.

When I was bullied in the past because of my size and called names I had no control and people with smaller minds than me continually manipulated my emotional state without warning and in public.

Now I’m confident enough to put on a flamboyant jacket and go out looking like a piece of modern art because I know that when eyes fall upon me they’re falling on my clothes and my personal choices.

I saw a wonderful pair of shoes at the ball last Saturday worn by someone who has just accepted a proposal of marriage.

His happiness, confidence and flamboyance just made me smile.

His shoes still make me grin – not just because they look ace – but because I too would wear them.

There was another guy with the most amazing embroidered green tuxedo – and he looked so awesome I had to go up and tell him he looked incredible!

They are me now. I don’t wear quite such flamboyant things yet – but I can if I want to and almost certainly will in the future.

If people don’t like what I choose to put on my body who cares?

I will wear what makes me happy – but it’s an important distinction to make that this is also my choice.

I am choosing by placing loud clothes on my body and accepting that this may invite comment – both good or bad. In doing so I’m fundamentally saying to the world by doing so to that I’m confident enough not to care what people say to me.

This way of thinking is a world apart from the mindset of bullied me.

His mood was always dictated by idiots that confirmed his worst fears continuously about how everyone looked at him (link) and he largely lived in constant fear.

Today I do NOT and I love that about myself.

I genuinely do.

I love that I can walk into a room in a suit and draw admiration because I look good.

That’s not me being egotistical or conceited (at least I hope not) because often it doesn’t matter what people think.

The decision I make about how good I look comes well before they ever provide feedback.

It arrives before I leave the house, as I stand looking at myself in the mirror. Right there in that moment I decide that I FEEL good.

When you feel good then you look good. You carry yourself differently and you maintain eye contact.

So…

What is it that I aspire to if everything is so lovely?

I want to feel the same about myself without clothes – because in that scenario I have no control over how people see me and the only armour I can wear exists in my own mind.

There’s so much ‘wrong’ with my body after huge weight loss that I could spend a lifetime of pain and surgery ‘fixing’ it.

If I make one ‘fixed bit’ however I’m pretty sure that the rest will just look bad in comparison.

Where do you stop? It just goes on and on and won’t fix low self esteem.

I also fundamentally disagree with this as a way to live my life.

I do not want to cut bits off myself because they are inconvenient and throw them in the bin.

It’s worth pointing out that one day I may change that perception and if I do then it’s my right to do so – however I hope that I don’t – because I suspect if I do start down that road it will be because I’ve become more concerned with what other people think of me than I am of my own self image.

At the moment I see that as failure but who knows how I’ll view it in the future.

It’s difficult though – when I know that the first question almost everyone wants to ask me (when I speak publicly about my journey) is about skin and what’s left behind after dramatic weight loss.

I know (because of this) that if I go swimming or take my clothes of for more (ahem) intimate reasons that I’m probably going to be confronted with the same reductive value judgements and that will require a strong man to deal with the resulting emotions.

Maybe even a stronger one than I am currently.

I still need to pluck up the courage to go swimming and that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon…

So – this is my project.

It’s the thing that I want to work on the most.

I will get better at this internet and I will grow my confidence – just like everything else I’ve learned to get better at.

This is just a state of mind and I’m going to learn to have it.

Davey

Being a role model

So. October is once again a distant memory.

Hello November.

Last month’s legacy has been a mixed one. In one respect I feel like I’ve recently made genuine life progress and begun to confront something that I’ve been deferring for a long time.

In others I’ve been working hard to convince myself that I will indeed be slim for life – and that my history of continually yo-yo dieting is finally at an end.

At the start of the month I wasn’t at all convinced. My self confidence was faltering – and whilst winning an award for Slimming World was nice it didn’t really change the fact that I’m still trying to deal with and process many aspects of my new life.

I’ve moved from ‘pathetic’ to ‘successful’ in a relatively short space of time – but just because I’m ‘fixed’ on the outside it doesn’t mean everything is perfect on the inside.

One of the downsides to this newfound attention (as nice and exciting as it can be) is that when you’re losing weight in Slimming World groups you’re in a comfortable and supportive bubble.

Everyone’s in the same boat. We feel the other’s pain, and more often than not we navigate away from saying things to each other that we know may hit a nerve or that aren’t supportive.

We ourselves have a lifetime of learning what hurts our feelings and we don’t throw that in other group members faces.

In short there are many things in Slimming World you will never hear.

In the outside world though it’s all fair game – and you have to quickly develop a thick hide, because when you’re available on social media and appear in the press then the people contacting you for advice don’t necessarily share the same approaches.

Their goal is not to support you – more often than not it’s to get something from you – even if that’s with the best of intentions.

Often (because it’s the way of journalism or the public’s perception of how you should act if you’re present on social media) many people I’ve encountered since the award don’t bother to get into the preamble of getting to know me before lurching into some really quite intimate and personal questions.

If those relate to things that already occupy your thoughts or drive your fears then you’ve got to find a way of coping with lots of people asking you about them over and over and over again.

It doesn’t matter whether I’ve been asked about my journey by dieters or people who’ve never suffered with the same problem – the starting point always seems to be the same.

‘What do you do with all the skin?’

I’m not sure why this is the first thing on everyone’s mind because it was never the first thing on mine when I saw other people losing weight – but I’ll be really honest when I say there is a lot of it left, it does worry me that I’ll never be accepted or loved because of it and I don’t want to have to cut lumps out of myself to be feel better or because someone else wants me to be ‘normal’.

It undeniably hurts though sometimes to be questioned like this – and after the hundredth plus time (I’m not kidding – it’s probably a lot more) of politely answering this question whilst trying to be measured and helpful there have been moments where I’ve felt like screaming ‘it doesn’t matter – why don’t you just want to be healthy and to live a better life?!’

I don’t though.

Like many things this is something (for all the public wrangling I do with my feelings) that I internalise and I don’t usually talk about.

I’ve discussed it with a select few and shown parts of my body to only three other people since I started losing weight and I am terrified of how everyone else will look at me if they see me disrobed.

I can’t bring myself to wear short sleeved tops, shorts above the knee, or go swimming (yet).

I am not ashamed of who I am but I still feel that I don’t want to draw attention as a freak or curiosity like I have done for so much of my life.

I was bullied for so long in my past that the scars from it still run really deep.

Instead I want to blend, be part of everyday society and try to focus on the times that people say to me ‘you don’t ever look like you’ve been big’.

This worry about both acceptance and appearing ‘normal’ has contributed to a major meltdown recently – which as many of my worst ones tend to do – happened almost completely without warning and affected me (and I’m ashamed to say others) deeply.

I’ve been trying to convince myself that many things don’t matter – that’s it’s ok to still be alone at this point in my life, that the skin issue is immaterial, that I will eventually find someone that loves me, a life purpose that drives me like weight loss has, and that I have a future filled with health, vitality and companionship.

I also don’t want to be a fat, drunken failure again and my fear of this is always in the background.

Paradoxically this fear sometimes leads to me right back to the doorstep of comfort eating, and despite losing twenty plus stones I’m still capable of sliding backwards and ‘failing’.

The thing is that now (with my award) I feel much greater pressure to be ‘perfect’ than I ever did before.

Whereas prior to this I was just a guy in a little group in Warwick quietly trying to rebuild his life (albeit in a very public way) now I have the added status of being a role model to add to the mix (not my words – this is what people keep telling me I’ve become) and if you take that the wrong way it can be quite damaging.

The truth is that I’m having to continually confront and remind myself of the fact that to be a healthy ‘role model’ perfection is not required.

Unhealthy examples in social media of plastic smiles and perfect bodies make us all feel undermined and undervalued – and I’m just as guilty as anyone else of feeling like I’m less than I should be because I see a picture of someone who seems to have everything I lack.

I’ll never be Hugh Jackman or look like Chris Hemsworth.

The true role model though is NOT the airbrushed Superhero or Hollywood icon. It’s not to be found in the gym selfie with perfect skin tone and abs – and it’s not in the youthful swimsuit photo on a far away beach – because none of us can be that forever, and even if we are it’s just for a fleeting moment.

Life changes us and our bodies are reflections of the paths we take.

Our baby bellies tell stories of the joy that children can bring and our saggy parts often remind us that we’ve improved our health by losing the weight that once filled those spaces.

We’re more than visual perfection – we’re human beings and we are perfect just the way we are without cutting anything off, without colouring or bleaching our skin or burying our faces in makeup.

We have to make the best of what we have – and if we can do that with confidence then our smiles and our happiness become our social currencies – not the images of us without clothes or posing with a camera pointing down from the sky to get the best possible angles without chins.

So – October (for me at least) has been about getting back to dietary basics, of following the Slimming World plan, of writing a personal food diary every day, of going to group and facing the music or just going there because it helps.

#onplanoctober has worked.

Although I never told a soul this was how the month started on the 1st of October.

After a few really bad days (where if it wasn’t bolted down I ate it) the scales said I was ridiculously out of target.

Officially (in my mind) I was a failure again.

I’d not only taken the expectations of my friends but now also Slimming World’s officials and my blog readership and I’d failed all of them.

Catastrophe.

I was going to destroy myself again and it was all inevitable.

I couldn’t tell anyone the depths of how ashamed I felt that I thought I was once again eating the pain away.

These are all just things we tell ourselves when our negative inner narrative takes over though. None of it is true and none of it defines reality.

It just leads to bad decisions – of which I’ve made a few recently – and they all happen when I try to deal with things in isolation.

The truth of it is that on Saturday I will stand on stage and accept an award that in many ways I still feel I am undeserving of.

That’s not false modesty.

I know I lost huge amounts of weight. I’m not daft. I’m proud – and I totally killed that objective.

Yay me.

There’s more to getting an award like this though because it’s not about numbers. It’s about being judged ‘worthy’ – and how do you ‘win’ something with that criteria when surrounded by so many others who are just as deserving?

Not only do I struggle with being viewed as inspirational after years of being seen (by myself and others) as a failure – but I met many other men who were in line for the same award as me – and none of us were any less or more deserving of the award.

Yet for some crazy reason it ended up in my hands.

I want to be worthy of it.

I want to be a good example.

I want to be able to help people.

But flawless role models don’t help anyone.

They just show an image that seems to be completely unobtainable and convince people that the journey is impossible – that for whatever reason they will never have what that airbrushed social media personality has.

So I write about how much I fail as much as I feel I can in public- because I feel that my pain, regrets or insight might have value for others.

If they see my weakness they know it’s ok to feel their own – and believe it or not I’ve also found that this makes me feel stronger.

Sometimes I can’t bring myself to do it though and that last picture of me standing on the scales after a week of pigging out is one of those times.

I couldn’t post it or admit it a month ago. I just wanted to fix it without anyone knowing.

With some determination I’ve pulled it around however – and in doing so I’ve not starved myself. I’ve followed the plan, been honest with myself about what’s going in my mouth and I’ve done a LOT of exercise.

My record daily average distance (it’s now 12.5!) has been smashed due to my efforts and this month alone I’ve walked over 387 miles to reach my objective of being healthily under my target weight.

If you wonder what I’ve been eating every day then here’s a typical diary.

Lunch

  • 200g baking potato
  • Tub of cottage cheese with onion and chive
  • Jar of gherkins
  • 3 Tomatoes

Dinner

  • 500g 5% fat pork mince
  • Red pepper
  • 380g mushrooms
  • Large courgette
  • Small onion x2
  • 240g Kidney beans
  • Bunch of broccoli
  • Can chopped tomatoes

Dessert

  • 100g blueberries
  • 250g frozen Aldi summer fruits
  • 250g natural yogurt

Snacks

  • 2x apples
  • 2x conference pears

The point that I want to get over here is that in doing what I’ve done in October I’ve not starved myself.

Far from it.

I’ve just eaten (a lot of) healthy food and burned more calories than I’ve consumed.

I drew one of those infamous ‘lines in the sand’ that we all make from time to time after a bad patch in Slimming World and promised myself I will not not cross over it.

My personal line was the screenshot of the scales above.

Yesterday the impetus this picture of personal dissatisfaction gave me meant that I finished with a bang.

After an epic ten mile walk around St Nicholas park (even by my standards this was huge) that had an average mile speed of 15 minutes and six seconds I went home and stood on the scales.

Although they’re my scales and not Slimming World’s I know that they’re accurate (the one in group is always identical) and because of that I have demonstrated once again to myself on an ‘every other day’ basis that over the course of a month if I eat well and work hard good things happen.

I’ve dropped nearly a stone and a half.

It’s worth pointing out too that during the last month things did go both up and down.

There were some odd lurches back up on the scales in October that I simply couldn’t explain – but I stuck to plan, followed it all through and kept going.

So – if anyone out there wants to refer to me as a role model or an inspiration I’m not going to say I feel any more comfortable with the position than I did a month ago – and I doubt I ever will.

I’m still filled in dark times with a crippling lack of self worth and a fear that I’m not going to measure up to peoples expectations of me.

I’m terrified that I’ll let myself down too (my standards are way higher) and I’m often paralysed by how I’ll move forward in life or find love and acceptance in the world.

However – if there’s one thing I can do that will make that fear and insecurity worthwhile its sharing it and making sure that others looking to me for answers will see it’s ok to not be perfect.

It’s ok to fail.

It’s ok to not feel like you can cope from time to time.

It’s ok to worry about who will love you and what they’ll see when they look at you.

You just have to try and take each day as it comes.

If you do internet then good things happen.

Davey

So long and thanks for all the fish

As has been the case for many nights in succession my sleep has been broken beyond repair and at 2am yesterday I once again found myself lying in the dark listening to the wind outside as I stared in the general direction of the ceiling.

From the perspective of my mood and emotional state it’s been a difficult month – because amongst other things (as mentioned in an earlier blog) in mid August I made the decision to leave my current job.

I did so with with a real mixture of emotions.

Everywhere I go I try hard to form meaningful relationships with people.

Sometimes it happens.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

In this case it really did – and quite out of the blue (almost a year ago) the universe unexpectedly guided me in the direction of a workplace where I met a lot of individuals that were well outside of my normal comfort zone.

For many years my confidants and peers have been almost exclusively my own age, and broadly speaking have just happened to share many of my core values and many of my opinions.

Often they also worked in the same industry that I used to.

When we bonded it was usually on a platform of shared memories, growing up in similar eras and similar tastes in music. We watched the same films in our youth and we collectively experienced and referenced the same world events.

The role I stepped out of yesterday was simultaneously familiar and yet also completely new.

It was an industry I’d never worked in before and for the first time in as long as I can remember I’ve been constantly surrounded by youth and enthusiasm.

Initially I was worried that we would share very little obvious common ground – but a lot can change in 11 months.

In many ways this has tied neatly into the transformation that has happened in my own life – because two years ago I doubt I’d have been able to relate to the people I now count among my friends.

This wasn’t because I struggled to talk to people of any age, but instead was due to the depth of my personal shame.

For so long I felt that I’d squandered the promise of my own youth – and has taken a childhood where everything was possible and turned it into an adulthood where I felt capable of nothing.

Back then (even as a grown man) I was bullied in the street and mocked by strangers. I was called names continuously when overweight – often by men in passing cars – and it always came when I least expected it (link) (another link) (yet another link).

Even though I’d previously been a team leader I had also always felt deep down that I didn’t measure up. I could never understand why anyone would respect me and on an almost daily basis felt like a failure and an impostor.

How could people respect someone who had let himself go in such dramatic fashion?

I didn’t respect myself so why should anyone else?

Things change however – and to underscore how dramatically on Tuesday, as I crossed the road some ladies in a car pulled up next to me and wound down the window.

In the past this sort of thing caused a tangible physiological reaction in me.

Adrenaline and fear.

However instead of calling me names these lovely ladies leaned toward the open window and collectively said ‘Dave you’re our hero!

Even though a lot of people know me these days I find it difficult to place all of the faces I’ve met through Slimming World and via my blog or Instagram.

I must have looked a bit quizzical – because they quickly said ‘You don’t know us…’ and then repeated ‘…but we just wanted to say you’re our hero!

All three of them were smiling and happy.

‘Thanks!’ I stammered – a little surprised. ‘Glad to be of service!’

I let them carry on with their day after making a brief (probably daft) quip about chips – but the moment moved my mood from dour to one of surprised elation.

My pulse had quickened and I felt excited.

Then yesterday morning, whilst buying some healthy snacks for my team on my last day (how can a man like me present other people with cake?!) I encountered a man in Tescos, who caught my eye.

I took an earphone out and said ‘Hello.’

‘I follow you on Instagram’ he said. ‘You look amazing. You’ve done AMAZING.’

‘Thank you!’ I replied. ‘That’s really kind of you to say!’

‘I’ve lost four stone.’ he said to me with a smile. ‘It’s not as much as you though…’

‘It’s STILL amazing!’ I said ‘Four stone is a lot! Well done you!!!’ I smiled back, shaking his hand before we parted company.

I left feeling ten feet tall – and whether he knew it or not he too met me in a reflective moment and also lifted my spirits.

I took a picture on the way to work and posted it to thank him.

I spent the rest of the day with my little team saying goodbye in a way that I felt was appropriate.

Although parting has an element of sorrow I’m left with little doubt that these particular youths have promise and that makes me happy.

They’ve also helped (even though in some cases I’m actually only a year younger than their parents) to make me feel youthful again and have shaken away cobwebs that I hadn’t noticed were gathering.

The truth of it is that when we spoke last night, while they shared Yeagerbombs with eachother and hugs with me (I drank cups of tea and coffee) it seemed they were convinced that it was me that had been mentoring them.

What none of them realise is that their acceptance and engagement has been a revelation too – because unconsciously they’ve been mentoring me too.

Through them I’ve been reminded that all experience is valuable – and absolutely everything in life has a use.

Failures make you stronger if you use them to learn and teach others.

All mis-steps are worth it if you can help others not make the same mistakes in life that you did.

My career is still something that I can’t seem to map, and my direction in life is once more (scarily) uncharted – but with each passing experience and every step I take on the road of self improvement I learn more about myself and others.

This year I’ve learned a lot, and none of it will be forgotten.

Neither will the people I’ve met.

So long and thanks for all the fish 🤗

Davey

P.S. that’s a quote from the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘, NOT ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ as one of my young colleagues thought… 😂

Sigh. I’m gonna miss em 😏

Separated by carpet

Sometimes a bad day is a bad day. There’s absolutely no avoiding one when it really hits and occasionally it might seem like the fates are intent on conspiring to make you feel miserable.

At other times however there’s more going on – and people often fail to see the truth.

They can make and then perpetuate their own misery – becoming trapped by it as the years roll by.

Yesterday was a nice day.

By that I mean it was hot, oppressive and full of thunderstorms or rain but heat doesn’t bother me any more and I like rain.

I love the sound it makes when it’s really heavy.

I started the day getting burned though – and quickly realised that going out in a teeshirt without any sun cream was a bad idea.

It seemed cloudy enough – but clearly cloud is only half of the picture and today my forearms are still itching.

It didn’t matter at the time though because I was wearing red.

For those who are newer readers I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with this colour and avoided it in case it singled me out for bullying. This used to be a common occurrence (link) but one day it seemed to stop (link) and since then I’ve adopted red as my favourite colour (link).

It’s not so much because of what I look like wearing it – but more about how it makes me feel.

I feel strong when I dress in red because of its symbolism.

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Strength was definitely needed at the start of the day too – because I was walking around the Warwick food festival.

Although I could probably eat a lot of the things there and work them off I’d already had my ‘Saturday off plan’ (which is becoming something of a regular thing).

This post weigh in day of weekly culinary relaxation only works if I’m willing to then draw a line shortly afterwards.

If I carry on eating then I doubt it will stop in time for next weekend’s weigh in.

As lovely as all the food looked I don’t think a massive frying pan full of sausages is for Davey any more…

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So I kept walking.

My objective (as always) was to build the miles and keep going until the scales (at least in my mind) were balanced – and around 8 miles later I sat down for a rest.

I was in a good mood. I’d done lots of exercise and I’d smashed my daily goals.

Fortuitously this happened just before the heavens opened – and as I sat in the window of a friendly hostelry drinking a coffee whilst watching the rather Biblical deluge outside I started listening to the couple next to me – who were also looking at the same scene.

The lady and her partner were separated from me only by carpet – but in attitude they couldn’t have been more different.

The woman looked angry.

Her whole body seemed to be coiled and ready to strike the first person to enter her personal space.

The skin on her knuckles was whiter than the rest of her hands and both were being clenched and unclenched.

‘She doesn’t deserve that job. I make her life possible by working for her. She’s a waste of space.’

The man nodded and sipped his wine. He looked tired and drawn and although generally slender had a large beer belly.

‘I hate her.’ Said the lady, also drinking wine, slim and in possession of a rotund middle.

A waitress came over to tidy the table that they were on and the lady whispered something to her – most of which I missed.

‘…and don’t think I’m being funny with you – it’s not your fault. It’s your manager’s.’ She looked behind the waitress, motioning at an unseen space behind her where no-one stood.

‘No-where to be seen. Makes me sick…’ she finished as her words once more returned to audible levels.

The waitress nervously smiled, said sorry for whatever the problem was and shuffled away.

‘It’s the same everywhere.’ The lady hissed to her partner, after the waitress had retreated. He remained silent and continued to look out of the window at the downpour – which by this time had turned the street into a shallow river.

They exist because of us.’ Said the lady under her breath. ‘They wouldn’t have a job without us.’ She concluded – by this time almost growling.

The man stoically looked out of the window – and I turned up my playlist.

I was buying some summery tracks on iTunes and making a happy collection of tracks to walk home with while I waited for the rain to subside.

I had an umbrella but I like to walk without one and feel my arms swing back and forth.

I had my feet on the low windowsill in front of me and was flexing my toes in my trainers to the beat of my music.

People were rushing by outside in soaking wet tee-shirts and many were laughing at how ridiculously drenched they were. Above the volume of my headphones I could still hear peals of thunder as flashes of lightning briefly illuminated the suddenly dark street in front of me.

The heat was ebbing out of the afternoon with each raindrop though and the air was slowly beginning to cool.

I looked across the carpet to my right again – and could see the pursed lips of the woman silently moving as she talked to her companion.

I could no longer hear the words but her body language spoke volumes.

Whatever private hell she’d constructed in her mind was still in full flow. Her obvious feeling that someone else in life had what she deserved was busy consuming her.

The man sat in silence and I wondered how many times he’d heard this speech or a variation of it.

He looked like he knew that the quickest way to bring it to a conclusion was not to react, and instead just to let it flow over him whilst waiting for a change in the wind.

I’ve seen that face before – in my childhood home as my father, my brother and myself waited for the storms surrounding my mother to subside and for blue skies to re-appear.

They rarely did though. The skies mostly remained cloudy and we were always separated by this.

By carpet.

Just carpet and perspective.

That was all that stood between us.

A stretch of worn rug, trodden on by thousand of feet and aged with time – but combined with her outlook on life it might as well have been an ocean for the gulf it presented.

I was pulled back to the present as I re-focused on the scene in front of me, watching this bitterly unhappy woman looking through the same window with a totally different way of viewing the world.

She was bitter and her eyes showed that this emotion was no stranger to her life. The lines on her face bore little evidence of smiles and she seemed to be drinking her wine with anger – to fuel and enable her mood rather than to relax it.

All of a sudden there it was.

The end to the rain.

This event passed her by as she continued in her angry rant – and I doubt she saw the first shafts of sunlight hit the pavement in front of her.

She was still there and still angrily hissing through her teeth when I left half an hour later – and her husband/partner/friend still hadn’t said a word.

She’d not once asked him for his opinion – or sought through him another way of looking at the situation.

The only monologue she could hear was her own and she’d made at least two people unhappy in the process – as well as herself.

I marvelled at the energy it must have taken to remain that angry.

As I walked away and the physical gap widened between us I felt the cool breeze that had replaced the humid heat.

Everything looked fresh, and damp trees slowly dripped themselves dry onto the pavements below their shade.

The world felt renewed somehow – even though it was just the same but a little damper.

I walked home thinking about the gulf between myself and this woman – and how some find the gift of perspective whereas others never do.

I’ve no idea what causes people like my mother or her to remain rigidly unmoving and bitter throughout their lives – or what makes them so inflexible or incapable of change.

I’m glad that it’s not how I feel about the world though.

I’m glad I’m not angry and that I don’t feel continual resentment about what other people have and the things I don’t.

The truth is I have enough – and that’s all anyone needs. I am healthy and I am alive – and EVERYTHING else is a matter of perspective.

The past doesn’t matter – and neither does the future. I can influence it but I can’t control it and to think otherwise is folly.

It’s also better to live with an absence of want. If someone earns more than me then I wish them all the best and hope that it brings them happiness.

Money and possessions have never done this for me though.

I feel happy with a red tee-shirt that cost me £2 in a charity shop not because it’s a material possession – but because of the mental and physical change it represents.

It makes me feel happy because I worked hard to wear it and I chose to not just sit there and feel bitter that I couldn’t.

I got up and made my life better because I didn’t want to be like my mother – sitting at the opposite end of that carpet and separated from her by nothing.

Davey

I own red

It’s fair to say that whilst I’m very much enjoying my new job that there was a mild, almost barely detectable mood of happiness when I left the office last night to begin a week’s break over Christmas and new year.

Only those with a trained eye (possibly a seasoned police detective) would have spotted the signs though.

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I would no doubt make an excellent poker player.

This is the first time that I’ve ever had a job that does this for it’s staff. Previously all of my work around this time of year has been for operations centres that have a 24x7x365 presence.

Any such lengthy time off over the holiday season had to be bartered for with colleagues and agreed many months in advance.

I have no complaints that I have to use some of my (yet to be earned) holiday allowance to make it happen. It enables me to do a lot that I’d have otherwise struggled to do (such as be in for my new washing machine later in the week).

In the meantime though I’m now stressing again about weight loss. It’s been playing on my mind that last week (when I unexpectedly gained three pounds) I technically lost my 19 stone certificate (although it’s mine and Angie would have to fist fight me in a cage to get it back lol).

I’ve now been ill for two whole weeks with the flu. I feel that during this period my eating hasn’t been quite as regimented as it was back in October when I had such good progress (check old posts tagged as #onplanoctober). The more run down and crappy I’ve felt the more likely I’ve been to reach for the fruit or have a second bowl of stew.

The positives of periods like this however are that I’m reminded what a ‘bad’ week looks like these days. In reality it contains absolutely nothing really ‘bad’ and only has over consumption of salad, fruit, low fat natural yogurt, cottage cheese, pickles, lean meat and coffee.

I’ve avoided every last cake and sweet that’s been waved under my nose (on an almost daily basis) in the office for the whole of the run up to Christmas.

I haven’t touched a single one.

It’s still possible to put weight on eating ‘good’ food though and thats always on my mind.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on my exercise and despite being ill I’ve managed to keep my activity going throughout November and December.

My personal target has been (for a while now) to maintain a daily average of 10 miles walking distance.

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(It’s worth noting that I had some technical issues with Apple Watch in June and July – so the totals on my iPhone health app remain irritatingly incorrect. They should be a lot higher, which is why I also keep separate stats.)

Despite all of the snow and rain we’ve had lately since I started my job on the 6th November I’ve only had to use my car twice. I estimate that this means that I’ve already walked 180 miles backwards and forwards to my place of employment.

In practical terms this not only means that I keep fit – but also that I’ve saved around £45 in fuel costs. Depending on petrol prices I suspect this means I’d be around £350-£400 a year better off, on top of being lots healthier and happier.

I might even ring fence that money and use it for something significant (such as a little climbing holiday in the lake district or Scotland) because to me it represents one of many savings that can easily be made in pursuit of a better lifestyle.

I know that not everyone has the luxury of being able to walk to work – but often they can park further away when they get there. There’s always a way to turn £££’s spent into lbs lost.

However – back to weighing in stress.

I’m thinking about all of the above because I’m readying myself for a less than stellar result this morning (don’t I always though!) and this week it feels even more important than usual because of my radio appearance next Friday (link).

I don’t really want to rock up to the BBC and have to admit that I no longer have my 19st certificate that I’ve put a bunch of weight back on – so this is playing on my mind.

However – in some respects there’s maybe a benefit to not being perfect and showing my fluctuations – because no-one is. I’ve also noticed that traffic to my site has often spiked the most when I’m feeling down (although this thankfully doesn’t happen often) or going through difficulties rather than just when I post stories of continued progress.

Arguably however learning how to deal with ‘failure’ and not implode (and therefore eat all the pies) could also be considered progress as well…

I think what writing this blog has taught me over a prolonged period of time is that we often don’t look for ‘perfect’ in others. We look for someone that’s gone through the same doubt and worries that all of us do and then watch to see how they’ve navigated it’s choppy waters so that we too can try and find our own way through something similar.

So maybe the answer is not to worry about any kind of perceived ‘failure’ I may or may not have had – but to just remember that we all get sick, and we all struggle to control our impulses, no-matter how far we’ve come in life we all just work to succeed as best we can.

Maybe this is what ‘naturally slim’ looks like?

Anyway – I must get ready. It’s the final meeting at Slimming World before Christmas and there’s a food tasting event and I need to prepare my snacks.

I suspect it’s going to be a little quiet in group today – but hopefully there a few tasty things to try too!

(Author weighs in)

Well Slimming World was fun today! We played party games and ate all the lovely food that we’d prepared for eachother. I also won something in pass the parcel (second year running!) and got a voucher for a free week that will come in really useful!

I’d decided to take a shortcut of sorts and prepare some couscous dishes (roasted veg sachet sourced from Aldi) which were quick and easy to make. I combined them with some of the Tesco’s Finest range of salads and some onion and mushrooms fried in spray oil.

Although there were some syns involved (I didn’t use the sugary dressing that came in a pot with the beetroot salad) these are what I view as good ones.

They’re not empty calories – and instead of being crisps or chocolate they’re filling and wholesome. These are the types of things I’m taking to work for lunch (although I usually make my own salads) and they stop me from snacking.

This approach to syns and the aforementioned exercise must be working – because I had a good result on the scales.

Whatever got (metaphorically speaking 😏) ‘stuck in the pipes’ last week appears to have dislodged itself and I managed to lose five pounds!

This means that I’ve not only officially got my 19st certificate back but that I’ve also made a start towards my next one. I’m now 5lbs short of my nineteen and a half stone award and (mind bogglingly) twelve pounds away from my twenty stone certificate!!!

Anyway – that’s all of my news for the time being. I feel really Christmassy today – because one of my oldest friends is coming over and I can’t wait to hang out and catch up.

We’ve known eachother long enough for Christmas to feel absolutely incomplete if we don’t manage to get together – so this evening both of our seasonal itches get resoundingly scratched.

In the meantime I found a really ace (large) fleecy top in a charity shop for £3.75 yesterday and I’ve realised that I rather like wearing red now.

In the past I always avoided it because I felt it would draw attention to me – when I wanted to instead feel completely invisible outside the house.

People bullied me and called me names anyway without the need for me to paint a big red target on myself – and the inevitable comparisons to Santa Claus happened every time I wore something even vaguely similar to this colour.

Now I don’t care. I flipping love it in fact.

I own red now internet. It’s mine. I’ve planted my flag in it and you can’t have it back!

Davey

Baldy

I’m a true believer that pretty much every cloud can (with the right attitude) be found to have a silver lining. 

It’s all about perspective. 

Today I was treated to a wonderful dose of this on my walk home from work as I strode past a large group of rowdy looking teenagers. They were all clustered round a bench and I had no choice but to walk close by to them to get to the exit point. 

I don’t like gangs of kids. 

Not because I’m worried about being physically accosted – but because I always used to be verbally abused

This has let me to usually avoid all eye contact and try to become mentally invisible when I encounter such groups and today was no exception. 

‘Be a leaf in the wind Dave…’ I thought. ‘Just ignore them.’

I looked at my feet as I drew nearer and it was then that I heard them whispering. I glanced to the side and could see four of them were staring at me. 

Then I heard one of them say ‘on the count of three all call him…’

My heart sank. Really? Was this shit still happening to me? Can’t idiots like this just let fat people get on with their lives without abusing them in the street?

They drew in their collective breath beneath their hoodies…

Oi! BALDY!!!’ They all shouted in unison as I passed close by. 

I almost stopped to reply, thought better of it, and continued along my way. 

Although I’ll admit it wasn’t a pleasant experience I don’t think they’d have been satisfied with the grin they produced on my face as I continued on my way. 

‘Baldy!’ 

How great is that?! 

Eighteen months ago I’d have been a a ‘fat c**t’ or a ‘fat b***ard’ but now I’m just ‘baldy’! I no longer merit abuse based on my dimensions – now they have to pick on my challenged cranial follicles instead!!!

Now that’s progress!


Davey

Generous comment

I woke up very early this morning – most probably because I also went to bed very early. 

I’ve noticed that a (probably inevitable) consequence of working all day AND fitting in 20,000 steps is meaning that on some days I’ve hit the sack at 8.30pm – which was what happened yesterday. 

Ostensibly I’d planned to read for a while – but instead woke up much later with my iPad unceremoniously resting on my nose. 

However – it turned out to be a really really good call, as by the time I’d had a shower and got dressed this morning the sun was streaming through the curtains. 

I decided to elongate my morning walk with a few more miles, and as I sit typing over a pre-work coffee I’m already at five miles and 10,000 steps for the day, so the effort required for the rest of the afternoon is pretty much removed – which is a real bonus as I need to do some work in the garden this evening. 

The park looked fantastic at 7.30am.  

I really wish I’d brought my camera along because it was squirrel and bird heaven today. They were everywhere – making nests and nibbling acorns. 

It’s a great day to be alive – and I realise that whereas I used to avoid the sun and my mood was constant (although probably constantly downbeat) now I find that like the rest of the world I’m happier when it’s brighter. 

My last (somewhat somber) post was on a grey, oppressive day with grim skies and a pressing humidity. I felt sluggish and the weather looked awful. The words probably reflected the weather.

Today I don’t feel that way at all. 


This is definitely a good thing, because I awoke to something interesting on Facebook. 

I’m often bowled over by people’s warmth and kindness. One of the outstanding things about the last 18 months has been without a doubt the positive support that people have given me on social media – and because of that this blog has been a significant turning point in my life. 

The boon of ‘putting myself out there’ on things like Instagram and WordPress is incredibly multi faceted though – and sometimes the friendship that’s extended comes presented in quite a different format. 

An Instagram post I’d also publicly shared on Facebook yesterday had been receiving some feedback. 



Occasionally in life people are so self aware and so generous of spirit that they KNOW already that meeting them in person would be a colossal mistake for anyone else, so they make absolutely sure that it won’t happen, and honestly it’s REALLY helpful. 

There’s nothing worse than being disappointed by someone you trusted – so finding out right at the beginning of a potential friendship that someone is a bit of a twit saves a lot of time. 

What I found most interesting about this post (now deleted – and not by me) was my reaction to it.

I’m not angry – or upset. 

This is really strange – because an early feature of my attempts to lose weight happened to be instances like this or this where random members of the public decided it made their day complete by calling me a fat **** whilst hanging out of cars or vans. 

Rarely did they slow their cars down enough in those days to be accountable for their opinions however – so I’d never know who they were if I met them again. 

At least this gentlemen has the decency to be absolutely open with his opinion and give me the benefit of avoiding him in the future. 

Win! 

There’s more to this incident though. In the past something like this might have buried my mood in a dark hole in the ground for ages – but you know what – it really doesn’t matter one little bit. 

Furthermore I wrote this NOT to push him into the limelight or draw anger from anyone toward him. I purposefully deleted his name because he probably has his own issues that are way worse than mine. 

I’m writing this because people just like me read this blog, and they too have probably been ‘impaled’ on the business end of this kind of comment in the past. 

You know what? 

It doesn’t matter. 

What matters is that you get up and keep trying every day to be better than you are now for YOU and not for them. 

You might be overweight now – but you can fix that. The odds are that whoever slighted you in whatever way will always be an idiot – and that’s a lot harder to remedy than dropping some cuddle muscle. 

So Internet – keep putting yourself out there, keep trying, and ignore anyone that has the potential to bring you down. 

You’re stronger than you think. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

Davey

An eye for detail

Last week I took another huge load of clothes to my chosen charity. 

It’s always a bittersweet moment for me because although it’s all for a good cause none of what I have left now represents ‘old money’. Around 65% of the items in those bags were purchases made within the last six months. 

It’s getting to the point again where items (some of which I’d begun to really like wearing) are now just baggy on me and make me feel almost as self conscious as things that appear too tight.  

A couple of weeks ago I made some ‘aspirational’ clothes purchases – but until now had only worn a jumper from my new collection, which are mostly hanging on the backs of chairs in my dining room. 

Today I decided to wear my new jeans. They’re a Sainsburys TU clothing branded 44in waist stonewashed dark blue with a straight cut leg, and after losing a good chunk of weight over the last week they fit me perfectly!

It’s a nice feeling to go for a walk in something that you feel completely at home in. It makes me realise that I often end up going for items that are already pretty loose to hide whatever supposedly offensive body parts that I worry about residing underneath. 

As I passed some workmen with a spring in my step I stopped to cross the road. 

‘Are they new jeans mate?’ One of them said with an impassive look on his face. 

Mildly surprised (and flattered) that the guy with a high visibility jacket seemed to be checking me out I smiled at him and said ‘Yes they are! New today actually!’ Thanks for noticing!’

‘You’ve got stickers on your arse.’ He said, pointing at my arse…

I reached behind me and felt around on my bum while he helpfully continued to indicate their approximate location with an extended index finger. 

There they were. 


I peeled them away and looked at the large dual proclamations that my clothing may dye furniture and was made ‘with stretch‘. 

I couldn’t help but laughing. In fact I couldn’t stop laughing. There’s nothing like a label on your posterior to bring you back down to earth!

I thanked the man, popped the stickers in a nearby bin and carried on walking. 

There was a time (not so very long ago) that someone dressed very much like that man would have been hanging out of a passing van calling me a ‘fat ***t’ – but now they’re helpfully telling me about colour transfer warnings on my hind quarters!

I’m not sure why I’m still laughing while I type – as it’s really silly – but it makes me happy to feel normal

I’m no longer apart from the world in other people’s eyes. I’m just another guy in cheap supermarket jeans with stickers on his arse and I love that. 

I really really love that internet. 

❤️

Davey

Fatman!

It often says more about the person making a judgement of someone else than it does about the person they’re judging.

We’re all basically a complex set of rules and mental flow charts designed (as we grow) to make sense quickly of the world around us. We categorise based on good or bad experience and because of this are able to make ever quicker complex judgements based on what happened to us in the past.

I used to get picked out and abused on the street a lot.

Newer readers may not be familiar with this aspect of my weight loss journey but it was a constant reminder of how people saw me and it stopped me from going out unless absolutely necessary for a long time before I joined Slimming World.

It was the subject of several posts (Link) (another link) (yet another link) and it happened so often back then often I mostly just kept my mouth shut and tried to move on. I would be abused by teenagers hanging out of moving cars, drunks, white van drivers and more often than not (although usually this was observational rather than malicious) children.

I was minding my own business in a shop today, looking at the items on the shelf in front of me and listening to some quiet, chilled jazz on my earphones.

Then behind me I heard an enthusiastic child.

Fat man!‘ He shouted really loudly.

I turned around.

Physiologically I noticed my pulse rate quicken, my cheeks flush with embarrassment and my temper begin to flare. My jaw had clenched and I was about to unleash a cold, hard stare at whichever hapless parent was in charge of the little swine behind me.

Until I saw the child.

He was excited, jumping up and down and happy, holding onto the hand of his dad as he dragged him toward a video game.

‘Look! Batman!! He repeated.

I unclenched everything – now annoyed with myself instead of him.

I’d mis-heard, then instantly leapt to judgement and filled in the blanks. I’d painted the mental picture I’d expected and in a heartbeat returned myself to a feeling that has been absent for many many months.

It wasn’t pleasant.

A few people have said to me lately ‘I’m not being funny – but you look normal now.’

Shortly after the words have left their mouths they then (all) falter a bit – desperate not to be simultaneously insulting and complimentary in the same breath.

I’m not insulted though – and I always appreciate their words because I know they come from a positive place. I also know from experience that it’s also sometimes pretty hard to say (without causing offence) that someone looks better now than they used to.

The underlying issue is that I still struggle to get my head around the concept that I no longer look ‘abnormal’ – which frankly I did before

Granted – there is no ‘normal’ – and if you parachuted me into the middle of a society not currently in the middle of an obesity epidemic that didn’t sell plus sized clothing of any kind I’d still stand out like a sore thumb.

At the moment though I’m a big guy – but maybe no longer unusually so.

I guess the question is when will this revelation sink in mentally – and how long will it take for this knee-jerk fight or flight response to children and white van drivers dissapear?

Like everything I suppose this will take time. In the meantime however I’ll have to console myself with the pleasant surprise that there are little geeks growing up in the world who also love Batman.

Let’s face it internet – Batman is cool but Lego Batman is just frozen in permafrost! 

Davey

Feeling shirty

Well it’s the start of December – the run up to Christmas – and for almost everyone in the western world it’s something of a hurdle to overcome with regard to food and drink indulgence. For my own part I think my head is very much ‘in the game’ at the moment, and SO FAR I’m not going quietly mad thinking about mince pies or Christmas cake.

(The author flipping loves Christmas cake and would probably sell a grandparent for a bite of some if he had any remaining to put price tags on)

I do have a Slimming World festive cookbook though and I plan to use it during the build up to the 25th December, although I have not yet decided what I’m going to prepare..

In the meantime if I want motivation all I have to do is open my eyes and look around me for milestones and reminders of how different things are now. These are continually keeping me on track.

As it’s the start of the month I’ve exported all of my fitness data from Apple Watch. Although my walking has been lower this month (thanks to my shin splints which nailed me in November) I’m still making progress in the 847 mile virtual walk from Lands End to John o Groats that I’ve been working on (original post here).

miles-and-steps-inc-nov-2016

miles-and-steps-graph-nov

I think it’s pretty insane that since I started Slimming World I’ve walked almost 785 miles. Considering I barely left my armchair prior to joining my group it’s a pretty amazing turn around.

I also had the pleasure yesterday of dropping off the fourth (but not final) HUGE bin bag of clothes to Age UK’s charity shop in Warwick that no longer fit me.

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Although it pains me to part with them (I estimate this pile of massive shirts and jeans represents purchases totalling well over £400 and I’m somehow going to have to buy a whole load more soon) I’m glad they’re going to a good place and will help to pay for an elderly person’s care or Christmas lunch.

There are some mixed feelings associated with parting with my clothes though. I’ve noticed recently an unexpected sentimentality related to items in my life that I feel have ‘helped’ me on my journey. My clothes hide a lot and have a tough life containing their expansive cargo.

I have taken a lot of photos of myself over the last few months in order to document my progress and ‘normalise’ my self image in my head. When I look at this pile and the photos I’ve posted in the past they all represent much happier memories than I expected, even when they are also associated with pain and embarrassment.

All of the above shirts hidden in the pile are little milestones in themselves. My striped blue 7x was what I was wearing when (not that long ago) I went to Birmingham on the train for the first time in years. I also remember regretting wearing it in the museum. My back was drenched in sweat and due to the colour of the shirt I felt it was really obvious. I had to stand with my back to a fan for 20 minutes to dry off.

My striped black shirt was something that I’d bought for a Christmas party many years before and it had only just become accessible to me again. I wore it to proudly march into Leamington to visit the pump room museum (which I’d never been to before because I couldn’t stand still for long periods). I was feeling pretty good about myself and puffed up with pride – then just as the thought passed through my mind I was immediately and comically brought back down to earth when I was crapped on by a pigeon.

My loud Hawaiian shirt (which due to it’s breezy translucency allowed me to burn all over my shoulders and chest in the sunshine) was what I wore to visit my friend at her Leamington ‘Art in the Park’ stall during the summer. I was hurting a lot from standing up mostly still that afternoon, but all of the pain melted away when later that evening I looked at the picture and unexpectedly saw my belt hanging down. It underlined immediately how much I’d lost at that point.

My blue check shirt (in the picture with my dad) was what I wore when visiting Aberystwyth. I climbed Constitution Hill for the first time in about 17 years in that shirt – but then simultaneously later that evening had one of my lowest points being abused by people because of my size and appearance as I walked around town.

The other black striped grandad shirt is just funny because I have a plum in my mouth.

Heh. Plums. Snigger.

So – today I’m in a great mood. I feel shamelessly and disgustingly proud of what I’ve done so far, and despite my innate British stiff upper lip and inbuilt reserve I feel like hopping up and down in the middle of the coffee shop that I’m currently sitting in.

It’s also partially due to the music I’m listening to – which propelled me at a frantic rate whilst walking here. It’s a freely available mashup of the Beastie Boys and Daft Punk by Coins (shared by Brumrah on Facebook a while ago). If you like either of their musical genres then you will love this. This best track I think is also on YouTube (if you fancy listening) here:

And that’s it for me today. The hunt for work must continue, as must my afternoon’s exercise.

Oh – and one other thing internet. I’m still experimenting with my Metformin (my type 2 diabetes medication) and I have currently brought my dose down from four a day with one Glimepiride to one Metformin in the morning and one in the evening.

I’m not being stupid about this. I’m gradually testing myself over several weeks to see what this does to my blood sugar and so far it’s doing… NOTHING. I’m still right where I should be (5.1 this morning).

I plan to keep it at this level for a few weeks and make sure that it’s not because it takes a while to have an effect. More to come on this in the coming weeks…

Davey

Portion control – a work in progress. 

There are a lot of people who have said to me at some point or another that they’re amazed that I could be so open in public on my blog. Truthfully when I started writing it I expected a lot of abuse from the internet.

It’s what I often received in the street so why should (what I imagined to be) an bearpit of online trolls be any different?

Surprisingly the opposite happened and instead I got nothing but support (often from total strangers) which re-affirmed my faith in human nature at just the right moment in time. 

Furthermore I’ve found that my online honesty has improved and even created many friendships that probably wouldn’t have changed or happened if I hadn’t started writing about how I feel and what I’m trying to do to improve my life. 

It’s a force for good for me and I love writing it. 

However – although I’ve never lied in my blog there are some things I still find it really hard to talk about. I have often felt guilty of lying by omission – which is probably ridiculous but absolutely honest. 

While I’m completely up front in my Slimming World group about what I eat and my habits (if I’m asked) I’m aware it rarely touches my blog.

I suppose it’s because it’s nice to feel that my outward  literary persona is a successful one – and that even when I’m flawed in front of an audience I can still demonstrate progress. 

In an ideal world I would like people that read my blog to think that I have my eating completely under control – but in many ways I feel I still don’t and I’ve been putting off talking openly about it. 

So I’m going to do something that I find quite scary in an effort to push myself a bit further. I can’t walk at the moment thanks to my pulled ligament – but I can focus on what I eat while I’m burning less calories and be totally transparent while I do. 

I’ve been writing EVERYTHING I’ve eaten down since weighing in on Saturday and I think it’s time I was honest with myself and readers about what a ‘normal week’ (so far) of eating is to me at the moment.  

——–

Saturday

Large pack of ham and a punnet of cherry tomatoes

2 medium baked potatoes, 2 salmon steaks, light mayo, teaspoon of oil for stir fry, stir fry (speed veg)

1 Banana + natural fat free yoghurt (250g) frozen berries, 30g rolled oats + Stevia sweetener 

Punnet of 6 plums (eaten in two fridge visits during the afternoon and evening)

Sunday

250g of chicken and handful of prawns prawn stirfry (pre packed and chopped speed veg) + teaspoonful of oil

250g chicken in a stew with a handful of prawns, carrots, swede, courgette and onion + two spoonfuls of patakas balti curry paste (two breakfast bowls worth eaten)

Monday

Two medium baked potatoes, four large tomatoes, 8 gherkins, half tub onion and chive cottage cheese, 4 pork medallions

Punnet of cherry tomatoes with 115g of ham slices.

Punnet of cherry tomatoes plus sainsburys garlic and herb chicken pieces and a packet of sainsburys ham chunks (125g each). 

Mug of hot chocolate (two heaped spoonfuls of Aldi light version wich is 2 syns)

Tuesday 

Frozen berries (free), 30g oats, 250g fat free natural yogurt + cinnamon and stevia

Chilli – 250g mince, half a can of kidney beans, half red pepper, broccoli, half can chopped toms, half large onion, mushrooms, tomato purée. (Other half saved for Wednesday)

Beef stew – can of chopped tomatoes, carrot, swede, potato and onion with 500g stewing steak (this made two breakfast bowls. I ate it all.)

Cherry tomatoes punnet (1am post meal snack)

——–

I’m aware that I eat more than most people at meal times. I keep it under control when I’m with friends or eating out but when I’m alone I can still easily eat 2 meals (sometimes even 3) in short succession. 

Honestly the above list is less than I used to eat – both in bulk and the number of calories – so in many ways I feel I’ve progressed. I’m still craving TWO bowls of stew though when I should be satisfied with one. 

I end up both angry and guilty not just that I feel like this but after a meal when I feel I’ve succumbed to temptation and overeaten – even if it’s been good food. 

In some ways I don’t feel I’ve moved forward at all. But I’m trying. I’m REALLY trying. 

As if by magic (the universe was once again listening) Angie (my SW consultant) texted me earlier to ask how my week was going. 

When I received the message I was getting dressed and ready to go out. I wanted to sit in Starbucks to write this so that I wasn’t stuck at home in my armchair with my aching leg up 10ft away from the fridge thinking about food and bargaining with myself. 

I sent her my food list above in rough form and she also highlighted the portion sizes – plucking the thoughts seemingly right out of my brain. 

My willpower is REALLY struggling with the concept of a ‘normal’ (I really hate that word) portion size and the Slimming World view that I should eat until I feel satisfied. 

Honestly I’m a really poor judge of satisfaction and always have been. 

In the past it’s always meant the point that I reach when I am physically incapable of doing anything to even greater excess. In eating terms it’s been the moment I would fall asleep in a ‘food coma’. 

Although the food comas are almost a thing of the past I really want to change my mindset – and I’m really worried that without all of my usual exercise I’m going to screw up on the scales again this week. 

I said as much (rather emotionally) to my friend last night during a particularly in depth heart to heart. 

I ended up unexpectedly vocalising one of the prime reasons I’m so obsessed with walking. It just fell out of my mouth without me planning to speak about it or thinking about it beforehand. The reason had clearly been there – quietly lying in wait in my brain, waiting to pounce on the opportunity to jump out and be discussed. 

Fundamentally it’s fear. Fear of the world around me and not being strong enough to support myself in it. 

I’m not agoraphobic or prone to feeling tangible terror but like someone that goes to self defence classes after being attacked I’ve been walking (although there are also lots of other more enjoyable reasons) as a form of personal empowerment. 

I want to feel capable of simply holding myself upright, crossing the road, running out of the way of a car or getting away from the people that slow down or stop on the street to call me names. 

This hasn’t happened for a while now – but I’m always hyper aware that it could come when I least expect it. 

I’ve felt (on a largely unconscious level I think) so vulnerable and under threat outside for so long and so conscious of not being able to protect or look after myself in so many situations that any current sign of weakness or lack of forward progress (such as my current inability to walk) become blown out of all proportion to me. 

I know that I’m my own worst critic and that I’m also the type that can overthink things. 

Both are blessings and curses. 

As I type someone from my Slimming World family is reminding me to be kind to myself – and last night I was told in no uncertain terms by my confidant that I should treat myself the same way I treat my friends. 

It’s good advice – but often hard to follow. I can be a crap friend to myself at times. 

On the one side I like to think I can learn about what make me tick – but on the other side I also become obsessed with things way more than I should and label myself as a total failure. 

Self image and portion sizes. Both are ongoing works in progress. 

Anyway. I’ve shared now and for the time being got it off my chest. You know just a little bit more about me. I hope if you, reading this, feel the same way or do the same things that you realise you’re not alone. 

I’ll keep you up to date on this. As much as I really don’t want to, I also feel I need to be open so that there’s nothing left to hide from and less chance of failure. 

Since I like to finish on a positive note however – after some spirited feedback on Facebook, Instagram and this blog I decided that I’d act upon my recent hat love and buy the cap from the other day. 

Amazon delivered it yesterday and I can report that after the birth of this new partnership both hat and Davey’s head are doing well. The newborn pair are happy and warm.

I have hardly removed it since the courier handed it over and am wearing it in Starbucks while I write this. 

For some odd reason it makes me really happy 😊.


Davey

Appreciating freedoms

I was grocery shopping in Aldi yesterday morning.

As budget shopping goes I’ve come to really appreciate the minimalism of the place and the sometimes bizarre apparel that they sell right next to the cherry tomatoes.

If the zombie apocalypse strikes while I’m out shopping then I’d prefer to be in a grocery store that sells a full size fire axe. It will make hacking my way home through the undead infinitely less bothersome – and I’ll also arrive with some tasty provisions.

I’ll be honest though. I avoided Aldi for many years.

I used to associate it with my first serious relationship in the early 90’s where our watchword was poverty. Eating beans and frozen waffles until payday was often a depressing reality when we lived together. The people who went to Aldi when I shopped with my ex were not so great and neither was the food, which came in oddly named or generic packaging or in the case of meat often without a little window to see a representative of its contents.

Aldi has made great strides over the years though and is now my first choice for shopping based on value AND quality. My salmon comes in comfortingly clear packaging now and looks delicious.

Occasionally however there’s still a windswept and interesting individual exhibiting a unique personality. The person with colourful character traits yesterday was a woman in her mid 20’s having a heated discussion with what may or may not have been her partner.

‘Calm down!’ Her companion said quietly.

In my experience never in the entire history of calming down has the phrase ‘calm down’ ever resulted in someone calming down. This instance was no different.

‘I’ll calm down as soon as the world stops treating me differently because I have a VAGINA!!!’ said the lady in reply rather loudly.

She was about 6ft away from me. I resisted the temptation to turn and look at her. She then began to address her fellow shoppers.

‘Oh yea – NOW you’re interested!’ She said at the same volume. ‘All because I said VAGINA!!!’

I put some frozen prawns in my trolley. I’d defrosted my freezer the day before and now it was free of icebergs filling it seemed like a good idea.

Oooh haddock! That’s cheap!

I continued to ignore her as she ranted and moved the bargain fish from the chest freezer into my trolley as I looked further along the row for frozen berries.

Ironically it hadn’t occurred to me to treat or think about her any differently before her outburst – but now all I could think about was her vagina and what it had done to get her into trouble.

I must admit to at the time being quite amused by the whole incident. Her petulant and public display of outraged feminism however did little to make me sympathetic to whatever her plight may have been.

This morning though I awoke to a different reality – and the ugly spectre of sexism was writ large when I opened my eyes and checked my phone.

Going into detail in this case would be indelicate and unfair – but it brought back a lot of painful memories from my own past where a person very close to me was for a long time emotionally blackmailed into something that she absolutely did not want to do – and over the course of several years the implications of this affected and changed the course of both our lives.

I was in a somber mood therefore when I met a friend for our planned walk this morning. Despite some excellent conversation and some absolutely beautiful woodland the incident I’d learned about earlier in the morning was at the top of my mind when I left to drive home.

It was sitting there right alongside a growing anger about the fact that however much things in the world change, they also remain depressingly the same.

Back then in my past I hadn’t ultimately been able to change anything for this person. I’d felt powerless and swept along by the currents of feelings and events both before and afterwards. Today was different however and I’d offered whatever help I was in a position to give – but it still didn’t feel like enough.

Even if I could change someone else’s reality in the here and now (and I’m not sure I could) it wouldn’t stop the underlying evil of inequalty and prejudice from existing – and that was the saddest thing of all.

Some belief structures exist to perpetuate one sided power – be this race, disability, age, sex or otherwise and it’s maddening sometimes to see that not only does such blind prejudice still exist – but sometimes it gets worse.

When I was at university I studied Grace Nichols and her book ‘The Fat Black Woman’s Poems’.

I’ll be honest – at the time it wasn’t my cup of tea, and I gravitated to other works in my American fiction module that fired up my imagination. They were by male authors like John Steinbeck, Tim O’Brien and Don DeLillo.

However one phrase that my tutor used to describe Nichols’s book stuck in my mind -because at the time it began to open my eyes to a new and rather uglier reality.

‘The most disadvantaged person in society is a fat black lesbian in a wheelchair.’ she said to our seminar group.

It took a while for the gravity of this depressingly true statement to filter in. The prejudice that I read about in books wasn’t just something that had happened in the past – it was alive and well in the present day. At the time my aforementioned history was my present day and bit by bit that phrase came to mean more and more as I watched the resolve of the person close to me get slowly chipped away until it crumbled and ultimately failed altogether.

Sometimes little seems to have changed – except that we can probably now amend the statement (given the increase in religious fundamentalism and ever growing intolerance in both the west and east and from multiple religions) to:

‘The most disadvantaged person in society is a fat black lesbian in a wheelchair wearing a hijab.’

Brexit in the UK doesn’t seem to be helping to heal racial and ethnic divides – and I despair at the capability of our world (I’m looking at you Donald Trump) to talk about building walls, finding enemies behind every bush and demonise entire cultures because of the beliefs of violent and despicable minorities.

I’m sure in another 10 years time I will be able to add another identifier to the list – and the burden for that poor made up woman will grow yet heavier. Maybe it will be communism again – who knows?

I don’t claim to have insight into every nuance of intolerance – nor have I experienced it all, understand it all – or know everyone else’s pain.

But I can try to empathise with those that I know.

I’m a human being and I know what it’s like to be descriminated against. I know what it’s like to feel bullied and weak and apart from society – yet I am theoretically at an advantage by being the owner of a penis, having white skin and coming from a secular first world ethnic group and society.

If it feels crap in my shoes when I’m abused by a passing transit van it must feel a million times worse for that fictional occupant of the wheelchair. Especially when you heap all the other burdens (such as motherhood) on top.

I hope that tomorrow I wake up in a different world.

Although I probably won’t.

In the meantime I have to try and look around me for positivity and take the time to appreciate beauty and goodness wherever I find it.

Today I walked around Hay Wood with my (male) friend. It was a lovely, peaceful free walk, where we both took the time to stop and look at the world, stroke moss, examine tree stumps, marvel at the huge variety of fungi, squirrels, birds and proliferation of LIFE.

Then in the afternoon I strolled to the cinema, at my leisure, under my own steam, and sat watching a film with my shoes off in a largely empty, comfortable auditorium.

It’s true that I don’t often appreciate the freedoms I take for granted.

Today Internet, as I looked at the woodland and sat enjoying my film I really really did.

Davey

A milestone via Old Milverton

Keeping a diary, journal or blog helps fitness and weight loss. I can’t say it any simpler than that.

If nothing else it’s a brilliant way to note just what you did previously, EXACTLY how you felt at that moment and what it means for continued improvement.

To be fair though I’m unlikely to forget my walks in Wales over the last few days. Yesterday was cramp city.

I had a couple of things planned for the day but without warning both of them were cancelled and I ended up spending the whole day watching movies or sleeping. Although this made me feel a bit guilty (I also had the munchies and ate three epic meals) I’m glad I did as today I felt all of the benefits from my Welsh hill walking and seaside strolls.

This morning an ex-colleague (now they’re all just friends – which I’m still getting used to!) came over with his pooch ‘freckles’ for a walk around the park and I could definitely sense some fitness progress. Almost nothing was cramping – although I felt generally quite stiff in my upper body and back which is unusual as all the effort this week has been in my legs.

Thankfully my mind was taken off every ache and pain while my mate and I chatted on a bench or two. His pooch sniffed and licked me at every opportunity and stared expectantly for some petting, which I’m happy to say she got a lot of.

After a couple of laps we headed for Starbucks (mainly because they have outside seating where freckles could have a bowl of water) and sat chatting in the shade.

It was great to catch up – and before we knew it almost four hours had passed!

My mate was due to pick up his wife for a visit to the cinema and after a bear hug he headed back home with freckles sitting in her comfortable dog basket in the back of the car.

When I came home I was surprised how much get up and go I still had, so I decided rather than waste it that I’d test my limits a bit and go immediately for another walk to the Saxon Mill – a local pub about a mile from me with a picturesque water mill and bridge.

Oddly my walk there was characterised by cramp in my left shin. For some reason my right never cramps at all – but I have one leg shorter than the other so this is probably the problem. Upon arrival I sat down for a while in the shade and started the usual tiresome balancing act between getting rid of cramp and getting up before my plantar heel pain starts.

It’s my own fault for being a tubby lop sided mutant.

I had originally intended to just walk back home – but it seemed silly not to explore a little further. In the (distant) past I’ve walked through the field behind to a picturesque little church which looks awesome at dusk.

I’d never followed the river however and had no idea at all where that came out. It was hot and there wasn’t much shade but I’d not long re-applied my factor 50, so it would probably be ok.

Oddly now all of my cramp was gone – and I felt (after sitting for 20 mins) re-energised. I followed the path, checking my walkmeter app from time to time to see where I was going. It didn’t look like I was going to end up where I thought I would…

After some gentle strolling and a little hill climb I noticing two ladies emerging from bushes.

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Initially thinking there had been some hanky-panky going on (one was straightening her dress hurriedly) I realised that instead they had been on a path back to civilisation via a tiny culvert. When I followed it this emerged into a well to do cul-de-sac. I checked my map again and this road would eventually lead me to Old Milverton and the War Cemetery, which was half way to Leamington…

Clearly I was entering new fitness territory. My app noted I’d already walked just under two miles, which added to the 2.5 miles around the park earlier meant that I had done 4.5 miles already – and I still had a way to go before I was home.

I noticed some nearby children going into a local shop and followed suit to get a cold drink.

It was a REALLY warm afternoon, and the cool of the shop was absolutely wonderful. I slightly regretted this though when the bottle of Diet Coke I had purchased exploded all over my chest and stomach shortly after I opened it, making me look like I had major trouble finding my mouth.

As I did this a guy in a silver Mercedes van helpfully slowed down beside me to lower his passenger side window and call me a ‘fat c**t’ while he drove by – but to be honest today I couldn’t have cared less.

This is why.

In total today by the time I got home I had walked five and a half miles. According to Apple Watch (by 6pm) during that time I also burned 1403kcal during exercise with a total of 4,743kcal expended, did 14,790 steps and completed 35 minutes of exercise that significantly raised my pulse above normal walking.

Let me just take a minute here, and rewind time. On June the 3rd I was ecstatic about beating my personal target of completing six miles in a week. I had instead done 7. At the time I was 33 stone exactly. I was doing a mile in around 45-50 minutes with lots of stops and it REALLY hurt.

According to my app (I did pause it for a rest occasionally when i stopped to sit) I now do a mile in approximately 30 mins flat. What’s more – I still have energy. I’m not a complete wreck, and at the moment I feel great.

So internet – here’s to the power of blogging and logging. It’s genuinely useful if you’re in my shoes. It’s not easy to do when you’re feeling like something someone just stepped in and your confidence is low – but as things improve there’s an ever growing sense of satisfaction about making the right choices and just enjoying the ever improving you.

Here’s to the next milestone – whatever that is!

Davey

The rinds of life

Yesterday evening was not so great. 

After my bath yesterday I sat for some time relaxing in the armchair of my bay window watching the sun go down, completely blissed out. 

The only thing interrupting the sound of the waves was an occasional rumble from my stomach. I hadn’t eaten anything since midday – and was beginning to feel hungry. 

The hotel served chips. Lots of chips. With chips. Or you could have a side order of chips. Fried. DEEP Fried. 

In the room I had tea and coffee and biscuits


I haven’t had a biscuit for AGES but I’m aware that they are lethal, even in small numbers. Apparently they hunt in packs and often catch victims when they’re alone. 

This serving had 3 digestives. I decided to check the slimming world app. The news was not good. If I decided to make my evening meal these three wafers of evil it would cost me up to 12 syns. 


I decided therefore to head out for another walk into town to the Tesco Metro. I’d get some apples, some cherry tomatoes and some chicken pieces and eat them by the sea. 

It was the right thing to do and initially as I walked along the promenade I was incredibly glad I’d ventured out. 

Since I was last here a huge storm had destroyed a lot of the seafront and it had been regenerated in style. A folk music recital was playing in the new communal ‘bandstand’ by the beach and I stopped to take a look. 


The music wasn’t my cup of tea – but there was a nice aura of calm there, and lots of beards and sandals. 

The whole spectacle just made me feel at home. 

I carried on to the shop after a while – stopping to look at the changes to the town I once knew on the way. A big old pub was now a huge coffee shop. That’s progress!


‘He’s a big guy! Look at the SIZE of HIM!’ 

I turned to see the source of a voice. A group of drunks. Wonderful. I carried on walking. 

‘Wow he’s massive!’ I heard one of them slur. 

I walked over the road and into Tescos. They remained sat nearby. 

I picked up my food. I was shaken (plus a little threatened if I’m honest) and I forgot to take a basket on the way in. I picked up my items and moved to the queue, balancing them shakily in my arms. 

Why now. Why of ALL TIMES when I’m THIS happy? 

I paid for my groceries and moved on. I would have to walk past them again on the way back. I refused to take the long way to avoid them. 

‘Blooooody hell!’ I heard one of them say as I passed. 

I ignored it and carried on walking to the sea front to find a bench. The sunset was still visible and I didn’t plan to waste a second of it. 

As I sat there feeling completely crestfallen. Then, as I lamented about how crap it all was on my SW Facebook group I was approached by a curious seagull. 


This guy was only interested in my apple. He didn’t care about my waistline – and watched me intently, flipping his head from side to side to make sure he had the best view. 

I threw him a piece. He ran forward and gobbled it up. Seagulls like Braeburn apples it seems. 

I threw him another piece. This time closer to me. He viewed me suspiciously. Was this a trap? I remained motionless eating my apple. He started walking around me in a 10ft exclusion zone, trying to decide whether I could be trusted. 

I didn’t move. 

He flew off and sat on the fence. He would play it cool. He didn’t need apple. Pffft. He was better than that. He had rules. 10ft. No closer. 

I didn’t move. 

Ok. Apple is nice. He clearly didn’t get a lot of apples. He moved to the bench – a bit closer and flapped his pearly white and grey wings, again looking at me side on. 

I didn’t move. 

Slowly. Eeeeever so slowly he edged forward, hopping off the bench. He was now within the magical 10ft boundary and moving closer in a circling motion. Maybe the apple was worth it after all – and it seemed the big guy didn’t have bad intentions. 

I didn’t move. 

Then – without further ado the apple was gone, and he skittered back to relative safety, breathing a sigh of relief and ruffling his feathers. 

I shared the rest of my apple with him at varying distances – watching his delicate ballet with fascination as he tactically retrieved the food and each time retreated to watch me again. 

I wondered if he had seagullings at home to feed. Maybe I was keeping them fed too. 

That gull seemed the best company a man could have at that moment in time. We both watched eachother and the last dying embers of sunlight dissapear as he sat on the rail in front of me before finally flying off when darkness completely descended on the horizon. 


Although I love people sometimes I dearly wish there were none, and that I could just – for once – be left alone, without abuse or attack. 

Animals never judge and I really love them for it… but I can’t hide away from the world with just them for company. 

Thankfully this is not the every day norm of my life but honestly sometimes it’s the every OTHER day norm, and I hate it. 

However. I have friends who make it better. People who I care about – and that’s what I have to focus on. 

These idiots won’t stop me. They don’t stand a chance. They might win for an hour or two – but ultimately they mean less than bacon rind to me, which at breakfast I cut off. Thinking of them, and their small minded drunkeness. 


I had no need of their rind. It does me no good. I cut off all the fat, avoided all of the sausages and bread, filled my plate with the correct SW speed ratio and treated the memory of them and my chunks of gristle with the contempt they deserve. 

Later Internet I’ll meet my dad and see what the rest of the day holds. With my head up. Getting on with life while those idiots deal with their hangover. 

Davey

It’s all lies

nelson

Something that’s never ceased to amaze me is just how many people think it’s cool to hang out of a car and call someone names.

It’s happened to me as long as I can remember – and in many ways it’s something I now accept as a fact of life, but can drastically change my mood.

I have almost developed a spider sense for when it’s going to happen these days and when I hear a car slow I know something akin to ‘you fat c**t’ isn’t far behind.

While this anti social behaviour is both embarrassing and threatening it’s far from the worst thing that happens.

After all – these stupid people driving stupid cars with stupid exhausts playing stupid music while driving stupidly can reasonably be expected to be stupid.

Laws of natural selection suggest that eventually they will meet a car coming the other way driven by someone similar and I’m fine with that. Totally on board. Knowing that karma has a good chance of catching up with them helps.

They’re legion however, and appear to have a high birth rate so this doesn’t diminish the frequency of such an event.

This happens to me every few weeks when I least expect it. Usually when I am on my own – often when I’m walking outside.

I use platitudes to overcome it such as ‘I’m the bigger man.’ (note the self deprecating humour built into this for another personal joke at my expense) or ‘its beneath me’ and the all time great ‘I’m used to it – it doesn’t bother me.’

It’s all lies mind you. Absolute bollocks.

Happiness evaporates in seconds on these occasions and I play the event over and over in my head for hours and hours afterwards, even if I lie to other people and say I’m really ok. Usually I’m saying that to stop them feeling bad, not because it’s true.

Sometimes this makes me stay indoors, other times I am more resilient.

Sadly it’s not confined to idiots in cars and it’s much harder to deal with the innocent.

Children say what they see and often tell their parents about unusual goings on nearby. They choose their timing wisely and for maximum effect usually wait until crowds appear in supermarkets.

‘Mommy – look at that fat man!’ is a common comment – probably sitting at number one in the top 3.

‘Mommy look at that man’s tummy!’ comes in around number two, while ‘Why is that man so fat mommy – is it because he eats a lot?’ probably gets number 3.

Parents invariably have zero idea how to handle this and probably out of sheer embarrasment often choose to ignore it altogether.

The opposite approach just makes it worse. This involves disciplining the child gently in full earshot of everyone else in a checkout queue, ensuring that attention is drawn to the subject for anyone that missed it the first time round.

Presumably they do this for my benefit, as well as to make their little darling a better human being and to ensure he isn’t hanging out of a car hurling insults in later life.

The polar opposite of the vocal kids there are staring ones. These little guys are just in awe of whatever they behold and can’t tear their eyes away. Again parents deal with this one of two ways – ignore or chastise.

The ignores are bad. Children do NOT stop staring. EVER.

I decided to handle this years ago by staring back, until I realised that you can’t win and they’ll never back down. They take you staring at them as acceptance that what they’re doing is OK.

Plus it makes you appear like a member of the Jimmy Saville fan club, which is not a good look.

So basically it’s either option one – focus on the floor or the task at hand and pretend it never happened (my current weapon of choice) or option two – go full WMD on the issue and start deploying the F bomb or some other finely crafted PG-13 words.

Option two in the past (with the mobile idiots) has caused a car to reverse and start following me. It’s not suitable for streets. I always use option one.

Similarly, challenging a child (even with PG-13 language) is like kicking a fresh turd in a parent’s face and they will always (naturally) protect their young. It rarely works if you tackle the parent instead of the child either. After all ‘kids will be kids’.

So. Endure it. That’s what I’m left with.

Endure the humiliation of it over and over until I change and look more like the people who belittle me.

Just once I’d really like to walk through a shop, park, supermarket or shopping mall and not feel like I was being evaluated this way, because honestly I can’t remember how it feels to not be noticed.

Davey