Cup half empty

It’s often the case that we understand ourselves more when we’re faced with an example of someone that reacts to a situation in a very different way to how we might.

Some years ago I was in a different place mentally to the one I’m in now, and looking back at who I was then still makes me cringe a bit. I’d become a bit disillusioned and bitter with life – but if you’d asked me at the time whether that was who I was I’d have denied it. I was in retrospect completely blind to it.

Then someone said to me ‘Do you realise that people perceive you as a negative person?’

I was floored at the time and it caused me to re-evaluate a lot of things in my life – particularly why I looked at things the way I did, and how I might change. I eventually concluded that some of it was my upbringing (a hangover from parental influences) but a massive portion was a separately learned despondency that I’d been unconsciously working on in my spare time and quietly developing since I was a young boy.

I worked hard to change that aspect of myself and my perception in the eyes of others over the years that followed. I think for the most part I managed it. However the underlying thought processes that enabled that state of mind to take root in the first place were still there and definitely still exist in the background even to this day.

The difference is that I’m now aware of them and when I catch myself becoming too negative (no-one is happy ALL the time) I consciously make the effort to re-frame my perspective and try to think another way.

This makes it all the more jarring however when I’m faced with someone that’s decided they prefer the opposite approach. I came across just such a person recently.

‘I’m unappreciated.’ the dour faced man said to me. ‘It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s pointless. I could do nothing or do everything. Nothing matters.’

I cocked my head slightly. Wow. That was a pretty nihilistic world view. It was also the second thing he’d ever said to me – the first being ‘Hello.’

I felt that things would only worsen if I agreed with him.

‘Surely not!’ I said. ‘Things aren’t that bad!’

‘I’m a cup’s half empty kind of person, In case you hadn’t guessed.’ He said and looked away from me.

He continued to talk, now with a with a mildly sarcastic tone, ‘I’m living the dream. Every day is a constant joy and my life is one of fulfilment. I relish getting up every morning.’

‘Well.’ I said, clearing my throat (I had a bad cold) ‘At least you have a cup.’

He turned and looked at me.

‘It may be half empty but there’s some other poor sod out there with a puddle on his desk and no cup. Not you. You have a cup.’

He cracked a small smile.

Victory.

That set the tone of our interaction – and I made sure to shake his hand and wish him a happy Christmas when we parted. As I walked away he was still smiling, and I hope that (for a short while at least) that smile persisted.

More than ever I’m convinced that happiness is simply a personal choice. I also think it comes with a significant responsibility.

If it’s something that we’re in possession of we should feel duty bound to share it with others.

So, I have the flu (again for the third time this year), I am unemployed, I am overweight and money is tight.

But you know what internet? The flu will go. I only have it so much at the moment because I’m going out much much more and regularly meeting new germs. I’ll also get another job and when I do I’ll carry my experience and enthusiasm with me to somewhere that I can try to occasionally infect with my positivity.

I’ll also continue to loose weight. Soon I’ll be lighter than I have been for a decade and thats an enticing prospect. Even if I stay the same this week or put a pound on – it will be gone next week, and the week after that, and the week after that. Looking after myself continually is my raison d’être now and I’m never again changing my focus on health and fitness.

Finally – who gives a crap about money? If I had it I’d only spend it eventually. I’d be chasing ‘things’ for the sake of having all the ‘things’ that society makes me want and covet. Being surrounded by ‘things’ doesn’t make me live longer or feel happier. People make me want to do that and feel that way. Having nothing is strangely liberating. If you can’t just buy something on a whim you begin to appreciate the little things you do have EVEN more.

Plus my mug now is half full and that can only mean one thing…

It has room for MORE COFFEE!!!!

coffeecup

Davey

500 Miles

Well – I think I have a flu victory of sorts. After a week where I mostly sat on my ass or lay under a duvet after eating more than I felt I should have I managed to maintain my weight.

Nothing lost – but thankfully also nothing gained.

I wondered how I’d feel about this – but the truth of it is I feel pretty good actually. It’s proven that the lifestyle changes I’ve made aren’t limited solely to exercise alone.

The contents of my cupboards and fridge will struggle to make me gain weight. It’s all fresh, unprocessed (with the exception of ham and bacon), natural and requires effort to turn into something resembling a meal.

Even a baked potato in my house will have to do without the finer things in life.

Butter? Doesn’t exist in my fridge. Grated cheddar? Nope, only low fat feta for salads and that block has been there for two weeks. Ready meal? Haven’t had one since April. Biscuits or cereal bars? Banned since I realised I ate them all in one go every time I bought them.

This sounds like a miserable, depressing, boring crappy kitchen right?

Wrong.

Some time ago it was a place of danger. It was somewhere I went to comfort eat, to rage eat, to drunkenly eat, to eat so I would feel sleepy, to eat because I just walked past the fridge and it crossed my mind, to eat because I was bored.

Now it’s actually a place of safety.

I look upon my kitchen as a children’s ball pit. Somewhere that I can just dive into without worrying about getting hurt or thinking too much about the consequences if I’m occasionally feeling reckless.

If I don’t order a takeaway there’s practically nothing I can do at home (apart from drinking a litre of extra virgin olive oil) that will majorly derail me.

This of course has limits.

I can’t eat EVERYTHING without consequence. I can’t binge eat (although I still struggle in this area sometimes.) If I want a meal I have to make it. I have to chop up the ingredients and cook it myself.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve tried to avoid the fake takeaway food that you can make and stay on plan at Slimming World. This isn’t because I look down on it or think people other than me shouldn’t do it. It’s because I want to no longer crave that kind of stuff.

  • JustEat – app deleted from my phone
  • Dominos Pizza – app and number deleted from my phone
  • Ming Kee Chinese Takeaway – deleted from my phone
  • All Kebab shops that deliver – deleted from my phone

I see ‘fakeaways’ as training my tastebuds to keep thinking about the kind of food that’s bad for me. The kind that made me fat, that made me diabetic, that stopped me cooking, and made me feel like crap for hours after five minutes of joy.

I don’t want any substance that makes my goal of NOT WANTING THESE FOODS ANY MORE any further away.

So – this is why I see my kitchen as a place of safety now. This is why I see a maintain as a victory rather than a failure.

In a couple of days the flu will hopefully be completely gone and I can get back to the business of being well and walking again.

This incidentally is going swimmingly. As I mentioned in a previous post (here) I have a stated goal of walking from Land’s End to John O’ Groats (847 miles) over the course of my weight loss. At this rate I might get it done by Christmas if I put my mind to it.

The numbers from September have now been added to my stats and even with a slow week due to illness I’ve improved upon August’s total. Last month I managed just over 150 miles and 317229 steps.

progress-walking-inc-sept

This brings the total distance I’ve walked since I started Slimming World in Mid April to approximately 501 miles!

Now – I might be wrong but I think there’s an appropriate musical interlude required here…

(waits for readers to watch the video)

(Don’t worry – I have time. Enjoy it. It’s a good track)

Shortly after weighing in I went to a lunch at the Hatton Arms in honour of my friend’s 40th birthday. This morning I realised I’d annoyingly run out of birthday wrapping paper – and I was hoping when I parcelled them up that I hadn’t made them look too Christmassy!

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My mate was looking happy and fabulous as usual – and she still appears seemingly un-ravaged by the winds of time, and hasn’t changed since we were young enough to know better.

I still can’t see a single grey hair in evidence – unlike myself! I’m sure in a darkened loft somewhere there’s a painting slowly ageing – or a Faustian pact that was made many years ago with a shadowy figure to ensure her eternal youth.

She wasn’t the only one though – and despite having children everyone (most of whom I hadn’t seen for a while) looked just as I remembered them.

When I noticed one couple I was instantly reminded of the last time we met (a 30th birthday party I think) – where we were rather drunk (praise the gods of strong cheap cider!) and all danced around in circles listening to ‘Jakatta – American Dream’ over and over at an unsociable time in the morning with way too much volume.

That was in 2001!!! How time flies…

As we chatted and discussed our mutual life events I passed on that recently many things had changed.

It seemed the right thing to do to lead my potted ‘story so far’ history with being recently made redundant (it seems important somehow) but honestly it was really just a way to say that it had been for the best, had changed my life in a good way and it led neatly into how I’m trying to improve my overall health.

This topic is something that felt at one time alien and embarrassing to me – and that a fat man should have the front to talk about nutrition, diabetes and food groups – or be passionate about a certain kind of eating regime seemed somehow wrong.

Now what I find this is what makes me conversationally come alive.

I overheard a lady earlier this morning in Slimming World say that she had finally found something that worked for her. Something that she felt comfortable with and trusted to get results.

‘Why wouldn’t I keep coming back even if one week was bad?’ she said to a friend.

It seemed like a no-brainer to her that whether she had put some weight on or lost it that she would keep going, and keep grinding away, because when she followed the plan it worked.

I feel the same.

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When I skipped the starters, and my main meal arrived (chicken and bacon ranch salad) I knew I’d made the right choice. Sure – there were syns in the croutons, dressing, parmesan and probably the bacon (it looked streaky – not a medallion) but I made absolutely the best choice possible on a menu of things that could have done way more damage.

I passed on desert too. The cheesecake looked lovely though…

So it’s not about being the fastest to my goal. It’s not just about shifting tons of weight every week. It’s not even about how far I walk every month.

It’s making a conscious decision in every aspect of my life to make the right choices in the knowledge that ultimately this will improve my world and make me happier and healthier than I’ve ever been before.

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So today internet I maintained my weight and I’m super super proud that I did.

I have loads of walks planned for the coming week and I plan to kick the arse of the scales next Saturday.

I’m SO gonna nail it!

Davey

Write off

Man-flu-775x390

I knew there was something amiss the other day when a man dressed in sack cloth and ringing a bell walked past my house calling ‘bring out your dead!’ He moved on after drawing a chalk mark on my front door to indicate that there was a plague victim within.

The ladies in my life refer to this as ‘man flu‘, which scarcely does justice to the Ebola like symptoms of the flesh eating virus I appear to have succumbed to.

The consequence of blog silence however is a heartwarming one – and today my mobile has been buzzing away with people making sure that I’m not hibernating or on a downward spiral.

I can confirm to those who have asked about my welfare that reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

In truth I have a really annoying chesty cough thats been nagging away in the background for days. On Tuesday afternoon, shortly after a walk with a fellow Slimming World’r around Arrow Valley it turned into a constant cough, runny nose and banging headache.

I fear that this week (in diet and exercise terms) may well be a write off. My appetite has confusingly swung between absolutely ravenous and completely disinterested – with daily exercise in much shorter supply than normal.

Initially this depressed my mood greatly. I’ve also had to cancel several social engagements – one of which was planned months ago – and I hate to let people down.

I dislike feeling like I’ve overeaten and been ‘lazy’ even more.

However – this is just life. If this week goes a bit south I’m just going to have to deal with it when I stand on the scales. I already have a (nearly) full week of walks in the calendar for next week and will make up any ground lost.

So – thanks to all those who asked after me. I’ll be back in service soon hopefully.

(cough, cough, splutter, sniffle)

Davey

Most hated photo

There are quite a few pictures of me on my computer. The vast majority of them I have no love for. One or two I like a bit, but they’re the absolute minority.

When I scroll through my photo library I’m struck by how much (until fairly recently) I have avoided having my picture taken. There are vast gaps in my timeline where I take photos of objects or other people, but there are almost none of myself.

A candid photo of me will almost certainly catch me in a pose I’m unhappy with. When a man of my stature has so many awful angles to choose from, taking a photo that I dislike is not difficult.

Unlike some of my friends I don’t mind people taking my photo though. I take pictures of other people because I want to capture a memory of someone I like, and I assume they do the same with me.

Do I want to look at the pictures they take? No – not really. They can keep them to themselves.

Recently however I have been seeing other brave people in Slimming World putting up before and after photos of themselves and It’s amazing to see how some have changed.

They’re genuinely inspiring.

Unfortunately I haven’t got anywhere near my goal yet, but I do know where I want to be in a couple of years.

Because of this I need something to focus on when I’m sitting staring at the fridge in weaker moments (otherwise known as ‘days of the week’).

All of the photos floating on the SW Facebook group on the topic made me start to think ‘what’s the absolute worst photo of myself in my collection?’

In the last decade the LOWEST weight that I have recorded for myself is 24st 5lbs (155kg) in May 2008. Although to many this would be a starting point to me it was a massive achievement, and I’d lost almost 10 stone to get down to that.

This is how I looked.

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The route I’d chosen to get there was however not the right one for me. I’d chosen a diet that relied on meal replacements, not re-learning how to eat real food.

The diet consultant I went to was an absolutely lovely woman, who genuinely cared – but I had ignored (and was unwilling to properly deal with) other problematic aspects of my personality and eating/drinking habits.

For a short time though I was fitter and happier (at least I thought I was) than I’d ever been.

Then the mental wheels came off the bus and I started destroying all my hard work. Looking back I remember actively working to sabotage myself again and again. Pretty soon, at the rate of a stone a month I had put it all back on. By February 2009 (when I gave up weighing myself) I was 32 stone 7lbs.

Years passed and then by mid 2015 this was the moon faced man I once again saw in the mirror. I’d learned by this time to hate myself in every conceivable way. I had developed diabetes and high cholesterol, and could barely physically move from one location to another.

The only way I could deal with this was by hiding from the world and covering my physical and emotional pain with food and alcohol.

most hated photo 2 (1)

When I finally stepped on the scales at Slimming World in April 2016 I was 34st 8.5lbs, and I know for a fact in the three months prior to this (thanks to giving up alcohol) I had already lost some weight by then.

So what’s the point of this?

Why am I posting this picture when I haven’t got back to where I want to be? I’m sure that the guy in this image still looks familiar to all that know me.

Sure – I’m a couple of stone lighter now, but I have a long way to go. I still can’t walk very long distances and my mobility (although improving) still sucks. The person I am now isn’t radically different.

Or is he?

Mentally something has changed. I can feel it deep inside – and it’s something I want to remember when I hit dark moments. I need to be able to look back and focus upon how I’m thinking here and now, so I’m writing it down.

I’m not thinking about dying any more.

I’ve said to many people (including my family) over recent years that I didn’t expect to see old age. Flippantly I compared myself to John Candy, who died of a heart attack at the age of 43 while filming Wagons East! 

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He was a smaller man than myself. Although I don’t know how heavy he was when he died some Googling suggests he was at times 325lbs in weight (some non-news sites suggest it was higher) and was approx 6 ft 1in. In contrast I am also 43, started at 484lbs and am 5ft 11.

I realise now how much me saying I expected to die so soon must have hurt the people I love. They were forced to see someone they cared about matter of factly admitting he expected to be dead in the very near future. Furthermore they also had to watch me slowly committing suicide by food and alcohol in front of them.

I’m not sure I’d have taken it as well as they did if the tables had been turned on me.

To be honest I still feel a lot of shame about that – but I have to move on and focus on what I can do right, not just kicking myself for what I did wrong.

So this – my most hated photo is something I may not have looked closely at had it not been for the people at Slimming World. I’m glad I took the time to search for it, crop out everyone else, straighten it up and present it to the world in all its morbidly obese glory.

It represents the man I never want to be again – and the more people that have this image, and read this post the better.

Not only do I want to keep this in the forefront of my mind and never forget it – I want each and every one of the people that know me to remind me about this photo if I falter in the future.

Anyway – that’s almost all I have to say today internet, but I want you to know that despite still being full of man flu and still having a long journey ahead I’m not feeling down.

I’m feeling positive – and I want to share that with others. 

Every.

Single.

One.

Of.

Us.

…can be who we want to be if we strip away the artifices we’ve constructed to hide from our realities. In order to effect long term and positive change the only way forward is to be truly honest with ourselves and others about who we are and why we do the things we do.

Davey

Appetite disturbed

As is typical when it comes to the best laid plans of mice and men the only thing that can be considered a certainty in life is uncertainty.

I started Monday as I planned to go on for the week – positive and on plan, with a indomitable certainty that my mood would conquer all, which it did – until early evening when I began to feel unusually hungry.

I managed to annihilate an entire box of Slimming World Hi-Fi bars, nailing 18 syns in one sitting. Then immediately after I had a baked potato and some stir fry with two salmon steaks. Everything tasted unusual though. Not only was my appetite randomly out of control, but everything I was eating had a coppery tang to it.

Then I started to feel queasy. The fish was new – it couldn’t be out of date… Was it the types of food? Mixing hi-fi bars with a main meal maybe? Then my headache started, followed by shoulder aches and a scratchy throat.

Finally to complete the picture my nose started running. I realised that man flu had arrived.

So now – for the second night in a row I’m sitting upright because I can’t breathe properly lying down and I’m feeling grumpy.

On the positive side for the start of today my appetite has swung in the opposite direction to last night, and I’ve not felt particularly hungry. Maybe this will redress the ridiculousness of Monday’s out of character need to binge on something sweet.

As I can’t sleep tonight to pass the time I decided I would finally try to make the little mini quiches / egg nests that Angie brought to the food tasting session a few weeks ago. I absolutely loved them – and was reminded about them a couple of days ago while watching the Eh Bee Family make something similar on YouTube.

It just so happened I had all the ingredients in the fridge – all I needed on top of that was Lemsip and coffee.

Although Angie used leek in hers (and the Eh Bee’s used spinach) I decided to go with what I had to hand. Since there was half a courgette and half a large onion already waiting to be used up in the fridge these would have to be part of it.

Ingredients for my 12 Egg Nests:

  • 1 /2 tub Sainsbury’s Quark (Free) (I used approx half of a 250g tub)
  • Large Eggs x 8 (Free)
  • square sandwich ham (Free) (12 slices needed)
  • Half a large onion (Speed)
  • Half a large courgette (Speed)
  • 5 chestnut mushrooms (Speed)
  • 2 x cloves of garlic (Speed)
  • 4 x Sainsbury’s BGTY Bacon Medallions (Free)
  • 12 x muffin tray (although Angie used silicon ones I decided that this was less faff with washing up!)

Firstly, chop the onion, the courgette, the mushrooms, the garlic and the bacon finely. Then put it into a hot pan coated with spray oil and slowly fry this mix until the bacon is cooked and the onion is beginning to caramelise. Be careful not to burn the garlic – its usually a good idea to put this in last.

Make sure you stir this every few minutes.

While this is on the hob grease the muffin tray with more fry light and put a square of ham in each of the 12 holes.

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Next crack 8 eggs into a mixing jug (I used a plastic measuring jug with a spout – it makes filling the nests a lot easier) and add half of the quark to them. Whisk until it’s a constant light yellow colour and then pour it into the ham nests.

Roughly speaking you should have all of the 12 nests about 3/4 full by now, leaving a little room for the filling, which should now be cooked.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 204 degrees Centigrade / Gas Mark 6 (depending on where you live or what you use) or if you’re like me and someone scrubbed all the numbers off your dials then just guess and keep peeking every five minutes.

Now you can spoon the filling into the nests individually (the ingredients above roughly gave about two teaspoon’s worth per serving) and pat them down before popping the tray into the oven.

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After about 20 minutes your nests should look a bit like this. Leave them to stand for 5-10 mins and they will be easily lifted out of the tray and sliced open.

Although my taste buds are wrecked and my nose is blocked these tasted REALLY nice.

From a Slimming world perspective I had mine with a load of cherry tomatoes to keep the ‘speed’ ratio up for the meal – but there isn’t a Syn in sight here – so you can go right ahead and enjoy yourself.

This was a top recipe from Angie – so kudos goes to her for the inspiration! I have a tupperware box full of these in the fridge for tomorrow, and I think I’ll do them again in the future so I can take a few to work occasionally.

They’re PRETTY FILLING as well!!

Anyway internet. Its now 3am, and I’m still awake talking to you. I need another Lemsip.

I’m going to try and sleep in my armchair downstairs and hope that my head stops pounding and my nose stops running long enough to nod off.

Have fun cooking – and I hope you feel better than I do!

Davey

Circling the drain

Man-flu-775x390

I woke up this morning after a nice day off yesterday with a thumping headache and a nose crammed full of snot.

I’m not one to over exaggerate but honestly I think this may be the start of the zombie apocalypse. My eyes look vaguely normal in the mirror at the moment, but who knows when I will slip into a coma and awake craving brains?

I’ve listened through the curtains and I still can’t hear the sound of people screaming, so it must just be affecting large cities at the moment. It’s only a matter of time before the panic reaches Warwickshire and cars are on fire in the street.

There’s no point going to hospital, they will already be overwhelmed and trying to understand why so many are ill.

The news doesn’t seem to be mentioning a viral outbreak but I’m sure this is because the government will want to restrict knowledge of civil unrest. It’s unlikely we’ll all know the truth until it’s too late. Men in power created this virus by accident in a lab anyway so they will be reluctant to confess to their crimes.

I’d better fill the bath with water in the meantime so that when the looting starts and the fabric of society breaks down I still have something to drink.

Food is also a concern but hopefully the Sainsburys driver will deliver my weekly shopping before he starts eating people – or one of his customers in a more advanced stage than me eats him.

I hope this doesn’t happen because I have a lot of carrier bags I need to give him for recycling.

In the meantime I think I have a Lemsip sachet that might hold it at bay for the crucial seconds needed to pick up the TV remote and slump into my armchair.

I will need to make it downstairs though and boil the kettle. This could be the end.

Goodbye cruel world!

Davey