Maybe I can

Sometimes a holiday is in order.

In my case I haven’t physically been anywhere but I have been taking a break from social media.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been almost completely absent online and it’s been a very nice change of pace.

At some point a few years ago I made a conscious choice to become a very public person – and once I had it soon became my new normal. Blogging about everything I went through and sharing photos of my life soon felt as natural as a morning visit to the smallest room of my house.

There are times however (particularly in recent weeks) that I feel it’s just not appropriate or even very comfortable to write about how I feel and what’s going on in my life.

The really frustrating thing is that this (in something of a chicken and egg way) tends to coincide with a period where I don’t cope very well overall.

I’ve never fully figured out whether a lack of writing is caused by or in itself causes the mood dips I experience – but they definitely feed each other and quickly become related even if they don’t start out that way.

The other thing that gets fed in instances like this is my stomach. The hands I have connected to it decide that they will pass the time by picking up anything in the fridge and consuming it relentlessly until it’s all gone.

My efforts to stick with #onplanoctober (writing everything down and being good) lasted a mere 8 days – and then I just threw myself under the culinary bus. I ate and overate and then overate some more.

Once I’d done that then I grabbed a bit more food and overate it until it hurt a bit.

The net result?

Well I don’t really want to go into forensic ÔŅľdetail because I’m ashamed and feel like I’ve been letting not only myself but the entire world down.

To add insult to injury none of my lovely lovely shirts fit properly at the moment and my waistband is noticeably tighter.

Some of my smaller sized jeans appear to have shrunk even further in the wash…

There’s a line that must be drawn – and on Sunday (where I inexplicably found myself awake early and feeling motivated) I drew it.

The truth is I have to weigh in soon at Slimming World.

I haven’t done so since the first week in September and need to do it every 8 weeks – and when I do it’s not going to be pretty.

Furthermore I have the ultimate ‘imposter syndrome’ moment looming in my calendar in the shape of the Slimming World ball.

The invites arrived in the post the other day and honestly they filled me with dread.

I’m invited as the outgoing MOTY and truthfully at the moment I don’t feel in the least bit worthy.

Instead I feel like a complete fraud because the suits I usually wear over all of my nice shirts that don’t currently fit don’t fit either.

I can sense what you’re all thinking though – and from experience I know what a post like this will provoke in terms of comments.

I’m pretty certain that people won’t take long to pick me up on my self deprecating tone and remind me that I should be kinder to myself.

I know I know.

If I was treating myself as a friend in crisis I would say what many people in my life have already said to me.

I’d tell myself that I have nothing to prove.

I’d tell myself that I still look good and that I’m still doing well in life.

I’d tell myself that no-one (including virtually every other slimmer of the year or weight loss prize winner ever) is perfect and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

I have it on pretty good authority that they are all a little heavier than when they won their award and they have mostly across the board found a weight that suits them, even though it may not coincide with what they thought they originally wanted.

I’d say to myself if I was a friend that it’s just a number and that I can totally fix any gains because I know how and I’m not the same person that I used to be.

In my mind however the ‘truth’ (if you can call it that) is poking me with a sharp stick.

When my back is against the wall I hate that I still use food to cope.

That’s never changed (although the types of food I teach for have) and I don’t think it ever will.

I’ll almost certainly be riding an emotional rollercoaster for many many years if not forever in this respect.

There are other considerations however because it’s not all about the ball.

I’ve taken my eye off the ball a little for a number of reasons.

Firstly there’s always the ever present ‘what to do about a career’. Thankfully I think I may have found a way forward on that score – so hopefully in that respect things will soon be on the up.

Secondly there’s having a new home dynamic.

Living alone allowed me to be obsessive in the extreme in some respects – but now I’m part of a couple rather than a single guy.

My tendency to punish myself isn’t something that I can easily do any more – and there’s nowhere to hide.

If I hurt myself then I hurt my partner and I don’t want to do that.

My relationship is frankly more important to me than anything I can remember in recent memory – and my ways of coping with stress have had to adapt because of this.

This has been going on for some time – but now we live together I’m trying to deal with some very entrenched habits (basically going quiet and withdrawing from the world) that can no longer exist in solitude – but that instead someone else gets to see and feel.

When my mood dips and I begin to retreat they also feel the impact of that – because happy Davey leaves the building.

We all have these moments – and they shouldn’t be stemmed or buried because they’re natural, but if (like me) you’ve been single or even with someone but not living together you’ll be more used than you think you are to dealing with emotions and problems by burying your head in the sand (or in my case cement) from time to time.

What used to be a period of quiet and solitary sulking and wound licking before a gradual return to the world several days later that affected no one but me now has an impact on someone else.

Consequently the temptation to hide my mood dips because of this is immense.

It’s not the way to go though.

Burying everything leads nowhere – and it’s been my policy to hide nothing.

It’s also selfish – because if I’m only ever giving help and allowing no one to help me in return where does their sense of satisfaction and self worth in a relationship come from?

So I allow myself not to cope and I force myself to show that sometimes I can’t ‘adult’ any more.

Sometimes I need to be carried – and part of learning to live together is remembering that’s OK.

I can’t say that I haven’t felt guilty about being (in my eyes) less than a positive force for a little while though – but the truth is that you have to let people step in and support you.

You’re stronger when you’re around others – despite the unease that you might feel when you realise that it’s someone else’s job all of a sudden to be a chirpy and cheery person.

On Saturday I could barely speak.

I was so mortified by what I saw on the scales at home that when I accompanied my partner to our Saturday group I could hardly talk.

I nodded at people and forced a smile or two but that was about the most I could manage.

It was an important moment though – because although every fibre of me wanted to run away I stayed where I was and sat to hear the group talk.

I’m not sure I would have been able to do this without someone holding my hand however – and to see my other half step in and take over conversations or feel the warmth of her thumb nudging my leg at just the right moment made it all doable.

In the middle of all this (making it all much harder) the entire country seems to have received a mail from the NHS with my face plastered all over it.

It’s busy proclaiming how successful I am at turning things around at precisely the moment I feel like I’m struggling to do so.

I regret nothing about being chosen to receive (and accepting) the MOTY title – but there are occasionally times that I wish I could put this particular genie back in the lamp.

No one else has ever put any pressure on me because of the award (especially not Slimming World who always ask rather than expect when it comes to publicity) but it’s been difficult to live with the knowledge that when I inevitably fail I have to fail publicly.

I suppose that someone has to though, and maybe the whole point of being a public face dealing with issues related to personal perception is that I am seen not to be perfect but continually trying to be better than I am.

Which I do.

I’m currently back to swimming daily after not dipping a toe in a pool for almost two weeks and also back up to an average of around 10 miles a day (it recently dipped temporarily below 6).

Although it’s probably not real weight loss (fluid etc has a big impact) my numbers on the scales have plummeted. Both the additional exercise and the positive progress since Saturday morning have caused me to feel a lot better and once again I think I’m winning.

I’m not only making forward progress in terms of my waistline mind you.

After boarding my entire loft I decided to try my hand at replacing my coal bunker door – which was in a bad way when I moved in to my house over a decade ago and hasn’t been touched ever since.

I’ve always wanted to do something about it but felt that I lacked the skills, confidence and tools to attempt the task.

After successfully completing my loft boarding I decided that it was time to have a go – and after purchasing some exterior pine cladding, a couple of lengths of wood for a frame, a few hinges, a latch and a bunch of screws I decided to rip the old door off and give it a go.

The first issue was that the coal bunker was full of crap…

Thankfully that wasn’t an issue for long – and after a small amount of dragging and yanking the detritus and rotten cardboard that I’d stuffed in there years ago (along with a ton of unhappy earth worms and spiders) sat forlornly on my patio.

I’m far from an accomplished carpenter – but I did do a year or so of woodwork at secondary school and (even if I do say so myself) made a pretty swanky pencil case that I still have knocking around somewhere.

The simplest thing to do seemed to be to copy what existed previously, and before I knew it I had a perfectly serviceable frame with a simple join to put my new door into.

Once this was done the tongue and groove cladding that I’d bought made creating a shape to fill this hole surprisingly easy and within another few hours I had a makeshift door already wedged in place.

I only made one small mistake and if you can’t spot it then I’m not saying anything!!!

This whole process was continually hampered though by the frankly atrocious weather (note the tarpaulin) which illustrated quite plainly what a complete pain in the arse sawdust is when it rains.

It sticks to everything and gets everywhere.

It also doesn’t help much with expansion or contraction of the material that you’re working with – and (as I learned later on) it’s worth making a door a few millimetres smaller than you think it needs to be so that it doesn’t expand in its new home and become completely wedged tight when you paint it and leave it open to the elements.

When I’d eventually finished trimming, sanding, generally tinkering with the hinges and modifying the fit of the door with a plane this was the end result.

I’m quite proud of this even if I do say so myself.

One by one the times where I tell myself I can’t do things as opposed to starting jobs with a mindset along the lines of ‘maybe I can if I try’ are diminished.

Proving I could lose weight and change my life altered a lot more than just my new waistline.

I seem to have found a new interest in DIY – which initially I used to fill the gap created by not having a job – but is now becoming something else entirely.

So – maybe I can get into a suit for the ball.

Maybe I can feel good about myself on the day.

Maybe I can also change the washer on my bathroom tap – which frankly scares the living s**t out of me.

Hopefully my next blog won’t be called ‘how I flooded my home’

Davey

Creation and consumption

The nature of all things is change – and there’s plenty of it in the air for me.

Over the last few weeks I’ve remained rather cryptic in this blog about everything that’s been on my mind.

In truth there have been a couple of things bothering me – but one of the more troubling ones has been work.

I’m quite careful to keep my writing and this separated. Although I’m very open I try not to discuss work too much because I feel it’s both unprofessional and short sighted to let feelings of any kind on it bleed into social media.

Not every situation or personal interaction can be public otherwise no one would trust me for longer than five minutes and my integrity in personal life and in the workplace is extremely important to me.

I’m not planning to change that any time soon, but since my decision is now official and in the public domain I think I can finally say here that I’ve decided to move on from my current job.

I handed in my notice a few weeks ago – and I’ll be gone before the end of the month.

It’s actually been a really difficult choice to make – because once again I find myself at something of a crossroads and don’t really know what comes next.

I do know that the biggest wrench will come from leaving the people that I’ve worked with in my current company. Until now they have been the deciding factor in keeping me where I am – and that ongoing decision has found me usually with a broad grin on my face.

They’re the absolute salt of the earth – and in my view a nicer bunch of men and women can’t be found clustered so close together anywhere in Warwickshire.

On a personal level they’ve all made my time very happy in my current position – and if I felt completely fulfilled with the content of my role then staying would be a no brainer – but unfortunately I don’t and in my case that comes with wider consequences.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve been struggling as a target member recently – and I have begun to recognise that the two problems are (at least in part) related.

When I’ve found myself over eating I’ve been doing it to lift my mood.

I’ve begun to binge watch box-sets on TV or play video games when I come home in the evenings and most worrisome of all have found myself engaging in retail therapy.

eBay in particular has seen a number of frivolous purchases recently that I really didn’t need to buy – but for a brief (and annoyingly fleeting) moment they lifted my spirits and took my mind off what I was thinking about.

Scarily at times I’ve felt like there’s no off switch for my appetite and in the evening I just couldn’t fill my stomach.

I’ve consistently over eaten at this time for around four weeks and then had to repair the damage afterwards.

Truthfully I’ve been in a difficult place – and I’m currently several pounds over my target weight.

I may still be over it on Saturday (I’m trying hard to address it) but that’s OK because now the thing that’s been bothering me is out in the open and I’m hitting the problem head on.

The saving grace (as always) in the middle of all this is exercise.

Although I’ve been feeling down my overall activity has remained relatively constant – and it’s managed to hold some of my more excessive moments at bay.

It’s also enabling me to correct my course currently – and it will continue to be a continuous companion as I work towards deciding what comes next in life.

The wonderful thing is that – partially thanks to being made redundant once already – I no longer have a paralysing fear associated with leaving employment that I don’t feel fulfilled by.

I still have a deep rooted sense of responsibility though and I want to do a good job (and hope I have) when I’m working anywhere – but I also need to feel relevant and like I make a worthwhile contribution to the world.

If I don’t then it’s time to go.

Simply being paid a salary and working with great people isn’t enough for me anymore.

Thankfully- as a consequence of my recent personal improvement efforts – I now know that I’m fit enough mentally and physically to take on any challenge that I put my mind to.

Whatever life throws at me I can tackle it head on, with all cylinders firing and give it 110% – because the world is no longer frightening when you’ve finally learned to believe in yourself.

When you’ve proven that you have within you the determination and grit to move mountains (at least ones that weigh approximately 20st) then there’s no longer any reason to be fearful.

However I’m far from a tower of ego – and my self belief has faltered recently.

When I started to feel that deteriorate, deep down I knew that there was only one thing to do, and that was to take action.

The one that I chose to take may not prove to be the right one – but it’s action, and no good ever came from sitting still.

So – here’s to the future – whatever it may be.

I have a busy couple of months coming up with social and Slimming World events, as well as some other public speaking that I’m hoping to do.

There are also people and friends that I’m looking forward to meeting in person (in some cases for the very first time!) some modest travel plans and time to write.

One of the first casualties of a mind trying to avoid the truth is creativity, and I’m painfully aware that mine has tailed off recently.

In the past I didn’t understand the need for it in my life.

I’d never had the chance to see its benefits or to feel the satisfaction of regularly completing paragraphs filled with truth.

Without little bundles of words explaining honestly how I felt regularly being parcelled up and sent out into the world I’ve felt strangely lost and incomplete.

It’s this that’s caused my bad behaviour elsewhere – because in the absence of creation there is consumption.

Nature (as the saying goes) abhors a vacuum – and something will always fill any gap.

In the absence of positive habits there will invariably be a return to bad ones.

So.

That’s it.

I’m soon to be unemployed again – and I’ll be seeking new challenges and opportunities in life.

My metaphorical page may still be blank, but my imaginary pen is once again filled with ink and my mind feels alive.

It’s exciting to be staring at possibilities on the horizon – particularly because I know that the horizon is always a walkable distance away.

All I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of another.

Davey

P.S.

In other news an anonymous friend with an anonymous illness in an anonymous hospital having a serious anonymous operation is recovering well today and my heart is a lot lighter knowing that despite their crippling anonymity they are otherwise OK.

I’m happy beyond words that the operation went well and I’m think nothing but positive thoughts.

Hugs and love ūü§ó

Exposed foundations

Last night I had a vivid nightmare. 

In this lucid (partially waking) waterfall of subconscious fears I had rented my home to a close friend. I‚Äôd done this in the hope that it would be looked after in my absence. 

I can‚Äôt remember where it was that I‚Äôd gone or indeed how long I‚Äôd been away for – but when I returned my friend had hired an unskilled private contractor to dig down into my garden and undermine the foundations of my house. 

When I arrived for a visit my friend didn‚Äôt mention to me that anything had changed and left me to find out for myself that the underbelly of my home had been exposed. 

It was now propped up only by three slender, insubstantial concrete piles. Wires, plumbing and broken floorboards were dejectedly hanging down from holes in the floor above the freshly exposed soil around twenty feet below them. 

I felt betrayed by someone that I’d trusted implicitly, upset that the biggest asset in my life was in danger of total collapse and was suddenly faced with a new and uncomfortable reality

Now I‚Äôd seen my home from this unusual perspective I knew the fragile nature of its existence and how it could so easily be taken away from me. 

When I awoke I struggled for a moment to separate reality from my dreamscape. 

My first thoughts were about the betrayal by my friend. Why had they done this? What possible reason could there be for their behaviour? Didn‚Äôt they love me anymore? 

This one thought dogged me for the first few hours of my day – until (after going out for a walk to shake off the feeling) I continued reading a book I‚Äôm currently working through about a potential career direction and realised that I‚Äôd completely missed the point of the nightmare

My foundations are currently uncertain. They feel like they’ve been removed (by me) and I have the most important things in my life resting upon complete uncertainty

A lifelong friend has always referred to me as ‚Äėrisk averse‚Äô – and this is certainly something that I‚Äôm happy to admit I‚Äôve been in the past. 

I‚Äôve always sought certainty over chance. I don‚Äôt normally gamble on anything and tend instead to go for courses of action where I have a fixed outcome presented to me. 

Today I realised that the inner me is terrified of what I‚Äôve done to myself career wise. Suddenly I feel I‚Äôve become a high stakes gambler, playing a game of chance with foundations that I had always viewed as solid and unchanging. Instead of being conservative I‚Äôm spinning a wheel of fortune to determine what will happen next. 

I used to ‚Äėknow‚Äô who the old me was. He was above all else employed and because of this I felt he was dependable. I thought people viewed his ability to remain unchanged as reliable. I believed that this made him appear trustworthy

Now I‚Äôm having to re-assess how not only how I see myself but how I feel the rest of the world sees me. All my beliefs about who I am are once again being challenged and long held personal certainties seem as if they‚Äôre tumbling through the air like a juggler‚Äôs skittles. 

Whilst there is now infinite possibility in my life I have no experience at all in turning this looming uncertainty into something that is capable of helping me survive financially and this is conspiring to skew my perspective of my self worth, capabilities and sense of personal security. 

Today – totally out of the blue I‚Äôm feeling lost, alone and fearful. Every potential decision suddenly seems to carry a weight and consequence completely out of proportion with its reality. 

I‚Äôm bewildered over why today this fear has hit me in such a profound way – and honestly I want to return to my bed, pull the covers over and curl up in the dark. 

I‚Äôm determined not to though internet. I‚Äôm carrying on by walking, reading, writing my way through it. 

I just hope the feeling passes soon. I‚Äôm trying to tell myself that putting one foot in front of the other is enough, and that things will work out. 

Hopefully at the moment forward IS forward and my speed in life doesn‚Äôt matter like I currently fear it does. 


Davey

Peeky

Well, for a Saturday this is a late posting.

Normally I’d have done this ages ago – but today I’ve had to make a straight choice between squeezing the pips out of life and writing about it – and sadly my blog chicken cannot come before my escapades egg.

To be truthful when I awoke this morning I wasn’t sure how the day would end up – but I suspected it wouldn’t be good.

Whatever’s wrong with me is lingering – but not in a way that I can really put my finger on. My balance is just ever so slightly off. My is hearing slightly decreased too. This made me think I had an inner ear issue – but my stomach still feels odd (even a little bloated) and I’m still experiencing continually broken sleep.

Today I just felt odd. Peeky even.

This was confirmed by a fellow Slimming Worlder as I walked to my meeting.

‘You look peeky.’ She said, confirming my suspicion that I did indeed look ‘peeky’ as well as feeling it.¬†She’s also a medical professional. They can tell right away.

‘I feel peeky.’ I replied – unable to muster much enthusiasm, probably due to my now confirmed¬†diagnosis of peekyness.

I dragged my peeky body to the scales, which decided then and there that they hated me. They said that I had gained three and a half pounds after eating less this week than I have for a very long time, and throwing about a third of it up.

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They too confirmed I was really peeky.

Angie underpinned their opinion shortly after in group therapy, whilst I sat with my arms folded in front of her, probably looking a bit glum.

She had no idea about my earlier clinical diagnosis of peekyness, or of its potential debilitating impact.

‘Dave’s not himself today bless him’ she said, glancing at my face and then to the info of my gain on her Slimming World tablet.¬†In truth (oddly enough) that was when the day turned around.

Group therapy always cheers me up. 

Although honestly the gain wasn’t going to get me down anyway.

It’s just a number, and it matters very little. That number will change next week, or maybe even the day after tomorrow. It will on balance always show a downward trend however, because that’s what I will it to be.

Nothing can be gained from feeling frustration about being unable to control my body occasionally. It will do what it wants.

As long as I keep treating it right as much as I can I’ll win.

It was while I was thinking just like this that Angie started talking about syns related to alcohol, pointing out as she did that I probably wouldn’t be interested because I don’t drink.

days since

It still seems odd to me at times that people see me as a tee total, completely sober person – but it’s true. It’s almost 585 days¬†since I last had any alcohol – and my life is infinitely better since I made that choice.

I can also see how far I’ve come when I look at a gain and just know that it’s only an inevitable part of the whole process of losing weight.

It’s not the end of the world.¬†It would be if I decided it was and grabbed a kebabbut I won’t. Back when that and excessive daily drinking was my response to crisis I looked like a different man.

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I don’t do self destruction any more. I have moved into the business of self renovation and instead I met up with my friend, headed to the outskirts of Coventry (near Coombe Abbey) and went for a five mile twalk with her¬†in the Warwickshire countryside.

Boy – what a day we picked for it!

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Everywhere I looked there were blue skies and little fluffy clouds and sunflowers

None of these were within video games, or on a nice bright HDTV sitting behind a closed curtain – they were out in the real world, where I live now, instead of my living room or my bed.

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Even being diagnosed with full blown (and probably terminal) peekyness couldn’t dent my mood today. The world is stuffed with people I love, places I adore, people to talk to, things to learn or understand, choices to make, wonderful plants and wildlife to see and spiritual mountains to climb.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Life is a gift. 

I recognise this maybe more acutely than some other people because what they may see as ‘just a walk’ I see for what it truly is.

It’s freedom.

It’s a time filled with possibility and detail, surrounded with an infinity of nature and growth and I can move in or out of it as I please, without pain, discomfort or difficulty. I can climb and jump and put one foot continuously in front of another – or I can just stop and drink it in – freeze a single moment and hold it like a droplet of water on the end of a melting icicle and then watch it go.

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There are some days I’m filled with remorse.

Days where I look at images of myself years ago and feel anger over the sheer criminal waste of a life that I lived.

I stand naked in a mirror looking at the destruction it caused and often it makes me feel the same way too – but then I stop that train of thought and realise that the gifts of my pain and sense of loss are profound.

they allow me to appreciate what I have for what it is and see the riches in my current life for what they are – and that no amount of the money I used to have could have purchased them.

On paper I don’t have much anymore. No well paid job, no new car, no new technological toys.

No wealth.

But instead I have everything.

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This evening I went to some friends’ house for a meal.

They’re always good company. It was great to see them and their chirpy children – and as as the evening progressed I told them about my day, my progress recently, my love for what I do with my time now, the joy that my journey (and writing about it) brings and my plans for the future.

They’ve never heard my plans before.

It’s not because I’ve secretive.

It’s because I never thought I had a future before. I thought I’d die. I thought I’d have killed myself by now.

I didn’t though. By some miracle 585 days ago I chose to live.

Peekyness be damned. I’m not wasting a moment any more.

Davey

Davey and the holy grail

This week has been a rather unexpected (but welcome) change of pace – and quite out of the blue I have seen my circumstances totally change.

Back in my very first post (here), way back in February 2016 I had a plan. I’d decided that I’d leave my job and that I’d spend a year changing my life.¬†For the very first time in my life I decided to take a massive chance and I ‘outed’ myself in public as someone that had a drinking and an eating problem.

I’m not sure that (to those who knew me well) either of these things were exactly a revelation – however, to those who didn’t know me intimately some of what I was going through probably came as quite a surprise.

Ultimately however events conspired to change my decision and I stayed in my job while I dealt with the drinking aspect of my (multiple) problems Рonly (ironically enough) to be made redundant anyway slightly further down the line.

My feelings about my company hadn’t really changed in that period though, and I still felt a real sense of dissatisfaction with the type of business (shareholder owned and dollar motivated) I worked in and their attitude to revenue generation. Although I would never say I was badly treated (in fact quite the opposite) ultimately¬†everything came down to money – and people were eventually seen as just numbers in an expense ledger.

After a while we numbers became surplus to requirements and were replaced by cheaper numbers in countries elsewhere.

Ever since then I’ve been a little stumped about what I could do for a career and what would genuinely be different to what came before.

If I’m honest it’s been rather paralysing.

I’ve found myself torn between the romantic notion of living an uncomplicated life in a job that’s largely manual (Postman) and the other side of me that deep down fearing that this would most likely leave me feeling mentally unchallenged and financially much worse off than I really wanted to be.

But what was the alternative?

Then – quite out of the blue last week I was offered a job interview.

This was a very last minute affair – and I didn’t know that I actually had it until almost 5pm on Thursday. My interview (I was told) was scheduled was for 10am¬†the following day.

(gulp.)

Thankfully a lot of things were already in place. I’d managed (with a lot of hunting and frugal choices) to find just enough items to form a nice smart interview outfit. I’d only managed to get a cheap pair of nice trousers that fitted me on WEDNESDAY.

The great thing was though that I felt really really good about myself when I put them on. Everything felt just right and I didn’t feel like I looked out of place or abnormal. I had (without consciously trying to) put together a complete outfit from charity shops made up entirely of high quality M&S clothing – and I felt good.

It didn’t stop me popping into a shop with a huge full length mirror (I don’t have one) before my interview though¬†just to make sure.

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It’s hard to overstate how important this photo is to me.

Anyone who knows me from my previous long term employment will never have seen me in the workplace like this. These kinds of clothes were impossible for me to wear – and I dressed in the same gear regardless of whether it was for work, home, special occasions, weddings or funerals.

This outfit (and a few other shirts) is pretty much what I wore ALL THE TIME Рday in, day out.

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After looking in the mirror for a while I moved on to my interview and shortly after I was starting a two hour question and answer session and desperately trying to recall the finer details of the brief online research I’d done the previous night about my prospective employer.

I wasn’t sure how it was going. I felt I’d messed up early on – and at the close of the session I was then asked the question that I’d been dreading.

‘What have you done with the last year?’

I’ve been worried about this not because I felt I hadn’t accomplished anything, but because of the shame I used to feel about how out of shape I’d let myself get before I took action.

In order to talk about my triumph I would have to admit my abject failure, and for a long time I’d seen that as something I was completely ashamed of.

However, in that moment, wearing those clothes, and feeling physically great I decided to say that with my year off work I had lost over fifteen and a half stone, changed my life in more ways than I had time to describe (although I did try) and that I had become essentially a new person.

I still left convinced I had screwed up the interview and that I hadn’t got the job.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when two hours later I received a call to tell me that not only did I have it but that I started immediately after the weekend on Monday!

As I type I’ve just finished the second day.

It’s very early on, so I can only be cautiously optimistic, but so far I appear to have found an ethically aware and community focused employer that genuinely believes in existing for the greater good.¬†Furthermore it has something that for me is the holy grail.

It’s local.

I can walk to work and have exercise and fitness built into my job! 

I’m now one of those lucky people who can wear two types of footwear in one day. Trainers for my 2+mile walk to work and smart shoes when I arrive.

This might seem like nothing to most people. To me it’s¬†everything.

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I will also get to use my brain a lot Рand there appear to be many potential future possibilities within this company.

So – at the moment I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve managed in the first two days alone to walk 17 miles.¬†This is just the distance to and from work with a stroll at lunch, and pottering about later in the evening! Added to my weekend walking I’m currently bang on 40 miles¬†for this week with three days still to go.

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I’ve been getting up a little early to take the long route and it’s been lovely getting fresh morning air as I make my way to my new job. It looks like I can relatively easily keep up my rough average of 60-70 miles a week, and they’re¬†good miles that get my heart rate up!

However – I’m cautious. It all seems a bit too good to be true at the moment – and I’m just waiting for the hammer to drop from somewhere.

Hopefully it won’t. I have my fingers crossed that this will work out.

In the meantime I’m just going to carry on as normal. For me it’s business as usual in my personal life. It has to be about exercise and moving forward to get to my target weight.

In my work life – who knows?

I am finally on a new path internet and it’s really exciting!

Davey

Looking for the spark 

I’m beginning to think I’m the wrong shape. Actually – scratch that. I know¬†I’m the wrong shape.

I don’t for a minute think that I’m particularly unusual in this – but it’s not doing me any favours at all when it comes to finding outdoor clothing – which I need to buy relatively soon for Snowdon.

Oddly all of the walking trousers I’ve tried on lately have a very different ‘give’ in the thigh department in comparison to my jeans (which as I firmly established in public the other day have ‘stretch’ in them). They all noticeably tug when I lift my leg up and I can’t imagine happily climbing lots of stairs in them, let alone a mountain.

I can get into a 3XL walking trousers in ‘Trespass‘, which demonstrates the same thigh (and crotch) problem. In ‘Sports Direct‘ it’s even harder as there’s no changing room – so there’s a lot of guesswork. The Karrimor brand they stock seem wider in the leg but oddly much smaller in the waist. The small belt that came with a 3XL pair of them barely touched end to end around my jeans when I tried to put it on.

They had a 4XL which frankly looked massive.

More annoyingly if I go to ‘Mountain Warehouse‘ I’m faced with the reality that they don’t seem to want to acknowledge my existence at all – and for the most part are sticking to a 2XL in trousers (but a 3XL in jackets) yet oddly go up to a 44in waist in the more fitted examples that they had (which is easily a 3XL).

Adding a specific number to the waistband also appears to double the price and extends the standard leg length to ‘baby giraffe‘.

Plus the quality of the stitching in their garments looked suspect at best. If I managed to get up and down Snowdon in a pair of them without at some point presenting a bare gluteus maximus to my walking companion then it would be a miracle.

Finally (at least from a high street perspective) Millets aren’t even close.

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Annoyingly they had the best quality, the best selection – and the best price (¬£12.50 for Peter Storm dual purpose zip leg breathable trousers) but these only went up to a 2XL/40in waist. I tried them on just in case – but there wasn’t a hope in hell that I’d be doing them up any time soon. I even checked their online inventory and this is the largest size that they make in any¬†of the walking trousers that Millets sell.

Consequently I’m no closer to getting either walking trousers or waterproof over trousers – although I’ve yet to try Debenhams – which did some limited lines in this area and have occasionally larger sizes.

The hunt annoyingly continues…¬†

In other news I don’t think I’ve done enough (of anything)¬†this week and I’m beating myself up over it.

I know that deep down this is because I’ve been battling the impulse to hibernate and hide from the world. I’ve managed for the most part to ignore this and just carry on, but yesterday I stepped out of my front door, locked it behind me, and just stood on my path looking at the sky.

I’d already started my exercise playlist but nevertheless I continued to just stand there – looking up and down the street.

The sky was grey, it was drizzling and my road was deserted. Everything was still. It was just me and the grey world.

Very unusually (and probably for the first time in recent memory) I decided not to go out, took my front door key out of my pocket and went back inside.¬†Although I still completed my planned level of exercise for the day I felt like I’d retreated (and therefore failed somehow) and I was left pondering why I’d done that.

I know that cumulatively I’ve been struggling (and I mean genuinely having difficulty) with the question of what to do for future employment. There’s still no sign of a magic money tree in the garden and I’m acutely aware that frugal shopping can only do so much to stem the flow of cash that for a long while has been going on one direction only (outwards) from my bank account.

The phrase ‘what comes next?’ Seems to be playing (like the last song you hear on the radio when you leave the house) on an infinite loop in my head and periodically it’s been driving me slightly potty.

Maybe rather naively back in March I thought that the answer would just come to me. If I’d gotten a job as a postman (I have applied and subsequently failed – but not yet given up) then I think all would be well with the world – but now that’s fallen through for the moment I’m faced with a similar situation to the one I was in last November – and annoyingly I’m now also finding myself lingering on thoughts about going back into an office.

This is particularly galling because I left the last job I had in such an environment because it was too sedentary. The problem is that¬†I still don’t know what to replace it with. It’s been a feature of my life for so long that it’s like a huge wall that I can’t see round or over.

It’s not as if I haven’t talked to a LOT of people about this. It’s been an ongoing twalking topic for months. The issue is that despite all of the suggestions my generous companions have made nothing is jumping out at me as something that I’d want to start charting a course toward.

I’m consequently beginning to feel paralysed by indecision and a lack of impetus.

I’m also starting to second guess myself over every related thought and question all of my motivations on the subject. Part of me thinks that deferring work related decisions ‘because I’m in no hurry’ or ‘because I am ‘enjoying a career break’ is infact just me¬†avoiding¬†decisions because they scare me.

Another part of me knows that I want (and need) to make a choice Рbut every time I get close I get stuck in an almost infinite loop of internal arguments and counter arguments, meaning that I eventually get so knotted up about it that I wind up feeling totally lost and my mind begins to withdraw.

It’s at times like this that my bachelor status is dangerous. There’s no-one to kick me up the arse if I’m wallowing and there’s no-one to shake me out of it or change the subject unless I choose to go out and talk to a friend – which at these times is very counter intuitive.¬†Maybe unusually this element of being single (as opposed to the physical side) is the one that sometimes hits me the hardest, and makes me feel quite alone.

It takes all my willpower at times like this to not just open the fridge and try to make the problem disappear under a mountain of food. 

When I took the key out of my pocket and went back indoors yesterday I know that it wasn’t because I didn’t want to get exercise – it was that I couldn’t face walking on my own and being in isolation with endlessly looping thoughts.

Instead I drowned out my fear of the future with home entertainment, tidying, cleaning and floor exercises (those lunges for descending Snowdon still need to be done and they won’t do themselves).

Today though I managed not to turn around and go back into the house. Instead I’ve tried to walk faster and further than I normally would – and turned my music up loud,¬†which is¬†better than stewing at home – but if I’m honest it’s still stewing.

Although I’m doing something with positive benefits I’m also avoiding something I really need to face up to.¬†Do I invest in re-training? Do I go back to what I know? Do I find a ‘McJob’ just to keep things ticking over?

I have no idea.

I’m not asking you the reader this question, or seeking an answer from anyone by writing this. I debated whether or not to talk about this at all in my blog or just write about it in private – but you know what?

Much more good in my life has come from being flawed and open¬†instead of flawed and closed off so I’m doing it anyway.¬†

I’m guess what I’m doing is publicly asking myself the question again – and forcing myself¬†(in full view of others) to confront the reasons why I’m not making any current progress.

At the same time I’m looking within and hoping to find the currently elusive spark that I feel I need to ignite change.

I don’t know the answer though internet. In the meantime I’ll keep exercising, and keep looking for trousers, in the hope that somewhere they’ve been made for a non-giraffe with chunky thighs.

If I can’t make progress in one area of my life then I’ll damn well make sure I keep moving forward in others.

Davey

Too busy loving life

I was talking to a fellow slimmer this morning about the battle to stay positive – even when injured.¬†I reflected on this afterwards and in truth I remember when it happened to me (thankfully I’ve been ok for quite a while – although my plantar fasciitis never truly left for good) I felt like I’d hit the bottom of the barrel emotionally.

I earnestly wish her a speedy recovery so she can get back in the saddle ASAP.

An¬†incredibly active friend has been telling me stories like this for years – and each time she’s broken, snapped, pulled, torn or dislocated something significant (this has been something of a theme over¬†the years) I’ve not long after seen her long term mood take a turn for the worst.

I’ll admit – in the back of my mind – I always half wondered why she didn’t just get an XBOX and settle into a 48 hour Destiny marathon. After all it worked for me. Why had everyone else in the world failed to realise how good this was for the soul?

I used to be very enthusiastic about this game. It filled my life almost as completely as I filled my armchair (which I eventually broke with my impressive bulk).


Thanks to my XBOX being almost as much of a digital spy as my Apple Watch I know that whilst practically immobile I played this for 1052 hours. 

To save you working that out if I divide this figure¬†by 24, I sat motionless in front of it for almost 44 solid days. Or – if you prefer to look at it like a job and divide it based on an 8 hour working day that works out to 131.5 days. If you want to know how it stacks up per annum that’s 26 weeks (based on a five day week) or half a year.¬†

Amazingly I did all of this before I started losing weight or being made redundant.

If only I’d been paid for my time…

I haven’t really played games for any significant period for quite a while. Readers¬†may be surprised (given my currently unemployed status) that I don’t feel I have the time anymore. I’m too busy with other things.¬†If I do play it’s not long before I succumb to guilt and go for a walk (if I haven’t done so already) or jump on my exercise bike.

I miss¬†exercise when it’s not in my day¬†and when I can’t do it I get jumpy and irritable. I’m also absolutely certain that I drink as much coffee as I do because it’s a good excuse to go for a walk. The nearest Starbucks is 1.84 miles away. A steaming cup of joe¬†means at least 4 miles of walking.

In retrospect I’m genuinely glad I listened last week to the people urging caution about my running attempts because today (free from the aching that had dogged my thighs for almost a week) I really needed to be on point and able to pour it on.

I needed a win.

This was mainly because (as expected) I didn’t lose anything in the scales at all. In fact I put on half a pound.¬†

Whilst it’s something I saw coming a mile away it still doesn’t make it nice to see on my ‘report card’. Ideally I’d like to see a steady loss every week instead of the rollercoaster I curently appear to be on.

I really can’t account for why this is. The last few days in particular have been between 1500-2000 kcal and I’ve burned a lot with exercise. Food wise I’ve eaten VERY healthily.

I’ve given up trying to figure it out for the most part though and have to tell myself over and over that this is just something that happens. The weight¬†will be gone eventually and all I have to do is keep looking forward. In the meantime there are other wins to be had.

For the last few weeks I’ve not had any certificates for my progress (it seems that they are a rare commodity when you reach a certain level) but today in group Angie presented me with three in one go!

I have plans for these babies further down the line and I’m keen to collect as many as I can!¬†As nice as they are to have though these are past wins¬†representing things I’ve already¬†done.

Today I needed another, tangible indicator of continued (even if it was gradual) progress.

And here it is.

I’ve been chasing the sub 16 minute mile for a long time¬†and today (admittedly with a little downhill section and a lot of perspiration) I frikkin did it!!!

15 minutes and 27 beautiful seconds!

So there it is. Progress doesn’t have to be on the scales.

It can also be the lovely comment from a lady who almost didn’t recognise me today. It can be a chat to share encouragement with a fellow slimmer. It can be the phone call I just got to go for an impromptu walk with a friend and his daughter in the park. It can be the weather as the sun peeks from behind¬†a cloud and reminds you that you’re not rooted to your armchair.¬†

That reminds me internet.

The armchair that I used to fill, where my stomach reached the ends of the arms when I sat in it.

Not any more.

There’s so much room in it I no longer fill it unless I sit differently.

Pfft. Half a pound. Whatever.

I’m too busy loving life to worry about it.¬†

Davey

To covet or not to covet

I read a quote in my latest self help manual yesterday which has made me think hard overnight about my motivations in life. 

It was a simple enough soundbyte but (as a lot of time is the case) a small, unexpected thought (triggered often when you least expect it) can pry open a crack and let you look at what lies beneath. 

I’m sure to a greater or lesser extent we are all creatures of plurality. 

By this I mean we have multiple and often competing facets to our personalities. We may for instance be prim and proper on the outside – but inside hide more mischievous or naughty streaks that occasionally get released. 

From time to time we may even wonder which of these is the ‘real‘ us – as they in turn take control of our actions at key or unexpected moments. 

The truth is we are probably ALL of these things – depending on the time of day (at least in my case). 

The throwaway quote that piqued my interest yesterday was this: 

‘People say my phone sucks. No it doesn’t. The shittiest cell phone in the world is a miracle. Your life sucks. Around the phone.’

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I suppose this hit home because (despite my windswept and bohemian aims lately to gradually need less and covet fewer material things) I have recently found myself continually drawn to looking at new phones. 


It’s utterly pointless and the quote is spot on (apart from the bit about my life which I quite like currently). 

My phone, despite being a couple of years old is indeed a miracle. I’m writing this post on it, as I’ve written nearly 3/4’s of my entire blog. It’s also provided all of the photos for my website, and occasionally videos too, as well as capturing every move I make with GPS and monitoring my health progress every second of the day. It also keeps me in contact with the world and does all of this quietly and miraculously from within my pocket.

Yet I still want a ‘better’ one

Why? 

What possible reason can there be for this? 

It makes no sense. It does absolutely everything I need it to and much more besides. 

I have no such impulse when it comes to my car. 

My trusty VW has travelled nearly 169,000 miles and I ultimately want it to get to 238,000. 

This is no random number plucked out of the air – it’s because that’s the distance to to the moon and I think it would be really cool to own a car that I could say I’d driven that far. 

If a bit wears out on it I get it replaced with a new one. 

Technologically speaking my car is a dinosaur fossil and my phone is a flying saucer – full of indescribable miniature wonders. 

Maybe, much like dietary and exercise related changes I’ve over-estimated my ability to rapidly modify this aspect of my personality and underplayed it’s significance. 

I’ve wanted new things and gadgets for so long and used them (in a similar way to alcohol or food) to paper over emotional cracks that I no longer truly know why I want them – I just quietly obsess, turning prospective purchases over and over in my mind. 

Do I really want a new phone or am I unconsciously diverting my attention away from other issues?

I almost certainly don’t need one. 

I know I don’t have the spare money to get one, or an income that would enable me to justify it. 

So why can’t I stop thinking about it? What else is going on deep inside that’s making it difficult to get around this?

Unless you haven’t picked up on it today I’m in a very reflective mood. I’m also (if I’m honest) struggling a bit in my mental battle with my worst impulses (food – I’m looking at you) and I’m more downbeat than usual because of it. 

I want awesome weight loss on Saturday but I don’t think it’s going to happen. 

In two weeks I will have been attending Slimming World for a year – and in that time I’ve achieved much – but sometimes (and this is one of those times) I end up feeling like it’s never enough. 

When I’m like this I feel that there is always more that I could have done, extra effort I could have made and things I could have achieved but haven’t. 

Ask me what they are. 

Go on. 

See what I say. 

The sad truth is that I honestly couldn’t tell you at the moment. It’s just the way I feel. 

It’s ridiculous. I know it is. It’s utter madness and it irritates me that my mind is still capable of unfairly berating myself in this way – but it’s still a fact of life sometimes. 

I think that this may go some way to explaining my phone obsession. 

I do know that currently I feel like I’m at a crossroads of some sort – but I don’t know which way to turn. It’s foggy there and although I can see the start of all the roads at the junction I can’t see where they lead, and I’m unure about my motivations for travelling down them. 

Do they just look nice or will they take me somewhere that I want to be at the end of the journey?

Sometimes I feel liberated by the unlimited possibilities lying in front of me and at other times (like now) I feel a creeping sense of paralysis. 

Maybe part of my new process involving self help manuals and introspection is the catalyst here. Maybe I’m confronting things and thoughts about myself that I’ve previously shied away from – and trying to make sense of it all. 

I’m still in many ways torn between missing parts of my old life, where I was comfortable but unhappy – and at the same time enjoying my current existence where I’m happy but far less secure. 

I’m constantly wondering where the balance lies. 

I’m also coming to terms with the fact that unlike the life I had before, which was static and staid the future is fluid and seems ever changing.

In order to adapt to that I too need to be different and continually agile. I probably won’t have to re-define myself once either, but many times

Furthermore the ‘security’ I felt in my old job was (I now realise) a complete illusion – and a convenient fiction that I sold myself so that I’d keep getting up in the morning to go somewhere that I didn’t want to be. 

Ultimately, like everything does, it ended and I had to become something new whether I wanted to or not. 

Thankfully by the time it happened I was ready and I welcomed it. 

Some of my obsession with exercise is tied to this and I’ve become so driven partially because I needed to feel capable of physically taking on the world around me. 

Thankfully as a consequence I no longer feel threatened by it, unable to move through it, over it, under it or in it. 

Mentally though…

That’s another matter internet. I still don’t feel like I’ve cracked that. 

But I’m working on it, and no new phone in the world will help. It has to come from within. 

I need more coffee. 

Davey

He’s four foot tall!

Well – supercoat ™ has had its work cut out over the last few days.

Storm Doris may not have stopped the non-existent shipping in Warwick Рbut sadly there have been both injuries and loss of life in its wake elsewhere, as well as leaving people I know with varying degrees of property damage.

I’ve been out and about in it quite a lot and frankly it’s nice to see the back of it.

Yesterday while walking around Memorial Park with a friend we definitely got a good indication of the strength of the wind Рand this was much milder than other parts of the UK. Despite my (not inconsiderable) remaining bulk I found myself at times leaning into the breeze with my companion to keep moving forward.

It was a very blustery day!

Today however it’s been¬†quite¬†different – and Davey’s¬†monocolour¬†dream coat has been in unzipped and configured for¬†strolling mode. It’s warm snugglebugginess accompanied me along the canal with some companions in Kiddeminster.

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As is right and proper in this region, since Freckles lives locally she agreed to show me around, and by happy coincidence her owner is someone I used to work with – so she invited him along as well to keep us company.

Someone after all has to hold the royal lead and pick up all the regal offerings that freckles leaves along the way.

The walk into town (theres’s a Starbucks at the end of the rainbow!) was absolutely delightful from her house and quite unexpectedly we had blue skies and sunshine for pretty much the whole afternoon (although it was a little chilly in the shade at times and supercoat got zipped up.)

The last time I was around this way was back in late October (here) and we were walking along different canals Рand back then the red sandstone surrounding the Rock Tavern (a pub built into a hillside) immediately caught my eye.

This geology is clearly a feature of the area – and it was apparent on today’s walk as well – which in a relatively¬†short distance along the¬†canal into town showed the simply wonderful feats of engineering¬†undertaken¬†to put the network into place – and the rail infrastructure (the Severn Valley Railway in this case) travelling above it.

Although I know very little about this area of canal (the second picture is of¬†Caldwall Lock) or the bridge I was impressed enough by the viaduct to look it up when I got home. It’s called the Falling Sands Viaduct (link) and it’s a redbrick construction – meaning the whole thing is made of individual house bricks.

It’s insane to think how long it took to precisely cement them altogether in perfect arches, and makes you wonder how many hoops of fire or¬†processes and procedures (not counting the colossal money needed) that someone would have to jump through today to make either of these things possible.

Anyone that built something like this back then has my absolute and unqualified respect.

Given that today is my last day of unfettered freedom from employment I think it was fitting to go and have a look at these icons of industry and hard work – since that’s what lies in my immediate future too.

This morning I called the Department of Work and Pensions and informed them that I no longer need benefits and that I start a job on Monday. This is a scary moment in many respects.

Will the people there like me? Will I like them? Will I be good at the job and fit in?

If there’s¬†one thing that I can say¬†it’s that the last 7 months off (yes it’s been that long!) have been¬†worth every last moment and penny that I spent on them.¬†If I’d gone straight into a new job back then I’d have been eight stone heavier, a lot more self conscious, and significantly more worries about what lies ahead.¬†As it stands at the moment I feel pretty¬†capable and very mobile.

In some respects I now feel as fit (if not fitter in some cases) than many people smaller than myself.¬†All week I’ve been establishing my ‘new normal’ and ploughing as much into my exercise as I can – wanting to see exactly how much I can do in a day before I fall flat on my face with exhaustion.

After some energetic tidying in my house I dragged a projector that I bought around 11 years ago out of mothballs and plugged it into an old games console in my newly emptied spare room. Initially I just thought it was cool to have a wall sized game of Tekken Рwhere the fighters were 4ft high.

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However Рafter my companion in Memorial Park innocently enquired whether I could use my laptop or even play games whilst on my exercise bike it got me thinking. Was I fit enough to do a workout as well as play a game?

Previously my bike had faced a blank wall and the only propellant had been my imagination – but maybe this could be a way to make things more interesting…

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So yesterday evening I started playing video games whilst exercising. Although overall I cycled a little slower when concentrating on chainsawing aliens I also pedalled for longer Рand it seemed to pass a lot quicker Рwhich genuinely surprised me. When I took the above pic I was at it again early this morning Рwhich provided me with much the same results (although my curtains let in a bit too much light during the day taking the same photo at night is next to impossible).

It also meant that yesterday I smashed my record for active calories burned and total exercise (cardio) minutes.

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So – I’m on track with my plans to maintain a daily morning regimen of exercise before work to make sure I remain on track. Yay for planning!

Finally – I have a new toy.

This too is maybe a testament to how things have changed in my life. No longer am I overjoyed with a new piece of silicon chip based loveliness – but instead this is a workman’s tool that has one specific job.

Saving me money as I get smaller.

Check out the new neat belt hole in the centre compared to the penknife drilled one above! My new Draper punch pliers cost me ¬£10 and cut belt buckle holes through leather like a warm knife through butter. They will make sure that when I arrive at my new office on Monday I’m not wearing my trousers around my ankles…

Now all that remains is to step on the scales tomorrow morning. Will I have lost weight? Will I still be in the 23st bracket or 22?

It’s been a busy week – and probably as a consequence I’ve also been rather hungry. I think I’ve been good – and I’ve worked hard, but will it be enough?

Only time will tell.

Fingers crossed internet!

Davey

Summertown

In an effort to establish a new normal I got up early this morning and jumped on my exercise bike. I plan to start the day this way for the whole week.

I’ll admit to being a little worried at the moment about how I’m going to keep my activity at the same level when I start work and I’ve concluded¬†that the only way I’ll do this to start with is to develop a ‘like it or not’ morning routine, so that even if the day at work proves to be sedentary I’ve still done something.

This means using my exercise bike. It’s the quickest and most expedient way to get done what needs to be done in the morning.¬†30+ minutes on it caters for the ‘hold diabetes at bay’ recommended daily cardio exercise level and is the bare minimum I want to do.

My walking (which in contrast to my rather boring bike I get a LOT of pleasure from) still needs to be built in elsewhere. I’m hoping this will happen naturally¬†when¬†I discover things local to my new job¬†to do in my lunch break or afterwards when I get home.

Today I started working out earlier than I normally would because I was off to meet a friend in Summertown (Oxford) which for a coffee. This is a really nice little area of the city with a lively street and cafe culture.

I’d planned to set out early so that I could¬†avoid any of the usual issues with A34 jams on the way in – however there was nothing in between me and the sweet sweet caffeine. The journey was over in about 50 minutes and was totally hassle free.

Until I arrived Рbecause Oxford appears to have (in my absence) declared war on the motorist.

I had originally planned to be clever and park further out so that I could walk a mile or two into town and get some more exercise but every single empty frikkin street all the way to the outskirts of the city is now resident only parking 8am Р5pm.

Seriously! I s##t you not! It’s infuriating!

There are NO CARS parked on these streets. Just road after road of empty space for miles and miles with unfilled dotted lines everywhere. I drove further and further out, for around 20 minutes – back in the direction I’d just come – but it was completely in vain. It was all the same wherever I looked.

Oddly it’s a different story at the unreasonably expensive and tiny Summertown car park (that’s swarming with parking attendants) where there is almost no-where to put your car.

It wasn’t like this the last time I came to this part of Oxford¬†– so I can only imagine the unbridled glee that this must have provided for the local council’s goose stepping petty dictators when they realised that with next to no effort they could screw legions of visitors over and extort increasingly exorbitant parking fees from them.

There may be a park and ride service – but what if you want to walk?!

Grrr.

Running out of time I parked, opened the required financial artery, let the lifeblood of my bank account seep into the pay and display machine, put the ticket in my window and walked the teeny distance up the road to Joe’s Cafe where I was meeting my friend.

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This place¬†is a little oasis of cheerful calm that she¬†introduced me to several years ago that’s hidden amongst the hustle and bustle of the¬†street outside. Although it does get busy around lunchtime (which is always the sign of a good cafe) the service is continually¬†friendly and the place is never over fussy. They just serve routinely well cooked and simple food with reasonably priced drinks.

As well as the usual circular cafe tables with chairs there are nice cosy half moon booths along the wall that shelter you from view and allow quiet contemplation of the daily paper over a pot of tea and some avocado on toast – or lively chatter with some friends. If you want a nice ‘traditional’ sausage, bacon and egg breakfast instead (which my friend ultimately went for) then this is the place to go.

In my case I wasn’t all that hungry and indulged¬†my usual obsession¬†instead…

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Whilst waiting for my friend to arrive I considered the caramelised biscuit sitting at the side of my saucer. The little window on it showed a representative section of the crisscrossed surface, and it looked really really nice.

I bet it tasted as good as it looked.

I set it aside on the table and sipped my coffee whilst waiting.

By the time my friend arrived (and ranted about the parking situation, having also just driven around in pointless circles for 20 minutes too) I was on my second coffee – and placed another biscuit on top of the first.

It too looked very nice.

As we sat and chatted¬†the cafe slowly emptied its lunchtime crush onto the street outside and the hubbub died down. We talked about healthy eating, children, jobs, and for a little while my internal wrangles over my mother’s paintings and what to do with them.

We can natter¬†for hours, my friend and I – barely pausing for breath and moving endlessly from subject to subject without ever needing to explain context or a back story. It’s the kind of chat that comes with the benefit of years of mutual understanding – and I’m always left thinking how rare and precious friendships like this are.

Thankfully although geography often separates us we always make the effort to keep in contact – and even when there are longer than normal absences it never feels odd or forced when we do. We just say hello, and pick up (after a good hug) from where we left off.

A pot of tea arrived shortly after my second cup of coffee, with another biscuit perched suggestively on the side of the saucer. While my friend availed herself of the nearby facilities I turned it over and looked at the back.

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From what I could see this innocent looking little (fair trade) biscuit weighed around 6.3 grammes and would set me back¬†‘only’ 29kcal.¬†That’s 1.5 syns in Slimming World terms, so it’s not going to break the dietary bank.

However, by the time we’d finished there were 4 of them on the table, and three belonged to me.

Eating mine alone¬†would mean that around 1/4 of my daily syns would be gone in 87kcal and much less than a mouthful.¬†To many this isn’t an issue. To be honest -in syn and calorie terms it’s not to me. I hardly use my syns, so I could definitely ‘afford’ all of them.

However – my thought process is very different to what it once was. I prefer not to have empty calories. There’s nothing in these tempting saucer dwellers that will benefit me from a dietary perspective.

I don’t disagree with those who like their sweet treats – but when I consider what will make me full and satisfied (and not wanting to immediately eat even more like this short sharp hit of carbs will) a biscuit isn’t on the list.

In my case my planned (and very hearty) meal for the evening was a broccoli, mushroom and onion¬†stir fry with Bachelor’s Super Rice (Golden Vegetable – 3.5 syns) and four¬†pork medallions. ¬†Although I’m having four of them (Bad Davey!) a tasty piece of protein like this will set me back 134 kcal.

Or I can have four of these teeny tiny biscuits and still feel hungry.

So the biscuits got left behind.

When I got home I made a really really filling meal and currently sit feeling both satisfied and certain that I made the right choice. My whole meal came to around 1100kcal and it was pretty tasty.

Although I’m not focused solely¬†on the numbers on the scales at the moment¬†I’ve become slightly preoccupied with the figure of 22st 12.5 lbs.

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I never thought I’d get to this number when I started my weight loss journey – but I’m now under half a stone away from it – and when I get there I’ll be the same weight as I was at Weight Watchers on the 11th November 1999 – and the lowest weight I have a record of since around 1992.

It would be nice to start my new job and have this accolade under my belt at the same time, just for a sense of synergy, although I doubt it will happen. I’ve had some terrific losses lately and I expect this to slow or even halt for at least a week while my body takes stock of what’s going on.

However internet – you never know.

I’m not stressing about it – but I’m also quietly working towards¬†it by not eating one biscuit at a time.

Davey

 

Special friends

Friends are great. Good ones can get right to the heart of the matter and tell you what you need to hear even if it isn’t what you want to hear.

Others can just accept you as you are Рwarts and all Рand still love the person inside, reminding you that the outside is superficial. One such friend helped me begin to climb over a big hurdle regarding this last night Рand today I woke up feeling much stronger than I had before we talked.

Often I’ve found there are times you don’t even realise how heavy a burden is (or sometimes that you’re carrying it at all) until you lay it down and begin to move on.

So today – regardless of what happens at the weigh in I’ve decided this morning to take my old trousers and shirt with me to group and show people what they look like on me now – at around half way through my journey.

It’s a bit of a scary idea – but things are only frightening until you’ve done them once and then you usually realise that they aren’t as bad as you thought they’d be.

(Author goes to group and then returns home to finish his post)

Well – as usual I couldn’t call it. I must admit to being more than a little surprised that for the second week in a row I’ve lost a really decent amount of weight.

I’m now 11st 4lbs lighter than I was when I started back in April 2016!

After my weigh in as we all chatted over a coffee I took the opportunity to show some of the long term and newer members what my clothes looked like. Many photos were taken – which was really nice for a change – as I can see from other people’s perspective (rather than my own sometimes distorted and often self critical view in a mirror) what is different.

For those who haven’t seen my before photo (below)¬†I am wearing the same clothes that I had on in group¬†this morning.

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And this is how they now fit me with my current jeans and shirt on underneath (top photo used with the permission of the lovely lady in the background!)

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I cant help wondering how they’ll look when I get to my target weight. There’s still a long way to go!¬†Either way I feel proud of myself this morning. Really proud.

That was almost all I had to say for today. My blog was going to end there.

But it won’t.

I was already feeling pretty buoyant walking home after group but it got better when I got opened the door and found my official job offer in a big envelope sitting under the letterbox.

All I have to do is sign on the dotted line and I’m employed!

I have all day though – so I reckon instead¬†I’ll go for a coffee and think about life.¬†Sometimes you just need to sit back to¬†appreciate the good days and suck the pips out of them so that when the bad ones come you can look them square in the eye and take them on¬†with a healthy sense of perspective.

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday internet – I know I’m going to.

Davey

P.S.¬†There’s¬†one particular lady in group today (she knows who she is) who can totally do it – even though she may feel a bit low at the moment. Just keep swimming!¬†x

No longer a burden to the state

I have been looking at parts of my house lately with a sense of deep dissatisfaction.

My bed for instance has seen a lot of action – but not the kind that comes in 50 shades and gets made into questionable literature. It’s borne the strain of my excessive weight for quite a few years, and it’s not escaped unscathed. It’s broken three times, been repaired with spare parts from Ikea twice and is currently¬†bodged, with the frame underneath the mattress propped up by a stack of old magazines after something irreparable snapped.

The mattress (a very expensive reinforced pocket sprung one) is not the supportive yet comfortable billiard table surface it was when I bought it. There’s an imprint of a heavier person in the middle of it which I hadn’t really noticed before. Lately it’s begun to swallow me. It’s not yet uncomfortable enough to motivate me to spend money I don’t have on a replacement – but it’s not far off.

My nearby bedroom wardrobe is largely empty – and most of my clothes are instead in a pile of folded laundry downstairs, awaiting their eventual journey to a charity shop.

Bit by bit it seems that everything is slowly emptying out of my life to make space for… well, I don’t exactly know what yet. As I look around me lately¬†(apart from friendships which are getting stronger if anything) everything seems to have a sense of transience¬†and impermanence that it didn’t before.

It’s mildly unsettling – but also at times exciting because it’s the kind of fluidity that is caused by positive change, and things are no longer as inevitable or unchangeable as I thought they once were.

The reason I’m thinking about this is because I was clearing out some old things this morning and found a few diaries. They were imaginatively titled ‘the diary of a fat person’ and spanned five volumes and a period between 1988 and 1992. They¬†document a key piece of my adolescent struggle with (amongst other things) weight and my mother.

As I skimmed through them for an hour (I couldn’t bring myself to read some of it) I saw a young me, starting at 17st 7lbs and fighting against my mom’s¬†willingness to feed me fattening food. After much internal and external conflict about food and how to avoid being fed meals over which I had no input or choice¬†I eventually resort half way through the first volume to self imposed starvation (in direct and often painful opposition to my mother) for several months until I got to what must have been a very unhealthy 12st 7lbs in 1989.

I note that she keeps sneaking sugar into things and I eventually only seem to trust grapefruit – which seems at times to be almost the only thing I was eating – all the time obsessed with who would see me as fat and who wouldn’t, which¬†was a very real and ever present¬†issue.

I’d completely forgotten for instance (aside from the run of the mill bullying I endured each and every day) that one of my diaries was invaded on a school trip by¬†an unknown person who had scribbled abuse regarding my thoughts about a girl and written above¬†it¬†‘blubber boy’ in large letters. It was hidden deeper into the diary¬†where I would only discover it later for maximum effect.

I was enraged when I found the violation but never got to the bottom of who had been reading my private thoughts. It was however just an example of something that happened every day in some form or another and the bullying rarely stopped.

I sporadically continued to write in these diaries Рbut as my weight increased once more I stopped documenting it Рclearly unable to face up to to the reality of my eating habits and beginning to drink more and more. The last time I recorded it (until many years later) was the 11th November 1992 when I hit 16 stone.

These (painful to read) books detail the development of coping mechanisms for dealing with life at home that remained in place for many years Рuntil decades after I left.

The last saved diary I have (which was more of a calendar by that time) is from January 1999. After much cajoling from my partner when we lived in Aberystwyth I’d joined Weight Watchers.

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This in itself isn’t new news. Some time ago I found (and posted) my old weigh in card – but somehow I’d forgotten that I’m now almost the same weight I was back then before I faltered, stopped going regularly to my group and eventually gave up – much to the annoyance of my better half.

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Shortly after (on my second card) I’d moved to Bristol and joined¬†a second time – but swiftly retreated again.¬†My partner¬†was still adamant I needed to lose weight¬†but I was not. I had rejoined under duress and¬†(stupidly) rebelled – eating in secret behind her back.

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I’m not far from the 22st 12.5lbs (currently I’m 23st 10lbs) that I was in November 1999. When I get there I’ll have hit a psychological milestone that has massive significance. For some reason in my mind at this point it’s almost like I have permission to be ‘normal’ again – to have a life that includes things like a relationship and possibly a family.

So it’s an exciting time – and one that I’ve worked hard for.

Oddly it may just coincide with another huge moment because today I got a call offering me a job – which I’ve accepted.¬†I hopefully start in a couple of weeks and frankly I couldn’t be happier.

Then a new chapter starts – and just like my bedroom I don’t know what it will contain or what it will look like.¬†I only know that my old patterns have been broken (permanently if I have any say in the matter) and I don’t¬†ever intend to repeat them.

Which is just as well Рas tonight I have an unexpected house guest, who appears intent on featuring in his second post (we first met here).

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Initially Pugly was a bit unsure of me after being dropped off for a spot of dogsitting, and we sat on the sofa together eyeing each other with mutual suspicion. ‘Who is¬†this strange man?’ Pugly seemed to be saying with his little frown. ‘I don’t know him and he smells funny.’

However – not long after this his stoic resolve began to break down.

When it did he edged a little closer Рall the time doing his level best to hide the fact that he was warming to me.

I am after all extremely soft and warm and Pugly clearly had a cold bottom.

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Before long he had stealthily come to a conclusion about our compatibility and, despite an unwillingness to announce it formally I think I got the message.

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Of course – Pugly has no idea that this time last year he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show his thinly veiled affection. I didn’t have a lap back then, so he couldn’t have sat on it even if he wanted to.

So tonight internet we’re both benefiting from radical positive change. Long may it continue. ūüôā

Davey

Project lettuce continues…

This morning¬†I was fiddling with my mail client settings to find a better way of filtering the avalanche of job mails I’m getting every day. The vast majority of it is duplication or crap, so it’s become something of a daily hill to climb for me.

Whilst wading through this I accidentally clicked on the photo booth app icon Рand suddenly up popped a fatter Davey, in a photo taken on my laptop webcam whilst writing my blog on the 24th May 2016. I was struck immediately by the difference in my face, and decided to take another photo to compare.

I can’t lie. This makes me feel really¬†proud. Looking at me on the left reminds me that I had to drive to where I was¬†that day, whereas the guy on the right briskly walked two miles this morning¬†to sit down with his laptop for coffee. I know which one’s drink¬†tastes better, and it has nothing to do with the quality of the brew in Starbucks.

From a fitness perspective yesterday was a real eye opener. On top of a lot of walking I spent quite a while (for me anyway) on my exercise bike. To be absolutely honest Рthis is an activity I still have a love/hate relationship with. I now genuinely enjoy the sensation of pushing myself physically Рbut pedalling and going no-where is a tough taste to acquire.

(for the benefit of my bike obsessed friend, despite this I’m not¬†getting a real bike. Not yet anyway…)

I feel undeniably better once I’ve stepped off my torture simulator¬†though – and the sensation was¬†pretty damn awesome when I did so last night because I’d managed to keep going for¬†54 minutes.¬†During this personal best time (according to Apple Watch) I’d¬†burned 668 ‘active’ calories and¬†eradicated 853 overall. Whilst cycling¬†I had¬†an¬†average heart rate of¬†115 bpm¬†and ‘travelled’¬†11 miles.

This had initially¬†been on my usual level one hill climb setting – but¬†when that ended and there was still juice in the tank I’d started a harder ‘random’ program with much¬†more resistance to see how much further¬†I could go – and how much my legs would endure.

Back when I first got on this exercise bike in early 2016 I managed 0.4 miles in four minutes without any resistance on the pedals (essentially I was just freewheeling) before I had to stop.

Once again I have a tangible and significant non-scale victory that reminds¬†me where I’m going, makes me recall where I’ve been and focuses a spotlight on¬†where I am¬†– which is fitter than I ever remember being in my entire life.

This is despite still being somewhat heavier than I have been in the past.

On top of all my¬†exercise this week I’m still laser focused on (translation = frikkin obsessed with) the quantities of¬†food I’m consuming and the calories that they contain vs the ones that I’m burning.

My readership will therefore no doubt be¬†distressed to find out that I’m still more than willing to inflict pictures upon them of what goes into my stomach. Furthermore I plan to prolong this torture by¬†supplementing¬†it with detailed statistics showing how hard I worked to make my fat wobble during the day.

Although there’s another dimension to this. I’m actually not just doing this for me – although that’s a massive¬†part of it.

On occasion readers¬†have commented¬†that things I’ve said or done have prompted them to take action themselves. Honestly it’s a nice feeling to think I’ve helped or inspired someone else – despite the fact that it also usually makes me feel rather¬†self-conscious. So, because of these kind words¬†I’m exhaustively¬†blogging this week’s efforts to turn around¬†my weight little gain.

I want to demonstrate what happens (or doesn’t happen)¬†to anyone out there that may be feeling like giving up or that’s struggling¬†that when you choose to use disappointment as motivator rather than a stick to beat yourself with and¬†really pay attention to what you’re doing with¬†your body good things happen.

Even though I’ve made a lot of progress so far I can still be accused of burying my head in the sand on occasion. I did last week – otherwise I wouldn’t have gained weight.

So – here is how yesterday (Tuesday) panned out:

Lunch

  • Stir fry veg (all speed¬†food – seasoned¬†with soy sauce, a veg stock cube and garlic)
  • 100g frozen prawns (105 kcal)
  • 2 salmon steaks (230 kcal)

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Dinner ¬†(I don’t normally eat rice, so this is my ‘new’ thing for the day)

  • 1/4 savoy cabbage, handful of green beans, chestnut mushrooms, red onion, fried in fry light and seasoning (all speed food)
  • Bachelor’s Super Rice (Golden Vegetable – 1.5 syns / 360kcal)
  • Can of tuna chunks in spring water (120kcal)
  • Can of sweetcorn – (120kcal)
  • 2x apples as a snack (they weighed 267g so approximately 125 kcal)

(total for the day not counting speed food1060 kcal approx)

Thanks mostly to my unusually long¬†stint on my bike the exercise related calories for the day look pretty awesome, and appear (if correct) to obliterate everything I’ve consumed!

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I’m getting more and more intrigued by¬†what this (frankly obsessive) level of counting everything will mean.Will it actually translate to in pounds and ounces lost when I step on the scales on Saturday, or will the exercise offset it?

I honestly have no idea and have learned never to take anything for granted when it comes to the scales.¬†I hope it gets me back on track though as I’m not sure I can remain this driven week after week!

However internet – it really makes me feel really¬†good to know that¬†ten months¬†into my weight loss journey (when in the past at this point my resolve has¬†faltered and I’ve chosen the wrong path) I’m not taking a defeat sitting down.

I… No – WE can do this.

Project lettuce continues…

Davey

 

How to spot fibs

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that weather forecasts are a complete irrelevance – and that any accuracy they might randomly spurt out is as much by chance as it is design.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

It was supposed to be grim and rainy today (according to multiple sources) but instead it’s been pretty damn nice outside, and a planned walk with a friend has ended up being a refreshing and invigorating brisk stroll in the sunshine under blue skies instead of the hunkered down rain-fest I was expecting.

Let’s face it – four to five miles in the pouring rain is no-one’s idea of fun, so it’s always a plus when there’s a nice day¬†to accompany exercise.

I’m feeling good at the moment partially because I had a nice¬†twalk, drank lots of coffee and sat outside Starbucks in a chair with arms in total comfort, but also because I’m still on track for my Saturday weigh in. I’m determined to make it as stress free as humanly possible by being absolutely certain¬†(before I get there) that there’s no way on earth I can have screwed it up two weeks in a row.

Yesterday’s food was again on plan, and whilst dinner was possibly larger than it should have been (I couldn’t resist eating the rest of the chicken in the pan) it was a really satisfying day food and exercise wise.¬†Food eaten on Monday was:

Lunch

  • 2 medium microwave potatoes (approx 150kcal)
  • Cottage cheese with chives (88kcal)
  • Salad (all speed)

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Dinner

  • Swede mash (approx 40kcal)
  • Chicken breasts (approx 500kcal) fried (in fry light) with¬†two cloves of¬†garlic, 1/4 savoy cabbage, 1 red onion and mushrooms (with a ‘free’ Bisto chicken stock pot)
  • 2 Boiled carrots

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Dessert

  • 1 banana (90kcal)
  • 250ml fat free yogurt (145 kcal)
  • 30g rolled oats (118kcal)
  • Frozen fruit (grapes & blackberries + a few small cherries) (50-70kcal approx)
  • Cinnamon

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(approx 1200 kcal for the day)

You may notice that my oats, yogurt and fruit actually come at the end of the day rather than the beginning.¬†I’m not much of a one for breakfast though,¬†so¬†I do it this way because it works for me. The evening is a¬†danger zone in my experience, so having the flexibility to have a nice (healthy and filling) treat¬†when my resolve is weakest is important.

In the spirit of trying something slightly new each day I decided to cube and mash some¬†swede yesterday afternoon which was flipping delicious!¬†ūüėč

If you don’t normally do this then I strongly suggest trying it. I used a seasoning grinder from Aldi and no butter or milk etc to mash with – just a tiny bit of the cooking water. The result was both sweet and savoury. Honestly the memory of the taste is making me drool as I type even now.

If you don’t have an Aldi close by or shop elsewhere¬†I’ve added the contents from the label as they’re pretty easy to combine by hand.

Once again I managed to keep the calorie count roughly the same or lower than my active calories. My exercise for the day ended up around¬†200kcal¬†less than the day before – but still equalled my intake – so I’m happy that it’s another notch on the giant redwood sized ‘good Davey’ post rather than on the diminished sliver of wood and pile of sawdust that contains the markers for¬†‘norty Davey’.

(spelling intentional. I love ‘norty’. It’s ace ūüėĄ)

In other job hunt related news I’m coming to the conclusion that the only way to determine whether lies are coming out of a recruitment consultant’s mouth is to ascertain whether or not they are speaking.

If they aren’t then you can be relatively certain that there are no outright fibs, half truths or convenient prosaic fictions being pushed in your direction.

Recently I’ve been gaining¬†a more nuanced insight into¬†their complex language of subtextual meanings. I now know from experience that:

  • ‘Your CV is still under consideration’ translates to¬†‘I haven’t actually sent it to the employer yet, but thanks for reminding me!’
  • ‘I’ll try and get you some feedback’ translates to ‘ I will be going to the pub soon because it’s past 3pm and it’s also my day off tomorrow. I have no intention of calling you back. Ever.’
  • ‘I’ll keep your CV in mind and let you know if any further roles with your skill set come up’ translates to ‘It’s highly unlikely that you’ll hear from me ever again as I have the attention span of a gnat and only ever look at the CV that’s at the top of my inbox.’
  • ‘We would like to act on your behalf and take the effort out of searching for a job’ translates to ‘We will stick your name into another giant database and send your details¬†to loads of inappropriate employers¬†for roles that you are either not qualified for or interested in and then try to charge you for what we laughingly call a service. We will also use your details to sell to external marketing companies who will contact you endlessly by e-mail with offers of overpriced training that will ‘lead to employment’, but that in reality is¬†almost certainly¬†not going to.’

However – there’s little point in taking any of this personally – and I guess it’s just the way of the world. Optimism in these circumstances is something that’s easy to loose, but crucial¬†to maintain. I aim to make sure I keep doing things to ensure it doesn’t wane.

The trick is to get up early, do some exercise, look for work, drink lots of coffee, chase up previous applications, make more applications, keep in contact with friends, do more exercise, eat healthy food and dream a little bit (but not too much) about the future, eat more healthy food, and then go to bed at a reasonable time.

So, with that in mind internet I think it’s time to hop on my exercise bike for half an hour before I decide what to make for lunch. I always feel better when I’m out of breath.

Everything I eat after this point¬†tastes¬†just a little more virtuous than it otherwise would…

Davey

Smoother than a baby’s bottom

Today I feel great. Really great. This morning I felt like lightning in a bottle when I woke up.

Although I’m relatively footloose and fancy free I think its important to get up at a good time, and try not to sleep in at all – regardless of what day it is. I got dressed (making a slightly longer than usual trip to the bathroom sink for reasons that will become apparent later), did my usual browsing for jobs with strong coffee, chewed through my employment agency mails, reviewed all of the positions available on the job centre portal and then stared out of the window for a minute or two.

It was disappointing.

There wasn’t anything new out there that I could see and no replies from anyone with good or bad feedback. The whole process of finding a job can at times feel like you’re throwing applications into a huge void where no-one reads anything you send them or is even the slightest bit interested. But I’m not letting it get to me. I refuse.

If you do then you’ve already lost the battle – so it’s important to find a reason to feel good every day.

If I couldn’t find one in my e-mail or on the job centre site then I’d damn well hunt for one somewhere else.

I’d planned to dig up the bush stump in my front garden today with the next door neighbour – but not only was the ground completely sodden (I didn’t fancy a mud bath today) but there were several other things I needed to do in town and elsewhere.

I also needed to get some walking in. I have been trying to get under eighteen minutes a mile for weeks now and on the way into Leamington the other day I came within touching distance of it – but got stuck at some traffic lights which irritatingly de-railed my attempt.

I decided that I’d see what I could do on the flat surface of the park and have a look for the Swanling while I was at it.

I arrived at the park, chose some appropriately loud and socially unacceptable music on my phone (the kind that causes bad driving and teenage pregnancies) and started walking as fast as I could.

Initially my legs didn’t want to play ball. They ached and quickly cramped – but I’ve learned that rather than stopping when I feel like this the best thing to do is ease off the pace a little, bear with the feeling and eventually it will fade. At this point I can speed back up again, and each time I don’t stop my stamina increases a little for the next attempt.

This whole process is a real learning curve for me – and I’m constantly amazed at what my body can do when I push it regularly.

I looked at my watch half way through my lap. It didn’t look like I was going to do it – but what the heck, I wasn’t going to stop trying. I poured it on for the second half. 

As I strode on I passed a group of women I see regularly and greeted them.

‘Hello ladies!’ I called – as I breezed by them. I wasn’t stopping to chat today – but waved behind me as I continued onwards.

‘You’re looking good!’ one of them shouted as I pounded into the distance. ‘Thanks!” I called back. Maybe I’d see them on the next lap and stop for a natter – but today this was more important. I wanted a win.

By the time I got close to the end of the first mile I realised that I was actually ahead of schedule. I put my head down. Maybe I could do this!

I finally felt the double tap on my wrist from my watch to tell me I’d done a mile. I didn’t want to look down. Maybe I’d just carry on and look afterwards. Maybe I could do the second lap at the same pace. Then I’d look.

‘Dave?’

I heard the voice vaguely over the sound of my exercise playlist, and looked up. In front of me, walking with his dog in the opposite direction was a friend I used to work with. I hadn’t seen him since we were both made redundant at the end of July.

‘Bloody hell!’ He said looking me up and down. ‘I thought that was you but I didn’t recognise you at first!’

I smiled and shook his hand, but not before stopping my watch’s workout app. I noticed he was stopping his Apple Watch too.

‘Wow.’ He said – looking me up and down again. ‘You’ve really changed.’

‘I’ve lost a bit of weight.’ I smiled. ‘Ten stone now.’

He looked really impressed. I smiled and stroked his dog, who timidly hid behind his right leg. ‘She’s shy.’ he said. I held out my hand and she gingerly sniffed me before finally letting me pat and stroke her head.

‘Things are good.’ I said, ‘I’ve been doing well with losing weight – in fact you stopped me at an important moment!’ I checked my watch again. ‘I just got my mile time under 18 minutes for the fist time!’

(I’d not only managed to get under 18 minutes. I’d smashed it. 17.23!)

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‘Are you doing more laps?’ I asked. ‘Yep’ he replied.

‘Mind if I join you?’ I asked ‘Sure!’ he said. So for the next hour we (after starting our workout apps again) walked and talked for another three miles, sharing what had been going on with each of us since we’d last spoken six months or so ago. He was enjoying his new job and life seemed good – in fact he was in training for the Stratford marathon in May and was walking because he’d hurt his knee doing this.

It seemed that both of us were working towards fitness goals.

I can’t overstate how nice it is to meet people from my past and be proud of how I look and who I am now. Those close to me will know how much I’ve shied away from people in my past simply because of the embarrassment of being bigger or feeling like a cumulative collection of failures.

Now I no longer feel like this. Each meeting – especially the unexpected ones like this just spur me ever onwards and give me the impetus to carry on.

As we walked I also had the opportunity to introduce him to the swanling – who looked a little lonely today, but as always – a teeny bit more grown up. It’s beak is definitely turning orange now, and it’s tail feathers are almost completely white.

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As we continued doing laps of the park we discussed setting goals and the mental challenge of working towards something like a marathon – and I told him that I was always looking for the next thing to drive me forward. Often it wasn’t about the milestone I was about to reach – but what was next on the horizon. I’m always thinking about what will come after what I am doing – and what will keep the impetus up.

So, after we’d said our goodbyes and shared some good wishes for each other’s endeavours I decided to try something new.

I went to a shop with 2xl clothes and picked a jacket off the peg. This isn’t something that’s easy for me to do (when things don’t fit it can be very demoralising) but I decided I needed to know how far I had to go before this was a possibility.

I undid the zip and swung it over my shoulders, expecting the arms and shoulders to be tight.

Only they weren’t. 

In fact the ONLY problem was at the waist, which was probably about 4-6 inches away from me being able to do the zip up!!! Otherwise the jacket felt like it would fit!

Holy crapola! 

There are also mainstream shops now that do 3xl clothes, so I need to find one and try one of those on. I’m able to wear 4xl shirts now – so maybe I don’t have as far to go as I first thought! This means a significant decrease in the cost of clothes compared to specialist shops that cater for 4xl and above men.

Shirts and trousers suddenly become more than 50% cheaper!

So – today I’m laser focused, and that makes me happy. I have several objectives, and they’re ALL do-able. All they need is time, effort and positivity – which I either currently possess or can manufacture in unlimited quantities.

Although my chin feels a little chillier today. I decided this morning that I’ve been hiding my fat face behind a beard for so long (that’s actually why I grew it in the first place) that I needed to know what I really look like underneath – and get used to the real me for a little while, even if I grow it back afterwards.

So internet – here’s bald Davey. He’s smoother than a baby’s bottom and is being unveiled in public for the first time since 2009 – having just managed to get under 18 minutes a mile.

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The beard will probably be back soon – but for the moment I’m enjoying the baristas in Starbucks doing a double take when they see me ūüôā

Davey

A year on Mars

It’s a cold, but also rather lovely¬†morning. The sun is out today – and I’ve an appointment to go to, so I’ve started out early and dressed up warm. Everywhere I look the light is streaming between trees and houses and chasing away the crisp and beautiful frost from every surface.

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As I walk today I’m not trying to beat any records – just¬†trying to order my thoughts. I’m not listening to music – and instead just paying attention to the sounds of the world and people as they pass by.

There are a number of anniversaries drawing near. Some are positive and others… well, not so much – but as¬†these come closer¬†I’m beginning to think more and more about their significance, and where I was then versus where I am now.

This mood of reflection appears to be having an impact on my dreams though, which over the last week or so have been periodically very vivid indeed, and I’ve awoken some¬†mornings full of adrenalin¬†and (in the case of today)¬†also with a strong fight or flight response.

This morning I found myself jolted myself awake in the middle of a dream where I was brawling with someone.

There aren’t many people in the world I don’t like – but this was a real (rather than imagined) figure from my past and I was genuinely enjoying thumping this person¬†(repeatedly and gleefully) in the face.

I’ve only ever punched one person as an adult in a fight (and on that occasion some twenty¬†plus years ago it was in self defence)¬†but in my dream it¬†felt good. There was a sense of triumph – like I was finally living out a fantasy.

I’ve looked this up online (I never Google dreams and I’ve already done it TWICE this week!) and it seems that¬†it can mean many things, if you believe what you read – and I’m not 100% sure I do.

Mostly this seems to be symbolic of someone dealing with unresolved personal conflict or significant change.

‘Violent dreams are relatively common and may be a reflection of the confusion and conflict that the dreamer experiences in daily life. Interpreting dreams with violent themes suggest that the dreamer has unconscious negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, and anger. If you are not dealing with these feelings consciously, your dreams are compensating and bringing into awareness the need for honest reflection and emotional balance in daily life.’ (link)

I¬†don’t think¬†that I’m angry about anything – although deep down I do have a lot of unresolved anxiety and maybe even some fear about the future that didn’t exist a year ago.

Things that play on my mind these days are topics like finding a job, the gradual decline of my bank balance in the absence of regular pay cheques, who I’ll be when I’ve lost my weight (as well as whether or not I will manage to lose it after all)¬†if¬†I’ll ever have another relationship and a few¬†other more personal things.

Suffice to say there is¬†always something vaguely unresolved floating around in the back of my mind, and I could probably never be accused of being an uncomplicated person (although who could?). Even when I look calm on the surface there’s usually a lot of mental paddling going on under the water.

Lately I work these internal worries and conflicts¬†out by writing them down. Usually this enables me to engage in the introspection I seem to crave recently but also usually has the side effect of resulting in a resolution of sorts too. I often¬†end up¬†understanding myself a just a¬†little bit better after putting together a post – but for some reason at the moment¬†I’m also dreaming stranger¬†and wilder things.

I’m not sure why the¬†anniversary of something is a big enough event¬†that it changes a person’s thought processes. After all what does it really matter if it’s been a year¬†or just¬†two weeks since an event occurred? I didn’t feel this way a month ago, so what has changed in my mind when I start thinking about the significance of 365 days¬†having passed by?

I was reading another blogger’s entry this morning about their negative feelings towards a significant birthday milestone in the near future. It started¬†me thinking about why that particular day means so much to so many people compared to the day that¬†preceded¬†or followed¬†it.

Time after all only exists as a concept that we use to explain the world around us and make sense of our lives – which makes it even odder that human beings¬†obsess over dates. They don’t really mean anything at all.

You can be sure dogs and cats don’t do this and they get along just fine without that added (and self imposed) burden thank you very much.

In contrast for some crazy reason I’m locked into a lunar calendar mentality where the significance of my life’s milestones¬†are almost exclusively related to the passage of a moon around the ball of rock I’m standing on. If I lived on Mars then I’d only feel this way every¬†686.98 days (based on it’s contrasting solar calendar) and even those days would be a longer¬†24 hours,¬†39 minutes, and 35 seconds in duration.

So Рwhen I intellectualise them, anniversaries become completely meaningless.

And yet they’re¬†not – because I’m still thinking about them, and what they mean to my life.

Yesterday I asked my friend to take a photo of me, sitting in a similar place to where a photo (that I will always hate) was taken. Davey on the right was the 8XL man I was prior to giving up drinking and starting to lose weight. Davey on the left is for the first time wearing a 4XL shirt.

The start of the¬†process that made that happen¬†is one of the approaching milestones on my mind. It’s a complex moment in my life and is for another post when I have finally decided how I feel about it.

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I’ve already shown this photo to my Slimming World group on our Facebook page – so In their case (if they’re reading) I apologise for the duplication.

Although I’m still not happy with the man on the left (he still looks fat) I’m not blind to the significance of my achievements so far. The man in blue is to me ‘only’ a half way point and as such (despite representing both pride and a lot of effort) he looks to me like someone who will have to do a lot more fighting to get to where he wants to be.

Maybe it’s unsurprising then that the man on the left is punching people in his dreams.

Maybe the meanings behind his subconscious thoughts are simpler than he thinks.

Maybe they are present because on a daily basis he is trying to find within him the fight to carry on with the task at hand and to love the person that he looks at in the mirror every day.

Some days (if I’m truthful¬†internet) it’s my own face I want to punch –¬†in retribution for all the things I’ve done to damage my body¬†– and yet on other days I see a¬†man that I want to hug for finally finding deep down (somewhere that was previously inaccessible) the will to change things for the better.

Thankfully a year ago I only saw the one I wanted to punch, so that’s progress!

Davey

Rogue Two

Although it’s a bit of an extravagance sometimes a film is sooooo good that it’s worth seeing a second time.¬†Star Wars: Rogue One is (for me anyway) that film.¬†Today was also¬†doubly exciting because its the first time in quite a few years I’ve been to an IMAX screening of something – and it made¬†my second viewing¬†a really¬†great¬†way to re-visit it.

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I’ll be completely honest and say the reason I haven’t done this for a while is that IMAX seating is often (because of the tall, curved auditorium) a¬†more restrictive width with¬†less legroom than conventional cinema seating.

In the past the seats have really¬†hurt to sit in – and that’s taken all of the pleasure out of my visits. Not any more!

However – my width restriction has now been replaced by ticket costs as IMAX isn’t cheap!

This week (since I am super frugal at the moment and have a tight weekly budget) in order to pay for it I’ve only bought food if it’s been reduced in the supermarket, and I’ve walked there to buy it when I needed it rather than use the car. I guesstimate that I’ve saved almost the money it required to treat myself to today’s visit so I’m guilt free.

Another¬†plus is that¬†I have loads of carrots, broccoli, cabbage, celery, lettuce and leeks and have been eating like a (rabbit) king for next to nothing this week. Currently as I type there’s a super cheap beef stew¬†bubbling away in the kitchen that smells delicious!

It’s only been a month or so since I saw Rogue One¬†last – but the second time around it was just as exciting and fresh as the first time – and I even saw some things I missed the first time.

I have to say though when the film closed I was actually in tears (which took me quite by surprise) thinking about Carrie Fisher – as Rogue One’s ending¬†leads directly into¬†to the events in ‘A New Hope’. I won’t go into what happens for fear of spoiling what is a really cool finale – but my bottom lip lost the plot.

I also have to hand it to Disney though – because despite my reservations when they purchased Lucasfilm it appears that they are doing a way better job of being George Lucas than George Lucas ever did. Still – he’s now richer than anyone ever needs to be so I doubt he’s particularly upset about how things turned out. If he so desires he can make lots of full sized Jar Jar Binks dolls and have an army of Gungans populating his ranch.

As long as there’s none in the films everyone is happy!

So – in conclusion, if you haven’t already – GO AND SEE THIS MOVIE¬†IN IMAX ASAP!!!

In other news I came home and did five miles on the exercise bike to make sure I filled my green ring on my activity tracker. I now have five days in a row with all rings filled and that for me is previously unheard of.

I’m actually feeling a lot more energetic already with the added cardio and I’m actually really really glad I set myself the¬†task of getting this Apple Watch achievement!

Finally – still no news on the job front. Many people have said that no news equals good news – but I don’t know. I’m trying to ignore it but the pessimist in me is fighting a brutal war¬†with my¬†realist and optimist sides for air time.

The good news is that all three of them agree that I should just get on with looking for other stuff and forget it for the time being – which is what I’ve been doing. Hopefully more news will come in the not too distant future and I’ll know for sure either way.

Anyway – the cheapest, healthiest syn free soup in the known universe is just begging to be eaten and I must oblige it.

Laters internet. May the force be with you!

Davey

Deflecting compliments

My weekend was shamefully lazy.

There. I said it. I hardly moved a muscle on both Saturday and Sunday and I also ate way too much stuff as well.

You know what though – I feel good for listening to my inner couch potato for once. Today I was full of beans when the alarm went off at 9am and had been dreaming of flying for what seemed like hours. In the depths of my mind somewhere I was soaring high and free, able to float on the breeze without wings.

Whatever caused this positive flood of subconscious thought left me feeling in tip top shape even after only five hours under my duvet.

Something that I’m also noticing a lot more lately is that I appear to be needing much less sleep than I used to. Getting five hours in the past used to be akin to the beginning of the Apocalypse – but not any more.¬†Nodding off doing the day is also a thing of the past – which was something that had quietly become something of a feature of my early 40’s. I hadn’t really linked it too much to weight – but I guess my body needed way more shut eye than it does now.

Sadly when I reached for my phone to switch my alarm off I also noticed a text to say that my regular Monday walk had been cancelled due to illness. However, the (cold) day was still out there Рand it deserved to be fully utilised.

As I got out of bed I was still thinking about a silly mishap from the night before. Whilst walking up the stairs to relieve myself I nearly fell face first into the toilet. As comical as this sounds it was as annoying as hell.

My second smallest pair of trousers and the new belt I bought with my interview clothes unexpectedly fell down just as I reached the top step and door to the loo making me stumble at the top of the stairs.

I only just saved myself from a flush related death and probable Darwin Award nomination.

Sure – it’s really really great that I’m loosing weight, but I only just bought this belt and these trousers were pretty snug about two months ago.¬†I’ve now only got one pair of trousers that will stay up without a belt, meaning soon I need to buy more, and not just as a one off, but continuously.

I need a job basically.

I was thinking about the cost associated with clothes as I walked, and had headed out of the house – initially to the park. My daily routine has (since I began looking for work¬†a month ago) started with coffee, been immediately followed by a good stroll, continued with going through the (many)¬†job mails and sites I’ve signed up to, updating my progress on the JSA portal – and then progressed to dinner and whatever else needs to be done.

My walk (initially to St Nicholas Park)¬†was mostly in the hope of seeing the swanling – which has been absent on my last three visits. Today it was worryingly absent again – and no matter where I looked there wasn’t a swan in sight.

Mind you there weren’t many ducks, geese or other birds either.

There wasn’t much of anything to be honest – including people. It was really really cold – so I guess being outside¬†was a tough sell for anyone today, let alone being outside sitting with your ass in a freezing river waiting for chunks of bread to be thrown at you by passing well wishers.

Still – despite the lack of my avian buddy¬†I usually bump into a couple of nice ladies who regularly walk their dogs together, and today was no exception. We’ve passed each other so often and stopped to say hello so frequently that we’re now on first name terms, and as I saw them approaching along the river bank today I automatically turned off my music and pulled out my earphones.

One of the ladies has a little toddler who is always smiling and insanely adorable. I bent over to say hello and ruffle his curly brown hair. He smiled back under his little red nose and wooly hat. As I did this his mother commented that I was looking good and had lost more weight since I last saw her.

I confirmed her suspicions¬†(with a bit of a grin) and said ‘Nine stone, one and a half pounds!’

She congratulated me. It was ‘quite an achievement’ she said.

Then her companion, the taller and slightly older of the two women leaned in close to me, peering at my face from behind her dark rimmed spectacles.

‘I’ve just noticed.’ She said. ‘You’re really good looking.’

I don’t know how to accept compliments – so I have developed my own coping mechanism/deflection technique, usually rooted in dry quips.

‘I must be losing my touch.’ I replied, looking at her with faux annoyance. ‘That’s usually the FIRST thing people notice about me.’

I stared at her, playing out the act that I was offended.

In the background my arid sense of humour thankfully hadn’t been lost on her friend, and¬†as she rocked the pushchair back and forth she¬†was smiling at my response.

‘I am a bit short sighted though!’ The lady apologised, adjusting her glasses, and drawing in for an even¬†closer look. Taking mock offence I pretended to look huffy.

To be entirely truthful I don’t know what to do when faced with praise. I’m quite used to being called names, and am practiced in¬†how to respond in those circumstances – but when people do the opposite I’m relatively defenceless and tend to flounder a bit.

Eventually we parted company after chatting further about their own weight loss (she’s parted with three and half stone and says she feels much better thank you very much)¬†both laughing and saying goodbye until the next time.

Honestly (despite my rather sarcastic reaction) this event put a definite spring in my step. Although it was quite embarrassing¬†it’s really nice receiving a compliment out of the blue. I started to walk faster, initially without even realising it and then broke out of the park on a whim into Warwick and up past the castle, eventually walking a large circuit of the town until I eventually¬†looped¬†back to my house.

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Annoyingly I couldn’t crack the 18 minute mile barrier today. Later on in the walk when I got to a stretch without junctions and crossings I was REALLY going for it – but my legs just don’t yet have it in them.

Still – one day soon hopefully. I guess I’ve only just got under 19 minutes.

Unusually for me I also managed an uncomfortably tubby jogging waddle across a busy junction. My legs wanted to run Рbut sadly my barely restrained belly had other ideas and locked the whole silly idea down before I got too far above my aspirational station. I got to the other side of the road (in one still wobbling piece) and decided not to do that again for another few stone.

Again Рanother task for another day.

All the while I’d STILL been thinking about hole punches for belts (around ¬£10 on Amazon, but cheaper than ¬£20 for a new belt every few inches…) and the cost of trousers, shirts and jeans.

Then I arrived home and opened my laptop with another coffee to go through my job mails.

I’ve only got a job interview!

I know it’s bad form to get one’s hopes up too high – but even if nothing comes of it AT LEAST I GET TO WEAR MY SMART CLOTHES AND GET SOME EXPERIENCE!

So internet – I’m a little bit excited, and a more than a little¬†caffeinated.

Non-scale victories for the last 24 hours:

  1. Trousers fell down and I didn’t kill myself by drowning in the toilet
  2. A short sighted lady thinks I’m quite handsome
  3. I have a job interview!

I wonder what the rest of the week will bring?

Also – I’m considering making my face naked. What’s the collective opinion? Beard or no beard? So far responses from friends¬†appear to be heavily weighted toward me remaining in my ‘Santa Claus the early years’ persona and NOT going clean shaven.

The jury is currently out. Hard Beardexit or no Beardexit? And remember РBeardexit means Beardexit.

Davey

That‚Äôs no moon‚Ķit‚Äôs a space station!

As is now customary for a Friday my routine today has mostly revolved around quietly stressing about whether I’ve done enough to lose weight on Saturday morning.

For this reason alone I don’t think I’ve slept properly on a Friday for about nine months. I’m always like a cat on hot bricks – simultaneously wanting to stand on the scales and also not wanting to go anywhere near them.

I’ve noticed that I’ve fallen into a routine that I suspect most fellow slimmers will recognise. On Saturday afternoon I’m full of thoughts that mostly revolve around putting my feet up and having as big a dinner as I can possibly get away with. By the time Monday arrives I’m thinking that I need more vegetables and less meat followed by a bloody good walk, and by the time Thursday and Friday land I notice I’m eating smaller portions and walking loads. According to Apple Watch I’m almost at seven miles so far and the day’s not yet over.

People that I weigh in with are also never less than intensely focused as they stand in line – and often don’t say much until they know the good (or bad) news. It’s the fulcrum of the week for many of my fellow dieter’s emotional states – and I’m no different. It means a lot to ALL of us.

Last week there was a lady weighing in from anther group in just her pants and a vest to get the vital few ounces off that she needed – and while I was impressed by her willingness to disrobe in front of strangers (and to an extent I definitely understood the impulse) tomorrow I will have to make do with just taking off my coat and shoes.

None of the lovely ladies there need to be subjected to my expansive underpants just yet. I’m a long way from feeling confident enough to stand in front of a room full of people in just my trunks.

However I’m getting ever closer. I had three rather monumental little moments yesterday.

The first was that I took this rather boring and mundane photo.

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You might ask why the empty inside of a suitcase warrants inclusion in my blog – and you’d be quite right to do so.

In April when I started going to Slimming World this suitcase was full (and I mean FULL – I could barely lift it off the wardrobe) of perfectly good clothes that I was no longer able to wear. Back then when I started I was wearing 8XL shirts and 66 inch waisted jeans. The sizes inside ranged from 7XL to 4XL and from a 60 inch waist all the way down to a 52 inch. It held around 15 pairs of jeans and trousers, 20+ shirts, a couple of tracksuits, 9 polo or teeshirts and a pullover.

Although two of the items that were in there are still a little snug, EVERYTHING THAT WAS IN THIS SUITCASE AND MY WARDROBE NOW EITHER FITS ME OR HAS BEEN TAKEN TO CHARITY BECAUSE IT’S TOO BIG.

The second was that (without realising it until much later) I smashed my mile walking lap time.

I’d agreed to go for a walk with an ex-colleague yesterday when we were chatting at our meal on Saturday, and for the second day in a row I found myself at Arrow Valley park to meet him. The weather since Wednesday has been a bit more misty – but despite the beard dew that this causes (I look like a wet Wookie after a few laps) it’s great for getting out of breath and sweaty because it’s nice and cool.

As I’d never walked with this person before I didn’t really know whether it was going to be brisk or sedate – but since I’m generally good with either these days I didn’t really mind which it turned out to be.

As it happened the pace he set was slightly quicker than I’m normally used to – but not at all unpleasantly so. We were still able to walk and talk perfectly well and had a fine old natter about lots and lots of things which ended (as most truly great things in life do) with coffee.

When I got home and checked my stats later in the evening I realised that I had cracked the 19 minute barrier and done the first mile in 18.37!!!

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Honestly I was a bit surprised about this as I truly didn’t think that I had this in me (yet) – but it just goes to show what you can do if you put your mind to it.

Those with a long memory and lengthy patronage of my blog might remember my first attempt to track my fitness with a (rather crap and unreliable) application on my phone called Walkmeter. On June 3rd using this I recorded a slightly shorter lap of the route we walked yesterday, which shows that my average pace per mile back then was 40.09 minutes.

I’m now more than TWICE faster than I was on that day – and I was much slower before I began using technology to keep note of my achievements.

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The third was that yesterday was ROGUE ONE DAY!!! 

After months and months of salivating over trailers and teasers involving Darth Vader the 15th on December was finally the night that the release date crawled round. As I’d booked the tickets shortly after midnight when they became available a few weeks ago myself and four friends were front and centre to watch arguably one of the best films yet to come out of the franchise.

It was very different in tone to the main films (no John Williams music for instance) in many ways – but also instantly familiar in all the areas that mattered. It’s DNA is pure Star Wars and it definitely deserves your visit to the cinema.

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Anyway – now I have some decisions to make. Tomorrow morning is not only weigh in day but it’s the Slimming World Christmas party, where we are all encouraged to wear festive attire and bring in something that we’ve cooked at home to share with the group.

I have a couple of ideas for what to do internet but as yet I can’t make up my mind. 

Whatever happens I’ll take a few pictures of the culinary carnage and let you know how it goes. Either way I’ll be cooking something that I know I want to eat – so even if no-one else likes it then at least I’m guaranteed a pre-prepared lunch!

Fingers crossed it all goes well!

Davey

 

Semi jingle bells

There are few things in life that annoy me more than people that misrepresent themselves. 

I’d much rather meet someone that’s moody and annoyed than one with a personality straining under the weight of artifice and veneer. 

As I was driving some friends home last night the conversation shifted to people we had each known or still knew like this. I commented that the older I get the more I’d realised how little patience I have with people that lie (not necessarily to me) or try to hide who they really are. 

Honesty is refreshing and it’s also something I’m drawn towards. 

I was still thinking about this conversation today as I ambled around the Christmas market in Leamington and passed a stall that seemed busier than the others nearby. 

I moved through the crowd to the front so I could see what was on sale. 

The gentleman behind the counter clearly also valued honesty and his products reflected this. There was little left to the imagination when it came to determining where his food had been sourced from. 


Although maybe not quite so direct in all cases my ex-colleagues are the same. They are all honest and genuine (often to a fault) and as I looked around the table at my Christmas meal in a quiet moment last night I felt genuinely happy to be with them all. 

Despite my usual reluctance to indulge in festive attire the tone of the evening made it quite easy to upgrade my usual brand of ‘humbug’ to ‘semi jingle bells’.


As I mentioned in my previous post the impetus to look my best when I met them had been keenly felt in the last 8 weeks and it was truly humbling when we started to catch up with eachother to be the recipient of so many positive, warm, genuine compliments, hugs, kisses and pats on the back. 

Normally I feel uncomfortable in situations where people praise me – but these people have seen me at my worst and my best. Many of them I’ve seen more than my own family over the last decade and a half. 

I’ve missed them. 

When they say things have changed and that I look good, appear healthier and sound happier it means something to me. 

Our group of 16 people (mostly) all arrived early for our 7.30 meal. We were pretty much the first group in the restaurant and we were the very last people to be ejected later on from the adjoining pub. We were still hugging and shaking hands as we spilled out onto the street to jump into taxis and get lifts home. 

The food was really nice too – and I was really happy that I remained FULLY commited and on plan all day

The Stonehouse at the White Swan in Henley in Arden I discovered last night got it’s name from the red hot slabs of stone that the steaks were delivered to the table on – resulting in an ever present sound of sizzling and continually cooking beef. 

There were chips and fries all over the table, along with sauces and pate starters – but I stuck to my guns and stayed with my pre-0rdered chicken salad and balsamic vinegar – which I could control completely.

It was all free and speed food and there wasn’t a syn in sight. It came in a really cool granite mortar and pestle bowl as well!

Mind you – when I got home I’ll admit to making bacon, eggs and fried tomatoes before going to bed – but that was actually only my third meal of the day so absolutely nothing was naughty despite how it may sound. 

The day in fact was an ‘SP’ day – which in Slimming World terms means it’s just speed food (veg) and protein. These days supercharge weight loss while still making sure you get healthy food. 

The ultimate outcome of all this was that this morning I woke up to a sense of overwhelming positivity and was full of energy. 

Thanks to all the Diet Coke and coffee I had consumed yesterday I had some frankly sub par sleep – but I bounded out of bed with a big smile after checking my phone and seeing all the happy texts and online comments about how much people had enjoyed the evening. 

The sun was shining – and although I have a walk planned with a friend this evening I had too much positivity and energy to waste it on the sofa for the majority of the day. 

As I walked in the sunshine I thought about what my next milestone motivations should be, and what I would mentally do next to drive me into new weight territory. 

This is because my interim interim goal (not a typo) set here is not that far away now. I only have another stone and a half to go! 

This takes me roughly to the end of January and honestly then things get both scary and exciting. I don’t know who I’ll be, what I’ll look like or how I’ll feel after that.

It’s going to all be new and fresh. 

Tell you what though internet – I’m looking forward immensely to finding out! I hope you join me on the journey. 

Davey